Archive for March, 2017

IT trailer terrifies!

Posted: March 30, 2017 in Movies
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The first trailer for the feature film adaptation of Stephen King’s IT has arrived and it is frightening stuff! IT tells the story of a group of kids who become the target of the scary IT of the title. In order to survive they must band together and work out a way to fight back or fall victim to the evil clown.

My only reservation is that I was not the biggest fan of the directors work on the horror movie Mama. That said I’m all for giving people the benefit of the doubt and Mama certainly has it’s fans so hopefully director Andres Muschietti knocks IT out of the park.

IT will scream onto screens September 8th!

Power Rangers (No spoilers)

Posted: March 27, 2017 in Movies
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The rebooted Power Rangers is finally here and I happy to say that the film is good. I was pleasntly surprised by how well the film turned out. It becomes clear from the start that director Dead Israelite, writer John Gatins and the films cast put a lot of care and effort into the making of the movie. Is it perfect? Of course not. It’s arguably 20 minutes too long and it does take a while to get to the actual Power Rangers but the build up was warranted and if the film does get a sequel it will be allowed to the hit the ground running now that all of the world building is out of the way.

Power Rangers is based on the 1990’s kid’s show which was a phenomenon back in the day. The show told the story of five teenagers chosen by fate to become the Power Rangers, a cosmic force of good who must stand in the way of the evil Rita Repulsa and her minions who are dead set on Earths destruction. The plot of the movie is the same with a few twists thrown in, which as a fan of the original show I appreciated. For example the villian Rita is given a revamped mythology which in my opinion not only works great but feels more organic than that of her TV counterpart.

All of the Rangers are likeable and I appreciate that this could not have been no easy task to cast not one or two but five likeable young actors as these iconic characters. It helps that Darce Montgomery (Jason), Naomi Scott (Kimberly), RJ Cyler (Billy), Ludi Lin (Zack)and Becky G (Trini) are relatively unknown and have great chemistry together. Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks could have easily just collected a paycheck but both commit to their roles as Ranger mentor Zordon and villain Rita. Espechially Banks. She’s one of the best actresses out there at the moment and she nails what could not have been an easy role to play (Rita could so easily have come off overly camp). She’s great in the movie and as I said her new rebooted mythology is great. I loved that.

The film has heart, sure some of it’s themes can be on the nose at times but the messages of friendship, togetherness and inner strength come from a good place and it’s nice to see a movie not be so shy of embracing some positivity. There’s a difference between being slightly on the nose and downright cheesy and I felt the tone of the film did well in that regard. It’s not afraid to be a little self aware either but to the films credit it never once crosses the line of looking down upon or making fun of it’s source material.

Action wise the film is surprisingly not action packed but what action there is is well shot and easy to follow which I always appreciate. Power Rangers wouldn’t be the same without the Zords and the film delivers on that front with a great battle sequence. Goldar didn’t even bother me, at first I wasn’t sold on his new look but his role in the film makes sense from a story point of view and I ended up being okay with it. The film has a good score that focuses on the stronger sci-fi edge the movie has. I would be lying if I said I missed the pounding rock tunes that came with the televison series but I understood this reboot is carving out it’s own indentity.

There is enough in Power Rangers to keep both long time fans and newcomers entertained. After seeing the film I found myself thinking about it and the more I did the more I realised just how good of a job the tead behind it did.

This movie looks STACKED! There is a lot going on in this teaser with an abundance of characters and action set pieces. Here is where I sit on the film, first up I hope it delivers and it’s at least decent. Yeah it would be great to get an amazing movie but I don’t want to even get my hopes up that high. Just let it be good. One or two of the backgrounds look a bit fake and the CGI on Cyborg isn’t as good as I thought it may be. Yet there’s plenty of time to fix those things and look even if the film does come out and it has some less than great CGI work who cares as long as the rest of the movie delivers right?

For me the standouts are Aquaman and funnily enough Cyborg. All the scenes with those two looked great (some CGI aside). These are the two I am least familiar with out of the Justice League and I look forward to seeing both of these guys get some exploration over the course of the movie. Amber Heard as Mera, the Queen of Atlantis no less, also gets to cameo in this trailer and while I expect she’ll have a small role I still look forward to seeing what she does in the movie.

This is a solid teaser trailer that is hopefully giving us just a glimpse of the fun times ahead when the movie hits screens this November.

Get Out (No spoilers)

Posted: March 23, 2017 in Movies
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Jordan Peele is a talent I knew very little of apart from his work on MADtv and that he had written Keanu. Get Out is Peele’s directorial debut and it is one hell of a movie. Peele wrote this thing & directed; he’s clearly talented and for me he is a director who I look forward to seeing more and more of.

Get Out is about a young black guy who accompanies his girlfriend home for the weekend to meet her family who happen to be white. He’s worried there could be awkward racial tension from her mom and pops but she assures him that will not be the case and to relax. Relax is the last thing this poor guy gets to do. The weekend that follows is a weekend from hell. I want to avoid spoilers and so that’s it plot wise. I would hate to ruin anything. So much so I don’t wanna say what movies Get Out reminded me of through fear it could ruin it. If you like horror movies or well made movies with something to say then that’s all you need for Get Out. Rest assured you’ll be seeing a great movie.

Daniel Kaluuya makes for a good lead. His performance anchors you to his characters journey from the start right through till the end. Kaluuya is a great actor who I’ve seen a lot of over the last few years and I think it is great he’s got such a break with Get Out. Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Betty Gabriel, Lakeith Stanfield, Bradley Whitford, Marcus Henderson and Caleb Landry Jones all do brilliant work. Seriously the performances across the board are very good. The ONLY part of the film I had an issue with (this is more down to personnel taste more than anything else) is LilRel Howery’s character. He adds some much needed levity and common sense to the plot but his humour (well not HIS, I think it’s more the script) effected the tone and the seriousness of certain scenes and robbed them of their impact to a degree. Not a massive issue and I think he’s good in the movie, just sometimes it felt like he was in a different sort of movie. For me though the standout in the cast is Betty Gabriel, who before this I was not familiar with, but she does SO much with little dialogue. Some of her scenes within the overall context of the film are heart breaking and chilling. Great actress and I hope to see a lot more of her.

Great horror movies ( and I do think Get Out is a horror movie) are rare these days so please if you enjoy the genre go and check it out. It’s made with love and purpose, from the writing, the music (the score is boss!), the acting and of course the direction! Heck the opening of the film alone is really impressive and it’s one of the scariest sequences in the whole film. I would love to see Peele continue to play in the genre world but if he decides to move onto a different path well I’ll be just as excited to see what he does.

 

Kong: Skull Island (No Spoilers)

Posted: March 21, 2017 in Movies
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I had a good time with Kong: Skull Island, I went into the film with fairly high expectations because that first teaser trailer was fantastic but what I got was a good Kong movie. That’s fine, ’cause Skull Island is a solid flick full of good effects work (Kong and the various monsters than inhabit Skull Island look great), well done action and a original story.

Director John Vogt-Roberts carves out some iconic shots throughout Skull Island. There’s this Twitter profile called One Perfect Shot or something like that and it highlights perfect shots from movies and I felt like this movie had a ton of them. One of Skull Islands strengths is that it’s a very good looking film. I know Vogt-Roberts comes from a more independent background and factoring in that when you see the action in Skull Island you have to give Roberts credit for making the transition to big budget action/adventure director. He does good work here and I’d be interested to see what form his next movie takes.

The plot of Skull Island uses the end of the Vietnam War as a backdrop and it gives the film a unique identity. Instead of a family trapped on Skull Island we have scientists and soldiers who plot wise have a legit reason for ending up there and of course it becomes a case of who will make it out alive. The film has a big cast of characters and because of that it’s those same characters who take a bit of hit. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I didn’t care who lived or died but I wasn’t as invested in these guys and gals as I was in Jaws or Jurassic Park. John C. Reilly’s character is easily the best out of the bunch for me aside from Kong and I loved his character arc. Shea Whigham in anything is always a plus and Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton/ 24 Legacy) is made for the big screen. Hawkins Compton co-star Jason Mitchell does good work here but didn’t get enough to do as I would have liked.

Kong is the reason I’d say you’re all going to see the movie and thankfully it’s very much his movie. He looks MASSIVE, the special effects work is very good and despite not being able to speak you always get a sense of what he’s thinking. He kicks major amounts of arse in this film and get’s a new spin on his mythology that I felt did not detract from what audiences are familiar with. Most people may know at this point that Skull Island is technically the second movie in the studios shared monster universe franchise. 2014’s Godzilla being the first, Godzilla: King of the Monsters being the next one and Kong vs. Godzilla coming right after that. Yet Skull Island never felt like it was trying to tell it’s own story while attempting to set up future films. Skull Island is very much it’s own film and could be taken as a stand alone adventure but the seeds are there for future encounters but done in a way that doesn’t hurt this movie. I appreciated that and if shared universes are a studio priority than this is a good way to go about doing them. Focus on one strong movie at a time and then see how you can link them in a subtle ways.

Kong: Skull Island is a fun action/adventure movie and goes a ways to bringing that Summer blockbuster feel a little earlier than what we’re all used to! If you’re a fan of Kong movies or stuff like Jurassic Park than I can’t see how you could come out of Skull Island disappointed!

 

 

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(Note: just like to say a big Thank You to my friend who let me borrow his copy of this game so I could review it.)

Yoshi’s Island was released in the summer of 1995 for the Snes and it’s one of the best games on the classic console. This gem of a game is the sequel to Super Mario World and instead of following suit from what came before Yoshi’s Island presents a fresh take on the Mario platformer. What strikes the gamer first is the games beautiful and unique art style. The game looks like a painting come to life. It has this unique art style that helps it stand out and stand the test of time visually even now in 2017. The hand-drawn looking sprites animate wonderfully and go a long way to giving Yoshi’s Island it’s own identity outside of the earlier Super Mario games.

Gameplay wise this is classic Mario platforming gold. As Yoshi (well technically several Yoshis) your task is to take/protect baby Mario to Bowser’s castle and rescue baby Luigi. The adventure spans 6 worlds and many levels of expertly designed stages. As Yoshi you’re granted the ability of being able to use his tongue to swallow enemies and you then choose to either spit them out as weapons or swallow them and use the resulting egg as a projectile than can be shot at not just enemies but also boxes that play a role in puzzle solving and level progression. There are other power ups available that allow Yoshi to transform into a hybrid Yoshi/vehicle that grants access to unreachable areas of stages and mixes up the gameplay. Be careful not to take a hit though otherwise baby Mario will be carried away in a bubble and you’ll only have seconds to get him back! Man that constant crying can be annoying but it gets you to focus as you rush to grab him back!

The music is not as memorable as in Super Mario World but by no means am I trying to say it’s bad. It’s not. The game has a great soundtrack that makes you feel at ease and relaxed throughout the whole game, even when you should be crying out in stress at missing a timed jump or hard to reach platform, the game keeps you all calm and happy! Haha.

It’s hard to stop praising this game and honestly I feel whatever I write won’t be able to do this game justice. I am just beyond grateful I owned this classic game back in the day and got the opportunity to revisit it once more. If you can hunt down a copy of Yoshi’s Island I can’t stress enough that you’d be doing yourself a favour by picking it up. A true classic.

 

 

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Released in 1984 The Hills Have Eyes Part II was disowned by writer & director Wes Craven due to the film being incomplete. Craven completed the sequel as per request of it’s studio, managing to build a film out of only two thirds of actual shot footage. Due to the films rocky production it has gained a regrettable reputation as a bit of a stinker but I find it to be a enjoyable sequel to the original. Nowhere near as bad as it’s reputation would lead you to believe.

Several years have passed since the events of The Hills Have Eyes and we find survivors Bobby, Beast and Rachel – a now civilised and reformed Ruby – trying their best to overcome the horrors they faced. Bobby, unable to do so, allows Ruby and his friends to go in his place (smart guy haha) to a business meeting beyond the desert. In order to save time and meet a deadline the friends decide to take a short cut through some familiar territory, ignoring Ruby’s warnings, and find themselves coming face to face with the horrors that lay in wait in the hills!

Here’s what I love about this sequel. I love how Bobby just flat out departs the narrative twenty minutes into the film. He’s not even killed off, he’s just like “Nope. I’m not going anywhere near those hills again” That’s a smart guy and I thought it was totally realistic considering what he’d gone through! Craven smartly shifts the co lead of the movie onto Ruby and actress Janus Blythe does good work showing how desperate Ruby is to leave behind her past and protect those she cares about in the midst of this new nightmare. She’s a solid Craven heroine who doesn’t run screaming and gives as good as she gets. The rest of the characters are typical of 80’s slashers but in a good way and do decent work. Friday the 13th: Part VII’s Kevin Spirtas also shows up as one of the new characters which I thought was cool and his character is funny, he’s more ready to kick ass than run away screaming.

The Friday The 13th connections don’t end with the films cast, yep your ears are not playing tricks on you as the composer for the film is indeed Friday’s Harry Manfredini. The music gives The Hills Have Eyes Part II a distinctly Friday the 13th feel and works the better for it. The kills are more creative this time out than in the original and it never feels like you’re getting half a movie despite the filming woes. Perhaps that’s why so many characters get flashbacks. There is quite a large amount of archive footage used in the sequel and yes even Beast the dog get’s his own flashback which is frankly genius.

I think this movie has an unearned rep to be honest and as slasher sequels go I have seen a lot worse than this. If you like the first film I can’t see you not enjoying The Hills Have Eyes Part 2. It even feels like it has more energy and smoother pace the first film with a cool setting in the form of an abandoned ranch. Give this one a go because you may come out surprised!

 

 

Split (NO SPOILERS)

Posted: March 13, 2017 in Movies
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Director M.Night Shyamalan burst onto the scene back at the close of the 90’s with his breakthrough hit The Sixth Sense. The film blew audiences away and was followed by Unbreakable, Signs and The Village. Films that put Night on the map and earned him a reputation akin to a modern Hitchcock. During the mid to late 00’s Night’s movies began to take a hit with audiences and critics, many speculating his career had peaked. Indeed Night did go quiet for a while and would return with The Visit. A small film that I am told took his work back in the right direction (I have not seen it) and now with Split, Nights latest film, the writer/director has once more been welcomed back into the good graces of audiences and critics. (For what it’s worth I enjoyed Lady In The Water. I never saw either The Happening or After Earth though.)

Split stars James McAvoy as Kevin Crumb who is a young man suffering from multiple personality disorder who kidnaps three teenage girls and holds them prisoner. The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy co-stars as Casey Cook, who is one of the trio of girls taken, with Betty Buckley rounding out the leads as Crumb’s doctor Karen Fletcher. The actors turn in great work, with McAvoy being exceptional and Buckley giving the film some heart. Story wise that is all I am going to reveal here. Split is built around discovery and it would be a shitty thing to reveal any big plot points here.

My overall feelings on the film are mixed. On one hand I can appreciate how the film would branch out and ask questions – big questions – on the idea of multiple personality disorder. Sure the film is a work of fiction but it never makes a mock out of an illness and that is mostly highlighted through Buckley’s character and her constant drive to tear down pre-conceptions. Sadly because there is a lot going on in Split at times I feel like the film outstays its welcome and the pacing became a victim of the films themes. It also gets quite dark in some areas of the plot and once again it all becomes a lot to take in considering how much is already going on in the central plot.

Without sounding like I’m complaining – Split is a good movie – personally I would have liked to have seen something slightly more focused. Once the film has finished and Night has revealed all his cards it is clear why Split needed as many plot points as it has, yet there is an argument to be made on whether or not Split’s ultimate goal should have been it’s closing destination or not? That’s for the viewer to decide. I just feel like there’s a fantastic 90 minute thriller inside this 2 hour movie.

 

What we have here is an “ad” for Weyland-Yutani android Walter. This guy is the droid the crew of the Covenant will be taking along for their doomed journey into the unknown. So if you’d like to reserve one for yourself…well good luck with that. Haha. It’s still a cool promo and it gives you an idea of how these synthetics are made. Back when Prometheus was out there was a similar ad for Prometheus droid David and we all know how he turned out. Let’s hope Walter won’t have as much disdain for humanity as David eh?

Alien: Covenant will be hitting screens in May!

First clip from Power Rangers!

Posted: March 8, 2017 in Movies
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This clip, I like the tone and the look of ship and that but …it’s not much to go on. That’s cool. It’s only a short clip. I just wish there was some advance word of mouth on what this film is. Is it a kids movie? Is it for all ages? Does it aim to please long term fans and welcome new ones? The first teaser trailer for Power Rangers looked like a cross between Chronicle and Power Rangers. Each trailer after that hasn’t been as good and to be honest I am not digging the look of the bad guys at all. The effects look great but the art direction on Goldar and the Putties looks…not as iconic as in the show.  Maybe in the film that won’t be the case and the trailers simply have not been showing them enough?

Not long to go now until you can see Power Rangers in cinemas. The film hits screens March 24th. Apparently there’s a review embargo up until the 20th and that’s promising because normally if the embargo is say…the day before or (worse) the day of release it usually means the film is a stinker. Let’s hope Power Rangers delivers!