Wednesday, 30 March 2016
Criminal mastermind Lex Luthor, obsessed with defeating Superman, manipulates Batman into preemptively battling him.
Despite its short comings director Zack Snyder (Man of Steel and The Dawn of the Dead remake) offers a brooding thoughtful take on the seminal figures of our 20th century pop culture. Ben Affleck is surprising perfect as the aged Batman and Henry Cavill once again proves he is rightly another generations Superman. While slightly out of place Jesse Eisenberg does his best at putting a new spin on Lex Luthor. Diane Lane, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Kevin Costner return and Amy's Lois Lane gets more to do in this installment.
Jeremy Irons' limited screen time is welcomed but with its excessive running time both Holly Hunter and Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman are underused. DC fans will be pleased as Snyder and writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer slip in live-action portrayals of Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash. The film's plot twists are interesting and include the killing off of some main characters, the plot also includes Man of Steels' Zod. However, disappointingly once again the hero's face off with the typical effects-driven, end level bad guy in the closing act, smothering a potentially powerful story. Its also crammed with overt man versus god references.
Snyder thankfully though offers a fittingly dark toned grim whirlwind with a visual grandeur thanks to Larry Fong's cinematography. Notable are a few edgy jarring dream sequences. Wonder Woman's untold story with a Belgium 1918 photograph peaks interest. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice pays tribute to the characters' roots, offering great modern incarnations of them but Dawn of Justice loses momentum by the end with a clichéd effects driven Doomsday battle.
An orphan child is brought up by apes and is latter introduced to his aristocratic family.
Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes is based on the original writings of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Made in 1984 director Hugh Hudson offers an origin story made in a time before origin films were common place. Hudson offers the same epic operatic grandeur he'd brought to Chariots of Fire (1981). Uncredited screenwriter, Robert Towne (Chinatown), goes under pseudonym of his dog (P.H. Vazak) and second screenwriter Michael Austin offer an interesting three act affair, beginning in 1885 the downfall of his parents and Tarzan as a child, then as an adult assisting Capitaine Phillippe D'Arnot (played excellently by Ian Holm) out of the jungle and Tarzan back in the United Kingdom.
Christopher Lambert' gives a fine performance as he learns to speak English and comes to terms with his heritage. Death hard hittingly runs though this adaptation, humans and animals are all put on the chopping board and it's quite a slow paced emotional journey. Notable are Ralph Richardson (in his last film) and Eric Langlois as preteen Tarzan. Interestingly, despite the title, the name Tarzan is never mentioned and Andie MacDowell's Jane is curiously dubbed by Glenn Close.
Makeup genius Rick Baker's ape characters are for the most part convincing suit designs. With cinematography by John Alcott it's visual rich from the African jungle to Victorian Britain and the London Natural History Museum. Greystoke oozes atmosphere and even though a somber affair it leads to the film's unsurprising conclusion. It's visuals and time passages are far more interesting than the central character and this is debatably why Greystoke isn't critical revered as it possibly could have been.
Overall, this is a serious retelling which takes a chance on effects (refreshingly pre CGI), storytelling and casting, they simply don't make films like this anymore.
A Dallas man is witness to the death of a cop and there's more to his story.
With a video cover in the vain of the Vindicator, echoing The Wraith, The Terminator, Mad Max and Robocop, this low budget tail end of the 80s is like none of the above.
Cullen Blaine's offering Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research (R.O.T.O.R) has an informative title voice over, packed with exposition and flashback that adds very little to the proceedings. What it does have is a nostalgic soundtrack from synthesiser beats to some country music. It's also nicely framed.
There's a robot which looks its just rolled out of Buck Rogers, and R.O.TO.R, correctly dubbed "a tin marionette," is like a stop motion endoskeleton with daft Punk shades.
The dialogue is a pretentious and cheesy as it comes. Even when the motor bike patrol cops goes all Westworld/Hitcher stalker-ish it sadly remains one of the most uneventful films of 1987. Not even some toy robots or The Terminator P.O.V shots can help. With Dallas' 80s fashion R.O.TO.R never lives up to or delivers on its premise of a directorate driven, judge and executioner super cop.
It picks up briefly in the last half hour as leather clad, moustache sporting, ChiPs sunglasses cop takes on some locals and later blows up when his arms and legs are tied up. There's a little twist killing that amounts to nothing, with a twist ending that won't make you spill you coffee.
Despite its faults it's better filmed than 90 percent of the DTV films produced these days. Worth watching for nostalgic value only. Stick on Class of 1999 instead.
Saturday, 5 March 2016
Tuesday, 1 March 2016
Run by a failed Broadway director a Midwest work release program which rehabilitates young offenders as an alternative to jail puts a group of teens through the mill when a pesky curse is played out.
Friday, 5 February 2016
Friday, 15 January 2016
*** These comments may contain spoilers ***
Thought to be a burden an injured man, Huge Glass, is left for dead. After his son is murderer he then begins a journey of recovery and revenge.
Set in 1823, like the comparable Outlaw of Josey Wales, the characters feel real and are motivated, they all have shades of grey. However, director Alejandro G. Iñárritu excels the aforementioned in scope thanks to Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography, natural lighting and advancements in film making. The Revenant is beautifully shot and really captures the cold outdoors authentically. It's realistic, harsh and uncompromising, showing the best and the worst of man. It captures the bitter coldness that survival films, the likes of Alive, The Edge and Deadly Pursuit a.k.a Shoot to Kill only touched on. The relentless breathtaking bear attack is as intense as Leonardo DiCaprio's committed performance as he fights to survive and avenge his son's death.
Tom Hardy as John Fitzgerald cements the absorbing drama, his character like the natives and French offer cold, punishing brute force from each others perspectives in contrast to the silence and beauty of nature. Thanks to the excellent performances, props, costumes and locations it's easy to buy into the story.
The Revenant is a tour de force ultimate endurance tale and has heart and soul. The sober moments and relationship scenes with the indigenous characters are interesting, the history feels well researched. Gleeson as with Star Wars Force Awakens is average but engaging, DiCaprio and Hardy are outstanding along with the supporting cast. Will Poulter's involvement is particularly notable.
It's very serious and justly void of humour, but has irony woven throughout. From a horse falling from cliff, to wolves attacking bison, eating raw meat, avalanches and waterfalls, log cabins, outposts and tepees. It's a great frontier revenge survival thriller with multi layers. Recommend.
Tuesday, 5 January 2016
Sunday, 20 December 2015
A blizzard forces a group of four to take shelter at Minnie's Haberdashery where they encounter four more strangers. With betrayal and deception, the eight strangers realise they may not make it to destination, Red Rock, after all.
The Hateful Eight offers impeccable framing, mountain landscapes, opening with a snow covered statue of Jesus. This film is all about justice and executions. The film is broken up with synonymous Quentin Tarantino chapter title cards. With Outlaw Josey Wales and Spaghetti Western coolness mixed with Tarantino seemingly nonchalant, yet, diligent story telling The Hateful Eight partly plays out like a heavyweight Cluedo mystery. Escaping an impeding blizzard menacing Russell known as the Hangman and bounty hunter outlaw Samuel Jackson ooze charisma and the whole cast clearly enjoy the wordplay. With its few locations (Reminiscent of Reservoir Dogs), as the group are isolated at a stagecoach passover (incidentally including Dogs' actor Tim Roth) it's mostly reliant on the actors talents and script. There's notably interesting flashbacks and a midway 4th wall voice over which brakes the confinement of the film up. Thankfully, the planets are aligned and all the elements like a jigsaw puzzle fit together in Tarantino's favour.
Ennio Morricone score is perfect, but Tarantino also slips in a track and later a song performance (by an almost unrecognisable excellent Jennifer Jason Leigh) which surprisingly work considering its a winter set Western. There's a fanboy moment in a snowstorm where they stake guide rods and Ennio's score pulses harking back to the remote beats and paranoia of The Thing. It has a small cast ensemble. As the opening credits run anyone with an appreciation of film will have a inclination it's a Tarantino film simply by its tight casting, from classic to cult actors. Many he has already worked with and some he's prompted a deserving career revival. Samuel L. Jackson is outstanding with his Sherlock-like prowess. Walton Goggins is particularly notable. The supporting cast are great and include the likes of Zoe Bell, (surprisingly seriously good) Channing Tatum, Michael Madsen (also of Reservoir Dogs) to name a few.
It's a fine production, packed with seemingly period authenticity, excellent costumes, props, right down to the mutton chops and facial hair. There's plenty of historical social commentary, modern mirroring subtext and choice language that intentional or not will no doubt cause ears to prick up as the array of characters interact. Cinematographer Robert Richardson, who has worked with Tarantino on various film along with the naturalist lighting and setting gives the proceedings visual weight.
Lincoln letters, horse carriages, shootouts, it's gritty, violent, hard hitting packed with punchy dialogue driven scenes. It's edgy, naturalistic with poisoning, double crosses, twists and turns synonymous with Tarantino's back catalogue. There's also a memorable gross out scene with sick and blood, severed limbs courteous of make-up veteran Greg Nicotero. There's exploding heads and when the tension builds and shoot outs happen they have a brutal impact.
There are great character arcs and development but debatably Russell and Roth steal the show. It's undeniably talkie but with plot surprises, fine performances and sharp writing, if you like Tarantino's trademark style and Westerns in general it's doesn't get much better than this.