London Has Fallen

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MA15+London Has Fallen

Directed by: Babak Najafi

Screenplay by: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Chad St. John, Christian Gudegast

Story by: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt

Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Alan Moni Aboutboul, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Melissa Leo and Radha Mitchell.

A sequel to the 2013 film, Olympus Has Fallen, London Has fallen is an action thriller that was better and bloodier than expected.

Obligated to attend the state funeral of the British Prime Minister, the President of the United States (Aaron Eckhart), along with the majority of the world’s leaders, come under attack by the Pakistani terrorist and arms dealer, Aamir Barkawi (Alan Moni Aboutboul).

Gerard Butler playing the secret service agent, Mike Banning, isn’t my favourite action man.  And the chemistry between Mike and his wife Leah (Aussie actress, Radha Mitchell) was strained if not painful to watch.  But there were glimmers of a personality under all that strutting – ‘I don’t know about you but I’m thirsty as fuck,’ being one of the very few human moments.  He’s a man made of, ‘Bourbon and bad decisions’.  But yeah, some of the dialogue was pretty bad.

This is a big budget film with buildings blown up, the Chelsea Bridge disintegrating and the top of Westminster Abby toppling to the streets of London.  If it wasn’t for the seeming required cheese that these ‘American President versus Terrorist’ movies always seem to require, this would have been a very good film.

I like my thrillers and there was plenty of action here – car chases and machine guns popping like fireworks.  There were moments reminiscent of an Army Action kill ‘em all PlayStation game.  Good stuff!

Having the Brits on board only helped balance the typical cheese of the American style, one-sided ideal of the live and die mantra for the American Dream.  Even with Morgan Freeman’s baritone, some of the dialogue was hard to swallow.

The screening of the movie is timely with the recent terrorist attacks on Brussels.  A very sad day.  And some politics are discussed here.  The required need to continue the fight against terror rather than do nothing.  To engage the world.  The fact America has been under attack for centuries and that they will remain.  It is frightening, this terror business, this blowing up of innocent people.  And I don’t want to get into politics here.  But there are attacks happening and I guess the movie shows a perspective.  Anyway.

A lot of cheese, but some good action here with a big budget to make the film look impressive on the screen.

 

The Brothers Grimsby

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Director: Louis LeterrierThe Brothers Grimsby

Screenplay by: Sacha Baron Cohen, Phil Johnston

Story by: Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynhan, Phil Johnston

Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Rebel Wilson, Penélope Cruz, Isla Fisher and Babourey Sidibe.

A spy action comedy.

I’m not saying it’s one of Sacha’s best (I mean, Borat was a revelation), but Grimsby is definitely worth a giggle, a cringe and an outright laugh.  Yes, his humour is crude and extremely un-PC.  But it can also be very dry and very un-PC!  And that’s why I found myself sniggering through-out the film.

Even though he’s got his football, hotlips girlfriend and 11 kids, Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen) still misses his long lost brother, Sebastion (Mark Strong).  Finally tracking him down, Nobby finds out his brother is a spy on a mission and Sebastion finds Nobby to be his idiot but ever-loving brother.  Together, nothing can stand in their way, except perhaps for Nobby… and the people of Grimsby giving away their location… and a few randy elephants.

Nobby is the definite focus of the narrative and humour.  Dawn, Nobby’s girlfriend (played by Rebel Wilson) gets a few farts in.  It’s interesting how Rebel is inherently funny in this film, similar to Sacha.  Just the expressions on the face are funny.  I mean, Nobby showing his – I love you brother, face is hilarious.

But why-oh-why did I find Daniel Radcliff (the character, not the actual actor) contracting AIDS the funniest part of the film?!

There is a particular style to the Cohen franchise.  And even through it wasn’t his best, Cohen has created a spy action film, thrown a load of cash at it and mixed it with his humour.  And yes, I was left with a grin on my face.

Not gold but bloody entertaining.

 

Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: Zack SnyderBatman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

Screenplay: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer

Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Godot, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Momoa, Amy Adams.

Two superheros; one city.  No wonder the people of Metropolis are worried.  A vigilante batman and an alien who could destroy them all.  If he wanted.  And there lies the foundation of the film – the fear that one Being can have too much power.  And if the movie stuck with this idea, Batman Vs Superman would have been a fantastic film.  But the story continues so it’s like three movies squeezed into one.  All without the required depth of conflict to make the story truly engaging.

This movie had everything going for it – the special effects; the characters were all well-cast.  But without enough conflict between Superman and Batman, the whole premise of the story fell over.  There wasn’t enough meaning.

What a pity.  There were flickers of greatness, such as the humanising of characters.  Batman asks Superman, ‘Do you bleed?  I’m going to make you bleed.’  And a great one, ‘Only men have courage.’  So it was this fear of Superman being an alien that brought the people of Metropolis against him.  And I thought, wow, this version will go where all the others haven’t: a moody, mystery thriller! But the story just wasn’t strong enough.  And then it went on and on.  Why did Batman hate Superman so much?  It just wasn’t enough for me and the whole movie depended on this set-up of hatred.

I’m not saying I didn’t like the characters.  Ben Affleck as Batman was believable.  And I love Henry Cavill as Superman.  Even if Superman is the goody, I just can’t help but love the guy/alien.  And in this characterisation, the film is a success.  Amy Adams as Louis Lane is a flat character; helpless by tradition.  But I liked her ginger-self anyway.  She still had guts.  Even Wonder Woman, played by Gal Godot was likeable.  But that’s my case in point, it felt like she was just tacked on the end.

Knee-jerk reaction: what a waste.  It was all there.  But trying to fit so much in the 2.5 hours made it feel like 5.  Surface action is just explosions on the screen.  But hey, I love a pretty explosion, and I guess that’s why Batman Vs Superman is watchable just not memorable.

 

The Daughter

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Directed by: Simon StoneThe Daughter

Produced by: Jan Chapman, Nicole O’Donohue

Screenplay by: Simon Stone

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Ewen Leslie, Paul Schneider, Mirada Otto, Anna Torv, Odessa Young, Sam Neill.

An Australian film based on a play by Henrik Ibsen, ‘The Wild Duck’.

After Henry (Jeoffrey Rush) closes down the timber mill, the town starts dying – boarded-up shop fronts reflect the people left: hidden secrets kept behind the surface of happy families.  But slowly, the surface is scratched away as Chris (Paul Schneider), Henry’s son, reunites with his family and old Uni mate, Oliver (Ewen Leslie), to attend his father’s wedding to his second wife, Anna (Anna Torv).

I love films based on plays – you always know the characters are well-developed and the dialogue a highlight and authentic.  But I hadn’t prepared myself for the emotional kick in the stomach this film became.

This is a story about being lucky in life even if it’s not perfect.  A roof over the head of a loving family, that’s being lucky.  Yet, the others who don’t have it, want to destroy it.  Even if they think it’s the right thing to do.  And there’s many a sad story behind every seemingly happy family.  And this is a very sad story.  Yes, a few deep breaths are required.

I was particularly affected by the stand-out performances of Miranda Otto playing Hedvig and Ewen Leslie as Oliver, playing father and daughter and the beautiful relationship between them.  Sam Neill as the grandfather is also worth mentioning – ‘Stories like these are as old as the hills’, he says.

The setting of the film is chosen carefully: country scenery of fog drifting through the trees of a pine forest and sunlight reflected off the water running through grassy banked rivers.  Yes, there’s some real beauty here.

And Hedvig is such a lovely, smart girl, her love of the people in her life a fragile treasure that all who know her try to protect.  But mostly there’s a sadness, like a duck shot out of the sky and left with a broken wing.  You can only hope she’ll fly again.  Lucky duck if she’s saved.  But is she lucky if she can’t fly?

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10 Cloverfield Lane

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: Dan Trachtenberg10 Cloverfield Lane

Writers: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken.

Story and Screenplay: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle.

Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.

Based on the script, The Cellar and part of the Cloverfield series (see Cloverfield (2008)), this is a psychological thriller that was well-paced.  And by thriller, I mean the soundtrack (composed by Bear McCreary) was used to build the tension and restraint was used in telling the story.

Howard (John Goodman, and my goodness he was well-cast in this one), is a doomsday fanatic.  Building his bunker, his ‘Arc before the flood’, he knew it was coming.  Whether It be aliens, the Russians or the Korean’s (North, he’s convinced later), Howard knew It was coming.  And now, it’s just not safe to go out there.

Goodman’s facial expressions and frankly, his girth, make Howard’s creepy character believable; making him all the more powerful and in control.  Not only did he hold the keys, he’d certainly be suck’n up all the oxygen with that set of lungs!  And the camera work here is to be commended.

Much of the suspense is built around the soundtrack, so you kind of know what’s going to happen but you kinda don’t.  I liked the restraint used to build this story of claustrophobia, with time spent building the characters, allowing the audience to get close: Howard, the creepy-doomsday guy, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the normal one, and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), the loveable-but-not-quite-sure-about one.

There are not many tricks or tools used to portray this movie and what was used by director Dan Trachtenberg was used well.

I enjoyed the relationship between the characters, and the idea, that, Yeah, I’d probably try that too.  Everyone was there for a reason and the audience was left, like Michelle, not quite sure what to believe.  And yes, thankfully, there are a few surprises.

I wasn’t blown away but I wasn’t disappointed either.

I think more could have been done with the camera work.  Like the soundtrack, accentuate a few more of those expressions from Howard, making the bunker all the more tight, building the suspense with well-placed angles and close-ups.  I just wasn’t completely engrossed; wasn’t on the edge of my seat.

Even so, 10 Cloverfield Lane is definitely worth a watch.

 

TRIPLE 9

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: John HillcoatTRIPLE 9

Writer: Matt Cook

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Clifton Collins Jr., Kate Winslet.

TRIPLE 9 was edge-of-the-seat, hard hitting and a great, well-rounded story.

Set in Atlanta, Georgia, Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is an ex-military soldier who heads a crew with two brothers, Gabe (Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)) and Russell (Norman Reedus).

Caught up in dirty dealings with a Jewish Russian Mafia, Michael and his crew recruit two dirty cops, Marcus (Anthony Mackie) and Franco (Clifton Collins Jr.) to help rob a bank in order to obtain a safe deposit box containing information to overturn the recent conviction of the Maria boss. But the boss’ wife, Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet) withholds payment. The information’s not enough.

Using brutal intimidation, Irina sends the crew off to a second job.  This is a tight-knit crew, but when faced with the impossible, the ties of family and brothers in arms gets stretched to breaking point.

The complication of morals versus survival shows each of the characters for who they truly are. Each action peeling back another layer, showing the good to be bad and the bad to be good.

Reminiscent of one of my favourites, Heat (1995), TRIPLE 9 was brutal without getting caught up in the details: bloody plastic in the boot of a car tells enough of a story.

I liked this film because it went beyond all expectations. The story just kept unfolding to its bloody conclusion. I couldn’t look away: cringing, gasping, hoping and ultimately smiling contently at a well thought-out conclusion.

The camera work was great without being over-done. The image of shadows behind the curtain surrounding a hospital bed ominous, knowing the faceless really is a monster.

Although all performances were well executed (I will always and forever be a fan of Woody Harrelson), the stand-out for me was Casey Affleck as the good cop, Chris Allen. A strong, believable character who balanced the rest of the cast extremely well. And the balancing of all the strong characters within the storyline is what makes TRIPLE 9 such a success.

One of the best movies I’ve seen for a while and I’m now convinced my favourite genre is Crime Thriller – would definitely recommend this one.

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How to be Single

GoMovieReviews Rating:

How to be SingleDirected by: Christian Ditter.

Screenplay: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein and Dana Fox.

Story by: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein.

Based on: ‘How to be Single’, by Liz Tuccillo.

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie and Leslie Mann.

Bloody romantic comedies! Always making me cry. If only the characters weren’t so adorable…

Alice (Dakota Johnson) has never been single. She moved from her parent’s house, to a dorm, then in with her boyfriend. She wants to live the single life, to get out there and do all the things she says she wants to do but never does. So, Alice moves to New York where she meets Robin (Rebel Wilson), and that’s where all the fun begins. And the tears.

There’s the classic: ‘can’t get enough’ girl and the classic boy who sleeps with everyone; the older sister, and the one looking for true love.  Which all equals lots of drinking and yes, some laughs. There’s a formula and it’s put in place because it works.

Rebel Wilson adds a different comic dimension with her particular brand. Rebel plays a certain character: the ditzy, oversexed, drunken single girl who’s all heart. And I don’t mind that she’s type-cast because I haven’t gotten sick of her yet.

The older sister, Meg (Alison Brie), was a bit sweet for me, but I guess that’s just the big sister character. And maybe I liked her the least because Meg made me cry the most.

Look, I don’t usually like romantic comedies, the way these formulaic movies manipulate a girl’s emotions. But, How to be Single was one of the better ones. Not too cheesy, and there was a genuine understanding of some of the choices women have to make: weighing up the opportunities gained by being in a relationship and the opportunities that are lost.

Really, nothing new here but a good film to watch with the girlfriends for International Women’s Day. Just take some tissues, and make sure to have a glass to celebrate no matter what your status. You’re where you’re meant to be.

Can you tell I’ve just watched a Rom Com?!

 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesScreenplay and Directed by: Burr Steers

Based on: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by, Jane Austin and Seth Grahame- Smith

Starring: Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote Douglas Booth, Matt Smith, Charles Dance; Lena Headey.

Not just another Zombie movie.

With lacy knickers and knives sheathed in garters, I really thought I was in for some trash with this one. But I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Without being overdone, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is funny for the right reasons: a playful parody that manages to portray a successful story-line about the undead (AKA zombies) running rampart in 19th century England.

Based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), the undead have infected the population and the ladies have been taught martial arts and weaponry in order to save themselves from joining their ranks. This is where period costuming meets martial arts.

With the focus on the Bennets’ daughters, the mother (Sandy Phillips) is determined to marry her daughters off to the richest men available.

There’s dancing at balls and wine being drunk; eye patches (for function not fashion), and all the skullduggery of finding love. But the story went further than the visual sensors and added a few more layers to the characters, and more meat (ha, ha) to the story. This was more about the Jane Austin 19th century sensibilities than the gore of yet another mindless Zombie movie. And this made for a better story-line.

There is much wit and humour sprinkled with occasional change in camera view: a hand reaching for a strangle hold or the rotting flesh of a zombie’s face.

The acting and dialogue was yes, once again, surprisingly good. The budding romance between Mr Darcy (Sam Riley) and Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) was believable and rather sweet.

What I liked most about the film was the humour from Mr Collins (Matt Smith), making the most of the parody of English dignified politeness amongst the chaos of the walking dead, liable to walk in any moment, ‘But pass the scones’, in the mean-time, ‘With a nice cup of tea’.

Being such a silly convention, I don’t think anyone is expecting a life-altering experience here, but there’s some quality work and thought put into the story and the telling of the story: the soundtrack (Fernando Valázquez) adding to the cheek; the camera work (Remi Adefarasin) adding a new perspective.  And I was happy to be in the audience to enjoy the success.