Friday, 29 April 2016

Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)




Oh boy, religion, a scary word. I haven't seen a biblical epic since I was a kid and in all honesty, I wasn't overly bothered about seeing this, but hey its a Ridley Scott film. For anyone that doesn't know, this story is of course based upon he Book of Exodus. The story of how the Israelites left their lives of slavery in Egypt behind them, and travelled the massive distance all the way to what is today Israel. Why on earth they went that long way around and not along the coast I dunno, something to do with the Philistines I believe, not friendly folk or whatever, hey lets not go there right. Twas a harrowing journey but luckily old Moses had God (Yahweh) on his side which certainly gave the home team an advantage over the dastardly Egyptians who were after them. Why was Ramesses (the Egyptians) after the Israelites when he had just let them go? Well he was pissed because he had been forced into the decision by Moses' best mate God, who had earlier reigned down a whole load of badassery upon them. Hey come on now, surely you all know this? possibly from Sunday school??

Being a Scott epic there was never a doubt in my mind this film wouldn't look awesomely slick, and I was correct, this film does indeed look awesomely slick. The start of the movie was always gonna be the most impressive visually with the CGI assisted cityscapes of Memphis in Egypt, the CGI assisted recreations of the cities ancient architecture, the CGI assisted horse and chariot battle between the Egyptians and the Hittites, and of course all that lovely yellowy, sandy desert which, for some reason, always looks amazingly photogenic. Indeed at first things come across as another gobsmackingly good historical with every element and every detail perfectly recreated with loving care and attention. As the film progresses and we delve further into religious territory things do get somewhat less visually impressive and more...errmm...religious? can I say that? The reliance on CGI becomes greater for the ten plagues naturally, we less of the beautiful Egyptian cities and culture in all its glory as we focus more on Moses and his people in rags, and of course things just become more fanciful.



Dare I touch on the casting here? oy vey! Well issues on race aside, Christian Bale is clearly miscast here, I swear its like having Batman on God's side fighting the Egyptians. This guy just doesn't fit in this role at all, he is far to British for a start (I can tell) and doesn't even try to quell his accent. He also looks nothing like a person from this era in my opinion, I'm not saying I know what Hebrew people from around 1300 BC would look like, but Bale just doesn't seem to fit this look if you ask me, he also looks too modern if that makes any sense. If you wanted to make a historical about medieval knights then sure, Bale could be your man, but ancient Egypt and Israelites? nah. I'm afraid the same could be said for Sigourney Weaver who sounds all wrong and actually acts badly to boot! not that she had much to do anyway. Joel Edgerton of Australia of all places, actually did look right in his role I thought, its all in his eyes, along with the makeup he actually did look very ethnically authentic I thought, surprising sure, but credit where credits due. Same could also be said for John Turturro who looked fab as Seti I, and of course Ben Kingsley who always fits in any historical epic of any time period, its virtually an obligatory move to cast the man. 

It is funny how this religious tale does in fact turn into a very Robin Hood-esque action flick midway through. You know, Ramesses is looking for Moses the outlaw, the rebel, he's executing the villagers left right and centre to try and get them to reveal him. Eventually he sends his troops into the villages to rape and pillage, then just for good measure burn their abodes down, you know...just so they know he means business. Moses watches all this from a distance, planning his revenge with his band of merry religious followers. Indeed Moses and his rebel scum do manage to attack the Egyptians by taking some of their ships down on the Nile, but not before a kickass training montage on the art of war first! (Spartacus much?). Its all standard stuff until God steps in and tips the scales with his Godly powers, bit one sided I thought.

So lets talk plagues, ten plagues to be precise. Well...they were pretty much all heavily CGI, aaand that's that. The rivers ran red with CGI blood, the hail storms were impressively CGI, the swarms of flies were actually less impressive CGI. The invasion of frogs, ditto, accept for some closeups on real frogs, same with the locusts. Death of livestock was pretty simple, no explanations required there, same with the darkness that descended on Egypt...it all went dark so people used lots more torches. The issue of boils was nicely implemented with decent makeup effects and they lasted some time too, when the plot moved on people still suffered from boils, they didn't just go away for the next scene. The curse of death to every newborn child was easily the biggie, the one you waited for because you wondered just what they would come up with. Maybe some little CGI devils running around and killing children? or a ghostly Grim Reaper-esque spirit that glides through the city? Sounds cool but no, nothing like that, all we got was a large shadow that slowly engulfs the Egyptian city bit by bit, literately taking life like snuffing out light. Does beg the question, why would God willingly kill children? come to think of it, shouldn't he really remain neutral over things like this, let mortals sort their issues out themselves.














As for historical accuracy, well that's the tricky bit isn't it because no one really knows if any of this is actually true, or real. Although really, we all know its probably fictitious. Hell there is no real proof of Moses or Ramesses even being the pharaoh mentioned in the Bible! We don't even know the specific period all this was supposed to have taken place because yet again, the Bible doesn't say. As for Biblical accuracy, well starters I don't believe Moses has ever been depicted as a hardened, sword wielding badass in the Egyptian army, plus we never really see him with a staff, he's mostly got his ornate sword. The Egyptian character of Viceroy Hegep is completely invented for the film, this slimy guy is the one who reveals Moses birth secret to Ramesses in order to gain his favour (stereotypical baddie). Moses intervenes when Ramesses threatens to cut Miriam's arm off for not speaking the truth about Moses background, but why would he do this when he's not even sure himself. Seems like a risky thing to do considering you only just heard about this claim, of your own birth, not so long ago. Bale's Moses actually argues with God in this film, well the young boy version of God (eh?). At the start of the ten plagues some fishermen are brutally eaten alive by crocodiles which kick starts the blood rivers plague, not sure this is in the Bible, not sure why this was needed at all, just to spice things up a bit huh.

I love the sequence where after everything that's happened, Moses just turns up on his wife's (Zipporah...who has facial tattoos??) doorstep with hundreds of thousands of people and calmly says 'these are my people'. Errr...K, what the hell is she suppose to say or think about that?! I don't think she will have had enough biscuits and tea to go around. Moses had galloped off back to Egypt to free the Hebrews because 'God told him'. Pretty much a suicide mission and had left Zipporah and their son to fend for themselves. Then he just pops up with a gazillion people in tow and expects everything to be fine and dandy.



Then you have the entire finale, yikes! Moses leads the Hebrews through a mountain pass because essentially he's lost and hasn't got a bloody clue where to go (no pillars of smoke or fire here folks). Ramesses follows and loses many of his chariots when they fall off the side of a slim mountain path, another bit of modern action and carnage for the young crowd then. Once at the Red Sea, Moses is again not sure he's at the right spot, and not getting any help from his mate God, he throws his ornate sword into the sea out of frustration. Its this Braveheart/Excalibur-esque act that causes the seas to slowly recede. Whilst the Hebrews are desperately crossing Moses stays behind, half way across, to have a one to one face-off against Ramesses as the huge tidal wave of sea comes crashing back into place, because its clearly an action flick. Amazingly both Moses and Ramesses survive this whilst every other human and animal is killed. Oh and someone actually cast Ewen Bremner as an Egyptian! I could still detect his Scottish accent for God's sake...errr! I mean for goodness' sake.

Amusingly this film actually felt more of a realistic take on the Biblical story more than anything. Many of the events that occur in the film are almost bordering on sensible, plausible explanations or ways of looking at the Bibles religious aspects. Miraculous things that take place are very much down to earth looking in the film, such as the parting of the Red Sea, Moses talking to himself when he's actually talking to God, Moses essentially getting lost during the Exodus, and each of the plagues being explained as natural disasters that have each had a knock-on effect. To be frank there isn't really anything miraculous going on anywhere in this film, its certainly somewhat devoid of much serious religious tone which generally I would say is good, but considering this is a Biblical story that's not really the aim is it. I mean, Moses is supposed to be the messenger of God (along with Aaron) but for the most part he seems more in the dark with what's going on around him, an onlooker who doesn't agree with God over certain things.

I got the impression this was an opportunity for a cash grab on the popular sword and sandal genre truth be told. Obviously a religious offering, but in order to make it more appealing to the masses, they toned down the religious parts and made it more of a historical disaster flick with a fantasy element. The Biblical aspect would obviously lure in the religious crowd (and their money), but essentially this wasn't for them, methinks. I've said this so many times now, but this wasn't a bad film, just very average, looks great in places, but still totally average. Adding insult to injury, religion is the bloody fabric of story! and it should be the fabric of the film...but it isn't, they virtually cut all that crap out! So what are you left with? a very odd semi-realistic religious adaptation. Ridley, if you wanna make authentic, realistic historical epics, then do so (please do!), but don't try and do it with Bible stories because it doesn't really work.

6/10


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

London Has Fallen (2016)

























There is something very eerie at this present time, about watching a movie, about the city you live in, being overrun with terrorists of a specific religious demographic, and turning the place into a war zone where you are unable to trust anyone, even in a uniform. Its certainly a bit of an eye opener and dare I say...in these times, possibly not as completely unbelievable as you might think. Am I saying this movie encourages xenophobia? no no no, well maybe yes. All the baddies in this movie are from Pakistan (I believe?), a Muslim country, and everything you see in this movie revolves around horrendous terrorist attacks, bare with me. Now apart from the obvious in your face elements of British and American patriotism fighting against the evil villains, some of the dialog in this movie is actually kinda risque if I do say so myself. The finale where Butler's Banning is beating up a terrorist leader? have a look...

'You know what you assholes don't get? We're not a fucking building! We're not a fucking flag! We're not just one man! Assholes like you have been trying to kill us for a long fucking time. But you know what? A thousand years from now, we'll all still be here!'

Now this rather kickass statement (if I do say so myself), can actually be taken two ways. On one hand Banning could be simply referring to terrorists in general, from anywhere in the world, people who kill innocents for political gain. On the other hand, the more dubious hand, Banning could maybe be referring to Muslims? Don't shoot the messenger here! I'm just pointing out a possible sly angle on this dialog because in the heat of the moment it certainly felt like the latter to me. Then of course you have the moment Banning says 'why don't you pack up your shit and head back to fuckheadistan or wherever it is you're from', which did seem a tad offensive. Its a fine line to walk really, the movie is obviously based around real events that have been happening in the present day, and naturally that will revolve around certain people. Its no different to back in the 80's when all the action flicks had Russians or Germans as baddies. I guess its just the over the top, gung-ho, American patriotism that kinda grates a bit, but is there a slight swing at real current terrorists perhaps? a slight two fingers up at the people who have committed recent acts?

Well however you wanna look at it, one thing we can all agree on, one thing is for sure, this movie stinks. Lets start at the top, London, wisely labelled so with text just in case anyone out there mistakes it for Lima or Rome you know (ugh!). So, the British PM has passed away and there is a state funeral and everyone is invited! All the leaders of the world in one place...gee, what could go wrong? My first question is, why the fuck are these leaders all over London as if they were on holiday or something. The Japanese PM is stuck in traffic on Chelsea Bridge without any aids or police escorts apparently, just stuck there like a common schmoe. The French President is getting to the affair by yacht on the Thames because...I have no fucking clue, its pretty? The Italian PM is having a private tour of Westminster Abbey??? what in Butler's balls is he doing up there when he's suppose to be attending a flippin' state funeral? (love how they give this middle aged leader a 30 year old trophy wife because...Italian!). The Canadian PM is the only person who is apparently in the right place, at the right time, and in a car! Jesus! Obviously the director wanted to destroy as many of London's big landmarks as possible, so he just stuck world leaders here and there for no reason other than to get blown up.

















So lets turn to the special effects, and when I say special effects, I of course mean the CGI. Well...bottom line, its pretty fudging terrible, this movie has been made in 2016 and the CGI is amazingly awful. Don't get me wrong, the actual gun battles and fights are all crap too, yes that's right, its all crap. Even the bits where Banning kicks ass, feels mundane and boring. Sure its hard hitting and brutal but who really cares, seen it all before, bad guys on motorbikes, in black cars blah blah blah. The various CGI sequences you see are so, SO obviously CGI its unreal, really poorly rendered helicopters being hit by missiles, shoddy explosions, crashes etc...The destruction of London is average, Chelsea Bridge probably looking the best but that's not saying much. There are of course numerous chase sequences which are hilarious because its so obvious they have been filmed at quiet times of the day, you can see the odd person looking in interest as they film it. To make matters worse a lot of the action is interspersed with obvious stock footage of British emergency services, and when its not stock footage it all looks so fake and set up, you can tell (again, regular people standing around watching doesn't help).

During the action you also can't help but ask many many questions, simple things like where the fuck are all the regular police??!! One of the plot devices is many of the beat police on the ground are terrorists in disguise, which is fine. But there would still be many many normal police, PCSO's (not that they'd be any use in a gun fight), armed police, police units in cars etc...When the shit hits the fan there doesn't appear to be any uniformed officers anywhere that aren't terrorists! highly unrealistic really. This also goes for the general public, the streets are deserted before and after the big attack, where is everyone?? Yes I know a state of emergency is issued and people are told to keep off the streets, but this is London, there is literately no way that would happen in central London in the middle of the day. Adding to that, the two protagonists, Banning and President Asher, spend so much time trying to disappear in central London, trying to reach Air Force One or a safe spot (whatever, who cares). Well in all honesty, personally I think it would be pretty bloody easy to disappear in central London, or find a vehicle to escape in. Jesus the city is big enough, littered with vehicles, with so many back streets, side streets, alleys, underground areas etc...literately spoilt for choice! Yet they keep seemingly running around the same places and openly down streets for all to see (yeah I know they aren't supposedly familiar with London but...ugh! come on!).

Then we move towards the baddies, just where exactly did they manage to get all these police cars, fitting uniforms etc...? Or did they kill lots of officers and take their cars and equipment? In which case how has no one noticed missing officers everywhere because there are lots of bad guys in disguise. This same argument applies to fire services, ambulance services and the Coldstream Guards as there are bad guys disguised as them too. Not to mention all the fire arms these baddies had, where did they hide these weapons? Where did the ambulance driver terrorist hide his rocket launcher thingy?

Seriously, if I were the President in this universe I'd quit after this. The second time you would have been caught up in a massive terrorist attack, aimed at killing you. I'd be like...sod this for a game of soldiers! Had this been released back in the mid 90's then it probably would have gone down a storm at the box office, twas the in thing. At this present time this (clearly) feels so very dated which is not helped at all by the bad effects. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice? or, how can Hollywood roll out the same shitty mistakes yet again? I realise money talks but seriously, when will people learn that some movies just don't need a sequel, and the original movie set in D.C. was a prime example of this. A great action flick with a unique setting for its Die Hard-esque plot. This sequel completely loses that tight-knit, claustrophobic action vibe by expanding the plot to cover an entire city, instead of within and around one lone building. Everything suffers because of this stupid move, but mainly, its just not needed, its a pointless, aimless sequel that looks and feels worse in every department.

4/10


Saturday, 16 April 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)



So here it is, the new trilogy, the new Star Wars for a new generation whilst trying to appease the original generations (including the prequel generation that time forgot). The first Star Wars sequel set after the classic trilogy, made a mere 32 years later, and set 30 years after the events in RotJ. In comparison this movie comes along 10 years after the final prequel movie, RofS, was made in 2005, and is set...God knows how many years after the events in RotS, gotta be at least 50 years plus. From TPM to this movie, its obviously even more years...oy vey! Now initially I wasn't gonna review this movie because some (classic) movies are so big there is nothing more to add (hence why I have never reviewed the original trilogy or films like 'Alien', what more can I add or say? We all know they are nigh on perfect). But after a few requests and the fact I cannot contain my frustration any more, here we go.

OK so the plot is generally unclear on some aspects so far, as we all know many parts will fall into place when we get the next movie and so forth. So lets focus on some of the aspects that we do know right here right now, some things that, for me, just didn't really make sense or just seemed rushed. I say rushed because I genuinely do not feel like this movie was given time to lay out its characters and history, far too eager to get into big action set pieces, anyway. Lets start with Finn, new kid on the Star Wars block. Now this guy is an Imperial Stormtrooper, he was stolen as a child and raised to be a baddie essentially, he knows little else, but he presumably does know his fellow troopers. I mean think about it, this guy has grown-up and trained with all these blokes, he must know them well, probably has friends, and pretty much only knows the Imperial way. Yet this does not stop him completely abandoning his unit and fellow troopers, freeing a rebel captive and running off in a stolen TIE fighter! OK, he clearly gets a very stark first hand reminder of what the Empire does to innocents, but surely he must have come across things like this before? he's an Imperial Stormtrooper! OK it might be his first foray into a ground mission...but again surely he must know what the Empire gets up to, at least somewhat, its not like they try to cover that much up.














The fact that Finn even trusts a rebel captive is really quite a stretch frankly, considering his upbringing, his training, his possible brainwashing or conditioning to the Empire, I would find it nigh on impossible to think that a Stormtrooper would so easily be swayed (without the use of the force). To top that, he even merrily joins in on blasting his fellow troopers to kingdom come from within the TIE fighter! and this is literately minutes after deciding to run off as a traitor! How in the hell can one person make such a rash decision against his own so quickly! so easily!! not a single thought for any possible friends or work colleagues or trainers or anyone?! I felt this entire premise was not played out well at all, completely rushed and not looked into on a deeper level. Sure there might not have been time, but then don't use this angle if you can't do it justice. This continues throughout the film and is barely delved into, I believe Finn is called a traitor by a trooper at one point but clearly Finn hasn't ever let this issue cross his mind once.

Its almost as unbelievable as the TIE crash on Jakku, how did Finn and Poe survive this exactly? and how did Poe scramble off without a trace before Finn could find him in the scorched wreckage?? Beats the livin' shit outta me, don't question it. After crash landing on Jakku that led me to another very obvious question, why exactly is Jakku covered in crashed ships?? OK so obviously there was a major space conflict above the planet at some point, but would there really be that many wrecked ships strewn around the terrain? Yeah maybe the odd one sure but what they show just felt kinda ridiculous, overkill. 

Moving on the story follows the other new kid on the Star Wars block, Rey, the plucky youngster living on this desert planet with dreams of something bigger (psst! deja vu much?). Now whilst these two new main characters were perfectly fine, I still haven't really warmed up to either of them, probably because both are just serviceable and nothing more. Finn is a likeable guy that is well portrayed in a likeable, amusing way by John Boyega that's for sure. I certainly preferred his character over Daisy Ridley's Rey because he was more approachable, more regular. You could relate to him more as he was obviously the link into this unbelievable universe for us, the audience. Rey on the other hand I just found annoying, I'm not sure why but she just annoyed me. Her drab appearance, the way she always grits her teeth as if she were a lunatic, the fact she was so skinny, and yes the way she was good at everything bugged me, she just felt unbelievable. But what about Luke in the original films you say? Well those films were made a long time ago now, times were and are different now, films weren't inspected to such a high degree back then (no internet) as they are today, and...I've grown-up! I look at things differently now. Had the original films come out now I'd probably be saying the same shit about Luke in all honesty because the argument is similar.














The movie fires along at a rapid pace and just as quick as we arrive on Jakku, we are leaving it at blistering speeds, strapped into the Falcon once again. I might add that the Falcon was picked up by Finn and Rey in a desperate escape attempt that was more humorous than thrilling really, but not in a particularly good way as this isn't supposed to be a comedy. Like Rey knew all about the Falcon and its history...yet clearly didn't know what it looked like? really? that doesn't add up. Yep so the Falcon was owned by some fat alien guy, who apparently left the ship completely unlocked so anyone could enter it, oh and it fired up straight away despite having been sitting there for God knows how long and clearly being in a bad way. Even more incredible was the fact Rey could fly the thing so well and Finn could work the gun turrets, deus ex machina much? Yes it was good to see the old Falcon again no doubt about that, nostalgia target hit precisely, but what else have you got? 

By this point its clear to see how the plot is unfolding, you are indeed seeing a soft remake of 'A New Hope'. All the original beats were being hit step by step in almost the same ways...but with simple alternate twists. The main difference being, amazingly, it looks worse than the original, yes that's right, worse. The entire sequence where we meet up with Solo and Chewie on-board their big space freighter thing was terrible, absolutely terrible. For a start the whole thing looked like something from a videogame in-game sequence, the big CGI alien with multiple eyes looked woefully bad, and the space pirates that are after Solo were horrendous stereotypes. You had a group of Asian space pirates that looked like extras from 'Big Trouble in Little China', and the other group was led by some Scottish bloke who actually had a thick Scottish accent. Nothing wrong with a Scottish accent but my God it felt out of place here. Its also here we discover Harrison Ford really can't run anymore and it was kinda awkward to watch. This was the first cheapass looking sequence in the film, believe it or not there were more.














Things got even worse (in my opinion) as we reached the final part of the movie which was yet another Death Star attack because...soft remake. Remember before all this we did have the obligatory Star Wars cantina sequence which again looked worse than the original, somehow, and a Boba Fett clone in Captain Phasma who was utterly utterly pointless and a female because...that's the way it goes these days (since when did the Empire have female Stormtroopers?). Apparently the cantina did get completely obliterated though...I think? not sure but it seemed that way so...adios all those relatively interesting alien creatures. Oh Christ how could I forget about that stupid Stormtrooper scene where some random, faceless trooper challenges Finn with his big electric stick thing. What the literal fuck was that all about?! it was laughably bad, it honesty looked like something out of 'Spaceballs'. At this point I will also just mention that the Stormtroopers all look short and dumpy. God knows how that's happened, the design of the armour obviously but somehow they all look stumpy and tubby.

Anyway the finale, oh Jesus! what happened? Yeah OK the X-wing dogfights looked good, they couldn't fail to get that wrong! The fact it was all over a big Death Star-esque weapon again unfortunately took the punch out of the proceedings because...soft remake. What really got me, what really genuinely pissed me off was the fact that it all looked cheap! it actually all looked worse than the original films made back the fecking 80's! How is this possible?? please someone tell me how. The interior cockpit shots of the X-wing pilots, as they flew around in battle, were quite simply nowhere near as good or as realistic as in the original films. The dashboard and surroundings interior parts all looked plastic, their helmets looked cheap, tacky and they wobbled, and what's worse, the pilot actors were poor! They are clearly throwing themselves around in the cockpit when nothing else is moving! did they forget to shake and move the actual sets? Now I know the original X-wing pilots in the original films were kinda slapdash and jokey to a degree, but these new guys just gave off a fanboy, fanmade film vibe, or they were best mates with someone and that's how they got the gig. CGI exterior shots of all the ships looked good, very slick and fast, but pretty much everything else interior wise was poor, including the alien fighter pilot. 














This leads me to two famous cameos from the original movies, Admiral Ackbar and Nien Nunb, again...what happened here?? Take a look at RotJ and the prosthetic masks for these two characters, now look at this movie, notice the difference? that's right...in this movie they actually look worse, worse!!! Plus Nunb is wearing the exact same outfit? really? Then you have the rebel base on D'Qar that apparently consisted of like...two X-wings and a couple hangars? I swear I still can't believe how pathetic it looked, literately a small group of rebels, a few fighters, a few droids and the Falcon. The rebel bases in the original films had so much depth, lots of ships docked up, loads of people and activity, sure they used all the tricks in the book to create this sense of depth but it fudging worked didn't it! The final aerial shot as the Falcon leaves shows the base to be an obvious small set that looked more like a Hobbit patch than a rebel base. Just as bad as the final aerial shot in the film with Luke and Rey, what the flip was that supposed to be?! Every Star Wars movie ends with a grand finale shot, accept for this with its weird helicopter aerial shot. Come on! are you telling me you can't do better than this in 2016? (rhetorical question).

I would say that the only thing in this movie that actually engaged me other than the odd bit of CGI loveliness (which was to be expected), was Kylo Ren. Now here was a villain who was actually interesting to watch because he was vulnerable and a loose cannon. He wasn't just some invincible badass who could slaughter people in the blink of an eye, well he could but he was also fragile, he could be affected, he could be toyed with and brought to the brink. Indeed we do actually see this, we see him loose control, get beaten, have tantrums, sulk, pout and generally act like a spoilt child when he doesn't get his way. Although the big twist or reveal is obvious from the start, and because of Harrison Ford stating over the years how much he wanted his famous character killed off, we all knew exactly what was gonna happen to Solo and I'm sure most knew about his relationship to Ren. Honesty I still think they should not have killed off Solo because of that one reason, the fact it was common knowledge within the fanbase (and beyond) that Ford always wanted Solo dead, it was no shock and far too obvious. They should of kept him around until the second movie and killed off someone else for a bigger surprise. I also think revealing Ren's true visage in this movie was a mistake because it completely took away his threat. I like how vulnerable he was, how vulnerable he became, but it also ruined him, his character, because he is now weak, almost a joke and seen as a brat. Maybe they should of at least kept his mask on and revealed his face later on? (His mask looked way too plastic and cheap too I think).














So yes I think its pretty clear to anyone that has read through my review here, that I was disappointed, immensely disappointed. At no point in this film did I feel engaged, surprised, shocked or emotional, everything was predictable from the start (or at least you had a bloody good idea). Like the prequels there are literately so many little things I could pick on that I didn't like, so many things I could go on and on about, but my review would be gigantic. Like I said I wasn't going to do this because, again like with the prequels, everyone has said what needed to be said so there was nothing more for me to add. But since this is still new and my opinion is clearly in the minority, I have done this, mainly to also get it off my chest. 

This film lacked any sort of punch, I felt nothing, they rushed through Solo's death and it had no impact. I never really cared about any of the new characters, Luke's cameo felt pointless and again emotionless, and the new droid BB-8 was merely a useless gimmick. But the real failure for me was at no point during the finale did I get a rousing sensation of emotion or excitement. In ANH and RotJ the finales make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, as the film builds and reaches it emotional and musical crescendo you can feel the adrenaline surging through your body. You wanna cry, you wanna punch the air with your fist in a roar of approval as the rebels are victorious, these final sequences give you goosebumps, they are sensational endings that exhaust you emotionally. I didn't get that with this new movie, not even close, not a smidgen, and the sad fact is they were clearly trying to reach for just that emotional impact, but they failed royally. What has really hurt me the most is the fact this didn't feel like a Star Wars film to me, it looked poor in places, almost like a TV movie at times with shitty CGI. I grew up with the originals, I saw RotJ in the cinema, and yes I still think Lucas should have been involved. After all Lucas is the creator, the grandfather of the franchise and one day the option will no longer be with us.

5/10

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

American Ultra (2015)

























Ah the film written by the wild and somewhat eccentric Max Landis, son of 80's director supreme, John Landis. I say this because this movie became somewhat infamous down to the fact that Max Landis had a bit of a tantrum over the fact it kinda bombed. There were Tweets and rants and moans and interviews etc...but really, what it all came down to was the simple fact that this movie was beaten at the box office by garbage such as 'Agent 47'. Is that fair? no, not at all because this movie is indeed better than said videogame shite, unfortunately Landis Jr. could not control himself too well and let rip out of sheer frustration, which is understandable I guess. But lets be brutally honest here for one moment, this is a violent action flick about people brainwashed into super agents, and it stars Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Topher Grace?? and people are wondering why it failed?

So despite Max Landis' claims about originality, here is the plot. Mike (Eisenberg) is a bit of a stoner loser, he works at a shitty convenience store, has greasy long hair, he's very skinny, and is somehow holding down a relationship with a surprisingly cute girl in Phoebe (Stewart). Meanwhile, within the CIA, agent Lasseter (Connie Britton) is informed that the special brainwashed agents from her failed Ultra project, are to be eliminated to make way for another better project headed by Yates (Topher Grace). Unhappy about this Lasseter finds Mike, who is one of these brainwashed agents, and activates him using special trigger words. What follows is a blazing trail of blood and bullets as Mike and Phoebe must avoid getting killed by Yates stream of other, so called, better brainwashed agents. As time passes Mike obviously gets better at killing, but is it enough for him to survive and save his girlfriend? Can Lasseter do anything to help? and is Yates on the level?




















So the first question that springs to mind with this movie is, why exactly does the CIA want to kill off all these agents from this old project? OK they are part of a failed operation sure, but surely they could be of use in the field, they have been trained, they aren't completely useless as they find out with Mike. Apparently Mike is not allowed to leave the State in which he resides, not sure why but there you go, this is one reason given as to why he needs to be eliminated, eh? Lasseter was also originally informed by CIA bigwig Krueger (Bill Pullman) that her agents would be taken out as they are no longer required, it is explained that this was done merely out of respect and courtesy to her, but why?? Why would you call Lasseter to tell her this? surely you could guess she might not be happy with the decision considering these agents were her project. It just seemed completely bizarre that a top secret organisation like the CIA, which are apparently happy to eliminate their own agents, would tell another agent head what they are gonna do out of courtesy. This entire plot device also begs the question, why are the CIA acting like mobsters?! Since when did the all American CIA execute their own agents like some kind of evil supervillain organisation, seriously are they the CIA or Cobra? Especially at the end when Krueger dresses down both Yates and Lasseter, both of whom are restrained at the wrists, on their knees, in the middle of a field, in the pouring rain! What the hell! is this the mafia or something?? sheesh!

Other aspects of this movie are also just as weird frankly, like the agents that work for Yates (apparently called 'tough guy' agents...seriously). Now these guys don't really come across as actual human beings, no they are more like soulless Terminators or Uni Sols even. Seriously at one point Yates goes to a big truck where all his agents are just sitting in there, in two perfect rows, in the pitch black, in the back of this lorry, like flippin' robots. Are they supposed to be robotic assassins or something? because they sure as hell act like it. They don't seem to get treated after sustaining injury, and they follow orders blindly without remorse or emotion. One scene where two baddie agents (one of them being Walton Goggins) attack a police station is a complete Terminator/Uni Sol rip-off in my opinion. Both agent are dressed in all black, they both carry heavy weaponry and simply mow down every cop in cold blood, no emotion, and the female agent is clearly doing her best robotic Arnie impression (Goggins character laughs maniacally, hence his name is Laugher).



The main problem with this film are the two main leads played by Eisenberg and Stewart. Firstly Eisenberg is quite simply not the kickass action man type, he doesn't look it, nor does he portray it well, its just not believable even for this plot. Where as Stewart just isn't a particularly good actress and is sort of unpopular in the movie world, but she also seems miscast here. Neither really click together and don't come across as a believable couple, I just can't see why she would love Mike when he's such a loser. To top that, the twist with her character makes it even more unbelievable because she gives up her entire career for this guy, I mean this could be a workable plot but you would need actors that gel way better.

The fact that we know what happens in the end also hampers this movie badly. The whole tale is basically a flashback told from a point at the end of the movie, so we know that Mike survives everything, hence there is no real tension or engagement. Secondly the tone of this film varies hugely, at one point its a dumb black comedy type affair, then its a somewhat semi serious, dirty government type affair, then its trying to be a Bourne-esque kickassery type affair, then it hints at being a rom-com with cutesy dialog, and at times it can be a bit heartfelt. The film is all over the bloody place, you never know how to feel, is this serious or not?! its like a blend of 'Kick-Ass' and (of course) 'The Bourne Identity'. The other problem is there is actually too much needless violence and blood, nothing wrong with a bit of violence and blood, but here it just feels excessive and unnecessary, it doesn't actually add anything to the action. Segway into the action...it sucks! It literately looks like a fan-made version of 'The Bourne Identity' that's been slapped together rather amateurishly, which would be very impressive if it were made by a fanboy with little money. But seriously, for a movie that's suppose to be a hot action flick, there is very little memorable action in here, its all very run of the mill stuff, and it looks cheap.

So yes Mr Landis Jr. the film is original...in the fact that its not an actual sequel or prequel or reboot of anything that has come before, but the plot isn't exactly anything new. Unfortunately the film is terribly miscast on almost all levels, and that includes a racially stereotypical role for Leguizamo as a drug dealer, and the laughably bad Pullman who sneers comically as he barks his orders at his subordinates. When the film tries to be funny, it isn't, or its not funny enough. When it tries to be serious and badass, its not really either, its just very average with bad editing. Its all quite predictable, you know the main protagonist survives from the get go, Topher Grace is just his usual snivelling annoying self, and I'm pretty sure most people won't have a clue what the films title is suppose to mean at first glance. Final summary, blend Jason Bourne, 'Kick-Ass', 'Super' and a hint of 'True Lies' and voila! its just a shame it isn't as good as that sounds.

4.5/10


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Goosebumps (2015)

























Back in the mid 90's there was a TV show that was basically a children's version of 'The Twilight Zone' for all intense and purposes. The show was based on the Goosebumps book series and was something I had heard of, had seen here and there, but never really watched, but I knew it was popular. I could say the same thing for the books honestly, I had heard of them back in the day, but I never really got into them, I think I was maybe a touch too old for the franchise because I remember brushing it aside thinking it was something for kids. On reflection I'm now not so sure I was correct with my decision back in the day as it seems Goosebumps isn't entirely for children after all. After some research it does appear that the series has a very nice adult undertone that isn't too heavy, yet can be fully appreciated by adults, maybe like a slightly softer 'Tales from the Crypt' perhaps?

Anyways the plot isn't overly original (unsurprisingly) and pretty much follows the same route taken by the movie 'Jumanji'. Jack Black plays real life author of the Goosebumps book series, R.L. Stine. The story is actually a fictional account of the authors life for the sake of the movie, whilst his book series is also referred to in the film as it is in reality. In other words his books are just the same in the movie as they are in real life, no changes for the purpose of the movie. So in the film Stine lives a lonely life with his daughter (although he actually has a son in reality), they travel from town to town for, at first, unknown reasons. One day a young boy (Zach) moves in next door and starts getting friendly with Stine's daughter Hannah, Stine is angered by this and warns Zach to stay away. Over time the young duo become more and more friendly to the point that Zach tries to rescue Hannah when he thinks her father has possibly done something nasty to her, like murdered her or whatever. This leads to Zach and another young lad breaking into Stine's house to find Hannah. Eventually the pair do find Hannah but at the same time unwittingly unleash a monster from within one of Stine's storybooks. With the secret now revealed Stine must inform the new kids about his creations and help him stop more of them escaping at the wooden hands of Slappy.

We are informed by Stine that he wrote his stories as a child, based on monsters, ghouls, zombies, demons etc...to scare the people that bullied him, when he was a child. Apparently these stories came to life and the creatures he wrote about escaped from their paper prisons and ran amok terrorising everyone. So Stine had to trap these creatures within the very storybooks he wrote. Questions, how exactly did these creatures come to life? Why did they come to life? Why are they vicious? How did Stine work out how to trap them within the books? How does Stine have these weird literary powers? and lastly, how on earth would writing spooky stories enable you to get your own back on bullies? Wouldn't these bullies have to read the stories first? Why would they do that? They would have to be pretty good stories to scare these people that much that they stop bullying you out of respect or terror, seems unlikely, but hey its just a fantasy flick right. The thing is these are all questions that entered my mind whilst watching, and there are no explanations for anything, it just happens because, reasons.

Now the main focus of this movie is clearly the effects, the CGI effects, and if you've seen films like 'Jumanji', 'Zathura', 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' etc...you will have a good idea of what to expect. Naturally the effects are better than all of those films but in all honesty its not by a country mile or anything. Much of the CGI you see here is average at best, it swings from looking serviceable, to downright amateurish, but admittedly not all of it is supposed to be highly realistic. For example the giant praying mantis definitely looked more like a loving homage to certain old 50's giant bug, black and white horror movies, it looked hammy but in a fun way. The giant abominable snowman was more of a main character, an antagonist paired with the werewolf, but he looked much more lazy effects wise. Like the werewolf the hair looked great but the rest was rather cartoonish, the werewolf faired slightly better with a more classical, Universal monsters, visage. Then you had really lame looking things like giant Venus flytraps, some aliens with ray guns, bog standard zombies and a really bad CGI pink blob. The hovering demonic poodle was quite a scary moment for kids, Slappy the ventriloquist dummy was quite eerie but could of used more wisecracking I thought, and the killer garden gnomes were probably the most effective effect overall.



Jack Black is easily the other main lure for the movie, his chubby, cheeky chappy persona has always been great for family comedy, and adult comedy. Here he starts off with a more serious side playing a creepy, grumpy and rude character, but as time passes he lightens up, becomes more open and we eventually see some good old fashioned Black shenanigans. He is definitely fun to watch in this but I really did think he could of been much funnier. I realise this is supposed to be a more spooky affair but I really couldn't help but think they missed out by not utilising Black to his full potential. Sure he makes some amusing faces and when he snaps at the kids its kinda funny, but I really think Black was yearning to break out with both barrels at times, but was restrained (or maybe cut out?). I didn't think much to the whole plot device of Stine getting his fingers broken though, was the wooden dummy really strong enough to break human fingers by shutting a typewriter case lid down on them? Would your fingers break that easily in that way?? Also you notice the broken fingers don't hamper Stine too much during the rest of the movie, in fact I think they forget about it at times, I do feel that was a bad plot decision right there, much the same as how the invisible boy manages to evade being captured in the finale...(for sequel purposes).

Despite that Black's character really is the only human aspect that's worth anything as the kids are your standard predictable types. The young boy Zach is the handsome one, Hannah is of course a looker too, and then you have the stereotypical goofy sidekick kid who isn't anywhere near as good looking as Zach the lead kid. The awkward nerdy sidekick is also terribly unfunny when he clearly was supposed to be the main gag route in the movie, watching him scream like a girl or look petrified isn't funny. Look out for the brief but clever cameo of the real Stine as a teacher character called Mr Black, he says hello to the fictional Stine played by Black, as they pass by each other.

The movie chugs along nicely from one set piece to another, is doesn't really challenge you or overly engage you, it merely does its thing which is throw tonnes of big CGI sequences in your face. I think it most definitely helps if you've read the books or are familiar with the franchise in any way because you'll have fun spotting all the various monsters and such that have been in the books. Its very obvious that there are too many for one movie, hence lots of background creatures that make brief cameos, or have brief screen time just for the fanboys/girls to see (to satisfy everyone with a favourite). The whole feature is just one big cliche really, one big predictable, cookie cutter Hollywood production...if we're being brutally honest. The plot plays fast and loose, its more of a zippy creature feature for kids, its hammy, cheesy and of course it sets itself up for further sequels in a money spinning franchise possibility. Nothing entirely new then really, again, but nonetheless it is a passable fun time with a likeable kooky character in Stine/Black. Its still nowhere near as good as 'Jumanji' though.

6/10



Friday, 8 April 2016

Deadpool (2016)





















It seems a certain Ryan Reynolds entire career has been leading to this one moment. Who else could play a superhero character in a badly received movie, where said character was completely panned for the overall portrayal, only then to be cast again as the same character in a somewhat undeniably risky reboot...of sorts. The next question is could he do the same thing again with another Green based superhero character?? Anyway it seemed Reynolds and co were not ready to give up on old Deadpool, they weren't gonna go down without a fight...and possible second mauling in another iffy superhero flick, which was entirely possible. So some test footage was made, footage that did look more in-line with the original source material and ultimate vision, it was 'accidentally' leaked online by persons unknown (Reynolds), fan reaction was positive and thus we have another comicbook flick (an R/18 rated one).

The plot is your standard comicbook affair really. Wade Wilson is a merc with an attitude, he's a mouthy git and a bit of an anti-hero essentially. He meets a girl at the local escort/stripper bar/club type place and they fall in love. Everything is going swimmingly until Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer, but luckily there is some shady government type that offers Wilson a chance to be cured through some dodgy, top secret experiments. Normally most folk would be like...dodgy top secret government experiments you say? errmm...no, I'll pass but thanks for asking. Alas Wilson is gonna die from cancer soon so what the hell right. The experiment in question is a process to try and awaken latent mutant genes within the body, something that is done by torture basically, which seemed weird to me. I mean, does every human have these latent mutant genes? does this mean technically anyone can be transformed into a super powered human through this process? I don't believe there was anything particularly special about Wilson originally so I guess anyone can be transformed as far as I can see. Anyway the process eventually works and triggers mutant genes which enables Wilson to heal super fast, this cures his cancer, or manages to stop it going further, but somehow deforms him badly at the same time, leaving him looking like a burn victim for no reason whatsoever. From here on Wilson wants revenge and a cure from the man who did this to him (Ajax) and thusly becomes the masked vigilante Deadpool.

This takes me to me first point and question, admitting right here that I'm not up on Deadpool lore. Why exactly does Wilson want to kill Ajax so much? I understand that Wilson did not expect to get badly disfigured in the experiment, so that's a bummer for him sure, and I understand that Wilson simply took a disliking to the guy, so bad first impressions, OK sure, but he still managed to save his life and give him what he ultimately wanted. So yes I can see why Wilson wants to get Ajax for the possible hinted cure, but end of the day, he did make him a superhero, he did technically cure his cancer, so that's somewhat good right...right?? This also leads me to something Ajax said which I didn't get, he mentions to Wilson that they actually create slaves for wealthy people, what exactly does he mean by this? is this a diehard comicbook thing I'm not getting? Who are these wealthy people? super villains? would that be why they need mutated super strong slaves?  Obviously that's another reason why Wilson wants revenge on Ajax because he was tricked, technically, but I'm just not sure what the trick was about.

Like many movies of this vain there are the usual things that are...kinda dumb. The fact that the main protagonist is invincible yet the bad guys keep on shooting at him, at what point do you realise it ain't doing shit. On a counter point, why does Deadpool run away from bullets when they don't really have any effects on him, I'm guessing because healing takes time, but still, he hides a lot when there appears to be no need. At the end when Ajax fights Deadpool, sure I know you gotta have this sequence for movie reasons but its just pointless, Ajax knows he can't really defeat the guy. This is always a problem with comicbook flicks, there are many characters that can't really be beaten so fighting amongst themselves feels aimless, its just there to look good. I also found it kinda weird how people don't think much of a bloke running around in that costume with guns and swords strapped to himself. That cab driver merely takes it all in his stride, oh there's some masked vigilante with a multitude of weapons on my back seat, just another day then.



On the plus side this movie is a fresh approach from the more formulaic superhero flicks of late, or ever even. By that I of course mean the outrageously, in your face, smartass humour which Deadpool is of course infamous for, and the unique fourth wall breaking. Now I'm not gonna say this movie was ball-bustingly hilarious or anything, but it certainly made you smile at times. Again the humour isn't exactly intelligent or witty, its more crude, crass and obviously caters for comicbook/movie nerds more than anything, some of it hit home nicely, some not so much. For example, when Deadpool mentions that Negasonic Teenage Warhead looks like Ripley from 'Alien 3', I kinda cringed a bit because its a very dated reference about females with shaven heads that everyone used back in the day. On the other hand I did smile at Wilson's mention of Basil Fawlty when taking the piss out of Ajax's British accent. Nothing outstandingly amusing but a nice little bit of pop culture that will have gone over many youngsters heads I'm sure. The fourth wall breaking I found unusual mainly because its not really been done before and I'm not used to this characters antics. I guess it sorta works, but at the same time it sorta doesn't. It took me outta the film I gotta be honest, if they include this in future X-Men movies or whatever then it might harm them, the seriousness aspect obviously.

As for the characters well again it nothing overly spectacular really, again being a diehard comicbook fan probably helps here. Ajax is just some muscly bloke who doesn't feel pain, his sidekick Angel Dust is just some super strong chick, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead sounds awesome but didn't really do that much in all fairness...accept exert big explosions of energy or whatever. I really liked the look of Colossus in this, he looked really badass, maybe overly badass, like...how the fuck do you stop him badass, like...who would win in a fight between Hulk and Colossus type badass (probably Hulk?). I didn't like his cheesy, cliched last bit of dialog at the end either, mind you that whole scene with Deadpool mulling over whether to kill Ajax or not, was completely predictable and hamfisted. The only real issue I had here was the blatant lack of any other characters from the X-Men universe...or even some X-mansion students. Yes I know this was actually the quip of a verbal joke from Deadpool which was amusing, but it only tended to highlight why there genuinely wasn't any more characters. I mean they could of at least thrown some extras in the background as students for the X-mansion scenes surely, those sequences looked really cheap and sparse because of that. Maybe that was the aim for the point of the joke, I dunno but it looked weak. The quick quip from Deadpool in one of these scenes mentioning both actors that have played Professor X in other movies, was another example where I was taken out of the movie, clever but ultimately distracting.

It is nice to see a kickass violent action comicbook flick that's set within a more PG-13 universe (eventually), that hook most definitely works/worked. The violence itself was nothing original nor mind-blowing though, the usual CGI stuff, CGI blood and wounds, high-flying martial arts type tomfoolery, lots of faceless henchman cannon fodder types blah blah blah. The whole film looked a bit...plastic to me to be honest, a bit fake in general, Deadpool's CGI animated eyes also looked a bit cartoonish to me, if I dare say that. I also realise this film didn't have as bigger budget as other superhero flicks but this movie did tend to feel more cramped at times, more confined to a few scenes. The trailer featured a lot of highway action, and a lot of the movie certainly does spend time there (from a flashback perspective), similarly there is a lot of time spend on the finale sequence which seems to be based on one of those helicarriers from The Avengers movies. In the end, again I just can't go along with current hype as I simply didn't find this movie as good as it was cracked up to be. I think more practical action/violence based effects would have been better here (damn I miss big squelchy squibs), but that's just my personal preference. Again, I find myself saying its not a bad movie by any stretch, there are some solid moments, and more importantly it is pretty fresh, but its still no way as awesome as I was expecting. 

6.5/10



Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Creed (2015)

























This movie is officially called a spin-off but is it? is it really?? or is it more of a soft remake? hmmm. Its a tricky one really and the main question that rears its head in my review here. I mean lets look at the plot here, the main protagonist, Adonis Creed, is the product of extramarital adventures by the famous Apollo Creed. In his early years he is in and out of youth facilities for getting into trouble (generally fighting, naturally), until one day Apollo's widow (Mary Anne) turns up and takes him in. Seventeen years later and Adonis is an up and coming young man with a good job, but he wants more, he wants something else, so he quits his job and seeks out a way into boxing, against Mary Anne's wishes. After initially being rejected by a boxing academy/gym he travels to Philadelphia in search of Rocky Balboa, the one man he knows can help him. From this point onwards we follow Adonis as he is trained by Rocky one stage at a time, until he manages to capture a fight against the current light heavyweight champion.

So what can I say here, well lets be honest about this from the start, this is essentially a remake of [i]Rocky[/i], there really is no doubt about that. Its basically the same thing but with an African American protagonist, a black Rocky if you will. I guess the main differences here are, the fact Adonis grows up in the lap of luxury with Mary Anne, after she pucks him out of a youth facility, and the fact he does actually have a good future ahead of him with a solid job, before going into boxing. Which is of course the opposite to Rocky where Balboa was an enforcer for a local hood and came out of the gutter in comparison. So all Stallone and his team have done is flip the basic scenarios around and carry on from there, with some minors changes of course.

So what does this film offer that the previous movies didn't? does it throw anything new into the mix? Well...for all intents and purposes, not a lot frankly, and this is me being honest here, I'm not gonna just jump on any bandwagons. For a start, I wouldn't have done what Adonis did, give up his good, well paid job and living with his rich stepmother in her big mansion. I realise there is more to it than that, but I'm just saying, me personally, I wouldn't have done that. So for me personally I found it hard to connect with Adonis on that level, but that's just me. There is a strong sense of deja vu as we follow Adonis in his quest to nab Balboa as his trainer, deja vu from many films of this nature that is. Adonis goes to Rocky's restaurant and tries to convince him into training him, Rocky refuses saying he's basically over that aspect of his life, he's too old yadda yadda yadda. Rocky then finds out that Adonis is Apollo's son and this slightly changes his stance but he still refuses. But over time Adonis keeps nagging Balboa about it, turning up at his restaurant and helping him out etc...until eventually, of course, Rocky gives in and decides to train Adonis...his way only.

Training sessions are as expected with lots of quick cut montages and scenes focusing on various odd training methods, such as chasing a live chicken around, to standard methods like shadow boxing, skipping etc...Usual obligatory stuff really, lots of sweating and grimacing, big muscles and Stallone shuffling around wearing his trademark hat and mumbling a lot. In the original you had that iconic scene where Rocky runs up the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and proceeds to shadow box in a state of euphoria, well here you have an equivalent sequence...but its not quite as good, or iconic. In this movie Adonis is running along an urban, somewhat shitty looking street in his trademark grey tracksuit. He is being flanked by numerous youngsters on motorbikes which he encouraged to follow him whilst jogging. Adonis is getting more and more pumped and hyped as he runs faster and faster down this street (leading to Balboa's place), the youths urging him on as they do wheelies next to him. Adonis lets out an adrenaline filled roar at the camera (which is right in his face) as he reaches Balboa's place, he starts shadow boxing and calling out to Rocky, whom cheers him on from the window. Yeah its a brave attempt but completely fails for me, I didn't get any emotion from it, it didn't look anywhere near as good, felt more cramped than anything really with the location, and all the scrotes on bikes just felt tacky, felt too much like watching unemployed hoodie culture.

The plot does pretty much follow previous old routes in this creaking franchise. Whilst in training the young Adonis meets and falls in love with a local singer who becomes his rock so to speak, just like Adrian had before. This of course brings baggage which is completely expected and rather predictable, obviously Adonis gets into a brawl over her which leads to a crack in the relationship, and some jail time for him, because of course. But fear not, in the end they work things out. Of course the main plot swap other than Adonis, is Rocky himself who is clearly now taking on the role of his old trainer Mickey Goldmill. 'When I left you I was but the learner, now I am the Master', to quote some famous film I can't recall. Yes now old Rocky is errmm...old! hobbling around, looking kinda tubby, grey hair, wrinkles etc...The circle is now complete as Rocky takes a young boxer under his wing and trains him just as Goldmill trained Balboa, but wait there's more! To really add more spice to the mix (whilst giving Stallone something more to get his teeth into) and to play on the character of Adrian, Rocky is diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Now like I already said, and far be it for me to speak negatively about this, but I tend to think this was just to give more gravitas to Stallone's performance, boost the award chances so to speak. I mean yeah it gives Adonis something to help Rocky with, something else to fight for, a reason for Balboa to be in the movie other than just training, something for Balboa to fight against, but was it really necessary? If you took that element out would it make any real difference? Call me cynical sure, but I just think it was an easy turn to ratchet up the emotion because the film lacked it.

The real fun obviously comes from watching the bouts, the bloody, bruised, saliva showering bouts. This is where the movie really comes to life with modern day technology really putting you the viewer in the driving seat, so to speak. Ballsy close-ups, aerial shots, thundercracking sounds, the camera darting in and out, weaving in between the fighters, the dripping sweat and flickering blood, the trainers yelling instructions etc...What can I really say here?? it basically looks like you're watching a real live bout on television, accept there are lots of close-ups and dialog driven moments from the team in the corner when the bell rings. This is also where real boxing fans will get their kicks as there are numerous real boxers portraying characters in the film, never heard of them myself. Have to admit I found it amusing when Adonis's main opponent turned out to be Liverpudlian, and the fact Balboa and Adonis fly to the UK to fight at Goodison Park (home of Everton FC). I didn't expect that at all and just found it kinda funny I suppose, a big Rocky flick being filmed at Everton's home ground, I wonder if the American movie goers could understand the Scouse accent? It also kinda highlighted the fact that many real boxers don't actually seem to have rippling physiques like you see in the movies. Here you have Jordan all buffed up, yet his opponent, a real boxing champion, is thick but has hardly any muscly physique at all, just goes to show. Gotta say, I found it typically fairytale-esque that Adonis gets his ass handed to him to the point of virtually being knocked out, flat out on the canvas, yet the fight goes on! Meh, predictable, stereotypical sports drama fluff.

For fans of the franchise this movie will please I'm sure, for fans of boxing this film will probably please, for casual movie goers I'm sure it will keep them engaged but in all honesty I wouldn't blame anyone for getting bored. Yes the acting is fine from all involved, if slightly overrated and not particularly subtle in my personal opinion. Yes it looks good...dirty and gritty when it needs to be, and yes its directed well by Coogler, but there is no new ground being broken here, none whatsoever. This movie feels very much like some other modern movies at the moment that have fallen into the soft reboot/remake category despite claiming otherwise (Jurassic World, Star Wars, M:I 5 etc...). This is essentially a soft (nostalgic) remake of the original movie from 1976 with a few new twists or alternate directions. Its not a bad film by any means, its certainly an enjoyable serviceable film, but that's as far as I can go really, again I don't really understand the hype that has followed this movie but there you go.

6.5/10