Film and TV reviews

Trailers of the Week - Solo / The Meg / Future World

posted 16 Apr 2018, 12:33 by Paul Woodward




Kickboxer: Retaliation

posted 11 Apr 2018, 16:14 by Paul Woodward


Genre: Action

Stars: Alain Moussi, Jean Claude Van Damme, Christopher Lambert, Mike Tyson, Sara Malakul Lane

Director: Dimitri Logothetis

Certificate: 15

Run Time: 1hr 50mins

Year: 2018

This is the follow up to ‘Kickboxer: Vengeance’ which was loosely based on ‘Kickboxer’ the classic Van Damme film – there is also a third film in the works subtitled ‘Armageddon’ which I presume continues to follow the adventures of main protagonist Kurt Sloane (Moussi). Van Damme does have a backing role in these films as Sloane’s quirky (AKA nuts) mentor and trainer Durand.

The basic gist of this film is Sloane, a skilled MMA fighter, is kidnapped and returned to Thailand for the murder of Tong Po – If you’ve seen the first film, you’ll already know Sloane killed Tong Po in a fight to the death in revenge for Po killing his Brother. So, he finds himself in a Thai jail, with such inmates as Mike Tyson and Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho, I am not making this shit up. What crimes these guys were committing in Thailand is anyone’s guess, but I’m not sure this film is a good advert for holidaying in Thailand.

It turns out very rich fight promoter Thomas Moore (Lambert) arranged for Sloane’s return so he could fight his new champion – man mountain Mongkut. So, Sloane is offered the chance of a fight to the death with Mongkut or to spend the rest of his life in prison for the murder of Tong Po – oh and the prison is full of Tong Po fan boys who want to kick his ass daily.

Initially Sloane says no, gets into scraps with his fellow inmates including Mike Tyson, whom he then befriends and reintroduces him to Durand – who for reason’s unbeknownst to anyone has been blinded by Moore and put in prison for been complicit in Tong Po’s death. So, in order to get Sloane to fight his wife is kidnapped – so what happens next before the inevitable showdown with Mongkut is a collection of training montages, including Ronaldinho kicking balls at Sloane’s face for some unexplained reason and fight set pieces as Sloane tries to rescue his wife and avoid the Fight.

This is an old school action flick so don’t expect stunning acting, hell this film boasts Mike Tyson as one if it’s leads are you seriously expecting Oscar worthy acting? The only reason to watch a film like this is for the action as the plot is so thin it’s see through! In that department the film definitely delivers, the final fight I felt was a little elongated though and could have been shortened while still giving us a decent final fight sequence. The final fight involves a rather bizarre twist that will having you spitting a beverage everywhere and screaming “Are you fucking shitting me!” in total disbelief and not in a good way.

There are some good action scenes with some great displays of athleticism especially from Alain Moussi, who is primarily a stunt man in most his film work. There are two scenes in particular which are done in a ‘one shot’ way which adds a really exciting edge to the action sequences and gives them an edge of realism – not something I expected in a low budget film, where cutting and editing a scene together would be easier.

Van Damme seems to be playing It for laughs, there are some really smirk inducing moments delivered by Van Damme, the cynical amongst us would say it’s because he can’t act, but me though, I feel as though he’s taking this role very tongue in cheek and the things he does/says fit in with this bizarre slightly crazy Durand persona – It’s just unintentionally funny sometimes.

Lambert is Lambert, He’s never bettered his role in Highlander and he wasn’t exactly winning an Oscar there either. Tyson is cringeworthy playing a hard man, who gets whipped (literally) and doesn’t flinch but as soon as he opens his mouth and he talks like a little boy it deflates the hard man image instantly.

If you concentrate on the main star Moussi and his actions sequences you’ll enjoy the ride, he’s not a bad actor given the script he’s working with and his athleticism and fight scenes are entertaining and well-choregraphed. I think if the scriptwriters and Director put less unneeded distractions in the flow of the film and focussed on Sloane it would have a stronger serious tone and could perhaps be taken as much more serious action pic (Ironically much like many Thai films where this was filmed)

There are a couple of sequences where bad editing is noticeable as a couple of shots seem in the wrong order, once during a montage sequence and one right at the end involving Van Damme – which made his acting seem even more over the top and his character seem a little mental.

I think the film makers wanted this film to be bigger and grander than it really is. They tried this by starting the film with a dream sequence, then throughout the film this dream which was obviously prophetic has flashes to what is happening throughout the film. This is obviously done to try and give them film a little depth and gravitas and not just be a film with a guy going around kicking people’s asses. Which is ok, but it adds nothing to the film, he isn’t given this dream for a reason, to change something or as a warning, it just is! The film would still be exactly the same with or without it, it doesn’t hurt the flow of the film it just doesn’t serve a purpose in the story telling.

It’s a decent enough low budget action flick so if that’s the type of film your looking for its worth checking out. Just enjoy it for what it is!

6/10

Review by Woody

MacGyver (Season 1)

posted 10 Apr 2018, 15:04 by Paul Woodward


Genre: Action / Adventure / Comedy

Stars: Lucas Till / George Eads / Tristin Mays / Justin Hires / Meredith Eaton / Sandrine Holt

Creator: Peter M Lenkov / Lee David Zlotoff

Certificate: 12

Year: 2016/17

This is a reboot of the Eighties classic TV show which stared Richard Dean Anderson in the title role. It sticks to the principal concepts of that show but is updated in many ways and has an ensemble cast fronted by Lucas Till who takes up the role of improvising science genius MacGyver who can make anything he wants out of whatever he has at hand. Till even sports a sort of Mullet in the first few episodes and even wears Eighties Mac’s trademark brown leather jacket!

MacGyver and his team work for the Phoenix Foundation a covert operations unit, battling terrorism, performing hostage rescues, gathering Intel, saving the world and all types of Spy type stuff. Unlike the original show the Phoenix foundation is connected to the US Government this time around, In the original it was a private firm set up and run by Pete Thornton. It is an adventure of the week type show, with a few recurring characters and a couple of stories which are touched upon during several episodes. It’s not much watch TV by any means, but it is entertaining and good to switch off too, it’s not overly taxing and is fun with likeable characters and Mac’s improvisations are always intriguing.

Unlike the original this time around Mac has a team, all with their own set of skills and attributes that they bring to each adventure. Jack Dalton (Eads) is Mac’s muscle, Riley Davis (Mays) is his Tech girl and his best mate Wilt Bozer (Hires) is his lab guy who specialises in prosthetic make up (you know for disguises and shit!). The writers have obviously looked at the original series and have brought things from it to this reboot, to give the show a sort of similar feel, this includes using recurring characters from that era not just as guest stars but as main cast members to, which is a nice nod to the original.

The Phoenix Foundation is run by Patricia Thornton (Sandrine Holt), but the mid-season cliff-hanger sees her revealed as a double agent which was quite shocking as it came out of nowhere and you felt given the name her connection to the original would have guaranteed her a regular role on the show. If this was always intended I don’t know, TV shows are notorious for ditching actors if ratings are bad or reactions to a character aren’t too the viewing public’s liking. Holt was fine in my opinion and played the role of the straight-laced boss well to counter the fast and loose attitudes of Mac and his team. Thornton is replaced by Matty Webber (Meredith Eaton) who is tough and straight laced but with a strong sense of dry humour thrown in the mix and she is less distant and more interactive with Mac and his team than Thornton was.

The show doesn’t take itself too seriously and is very comedic which makes it very easy to sit back and relax too. In the original though I seem to remember Mac was a pacifist not just someone who dislikes guns, in this show Mac and indeed the show itself is more violent and features a lot of gun play. This isn’t a criticism, the actions scenes are usually very entertaining and well shot, with obvious money spent on stunts and explosions. It does differentiate the show from the original a little bit though. Mac doesn’t use a gun in the first season, or at least I don’t remember him doing so but he is more hands on and combative. Dalton delivers the vast majority of the fighting and shooting, something the character revels in whilst dropping one liners at every opportunity.

The characters do all interact and have back stories that connect them which helps give you reasons to like them and feel invested in what happens to them. Till gives us a very laid-back MacGyver, who takes everything in his stride, Eads obviously loves his role as the teams wise cracking action man, Hires is the slightly nerdy but funny Bozer and rebellious moody hacker Davis is played well by Mays who rounds out the main cast.

Other than some names already mentioned Mac super fans will also be intrigued by the return of recurring characters like Billy Colton and his family, Penny Parker and assassin Murdoc. Penny Parker was memorably portrayed by Teri Hatcher in the original but the new Parker was non-descript and a is a real waste of one of the originals most liked recurring characters – someone needs a slapping for that! Murdoc steals the show though a thoroughly nasty piece of work who oozes pure evil and provides a great counterfoil to Mac and his team, so it’s no surprise his character pops up frequently.

Personal favourite actress Amy Acker pops up, not her most memorable role, but it’s Acker damn it, enjoy! Also keep an eye out for Tracy Spirakidos who pops up a few times in the first half of the season, this role isn’t her best either, but her character is more about motivation and a plot device tool so she doesn’t have a lot to get her acting teeth into. Anyone who has seen the short lived sci-fi show ‘Defiance’ will know how awesome Spirakidos can be!

I’m not a big fan of TV show crossovers, as usually you need to be watching both shows concurrently to get the full benefit of them and sometimes it can leave you confused or peeved if you’re not a fan of the other show. So, I gulped hard when Dalton mentions he knows a guy in Hawaii’s 5-O division when passing on some info regarding a copycat murderer to them. The crossover doesn’t happen till near the end of the season and thankfully it is an adventure of the week episode so it’s basically MacGyver in Hawaii with guest appearances from some of the Hawaii five-O cast in a self-contained episode.

If you’re looking for something comedic with plenty of action and adventure that’s easy to watch then look no further. Just don’t expect Oscar worth acting or deep intensive storytelling – this is just fun!

7/10

Longmire (Season 6)

posted 9 Apr 2018, 11:58 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 9 Apr 2018, 12:00 ]


Genre: Crime / Drama / Western

Stars: Robert Taylor / Katee Sackhoff / Lou Diamond Phillips / Cassidy Freeman

Creators: Hunt Baldwin / John Coveny

Year: 2018

Season six of the Neo Western Longmire is it’s last one and while this saddens me as I’m a huge fan of this show I’m glad the show goes out maintaining the high standards and entertaining storylines I have become used to over the past six years.

While on the surface Longmire may seem like a police procedural series and does indeed for most episodes have a ‘crime of the week’ it’s much more than that. It also follows season long story arc’s, which focus on longer running events and personal life dramas of the main cast – many of which stretch over the course of several seasons and this separates it from most crime dramas.

Set in rural Wyoming in a small sheriff’s office, staffed by the titular Walt Longmire (Taylor) and a couple of deputies Vic Moretti (Sackhoff) and The Ferg (Adam Bartley). The small department deal with big crimes ranging from murder to bank robbery and everything in between. The quirk to this series is Longmire’s aversion to modern technology and solving crimes with old fashioned detective work. One of the long-standing Longmire quirks that’s maintained through all six seasons is that he doesn’t have a mobile phone and when he does need one he lends one from whomever is at hand.

The series has a strong Western feel to it, not just because of it’s setting but also because of Longmire’s old-fashioned values and approach to his job. It really does feel like a modern day western. I also really like the inclusion of the Native American reservation and how the two communities co-exist – It’s also really eye opening to real life on Reservations in America, from the politics to drugs and poverty but it also shows  a lot of positive aspects of life and community on the Res. American TV seems to overlook the native American communities and if you weren’t aware of the country’s history you may be forgiven for not realising Native Americans still exist!

Although it’s set in a fictional Wyoming County the series is filmed in New Mexico. One thing I’ve always loved about this show is its cinematography and the lush and beautiful countryside that the show is filmed in and the directors always use this to full visual effect but to also emphasis the shows rural setting. The Directors the show has used over the years including occasional guest star Peter Weller have always put a lot of thought into their visual’s, lots of scenes utilising traditional shots people would associate with western films which accentuate the Western vibe. A lot of the Directing style actually is superior to most shows giving the show a grander almost cinematic style at times and other shots actually intensifying or displaying a scene to much more effect. Like a scene when Longmire walks silhouetted through a door which echoes John Wayne’s final scene in The Searchers and much like that scene a lot is said with nothing been said at all!

There is a lot going on this season, Longmire’s civil suit court case, Vic’s pregnancy, Henry’s abduction (which you saw at the end of season 5) the ongoing Chance Gilbert saga just to name of few – all intertwined with a few crimes of the week and a new season long arc following the Cowboy Bill bank robberies. The season does have an air of finality to it as loose ends are tied up and recurring minor characters have their stories bookended.

It’s a great end to the show which does have a conclusive ending and I found all ten episodes to be highly entertaining. It doesn’t finish entirely as I had thought it would for example the long running feud between Nighthorse and Longmire doesn’t end in a shoot out and Walt seems to have let go of his demons regarding the death of his wife and his desired revenge seems fulfilled – with what he’s already done. In fact, other than linking Nighthorse to possibly been connected to feed the fire of the feud, that story thread had been laid to rest seasons ago.

Season five ended with Longmire’s daughter Cady (Freeman) been fully embraced by the people of the reservation and her role as a lawyer aimed at helping them and the community been fully utilised. This concluded with Mandy taking her to a ‘sweat’ which lead to her having a bizarre prophetic vision, which included a lot of the main cast members. This is dealt with and explained in the first few episodes, if this was always the intended story I don’t know, but it feels not. I think the script writers wrote in this dramatic vision to make a perfect cliff-hanger, but when it came to the new series I think they choose another direction and explained parts of Cady’s vision away but left a lot ignored.

Walt’s daughter Cady goes from hero to villain on the res, although her intentions were always good. This leads to her Law practice going under and a surprising job change in the final episode. I wasn’t a huge fan of Freeman before her role in Longmire, but I’ve come to really like her as the strong but sensitive Cady. She also sparks well with recurring character Zach, the battle scarred and unassuming aspiring deputy.

Longmire’s best friend Henry had last been seen been abducted by Malachi Strand (Graham Green) – who also turns out to be this season’s main antagonist even though Graham Green doesn’t appear till the final episode. Henry and Longmire had fallen out following the discovering that Henry had taken up the mantle of Res vigilante Hector. Longmire rescues Henry, gets snake bit, which he shakes off in true Longmire style and all is forgiven and the pair move on from their falling out. This allows Henry to become Longmire’s go to guy and sometime helper once again, especially on the Res for the rest of the series. His story ends unexpectedly but on reflection it makes sense that he becomes a prominent member of the Native American community.

The Ferg (Bartley) started off as a background character but has had increasingly more to do and is seen far less comedically. His ongoing relationship with nurse Meg has some ups and downs but ultimately finishes on a high note, or at least that’s what’s alluded too. Other occasional characters get a send off some positively some not, I’m sure Peter Weller was happy with his characters Lucien’s end, a blaze of glory for an old-fashioned cowboy. Lucien was the former sheriff who trained Longmire and occasional pops up, usually unwantedly as he was a reluctant retiree now spending his days in an old people’s home. I wouldn’t say Weller is the greatest actor in the world, but his turn as Lucien was always great and he made his character compelling and likeable in a roguish way.

Vic has a lot of emotional stuff to deal with this season betwixt dealing with her Pregnancy and her PTSD from her encounter with Chance Gilbert, whose fate is still up in the air. I like Katee Sackhoff, she does tend to get type cast in tough female characters but she does embody those attributes well in her acting. Vic is tough, but has always had a sensitive side, I like how Sackhoff and the writers have developed Vic’s character so that she is a well rounded and more realistic, a strong woman doesn’t have to be unemotional or totally independent – Film and TV roles in the past tend to have strong women as one dimensional bitches, heartless, non-maternal and softer women as dependent on men, but with positive warm characteristics. I Just find these stereotypes writers fall into as not realistic softer natured women can be tough as nails and hard women can be emotional and need affection. So, I find Sackhoff’s performance and Vic’s character really interesting, well rounded and easily likeable cause she is so very human.

In dramatic fashion Vic loses her baby, whilst also closing the chapter on Chance Gilbert following his daring escape, which Vic unintentionally had a hand in whilst pushing for the death penalty. This leads to some very heart wrenching scenes for Sackhoff, as she deals with the lose her baby something she tries to do on her own at first. I think the subject is handled really well and helps solidify Vic’s and Longmire friendship as it exposes how much they care for one another.

The show has toyed with Vic and Longmire been more than friends, but I have always seen the relationship as like a Father and daughter. He’s protective and caring towards Vic, Longmire is old school and is protective of women so it makes sense he can’t help himself feel the need to shield and protect her. The writers though make sure though that it is done in a way where her never underestimates her abilities and still trusts and relies on her in her role as a deputy. In the early seasons Longmire has no interest in anyone as he’s still mourning for his wife and is still totally devoted to her. Season 4 saw Longmire have a relationship and it just proved he wasn’t ready yet for a serious relationship. This opened up a realistic option of Vic and Longmire getting together.

Vic has always been drawn to Longmire and following her divorce, her feelings for him were touched upon on a few occasions. Obviously, she loved his protective nature and his devotion to his wife as well as the respect he gave in her role as a deputy. So, it’s easy to understand why she was drawn to him, but I always felt Longmire didn’t see her romantically, even in season six a few things happen where he’s basically standing aside or pushing others towards Vic. Although it makes sense the show finishes with them getting together, I would have preferred if Vic had found someone similar to Longmire, a younger version though, so she’d still have that happy ending. I don’t think Longmire needed to find someone for his story arc to feel complete or happy and bar his intimate scenes with Vic, if some conversations had remained between close friends they would still have impact and meaning. But hell, it’s nice to have a happy ending, regardless!

Longmire himself does soften throughout season six, less grumpy, less angry which allows for some deep emotional scenes for him especially with Vic and also makes them getting together more believable. His values remain the same and his still his stoic no nonsense self when it comes to his job. But this softening allows the show to wrap up its lose ends and to give Longmire a upbeat positive ending. The final scene itself brings a wry smile to my face and it’s a great way to end before fading to black, but I did sort of predict it!

Australian actor Robert Taylor was perfect as Longmire, stoic, gruff and his portrayal embodied old school values and an unwavering stance on the wrongs and rights in life. In an age of anti-heroes, Longmire was the ultimate good guy and protector and that has always drawn me to the show. Taylor was unknown to me before and it would be shame if he disappeared again, but it will be hard to imagine Taylor as anyone other than Longmire. A role of a lifetime for the Aussie and one I’m sure he’s very proud of.

Longmire is quality TV, which compelling storylines, mysteries and characters to love and hate in equal measure and in comparison, to many similar themed shows is a real cut above!

8/10

Review by Woody

Trailer of the Week - Killing Eve

posted 8 Apr 2018, 16:13 by Paul Woodward


Trailer of the Week - Deadpool 2

posted 2 Apr 2018, 12:43 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 2 Apr 2018, 12:51 ]

















Jessica Jones (Season 2)

posted 28 Mar 2018, 13:47 by Paul Woodward


Genre: Superhero / Drama / Action

Stars: Krysten Ritter / Rachael Taylor / Eka Darville / Carrie-Anne Moss / Janet McTeer

Creator: Melissa Rosenberg

Certificate: 15

Year: 2018

It doesn’t seem like three years since season 1! Perhaps the biggest downside to these Netflix Marvel shows is that they don’t follow a yearly cycle so it can be frustrating waiting for your next season fix – I really enjoyed the first season so have been anxiously awaiting the follow up. I did get a JJ fix within ‘The Defenders’ which wasn’t nowhere near as bad as some critics say, but not as good as hoped for admittedly.

Picking up after the events of The Defenders, Jones is back working as a PI with stalking cheating spouses her main source of work…again! The series centres around Jones discovering and investigating her ‘lost time’ following the car crash that claimed the lives of her entire family and how she got her powers. Jones herself has little interest in digging up the past but step-sister Trish keen to become an investigative reporter starts looking into her sister’s past and the mysterious IGH. Which triggers some events that lead to Jones having no choice but to delve into her past.

The series is very slow moving but managed to maintain my interest throughout – unlike many superhero films/series, JJ is more story and drama driven, so don’t expect massive action set pieces. Perhaps not as good as the first season mainly down to the fact that season 2 doesn’t have defined ‘bad guy’ who you can truly hate, Jones’s antagonists here are far more sympathetic. Even the mad scientist behind her powers is presented in a sympathetic manner as his experiments were always intended to help and heal although his ethics are totally skewed. Add to this a distinct lack of tension, which in the first season got steadily more intense towards the inevitable finale between Jones and Kilgrave. Whom makes a cameo in an episode towards the end of the season to help emphasis Jones’s fear of losing her mind and questioning her own morality following some events.

I love the flawed nature of Jones and her constantly pissed off attitude. It’s also totally understandable, her moods and desire to disassociate herself from society are all explained in her back story, with yet more reasons for Jones to say ‘fuck em all’ in season 2 revealed. Things that have happened to her are going to leave scars and affect her outlook on life, losing her family and been controlled and raped by Kilgrave are major things to deal with.

I’ve read recently that Jones is been praised as a female role model, now part of me can see how this strong reluctant superhero does fit the mould. But you have to remember Jones is a functioning alcoholic who is very broken, given her tragic back story. The fact you never see Jones sloppy drunk or puking her ring up I think makes the casual viewer forget she has a problem and sees it as a quirk of Jones’s that can be brushed off. But it is very much a serious problem and a destructive coping mechanism which is intrinsic to her character’s persona and developing story. Although it’s sometimes played for laughs like when asked at a party if she’s having fun she responds’ ‘I’m having Bourbon’ or in The Defenders when she steals a sleeping tramps beer and necks it.

It’s hard to imagine anyone but Ritter in the role of Jessica Jones, as an actress I didn’t particularly like her I found her to be annoying in most roles I saw her in and I down right hated her in ‘Breaking Bad’. I’ve become a big fan of Ritter, because of JJ, a role she was obviously born to play! Here she takes a potentially unlikeable and deeply flawed apathetic and seemingly uncaring persona and makes you care about Jones and what happens to her and deeply willing for things to turn in her favour. Dead pan humour, occasional flashes of the soft centre underneath her harsh exterior that she presents to the world make her a character its hard not to love and unlike most superheroes she is presented as very human, very flawed and sadly very broken and I think that vulnerability makes her more real to viewers than the other ‘Defenders’. If you ignore the super powers of course.

Janet McTeer has a great role, which I won’t reveal, but she has a prominent role over the course of season 2, she has a lot of chunky deep emotional stuff to deal with and really brings her character to life. Trish (Rachael Taylor) is still a little bit annoying and her story arc doesn’t help but it’s important to her characters progression especially as we know she is destined to become ‘Hell Cat’ – whether or not the script writers choose to do that in the future is still a mystery but a brief scene at the very end of season two, could allude to Trish becoming a hero in her own right. Throughout the series Jones is battling not to get involved, to not be hero, where as Trish is the opposite which leads to her ending up in some right shenanigans.

The absolutely horrible lawyer Jeri Hogarth is back played to perfection by Carrie-Anne Moss. Although technically on the ‘good team’ she is just a thoroughly unlikeable character who always seems to be up to no good and would throw anybody under the bus for her own gain. Hogarth’s story arc actually winds up making us feel for her, with two very dramatic gut punches which make you genuinely feel sorry for her and I actually felt myself rooting for her to get back to her bitchy and immoral self towards the final episodes.

I like how all these Netflix Marvel shows have a story arc with a defined conclusion every season, with only minor cliff hangers which hint at possible plots for the future but with a satisfying ending. Season 2 does leave you with a hint at the future for most of the characters, but a nice little happy ending scene for Jones herself is very welcome and puts a nice seal on the chapter.

Jessica Jones is a thoroughly enjoyable with a lead actress and character you can’t help but love, flaws and all. Not stereotypical superhero fare, more cerebral and adult orientated storylines make it something different from the glut of other comic book adaptations.

9/10

Game Over, Man!

posted 27 Mar 2018, 09:11 by Paul Woodward


Genre: Comedy

Stars: Adam Devine / Anders Holm / Blake Anderson / Aya Cash / Daniel Stern / Neal McDonough / Rhona Mitra / Jamie Demetriou

Director: Kyle Newacheck

Certificate: 15

Run Time: 1hr 41mins

Year: 2018

Game Over, Man! Is a low brow comedy from the team behind TV Show ‘Workaholics’. I don’t know that show so I can’t compare or confirm any similarities in comedy style, but it is written by and stars the three principal actors from that show, Devine, Holm and Anderson. This is a comedy film which is full on lowest common dominator humour, drugs, toilet humour and very wacky.

The film’s plot is basically ‘Die Hard’ played for laughs, something that script acknowledges very early on by a villainous character stating he wasn’t just on the team because he looked like “the black nerd guy from Die Hard” – he is indeed the tech nerd too. The Die Hard style plot – Bad Guys take over a skyscraper and try to steal money – is something the script writers tip their hat to frequently and never try to hide.

It is quite funny and I did really enjoy it, It’s a nice little throw away chuckler! I was a little shocked with some scenes of nudity and blood as I’ve noticed a trend in films over the past 15 years or so trying desperately to hit that magical 12A marker to garner maximum box office returns. With Game Over, Man! going directly to Netflix, I did wonder if toning certain things down to achieve a lower age restriction at the Cinema weren’t a factor for the film makers. If this was always the intention for it to premier on Netflix I don’t know. There are definitely a few scenes which would have been altered/chopped or re-shot before a major distributor would have picked this up for a cinema release.

The three leads work well together and banter continually with each other which will definitely appeal to fans of comedy based around quirky interactions between sets of friends. They are likeable losers who’ll have you face palming and chuckling in equal measure, don’t let the fact none of these guys are big names put you of seeing the film, they have all popped up in other films and TV shows, Adam Devine has been a regular on ‘Modern Family’ for example.

Daniel Stern pops up in a larger than life role as the hotel manager (where has he been???) and appears to have massive fun in his very non-PC spouting role. Lots of Celeb’s pop up amongst the hostages, but don’t worry if you have no idea who they are they are low tier celeb’s whom if you don’t know their work you aren’t going to have a scooby like Joel McHale and Donald Faison of Scrubs. Although Shaggy does make an appearance but unless you’re over 30 I doubt you’ll know who is either!

British backing comedian Jamie Demetriou has a big role and hams it up nicely, although he is way subtler than Alan Rickman in the deadly serious ‘Die Hard’. I really like Aya Cash from her role in ‘You’re The Worst’ but her she doesn’t have a lot do and basically has one joke which is built up over the course of the film – wish she had more to do but the film is really about the trio of hapless heroes so sadly Cash’s character is only a bit part. Rhona Mitra pops up in her usual scary bad ass woman guise and does what she does best looking super-hot whilst strutting round beating people up. Mitra is actually a better actress than many of her film roles would dictate, mainly I feel because she gets typecast a shit load – Watch the first two seasons of TV show ‘The Last Ship’ to see a very different Mitra who has a role that allows her to really flex her acting chops.

If fart and knob gags, drug and base humour tickle your funny bone ‘Game Over, Man!’ is definitely worth checking out with a big bowl of popcorn on a Saturday evening!

8/10

Annihilation

posted 26 Mar 2018, 13:31 by Paul Woodward


Genre: Sci-Fi / Mystery / Drama

Stars: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, Oscar Issac, Tuva Novotny

Director: Alex Garland

Certificate: 15

Run Time: 1hr 55mins

Year: 2018

When I’m aware of a film been based on a book or real event I have a bad habit of researching the event/book prior to watching the film. Although I haven’t read the book of the same name, from the information I gathered I can say that there are a LOT of differences and I think there is a little tweaking and reimaging along the way by writer/director Alex Garland. Obviously not everything that works on the page translates well to the screen, but I do feel there are lot of changes here – this may upset fans of the book, it may not, but it’s definitely not a faithful adaptation. So much so that it would be impossible to continue the book trilogy cinematically with follow up films.

It is a really weird and unsettling film from the beginning right through to the closing credits. I thought it was a film trying to be really clever and cerebral when it didn’t really need to be. Given the praise Garland received for ‘Ex Machina’ I get the impression he is trying to emulate several aspects of that film, the disturbing and unsettling tone and the art house style of directing and I feel it maybe didn’t suit the plot of this film.

It was entertaining enough, it didn’t drag or bore me, but it is a slow burn film and is certainly not a popcorn movie, this is definitely one for a more mature audience. The basic plot of the film is a meteor has crash landed on earth smack bang into a Lighthouse and a ‘shimmering’ barrier has slowly expanded from that central point of the crash and is called Area X. A Research company who you assume is connected to the US government called ‘Southern Reach’ send teams into the shimmering to find out what’s going on because everything within Area X is a mystery. Once inside the ever expanding shimmering all communication is lost and no one returns. The wife of one of the last team’s members, Lena (Portman), after the sudden reappearance of her husband who has no memories of what’s happened and quickly falls into a coma is part of the next team to enter – a five-woman team of scientists. What happens next is a basically a road trip to the lighthouse.

It’s very mysterious and no real answers are given to what the hell is going on and the mysterious ‘evolution’ and ‘mutations’ are never explained even the ending leaves the why’s and what for’s totally down to the interpretation of the viewer. It’s not a satisfying movie as it presents a lot of questions but effectively answers none and the ending in the Lighthouse is bizarre and I think art and presentation win out against storytelling.

I love Natalie Portman and she does really well with a very bizarre story but this film is more about visuals and mystery than meaty character portrayals. Jennifer Jason Leigh is just plain moody and her character comes across very unlikeable, not because she’s a bitch but because Leigh comes across as bored and apathetic throughout and seems uninterested in what is going on around her so you don’t care about her. The other actresses have more fleshed out characters with moments that allow them to endear themselves to the viewer, Gina Rodriguez who plays a cocky, bombastic soldier who turns a little nut’s in a much-used sci-fi plot trope and scene. Tessa Thompson plays a shy unassuming character with personal troubles, which are never talked about but allow you to feel sympathy for her fate. It’s a totally different role from Thompson’s turn as ‘Valkyrie’ in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’.

Annihilation is not a film that is going to stick in people’s memories and it doesn’t have mass appeal. But that doesn’t make it a bad film, it’s just not for everyone, but even those who appreciate more cerebral and thought provoking films will still be left thinking what the hell was that as the credits roll!

6/10

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