Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle


Viewed – 12 June 2018  online-rental

I find myself liking Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson more and more with every movie I see him in, and this sort-of sequel to the Robin Williams original has him on fine, comedic and action hero form joined by a colourful cast.  He plays the videogame counterpart of a nerdy kid who along with a bunch of high school misfits, gets transported into the world of Jumanji after unwittingly powering up a videogame console.

jumanji-welcome-to-the-jungle

By attempting to bring the board game comes to life idea of the first movie, up-to-date by making Jumanji a videogame, some of the charm is lost but replaced by a unique twist of the usual high school teen movie formula, and I certainly enjoyed seeing actors like Jack Black and Karen Gillan play somewhat the opposite of how they look for some great fun moments.  Jack Black eyeing up The Rock, anyone?

I’d have liked to learn more about the world and what makes Jumanji what it is and it’s rules etc, but we get nothing.  This goes hand in hand with the thin characterisation, that although playing on clichés, are still clichés regardless.  Yet we do get some decent action and the people transported into a world with videogame logic works every bit as well (if not a little better) than it did in Ready Player One.  So yes, this is easy watching and a lot of fun.  However it’s not much more.

Verdict:  3 /5

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Top Ten Actors


That I’d watch in pretty much anything.

Inspired from a post over at Where The Wild Things Are and then also at Cinema Parrot Disco, I have chosen to compile the idea from both male and female ‘actors’ rather than doing separate lists… mainly because I was struggling with ten for actresses without being swayed by their attractive qualities…it’s a bloke thing.

Emma Stone

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Favourite movie:  Easy A

Leonardo DiCaprio

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Favourite movie:  Catch Me If You Can

Christoph Waltz

christoph waltz

Favourite movie:  Inglorious Basterds

Marianne Cotillard

Marianne Cotillard

Favourite movie:  Inception

Philip Seymour Hoffman (R.I.P.)

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Favourite movie:  Almost Famous

Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg

Favourite movie:  Boogie Nights

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

Favourite movie:  Born of the Fourth of July

Edward Norton

Edward Norton

Favourite movie:  Fight Club

Samuel L Jackson

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Favourite movie:  Pulp Fiction

Cate Blanchett

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Favourite movie:  Blue Jasmine

There are many more, but these are the ones I tend to find myself watching regardless of what role they are in, and the movies mentioned above are the roles I have most enjoyed them in, not necessarily their best.  For actors I tend to avoid…the list is shorter, but I’m not a fan of Keira Knightley, Angelina Jolie, Jack Black and to an extent … Ben Affleck.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy


Viewed – 16 July 2014  DVD

I had wanted to see this much talked about comedy for a while.  I have a liking for Will Ferrell, that former Saturday Night Live comedienne who proved so likable and funny in the popular yuletide hit ‘Elf’.  So sitting down to this was quite enticing.  Farrell plays Ron Burgundy, a TV channel anchor in the seventies who see’s his chauvinistic, macho persona in jeopardy when he falls for a pretty and ambitious reporter (Christina Applegate).

anchorman

From the off it’s clear this may have been a fun sketch on SNL, but does it hold up to a full length movie?  Not really.  Burgundy as a character is a limited ‘gag’ that’s been done before and his surrounding news team, featuring the likes of Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell are equally limited in their appeal.  The pairing of Farrell & Applegate works well enough as they make for fun rivals, but after a while the forced humour and the general gooning and pratfalls gets tired.  The idea just isn’t all that special, and despite obvious enthusiasm from the cast – the general feeling I was left with was of a simple gag milked for all it’s comedic value, of which there was only very little.

That being said it’s not like this isn’t funny.  Farrell gets some good moments (his encounter with Jack Black, his descent into self-loathing), and a showdown between rival news teams with cameos by Tim Robbins and Ben Stiller proved quite funny.  Overall though, this was a movie trying to be a lot funnier than it clearly was.

Verdict:  2 /5

The Muppets


Viewed – 08 July 2012  Blu-ray

I grew up loving The Muppets, more so their late seventies / early eighties The Muppet Show than the poorly advised Muppets Tonight.  Their brand of humour, celebrity guests and just great characters really made my childhood.  Over the years The Muppets went on to star in several movies, most notably Muppets Christmas Carol and Muppets Treasure Island.  Yet in subsequent years, they seem to have fallen out of favour and until now I began to think those cuddly creations were all but extinct.

That is where this latest big-screen outing kicks off, with a young Muppet called Walter who has grown up with a human ‘brother’ Jason Segel, and on his chance to go to Hollywood and meet his heroes, discovers they have disappeared from the public eye, with their famed studio under threat from a ruthless tycoon.  Yet Walter intends to get the old gang back together and convince them to save the studio.  Playing wisely on how The Muppets may seem a bit outdated these days, it was certainly hard to ignore just how funny and infectious they still remain, and as soon as the likes of Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear appeared on-screen, I found myself transported back.

Supporting cast handle the material well next to their Muppet counterparts, especially the gorgeous Amy Adams reprising her musical song & dance skills from Enchanted, and along with a few celeb cameos, including Jack Black and Whoopie Goldberg – this was pure feel-good entertainment.  The in-jokes were also priceless, especially Animal being in anger management and Miss Piggy working at Vogue.  That being said, the comedy does get very silly at times, the concept isn’t anything particularly fresh or imaginative, and a couple of the songs are rather limp (especially the Oscar-winning Man or Muppet) – but its the larger than life characters we’re here for and in that respect – this delivered brilliantly.

Long live The Muppets!!

Verdict:  4 /5

Kung Fu Panda 2


Viewed – 14 June 2012  Blu-ray

The first Kung Fu Panda was a highly entertaining homage to martial arts cinema with stand-out voice work from the otherwise annoying Jack Black.  I loved it.  So the prospect of a second adventure featuring the cuddly, accident-prone Panda named Po was an enticing prospect.  This time around a vengeance-seeking Peacock returns to reclaim China for himself after being banished many years previous.  Yet Po, the newly appointed Dragon Warrior and his team of Kung Fu masters (featuring the voices of Angelina Jolie and Jackie Chan), the furious five are on hand to stand in his way and hopefully save the day once again.

The villain’s evil plan (a big cannon and a pack of personality-free wolves) may lack imagination, and some of the comedy falls flat, but this is a movie with a very likable lead character, great action and simply gorgeous visuals (helped immeasurably by the ancient China inspired art style).  The story, shedding new light on Po’s origins is also interesting and adds some much-needed emotion to the otherwise slap-stick and silly comedy that I must confess still had me giggling quite a bit.

In comparison to KFP #1 I think it lacks a little something, and with Po being more of a bad-ass, he’s lost a bit of his bumbling charm … but overall this is a fun, if uninspired follow-up that paves the way well for Kung Fu Panda 3.  Skidoosh!!

Verdict:  3 /5