A-Z Challenge – update 3


Well, this is becoming quite the challenge for me personally. I’ve now reached letter S having ploughed through 7 more movies. Revisiting La La Land for L was surprising in how much I enjoyed it and appreciated the story second time around, and would now rate it higher than my existing review. For M, Mission Impossible Fallout was an easy pick as I’d brought it on Blu-ray awhile back and not got around to watching it. Yes just as good if not better on second viewing.

La La Land

Reaching N … I chose another Alfred Hitchcock classic, North By Northwest … an exciting man-in-the-wrong-place mystery thriller with Cary Grant that was a lot of fun. O was one my most disappointing movie of last year, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and although I enjoyed it a little bit more, it overall didn’t work for me and I stand by my initial review.

I recently reviewed Parasite, my letter P and was overall impressed with it, despite a somewhat far-fetched ending. Q was the mostly reviled Bond outing Quantum of Solace, a movie I still think is ok but the story is weak and unengaging even though Daniel Craig is still good and some of the action is great. Then we came to R and I chose the Spanish found-footage horror [REC] a movie I really like even if subsequent viewings do dilute the experience for me.

Now will I get the remaining 8 movies watched by June 30th? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Knives Out


Viewed – 25 April 2020. Online rental

Despite what my opinion may be of the choices made by director Rian Johnson with The Last Jedi, I remain a fan of his earlier movie ‘Looper’ and so sat down to this latest offering with optimism. The trailer certainly name dropped a few famous faces and add to this a Cluedo-esque murder mystery premise and positive word of mouth. A wealthy family are brought together following the apatent suicide of the eldest member, famed crime novelist Harlen Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). So enters renowned detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) who suspects there may be foul play at hand.

A strong cast and an immediately intriguing set up quickly drew me into this. It’s put together expertly by Johnson who free from the restraints of a franchise can really show off his directing chops – aided by eye-catching cinematography, great atmosphere and a tongue-in cheek tone. The story, initially a who-dunnit which gradually develops into a back stabbing family drama … is full of twists and turns, but with good use of flashbacks never felt confusing like similar movies can. Daniel Craig is great, camping it up as the Southern speaking slueth, but the real star here is Blade Runner 2049’s Ana de Armas, who delivers the most complex and layered performance as Harlen’s nurse, and carries the movie.

Support cast such as Jamie Lee Curtis and Don Johnson are a bit wasted, and because the movie doesn’t exactly play by the who-dunnit rule book, it loses a little bit of it’s momentum around the middle (but hits its stride again in the final act). Clever and highly entertaining. Check it out.

Verdict: Recommended

Cowboys and Aliens


Viewed – 19 January 2016  Netflix

Cowboys-and-Aliens-I haven’t a clue what’s taken me so long to get around to seeing this quirky-concept action adventure starring Daniel Craig as a mysterious stranger who wakes up in the wilderness with a strange device on his wrist.  Soon he attracts the attention of local shady big shot Harrison Ford who’s trouble-making son gets into a spot of bother with Craig.  Yet the two gunslinger’s problems are only just beginning when a race of aliens invade and begin abducting the locals.

It’s a solid idea and in the hands of Iron Man director John Favrau it’s fast and mostly fun, even if the pairing of the mumbling, serious Craig and the mumbling serious Ford grates a little (where’s the comedy side-kick?).  Thankfully we do get the lovely, if bland Olivia Wild (Tron Legacy) on hand as a mysterious beauty who seems to know Craig’s character even though Craig himself has amnesia.

olivia-wilde-cowboys-aliens

The aliens however are horribly typical fair and not interesting; their big plan to steal gold woefully under-explored.  Yet the effects are decent, and with a great flying space crafts verses cowboys (and Indians) on horseback sequence, the action proved thrilling at times.  We also get some enjoyable supporting characters including a wimpy bar tender played by Sam Rockwell.  Yet for such a cool idea, I’d have liked this to be a bit more tongue in cheek, and could have done with better western-themed atmosphere other than the setting and failed to go anywhere I wasn’t expecting it to.  Probably the reason the movie wasn’t all that talked about after it’s initial release.

Verdict:  2.5 /5

When casting goes wrong


We’ve all been there, the anticipation, the excitement for a new adaptation of our favourite book or a continuation of a much loved franchise, only to have our hopes dashed when they announce who is playing who.  See below a few such roles I think were badly miscast.  Do you agree?

Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane in Superman Returns

kate bosworth

There may be many things wrong with this misjudged sequel to the much loved Superman franchise, even if Kevin Spacey is kind of great as Lex Luthor … I’m sure few can forgive the overly moody, personality-free performance of Kate Bosworth as one of comic-book worlds most loved characters.  Thankfully rectified in Man Of Steel’s Amy Adams.

Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

shmi skywalker

This is another movie that has many problems, but none more so than the meant to be earnest and emotional but actually wooden and amateurish performance of Anakin’s slave mother.  Surely this could have added much needed weight to young Anakin’s story instead of just making this viewer cringe.

Val Kilmer as Batman / Bruce Wayne in Batman Forever

bruce wayne

Personally my least favourite Batman movie, Jim Carey aside and yes I actually prefer Batman & Robin!  But Kilmer here had no presence, no charisma and just didn’t suite either the dark knight or the playboy millionaire persona.  Shudder.

Julian McMahon as Dr Doom / Victor Von Doom in The Fantastic Four

Dr Doom

Yes he’s from Nip/Tuck and kind of pulls it off as a charming nutjob – but the Dr Doom of the comic-books was a hulking, muscle-bound overlord that no matter how much he tries, McMahon just can’t pull off.  A poor-mans bad guy in what turned out to be a poor-man’s X-Men movie (that wasn’t an X-Men movie).

Timothy Dalton as James Bond in The Living Daylights

james bond

The looks, perhaps, but the wit and charm of either Connery or Moore?  Not a chance.  The follow-up movie Licence To Kill was at least a good story but Dalton was on borrowed time from the start and just didn’t deliver anything resembling the spy many of us grew up loving.

Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

dragon tattoo

Hot off the set of Bond, where he was surprisingly good, he steps into the shoes of actor Michael Nyqvist and lacked much of the believable emotion of Nyqvist’s performance in what turned out to be one of the most disappointing remakes in a long time – even in the hands of David Fincher.

Sylvester Stallone in Judge Dredd

MSDJUDR EC009

As the recent Dredd proved this character demands a no-name star beneath that iconic helmet to truly become judge, jury and executioner.  At the time Stallone was big business and he transformed what should have been a faithful comic-book adaption into another Stallone action-fest.  Not a good one at that.

Skyfall


Viewed – 06 November 2012 Cinema

I make no secret of my love of Casino Royale. Also of the fact I think Daniel Craig is the best Bond we’ve ever had. So sitting down to watch this 50th anniversary entry in the famed franchise, filled me with excitement. Bang! An opening action sequence to blow the audience away, leading to the traditional Bond movie title song … which as in recent years, is instantly forgettable (sorry, Adele).

Make no mistake, unlike the new approach and fresh reboot of Royale, this outing has Bond written through it from beginning to end.  Even that timeless theme is ushered in at almost brain-numbing regularity.  Daniel Craig again is perfect, tough, charismatic and looks cool throughout, even if this time he’s more classic Bond than ruthless assassin, and yes ladies he’s shirtless A LOT.  On fine villainous form is No Country For Old Men’s Jarvier Bardem who is brilliantly slimy and more than your typical egomaniac.  Yet the star of the show, surprisingly is Judy Dench, cementing her reputation as one of the best actors of her generation, totally owning the role of ‘M’, delivering many of the movie’s best lines.

Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) was probably not the best choice, with his approach often resembling one of those satirical commercials, and the script does have a few ‘huh?’ moments (the Shanghai sequence).  Also the reliance on references to classic Bond got a bit much, with the movie often struggling to find it’s identity – was it trying to be new and fresh, or old and nostalgic?  That being said this still delivered some great moments (the final showdown is pure class, and the moment the Aston Martin DB5 is revealed is a total crowd pleaser).  Yet for me, although I had a good time, by almost undoing all the good work of recent years, this ended up feeling a bit outdated.

Verdict: 3.5 /5