I really liked the first Zombieland. It felt like America’s answer to Shaun of the Dead,, and although it wasn’t quite as clever as that Simon Pegg vehicle, it had tons of personality and a great cast. This sequel, which I’d never expected but was hyped for none the less reunites us with our American-state-named survivors Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) etc. during the zombie apocalypse following the discovery of a mutated, even deadlier version of the creatures they’ve become a little too relaxed with despatching.
Clearly the story is a fairly basic excuse to do another Zombieland and although this fails to further build on what came before or flesh out the setting, with barely any exploration of the zombie threat … just being in the company of these chatacters again was good enough. Harrelson, Stone and Eisenberg still have great chemistry and their frequently comical banter is pure joy. Honestly, I dont think i could ever get bored of these characters. Harrelson is especially on brilliant form and steals many of the best scenes. Although, less said about a tiresomely pouty Abigail Breslin as Little Rock and that incrdibly annoying millenial bimbo that turns up, the better.
A shortage of new ideas makes this sequel a bit lazy, but the comedy, some decent zombie killing action and just plain fun characters all sparking off each other, made for solid entertainment regardless – and yeah, I’d welcome a part three with open arms.
You’d think a movie based on a notorious true story and starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, would be a sure bet. However this thriller told from the perspective of two former Texas Rangers, pulled out of retirement to put a stop to Bonnie & Clyde was surprisingly ‘meh’.
Costner & Harrelson make for an good pairing however, and their banter and slightly bumbling approach to an off-the-books investigation proves the main enjoyment of the film. You see, despite an atmospheric setting and authentic sense of time and place, the movie really plods along, barely even showing the legendary bank robbers, especially ‘in the act’ and by focusing more on these has-been lawmen the movie fails to be as riveting as the subject might suggest. It’s also one of those very vague movies when it comes to various clues and important details leading to finally locating Bonnie & Clyde – which proves rather frustrating. In addition, the real-life fame and hysteria that surrounded the murderous criminals is only slightly touched upon.
There’s entertainment to be had here, but overall this was a missed opportunity. Another so-called Netflix original that underwhelms … I’m sensing a pattern.
I was disappointed and somewhat annoyed by The Last Jedi, so like many others I suddenly felt cautious about a Star Wars movie the same way I’d felt cautious going to see Revenge of the Sith. This spin-off gives us an ‘early years’ snapshot of none other than Han Solo, which I’ll admit was an intriguing idea. Solo (a perfect Alden Ehrenreich) is from the off a likeable rogue who unwittingly gets signed up for the imperial infantry after getting separated from his love interest in the shape of Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke. However once amongst a rag tag group of soldiers he teams up with Woody Harrelson’s smuggler and also makes a new, hairy friend.
Directed by Ron Howard this is immediately entertaining and slickly made. It starts off energetically and barely lets up, with a sharp script that throws in several nods to the classic franchise as well as introducing us to a fun, twist filled caper. The banter between the characters is great, and I especially enjoyed the new droid L3, and how she’s a sort-of girlfriend to notorious womaniser Lando Calrissian! That train sequence is first rate also. However with a focus on smugglers and thieves and not so much the empire or any sort of rebellion, this has a different vibe than what we’ve seen before. The plot for what it is is simple though and the transporting of a valuable item from one group of people to another is only their to bring certain characters together. Yet the origins of the Millennium Falcon and some of Han’s boasted escapades (the kessel run?) was certainly fun to see play out.
A final twist proves overly confusing (unless you have indulged in any of the expanded universe), and Emilia Clarke is surprisingly bland. Thankfully then, this still nails it where it counts … adding its own flavour whilst managing to retain the feel of what a Star Wars movie should be.
Following an invasion of their home by a military force, ape leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) vows revenge and sets off to hunt down Woody Harrelson’s ruthless Colonel with a small group of fellow apes. Along the way they stumble upon a young mute girl who may be evidence of a mutated strain of the disease that has already killed off most of mankind.
A decidedly strange experience. I went into this with very high expectations and have to say what I got was a different movie than I was anticipating. It has the word ‘war’ in the title but it’s not the humans vs. apes smack down the last movie set us up for. Instead it explores an on-going conflict set at ‘war time’ between said apposing military force and the still attempting to live in peace apes. However what we do have is once again a movie with a great deal of heart, some very touching character moments, themes of loyalty, family and friendship as well as a little comic relief in the form of an ageing lone ape who turns up half way through. We get a lengthy prisoner-of-war sequence that is brilliantly played out with echoes of The Great Escape, and some decent action although nothing on par with the last two movies. This one’s less about explosions and spectacle and more about the search for a safe haven and a potential future, even if that future is hopeless for humans. As a conclusion (?) to the trilogy, it feels a tad uneventful and drags in places, and that ending was rather a damp squib.
Yet for fans like myself this is still solid entertainment. It’s superbly acted with again top marks going to Serkis, whilst Harrelson delivers a fine villain. It’s also absolutely stunning to look at (can these apes get any more real?) aided by plenty of personality and bags of emotion. I just suppose by a third movie, I was expecting more not … less.
The previous entry in this popular and heavily hyped saga woke itself up out of the doldrums with a shock twist. Now stop reading if you’re worried about spoilers for the previous movies as this can’t be helped. Peeta had been brainwashed by President Snow and sent to kill our hero, the reluctant face of the rebellion, Katnis Everdeen. Thankfully he didn’t succeed or we’d have no movie. However this set up the final entry in this series perfectly, even if I mostly came away feeling deflated by a saga that had never quite reached its potential – until now. This is without a doubt the best entry in the series and is skilfully, confidently directed as the rebels rage war against the capital. Moving away from some of the more camp aspects of the story and instead focusing on a near-suicidal assault on a totalitarian government, this time around the stakes are higher and the tension cranked up to boiling point.
Jennifer Lawrence is excellent as Everdeen and this time around her troubled relationship with Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta is much more convincing and surprisingly really makes this movie. You also get the feeling that after the surely expected backlash to the third unnecessarily cash-cow where the final book was predictably split in half, all involved had to finally take their meal ticket seriously for fear it being laughed at like Twilight. Almost everyone here looks like they really mean it (but Luke Hemsworth remains bland). Donald Sutherland who had previously been a rather limp villain, actually gets to do some acting. Add to this some excellently realised action (with a claustrophobic, Aliens-esque sewer sequence) and gorgeous cinematography of often war-torn vistas aided by superb effects – and I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed this, considering my expectations had been dialled back considerably. Julianne Moore gets a much more meaty roll this time around, but I’d have liked a bit more from Woody Harrelson, even if Philip Seymour Hoffman’s subdued appearance is understandable (he died during filming).
It suffers a little predictability, and that final scene is a bit too saccharine sweet. Yet The Hunger Games as a saga always held promise, although each movie seemed to lack that something special. With well-timed twists, strong performances, quality action and a perfectly judged epic tone – this finally proves the series (almost) worthy of such massive hype.
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