Cert: 12A Runtime: 136 mins Director: F. Gary Gray Cast: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Scott Eastwood and Kurt Russell
I will beat you like a Cherokee drum
Ever since Dwayne Johnson made his appearance in the Fast & Furious franchise it has become immense. After the tragedy that shadowed Fast 7, we all expected it to be the last one. But here we are Fast 8 is now the highest grossing opening film of all time, beating Force Awakens! It shows you that this franchise isn’t dead just yet. So what is The Fate of the Furious about? Now that Dom and Letty are on their honeymoon and Brian and Mia have retired from the game—and the rest of the crew has been exonerated—the globetrotting team has found a semblance of a normal life. But when a mysterious woman (Charlize Theron) seduces Dom into the world of crime he can’t seem to escape and a betrayal of those closest to him, they will face trials that will test them as never before. From the shores of Cuba and the streets of New York City to the icy plains off the arctic Barents Sea, our elite force will crisscross the globe to stop an anarchist from unleashing chaos on the world’s stage…and to bring home the man who made them a family.
Fast 8 included over the top, high flying action and was a relatively good new addition to the franchise that started relatively small. The Furious line has grown into a beast over the past years and is never better in terms of pulling its shares at the box office. Its fast paced action is enough to let us dismiss the lack in narrative and structural content that more sophisticated viewers may be looking for. However this is what is it and no one does it better, a fun, dumb explosion of a franchise that audiences have grown to love.Although its 8th instalment definitely ups the ante from Furious 7 in terms of action the emotional story that the 7th managed to tell in a beautiful send off to the late Paul Walker is sadly not found in this new film. Paul Walker’s absence has really left a void in the franchise that they tried so hard to fill with new comer Scott Eastwood. The relationship between Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson and their chemistry was brilliant. Their to and fro bickering and love/hate relationship was just so good. Rather, the original furious gang really slacked off; Tyrese Gibson and Ludicrous’ characters were both not as fleshed out and seeing as Vin Diesel’s Dom has gone rogue and out of the team the original gang really members really aren’t so colourful and interesting. Overall I would say that even though the action and car chase definitely tops its predecessors. This film was rather not as good as the franchise’s more notable entries such as its 5th and 7th instalments.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 90 mins Director: Ben Wheatley Cast: Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Michael Smiley and Noah Taylor
You want the weapons? Or you don’t want the weapons?
Ben Wheatley is a film-maker I respect and admire. High-Rise and Sightseers are probably the two best British films of the last ten years. Free Fire is his latest with Martin Scorsese executive producing this is
his first big film IMO. This is a true stellar international cast to boot. Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Sharlto Copley to name a few Free Fire was a must watch. So what is Free Fire about? In America in 1978, Justine (Larson) has arranged a deal on behalf of two Irishmen (Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley) to buy a stash of guns from gangsters Vernon (Copley) and Ord (Hammer), but then there’s a misunderstanding and shots are fired… The standout cast have great fun with this shoot-’em-up and the playful script’s wry dialogue as the manic standoff escalates into a bloody game of survival.
Free Fire is an absolute riot from start to finish. The pace is established from the get go as once we are introduced to the characters things go bonkers immediately. As the film continues some character motivations are made clearer which may lead one to question who’s side anyone is actually on. Whereas some are left in the dark to let the audience ponder at their own freewill. Shooting starts due to past events that resurface after two gang members come face to face leaving a road of destruction in their wake.Free Fire has top notch sound design, Wheatley gives his audience a sense of space within a confined environment in which I feel he purposely neglects in his visual representations. The action on screen is messy and convoluted to a point that fits the narrative of what comes to be every man for himself.
It’s impossible to determine who is where and therefore who’s side anybody is actually on. At first I found this to be a problem when watching but giving it some afterthought I came to realise what Mr. Wheatley was aiming for. Using direction of sound to determine each players position on the board. It’s quite an ambitious directing choice but I believe Wheatley more than pays off. Free Fire is a thrilling, hilarious, action packed ball of insanity that is not without it’s flaws, mostly with Brie Larson’s character as I feel she was kind of sidelined without much to do, she was certainly left too much in the shadows, I would have liked to see more of her. Of course the moments she had on screen were definitely benefiting. But my willingness to look past them as they’re not too major is my sheer enjoyment of the movies denouement which had me smiling from ear to ear so much that my jaw started hurting. It’s no High-Rise or Sightseers but it does show how talented Ben Wheatley is.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 104 mins Director: Daniel Espinosa Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya
I miss my fucking dog. Goodnight.
We all enjoy a stand alone movie that isn’t a re-boot, prequel, sequel or re-imagining! Life although stinks of Alien (1979) it’s an individual film with no tie-ins. It has an interesting diverse cast with three great leading actors. We all know since Jake Gyllenhaal appears in Life I was going to watch it. So what is Life about? Six astronauts aboard the space station study a sample collected from Mars that could provide evidence for extraterrestrial life on the Red Planet. The crew determines that the sample contains a large, single-celled organism – the first example of life beyond Earth. But..things aren’t always what they seem. As the crew begins to conduct research, and their methods end up having unintended consequences, the life form proves more intelligent than anyone ever expected.
Life is a very fine film. Firstly, it’s quick to get about its business. One thing I do remember about the original ‘Alien’ is that it took a long time to get going. That is not an issue here. Secondly, the film’s creature is created in such a way that it feels particularly realistic. It is very menacing, yet also very grounded and believable in a way that is hard to explain exactly. Only by watching the film will you truly understand what I mean.It is a well paced film too. At no stage does the story stall. An impressive cast also does a good job of keeping the audience tuned in. One character played by Olga Dihovichnaya was quite hard to understand at times with a very heavy accent, however that would be the only acting fault I noticed. Then to top off an already fine film, there is a very fun and interesting ending that will be heavily discussed I suspect. ‘Life’ is a very well made, tense, interesting and thoughtful film that I see the majority of audience members thoroughly enjoying.
Cert: 12A Runtime: 107 mins Director: Rupert Sanders Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbeck, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt and Juliette Binoche
They did not save your life. They stole it
Ghost in the Shell is probably one of the most acclaimed Manga/Anime ever to have been released! So why did Hollywood decide to cinematize this adored tale? The fact Rupert Sanders was on board put me off for sometime but the inclusion of Scarlett Johansson as Major made it more intriguing. The media had given Ghost in the Shell no hope from the first trailer. But you should never judge a book by it’s cover! So what is Ghost in the Shell about? In the near future, Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people’s minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that she has been lied to: her life was not saved, it was stolen. She will stop at nothing to recover her past, find out who did this to her and stop them before they do it to others.
Rupert Sanders live action take of Ghost in the Shell is worthy of the original anime. But it doesn’t out shine the 90’s classic! The VFX is really on point here, it truly brings the franchise to life. The choice of camera shots of the city can be a bit too much for the eyes. It’s a barrage of colour and too much is going on in the background during some points.The cinematography its truly remarkable, it somehow reproduce the atmosphere of the original anime, the decaying, depressing, dark megalopolis is correctly reproduced here the costumes, robots, and the general look and feel of the characters are quite satisfying and solid. The music is not bad at all, includes some of the original score and it work towards creating a dense and dark environment. Sanders really does rectify the mess he created with Snow White and the Huntsman. In all honesty I never thought he would work again. He doesn’t really bring an flare or anything unique to the film. But it’s evident he is a fan and has payed homage to the material.
The dialogue and the flow of Ghost in the Shell is on point too. The structure has some flaws but it paces itself well. The action is executed very well, but it does come in small bursts throughout. It works well for the film, but it may not be what some audience members will expect. Scarlett Johansson is now Sci-Fi royalty. Her roles in films like Under The Skin & Lucy have prepared her for playing Major. She overshadows the controversy of her casting. She plays an A.I so well it’s just part of her DNA now. She has such a hollow aura to her but can give slight hints of humanity at some moments. She really captures the essence of Major so well. Pilos Asbeck as Batou was not bad, his chemistry with Johansson really does pull him from the average side. But Takeshi Kitano was a pure bad ass and I enjoyed every moment with him. Ghost in the Shell is worth a watch will it trigger a franchise? I am not sure at all. But it’s a good watch especially for this time of year.
Cert: 12A Runtime: 124 mins Director: Dean Isralite Cast: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Becky G., Elizabeth Banks, Bill Hader and Bryan Cranston
It’s morphin’ time
Power Rangers was a quint essential part of any 90’s kid. Everyone had their own Ranger of choice and even sometimes some people didn’t want to be a particular one. This re-boot so we call it has been in the pipeline for sometime. It’s evident that the film will make money purely on the nostalgic aspect, but it will bring new fans to this famous show. So what is Power Rangers about? We follow five ordinary high school kids who must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove – and the world – is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover that they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so they will have to overcome their real-life issues and band together as the Power Rangers before it is too late.
After sitting through this overlong cinematic adventure for the titular band of colourful warriors, it’s not completely clear if this was made for the 30-somethings who grew up with the cheesy show or the current generation of pre-teens. Similar in tone and presentation to Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise, this big screen adaptation has a healthy dose of teenage angst (and awkwardness), whirling camera-work and rapid-fire editing, suggesting the new crop of kids are the target audience. On the other hand there’s a tongue-in-cheek campiness that is clearly meant to tug on the nostalgia strings; the goofily choreographed fights, the insanely hammy villain and the on-the-nose metaphors are all handed over from show to movie. It’s hard to see how either demographic is going to walk away wholly satisfied though. A bloated run-time and a lack of action will surely lead to boredom for the young’uns, and the ludicrously long wait to actually see the Power Rangers in full getup could annoy the fans from way back. Waiting until approximately 90 minutes in before the new batch of heroes even suit up, the climax is a CGI flurry of underwhelming baddies, nonsensical action beats and plot contrivances so outlandish they make Vin Diesel films seem as clever as Inception. There’s no doubting the noble intentions of this modern update, and Elizabeth Banks is a blast as Rita Repulsa, however this incarnation of Power Rangers fails to quicken the pulse.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 137 mins Director: James Mangold Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant and Richard E.Grant
Nature made me a freak. Man made me a weapon. And God made it last too long.
Logan the R rated superhero we all have been waiting for. After the rave reviews from Berlin film festival this film has captivated me. Hugh Jackman has been a loyal servant to the X-Men franchise giving 16 years of his career to Wolverine. In all honesty his spin off films aren’t that memorable, but the man behind Logan is why we pay for the ticket. So what is Logan about? In the not-too-distant future, the ageing Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is eking out a meagre existence in the Mexico desert whilst caring for the elderly Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). However he then comes across mysterious young girl Laura Kinney/X-23 (Dafnee Keen), who possesses astonishing and dangerous powers. But Logan and Xavier must protect the child from the deadly Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), leader of the marauding cyborgs known as the Reavers.
Logan is probably one of the better comic book movies to have come out for sometime! It is nothing but an emotional roller-coaster of a ride. James Mangold really knocks it out of the park, the tone of the film is set in less than 2 minutes. It’s gritty, raw and a powerhouse of a film. Did I mention I adore Logan? The plot itself is simple yet effective, it’s very well paced and never drags or lags. The action sequences are bloody, violent and fast. All the car chases reminded me of Mad Max: Fury Road, but damn it work so well. The green-screen when the chases happened were rather poor but that is a minor complaint. Logan can be a very serious film at times but the comedic elements are truly hilarious. Patrick Stewart does dish out a lot of laughs. My only quarrel is that they swear too much, in the aspect that it isn’t organic. Personally I love swearing but Mangold seemed to just throw f-bombs for no reason whatsoever.
Hugh Jackman’s swansong as Logan was nothing but award worthy. I wish they would have stalled Logan until award season. This was his best performance since The Prestige IMO, this was the Logan that Jackman should of been playing from the beginning. He is an emotional powerhouse here, he truly gives his all to the role. If Jackman deserves award recognition, Sir Patrick Stewart is also in the same wagon. He really works well with Jackman and gives a stellar performance. Dafne Keen gives a great debut performance. She is as bad-ass as Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass, but the dramatic element really pushes her stature in Logan. She barely speaks but her facial expressions and body language syncs the role so well. Logan is truly a great ride and potentially one of the better comic book movies. I haven’t enjoyed a comic book movie this much since Winter Soldier. Truly Logan is cinematic gold!
Cert: 15 Runtime: 122 mins Director: Chad Stahelski Cast: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common and Laurence Fishburne
You stabbed the devil in the back. To him this isn’t vengeance, this is justice.
John Wick was the resurrection Keanu Reeves and the world needed! It became an instant hit and re-established Keanu in mainstream cinema. For me it was a breath of fresh air and probably the most invigorating action films for sometime. So what is John Wick: Chapter 2 about? John Wick (Keanu Reeves) isn’t having much luck staying retired. Now a former associate of the unstoppable hitman is planning to take over the shadowy international assassins’ guild. John is bound by a blood oath to assist him and reluctantly travels to Rome to fulfil this obligation. Matters are complicated by the fact that someone has ‘opened an account’ on John himself, which means that every bad-ass on the planet is now closing in!
John Wick: Chapter 2 is a very enjoyable. I think the first one had the more emotional impact as we got to see a terrible thing done to him and him returning to his deadly past, but this one kind of shows you how his job probably was before he decide to settle down and get married. Almost an equal trade off. The movie is definitely a sequel and feels like it is in the flow of the first film. There have been a few sequels in the past that have kind of felt off. This one had plenty of action and featured a lot of bloodshed. It did do some computer blood, which I wish they did not do as practical effects as far as blood goes looks a lot better. Did not look bad, but you can tell it was computer generated. I like Keanu Reeves, I find him to be an enjoyable actor. I know a lot of people do not care for him, but I like his work. I like that they brought back Ian McShane as his character is very interesting and I like the whole world that they set up in these films. It almost seems like these characters are part of some established world, like a series of graphic novels or something they way that the two films have played out. There is definitely an opening for a third film and I hope it gets made as if it does not, we fans of the two films will really be kept hanging! Overall, though, my complaints are few and far between while my praise is early and often. I also know that if I was an assassin in this world and I saw John Wick as the hit, I would text back, “No amount of money is enough!”