All Eyez On Me

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MA15+All Eyez On Me

Director: Benny Boom

Screenplay: Steven Bagatourian

Producers: L. T. Hutton, David l. Robinson, James G. Robinson

Starring: Demetrius Shipp Jr, Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohan, Jamie Hector, Annie Ilonzeh, Kat Graham and Jamal Woolard.

After being hit in the stomach by a patient at work (hospitals aren’t always the safest places), I was feeling feisty going in to see the biography of controversial rapper, Tupac Shakur (AKA 2Pac) in, All Eyez On Me.

I didn’t expect to get into the film as I wasn’t a fan, but I became absorbed by the tenacity of the man (rhyming intended).

Taking me back to the late 80s to early 90s, back to a time when I was still at high school, put off rap when lyrics from, The 2 Live Crew’s track: Me So Horny, were sung by oh so horny teenagers – the story of Tupac was unfamiliar.  Sure, I’d heard of him.  Anyone alive during that time would have, and that’s a testament to his fame, but I didn’t know the details of his life.

By the time Tupac was 25 when he died a week after being shot by, to this day, persons unknown, Tupac Shakur had sold over 75 million records had starred in six films and one TV show all in the space of 5 years, including his time in jail for ‘indecent touching’. This guy was a trail blazer.

All Eyez on Me is a biography and thankfully not a rap music video featuring gangsters and tits and arse, for which 2Pac was famous, there’s also his political side, his poetry and his relationship with his mother.

Both his step father and mother were part of the Black Panther’s back in the 70s, his mother jailed while pregnant with Tupac only to be released after her self-representation.  His step father also jailed after being charged for armed robbery whether a set-up by the police for being a Black Panther leader or because he did the robbery or for all of it.

It’s interesting how times have changed and how artists who survived those days such a Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube have been washed and rinsed and sanitised.  And I felt that the perspective of the film laundered Tupac’s life for the big screen.  Yet, there’s effort to show the controversy, the gangster attitude and misogynous stance to then switch to Tupac’s defence to give a little understanding as to the why.  And the, Why not?

It was interesting to be shown a slice into the life that was Tupac.  From his life as a child to his final hours as partner of Death Row Records, still dreaming, still creating, still getting out there to stand.

The opportunity for Tupac to defend his life style was shown through an interview with journalist Kevin Powell (who’s now suing for copywrite infringement, see article here) while he was jailed.  The premise being just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it’s wrong.  And although sometimes disgusted, I admit I got into the film and the charisma of the character, Demetrius Shipp Jr, well-cast as Tupac.   But wow, the man himself would have been so much better.

A few pieces of old footage are spliced into the film which I would have liked more if possible without taking away from the drama and character of the film.

And 2Pac’s music was a slow reveal and used in triumph as Tupac makes a comeback, again and again.

All Eyez On Me is an interesting film if you can stomach the macho BS that is the attitude of the 80s rapper.  Particularly the history of West Coast Rap and where artists like Dr.Dre, Snoop Dogg and 2Pac come together.

Products from Amazon.com

Despicable Me 3

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: PGDespicable Me 3

Director: Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda

Co-Director: Eric Guillon

Producers: Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy

Executive Producer: Chris Renaud

Writers: Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio

Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel, Steve Coogan, Jenny Slate and Julie Andrews

Despicable Me 3 continues the adventures of former super villain turned Anti-Villain League agent Felonious Gru, who also starred in Despicable Me (2010) and Despicable Me 2 (2013). I hadn’t seen either of the earlier films so went to see this one with no expectations (although I had a passing awareness of Gru’s minions, those little yellow creatures who don’t talk in any recognisable language).

The preview was packed with parents and their young children, the latter of whom seemed to enjoy the fast-paced action, humour and characters. Occasionally the adult characters’ more reflective moments caused some rustling amongst the younger viewers who obviously preferred the action to be non-stop.

For those familiar with the previous two outings, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) has married fellow agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), having adopted three sisters in the first film (Margo, Edith and Agnes). They live in one of those fabulously inventive houses full of gizmos and gadgets, set in a suburb where all their neighbours are boringly normal.

The baddie this time around is a former child star, Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), who is obsessed by his 80s character, to the extent he continues to sport a wicked mullet, the effect of which is ruined by a bald spot. Bratt is intent on world domination (as all villains seem to be) and has a super-secret island fortress and access to a seemingly endless supply of weapons and other incredible inventions. He needs a gigantic diamond to power his mega weapon and this forms the basis of most of the plot.

Gru suffers a change in fortune following one encounter with Bratt, but before he can get too morose about this he is contacted by a long-lost relative who provides him with the inspiration he needs to pull off one last (lawful) heist and do battle with the Bratt. I don’t think it gives much away to reveal that this person is Gru’s identical twin brother Dru (also voiced by Carell), who is optimistic, charming, friendly, and painfully eager to emulate his darker-natured brother.

The animation is eye-catching, colourful and imaginative although not particularly realistic. I was particularly fascinated by the highly exaggerated features of the adult characters, especially Gru with his pointed nose, pencil thin legs and tiny pointed shoes. The minions seemed to be more assertive this time around, and got to do some humorous, inventive things as they branched out briefly on their own adventures.

My favourite character is the youngest daughter Agnes, who absolutely LOVES unicorns. When she gets excited she quivers, trembles and seems to expand with suppressed emotion, and her quest to acquire a real unicorn of her own leads to some joyful moments.

I found the film overall to be amusing and mostly engaging aside from a few lapses in internal plot logic (I don’t care if it’s an animated film, it should still make sense!), but what made it special for me was the choice of music. This included lots of 80s classics such as Bad (Michael Jackson), Take on Me (A-ha), 99 Luftballons (Nena), and a funny riff on When You’re a Jet from West Side Story.

Products from Amazon.com

The Mummy

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MThe Mummy

Directed by: Alex Kurtzman

Screenplay by: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman

Screen Story by: Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet

Executive Producers: Jeb Brody and Roberto Orci

Starring: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari and Russell Crowe.

Welcome to Universal Picture’s Dark Universe:  A series of Monster-Verse movies to be distributed in the coming years beginning with the release of, The Mummy.

This is the first time we’re seeing the monster as a female mummy – Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an ancient Egyptian princess cheated out of her rightful place as ruler and a god amongst men.

Ahmanet draws on the power of evil to reclaim what she believes is rightfully hers only to be thwart at the verge of succeeding.  Erased from history and imprisoned for 5000 years, she’s unwittingly released by Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), a careless soldier of fortune who has no scruples using anything and everyone to get what he wants.  The perfect match for a monster.

But is he evil or just an idiot?

There’s chemistry between Nick and the British officer of Cultural Heritage, Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), with a sprinkling of humour that sometimes missed the mark for me but made the pair tolerable.

Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), Nick Morton’s side-kick, was a bonus providing comic relief, lifting the film out of taking itself too seriously, allowing the audience to laugh intentionally.  It can be a close call – to laugh with or at seemingly ignorant action-types.

Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) was well-cast as the evil Egyptian princess.  The costuming (Penny Rose) and make-up (Lizzie Georgious) creating the rune-style writing on her skin very effective and the double iris a unique look l’ve never seen before.

This leads me to the explosive effects and setting which made the film worth watching on the big screen.  Shot in three countries from the Bridge of Sighs in Oxford for those creepy dark and dank moments, to Namibia in southeast Africa for the heat and desert surrounding the discovery of the Sarcophage containing, The Mummy.

If the story remained the light-hearted, explosive action, sometimes scary zombie, Mummy-come-to-destroy-London movie, this would have been a familiar, successful formula.  What I don’t understand is the addition of Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe).  Adding a character so different to the rest of the story stretched the suspension of belief too far leaving me to question – why?!

I was absorbed with the explosive opening and the effects, so-much-so, I put off that desperate need for the bathroom because I didn’t want to miss  what was coming next.

But there was a wrong turn in the story with too much weight put on the already thin character of Nick.  Add the Henry Jekyll character and you’re losing the audiences enthusiasm for the characters’ survival.

Products from Amazon.com

The Sense of an Ending

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MThe Sense of an Ending

Director: Ritesh Batra

Producers: David M Thompson and Ed Rubin

Screenplay: Nick Payne

Based on: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Starring: Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter, Michelle Dockery, Emily Mortimer, Billy Howle, Joe Alwyn

Tony Webster (the ever-reliable Jim Broadbent) leads a reclusive, quiet existence until long buried secrets from his past force him to face the imperfect recollections of his younger self, the truth about his first love and the disturbing consequences of decisions made long ago.

While not a must see film it is well-made, intriguing and mysterious, more of a slow burner than a page turner. The first part unfolded slowly and there was as much mystery as there were questions answered throughout the film. A major theme throughout is the recognition of how the memory of youth can directly influence the present.

The film provides a good mystery and exploration of the complications of human (and family) relationships. The film is set in two different time periods and it was interesting watching actors inhabit the same role as younger and older versions of the same characters.

Jim Broadbent was excellent as the curmudgeonly older version of Tony Webster, an introvert whose ex-wife Margaret (Harriet Walter) remains one of his best friends in later life.

Charlotte Rampling plays the older Veronica, Tony’s first love, and despite not being on the screen for long, she effectively conveys a sense of being her own person, a mystery that Tony was unable to resolve or understand for who she actually was.

Suggested events were hinted at but some were left unexplained, and it is tantalising wanting to know why one character had such a strong hold over Tony more than forty years later. There are also parallels between the past and the present in the situations characters found themselves in, separated by several decades.

The screenplay, adapted by Nick Payne from the novel by Julian Barnes, may cause admirers of the novel to criticise the licences taken with the original version. Director Ritesh Batra and screenplay writer Nick Payne remain faithful to the essence of the novel, but have generalised places and characters in a way better suited to a cinematic rendering.

For example, the novel relies heavily on the internalised nature of Tony’s narration in the book, which would not have translated easily to the screen unless there was excessive reliance on voice-overs and extended shots of Tony just sitting around looking introspective. Therefore, some minor characters who were just memories for Tony were fleshed out into fully formed roles in the film, so his subjective perception of other characters was counter-balanced by them having their own personalities separate from his view of them.

It also becomes obvious as the film progresses that Tony’s memory is not entirely reliable, which affects how the audience views him and his recollections. Having the other characters acting independently of him allows us to question how much of what we learn from Tony is the truth or just his version of it, which adds to the mystery.

The film was photographed and edited in a careful, slow way that will appeal to those who enjoy settling in for a slower paced unfolding that combines old mysteries with the gradual awakening of living in the present and coming to terms with what happened so long ago.