Ghostbusters (2016)

ghostbusters_symbol

No spoilers:

Wow. I went in with more hope than expectations and was totally blown away by how much I enjoyed it. Story line, characters, sfx, comedy – it was all there and it was all good. So many quotable quotes, so many enjoyable scenes. And Chris Hemsworth – he was worth the price of admission alone.

Ghostbuster (2016) respects what came before it, but it isn’t beholden to it. It is its own entity, and this certainly allows the movie to breathe and expression itself while still remaining loyal to the core concept.

Admittedly, it’s not ‘Citizen Kane.’ It’s not the original Ghostbusters either. But it is head and shoulders above Ghostbusters 2 (not that that’s too hard). There are some points in the movie where I was left thinking ‘that seemed a little disjointed’ or ‘where did they find time to do that?’ But, more often than not, I was left laughing a joke, giggling a subtle or over the top sight gag, or sniggering at a skillfully worked reference/homage to the original.

Would I pay to see it again at the cinema? Absolutely. Would I let my seven year old see it – probably not. There are quite a few scary scenes at the beginning which left me concerned for the young children who were in the cinema. A few nightmares may be coming their way over the next few nights!

Overall, I rate this a solid 7/10. Recommended for those who are in the mood for some good, silly fun!

 

Advertisements

Review: Star Wars – The Force Awakens

It’s been several months now since the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in cinemas, so, if you still haven’t seen the film, ┬áDO NOT READ ON. There will be spoilers. I’ll try to keep them to a minimum, but I can’t avoid them altogether.

Let me preface this review with a simple fact – I am a Star Wars tragic. I love it. The movies, the television shows, the books, the action figures, everything. From where I am typing (on my bed – not good for the back, in case you were wondering), I can see the Force Awakens novelisation to be left. In front I can see the ‘Tarkin’ novel which I have just finished. Next to that, on top of my drawers, I can see numerous figurines, a completed Lego ‘Ghost’ spaceship, Star Wars money boxes, multiple Star Wars T-shirts. I love it.

So, as you can imagine, and, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you will have noticed from my previous blog posts, that having a new Star Wars movie in cinemas absolutely blows my mind. I was too young to see A New Hope at the cinema, but I recall vividly seeing it at the drive-in, and bringing it home to watch on VHS from the video rental store. These memories are etched into my consciousness and are the types of memories that make me the person I am today.

The Original Trilogy (A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi) are staples of my movie watching diet. I’m talking numerous viewings each and every year. The Prequel Trilogy (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith) not so much. I am not a prequel hater, but they do have their flaws. That’s not the say that the original trilogy is perfect – it’s not. It is just when comparing the two, the prequel trilogy is missing the warmth, adventure and sense of humour present in the original trilogy.

It’s this that I think The Force Awakens captures well. The new characters, particularly Rey and Finn, are engaging and accessible. There were several laugh out loud moments, usually resulting from something Finn says or does. Rey is a great lead character, and it is great to see a female take the lead in the Star Wars universe.

The plot revolves around the search for Luke Skywalker, who has gone into hiding after a tragedy involving his jedi academy. The Resistance, led by General Leia Organa, have located the final piece of the map that they believe will lead them to Luke’s hiding place. They send Poe Damaron, the best pilot in the galaxy, to retrieve it from Jakku. While attempting this, he is captured, but his droid, BB8, escapes with the map. He meets up with Finn and Rey and the galaxy spanning adventure starts from there.

Some have critcised the movie as being too derivative of A New Hope, and I can see their point. The plot lends heavily from this film, but I believe does enough to make it stand on its own merits. It also gives enough information to intrigue us into speculation about episode eight – who is Snoke and where did he come from? How did Kylo Ren fall from the light? Was Kylo Ren responsible for the tragedy at the jedi academy? How does Rey fit into the Skywalker family, if at all? How will Chewie and Leia cope with their loss? Has the Republic fallen? So many questions…

Favourite things – BB8 has so much personality. He easily takes up the role of R2D2 from the other films. Finn – great character. Had plenty of opportunity to shine and John Boyega grab every one with both hands. The ships – X-wings, TIE fighters, Star Detroyers – they’re all there, slightly redesigned, but awesome as always. The Falcon is back!

Not so good – the death. I knew it was likely, but it still hit like a tonne of bricks when it happened. The final scene dragged on too long. They could have done the unveiling and left it there. Instead, they filmed an extended scene of two static people really not doing anything. Chewie getting nothing from Leia after the death – no hug, no glance, no nothing. Instead, Leia comforts a girl she has never met before. Interestingly, JJ Abrams has admitted that, with hindsight, this was a mistake. I agree.

Overall, I loved it. It reminded me of my days as a youngling, watching the original trilogy with my mates. The sense of awe and adventure was back.

8 out of 10 for me. A solid return to form for the Star Wars franchise.

Movie Review: Riddick (2013)

Movie Review: RIDDICK (2013)

Director: David Twohy
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Karl Urban

Riddick, the sequel to ‘The Chronicles of Riddick; (2004) and ‘Pitch Black’ (2000), is an absolute mess of a movie. I was initially going to write an absolutely scathing review, but then softened a little. I though to myself ‘Surely this movie had some redeeming feature that you can write something positive about.’ Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

The blurb on the back of the DVD case mentioned something about Riddick being the ‘most hunted man in the universe’, being stranded on a hostile planet, and being forced to call in the mercenaries who are hunting him to rescue him from some type of native monster. This couldn’t be more misleading.

The movie opens with Riddick trapped under some rubble. He escapes, but appears to have a compound fracture in his lower leg. Never one to let a minor injury like this slow him down, Riddick fights off a random monster (yes, kicking was included). He then swaps his leg guard around, screws in some screws, presumably into the bones themselves, and the leg never bothers him again. He then fights off another random monster, adopts of puppy (true story), then fights off a large, two legged water scorpion thing, which, apparently had him trapped and wouldn’t let him use the set of stairs to freedom.

The ‘story’ goes on from there – Riddick spends a lot of time sqautting in light that reflects off his crazy eyes to the best effect for the camera. A lot of time. An awful lot of time. I might be remembering incorrectly, but I recall his eyes are ultra sensitive to light, but he chooses to not wear his special glasses most of the time, despite the fact he is on a sun burned planet.

Anyway, he finds a mercenary/bounty hunter base, sees a storm coming, decides he needs backup and calls the mercenaries. Riddick then disappears from the screen for about 30 minutes while we meet the mercenaries. They are a thoroughly unlikeable lot. You pretty much don’t care when they die.

Riddick decides he needs to make friends with these guys to escape the storm, so, logically, he kills a few of them, presumably to show how much he cares. Well,the ploy works, and the mercenaries and Riddick team up to fight the storm, or some shit like that. Turns out, the two legged scorpion thing from earlier in the movie had some friends who were mighty pissed Riddick killed off their buddy. And, it just so happens, they like the rain. So they attack, kill some people, Riddick and the dad of some bloke from Pitch Black have to go and retrieve some power cells Riddick stole when he was trying to make friends, blah, blah, blah, then end. Oh, and I think the lesbian chick, who went to a lot of effort to tell everyone she likes girls, is turned straight at the end by Riddick’s intense staring. Hmm, I guess that would do it…

Oh, how could I forget? I mentioned Karl Urban was in this film, didn’t I? I like Karl. He was great in Dredd. He was better in Star Trek. In this film? His total screen time was, about 45 seconds. Total. No more. He is in some scene at the beginning telling Riddick he wants Riddick’s crown of ’emperor of the universe’ or some such crap. Then, that’s it. No more do we see him. It’s a story line that starts, then goes absolutely nowhere.

Acting – average at best. Bautista shows glimpses of the charisma he will show in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. The rest, no much. Vin Diesel attempts to break the world record for ‘how not to do a menacing stare as many times as possible.’

The effects were not great – particularly the speeder bike scenes. Moving at high speed should have show effect on your hair. The monsters are pretty crap ‘homages’ to the xenomorph from Alien. The dog looked so fake it wasn’t funny.

If this movie had been played intentionally as a ‘B’ grade horror/scifi romp, perhaps, just perhaps, it may have worked. As it stands, it is pretty awful. One of the worst I have seen this year. And, to put that in perspective, I have seen Sharkando…

RATING: 3 out of 10 – and only because there were three naked hot chicks at the start of the movie (yeah, being shallow was the only way I could find a redeeming feature). The only plus to this movie is that I hired it and can feel good that I returned it on time!

Movie Review: DREDD

Movie Review:

DREDD

Starring:
Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey

Director:
Pete Travis

Plot:
Judge Dredd (Urban) is commanded to evaluate newly commissioned trainee Judge Anderson (Thirlby). Their first mission takes them into a high rise complex called ‘Peach Trees’, run by the ruthless drug deal ‘Ma Ma’ (Headey). They arrest a member of Ma Ma’s crew, but Ma Ma locks the building down and orders the residents to kill the judges. Mayhem ensues.

Review:
I went into this movie hoping against hope for an all out, balls to the wall action monster of a film. I what I got wasn’t far from it. The plot, as outlined above, pits Dredd and his rookie trainee judge against a fearsome drug cartel lead by the unhinged Ma Ma. When Dredd makes an arrest of one of her top ’employees’, Ma Ma sees trouble. Fearing what secrets the employee may give up during interrogation, Ma Ma locks the building down and orders the residents to kill the judges. This sets up an orgy of death and destruction.

Dredd is a character I am vaguely familiar with. He is violent, obsessive and without pity. He also scowls. A lot. Like, all the time. It’s a trade mark of the character, and Urban does a good job maintaining it throughout the film. I tried it myself, but after a little while, the muscles around my mouth ached terribly. So, props to Urban for keeping the scowl up so well.

The effects were good, but not great. Blood splatter from gunshot wounds was obviously CGI. I don’t mind this a whole lot, but it is obviously fake and did, at times, draw my out of the story. A person bugbear of mine is when the lighting used on the effect is clearly different from the lighting in the room that the characters are filming in, and this occurred a number of times during the movie.

The body count was huge. This movie is not a relative, or even close associate, of the Stallone lead Judge Dredd film from the 90’s. Bodies are blown apart, set on fire, skinned, splattered and exploded with incredible regularity. I couldn’t guess the number of deaths that are portrayed on the screen, but it must have been at least 100. It really took me back to the action movies of the 80’s, when human life on screen meant little.

Headey isn’t given a lot to do in this film, but she does it with menace and insanity. Her character is believably played, even if she does come to a rather predictable end.

Overall, I really enjoyed this film. It delivered what I expected – violence, death, destruction. It didn’t try and do too much, it didn’t try and expand the Dredd character, give him a love interest or a sad backstory. He simply is what he is – the law given violent form.

Rating: 7/10 – I would happily watch this again and hope to see Urban back as Dredd in the future.

Movie Review: How to Train your Dragon 2

Every Saturday night, my five year old daughter Evelyn has a ‘movie night.’ This allows her to stay up later than usual and watch a movie of her choice. A few weeks ago, she was having trouble picking what she wanted, so she suggested that maybe I could pick for a change. Needless to say, I was very, very tempted to finally introduce her to ‘Star Wars’, but I had trouble finding the box set.

While I was searching, I came across a DVD that had been bought for us several months ago, but had been put up on the shelves and forgotten about. That movie was ‘How to Train your Dragon.’ I was partially interested in watching it, so we popped it on to see what it was like.

We were all blown away. The story of a viking boy named Hiccup, the son of the chief Stoic, and his befriending the Nightfury dragon he calls Toothless. The dragons were the traditional enemies of the vikings, and both hated each other. Hiccup, the brainy, scrawny viking, realises that the dragons and simply misunderstood. He sets out to show the vikings the error of their ways and ends up saving the day.

Shift to five years later. How to Train your Dragon 2 continues the story of Hiccup, Toothless, Snotlout, Fishlegs, Ruffnut and Tuffnut. The dragons are now fully integrated into the lives of the vikings and all are happier for the change. Stoic now wants to step down as chief and Berk and has asked Hiccup to take over. Hiccup, terrified of the job his father is asking from him, flees Berk, and starts mapping the nearby islands with Toothless.

It’s during one of these mapping expeditions that Hiccup and Toothless come across Eret and his crew of dragon hunters. Eret tries to capture Toothless and take him back to his master, Drago. Drago is creating a dragon army to conquer the world in order to ‘protect’ it.

The adventures come thick and fast and Hiccup and his friends attempt to save their dragons and the dragons of Berk from Drago and his minions. Along the way, they meet up with friends long thought lost, and new friendships are built. The final, climatic battle is both exhilarating and tear-jerking.

The film makers have shown amazing courage to create a story line with such mature overtones for what is essentially a film aimed at children. Evelyn watched it at the cinema with me and got quite scared at the part where Drago was introduced. She asked to leave, but I convinced her to stay (‘the good guys always win in the end, don’t they?’ ‘Yes, daddy’) and she was glad she did. She went home saying it was her favorite movie ever.

The animation is nothing short of stunning. Several times I had to double check that what I was watching wasn’t actually a real life movie and was animation. The dragons look incredible, particulary Toothless. He is both cute and terrifying when needed. The backgrounds – Berk, the islands, the other dragons – are all wonderfully created. I was particularly capivated by the hair on Stoic’s beard (maybe this is because I recently shaved my own beard off and was having beard envy). Every single hair on his head seemed to move on its own.

The characters are all wonderful. The voice actors, like Gerard Butler and Johan Hill do a fantastic job. The convey the emotions that make the movie such a heartfelt joy.

This may be a kids movie, but it has a mature edge that means it will be enjoyed by all. The animation is top notch, the acting, story line and direction all are nearly flawless.

Rating – 9/10 – a classic. Can’t wait to watch it again!