Enders Game – Review

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So here it is the worst movie I’ve seen this year by a long shot.  The major problems with this movie are twofold, first is the plot. I’m sure when the book first came out in 1985 (which I haven’t read by the way) it presented some pretty novel ideas but in regards to the movie we’ve come a long way since then. The entire premise just feels incredibly cliché and almost every major narrative turning point seemed like I’d seen it played out 100 times before in various different forms of media and done much better than it is here.

As is becoming increasingly frequent in Hollywood Enders Game is just another movie focused more on special effects than it is on emotional engagement which leads me to the movies second major fault: the cast. A lot of people have described this movie as Harry Potter in space, which I think is pretty accurate in more ways than one and not in a good way. Like the early Harry Potter movies the primary cast here are all incredibly young and as such do not carry the movie very well. This isn’t necessarily a criticism of their acting abilities but as children they just lack the life experience required to believably portray the gamut of emotions required of them. As it turns out this is kind of big deal when your story is centered on a bunch of kids. Which by the way is never adequately explained in the movie, if Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley are the ones training these little punks why can’t they just lead Earths forces instead? I mean come on, who would you really want defending the planet. A bunch of preteens or someone with a lifetime of real world experience?  The threat was also never really fleshed out and as such just felt like an afterthought and the whole of Enders journey felt pretty needless. 

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Ultimately this movie was just really boring and is starting to become a trend for Writer/Director Gavin Hood, previous efforts including X-Men Origins: Wolverine the worst X-Men movie ever produced, perhaps Enders Game signifies that perhaps Hood should call it quits in terms of big budget Hollywood movies. Don’t go see Enders Game. End of

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The Wolverine – Review

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Finally the Wolverine movie we’ve all been waiting for.

No kidding this was just amazing. I can honestly say I didn’t think they would really be able to pull it off but this just blew me away. If it was only mediocre it still would have been an improvement on its predecessor X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but it’s so much more than that.

Instead of yet another pointless prequel the film makers made the very well thought out decision to set this film after all the events of the previous X-Men movies. Logan is alone, jaded and still haunted by the death of Jean Grey who appears throughout the movie via dream sequences exploring Logan’s inner turmoil as an immortal warrior surrounded by the death of his loved ones. And this is the crux of why I enjoyed this movie so much. Not only does it deliver great action and special effects but it’s also got a really great story at its core and delves into some really interesting themes at the same time. Essentially it manages to do what so many other movies strive but ultimately fail to do; it strikes the perfect balance between epic action and mature dramatic story telling.

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I loved the fact that the movie literally starts with Logan withstanding a nuclear strike at Nagasaki; I loved the fact that after being burnt to a human cinder his hair grows back to its perfect trademark style. I loved the fact that there’s actual honest to god character development in this movie.

My biggest fear with going in was the concept of taking away Logan’s mutant healing factor. A common trope which I really grow tired off. ‘Hey you know that one thing you really like about this character, well we ran out of ideas so we’re just going to make him vulnerable by magically taking that away’ Ugh. But honestly it didn’t grate on me as much as I thought it would and I was actually on the edge of my seat going into the climatic final battle.

About half way through the movie as Logan was reminiscing about his nuclear encounter in the now rebuilt Nagasaki (I’m not sure reminiscing is the right word?)  I was thinking to myself ‘Wow I’m really enjoying this, like a lot’ Which I think sums it up quite well. For a while now it’s just been so frustrating to watch Fox have their way with wolvie on the big screen. Hugh Jackman has always been the perfect fit for the role but pesky little things like the story and what not have seemed to get in the way, but not this time. They kept us waiting but they eventually got round to making a movie that truly does this character justice. Well done sirs. For 126 mins you managed to make me forget how much I resent the fact that Marvel Studios doesn’t have the rights to these characters.

Also with the absolutely tantalizing stinger this movies serves as a pretty great trailer for next year’s X-Men Days of Future Past. Which if you weren’t excited about already you will be after you see this movie.

Pacific Rim – Review

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WOOOOOAH

I mean c’mon, seriously that was just incredible.

Ok I knew going in there was a high probability that I was going to like this movie, I’m a massive fan of Guillermo Del Toro, I’m a massive fan of giant robots fighting giant monsters and I’m a massive fan of Charlie Hunnam (Jackson Teller from Sons of Anarchy) but I can honestly say as sky high as my expectations of this movie were they were well and truly exceeded.

There’s not one bad thing I can say about this movie except that I just want MOAR. Starting with the action, thankfully I avoided most of the trailers and TV spots so I didn’t ruin too much of it for myself, the fight scenes were just mind blowingly awesome. In a world where I’ve become pretty desensitized to over the top CGI spectacle I actually found myself breathless and aghast watching this movie.Image

 

 

What made it even more impressive was that I actually cared about the characters. They did a great job on the human side of the story that gives the movie a real emotional core, and made the action even more intense as I really wanted the humans to win. The comedic elements are perfectly measured so as not to become annoying but just enough to add some levity and joy into the movie. Which is another great thing about this movie, it seems like everyone just wants to make things overly serious, cynical and depressing in movies and whilst that works in some movies it’s nice to see something uplifting and hopeful for once.

I really haven’t got much else to say, I just loved it. It’s absolutely the best movie I’ve seen this year. Can’t wait for the blu ray and I pray to god they do a sequel. 

Man of Steel – Review

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Too many tv spots, wayyy too many. After about the 7th tv spot I felt like I had pretty much seen the whole movie already and as it turns out, I had. All the best moments had been spoilt for me. But despite all that I really, really wanted to love this movie, when they first announced it would be Zack Snyder directing andChris Nolan producing my head practically exploded with excitement. The dream team I thought to myself, Snyder’s eye for epic, super powered action sequences and Nolan’s dramatic, grounded story telling. How could this possibly fail? Well not that it failed exactly, but I certainly wasn’t totally blown away in the fashion that I was sure I would be. Obviously my impression is massively tainted by the sky high level of anticipation I had for this film, but to be fair I was in the same state of mind when I saw The Dark Knight in the cinema and I walked away from that experience having had my high expectations absolutely blown through the roof, with Man of Steel however I left feeling just slightly meh…

Now having said all that I will say that this is easily the best Superman movie to date, it totally blows the rest of them out of the water. The action scenes, as we’ve all seen from the trailers, are the truest depiction of Superman’s true power and the other great strength of the movie is the relationship between Clark and Lois, which is absolutely nailed this time. But other than that I found it pretty hard to care about a lot of the other characters. I wasn’t overly impressed with Zod as I thought I would be, a lot of the obvious dramatic moments fell flat for me and a lot of the movie really felt by the numbers and predictable.

They actually gave most of the best sequences to Faora and she displayed most of the best moments of Kryptonian abilities, shockingly I found myself more interested in watching her than I was in Superman. I was sure this was to set up Supes in the last act to start truly kicking some ass but no, the flip never happened. Obviously Superman wins but not in any spectacular fashion, he just sort of wins….

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In the final showdown Zod asks the appropriate question, if he was born and trained to be a warrior and on Earth he has all the same powers as Kal-El than what chance does he; a farm boy realistically have? And there is no answer for this question proposed. There real question then becomes why did they have that line in there when it’s only purpose is to make the audience say to themselves, Yeah Zod really should have won.

That’s just one of the little things that really irked me, and the point is if I’m taking the time to actually pick that apart and get annoyed by it then the movie’s not doing something right. Man of Steel is movie with serious ups and downs and unfortunately did not live up to the hype that surrounded it and having now had some time to analyse it I really don’t know if there’s anything DC can do to bridge the ever expanding gap between themselves and Marvel. And unfortunately for all the fans out there dreaming of a Justice League movie to knock Avengersoff the top spot, this really doesn’t bode well for it. To be fair if Man of Steel had dropped before any of the Marvel stuff had been set in motion I probably would have looked far more favourably upon it, but it didn’t. And the landscape for comic book movies has changed so much in the last few years it feels like DC will forever be lagging behind which is really unfortunate.

I don’t want to end on such a down note, so I will say that there is the definite possibility for a successful Man of Steel sequel but I think there has to be a major change up, lose Zack Snyder. 

World War Z – Review

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I don’t remember how exactly I became such a big fan of the zombie genre; it was probably Resident Evil 2, a game that introduced me and my brother to the sheer panic of fighting off the zombie horde with your last few rounds of ammunition. But I do remember reading a book called The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks not long after it was first published:  A practical step by step manual to surviving the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse. And then in 2006 I discovered what would become my favourite book for many years to come, Brooks Magnum Opus:World War Z. A book I so fiercely enjoyed I became a spokes person for it among my friends and soon had many of them tearing through its pages just as I had. I read and re-read it over and over again. I listened to the audio-book and have followed Max Brooks career very closely ever since.

When I first heard that WWZ was to get the big screen adaptation I as many people I assume felt a mixture of feelings, excitement and skepticism. Excitement because there are several cinematic moments in the film, The Battle of Yonkers for example and skepticism because the narrative layout of the film is extremely un-cinematic and does not lend itself to the traditional 3 Act structure of Hollywood movies. As the movie fell into such difficulties during shooting my skepticism only grew but then the first audience reactions hit on twitter and hope was restored. Yesterday we went ourselves and saw the movie in 3D, going in my expectations weren’t through the roof they were somewhere in the middle. I knew from reading a few reactions not to expect the book and just to embrace the movie for what it is which I did and I actually really enjoyed it.

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World War Z is worlds away from the book, which I think was inevitable but that doesn’t stop it from being an excellent, fast paced, thrilling zombie movie. Brad Pitt nails it, predictably, in the lead role as Gerry Lane the retired U.N warzone investigator who is sent on a mission to find patient zero in an attempt to find a vaccine to the devastating zombie outbreak. To say there is nothing shared between the book and the movie but the title, as people on the internet have done, is actually unfair. There are glimmers here and there but it’s fair to say that it’s a very loose adaptation. The main similarity between the two is that they both use the zombie outbreak to examine the socio-political landscape on a global level: The North Korean ‘solution’, The Israeli Wall. Tied altogether with incredible big budget action sequences and special effects, there’s a lot to enjoy in this movie.

If there is a complaint to be made it would be in the movies third act, which actually goes against the grain in terms of big budget Hollywood action movies. Instead of turning up the speakers to 11 and blasting the audience into submission with a balls out finale, WWZ dials it back and goes for a slower yet still nerve wracking sequence.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed World War Z and would highly recommend it. Can’t wait to watch it again on blu-ray and the inevitable sequel J

Oh and I was actually in Glasgow when they’re were shooting the opening outbreak sequence, so yeah 😛 

 

 

The Lords of Salem – Review

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The Lords of Salem is the latest release from heavy metal front man/horror film director Rob Zombie. My first exposure to Zombies work was his remake of the John Carpenter classic Halloween, and I was really impressed with Zombies take on the character of Michael Myers and the dark, unsettling mood he established throughout the film. In contrast to most modern slasher flicks Zombie really put his own creative mark on it and even more so with its sequel and firmly established himself as one of the top horror directors in Hollywood today. What makes Zombie stand out to me is that whilst he is obviously not adverse to depicting gratuitous violence he doesn’t rely solely on gruesome torture porn that has unfortunately become the prevalent trend in horror movies recently, instead he creates a really unsettling tone of dread. Particularly through his use of music and score, he creates films that are slow burn; they steadily ramp up the sense of dread towards the third act. Again this is all too rare these days in modern horror films which often just try to barrage the audience in an all out assault of constant jump scares and frenetic shaky cam footage.

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The Lords of Salem is a story about witches that are attempting to come back into the world via an age old curse on the bloodline of the family that executed them. Back in the day the witches created a piece of music that would infect the minds of the women of Salem which somehow finds its way into the hands of present day local radio DJ, Heidi Hawthorne played by Zombies wife Sheri Moon Zombie. Who decides to give the unusual record plenty of air time despite the fact that it’s a pretty ominous and repetitive piece of quite clearly haunted music, I guess that’s what the hipsters are into these days so whatever, but the music is also making Heidi lose her fucking mind. She has intense and disturbing lucid hallucinations of bizarre satanic rituals and you guessed it naked witches. The subtext of the film is pretty clear, people have darkness within them. Besides being steadily possessed by dirty naked witches, Heidi also returns to drug abuses, she becomes isolated and pushes away her friends and she willingly accepts the child of Satan into her body.

Influences like Stanley Kubrick’s the Shining are pretty apparent throughout as Zombie crafts a pretty impressive mind fuck of a movie, incorporating some wild, trance like sequences particularly in the build up to the final act.

The Lords of Salem is a bizarre and disturbing movie that truly stands out amongst today’s modern horror flicks and delivers a truly original experience. 

Iron Man 3 – Review

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Yesterday me and my girlfriend went to see Iron Man 3. Ever since the release of the first installment back in 2008 I’ve been a big fan of the series, I caught the first flick on the big screen 3 times and it’s sequel twice, so my anticipation was high. I’d intentionally avoided most of the trailer, tv spots and early reviews as I tend to find too much exposure to pre-release hype diminishes the actual viewing experience, but I had a general idea of the direction. I’m also a big fan of director Shane Black and specifically Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, an action/comedy/buddy flick, set at christmas featuring Robert Downey Jr, so I also had a general idea of what to expect in terms of artistic tone and I was not disappointed with what I saw. 

Easily the best Iron Man movie so far, the movie finds itself in an unusual position, not only is it the direct sequel to Iron Man 2 it also follows the events of The Avengers which plays a big role in the character development of Tony, who finds himself suffering from severe panic attacks which is understandable for a guy who just flew a nuclear weapon in a giant worm hole in the sky above New York opened by an army of evil intergalactic space aliens. So how do you create an appropriate threat for the man of Iron now that he’s fought Avengers level threats? The answer is to cripple Tony’s confidence, take him back to basics, essentially fighting himself back out of the proverbial cave with a bunch of scraps. 

What Shane Black has achieved is the funniest Iron Man movie that also features stunning action sequences, something that was somewhat lacking in the previous installments. As always the dialogue is witty and expertly delivered by Downey, but what really had me laughing out loud was a particularly inventive sequence featuring a not quite complete Iron Man suit.

The big third act finally has been pretty much spoiled by every single trailer they put out but it still manages to deliver in terms of sheer ‘Holy Shit OMG’ awesomeness. 

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I loved the relationship between Tony and the little boy and was genuinely touched by the heart warming ending. I’ve seen a few reactions by people wondering how Tony will feature in future installments specifically Avengers 2 now that he has removed his chest piece and destroyed all his suits, I would point out that it the chest piece isn’t required to use an Iron Man suit, War Machine uses one, Iron Monger used one in IM1, Whiplash used a suit in IM2, Pepper Potts uses  the suit briefly, so Tony will still be able to use an Iron Man suit when required. As to the destruction of his entire arsenal, He’s Tony Stark, come on, of course he’s gonna make more suits. He even says right at the end of the film, I am Iron Man. And essentially I always will be no matter what happens to me. And in case you had any doubt at all, the movie even spells it out for you in the end credits, Tony Stark will return. Speaking of end credits the stinger, the amount of people who stayed glued to their seats in anticipation of the now famous Marvel stingers was really a testament to their appeal. I really enjoyed this one, the relationship between Tony and Bruce was something I really enjoyed in The Avengers and I’m really glad they’ve decided to build upon that. 

Now just as few things I do have an issue with, The Ten Rings? As revealed in this movie The Madarin was nothing more than a tool used to manipulate the public, created by Aldrich Killan, that in itself I have no problem but it does raise one important question, what was going on in the first movie when the Ten Rings kidnapped Tony? Are we to now believe that Aldrich Killian was behind it all along? Or has Shane Black just created a pretty sizeable plot hole in the entire Iron Man series? 

That being said I really dug the movie and I’m super excited for the future of the Marvel cinematic Universe. Interestingly enough I noticed that Marvel just happened to drop the first Thor 2 trailer just as IM3 comes out in cinemas, coincidence, I think not…..