Jason Bourne


Viewed – 29 November 2016  Blu-ray

By this stage in the supposedly dead Bourne franchise, following the commercial and critical failure of ‘Legacy’ (which I actually liked) you wouldn’t think we’d see Matt Damon play the eponymous rogue agent again.  However most likely a big pay cheque and some fan anticipation lured him back and here we have Jason, formerly presumed dead after ‘Ultimatum’ getting back in touch with Julia Styles’ ex-CIA agent.  She’s uncovered info on Jason’s deceased father and that he may have been involved in the government programme that Jason was in before Jason lost his memory.  Wanting to uncover more and quickly learning that CIA chief Tommy Lee Jones may have the answers, soon Jason is back hiding from cameras and a particularly deadly assassin (Vincent Cassel).

Jason Bourne

I liked how this mixed the usual Bourne formula with some relevant and topical themes, such as a side plot involving a social media guru clearly modelled on Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.  Damon as always is brilliant and nails Bourne’s character again; deadly but vulnerable and well, he kicks ass like nobody else (I’m looking at you Mr Bond).  Cassel was a nice surprise too, one of my favourite French actors and here he’s particularly ruthless.  Jones, whilst looking old still chews up the screen and is perfectly cast and although Julia Stiles is a bit under-used she helps bridge the gap between the third movie and this fifth entry.  For a Bourne movie it’s a tad formulaic, ticking all the boxes (ooh look a female agent takes pity on him…again) and well we get the expected car chase.  Helps though it’s probably the best chase in the franchise through the neon glitz of the Las Vegas strip.

For fans of the franchise, this is a strong, highly-entertaining entry full of tension and style, even if it does little to truly warrant it’s existence beyond ‘let’s do another one’.  Regardless I had a ball with this and you might too.  Recommended.

Verdict:  4 /5

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2013 Academy Award Winners


What an interesting result, eh?  Some of my predictions from earlier were correct, but as expected many were way off.  Oh well…  Congratulations to the winners and maybe next year for the losers…… Winners are in RED, my predictions are in BLUE.

Best Picture:

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”

“Silver Linings Playbook”

“Zero Dark Thirty”

Lincoln”  Tutt tutt, thought this had it in the bag!

“Les Miserables”

“Life of Pi”

“Amour”

“Django Unchained”

Argo” WINNER!!

Best Supporting Actor:

Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”  YAY!!!!

Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”

Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Alan Arkin, “Argo”  Damn…

Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”

Best Supporting Actress:

Sally Field, “Lincoln”

Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”

Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook”  Damn, so close!

Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”

Amy Adams, “The Master”

Best Director:

David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”  I got it!!  Yay!!

Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”

Michael Haneke, “Amour”

Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Best Actor:

Daniel Day Lewis, “Lincoln”  Predicted!!  Ok, that was an easy one!!

Denzel Washington, “Flight”

Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables”

Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”

Best Actress:

Naomi Watts, “The Impossible”

Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”

Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”  Oh well….

Quvenzhané Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Was pleased to hear Quentin Tarantino won for Best Original Screenplay, but disappointed that yet again, a Pixar movie got the Best Animated Feature Film nod, for the otherwise forgettable Brave … must have been a weak year in that catagory.

Men In Black 3


Viewed – 24 November 2012. Pay per view rental

In the years since the last MIB movie, star Will Smith has almost retired, letting his kids (not quite) steal the limelight and series director Barry Sonnenfeld has disappeared into television obscurity … however now we have the third outing, and I’m happy to report it’s worth the wait.

Will Smith’s Agent J must go back in time to 1969 to prevent a vengeful alien from murdering Agent K.  Simple concept, making way for plenty of gags, cool gadgets (fave: the one wheel bikes) and a shed load of effects.  The villain here may be little more than a mutant biker with bad teeth, but with good turns from both Tommy Lee Jones (looking very old) and Josh Brolin (perfect) as his younger, spritlier self not to mention Smith on perfect wise-cracking form … this happily retained the look and feel of a sequel popped out a year or so after the last, not ten years late.

At times the plot gets a bit bogged down in details, and the humour doesn’t hit quite as often as say, MIB #1 … and there is green screen over kill causing some moments to look fake. But regardless, none of this prevented MIB 3 from still being great entertainment.

Verdict 4 /5

Captain America: The First Avenger


Viewed – 05 October 2012  Blu-ray

There was a time when I really didn’t think the newly formed Marvel Studios would pull it off.  A grand concept, 4 origin stories, leading to a big ensemble smack down with this year’s highly entertaining Avengers Assemble.  Yet I have to give it where it’s due, until now in  my opinion these have all been polished and well made movies … with this being no exception.

Set during World War II, a wimpy but gutsy guy (Chris Evans) dreams of joining the army and following in the footsteps of his soldier friend.  Yet being small and skinny, he continually fails every medical, and soon begins to believe he’ll never get to fight for his country.  That is until a scientist (Stanley Tucci) see’s potential and signs him up, leading to him becoming the first human test subject for an experimental formula that apparently creates super soldiers.  At the same time a power-hungry Nazi meglomaniac dreams of conquering the world, and as you can imagine – it’s going to take that exact super solider to save the day.  Step forward Captain America!

This wasn’t the Captain America I remember.  Wasn’t he something to do with American Football?  But this follows the early comics of the character more closely and makes for a fun, often amusing and very slick action thriller.  Chris Evans like in The Avengers, made for a more complex, conflicted ‘hero’ than some of his contemporaries, and in this zero to hero story carries the film well (with quite incredible skinny guy effect).  Hugo Weaving is on hand as villain The Red Skull, and always makes for a great boo-hiss baddie (see: The Matrix Trilogy), and along with decent support from Tommy Lee Jones and the aforementioned Mr Tucci this is a movie that’s very difficult not to enjoy.  Special effects, action sequences and story are all delivered with style and energy.  For an origin story it makes for absorbing if lightweight material, with more of a glossy, propaganda themed image of the war than how it really was (think 1940’s comics), and some of the earlier Captain America poster-boy stuff seemed to mock the character, sitting uneasily alongside all the cool action and drama.

Still this was easy viewing and made for my preferred origin tale of the saga.

Verdict:  4 /5

Natural Born Killers


Viewed – 06 Feb 2009  Blu-ray

This is probably one of the most familiar films I have seen, having watched it several times over the years.  Telling the tale of love struck serial killers Mickey & Mallory Knox (Woody Harrelson & Juliet Lewis) and the media frenzy they inspire during a three week state-to-state killing spree.  Hot on their heels is maverick TV journalist Wayne Gail (a stunningly crazy Robert Downey Jr) and loose-cannon detective Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore).

natural-born-killers

One of the most talked about movies of controversial director Oliver Stone’s career, this energetic satire of violence and the media is still as relevant now as it was back in 1994.  Some may see the film as just unrelenting violence, whilst others see it as a very intelligent attack on the media and its glamorisation of violence for the sake of ratings.  All angles are explored here, and no safe answers are given – Stone is never that easy to point the finger and answer your questions at the same time, he prefers you to make up your own mind.

Shot throughout with a hyperactive editing style, the film mixes stock footage, varying film types such as Super 8 to 35mm, black & white and animation, as well as images that vary from nightmarish to sexual.  Also worth mentioning is that the soundtrack is packed with some incredible choices of music from the likes of Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith and Nine Inch Nails.  This may not be to everyones taste but when music and visuals come together, it works magnificently, lifting a fairly conventional lovers on the lam story to the heights of truly remarkable viewing.  Its an experiment that in my opinion makes this one of the most daring and unique movies of the last twenty years. 

This U.S. Blu-ray version is the theatrically released R-rated cut, and anyone who is familiar with the slightly longer directors cut may think twice before purchasing – but let me say this now … there is very little difference in the two cuts, and as far as scenes, tone and entertainment is concerned, both are identical.  I own both cuts of this film and can safely reassure anyone hesitating with this release that apart from extended violence in several scenes, none of the actual scenes are ruined as far as censorship is concerned.  I’ll even go as far to say that some of the additional violence comes across as excessive and unnecessary, and isn’t really missed by this viewer (apart from maybe the opening).  Now what is important is that the Blu-Ray picture is very nice indeed, even if during some of the best looking shots the details seem a little too smooth even approaching a plasticky-look that I have heard can happen when transferring back catalogue films to the high definition format.  But its still probably the best this film has looked in years – and with the differing style of film used throughout, we’re never going to get something that looks like Casino Royale anyway.  Sound wise we’re treated to a punchy Dolby True HD soundtrack that kicks ass for a film that is already a treat to the ears.  Extras are thin on the ground with the Chaos Rising documentary strangely absent from this release.  But we do get some interesting deleted scenes (my fave is the courtroom) and a commentary from Oliver Stone that is an essential listen for a film with so much to say.

Verdict:  4 /5