Jason Bourne Review

For arguably one of the most influential franchises of the 2000’s, and despite my huge love for spy films and practical effects, Jason Bourne has never left me anything more than lukewarm.

Maybe its the fact that I’ve never been able to tell what the hell is going on- to me all Paul Greengrass films are incredibly over edited and seem to filmed by someone who’s permanently slightly drunk  and hasn’t quite worked out how the focus button works yet.

Or it could be the fact that the entire franchise is based around ‘revolutionary fight scenes’ that James Bond was doing back in From Russia With Love  in  1963! Except that cameraman was sober and knew how his camera worked.

No, I think my main issue with Bourne (aside from the fact i’m not sure how many there are -is it 4 or 5? Does The Bourne Legacy exist at this point?) Is that the franchise reminds me not so much of a spy version of 24 or even an American Bond, it’s that it always seems like a rip off of The Incredible Hulk TV show from the 70’s/90’s.

Hear me out. Both feature a man who is relentlessly pursued by people with seemingly unlimited resources, is forced to remain constantly on the move, is pretty much indestructible in combat and inevitably leaves a trail of destruction is his wake.

Oh, and each film is as formulaic as a TV show as well. Let’s not  forget that.

Anyway, Bourne is dragged back into the world of mumbling people sitting in offices mumbling at each other when the CIA twigs that he’s still alive and decide to kill him because… erm…  what else are you going to do with a seemingly limitless supply of super assassins?

This weeks villain is Tommy Lee Jones (making his once a year ‘I’m not dead yet!’ cameo) as well as future Tomb Raider and star of that robot movie that you didn’t see but tell everyone you did Alicia Vikander. Unfortunately, they can’t seem to decide whether to kill Bourne or bring him in though and therefore settling for bumping off each others staff and generally acting about as threatening as my running socks.

There is an impressive amount of action, although some of the chase scenes  could do with some serious trimming and the final chase seems have wandered in from the Fast and Furious franchise when Greengrass realized how much of the budget he had left.

There’s some sort of plot thread about a tech platform being used to spy on us which I think is meant to be some sort of jab at Apple but it never really comes to much and seems to be being kept for the inevitable sequel that the film is overly determined to set up when all it did was remind me of the plot to Terminator: Genysis. 

Does anyone else miss when a film was a contained story and not a trailer for the next one in the franchise?

In short?

Its a Jason Bourne film, seen one, seen them all.

My Score- If Nothing Else

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Creed- Review

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael B. Jordan Michael B. Jordan
Sylvester Stallone Sylvester Stallone
Tessa Thompson Tessa Thompson
Phylicia Rashad Phylicia Rashad
Andre Ward Andre Ward
Tony Bellew Tony Bellew

 

Plot- The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.

Review-  Nobody wanted a new Rocky film.

Nobody.

Even Sylvester Stallone had had enough of the character after Rocky Balboa and only after being stalked by the director (Ryan Coogler) did he eventually consent to appear.

And that’s a really, really good thing because this film is awesome.

Even if the soundtrack is missing a certain song…

Michael B. Jordan (magnificently atoning for Fan4stic) is a revelation as (the somewhat interestingly named) Adonis Johnson/Creed, a young man determined to become a boxer in his own right and not simply be known as the son of Apollo Creed.

To this end, he recruits Rocky to become his trainer and prove his worth by taking on erm….. Hang on a second whilst I check IMDB…. Random English bloke! (Actual boxer Tony “Bomber” Bellow in his first film role)

Amazingly plotted, scripted, and filmed with the highlight being a six minute one-take masterpiece of two rounds of a boxing match. During one particular moment the entire audience gasped as a character fell to the floor in glorious slow motion.

Creeds story feels mostly realistic, with a few admittedly cheesy and some actually chuckle worthy moments. Sly as an aging Rocky does a career best performance with a few genuinely touching moments as the two form a father and son bond.

And let us not forget Tessa Thompson as Bianca who is a character worthy of a film in her own right instead of simply being ‘The Love Interest.’

Even if the plot is slightly predictable, Creed is an absolute knockout.

My Score- See It Now

 

The Least Profitable Films of 2015?

Ok, so Forbes has (slightly early) released the least profitable films of 2015 and to say that I found it… interesting is an understatement.

Least Profitable Films Of 2015
1. Rock The Kasbah
2. The Gunman
3. Blackhat
4. Unfinished Business
5. Jem & The Holograms
6. Self/Less
7. American Ultra
8. We Are Your Friends
9. Aloha
10. Mortdecai

Now I’m not saying that these films (the ones that I’ve seen) didn’t deserve to flop but where are the big ones? In a year that gave us Jupiter Ascending, Pan, Fantastic 4 AND Terminator Genysis are these films really less profitable?

Forbes explains: We ranked movies based on what percentage of their estimated production budgets they earned back at the theater as of November 18th, 2015 to find this year’s biggest flops. We only looked at movies that opened in more than 2,000 theaters; we did not include films released in November. All box office data is worldwide from Box Office Mojo.

Ok… So as a percentage of its box office versus their production budgets Jem and the Holograms made less than Pan! The budget for Jem was roughly  5 million dollars! What, where the only people who saw this film the directer and his mum?

I do like that Forbes has decided that there will be no flops for the rest of the year though, I’ll let Victor Frankenstein and Love the Coopers know that they can breathe  easily. Before I get my grubby little claws on them anyway.

I understand how they came to this list, but releasing it in November gets my hackles up as it assumes that there will be no flops in the last 6 weeks of the year. How can Forbes know that? If there’s a bigger flop will they print a new list? I not even thinking about my own lists until January 1st for this very reason.

Finally, I’m 100% convinced that none of these films will remain flops forever, I can see cult followings for several of them and endless re-runs on late night TV for the rest. But it’s still an interesting read regardless.

What do you guys think?

 

Civil War Trailer Reaction

So the new trailer for Captain America: Civil War has dropped and to be honest I’m not entirely sure that I care.

My Facebook, Twitter and Snap-chat are all full of people eagerly planning when they can buy tickets and offering up their first born for a sneak preview and I find myself… lukewarm on the whole thing.

I’m still going to see it on opening night (I am a film critic after all) and even if I wasn’t I would still see it, wouldn’t I?

I think part of the reason is that I know that none of the characters are really in any danger. I know that it’s going to end with them all being alive for brand/contract reasons.  So  now we have a film without suspense.

I also know that it’s going to be filmed against a green screen and feature a small countries economy worth of special effects. So now we have a film with without suspense that looks like a video game cut scene.

Not to mention that it’s going to be hinting at/ setting up/ working alongside other Marvel properties (Agents of Shield, Infinity Wars, Doctor Strange etc.) So now we have a film without suspense, that looks like a video game cut scene and is not only telling its own story but starting/ finishing/ evolving others. Nothings going to be resolved permanently just paused for the time being.

It’s also just one of the 847 (roughly) superhero/ graphic novel films in development. Which means it’s going competing in a saturated market, offering pretty much the same as every other big film out next year. So now we have a….. Do you see what i’m getting at here?

And finally, most importantly, the @~@! thing isn’t due out until May the 6. Which is 6 months away. Which means every time I go to the cinema for the next six months I’m going to see it or another trailer for it until I can see it every time I close my eyes. ( Star Wars and Spectre have acted similarly.) Surely you could wait until February?

I’m sure that Jeremy Jahns, Chris Stuckman, The Flick Pick and other reviewers have uploaded videos/blogs of the teaser trailer declaring it to be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

I hope you understand if I don’t.

 

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation Review

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015) Poster

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Cruise Tom Cruise
Jeremy Renner Jeremy Renner
Simon Pegg Simon Pegg
Rebecca Ferguson Rebecca Ferguson
Ving Rhames Ving Rhames
Sean Harris Sean Harris
Lane

Plot- Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate – an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.

Review– Good evening film-lovers, your mission should you choose to accept it is to go and watch Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Gather a team of friends and go immediately to the cinema to watch this in the largest screen you can find.

Because it’s awesome. Director Christopher McQuarrie’s previous film was the slightly above average Jack Reacher which apparently impressed Mr. Cruise enough that he’s been brought in to direct the best installment of this franchise.

In a nutshell the plot is very simple. Ethan Hunt must take down “The Syndicate” an evil organisation that I think wants to bring about global chaos. For backup, he can call upon Benji (played by Simon Pegg) ever dependable Luther (Ving Rhames) Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and possibly the mysterious Isla Faust (Rebecca Ferguson – absolutely magnificent.) To make matters more difficult the CIA (lead by Alec Baldwin) is hot on his trail. With the Impossible Mission Force gone, this may be a mission too impossible even for Hunt…

But this film is not about Ethan Hunt. He’s in it and does the insane stunts that we’ve come to expect from Mission Impossible most of which were done for real (thank Zeus) and not all of which were spoiled in the trailer. But the film seems finally to have realized that Ethan Hunt is less interesting than my desk and has made the film all about Femme Fatale Isla Faust. And I think that this is the best call that it can make, as she plays someone desperately trying to survive in a maze of grey where there is no loyalty or trust and survival is as much luck as skill.

The soundtrack is a masterpiece of subtlety. During one tense sense there’s no music at all, just the revving of engines. In another, merely the sound of a heartbeat as the oxygen ticks away. I wouldn’t recommend buying it, but it adds to the enjoyment and tension.

It’s just a shame that the villain is rubbish, he’s supposed to be this chess player who’s possibly superior to Hunt, but he spends most of his time staring at laptops, talking to people and sounding like he’s on the verge of losing his voice. I wanted someone with a bit of an edge who projected a sense of menace. Instead we get another person who’s personality rivals my desk.

The film does drag a little in the second act, and the globetrotting does seem to be a little excessive with us barely having time to focus on one location before we whiz off to the next, and the tone might be a little too light for the threat that The Syndicate allegedly poses.

But in the end, this is a thrill ride from start to finish, a twisting plot, incredible stunts an amazing female lead who I desperately want to get her own spin off film. It could do with having about ten minutes cut but aside from that, I rate this film as…

See It Now

As always, should you or any of your I.M. Force be caught or killed, this blog will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This review will self destruct in 5 seconds.

Ant Man Review

Ant-Man (2015) Poster

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Rudd Paul Rudd
Michael Douglas Michael Douglas
Evangeline Lilly Evangeline Lilly
Corey Stoll Corey Stoll

 

Plot- Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Review- Crack open the champagne, sacrifice a goat to Ra and rejoice mortals! For Marvel has finally created a decent villain! True, I’m not sure how much of that was down to the acting ability of Corey Stoll, but even so, Marvels (to me) biggest flaw in their films has always been their rubbish villains. Hopefully this will be the start of something evil.

As for the rest of the film? I really like it. In fact, I would say its a better film than Avengers: Age of Ultron which, I realize might be a controversial opinion but it’s one I intend to stick to.

I’m not saying it’s perfect. Not by a long shot. It feels horrifically unbalanced, with almost all of the action in the final act, and in the first 45 minutes I noticed quite a few of the younger cinema goers getting fidgety in their seats, but once it got going, for better or worse, the film barely paused for breath.

The good news continues on with the rest of the cast as well. With legendary actor Michael Douglas turning in a masterful performance as Hank Pym, who plays a mentor to Pauls Rudds main character Scott Lang. Evangaline Lily does feel slightly wasted as Hanks daughter Hope, but i’m certain the inevitable sequels will do more to flesh out her character. As I’ve said, Corey Stoll plays his villainous role well enough to create the first halfway decent villain in the Marvel Universe.

Ant-Man is also backed up by a group of (suspiciously) ethnically diverse, one line spewing completely interchangeable helpers whose names escape me. Whilst they were funny, they really didn’t seem to have any reason to exist.

Also, unlike some other films this year that cost 150 million dollars, that action scenes here are funny, inventive and memorable. With CGI used to great effect, in fact one effect towards the end had me belly laughing. Not chuckling, not smirking- actual full on belly laughing. The ants are really well realized as is the world when Ant-Man shrinks down.

Sadly though, this film suffers massively from “What else you got” syndrome where most of the impressive moments were put in the trailer. Although that is sadly to be expected in this day and age, I do find it slightly annoying.

In the end though, plot is basically Marvels take on Oceans 11 and mostly pulls it off. As I say, the first half drags slightly and you saw a lot of the best moments in the trailer. But the cast interact well, the plot works, the one liners were actually funny and the special effects were amazing.

My Score- See It 

Oh, and there are 2 end credit scenes.

Batman V Superman Teaser Trailer Review

So the new trailer for Batman V Superman / Man of Steel Sequel has dropped and…

It’s awesome!

And it’s a grey depressing mess which shows that Warner Brothers and DC have learnt nothing from Man of Steel.

And yes, I can hold both of those thoughts in my head at the same time. Lets me try and explain why.

To look at, the trailer is impressive, it ties in directly with Man of Steel and shows the world asking itself what to do with Superman? After all, he’s basically a God and whats to stop him when if he goes bad? And even when he was trying to help he flattened a city.

It shows Bruce Wayne realizing that he needs to become Batman again, as he is the only one who could stand before Superman. It even shows Wonder Woman for half a second.

The cast look good, (except for Lex Luthor) and its clear that there’s going to be a ton of stunts. But here’s where the issues start to creep in for me.

Allegedly, after Green Lantern sank faster than the Titanic, DC decidd that it was purely down to the level of ‘jokes’ in the script and decreed that there was to never again be a joke in one of their films.

Leaving aside the fact that Green Lantern failed in every way imaginable, this means that most DC films are very hard to watch. Grim and gritty works for Batman, he’s a rich guy with issues. But Superman is meant to be about hope and there was very little of that in Man of Steel.

Truth be told, I found that film grim, hard to watch owing to it’s grey tone and fac that no-body seemed to talk like a human being, the constant CGI action became annoying and I just wanted a joke, a one liner, hell, even a DAD joke and it looks like the same is happening in this film.

I’m still looking forward to it, but I can already tell that it’s going to be action heavy, no-body is going to talk like a human and i’m going to leave with a splitting headache.

Again.