Tag Archives: Action

Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

I knew I wouldn’t get on well with this. The trailer failed to get my juices flowing and I didn’t think I’d be able to get past the CGI’d central character, Alita (Rosa Salazar). In fact, Alita was the least distracting thing about the film and I have healthy respect for the way she’s animated.

Glynn really wanted to see and enjoy this, so with no expectation (on my part), we took Date Night to the Odeon. While this film wasn’t my favourite – and actually made me scoff a few times because it was so awkward – I enjoyed some of the spectacle. Everything is CGI’d to the hilt and it’s an impressive world built from scratch.

The year is 2563 and a world war know as “The Fall” has left the Earth devastated. We find ourselves in Iron City which is nothing more really than a massive junk yard. Times are tough here and it’s made all the more difficult by the looming sky city of Zalem, which is placed directly over Iron City.

The poor (fiscally and physically) residents of IC are overshadowed by the obscene wealth of Zalem every day of their lives. Some long to beg, steal or borrow their way up there by any means necessary. One day, cyborg scientist Dr. Dyson (Christoph Waltz) is scavenging an actual junk yard when he finds the healthy head and brain of a female cyborg. He brings her home, gives her a body and a heart – and names her “Alita”.

Alita quickly adapts to her new life but she has little recollection of where she came from. For all intents and purposes, she’s just a normal teenage girl who happens to be a cyborg. When she meets Hugo (Keean Johnson), he opens up her world view all the more. But Alita isn’t just a normal teenage girl and it soon becomes apparent that whatever she is, she’s a warrior. She has incredible survival instincts and is an expert in an ancient martial art.

This comes in handy when she finds out Dyson is moonlighting as a Hunter-Warrior (bounty hunter) and she gets to help him take down some lowly criminals.

Alas, this puts Alita on everyone’s map and not in a good way as she upsets the order of things, pissing off not only the criminal underworld but also the Hunter-Warrior community. All this runs alongside the national spectacle of Motorball, an all-consuming sport that everyone seems to love. Obviously she’s a natural at that too.

And there’s a helluva a lot more to it than that. The film looks good if you don’t mind suspending your disbelief for two hours. The action is satisfying too but it just doesn’t have much of a soul. When it comes down to it, Alita is the best character in it and I think it’s because of her enthusiasm. Both Mahershala Ali (as gang boss Vector) and Jennifer Connelly (as Dyson’s ex-wife Chiren) are wasted. Waltz seems to phone it in. Ed Skrein‘s shady Hunter-Warrior Zapan is horrible –  and the central teen romance is cringe-worthy AF.

While Alita has every right to the ordinary aspects of life, I could have done without the YA romance. Hugo is as terrible as Zapan and I didn’t care for him at all. But you know, as I type this I realise there’s more to like than dislike so maybe you’ll like it more than I did. It’s not a total disaster after all, just not my cup of tea.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Venom

Venom (2018)

 

I say this quite a lot but I went into this with absolutely no expectation, except that Tom Hardy would be fit. I left pleasantly satisfied and that’s because he is perfectly cast as the slightly loser-ish Eddie Brock. There’s a lot of fun to be had here, basically.

Is it anywhere are groomed as Infinity War or Black Panther? Of course not – but there’s a place for it and I enjoyed myself immensely.

Mr Hardy is a dream, an actor that sometimes makes you ponder whether he’s that technically talented – but it hardly matters, he has something a lot of other leading men don’t have and that’s the special something. And obviously I would climb him like a tree.

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Hey babe

Riz Ahmed is also very good as evil Carlton Drake, a slick criminal mastermind who slowly but surely transforms into Venom’s ultra strong arch enemy, Riot. In the beginning, I had some reservations about Michelle Williams as Eddie Brock’s love interest Anne, who starts off pretty simpering. Luckily for everyone concerned, she claws it back and is actually great in the end, a heroine not afraid to get her hands dirty in a bid to make sure Eddie’s okay, even though he gets her sacked.

Support from Slate (whose character, Doctor Dora Skirth deserved better) and Reid Scott as Anne’s new boyfriend Dan is also good – but the supporting star has to be the lovely Mrs Chen (Peggy Lu).

The CGI can be a bit much to keep up with at times because there is so much going on and I don’t really know about all the symbiote science but ultimately I’m not mad at Venom at all.

My Rating

3.5/5.

The Meg

The Meg (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

After escaping an attack by what he claims was a 70-foot shark, Jonas Taylor must confront his fears to save those trapped in a sunken submersible.

*Minor spoilers*

Flippin’ heck. I feel like I’ve waited a lifetime for this movie, the premise and execution of which could have been lifted directly from my own fantasies.

Jason Statham, in a wet suit at his frowny best? Hell yes. Ginormous prehistoric shark with an insatiable thirst for anything unlucky enough to get in its way? You got me. There’s nothing else I need really but I do get more bang that I could ever have wished for. Welcome to my review.

Jonas Taylor is something of a maverick, because of course he is. He is also haunted by past decisions that may have cost a lot of people their lives. Though he stands by what happened that fateful day he lead a semi-successful rescue mission to safety – the sub they were in was attacked by something HUUUUGE and mysterious – he still feels hella guilty about the ones he couldn’t save. So guilty he’s now a drunk chilling in Thailand. Nobody believes his ramblings about a giant sea creature because why would anyone? I would but that’s me. I want to believe. 

“I loved you in Furious 7…”

Meanwhile and fast forward five years, billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) is collaborating with Doctor Minway Zhang (Winston Chao) on a project on underwater facility Mana One. Along with his daughter Suyin (Bingbing Li) and a rag-tag bunch of fellow scientists and oceanographers, Zhang is exploring the contents of the Marianas Trench, financially backed by Morris.

You know, just poking around to see what’s what… like you do.

I’m not going to wow you with science here and I’m not going to say anymore apart from when shit goes down – and boy does it – Jonas is called to save the day. When his theory is proven right and he is exonerated as a delusional whack job – it is left up to him to keep the team safe and protect the world from Meg, a sassy and beautiful prehistoric Megalodon.

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Swish swish, motherfuckers

Is it any good though? Well, I am highly biased but I say HELL YES it is great. It’s exactly what I wanted, needed and expected – the dialogue is shaky and cheesy as hell – but it’s a fun ride. You can’t go into something like this expecting an Oscar worthy movie – that’s not what anyone is here for. It’s fun, it’s stressful, it’s awe-inspiring on the big screen and it’s funny where it needs to be.

As for the performances, I’ll stand by Statham ’til the end. The guy knows his limits and he plays very well to them. His comic timing is good and he look fitter with every passing year. He might not be Sir Laurence Olivier but he’ll always get me off my arse and down to the local multiplex because he gives it everything he’s got. As Jonas he gets to display his trademark furrowed brow a lot and I love him for it.

I was also impressed by Ruby Rose for a change, who still plays the same character she has in everything I’ve ever seen her in but she’s getting better as an actress. Plus, I feel there is an unspoken chemistry between her and Jonas’ ex-wife (and crew member) Lori (Jessica McNamee) – and I want more of that.

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Finally, I’m just fucking glad we’re seeing more Asian characters and actors on the big screen – it feels like 2018 has been the year for giving us more of this and it’s so important. Perhaps we can stop white washing things and start hiring appropriate actors to play characters as they were intended?

My Rating

4/5.

Ocean’s 8

Ocean’s 8 (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala.

Oh YEAH.

A female-ccentric heist movie with all the glamorous trimmings and then some, this movie is a blast from start to finish. And while I was always living for the cast and the fact boys were pissed off about yet another all female-remake, I’m happy that it’s also genuinely a good movie.

Obviously I can’t pick a favourite from the cast because that would be impossible but I can say that each of Debbie Ocean’s crew get enough screen time to make you love them and that is no mean feat. Where Ocean’s 11 and it’s sequels were slick and enjoyable, Ocean’s 8 dials it down a little bit and just focuses on the fabulousness.

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It is a lot of fun and is stunning to look at with a wardrobe across the board to die for. The chemistry too makes it even better, though some (male) film critics have criticised the lack of it. I do not see their point at all.

The plot is not too taxing and while some of it is a little far-fetched, I don’t think any of us are here for that anyway, so who cares? What we care about is fit women getting one up on ex-boyfriends, ride or die friendship and the fulfillment of destiny, even if that destiny is just to be a really, really good criminal.

I’m in love with all eight women and I’d watch this movie again and again, if only to study the way Cate Blanchett wears her fringe because it is sublime. I also really enjoyed seeing Anne Hathaway in a sassier role, she’s a very sexy lady.

Damn, it every single one of them is hotter than Hell.

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My Rating

4.5/5.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event.

*Spoilers*

I don’t mind admitting that I went into this with little expectation. I wasn’t crazy about the first Jurassic World and only signed up for Fallen Kingdom based on the trailer, in which a gigantic sea dwelling monster rises from the deep to chomp on some surfers. Call me shallow.

What I did get was a dinosaur heavy romp with a conscience, a fun ride that was worth my time even if some of the plot points are utterly ridonk. I got an evil Toby Jones too – and some remarkable side characters, including Zia (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin (Justice Smith) who kept the laughs coming. 

Bryce Dallas Howard is lovely as ever, though I half wished she’d been wearing high heels again to piss off the haters who critiqued her footwear in the last film. Chris Pratt is serviceable as Owen Grady but I don’t really love him (still haven’t forgiven Star-Lord for his brattish behaviour in Infinity War, sorry). Rafe Spall meanwhile, is dashing as Eli Mills, the mastermind behind all the madness. 

I have to mention that a definite highlight for me was Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine), the mercenary heading the dinosaur ‘rescue’ team. His stereotypical Trump-supporter solider was deliciously bad and when wronged by a female character he screams “What a nasty woman!” and I lol’d. Nailed it. 

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This movie got me right in the feels a couple of times with its message about whether these beautiful dinosaurs deserve the same rights as animals, or whether they should be left to become extinct once again. While nature takes care of some of the business, the conclusion leaves us in no doubt of where a sequel will take us – and if I’m right, it will be the best kind of sequel, with a fresh environment for our lizardy pals to run riot.

There’s also a massive clunker to address further down the line, the topic of genetic cloning so that should also be fun. I’m ready for them to bring it.

My Rating

4/5.

 

 

 

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Directed by: 
Starring: Alden EhrenreichWoody HarrelsonEmilia ClarkeDonald GloverPhoebe Waller-Bridge

IMDB Synopsis

During an adventure into the criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.

Where: Odeon, Brighton
When: Friday 25th May
Who with: Glynn Bass
Snacks: Deluxe popcorn and drink combo

*Beware spoilers*

I’m starting to think I’m incapable of thinking badly of any of the Star Wars movies (not you original prequels). Every time I get a new SW film, be it spin off or part of the original story line, I can’t help be satisfied.

I really enjoyed Solo but must cop to going in with a little less excitement than normal. I mean, I was into it but not in the same way as I was with Rogue One. The main draw was Donald Glover as Lando but girl, it was all a trip and I loved every minute. Genuinely.

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Solo begins on the streets of Corellia where we meet orphaned Han (Ehrenreich) and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Clarke), two hood rats forced to work the streets for crime matriarch Lady Proxima. Both share the same dream which is to steal a ship and blow this grimy popsicle stand once and for all. Sadly, only one of them escapes and thus begins the further adventures of Han Solo as he does everything in his power to become the best ever pilot and get back to his girl.

Does he? Well, you’ve probably seen the trailer so it might not be a surprise to find out that they do indeed meet three years later, just as Han makes the acquaintance of Beckett (Harrelson) and his feisty droid L3-37 (voiced by the amazing Waller-Bridge). Solo has also just met his life partner Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and that’s the real love story here. 

Qi’ra has become something of a highly refined Lieutenant, working for Crimson Dawn crime boss Dryden Vos (delicious Paul Bettany) and when Beckett comes clean to Vos about a mission gone wrong, Han proposes another plan to make everything alright again. 

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Will it work? Will Qi’ra and Han (and Chewie) live happily ever after together? And who the hell is Enfys Nest and his/her Mad Max-esque crew of super scavengers?

Only one way to get in the picture!

All in all though I think this is a strong addition to the SW canon, I found it less scattered and messy than The Last Jedi (which I also loved) – and I don’t think you can fault Ehrenreich for his performance at any point, he brings his own charisma to the proceedings but also nails a young Harrison Ford perfectly.

Highlights are (but of course), Lando and L3 who bring a light-hearted sass to the table. L3 is a feminist icon if we’re honest and a welcome one,  joining the ranks with a whole bevy of SW female badasses. Where’s her fucking spin-off?

My Rating

4.5/5.

Ready Player One

Ready Player One (2018)

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tye SheridanOlivia CookeBen MendelsohnLena WaitheT.J. MillerMark RylanceSimon Pegg

IMDB Synopsis

When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.

*Minor spoilers*

Oh my Lord. It’s always disconcerting when you go into a movie whispering the mantra, “Please be good. Please be good.” To say I went into the theater with high expectations would be an understatement, especially since I loved the book and have pressed it into the sweaty hand of many a friend.

Luckily for me, the adaptation was handed to the perfect director for the project and, with Ernest Cline on-board for screenwriting duties, I was left more than impressed. At one point I nearly lost my shit, it was so perfect and so relevant to my personal interests.

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Spielberg has the nostalgia thing down pat at the best of times but with the OASIS at his fingertips, he has the freedom to let loose on the popular culture references. There’s no limit to what he can do and it’s so multi-layered, so awe-inspiring I defy anyone not to come away with a new respect for what special effects can do.

I’m wary of giving too much of the game away in this review but what I can say is that, through Wade Watts and his avatar Parzival (Sheridan), we learn all about the OASIS and what it really means to the inhabitants of a now desolate world in 2045. While things IRL aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, OASIS’ creator James Halliday has just passed away, leaving a legacy that has the potential to change Wade and his friends’ lives forever.

Wade’s crew is small but perfectly formed and grows stronger still when they team up with Parzival’s crush, the elusive Art3mis (Cooke). But with super villain Sorrento (Mendelsohn) hot on their tail and determined to solve Halliday’s riddles and win control of OASIS for himself, they’re really up against it.

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Man, I have a couple of favourite scenes that I just want to gush about but I can’t, let’s just say as a classic horror fan, I was moved almost to tears by one extended segment and if you’ve seen RPO you’ll know which one I mean.

While the romantic aspect of the story I could take or leave, everything else about it was appealing and exactly what I wanted from this adaptation. Fans of the book might notice a few differences but there’s nothing too jarring and the visual references pad it out perfectly.

I hope you enjoy it too.

My Rating

5/5.