Angry Birds 2 Review

Ok Sony Pictures Animation you’ve released arguably one of the greatest animated films of all time with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and maybe brought yourself some respect after releasing such cinematic classics as The Smurfs, Hotel Transylvania, Peter Rabbit and not forgetting The Emjoi Debacle. But hey, clearly someone with some talent is working there now and we can all turn over new leaves so what are you doing with the microscopic amount of slack i’m prepared to cut you?

Another masterpiece like Spider-Man or…

Another cash on of an already slightly popular franchise? Buy slack! Nice knowing you.

Actually, is anyone still playing Angry Birds? Everyone sitting near me on the tube is playing either a Clash of Clans or Candy Crush knock off (not me- Amazon Prime FTW) And the first film doesn’t seem to have any sort of cult following that I’ve noticed. But, when a film is a box office success, grossing over $352 million worldwide and becoming the third highest-grossing film of all time to be based on a video game, behind Warcraft and Detective Pikachu I guess there’s no harm in having a second film. Even though Angry Birds is mostly remembered for casting Sean Penn as a character who communicates purely through grunting.

This time around, we find our highly marketable, voiced by overpaid celebrities instead of actual voice actors friends being forced to team up after a previously unknown third island launches an attack.

From there, it’s actually a pretty enjoyable ride little film. I mean yes, most of the films least awful jokes were in the trailer, your going to see where every single plot thread is going within minutes if your over the age of 7 but your going to have to be pushing 37 to get most of the references (I mean, Blockbusters, really? That reference is so old it still probably  thinks Brexit was a good idea.)

The voice cast is full of i’m going to guess American celebrities because I’ve never heard of half of them but their passable, no-one distinguishes themselves  but I wasn’t really paying attention after the first ten minutes which is closest to what I vaguely remember the game being like. After that the plot suddenly starts and I start wondering exactly how much the director wanted to knock off Mission Impossible.

Does this film hurt? No, it’s bright and colorful and if your not enjoying this scene or joke, then there will be another along in a moment. Trust me, I’ve seen worse films spin off  from video games (Assassins Creed take a bow.)

Is it going on anyone’s top ten list?

No

Is it going to sell a lot of toys? Probably.

Will anyone even remember it in a few weeks?

Nope, judging from how often i’m having to check y notes I doubt i’ll remember it in ten minutes.

Angry Birds 2: Angry Harder is apparently the best video game film in history which is like being the winner of the Peirs Morgan lookalike contest. It resembles a film, 3 act structure, characters that change slightly over the run time. Well, the lead two sort of do, everyone else just stays as is. I smiled a few times and liked that it had a positive message about working together without claiming that they had become a ‘family’ something that modern cinema does which never fails to send me up the wall.

Ok Sony, this might be a step down from Spider-Man but it’s still better than the drokk that you’ve been pumping out. Keep it up and I’ll consider taking you off the naughty step.

Whats that script guy? The next film is Peter Rabbit 2?

That’ll teach me to have hope.

My Score- If Nothing Else.

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Fast and Furious: Hobbes and Shaw Review

On paper (and indeed on film) Hobbes and Shaw seems to embody everything wrong with this generation of film I mean it’s a spin off of the tenth-highest-grossing film series of all time with a combined gross of over $5 billion which began way back in 2001 as basically a remake of Point Break with cars instead of surfing and the villains plot is to steal TV VCR combos (ask your dad) whereas today, these are basically superhero films. Except these guys allegedly don’t have any superpowers beyond making never ending runways and having cars with unlimited gear changing abilities.

The fight scenes are over edited for reasons i’ll get to in a second, all the best bits were in the trailer making moments that should have whacked an awesome goofy grin on my face seem tired and old, hell, it’s a spin off from an 18 year old franchise, starring arguably three of the biggest names on the planet right now, backed by one of the biggest studios in the world, with a budget of 200 million dollars.. and it’s an underdog movie because it’s the only one of the… I’ll say 7 films to break a billion dollars this year that isn’t from the House of Mouse. Seriously, how is this good for cinema!?!? But since i’m the only one who seems to care that basically allowing one company to monopolize modern entertainment might be A VERY BAD THING I’ll get back on topic.

The characters are all paper thin, everybody should have been dead in the first twenty minutes but they never get so much as a scratch because our two main leads literally have it in their contracts that they can’t lose a fight meaning that the only tension in this film comes just before elevension, the plots utterly mad and yet completely predictable at the same time, it’s completely overstuffed for it’s run-time, there’s barely any time to absorb what mad, awesome, sometimes practical, sometimes bad CGI stunt just happened. Genetically super enhanced bad guys who still can’t shoot straight.  Oh, and it sequel baits, because of course it does.

I loved every single second.

I mean, within a minute Idris Elba has walked on screen, declared himself The Bad Guy, beaten up a load of extras and then we start running and never stop and I loved it. There’s just something about this franchise that makes my inner eight year old break out into a huge grin which never wavers for a single second.

The plot, (such as it is) features former member member of Britain’s National Swimming Squad Jason Statham team up with Former Pro Wrestler Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to stop Idris Elba who’s evil plan is to kill billions of people because villains in blockbuster films are now only allowed to be Thanos. I think the UN passed a resolution about it. Or Hollywood is now run by people who used to work in customer services. Either way works for me.

And I think the reason that this franchise works for me is that well, the whole franchise – it’s an 80’s cartoon that somehow made it to the big screen.

I’m serious! Tell me you can’t see it, whatever members of this group that need a paycheck are doing their thing then the alarm goes off and they all rush off to defeat whatever evil villain is doing evil things this week in their tricked out cars and with whatever gadgets their version of Q has made for them this week. It’s a similar reaction to the one I have for 2010’s A-Team or 2005’s seriously underrated Sahara- The dialogues at about the same level.

Most of the stunts are practical and the ending third – which is about the same time that the director remembered that he was making a Fast and Furious spin-off and not a Mission Impossible spin-off that the whole film really just goes for it.

Which, to be honest is all that I wanted from this film. I wanted madness, I wanted a film full of dialogue that sounds like a 12 year old wrote it. Hell, I want more films loaded with practical effects. I love this film because it reminds me of what film was, what it could be and probably will be again after the superhero bubble pops in the next few years. In the meantime though, this is a blast. It’s many, many flaws not withstanding.

My Score- See It

Kursk/ The Command review

Normally I love watching submarine films. I mean the long lamented genre of siege films is my favorite and the idea of taking a siege mentality, putting it in a giant windowless cigar tube, with the knowledge that even a sneeze could sentence you and 100 other people to death from some unseen enemy is, to my mind a recipe to great movies. And U571.

Normally….

Because normally I’m not watching Kursk or The Command in the US or Kursk: The Last Mission in the UK. Normally I’m not watching a story which should not need to be told because there’s absolutely no reason for it to have happened.

Normally I’m not watching a film and getting Chernobyl flashbacks. You remember Chernobyl, right? Literally the greatest TV show ever made and, unlike Breaking Bad a TV show that you actually should put next on your to binge list. (I’m starting Breaking Bad next week, I swear! On my script guys life!)

Because all of the issues flagged up in that show are flagged up here, despite the Cold War allegedly being well and truly over by that point.  Over, according to the papers but not in the mindset of those high enough up the food chain to accept the offers of help that came in thick and fast, instead choosing to rely on outdated, inefficient machinery that didn’t have a hope in hell of doing what they needed it to do.

Then you have the people back at home, desperate for information who, instead are being fed useless out of date slogans and information that’s so irrelevant that the people delivering it might as well not have bothered.

However, unlike Chernobyl (which was so realistic that the only people who got a bit miffered were the Pro-Kremlin media which continues to deny the extent of the disaster at Chernobyl, saying it has been exaggerated, with state-run media scoffing at the “myths,” such as large numbers of leukemia. Segments of the Russian government were so unhappy with this program that state TV channel NTV is producing its own more “patriotic” account of the events, involving a wholly fictional storyline based on a conspiracy theory that a CIA agent was in Chernobyl to sabotage the plant.)- I can’t wait. But Kursk defiantly takes a more fictional route- the end results still the same but the way we get there is slightly different than what happened in reality.  Because otherwise it would be even more depressing.

Anyway, the plotline (in case you haven’t guessed 420 words in) is that during a Russian naval exercise in the Barents Sea two explosions severely damage the submarine. Twenty-three sailors survived the crash and desperately waited for help to arrive while their oxygen ran out minute-by-minute. It’s cold, it’s grey, it’s depressing and it’s one of the most affecting film I’ve seen in months.

I do have some issues with the film in the Colin Firth (whilst playing a smaller role than the ad campaign would have you believe) is somewhat distracting in the role because a story like this is strong enough that it doesn’t need star power, it’s simply distracting. It’s the same with Léa Seydoux who is a fine actor but I feel that casting an unknown would have lent the story more resonance. Also, toning down the melodrama might have helped somewhat, with the increased time being used to focus on the people trying to save those desperately trapped under the sea, as well as those trying to use their limited resources to get more time for the rescue that they know is coming if they can just hold out a little bit longer…

Kursk/ The Command/ Kursk: The Last Mission is a film that doesn’t pull it’s punches or attempt to quell it’s anger at the fact that every decision that was made was wrong, and (at time of writing) no-one has bee brought to justice. There’s no Hollywood style bombast or moments, just real people trying to make the most of a horrifying, nightmare, situation. I mean, the characters aren’t for the ages (the guys on the sub are pretty interchangeable) but I  liked them, I liked their sense of camaraderie, the way that they kept each other sane in the most terrifying circumstances imaginable. The effects were passable and, on the whole, this was a story that needed to be told, I just think that they needed to take out the star names, maybe stick closer to reality and treat this as an entry point to a fascinating story.

My Score- See It. 

The Dead Don’t Die Review

The most annoying films to review are not the terrible films like your Hellboys who get everything wrong or your Mad Max Fury Roads who get everything right but the films that squander their potential.

The ones that, on paper have everything going for them but just can’t quite make the most of their ideas, cast or potential.

The ones that just make me want to scream at the screen, go back and write another draft and get it right this time!

Because The Dead Don’t Die should tick all my boxes. It’s a zombie film which usually means a siege movie (my favourite genre), it’s got a great cast, an amazing director- every film geek should check out the directors previous film Only Lovers Left Alive.

But… pretty much it’s every problem can be traced back to question ‘so what are you going to do with that?’

For example, it’s revealed early on that polar fracking has disturbed the day-night cycle. ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ Are you going to go the Stepford Wives thing of having every scene in broad daylight? Juxtaposing the glorious sunshine with the creeping horror of a zombie hoard? Nope, the last half of the film is in darkness.

Technology isn’t working. ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ No phones to call for help, no cars to escape in or alarms to warn us. Nope, tech works when the plot wants it to and doesn’t when it doesn’t.

The greatest cast ever disassembled screams the marketing, great, but (all together now) ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ With a cast so large I can’t get invested in anyone. Is Bill Murray going to say that unusually fights ghosts? No. Is too Danny Glover too old for this? No. Is Selena Gomez going to sing a song to cheer everyone up or discover that her songs drive everyone away a la Mars Attacks? No.

The zombies are smarter than your average zombie, drawn to places that were important to them in life. ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ A Wi-Fi joke? Seriously.

And it just goes on and on and on like that. This film has enough ideas to fill out a TV show but doesn’t DO anything with them. Or it’s cast. Apart from Tilda Swindon. Her character rules but the cast is so big with so much going on that she never has a chance to develop as a character.

Look… It’s like I tell the tourists I’m forced to interact with, yes, New York New York has enough stars on Broadway to make a new galaxy but do you know what the west end has? Plays worth watching.

It’s the same here, if your not prepared to use your cast except as an advertising gimmick then why have them?

Oh, oh oh! I have another one. Some of the characters appear to have forth wall knowledge. ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ Nothing? Moving along.

The plots your bog standard set up. In nowherevill USA, the dead start rising and the living try to fight back. Zombie films not really being big on a twisting narrative. But as a way to mock society? How consumerism and the daily grind means that we probably wouldn’t notice a zombie apocalypse? Or a way to examine what makes us human, placing compassion and empathy against our drive to survive? It’s a hard lens to beat but here? Nothing. Zombies arise and sometimes it’s hard to tell the living from the dead because apparently any emotion in this world is illegal or everyone took some downers before coming to the set.

Seriously, if your case doesn’t seem to be invested then why should I? I could be at home watching Anna and the Apocalypse again. At least that has characters i care about, singing and dancing penguins and a villain actually remembering to have fun. But here? Nothing.

Squandered opportunity after squandered opportunity after squandered opportunity. The violence is mostly off screen, there’s nothing distinctive or memorable about this film and at times, it feels so much longer than it’s 1 hour 40 minute runtime.

Everyone’s acting like the Straight Man, we never learn anything about any of the characters, two of them might have feelings for each other ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ Noble sacrifice? Tearful confession before a nearly certain to fail desperate last roll of the dice? No. Of course not. Don’t be silly.

The townsfolk go straight to zombies as an explanation for a series of murders that happen ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ Set traps? Prepare? Try to escape? Nope.

There’s seemingly only one song in this universe ‘so what are you going to do with that?’

You have one of the most unique singing voices in history acting as an observer/narrator ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ Your not even going to let him sing?

I just don’t get you movie.

Perhaps the inevitable cult that’s going to grow up around this will tell me where I’m going wrong but at the moment I just don’t see it.

Look, not every zombie film has to be Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland but being better than Strippers versus Zombies or Zoombies 2 should not be this hard! At least I can laugh at how bad they are!

To me, this film is just a stilted, boring mess that squanders every opportunity the film gods have given it. Hell, I genuinely think this would have been better as a slow burn TV show, as is?

My Score- Skip It.

Men In Black International

“Hey, I was just wondering if you planned to review MIB?”

Asked a long suffering subscriber and I suddenly felt like I was back at school being asked if I planned on doing my maths homework when I already had one eye firmly fixed on my PlayStation.

Which should not be the reaction to reviewing what should be a fun little timewaster. I mean the original film was a fun buddy cop meets monster flick starring two leads with great chemistry, it’s like it’s their fault that the two sequels were respectively unwatchable and basically passable, was it?

Nor is it their fault that according to Sony, the first film (despite taking 600 million at the box office) technically still hasn’t turned a profit.

Hollywood- where the most creative people work in the accounts department.

Anyway, for those of you.who need a refresher, the Men in Black films feature a secret, unaccountable, agency who keeps the aliens living among us secret. Their films always feature an all powerful mcguffin which has the power to defeat a seemingly all powerful alien who has an allergy to weapons, armour or anything that might give them an edge in combat against some sharp suited squishy humans.

And it’s nice to see that some things never change. Despite an interesting idea (A mole in MIB), there is still a hunt for an all powerful mcguffin which has the power to defeat a seemingly all powerful alien who has an allergy to weapons, armour or anything that might give them an edge in combat against some sharp suited, squishy humans.

Which is the first on a very long list of disappointments that this film heaps upon it’s audience.

Yes, Thor and Valkyrie still have good chemistry together but their so rarely together, their either with other MIB or an irritating little CGI… thing who I’m convinced exists purely to sell toys.

Hell, this films so bland that when I checked Wikpeida, it wasn’t for production notes, director, budget, etc. It was in the hope that someone could tell me what in the name of Zhoul was going on.

There was a whole 15-20 minute segment featuring the worst use Rebecca Ferguson I’ve ever seen that could have been safely left on the cutting room floor. Naturally our heros get framed and have to go on the run from MIB which could have lent a cool Jason Bourne air to the whole thing but it also goes nowhere and could have been left safely on the cutting room floor.

What else…

Well, I hesitate to say that the action scenes sucked because I’m not entirely sure that this film HAD action sequences. I mean, there were scenes where guns went bang and other where people made sort of punching type motions and then other people fell over but it was so over edited and I so so uninvested in the whole thing, they might well have been showing off particularly aggressive forms of chiropracting to each other.
Oh, and all together now… “the best bits were in the trailer.”

Which, given that the trailer is about two and a half minutes long and this film clocks in at an almost punishing two hours long (When it has no business being over 100 at the longest.) Shows that maybe you should let the accountants write the next one as this one isn’t going to turn a profit through being unwanted, unwelcome, unimpressive and uninteresting as opposed to being a reason to give them all energy powder and tax deductible bonuses.

I mean, I do like this world and it is a good idea in principle but overall, it’s as memorable as… well?? I would say a flash from a neuraliser but since that’s already been used in over 75! Other reviews, I’ll just say it’s a bland, dull, pointless remake from a company desperately throwing all its franchises with the slightest hint of name recognition at the walls and leave it at that.

In other words? Just go see Godzilla.

MY SCORE- Skip It.

Anna (2019) Review

I get that after your lifelong passion project (Valerian and the city of a thousand Planets) turns into one of the biggest bombs in cinematic history you might want to return to your cinematic roots and make something low budget to calm your nerves, check you’ve still got ‘it’ and stop your company from collapsing under a mountain of debt.

But there is returning to your cinematic roots and there is reheating old leftovers and Luc, buddy, this is some serious reheating.

But hey, I liked La Femme Nikita as well. Hell, I even stuck with the tv show for a couple of seasons but this… this is just copy paste. Just swap out the Centre for the KGB, and your pretty much good to go.

Now, for those of you who haven’t seen Nikita or even last year’s Red Sparrow (and on that one I can’t blame you) the plots simple. Set at some point during the cold war for no reason that I could work out, Anna is well, according to the blurb Beneath a woman’s striking beauty lies a secret that will unleash her indelible strength and skill to become one of the most feared assassins on the planet.

I’ll take that as a plot description because even though this film has a near 2 hour run-time (When a film this basic should be no more than 100 minutes at the longest) I genuinely have no idea what the plot is, why almost everyone did what they did or even who they were. I mean, how do you waste Dame Helen Mirren? I didn’t even think that was possible.

Now, as far as I could work out (and trust me, it wasn’t easy) the plot involves a beautiful Russian girl with no personality being forced into becoming one of the USSRs top assassins and then she enbarks on a cat and mouse game with CIA man (Cillian Murphy) whilst desperately trying to get out of the game without receiving a fatal dose of lead poisoning. Or Polonium. Or Cyanide. Or having a ‘boating accident’ since her cover is as one of the world’s top models. Because that makes sense.

In reality,it’s a mess. There’s only two real fight scenes (which weirdly enough featured pretty heavily in the trailer) , then everyone sits.around talking, some… people on set get shot but it never seems to cost our lead character anything. There’s one fairly major character, who, in the right hands could have acted as Anna’s conscience, a link back to her humanity but instead is just sort of… there. Remove them completely and the film wouldn’t suffer at all.

Also, I get that in spy films the odd flashback can be useful in helping us know how a trick was done, they are best used sparingly. Here? Their used so often that I was half wondering if the scriptwriter was on such a tight deadline that instead of rewriting some scenes, it was quicker and easier to just put in a flashback explaining how this was all part of some grand plan. It got do bad that you could make a drinking game out of them!

We never get a handle on our lead character and certainly not on any of the side characters. There’s two passable action scenes but scenes that should have been tense, weren’t. People that should have had depth, didn’t and its way, way too long.

I know a film of this type can work because it has in the past. But here? Even with the flashbacks it’s completely predictable and with a few rewrites it could have been so much better.

The best I can say is it’s made enough money to temporarily keep the creditors from Luc Beesons door.

My Score- Skip It.

Yesterday Review

Dunkers, I am so confused right now.

Not about the plot of this film. Trust me, once you’ve seen a film where single people are banished to a hotel and are then given thirty days to get into a relationship or be turned into a lobster there’s very little that confuses you in films (apart from Momento I mean I’m only human) but by the fact that this is a film directed by Danny Boyle- fresh from getting out of the ungodly car crash that Bond 25 is turning into teaming up with the writer of Love Actually!

Danny 27 Hours Later, Sunshine, 127 Hours Boyle teaming up with the writer of Love Actually! That’s like Batman teaming up with the Ninja Turtles!
Huh, he did that and it came out on DVD this year?
Fine.

That’s like Batman teaming up with Judge Dredd!
Twice!?!?
Sherlock Holmes?
Tarzan?
Scooby Flaming Do?!?!?
Fine. This writing team up is like Batman teaming up with my mate Tom who thinks that just because he doesn’t drink he never has to get round in.
Git.
The point is that this team up shouldn’t work and yet it kinda does really.
The ideas really cool in that a mysterious blackout has caused everyone to completely forget The Beatles (along with a feather things) ever existed and completely removed all records, CD’s, YouTube videos etc from existence.
It’s also the kind of surgical removal which has left all art inspired by the Beatles completely intact. The inlyperson who remembers they existed is a failing singer who can recrerate all their songs from scratch. And even helps them to survive repeated encounters with Ed Sheeran.
We’re never told how or why this happened and frankly, I don’t care. We never questioned how or why Bill Murray got stuck in a time loop in Groundhog Day and its the same idea here.
Again it’s not the biggest suspension of disbelief I’ve ever had to make and its a really cool idea to springboard from.
Its just a shame that the main guy is a complete drip, none of his supporting characters gets any depth, the plots completely predictable once you strip away the while Beatles veneer, there’s a scene with James Corden in it which is one to many in my book and it well, it just doesn’t have enough Beatles music in it.
I mean, you would think that, having allegedly spent 10 million of your 24 million dollar budget on getting the rights to the songs, then you would use the damn things but the film just… doesn’t.
Which is a shame as the film, for all its predictability has a real charm and warmth to it. A flawed idea brought to life by humans who are passionate about it rather than made by marketing people in an attempt to sell toys.
The film does miss a wide open goal in Kate McKinnon’s manger… erm…manager who, towards the end almost seems to be some sort of villain who looks at our lead and just sees a licence to print money, where it would have been cooler if she remembered as well and was the devil on his shoulder, tempting him with money and fame if he would just keep his mouth shut and sing except she’s never used in that way.
Also, she’s not very funny in this either.
Look, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m down on Yesterday because it doesn’t really do anything wrong. It moved along at a decent clip, it’s actors are solid and it is a feel good film, woth a few scens that made me laugh and others that made me chuckle, but it’s just that with a few rewrites what’s good could have been better, make manager into a seductive menace, develop the characters a bit after cutting maybe one or two of them, play some of the songs and this could have been up there with Groundhog Day instead it’s sort of there.
Also, why is it all the good films this summer are based off of songs that came out 15 years (or so) before I was born? Seriously Hollywood, get it together before you have to make a film about The Eagles.
And everyone hates The Eagles.
My Score- See It.