The Hitmans Bodyguard Review

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably have to say it again.

The United Kingdom has severe anti-gun laws. Whilst it is not impossible to acquire a firearm in London it would take you a long time to build up the trust required to be given access to a single pistol. Getting hold of enough rifles to launch a small coup? Not going to happen. There’s a reason that London’s gangs use knives and acid instead of guns.

Also, if your trying to get from the UK to Amsterdam in a very short time frame, maybe taking an 9 hour ferry ride isn’t the best idea? Even if you are getting a lift with a bunch of singing nuns.

But, if I started applying logic to this film then it’s going to fall apart completely. Because this film is a blast from start to finish, it’s a live action cartoon not meant to be taken seriously in any way shape or form. Could I sit here and pick hole after hole after hole in it?

Yes, yes I could. But why would I want to?

After months of CGI filled ‘blockbusters’ it’s so refreshing to see a film with actual stunts, actual explosions and a complete knowledge of the fact that it is what it is.

The plots very, very simple.   Ryan Reynolds has to get Samuel L. Jackson to the Hague so he can put Gary Oldman in prison for appearing in Robocop. But Oldman has unlimited access to people who flunked out of Stormtrooper academy for failing their marksmanship tests.

Well, either that or our two main characters are so indestructible that the bullets are hitting them and their just patching up faster than the human eye can see. Because after about 20 minutes I figured out that there was absolutely no danger in any of the fight scenes and from then on whilst I enjoyed the film it did get a slight downgrade.

Call me old fashioned but I like my heroes to have a chance of being killed when their being shot at by a million bullets. Because after a while it an start to get a little bit tedious. And the run-time could do with 15 minutes being chopped off as towards the end I was starting to feel slightly bludgeoned.

But Reynolds and Jackson have amazing chemistry and some of the best scenes are just them, sitting in a car throwing barbs at each other. And I wished that they were longer as they represented a chance for the headache I was starting to develop to start going away.

I would also like to recommend for a knighthood whichever genius decided to hire Salma Hayek for her role which is little more than a glorified cameo where she either sits in a cell hurling some very creative and funny abuse at anyone unlucky enough to wander into her eye-line or wrecking stuff up in a low-rent bar.

And  Élodie Yung is there as well. She gets a nice participation trophy as well as another thank you from me for giving me a break from the relentless action.

Look, this film is not some deep think piece on the human condition, it’s Shoot ‘Em Up blended with The Nice Guys and The Blues Brothers. The films plot twists  which it thinks are so amazing and unforeseen could all be predicted in the first ten minutes. But I mustn’t fall into the trap of over-intellectualising. This is just instantly disposable, artistically worthless, expertly crafted trash, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Just don’t take your mum, this film has Tarantino levels of swearing.

My Score- See It 

Advertisements

Mechanic: Resurrection Review

 

The plot for this film feels a little bit like a fill in the blanks for ‘generic action sequel number 040027’ Lets see how you do.

Jason Statham is a former _____ who is pulled back in when his _______ is ______ and he is forced to _____ several people to get _____ back.

(Hitman, girlfriend, kidnapped, kill, her)

And yet it works. It’s a good fun blast of a film in the best kind of way- THE EIGHTIES WAY!!! A lone man up against an inexhaustible  army of red-shirts whilst being forced to rescue Jessica Alba from.. some guy who I spent the whole film calling ‘probably not Ed Skrien.’ But with quite a bit of Mission Impossible thrown in as well.

It takes a while to get going, because for a character that’s basically a damsel in distress (although she did do her own stunts) Alba’s character gets a hell of a lot of character development that adds an unnecessary 5-10 minutes to an already overlong first act.  But once things kick into gear, this film really does get going and stay going.

It’s weird that this film had the exact same budget as War Dogs (40 million) as I mentally had this pegged at about the 75-100 million dollar mark. I mean the film globe trots in a similar method to a James Bond film (the orchestra certainly seem to think that their making a Bond film- expect a letter from the lawyers.)

From hat I could tell the action seems to be pretty solid Statham fare (naturally, he did all his own stunts)- although some of the CGI does add to the 80’s feel of the film and I did burst out laughing at the sheer cheek of some of the stunts.

Oh, and did I mention that this is a 15? No sudden movements now- i’m trying to establish a breeding program for this increasingly rare rating.

Oh, and Tommy Lee Jones makes another ‘I’m not dead yet!’ cameo as an arms dealer who allegedly has access to submarines and ICBM’s  but by that point I was way too into this films groove.

Treat it like the 80’s through back that it so desperately wants to be and absolutely turn off the part of your brain that deals with physics and you’ll have a blast.

I know I did.

My Score- See It 

The Purge: Election Year Review

I would love to purge whichever lunatic intern decided to release this film on the 26th of August over here in the UK, after all, the damn thing was released in the USA on the first of July! And I can assure you that by this point in time, whatever deranged niche wanted this film has downloaded it, watched it and long since forgotten it.

But then again, missing the mark has so far been the entire trademark of this absolute giant clanking wide open goal. Because I love the idea behind this franchise! A night where all crime is legal (although everyone forgets about every other crime than murder) could have lead to all sorts of films about morality, ethics, the hero’s and the psychotics, bloody pulpy violence on the streets matched up by the people in cool rooms marketing an monitoring it. And instead, what have we been given?

A home invasion movie, a pretty poor remake of The Warriors and now this, the alleged end to this waste of a franchise.

And it is the closest to what I wanted from a purge movie. I wouldn’t recommend trying to follow the plot because its not important. Instead, treat this as a series of short films set over the same night. Because as an actual film, it’s a bit of a mess.

Is this character that’s had set up dialogue, theme music, and a bit of a personality the villain? Nope. Their dead.

Is it about the murder tourists that get not just a news broadcast but actual lines of dialogue spoken about them? Nope.

Ok then, I’ll settle for the generic racist thugs with unlimited ammo, tech and men. Like I have in so many films. ZZZzzzzz

And even leaving aside the fact that this film changed villains more than I change socks, this film still seems to be embarrassed by its own existence. It’s very poorly lit, with characters that i’ll be generous and call cardboard, but and I know this is going to seem ghoulish but it just wasn’t violent enough for me. I mean, this is a violent film with people getting shot, stabbed, cut and run over just for a few examples but it always cuts away as if that’s not what people paid their money to see.

I did like the fact that the same characters turned up and we get to see how these characters are surviving in their world but owing to the blandness of this series as a whole and a complete lack of interest on my part to watch the other films again I was often desperately trying to remember  who did what and why.

Overall, I left this film feeling vaguely annoyed because whilst this film is still the closest to what I wanted from this franchise, it’s still nowhere near the ultimate satire of the dog-eat-dog nature of capitalism in an extremely violent setting? That film, I’d buy for a dollar.

My Score- If Nothing Else


 

Summer 2016: We Can’t Go On Like This

So the parade of dull, CGI heavy ‘blockbusters’ has finally wheezed its last and now we get to pick over the bloated carcass trying to find out what the hell went wrong with 2016.

Because on paper, there was no cinematic offering that sounded like an absolute stinker. True, there was no offering that sounded amazing, but for the amount of money that was spent- the returns were absolutely shocking.

Now, obviously the main film that everyone is focusing on is Suicide Squad which according to backstage sources needs to take 750 million dollars just to break even. And now that it’s been denied entry to China that’s not going to happen.  And to make enough profit to have been worth everyone’s while? It would need to take 1.5 billion dollars or become the fifth highest grossing film of all time between The Avengers and Furious 7. That’s just not going to happen.

But what about Ghostbusters? The most pointlessly controversial film of the year? That’s on course to lose 70 million dollars and despite allegedly renaming itself the “Super Power Dare Die Team.” Which I would watch in a heartbeat was again refused a licence in China because.. well…  most films that films that promote “cults or superstitious beliefs” get rejected by the state film board. Don’t worry though, because franchise desperate Sony is still going to be making more films under the Ghostbusters name- it’s just going to be animated. And released in 2019

Now before I go on, a quick not about how much films cost. Whilst finding out the filming budget is relatively easy, finding out how much the advertising costs is next to impossible. A general rule of thumb is to assume that the amount spent advertising is roughly the same amount as was spent in making it. Which is why the 2005 movie Sahara – despite being a pretty good action adventure film managed to lose over 105 million dollars.

Back to 2016- What about the already forgotten Independence Day sequel? Whilst it did take 382.1 million against a budget of 165 million, you might think that this counts as a hit, right? Except when you factor in the marketing, it cost roughly the same as it took, leaving the heavily hinted at sequel in severe doubt.

Hell, even Star Trek Beyond, released in the franchises 50th year, with such an in-built fan base that it should have turned a profit in its sleep… took 212.5 million against a budget of 185 million which again-  doesn’t factor in advertising costs. Meaning that a fourth film is probably going to happen but with a reduced budget.

Finally, The Nice Guys – the lone film in the last three months that I’ve given my highest rating to?  57 million against a 50 million dollar budget. The sequel probably isn’t going to happen despite the fact that it currently has a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Now, films failing to make money isn’t something new. I mean, according to the paperwork Return Of The Jedi (Yes, THAT Return Of The Jedi) is still in loss. But with the amount of big budgeted  films released this summer, that only Finding Dory (and Civil War depending on when you think that the summer blockbuster season begins) is making anything like the money that these films ‘need’ to make in order to be worth anyone’s time, we really need to have a look at film because this high-risk high-reward strategy just isn’t sustainable.

Backstory

When Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace was released in 1999, it’s budget was 115 million which at the time was a shocking amount, people were convinced that it would ever make its money back, and now? People would be worried that the budget would be to small, a comparable film Guardians of the Galaxy released in 2014 required a budget of 232.3 million!

And yet, for the two years I’ve been reviewing as well as all the years before that I’ve been a film buff the only recent blockbusters that I enjoyed so much that I would watch again, let alone own I could probably count on one hand. (Of course one of them is Mad Max: Fury Road) 

A major part is the growth of CGI, meaning that we could do things in films that were unimaginable 20 years ago when I was growing up. But on the flip side decent CGI is horrifically expensive and to my mind will never look as good as either a practical effect or even the nearly extinct art of stop-motion. A good way forward would be to treat CGI as a glace cherry, used sparingly it can be a rather nice treat but used to excess it loses its effectiveness quickly and can make me feel rather sick.

We also need to talk about the effect that Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy has had. Sadly not in bringing back model-work and practical effects but in making convincing movie executives that all films need to be ‘dark’ and ‘gritty.’ Now obviously an exception is the Marvel Universe but i’m going to get to that later. But in general, most films this summer were dark, depressing, with no witty banter or actually interesting dialogue. Seriously, people special effects and A and B list actors can only take a movie so far. It’s writing a good, decent, script that takes time to establish interesting characters over time that is more memorable and is more likely to be watched again and again than these CGI heavy, explosion and cardboard character filled things…

And bringing things back to the Marvel movies, on thing I am beginning to get seriously annoyed about is the setting up of cinematic universes. Something that’s happened in the last few years is that a film isn’t really allowed to tell a complete story. Because films are so expensive to make and market it’s easier to try to make every film the next episode of an ongoing saga than to try to create new films with new charterers every time And whilst I do understand this it means that I never really feel anything at the end of the film. And it never used to be like this! Indiana Jones, Star Trek, even my own beloved James Bond franchise never really bothered with continuity until the last few years. They didn’t need to. And I miss films that end. And no film this summer ended! Even The Nice Guys sequel baited desperately. And whilst sequel baiting has been a part of film since forever it typically happened after the film had wrapped up and lasted for less than thirty seconds. It wasn’t happening continually during the damn film!

Things have to change. Because cinemas are more profitable than they have ever been, and there are small movies that come out and are awesome but more and more they are getting drowned out by unimaginative sludge that like the blob just keeps coming and coming no matter what you do. I mean Sony is so desperate for a franchise that it overlooks that fact that it’s mid-budget movies really are good and make 200-300 million at the box office but when everyone else is making billions who can blame them?

But what did you guys think of this summer? I’m off to go watch something from when films were allowed to be fun. And violent. And probably from the 80’s.

Warcraft: Budget 160 million- #1 video game film of all time- still considered a major financial flop with takings of 433 million

Gods of Egypt: Budget Budget 140 million- takings 145.7 million

Jason Bourne: 120 million- takings 250.9 million

The Legend of Tarzan 180 million v 347.7 million

Alice through the looking lass: 170 million V 292.3 million

 

 

Someones Suing Suicide Squad

Another day, another story about Suicide Squad.

Now I had no intention of saying anything else about this film, because, well, what else is there to say? It’s not the savior of the DC Universe that the suits so desperately want it to be, its ticket sales have dropped by 41% going into its second weekend (Civil War’s was a mere 19%). It’s probably not getting released in the worlds second largest market- China, meaning that it’s really going to struggle to reach the 750 million dollars it need to break even and it’s being sued by a Scotsman known as BlackPanther2016 over it’s lack of Joker.

Wait, what?

Yeah, apparently BlackPanther2016 was forced to drive all the way from the barren wasteland of ‘Not London’ which apparently doesn’t have any cinemas to the Utopia of London which does. There, he paid his money, took his ticket, watched the film and then- in his own words.

“Movie trailers are like food menus, they give you a preview of what you’re gonna get. You look at a McDonald’s menu and you choose to get your favourite burger, presented in a nice picture with pickles, chicken, mild cheese (your favourite, in fact that’s the only reason you’re getting this burger, because you love mild cheese). You use your hard-worked money to pay for this burger, you get the burger, only to find out that this isn’t the burger you ordered. Yes it has pickles and chicken but it doesn’t have mild cheese, it has regular cheese.

“Suicide Squad trailers showcased several specific Joker scenes that I had to pay for the whole movie just so that I can go watch those specific scenes that Warner Bros/DC Comics had advertised in their trailers and TV spots. These scenes are: when Joker banged his head on his car window, when Joker says ‘“Let me show you my toys’, when Joker punches the roof of his car, when Joker drops a bomb with his face all messed up and says, ‘Bye bye!’ None of these scenes were in the movie.

“I drove 300 miles to London to go watch these specific scenes they had explicitly advertised in their TV ads…and they didn’t show them to me. Adding to this, they were also two specific Katana scenes they advertised that were also the reason I wanted to go watch the movie. These scenes were: Katana’s eyes going black, and a slow motion shot of her and her sword taking souls in a smoky kind of style. These scenes were advertised several times in the first trailer and many TV ads but they didn’t show it to me in the movie. I wasted a lot of money paying and travelling to go watch this movie because of these specific scenes they had advertised to me and all of us saying, ‘Hey, check out our preview! This will all be in our movie, come watch it on the 5th!’ All lies.

“If you advertise something, give me what you have advertised. Period. This is becoming a habit with movie studios, showing epic scenes in trailers that are never shown in the movies. It’s unjust.

“I just want to say, join me if you feel the same way. Let’s stop this nonsense of false bulls***ery and don’t let them bribe you with their ‘deluxe premium special directors gold extended edition supreme cut’ nonsense. You should get what they advertised as their first theatre showing and what you have paid for based on what they have showed you in their advertisements.”

Now, I wish Mr. Panther the best of luck with the lawsuit that he claims his “lawyer brother” will handle. I would also like to point out that this type of lawsuit does have precedent. A resident of Michigan sued the distributor of the 2011 film Drive as it   “bore very little similarity to a chase, or race action film … having very little driving in the motion picture” and in a more serious note- “substantially contained extreme, gratuitous, dehumanising racism directed at members of the Jewish faith, and thereby promoted criminal violence against members of the Jewish faith”. I can’t find out if she won or not.

Someone who did win their case was a New Zealand film buff, named only as J Congdon who sued Jack Reacher for a less than 1 second missing explosion that was allegedly was ‘the defining part of the ad’. He won has case and was refunded his ticket.

Now whether you enjoyed Leto’s Joker or regarded it as one of the worst portrayals of the character ever (and opinions do seem seem strangely polarized) I have to confess a strange admiration for Mr. Panther and his ‘lawyer brother’ and do hope they succeed. Trailers do lie to the public (mostly over how much I’m going to enjoy their mediocre offering) and if this is the start of change then it can only be a good thing.

Note-At time of writing (10/08/16) Neither Warner Brothers no DC have responded to the threatened legal action.

The Killing Joke Review

Two Opinions I hold about the Dark Knight

Opinion the first: My favorite Batman is Adam West. With the immortal line “Hand me down the shark repellent bat spray” never failing to me me smile.

Opinion the second: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is the best Batman movie of all time. The voice acting, the music, the plot, the voice acting, the complexity, I really truly do love this film and cannot urge you enough to see this film if you haven’t already done so.

Because there was something about The Killing Joke that just didn’t click for me.

And believe me, this should have clicked big time. I love Bruce Timm’s take on the Batman mythos. Mark Hamil and Kevin Conroy are amazing voice actors who know their characters inside and out- Hell this is the team that made Batman: The Animated  Series which is arguably the greatest animated series of all time!

Its also based on the graphic novel written by the Alan Moore, who wrote not only The Watchmen, but V for vendetta as well as working for Marvel, DC and 2000AD over here in the UK.

Why then, with this much talent and money behind it was my reaction merely lukewarm?

Well, the pacing is really bad. The first 28 minutes of this 76 minute film is basically a prologue that could so easily have been cut to ten or even five minutes as it has very little impact on the actual story that I paid my money to go and see.

Which means that the central ideas- can one bad day change a mans life for good or ill, are Batman and The Joker really two sides of the same coin condemned to eternal war or can there be peace? Hell, even The Jokers possible origin story feels slightly rushed.

And, at the risk of sounding slightly ghoulish, the torture that Commissioner Gordon (a miscast Ray Wise) goes through doesn’t really seem to be that extreme, and again, there are good ideas here- watching what happens to his daughter, his support for Batman’s methods even though they show complete disregard for the law that he’s sworn to uphold that are barely even scratched.

About the only thing that does work is a random song that gets stuck in there for good measure, comes out of no-where and is the most cartoony part of the film. But, it features some of the most striking images of the film. Alas though, it’s also over too soon.

Strip down the prologue, allow the ideas to breathe and this could have been the classic that it so clearly wants to be. As is?

My Score- If Nothing Else

Star Trek Beyond Review

Critics log: Film date 0402.7

After a dull, dreary summer in which most blockbusters barely had the energy to even aspire to be mediocre, we were left with only two hopes, a comic book film hats just undergone the eternal sign of bad news- massive re-shoots and a film based off of a 50 year old Sci- Fi property.

The signs for this weren’t good. Even though the script had been written by Simon Pegg (who also played engineer Scotty), the trailers had been very poorly received. The directer was untested- his previous highlights had been as a producer for Fast and Furious 6, it had ticked off the LGBT community,  it was starring Chris Pine- (an actor who always lives up to his name) who during interviews has said that, while the JJ films have tried to touch on “demanding questions and themes”, it’s just not possible to make a movie without “wham-bam explosions and planets blowing up”. (Because Interstellar was a huge flop and certainly isn’t currently number 32 on IMDB’s top 250 with a box-office of over 675 million dollars and an Oscar)

Whats that? It also stars Mr ‘at 43 i’m too old to play James Bond’ Idris Elba? And features a character so heavily based on Jennifer Laurence’s character in Winters Bone that she was called Jaylah? I’ll  get my pitchforks and flaming torches ready shall I?

Except I won’t be because this film is awesome.

This is the first big film this summer that felt like it was actually TRYING. It has some of the most amazing space visuals I’ve seen since.. well, Interstellar. It’s funny, touching, with an amazing soundtrack turned all the way up to 11 which, true, does help to drown out most of the films dialogue but as the films plot can be summarized as

“KILL THE HUMANS”

“We will, we will, stop you stop you!”

I really didn’t worry about that too much.

Besides, you can still hear Spock and Judge Dredd and they get all the good lines.

Its also the only film this summer that I wish had slowed down a touch. At times you can tell the director cut his teeth on the Fast and Furious franchise as this is pretty much exactly what you would expect if you put both these franchises in a blender (or waited for Fast and Furious 42- IN SPACE!) 

But I loved it. A fast moving action packed blast of a film.

My Score- SEE IT