Archive for September, 2017

Annihilation teaser trailer!

Posted: September 29, 2017 in Movies
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Alex Garland has had a few career shifts over the years. Garland broke out with his novel The Beach, which was made into a movie by director Danny Boyle. The two talents struck up a friendship that led to several collaborations between them and paved the way for Garland to make his name as a Hollywood screenwriter. His work includes Sunshine, 28 Days Later, Dredd and Never Let Me Go. Garland became a director in 2014, bringing his science fiction screenplay Ex Machina to the big screen and winning praise from critics. He can do it all. Alex Garland is crazy talented, if you need any further proof on this matter check out the trailer for his second directorial effort Annihilation, a twisted slice of dark science fiction and packed with an outstanding cast.

Annihilation is based on the book, the first in a trilogy, by Jeff Vandermeer. I’ve read the book. It is twisted, dark, fantastic, bursting with mystery and not willing to hold the readers’ hand. Garland looks like he has managed to capture all of the book’s qualities and maybe he has added some of his own creative license? I was not as positive on Ex Machina as others, I felt Morgan told a similar tale better, but I do feel like Garland and his talent are a perfect fit for Annihilation.

The film stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez and Oscar Isaac. It will be out in cinemas February 23rd 2018.

 

Spider-Man (2002)

Posted: September 27, 2017 in Movies
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With Spider-Man now back home safe and sound (for now I guess) in the MCU I thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at the characters’ first big screen outing in 2002’s Spider-Man, directed by Sam Raimi, he of the great Evil Dead trilogy and Drag Me To Hell fame. The film has an impressive cast with Tobey Maguire (Pleasantville, Wonderboys) as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Kirsten Dunst (Interview with a Vampire, TV’s Fargo) as Mary Jane, James Franco (Pineapple Express, Milk) as Harry Osborn and Willem Dafoe (John Wick, Wild at Heart) as Normon Osborn/Green Goblin. Surprising nobody the film was a box office hit and Raimi proved himself as capable with big budget comic book movies as with smaller horror movies and thrillers.

I put the film on, having not seen it in almost a decade and one of the first things to hit me was the special effects. Wow. Haha. Look I’m not bashing the effects work. The effects are very good in this film, but what caught me off guard was that I feel like I only went the cinema to see this movie last week! It still feels fresh to me and of course it’s not. Some of the CGI used to convey Spidey’s movements is a bit blatant but that’s not the films’ fault. It’s simply the passing of time taking me by surprise and what I can say is that Raimi’s film goes a long way to mix and match CGI with practical ‘guy in suits’ action to create believable and great action.

Plot wise Raimi’s movie follows the origin route we all know by now. Student Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider on a school trip and is granted great power. He learns some tough lessons and ultimately decides to do good with his new powers and thus Spider-Man is born. In a cool way the arc of Norman Osborn paralells that of Peter, as Norman becomes the villain of the film the Green Goblin, both hero and villain dealing with a similar sense of amazing power but choosing to use it in two very different ways. Both Maguire and Dafoe doing wonders and nailing their characters.

Raimi has a solid handle on the action throughout the film. Whether in the form of massive set-pieces – a Green Goblin attack on a street parade in the middle of the city is awesome, as in the final showdown between Spidey and his nemesis – or smaller and more confined cut-away or montages showing Spider-Mans’ reputation as a hero growing throughout New York as he helps folks out catching thugs and robbers. Yet Raimi loves horror and you can’t help but grin when you catch glimpses of that fun darkness coming through in this movie from time to time as Green Goblin explodes onto the screen out of nowhere like some movie monster without warning. I love that stuff about this movie.

Maguire, Dafoe, Dunst and Franco are good in the movie and looking back now it’s one strong core cast and no surprise Dunst and Franco went on to carve out careers as great actors. Obviously by 2002 both Maguire and Dafoe had more than proven their acting chops at that stage in their careers. The big standout in Spider-Man is J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) as Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson. Now Simmons is a big Hollywood name but back when this movie came out he was not as established yet it’s clear from his performance here that this guy has talent and charisma by the bucket load. Keep a look out for ‘unknown’ (at the time) Joe Manganiello and Elizabeth Banks in small supporting roles.

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man is a terrific debut for the Marvel Comics character who had more than a few stops and starts in his journey to the big screen through the 1980s and 1990s. Sure at times, for my tastes anyway, the film is a bit too sentimental for it’s own good, almost becoming outright corny but I think that’s down to me being slightly heartless (haha) and the film trying to ape the more innocent feel of Spidey as he was when he first came onto the scene in his original comic debut. Yet for Spider-Man fans this is a must watch movie and as far as cinamatic debuts go you’d just hope you could manage one as strong as this if you were about to launch a comic book movie franchise.

 

Maze Runner: The Death Cure trailer

Posted: September 25, 2017 in Movies
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Here is the first trailer from the final instalment of the Maze Runner movie trilogy. The books on which the films are based tell the story of an apocalyptic future that has seen most of humanity laid to waste by a deadly virus. The books are fantastic, I can not recommend them enough, I’d go as far as saying they’re better than the Hunger Games, heck there’s even a prequel novel called The Kill Order which is pitch black in tone and that is crying out for a stand alone movie adaptation, which I hope happens if Death Cure proves a hit.

I enjoyed the first Maze Runner movie. Finding it a visual feast with a strong cast and a tone that stayed true to the book and pulled no punches. I have yet to see The Scorch Trials, which is based on the second book in the series. I did read it took some drastic liberties with the source so I’ll be looking out to see what those are and how they effect this final instalment in the series.

Maze Runner: Death Cure opens in theatres January 26th 2018. The film stars Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Walton Goggins, Rosa Salazar and is directed by franchise captain Wes Ball.

The Mist (SPOILERS)

Posted: September 22, 2017 in Movies
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NOTE: I go into the ending during this review so if you have not seen the film I would just not read this. (The short version being The Mist is good. Check it out!)

Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) delighted Stephen King fans with the news he would be writing/directing an adaptation of King’s novella The Mist. This was a big deal because the short novel is perfect for screen adaptation, Darabont had already proven himself a pro at bringing King’s work to the big screen and most importantly the novella is boss. In 2007 The Mist was released to audiences around the world and went on to gain a reputation as not only one of the stronger King adaptations made but a film with one hell of an ending. More on that later.

The plot of The Mist focuses on a small town and it’s inhabitants who find themselves overwealmed and trapped when a mysterious and (what proves to be) deadly mist decends from the mountains onto the town. David Drayton (Thomas Jane) is one such unlucky soul who finds himself and his son trapped inside the local supermarket along with many others and at a loss as what to do. As they all soon learn venturing into the mist is certain death. If that wasn’t enough, fear begins to eat away at those trapped and one Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), a deeply religious woman, uses this to preach her belief that what is happening is God’s judgement and soon sacrafices may have to be called for!

Yes The Mist is fun when it’s focusing on its monsters,the hints of sci-fi (the subtle refrences to this ‘Arrowhead’ project up in the mountains) and the films grissly deaths by monsters but the true horror of the plot comes from the human characters. The way the people trapped react to the threats is what paints a picture that is equally hopeful, chilling and downright horrific. For as bad as the monsters are and as much a threat as they pose nothing in the film is more chilling than the power of fear and the fact that it takes one person to latch on to that fear and weild it like a weapon to use as they see fit.

As is usually the case with Darabont he has populated his film with a wide variety of really talented actors. Thomas Jane’s character is the moral compass of the whole movie and Jane is excellent. The films’ powerhouse however is Marcia Gay Harden. As Mrs. Carmody she is strangely charming in her devotion to her god, which quickly becomes a devotion that is utterly chilling and deadly and Harden nails every beat of this complex and compelling character. William Sadler, Andre Braugher, Frances Sternhagen and Laurie Holden provide even more talent to what is an across the board impressive ensamble of actors.

The score of the film is good, one track in particular used in the climax of the film is stunning in it’s power and impact. While the creatures aren’t quite as terrifying as I’d had imagined them while reading the book they’re still effective and no less deadly! Clocking it at two hours and factoring in the films limited locations Darabont keeps the pace flying along and not once did I feel like it dragged.

Finally THAT ending, what can I say? I prefer the ending of the novella personally and when I first saw the film I felt what happens was done soley for shock purposes and was pretty mean spirited. I still don’t like it but I’ve come around to another way of interprating it and that’s as bleak as it is the overall message is “Don’t give up hope, no matter how bad things seem to be” and I think that is what Darabont was going for due to one call back, just a cut away to a certain someone who held true to that beleif as the chaos began.

The Mist is a great movie taken either as a monster movie or for the more deeper complexity it explores regarding people and the hope, kindness, panic and outright horror we are all capable of as a species. The novella is great so if you’ve seen the movie and liked it then please check out the source as you know how the old saying goes “The book is always better than the movie”.

 

How about that? I think it looks okay. My gut won’t allow me to get excited for movies based on video games due to the track record of such things which is now like a running Hollywood joke. They’re hardly ever good. As for Tomb Raider, this looks to be a faithful adaptation of the recent video game reboot of the series, combining the plots of both 2013’s Tomb Raider and 2015’s Rise of the Tomb Raider. Basically using the setting of the first game but the bad guys – Trinity – from Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Norwegian filmmaker Roar Uthaug is directing and he made The Wave which is a pretty good disaster movie so direction wise it could work out. Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl, Ex-Machina) stars as Lara Croft with a host of strong support from the likes of Walton Goggins, Dominic West and Daniel Wu.

Tomb Raider opens in cinemas March 16th 2018. Expect the worst but let’s hope for the best.

Men in Black

Posted: September 18, 2017 in Movies
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In 1997 Will Smith was at the height of his popularity thanks to the likes of Bad Boys (1995), Independence Day (1996) and a booming muscial career. That summer saw the release of one of his biggest movies to date, Men in Black. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (The Addams Family, Get Shorty) and co starring Tommy Lee Jones the film was a box office hit and proved a hit with both movie fans and critics.

Based on the Marvel comic, Men in Black pays homage to that 1960’s idea of secret government orginisations that run around covering up the existance of aliens on Earth. Set in the present day (well 1997) Smith plays Jay, a NYC cop who draws the attention of Jones’ Kay who works for the Men in Black. Impressed with Jay’s cool under fire Kay recruits Jay into the ranks of the Men in Black just as Earth is about to face a world ending threat in the form of ‘Edgar’ (the amaze Vincent D’Onofrio) a roach like alien bent on destruction and chaos.

Where Men in Black shines is in it’s sense of humour and the creature design. Thankfully the film doesn’t take itself too seriously but that’s not to say it is a spoof. Far from it. I remeber thinking how Men in Black felt like a Ghostbusters for the 90’s. The world of Men in Black carrying that same charm, humour and likeability that applies to the world and characters of Ghostbusters. There’s a lot of great ideas in Men in Black and Sonnenfeld makes the most of the subject matter to pepper the film with great touches from alien refugees using human ‘suits’ to fit in, to Earth acting as some kind of safe haven for tons and tons of different alien races who just want to get away from galactic warfare and get on with their lives. Even if that means coming to Earth and getting a job, fitting in with everyone else. The neuralyzer is another funny touch, it’s a tool used by the agents in the movie to wipe the memories of alien encounters from the minds of the general public.

Make up effects legend Rick Baker did the work on the aliens in Men in Black and each one is a success, having a distinct look and personality that compliments the films fun pulp/sci-fi tone. CGI is used the enhance the effects work and it shows at times, what with the film being 20 years old now, yet it doesn’t take away from the great creativity on display throughout. The film has a boss theme too, courtesy of Danny Elfman.

Men in Black is a strong example of why I love 90’s cinema as much as I do. It’s a fun movie that HAS stood the test of time and I think warrants a place next to the likes of Ghostbusters when we talk about what movies defined a decade in cinema. It’s a pitty Men in Black lost it’s way as a franchise after this first movie, which ends perfectly as a one and done anyway, as I felt the sky was the limit with what you could do with this franchise (I’d skip the sequel totally but Men in Black 3 is good). Doesn’t matter. Sometimes all you need is one great movie and that is what you get with Men in Black.

 

 

Laurie Strode returns for HALLOWEEN!

Posted: September 16, 2017 in Movies
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Slasher fans fasten your seatbelts because we are about to enter the CRAZY (in the best way) zone. Despite seemingly meeting her end at the end of a nasty fall in the Halloween sequel that shall not be named, Laurie Strode is set to face her masked and butcher knife wielding brother one more time. Last night the great Jamie Lee Curtis took to Twitter to announce (like a boss) her return to the Halloween franchise and her iconic role as Laurie Strode forty years after the original movie! So that’s twenty years on from Halloween: H20! Wow seems like only yesterday I was getting excited and heading out to see Halloween: H20. Time flies.

So what’s the deal? Well here is the important stuff, the film is being directed by David Gordon Green, also he’s writing it alongside Danny McBride. Comedy fans will know this duo as the blokes behind Pineapple Express and Vice Principals. Fear not though as both are on the record as being BIG horror fans so let’s see what these two have come up with right? As to that…what is the film about? That’s up in the air. Apparently McBride has said it will be ignoring all of the sequels post the original Halloween 2. So does that mean Halloween: H20 didn’t happen? Sadly it may. How about Halloween: Resurrection? Hopefully yes. Time will tell. Look as long as the film is good and tells a good self contained story I don’t care about franchise continuity. I’d rather take ’em as they come as great movies on their own terms rather than worrying about which plot points they need to pay debts to.

As for now I say let’s sit back and wait. See what happens. Get excited because more than likely this is probably going to be way better than anyone can imagine. Hopefully. Once more cast are announced I’ll be reporting on it.

Halloween (as it’s currently known) will hit screens Halloween 2018.

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Hey guys so wow, after like two years (or more?) since it’s initial reveal TEKKEN 7 is finally out. I know right, it’s been out for a few months now but the way of it is that I wanted to put time into the games’ new characters and ways to play before belting out some review which honestly wouldn’t have done the game justice. It always shocks me when reviewers have reviews out for fighting games like the day after it’s been released! How the heck have they been able to get to know the game beyond just a surface playthrough?

I am a big Tekken fan. Been one now for twenty years and for me the series has not wavered, I’ve enjoyed them all but for the sake of clarity I don’t think any either before or after Tekken 3 have stood out as much as that game did. I love that game. Tekken 7 doesn’t break that tradtion for me, but that is not to say the game is not a hell of a lot of fun to play. With a healthy (yet much needed trimmed down) roster of thirty nine characters there are enough styles and personalities available to suit any player weather they be competitive or casual. Thankfully the same goes for modes; present and accounted for are – ARCADE MODE, VS., TREASURE BATTLE, STORY, PRACTICE and ONLINE. I don’t play online so you’ll have to look elsewhere for thoughts on that.

Few drawbacks? Sure. Despite featuring a healthy dose of ways to play the modes are slightly trim on what they offer. Story mode is fun yet is over in a matter of hours, Arcade has had it’s number of fights brought down noticably and Tekken Bowl is now PAID DLC (back in the day kids we used to get modes like this for FREE! REALLY!). The load times between matches can be slightly longer than you’d think which is a shame but maybe that can be fixed via a patch down the line.

Thankfully Treasure Battle, which replaces Tekken 6’s Ghost Mode, offers unlimited fun and allows you to unlock cool customization items you can use in the Customization mode for your characters, as well as in game cash to just buy items you can’t be bothered fighting for. It’s a lot of fun. The fun factor is what goes a long way here to help me reccomend the game because had this mode not been included this review would have been less positive.

Tekken 7 feels like an ending of sorts to the series as we have come to know it over the years while in others like a new beginning. So much so I wouldn’t be surprised if the next entry in the series is simply called Tekken. The game has loads of new characters and they’re all great. My favourite out of the new guys and gals being Shaheen, Katarina and Josie! It’s fun seeing Street Fighter’s Akuma showing up here also. He plays great and fits into the Tekken world with no problems. Shout out to my two mains Jin and Nina. As great as ever.

I play my fighters for fun. For me these are games and not a sport. Sure there’s new mechanics and ways to play – each character now has a Street Fighter like super move that looks awesome, as does a new slow motion effect when fights get too close to call making for some dramatic and very fun resolutions – but I simply just love the arcade fighter feel to these games (as well as the -now expected for this series – excellent soundtrack) and as a fun fighting game I think Tekken 7 more than delivers, yet “boo!” on the DLC push for the likes of Tekken Bowl. I really do dislike this ‘Game as service’ bullshit that seems so popular these days.

Tekken 7 is available now for PlayStation4, Xbox One and PC.

 

It (No spoilers)

Posted: September 13, 2017 in Movies
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It is based on the novel by Stephen King (1986) and is directed by Mama’s Andres Muschietti and let me say as a big fan of the book Muschietti has done a great job adapting the first half of the novel for the big screen. An evil entity is murdering children in the small town of Derry, Maine, it’s shape shifting abilities allowing it to take on the appearance of it’s victims worst nightmares. It’s most frequent guise is that of Pennywise the dancing clown! As more and more children continue to go missing it falls upon the shoulders of several kids, nick named the Losers’ Club by the school bullies, to face the demon head on or become victims themselves!

Opening just this past Friday It has already gone on to break box office records and has gathered great reviews from critics. Yet funny thing is everyone who I know personally who had seen the film gave a more mixed reaction, from outright dislike, simply good or great. When I went yesterday my expectations were fully in check. When I left the cinema I was delighted. A lot of passion and care has gone into making It. With confident direction from Muschietti, who has crafted some awesome horror sequences with this one (and I wasn’t the biggest fan of Mama), a great script which can not have been easy as the source material is as thick as a brick and excellent performances from the movies young cast.

Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Chosen Jacobs, Wyatt Oleff, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer and Sophia Lillis are all excellent as the Losers’ Club. These young actors do brilliant work and create strong and likeable characters that more than do their book counterparts justice. The chemistry on display is similar to that of The Goonies and Stand By Me and the film has just as much heart as those two movies despite it’s horrific and often times very dark subject matter. It would not work if the film was not able to pull off Pennywise and thankfully the movie has actor Bill Skarsgard in the role. At only twenty seven years old the young actor manages to give a terrific and frightening performence as Pennywise. In some ways I can imagine it must have been a gamble for the filmmakers to cast as young as they did for the films villain yet it’s one that has paid off.

Despite focusing on children the film does not pull any punches when it comes to horror or gore. Fans of the book will be glad to know this movie stays true to the source and doesn’t attempt to gloss over the dark parts of the book. I don’t want to talk about set pieces, but I will say I appreciated the use of practical effects work, sure I’m sure there were a few instances of CGI used to enhance certain effects but if they were it was done in such a way as to not be glaringly obvious. The decision to change the time period of the film to 1989 was no doubt due to the idea that Chapter 2 will be set in modern day and made sense. The 80’s care to detail is awesome though, here’s a great example, during the start of summer we see movie posters outside the town’s theatre for Batman and Lethal Weapon 2 and when August swings around there’s a poster in the lobby for A Nightmare on Elm Street V: The Dream Child. I LOVED that. Like I said a lot of care went into this movie and that’s what I appreciate.

I will not say “believe the hype” because I can’t stand hype. We’re all different in our likes and dislikes, yet I can confidently say that if you loved the book on which the film is based I can not see a reason you’d walk out being disappointed with It. For me It is right up there beside The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, Misery, Stand By Me and The Mist as one of the stronger Stephen King adaptations.

It is showing now nationwide.

 

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Posted: September 11, 2017 in Movies
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Released in 1995 Ghost in the Shell is an anime movie directed by Mamoru Oshii and based on the manga created by Shirow Masamune. The plot follows a police woman named Motoko Kusanagi who is a cyborg operative called upon to inevestigate a hacker/terrorist known only as The Pupper Master. What follows is an incredible movie peroid, regardless of the fact it is an anime. Ghost in the Shell is one of my top movies and it is one of the best action movies ever made.

When I saw the film for the first time I was 12 years old and frankly far too immature to recognize and appreciate the deep philosophical undertones the film has running throughout. For outside of the gun fire and explosions is a study on what constitutes life? What exactly does it mean to be alive? If for example a series of computer code developed a conscience and self awareness is it simply what we would call A.I.? Or is it the birth of a soul? It is mind blowing stuff but don’t let me give you the impression the film hits you over the head with this kind of thing. It does not. The questions raised are done so organically and never leave you feeling like you don’t know what the hell it is you’ve stepped into.

Alongside Akira, Ghost in the Shell is often regarded as one of the best anime movies out there and a standard those who have came afterwards have strived to reach. Indeed both films count as two of my most loved movies. Ghost in the Shell’s animation is superb, nailing both the great pace of the film, the tone and perfectly establishing a futurisitc world that seems both beyond our own yet recognizable as one that is lived in and real. The film has a bloody great score that compliments the plot and tone throughout with some amazing standout cues, one of which is a montage that takes place just around the halfway point of the film and packs a punch without hardly a word spoken or a gun shot!

Action wise Ghost in the Shell’s is lean and mean, not once do the action beats intrude upon the plot. Like the best examples of action films the chaos in Ghost in the Shell is as a direct result to the organic demands of the plot and the richly drawn out characters. From the now iconic stealth suit showdown to a shoot out in the middle of an abandoned warehouse, these sequences not only work great but have influenced western cinema, which seems to be a key recurrence with the best of what the east has to offer from manga, John Woo and anime.

Ghost in the Shell is a classic film. There is no argument to be had. For what it delivers upon from it’s plot/genre and from what it would go onto contribute to art over twenty years after it’s release.