Aquaman


Viewed – 23 June 2019. Blu-ray

When Nicole Kidman’s Atlantian queen washes up before a lighthouse, her forbidden love with land-dweller Temuera Morrison produces Arthur a half-breed who grows up to become underwater superhero Aquaman. However despite his reluctance to be the hero he’s destined to become, a war at his home world of Atlantis causes his own kind to come calling.

This colourful, energetic comic book adaption has a potentially star-making central performance from Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa and delivers a setting that immediately intrigues. It’s a shame then, that an over-use of CGI and green screen means that almost nothing in this looks like it was shot on location, leading to a largely artificial look and feel. Add to this a cliched story I felt I’d already watched with strong resemblances to the Thor films and Black Panther, with predictable revelations and plot twists … and what’s left is a movie that feels like it arrived too late for its own party. Momoa is charismatic and well cast and handles a plethora of fight sequences with genuine skill and showmanship, and the gorgeous Amber Heard is equally enjoyable. Willem Defoe feels kind of miscast and despite often being cast as the villain – should still have been the villain (Patrick Wilson is largely forgettable) and what really, is Dolph Lundgren doing here?

With that all said it’s hard not to be entertained. The action is slick and at times jaw-dropping (a particular roof top chase is heart-in-mouth exciting) and at times it’s really feel good. It re-introduces the character (following Justice League) well and brings with it a fascinating underwater world ripe for sequels. Just a pity it’s all feels so deja-vu.

Verdict: 3 /5

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3 Days To Kill


Viewed – 12 April 2015  Netflix

So it seems to be another acclaimed actor’s turn to do the whole Taken thing with this Paris set thriller written by Luc Besson and directed by McG.  Costner plays a CIA agent, who returns to Paris after a job goes wrong.  Sound familiar yet?  Oh but wait, Costner’s character has brain cancer and only an experimental drug and one last contract can save his life.  Does he trust the sexy femme fatale CIA agent offering him a miracle cure, or does he settle for the quite life with his estranged wife & daughter?  What do you think?

3-days-to-kill

Costner handles the action well but also has to deal with a script that awkwardly juggles comedy and family bonding (let’s teach the daughter how to ride a bike, and yes there’s an African family squatting in Costner’s apartment…).  It’s a strange tone for sure considering that some of the action is pretty full-on, fairly violent and intense.  Amber Heard’s CIA agent is cool, mean and sexy but looks like she’s wondered off the set of an anime movie, lending little other than eye-candy and a lot of pouting.  Oscar winner Hailee Steinfeld from True Grit is also quite wasted here, but tries her best.  Thankfully then Costner who is probably mostly known as a supporting actor these days plods his way through very silly material fairly unscathed.  But where’s the danger?  Why doesn’t the daughter or ex-wife ever get kidnapped?  And what’s the point other than for Costner to take a drug he accepts purely on good-will from a very dodgy woman with a gun?

With a couple of exceptions, these kind of European action movies are getting very tired, how the once talented Luc Besson pimps out script after script to once major actors clearly just after a pay cheque, is bordering on insulting.  We as movie goers deserve better, and all the talent involved can certainly do better.

Verdict:  2 /5

2011 a look back – part four


…and so we reach the final quarter, and with the last three months, some gems appeared and a few not so gem-like…. enjoy.

October  – December

October started off with the enjoyable but underwhelming Scream 4 that considering the long gap between that and the last movie, delivered clever ideas, but not much new.  Revisiting the Star Wars saga continued with four of the six movies being viewed and reviewed, which was exhaustive to say the least, but very memorable … and documentary-style sci-fi drama Monsters impressed with great performances and a very convincing atmosphere.

Drive Angry was a fun road-movie come horror actioner, with a great Nicolas Cage and a sexy-as-hell Amber Heard.  Not a bad way to start off November.  Justine Timberlake made for a credible action hero in sci-fi thriller In Time, and Spanish chiller Julia’s Eyes delivered tension, good performances and brilliantly executed scares.  It was great to view The Lion King again, in pin-sharp Blu-ray, and also a second viewing of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds proved it to be a better movie than I had originally realised.  The Strangers however was disappointing and predictable, and really, the premise was done better in French horror Ils (aka Them).

December kicked off with David Lynch’s classic Blue Velvet, a creepy and erotic masterpiece.  It was good to see Terry Gilliam back on form with The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, which proved he’s lost none of his bonkers brilliance.  And although I usually avoid remakes, The Thing showed that revisiting a classic and throwing in a few new ideas and a good cast, can make it work.  On Christmas Eve I checked out the much hyped Super 8 which despite aiming for 80s family movie nostalgia, just felt old-fashioned and lacking in its own identity.

So, now you must be asking yourself, with all these movies in mind, what will make the final Top Ten.  Well, you will just have to wait until later today.  Happy New Year!!

The Ward


Viewed – 18 December 2011  Blu-ray

At one time, the name John Carpenter was a seal of quality.  During the late seventies and much of the eighties, the acclaimed director was responsible for some of the most enjoyable and well-crafted movies out there, including gems like Halloween, The Thing, Escape From New York and Big Trouble In Little China.  I’ll even add the much underrated In The Mouth Of Madness to that list.  Seriously, he barely put a foot wrong.  Then with the dawn of the nineties, his output began to get much less critical and commercial acclaim … and ever since, the director has struggled to get his mojo back.

So this recent directorial outing caught my eye, and has been hyped in some quarters as Carpenter’s big come back.  Telling the tale of Kristen (the increasingly likable Amber Heard), who following the burning down of a house, is committed to a psychiatric hospital.  There she meets a group of girls all with their own problems.  Yet along with the oppressive nurses, orderlies and a nice but creepy doctor, there is a malevolent spirit lurking in the corridors, who begins to kill off the girls one by one.

This is very clichéd material, but is shot with a degree of style and foreboding atmosphere.  Carpenter still knows how to crank up the tension and deliver some well timed jump-scares, but with a female, living-dead villain and personality-free characters this offers very little that hasn’t been done before – and better.  The movie does improve during the closing moments and offers up some good ideas, but by then it feels like the director or scriptwriter suddenly realised how unimaginative their movie was, and quickly tacked on a ‘look how clever we are’ ending – which in fact, isn’t all that clever, and I’m sure has been done before.

On its own merits, its entertaining and at a mere 88 minutes, doesn’t exactly out-stay it’s welcome.  But for a movie by John Carpenter, this is woefully inadequate and painfully formulaic.  He used to be ‘the man’.  Now it’s obvious, he’s become just another has-been.  Very sad.

Verdict:  2.5 /5

Drive Angry


Viewed – 06 November 2011  Blu-ray

As has often been said, Nicolas Cage seems to take any movie role that’s given to him.  The former Oscar-winning actor now seems very happy as a for hire genre actor, more often than not in the kind of movies that would normally go straight to DVD if it wasn’t for his name.  This is one such movie … but not one you should pass by too quickly.

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