Sporadic Scene: The Fate of the Furious (2017) – Haka

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Goodness, this scene! When it opened with Dwayne Johnson giving the lecture, I was like “oh, I am sure this is just gonna be some scene with some kids for the lols”,  but man, it was so much more than just that. Manis and pedis for everyone after, sure, but man, this scene is fantastic all round. Dwayne Johnson leads a girls soccer team in the haka and it is truly both hilarious to boot and at the same time rather inspiring, as you can see it means a lot to him and the girls take it seriously. It is more than just a choreographed skit, especially when you see how much respect was actually afforded the scene, that the haka was blessed by the elders, everything. That’s just great, in my mind.

Review: The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

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“The Bible says to never take revenge, to leave it to the Lord. But I wasn’t prepared to wait that long.” 
– Darius Kincaid

SYNOPSIS: The world’s top bodyguard gets a new client, a hit man who must testify at the International Criminal Court. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time. – via IMDB

Dear Lord, I didn’t expect a great movie or anything like that, but I am truly shocked at just how terrible this movie turned out to be. It was godawful and a bag of chips. The trailer had me thinking it would be alright, and it literally featured anything worth seeing in this movie.

My husband and I watched this looking for something a little silly, nothing serious, as we were exhausted from packing up the house (again) and thought something light would tick the boxes. Well, uhm, yeah, then there was this. We expected a bit of cheese, instead we got this hunk of junk. It was not even good cheesy, it just sucked. And it was so long. The two hour run time was so excessive – the movie felt even longer than that, while we are at it. A total punishment to watch.

The jokes were so lame in this, and not one brought forth even so much as a smile from me or my husband. It was deadpan all the way and checking the time more often than not. I know, stupid, we are completists and just sat through it and had regrets. I watch terrible movies because it is fun to write about after the fact, and you all know I have seen some really bad ones over the years.

Anyway, not even Ryan Reynolds could save this, and even a healthy dose of Samuel L. Jackson did nothing to cushion the blows from this. Lame, embarrassing, littered with crappy action sequences and horrendous dialogue, the plot is also just stupid and has no kick to make it worthwhile. It is predictable and messy, that’s all there is to it. Reynolds and Jackson work together, but it just isn’t enough for this wreck.

Yes, I disliked The Hitman’s Bodyguard immensely. That it had a decent cast attached to it and still managed to fail is not shocking, but I honestly didn’t think it would be quite so bad. But it is. It’s long, bloated, badly written and comes together poorly, I would say give this movie a wide berth, you won’t be missing anything at all.

Review: Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017)

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“Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you are meant to be.”
– Kylo Ren

SYNOPSIS: Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order. – via IMDB

Oh my gooooosh! I loved this. Yeah, I hear there is some hate, but there is a lot of love, too. I am one of those that thought this was really good. After The Force Awakens, I have been so amped to see where the story goes, and The Last Jedi totally rewarded for my excitement, for the most part (even with the little niggles).

Kylo Ren is baaaaack bitches, and he is freaking awesome! This is something my husband and I will debate for many years to come. This time around we get to see more of Adam Driver’s face and that gorgeous hair, and man, we totally got to explore more of his conflict. Imagine your legacy is Anakin and Luke Skywalker, the light side and the dark? Polar opposites. Imagine that you have been manipulated by someone and it was easy to do so because someone you trusted betrayed you (from what you could see), and you are a kid? Confusion! I love it. I could watch that battle rage forever.

There were new things introduced in this one, too. Kylo’s new plan  has definitely piqued my interest. War profiteering reared its head in here, too, so there was some social commentary on the go. I was so pleased to see BB-8 back in action, he is so adorable! Poe, too, is back in action. The Last Jedi brings up some really solid, strong moments for our female cast, and has some awesome action sequences, too. So it is great to watch like that. I quite enjoyed Beneicio del Toro’s appearance, and would like to see if he pops up again.

Let’s not deny that the movie had flaws – those freaking porgs annoyed me. Cute the first time you saw them, and then they were just jammed in all over the show. There is the super cheese between Finn and Rose, which also got a bit annoying quickly. Also, a lot of questions that JJ Abrams had set up in The Force Awakens were glibly answered here (I am hoping they go back and give us real, fleshed out answers, because if these are the answers, that is bitterly disappointing). Another thing, the story is not overly solid, and the pacing is a little off at times, but nothing too extreme. I was totally engrossed, even with the hiccups. I adore Andy Serkis, for reals, and I really wish there was more to Snoke than we eventually got – so short lived and a bit meh 😦

There is a lot of back and forth about Luke Skywalker and his role here. I expected to see more Luke Skywalker, and I didn’t think he would be quite so bitter and ready to end the Jedi lines like he has, though it brings up the notion that the Force is not just accessible by a small group of elite individuals. Not sure where this is going, but I will give them enough rope and see what they do with it. Anyway, it was strange to see him go the way he did, but I was really impressed with where his character went later on.

Continuing with unpopular opinion time, Rey is still a flat, bland, annoying character for me. I just don’t get the love man, not at all. Every time she was on screen, I felt like precious time was being wasted. I don’t like her, and it sucks that she is one of our new, major protagonists. Oh well. Also, the whole Skywalker legacy is something to wonder about – where are we going from here? I feel that the original characters have been handled a little more poorly than I expected, to be honest.

Ultimately, I still preferred Abrams’s The Force Awakens over this – it looked better, sounded better, and was handled better, though The Last Jedi is by no means a bad movie and does not deserve the hate being flung its way. There is a hell of a lot to like about it – it is fun, it is dark, there are some new concepts being introduced, and has plenty of action. I am seriously looking forward to watching it again sometime and seeing how it holds up. Maybe because I have mad Abrams love and want him to keep going with the story…

Review: Death Note (2017)

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“Every human spends the last moments of his life in the shadow of a death god.”
– Ryuk

SYNOPSIS: Light Turner, a bright student, stumbles across a mystical notebook that has the power to kill any person whose name he writes in it. Light decides to launch a secret crusade to rid the streets of criminals. Soon, the student-turned-vigilante finds himself pursued by a famous detective known only by the alias L. – via IMDB

You know, I wondered how this was going to go down. I am sure there are going to be a ton of people that are going to hate on it and knock on it (yes, I see I am right having Googled the reception and rating). Anime is not an easy thing to bring to screen, and I must confess I have skipped a lot of the things. I don’t watch anime, though my brother in law and a very close friend of mine swear by it.

Now, while I do not and have not watched a lot of animes, Death Note is one of the few I actually did watch. Well, most of it, until it got so drawn out and boring I wanted to scratch my eyes out. It was entertaining until about halfway, three quarters through, then it just got crazy. When I saw the run-time for this, I was interested to see how exactly Wingard was going to handle the whole story and bring it to life. In short, pretty damn well actually.

Yes, I know a lot of people might want to shoot me for that, and I don’t care. I liked that this was fast and got to the core of the story without all the filler stuff that just bored me out of finishing it initially. The movie felt a bit longer than it was, not because I was bored, but because there was a hell of a lot of content crammed into a short space of time. It never felt rushed though, which is a bonus. It set up what was needed and then told the story, and it came together pretty well.

A big drawback for me was the casting of Keith Stanfield as L, he just didn’t really feel right. The other actors fit and did alright with their roles, but Stanfield just stood out because he did not seem to gel with the other actors, and his performance came across as forced, which I didn’t like. Also, I could have done with more of Ryuk. Light was definitely a strange character here, like he was never scared of Ryuk, but that also didn’t always hurt this. It all just rolled along fine, just strange.

As this was done by Wingard, it looked stylish and I enjoyed the soundtrack and score. Wingard understands style, that’s for sure, so that was one of the things nailed down really well in Death Note. All things being said, I quite enjoyed this and I really think the internet is hating on it way more than it deserves.

Review: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

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“I did not start this war. I offered you peace. I showed you mercy. But now you’re here. To finish us off… for good.”
– Caesar

SYNOPSIS: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. – via IMDB

Oh yeah! Went to see this the a while ago (my first official trip to the cinema in London) and I had a blast. Actually, I don’t know if that is the right phrasing. Either way, we are going to roll with it. Andy Serkis returns as the most amazing Caesar, and is as honourable as ever. War for the Planet of the Apes really goes for certain themes, and the conflict and strife between the apes and the humans reach a peak.

Woody Harrelson steps in as the truly reprehensible Colonel McCullough . Like I mean really. The man waltzes in and just destroys things all round. Harrelson was good, if underused, which was the same complaint lodged against Oldman in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. There is so much more potential here, but it doesn’t come. Serkis completely owned in his role of Caesar, but I expected no less from him on that front. His portrayal is brilliant, he really has made Caesar his own. Naturally the movie was visually stunning, too, because these movies have all just looked fantastic from the beginning. It definitely has heart and is excellent. I must be honest and say that Dawn is still my favourite.

The plot progression is also good here. It rapidly brings you up to speed with where everything is now in the world, and then it hits the ground running and it does not let up. You feel the fear and the anger here, and I would like to give the movie credit for that. The score also works hand in hand with the visuals to set the mood and tone for what it to come. I was also super pleased to see Maurice, Luca, and Rocket all together here, and I also found Bad Ape to be an amusing and yet sad (his backstory and the lasting implications on his psyche) addition to the movie. This movie didn’t really go between the two sides, as we have become accustomed to, giving us the first movie that is more about the apes than anything.

I feel this movie was totally worth the excitement I had stashed away for it. It totally had that Logan vibe going for it, like this was the last stretch, and it was most certainly serious. It was grim and heavy and it was not out of place. These movies started at a lighter area and have progressed through a whole array of emotions and settings, and have not once stumbled. These movies are a great example of how a film franchise, and especially a reboot franchise, should be handled. War for the Planet of the Apes is definitely worth watching!

Review: Equilibrium (2002)

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“You exist to continue your existence. What’s the point?”
– Mary

SYNOPSIS: In a fascist future where all forms of feeling are illegal, a man in charge of enforcing the law rises to overthrow the system. – via IMDB

I haven’t seen this since I was a kid, and I have been meaning to rewatch it for ages now as I quite enjoyed it then and wanted to see how it held up after all these years. Recently I did so and my husband joined me, as he had not seen it. Well, in short, it is still good, though there are some things that I do take issue with.

First and foremost, the story is interesting. Nothing really new, and has pieces that distinctly feel like they are in line with concept of The Matrix, and it is very heavy handed with its message at times. That being said, it is an enjoyable watch if you don’t overthink it or watch Diggs’s performance too closely, because that it probably the biggest drawback of the movie. He is terrible, and my husband had severe beef with how cheery he seemed and smiley, especially if he was supposed to be hopped up on as much Prozium as his counterparts. Also, I get that Bale started feeling, but his character fell apart so violently at times that it was impossible to suspend belief that this futuristic regime would not notice their top cleric going to pieces as he was.

I did like the revolution that was being planned to revert back to the core of what people are, and to see how books and music and little things have been banned in this future world is heavy. Granted, you might be rid of war this way, but you have also lost the core of what it means to be a human, to feel, to have free will. I did like the colours that were used, and Preston’s clothes colours demarcating who he was and what he felt ultimately were good. I do enjoy imagery like that in movies. The costume design for this was also really good, and suited the tone and style of the movie.

The action sequences were fun, too, as is expected from an action movie, and they are choreographed well. I see that this movie gets quite a bit of hate, which I don’t get. It looks pretty good and has a solid story and comes together quite well. It is flawed, yes, but then just about every movie out there is. Go in for an action film with more story than most, and you will be in for a pretty good time. Equilibrium is well worth your time I would say.

Review: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

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“We are dealing with a monster from a bygone era.”
– Preston Packard

SYNOPSIS: A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden. – via IMDB

I finally got to this, and I must say that I was more impressed than I expected to be. While Kong: Skull Island has some issues, if you don’t overthink it and just go in for what it was made for (pure entertainment), you are bound to have a pretty good time. I quite enjoyed myself throughout.

I had quite a good time with the humour, which was cheesy at times, but every now and again had a good, sharp snap to it. I also absolutely loved the soundtrack, which was totally right up my alley, and worked with this. I think the movie touted quite the impressive cast, though some of them were underused. None of them were actually given a character to really chew on, but they all served their purpose of bringing the story of Kong to life. I thought Hiddleston to be a good ex-military type, Jackson played who and what he always plays, Larson was solid (as is to be expected), and it was a treat to see Reilly here.

I did not enjoy the romance that was squashed into this (I could totally have done without it), and I must acknowledge that the movie had some super dodgy effects at times. Also, just don’t overthink it, because this is a movie to entertain, not to be picked apart like The Godfather or something. Kong was really cool, and I totally enjoyed his scenes. Those icky-ass monsters on the island that Kong protected everyone from served their purpose – to be gross as hell. Ewwww. There were also plenty fight scenes, and all were done quite well – exactly what they needed to be, which is a blockbuster action film. If that’s what you are going in for for Kong, then that is exactly what you are going to get.

Anyway, there isn’t really much to say about Kong: Skull Island other than it is quite a bit of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I had a few laughs, there were some cool fight sequences, a great soundtrack to carry it all, and decent performances from the cast. It’s seriously not a bad movie to while away some time with.

Review: John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

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“You stabbed the devil in the back. To him this isn’t vengeance, this is justice.”
– Winston

SYNOPSIS: After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life. – via IMDB

I’m pretty sure you all know that I am a pretty huge fan of John Wick, and I have been eagerly anticipating this sequel for quite some time. I trekked off to the cinema opening weekend for this, and I was not disappointed. It is a strong sequel to be sure. This is what most sequels wish they could bring to the table, but fail at more often that not.

Chapter 2 is everything John Wick was, but amplified. Bigger guns, more bullets, more hand to hand combat than you can shake a stick at, just more extravagant everything. It has plenty of throwbacks to John Wick, which is amusing. There is much of the same, but more, if that makes sense. The movie is exciting and the action is engaging, and again it embraces the fact that the story is relatively skinny and rolls with it, and so the viewer is, irresistibly, drawn in all over again. The movie keeps it simple with the story, and indulges with the visuals and the score. I also really enjoyed the humour that was present in Chapter 2 – still my kind of humour. Keanu Reeves dominates as John Wick, and I simply love watching him in character. Ian McShane is, as always, a joy, and Broyles Lance Reddick also brought the goods.

All that being said though, I also had some issues. I felt the movie was a touch long, and while finally getting to see more of this super mysterious, elaborate assassin/criminal underworld, there were some niggles to be had. I am looking here specifically at the end, making it look like every single person in the whole city has ties to this underground organisation. Really? Sometimes the humour also didn’t land quite as quick, fast, and slick and the predecessor.

While Chapter 2 is an entertaining watch that hooks you from the off, I just don’t see how and why it is considered to be the superior of the two films. Totally worth the watch though, and definitely a movie I will be revisiting. It is smooth, well choreographed, exciting, stunning to look at, and is just plain fun. Absolutely recommended.

Review: The Italian Job (2003)

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“You know, the only thing worse than a thief is a coward.”
– Stella Bridger

SYNOPSIS: After being betrayed and left for dead in Italy, Charlie Croker and his team plan an elaborate gold heist against their former ally. – via IMDB

I haven’t actually seen this since it came out, and recently figured I would give it a shot again. Which I did. Let me preface all that is to follow by saying that this movie holds up poorly upon rewatch. Very poorly. Essentially a 110 minute Mini Cooper advert, there is little to gel it all together. I am someone that enjoys a heist movie, really. They are fun, entertaining, and sharp. The Italian Job is not as smart or sassy as it pretends to be, and is nowhere near as witty as it think it is, either.

The movie has a recognizable cast, which is a big draw here. That being said, they all play rather flat characters that don’t actually develop at all, people we don’t really care about. The story is simple and straightforward, and not once does anything happen that surprises you. This is both a good and a bad thing in the fact that you can just get right down to things, but on the other hand offers up nothing to remember after the fact. The actors all seem to be having fun, which is a good thing.

The performances were decent and fit t he type of movie this was. The Italian Job was shot really well, and had decent pacing. By no means a thorough story or something you get too invested in, just enough to give you what you need to move on to the movie and the heist. Music fit the movie, but didn’t necessarily stand out in any which way. I don’t actually have much to say about this one.

At the end of the day, there are far better heist movies to occupy yourself with – ones with better stories, infinitely superior humour, and so much smarter. Ocean’s Eleven is a prime example of how a heist film can be done, and it had a much bigger set of characters to work with, and it was fleshed out far better than this. The Italian Job is not the worst movie you can waste your time on, but it pretty bland at the end of the day.

Review: Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)

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“The Vampire and Lycan clans have been at war for centuries, turning our world into a battlefield. For me, the fight is personal. Everyone I’ve ever loved has been hunted down. Now a new war is being waged.”
– Selene

SYNOPSIS: Vampire death dealer, Selene fights to end the eternal war between the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her. – via IMDB

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GRADE 6Hoo-boy, was I ever excited for this! I know there are tons of people that have issues with the Underworld movies, but come on peeps, lighten up! They are fun and entertaining. Don’t overthink it. So when we got Blood Wars in December, I was out in full force to catch up with ass-kicking Death Dealer Selene, and to see what has become of the ever-precious Michael.

Now, right off the bat, I wanted to love the costume design. It is usually pretty good, but then this movie looked like The Hunger Games in terms of outfits. The parallel didn’t stop there. When I saw how the new Death Dealers were being trained, I was a little shocked. Seriously guys, since when are you guys in cages, wearing the same creepy leather vests, and training like you are going to get in the arena? Then the makeup and costumes that were so over the top also made me keep up with that line of thinking. Oh well.

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I was pleased to see David and his father Thomas return, and I particularly enjoyed the story arc involving David’s lineage. Theo James is a welcome addition to the franchise, and works quite well with Kate Beckinsale. The story was again (surprise surprise) lacking here, but again, not a deal breaker for me. There is enough story to keep you mindlessly entertained, with plenty action to glue it all together. I was not pleased with the stupidly weak coup that took place, because really, there was so much more potential there to use than was actually realised. Another major issue I had with Blood Wars is that it felt rushed, and that is such a pity. It came across as a bit clunky.

The movie, as its predecessors, is dark and gloomy and looks good (even if you take that whole Hunger Games vibe and toss it). I appreciate the continuity of these movies, as it is more consistent than most franchises. I found Lara Pulver to be a total nuisance, and hopefully we will not have to suffer through any more of her in future. Bradley James reminds me of a young Mads Mikkelsen, which is pretty cool.

Underworld: Blood Wars is another silly, popcorn entertainment film that should satiate fans of the Underworld franchise, but might not appeal to people who are not familiar with the mythos of the vampire and lycan clans. I suppose it might not even really win over existing fans, but I thought it was alright! SPOILER: I absolutely refuse to accept this crappy premise that Michael is dead. REFUSE, I tell you. Guess we will have to see where it goes from here. Worth a watch, I’d say.