FlixChatter Review – Atomic Blonde (2017)

guestpost
Directed By: David Leitch
Written By: Kurt Johnstad (screenplay)
Runtime: 1 hr 55 minutes

When I found out I would be reviewing this film, I pulled up an article on it for a little background information-and made the mistake of reading the comments. They were mostly all the same, with guys accusing Atomic Blonde of being pandering and asserting that the movie is unrealistic because women are too frail and weak to be badass action heroes. It was infuriating, and it made me hope that that this movie would be amazing, just to spite the trolls. Fortunately, I was not disappointed.

In Atomic Blonde, an adaptation of the graphic novel series The Coldest City by Antony Johnston, MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) recounts her mission in Cold War Berlin to track down a list of double agents to MI6 executive Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and CIA official Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman). From the moment she meets up with fellow agent David Percival (James McAvoy), Lorraine is plunged into danger and intrigue as she works to complete her mission.

This is an incredibly fun action movie. The fight choreography is impressive, ranging from creative and graceful to realistically graphic, and even some of that is surprisingly gorgeous; there’s one scene where blood is spattered on a large painting of a woman’s face right on her mouth, making it look almost like a messy lipstick kiss. Having it all set to a phenomenal soundtrack of 80’s rock makes it even more entertaining. 
 The technical aspects of the movie are impressive as well. The editing is tight and creative; one moment that stands out is in a scene where a body being thrown into a river, and as soon as it hits the surface, the scene cuts to Lorraine’s face breaking the water as she sits up in a bathtub. There are several gorgeous, well-balanced shots. The film overall is dark and gritty but glossy, which is perfect for a graphic novel adaptation, although the green filter is a little overused.

It can be hard to critique acting in a movie like this when so much of the focus is on the action and visuals, but Charlize Theron and James McAvoy still manage to shine in their roles. Theron is cold, calculating, and tough but still shows brief moments of panic and sadness without being melodramatic. McAvoy is so much fun to watch in this as well; he is so good at acting goofy but still a little unhinged and sinister (as proven in Split earlier this year). My one critique is some of their line reads are hard to understand, but I’m not sure if they’re mumbling or if there’s a sound-mixing problem.
 If you’re looking for a fun, beautifully-shot action movie to see this summer, you should definitely check this out. Ignore the trolls.

laura_review


Have you seen ‘Atomic Blonde’? Well, what did you think? 

Advertisements

FlixChatter Review: The Fate of the Furious (2017)

Ted_review

The first Fast and Furious film came out 18 years ago and no one would have predicted that it would became one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood. Heck, when I saw the third sequel The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, the worst in the series, I thought for sure we won’t be seeing anymore Fast and Furious films. Boy was I wrong, the later sequels somehow became more financially successful than the previous ones.

The eighth film in the series begins with Dom (Vin Diesel) and his now wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) honeymooning in Cuba. While there Dom ran into a mysterious woman who turns out to be a super cyber terrorist named Cipher (Charlize Theron). Cipher wants Dom to help her steal some super powerful weapons from the US, Russian and German government so she can start World War 3. Of course Dom being Dom, he refused but Cipher is holding someone closes to him hostage and if he won’t do as she says, that person will be killed. That’s pretty much the basic storyline for this entry, Dom has to betray his team/family and throughout the film, there are tons of car chases, explosions, shoot outs and of course good looking people running around in skimpy clothes.

The script by franchise’s regular Chris Morgan is pretty simple, he knows his audience and fans of the series won’t be disappointed. I do have some issues with the script, I won’t spoil it here but he tried to wrap everything up from the last two films that kind of made the previous pictures irrelevant. Apparently, they’re planning to make two more films after this one. Stepping into the director’s chair this time is F. Gary Gray. I’ve enjoyed some of his previous work and it’s obvious he was chosen because he’d worked with most of the actors in this film in the past. With a reported budget of $250mil, Gray staged some pretty crazy action sequences, including a pretty fun big car chase through the streets of NYC. But compare to the previous films, especially the ones directed by Justin Lin, his action sequences lacked energy and kind of boring. A climatic chase that involves a submarine could’ve been a lot of fun but he decided to inter cut it with some silly flashback sequence that explained a “twist” that most viewers could’ve seen miles away. I think he and his editor should’ve done a better job with what I assume was the most expensive sequence to shoot for the film.

As for performances, Diesel is again took his role way too seriously and he even shed tears in one scene! I think he needs to simmer down with his performance in the next one and have a good time. On the other hand, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Jason Statham knows the kind of film they’re in and having a great time with it. Their bantering gets the most laughs and of course they look good kicking butts. I don’t remember when The Rock’s character Hobbs became superhuman but he’s somehow fights like Superman in this film. Theron is moving to more action related films in this phase of her career and she’s great as the Bondish supervillain. Heck I think the Bond producers should cast her as the main villain in the next Bond film. The rest of cast were fine as usual and they even introduced a new pretty boy to replace Paul Walker. Clint Eastwood’s son Scott is now the new team member and I’m sure we’ll see more of him in the future films. Also returning is Kurt Russell as a super secret government agent who provides Hobbs and his team with everything they need to stop WW3 from happening. Last but certainly not least is Helen Mirren who seemed to have a great time in her small a cameo role.

I have some issues with the script, mostly of the “twist” towards the end but otherwise, I had a fun time with this latest sequel. Fans of the series should be pleased with it since it delivered what they wanted to see. Big car chases, shoot outs and of course explosions. So if you’re planning to see it, go to the biggest screen you can find and hopefully it’s equipped with Dolby Atmos.

TedS_post


Have you seen The Fate of the Furious? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: Kubo And The Two Strings (2016)

GuestPost_Vince

KuboTwoStringsPoster

Directed by Travis Knight | Written by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler

Featuring the voices of: Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Rooney Mara, Brenda Vaccaro and George Takei.

This latest film from Laika is a 3D stop-motion animated film. It tells the story of Kubo, a boy who comes across the ocean as a baby, adrift with his mother, fleeing some sort of great danger – one that has left him with only one eye. In hiding, he grows into a young boy and demonstrates a magical affinity for storytelling and origami. He uses this gift to mesmerize the townsfolk with tales of great warriors and monsters for a bit of money. Meanwhile, his mother, also possessing magical powers, is slipping away in a deep melancholia and fading memories. She forbids him to stay out after dark for they are being hunted by those responsible for taking his eye. As the story progresses, this inevitability comes to pass and those forces catch up to him.

KuboTwoStrings5

Kubo and the Two Strings is a gorgeous film. Laika, which builds on its resume of Coraline, Paranorman, and The Boxtrolls, has slowly and meticulously been perfecting it’s craft in the genre. 4.3 seconds of animation was produced in a day – the film taking 5 years to complete. Its look is stylish and impressive, fooling this reviewer’s eye into thinking it was done completely in the CGI domain.

Even more impressive are the themes the film tackles: love, life, death, rebirth, grief, the idea of memory as sacred and divine, and the power of storytelling. In this sense, “Kubo” strives for Studio Ghibli territory and is much closer to Miyazaki than any Dreamworks/Pixar/Disney offerings of late. It is appropriate to describe “Kubo” as a Samurai film as it has elements reminiscent of Kurosawa especially in its depiction of evil and the supernatural, as well as the hero’s journey.


While the film doesn’t completely succeed in its efforts to address all of these themes, it doesn’t fail either. Kubo should be lauded for not dumbing down its ideas to cater to the lowest common denominator. There is a darkness and melancholia added on to the film’s optimism and humor – and this seems fitting to its execution: simple with a dash of complexity. I also found its un-sentimentality refreshing in the era dominated by the Frozens and the Finding Dorys.

Kubo and the Two Strings is not perfect but it makes a valiant effort in a mature way. The filmmakers should be commended for that.

Note: the film has some scary images and sequences and not recommended for kids under 10.

4Reels

Vince_review


So what do you think of Kubo and The Two Strings? Let us know what you think!

Awards Season Chat – Musings on 2016 Golden Globes & SAG nominations

Well it’s been less than 48 hours since the SAG and Golden Globes nominations were announced so hopefully we can still chat about them, right? We’ve got about a month until the Oscars is announced on January 14th, so the awards season has officially commenced!

Golden Globes Awards

GG2016

I grabbed these list of noms from IMDb. They have a handy tab navigation on their site for each major awards, so you can check out the full list for both Golden Globes and SAG. In addition to my thoughts about the nominees—and of course the snubs—I thought I’d include my winner pick for each category, too.

BestPictures

YAY for Mad Max: Fury Road, Spotlight AND The Martian, three of my favorite films that will surely end up in my top 10 of the year. I was hoping Brooklyn and 99 Homes would be among the nominees, but at least there are acting nominations for both.

My winner pick [DRAMA]: Mad Max: Fury Road

I really think it’s a modern masterpiece, a perfect balance of action and drama, and not only did it look spectacular on the big screen, it’s also immensely rewatchable! George Miller FTW!!

My winner pick [MUSICAL/COMEDY]: The Martian

It’s immensely entertaining but also has a heart-wrenching story. It’s no doubt one of the best films from Ridley Scott, with a terrific ensemble

By the time I got to Twitter in the afternoon, people were already chiming in on their thoughts on the noms and many were baffled by the inclusion of The Martian in a comedy category. But hey, considering its lighthearted tone despite the dire survival tale, not to mention those hilarious Disco music, I’m not surprised it’s categorized as a comedy. But then again, the categories made by the Hollywood Foreign Press is inherently odd anyway. I mean, I bet Christian Bale never thought he’d get TWO nominations in the musical/comedy category (the first one was for American Hustle in 2014). I haven’t seen The Big Short yet (screening is scheduled for next Tuesday!) but it certainly looks pretty funny and its director Adam McKay directed Anchorman and other Will Ferrell comedies.

BestDirector

Boy, it’s been ages since Ridley Scott was nominated for Best Director isn’t it? The last time was in 2008 for American Gangster. Well, I was indeed a return to form for him. Speaking of a comeback, it doesn’t get more spectacular than George Miller returning to his beloved franchise Mad Max after taking a detour with family-friendly movies Babe: Pig in the City and the Happy Feet movies. Well it’s a welcome return indeed and I’m rooting for him all the way this year. I LOVE Mad Max: Fury Road and my wish is that it’d flabbergast everybody and sweep every single award! 😀

My winner pick: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Ok now on to the acting nominees!

BestActress_drama

Well, first thing first, where in the heck is Charlize Theron??! Furiosa is perhaps the most bad ass female role of the year and it’s not just in terms of action but the emotional journey the character’s gone through. Her omission here is a travesty!!

Ok now that I’ve got that out of the way… I’ve only seen Larson and Ronan in Room and Brooklyn, respectively and I think both of them deserve to be nominated. But Saoirse has been such a consistently excellent performer who’s been snubbed several times before so I’m rooting for her.

My winner pick: Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

BestActor_drama

There seems to be a ton of snubs in the actors category. I’d have loved to see Oscar Isaac here for his performance in Ex Machina, as well as Tom Hardy in Legend. It’s a crowded category to be sure but really, no performer from Spotlight at all?? In any case, I’ve only seen two on this list, Cranston and Fassbender. Both were excellent but I’m gonna go out of a limb and pick Leo just based on what I’ve read so far about his performance.

My winner pick: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

BestActress_comedy

I have only seen one performance here (McCarthy, who’s so fun to watch in Spy) but the same as above, based on what I’ve read, seems that Tomlin was excellent in Grandma, so I’m gonna go with her.

My winner pick: Lily Tomlin (Grandma)

BestActor_comedy

Heh, I’ve also only seen one performance here as the press screening for The Big Short isn’t until next week. It still cracks me up that Bale is getting another nomination in the comedy category, who’s to say he doesn’t have comedic chops? Bale is my favorite actor of the bunch but I REALLY love Matt Damon’s performance in The Martian, which was hilarious as well as emotional. I never thought I’d love him playing an astronaut yet again, but this is such a perfect role for him and I can’t wait to see that movie again.

My winner pick: Matt Damon (The Martian)

BestSupportingActor

YAY Mark Rylance!!  I LOVE all of these picks, even though I’ve only seen 3 out of 5 performances (Rylance, Shannon & Stallone) but I’ve heard so many great things about both Elba’s and Dano’s turn in the two films so I’m sure the noms are well-deserved. I’m sooo torn between Shannon and Stallone, I think this is the toughest category for me to pick a winner, but in the end I go with the most emotionally-gratifying role.

My winner pick: Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

BestSupportingActress

The supporting actress category is a bit more clear cut for me. Now, I adore Helen Mirren but I actually don’t think she was THAT great in Trumbo. She is far more compelling in The Woman in Gold so SAG got it right (more on that later). I had a hunch Jane Fonda would be nominated when I saw her performance in YOUTH, it’s a brief performance (akin to Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love) but it’s a flashy and memorable one. But this has been quite a year for Vikander, WOW, two nominations for lead in Ex Machina AND supporting role in The Danish Girl. She was largely unknown just a couple of years ago and suddenly she’s everywhere!

My winner pick: Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)


Now, I barely watch any TV but I’m thrilled to see Outlander garnered three nominations!! I love Caitriona Balfe as Claire and Tobias Menzies who played two characters in the show, Menzies has been turning up in quite a few memorable TV series (i.e. HBO’s Rome) so glad to see him getting a nom this time. I feel bad for Sam Heughan not getting a Best Actor nod, but I guess not having seen the other nominees I can’t comment on whether he’s snubbed. I just think it’s great the series is getting noticed and it makes the wait for season 2 even more agonizing!
Outlander_GGnoms


Screen Actors Guild Awards

SAG2016

I haven’t been paying attention to SAG awards in the past few years but in many ways it’s a crucial one for actors given it’s their peers who voted for them. I’m only focusing on the FILM nominees as again, I barely watch any TV.

SAG_BestEnsemble

Nice to see Straight Outta Compton on this list which sounds like a terrific ensemble cast. I think the cast for both Spotlight and Trumbo are terrific, but the former lingers in my mind more as they do work as a close-knit team in the film. Plus I REALLY like Liev Schreiber and given that it’s a long shot for him to get a nom (though I think he deserved it), it’d be nice to see him go up to the stage if Spotlight wins!

My winner pick: Spotlight

SAG_BestActor

I guess Redmayne’s role seems like a shoo-in for awards even from the start. I haven’t seen it yet but I don’t think it surprises anyone that he got a nom. Interesting that Fassbender is getting noms more for Steve Jobs than Macbeth, I think he’s great in both, but perhaps Jobs is stronger given the phenomenal script from Aaron Sorkin. But just like in the same category in the Golden Globes, I pick Leo given how incredibly difficult the role seems to be and he’s able to deliver such a convincing performance whilst filming under such harsh conditions.

My winner pick: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

SAG_BestActress

It’s a bummer to see Charlize Theron being snubbed again by SAG. I’m also surprised not to see Emily Blunt’s name given how critically-praised Sicario was when it opened. I’m glad to see Helen Mirren getting a nod for Woman in Gold as she’s the only reason to see the film. Well her and Tatiana Maslany playing her younger self. Hail miss Blanchett who no doubt is excellent in Carol because she’s such a consistent performer. But I have to go with Ronan, who I think is poised to have a long & fruitful career just like Blanchett.

My winner pick: Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

SAG_BestSupActress

Heh, of ALL the terrific cast in Spotlight, the only one nominated is Rachel McAdams?? I mean, I’m all for a strong female role getting recognition but she’s definitely not the best performer of the bunch. If anything, I’d rather see Kristen Stewart being nominated (I can’t believe I said that!) for Clouds of Sils Maria. I wasn’t fond of her before but to be fair she was indeed good in that film.

My winner pick: Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
SAG_BestSupActor

YAY! Glad to see Rylance and Shannon getting a SAG nod in the supporting category. I’m also happy to see 9-year-old Jacob Tremblay being recognized for his role in Room. There has been some young thespians amongst award nominees before, and he’s certainly the most memorable young performer of the year for me.

Again, I’m bummed Tom Hardy is coming up empty in a year where he’s delivered such strong performances in a few movies. I’m also surprised Benicio Del Toro isn’t on the list, I’ve read a bunch of reviews praising his performance in Sicario.

Well, since I picked Stallone in the same category for GG noms, I’m going to go with Shannon who’s just oh-so-great in 99 Homes. If only the film gets more recognition.

My winner pick: Michael Shannon (99 Homes)


Most eggregrious snubs

Theron_Hardy

Yes I know there are others but in my opinion, this is the ones that riled me up the most. Charlize Theron for Mad Max Fury Road and Tom Hardy in a dual role Legend (or in The Revenant which I read was also excellent) deserve every nominations there is for the year. Both of them are my top pick of 2015 MVPs so it stings to see both of them coming up empty in both Golden Globes AND SAG awards, ugh!


So what are your thoughts on the Golden Globes & SAG nominees? Who do you think are snubbed and who are you rooting for?

FlixChatter [Guest] Review: Dark Places (2015)

DarkPlacesBnr

After a tragedy occurs, what happens next? When a child loses their whole family to darkness and death, where do they go from there? When a teenager is accused of an atrocity they didn’t commit and is sentenced to life in a prison cell, what kind of person will they become? When a stranger knocks on the door with the idea to set the story straight, what kind of truth will they demand be acknowledged?

Dark Places (available on demand now via DirecTV, and in theaters on 8/7) is the second film to be made based on a bestselling novel by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. Charlize Theron plays Libby Day, a woman who has locked herself away from the world after the majority of her family was brutally murdered one night when she was very young. Her testimony helped put her brother behind bars, and since then she’s lived off the monetary kindness of others and by selling her story to the highest bidder. But now the money has run out and her only financial assistance is coming from a group of would-be detectives who think there is more to the murder of her mother and two older sisters than was previously known. Libby agrees to work with the group, at first hesitantly and later because of her own desire to know the truth. What really happened that night long ago when she lost everyone she loved?

DarkPlaces_Charlize

Like Gone Girl before it, Dark Places is a twisty thriller that showcases multiple sides to the story. Libby was just a little girl when she witnessed the murder of her family and her memory of that night is spotty at best. She knows she had a mother and sisters and a brother and that in the middle of the night she woke to find most of them dead and what appeared to be her brother responsible. But she was not the only one in the house that night. Her brother remembers his own side of the story, which involves sex and drugs and Satan and a desperate need to do the right thing for the girl he was in love with. And the film also shows, through flashbacks, the side of Libby Day’s mother – a woman with four children and no money to support them, a farm that was worthless, and a town demanding blood after her son was accused of a terrible crime. To solve the great mystery of the film, Libby has to follow the trail of all three stories and see the truth where they converge.

DarkPlaces_Hoult_Theron

Unfortunately, unlike Gone Girl, Dark Places fails to truly take viewers along for the emotional ride it wants them to experience. Though Charlize Theron is an extremely talented actress and plays prickly, angry, closed-off Libby Day to the best of her ability, there is very little to like or relate to in the main character. She’s a beautiful woman leading an ugly life who gets dragged into a mystery for selfish reasons and stays because she can’t seem to help herself. She is surrounded by two-dimensional characters (including Lyle, played by Nicholas Hoult who recently starred alongside Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road) who do little to enrich the story and who really seem superfluous the plot most times. And the ending, while surprising in some elements, feels forced and contrived in others.

Overall this film leaves you feeling like there should be MORE. More story, more character development, more time figuring things out and revealing the truth of the central mystery. Which is surprising considering how much voice-over and exposition there is to deal with. Every moment of explanation feels forced, as if filmmaker Gilles Paquet-Brenner is desperate to cram as much back story as possible down your throat. But without likable characters or a proper build-up to suspenseful moments and the big murder mystery reveal, Dark Places falls short of taking viewers on the dark journey it intends.

3Reels


Brittni Williams is a freelance writer and blogger from the Midwest. After finishing up school in Arizona, she picked up and moved to Chicago where she currently resides with her cat, Pockets. She primarily covers entertainment topics and the occasional DIY piece. Her interests include playing tennis, traveling, and scouring the city for the best tacos. Find her on Twitter @brittni303


Have you seen Dark Places? Let us know what you think!

///

Weekend Roundup: Quick thoughts on Mad Max: Fury Road + Cannes 2015

Memorial Weekend came a bit early this year, but hey, a three-day weekend is ALWAYS welcome. It’s been a nice, mellow weekend for me, giving me a chance to catch up with old friends I haven’t seen in a while.

I also got a chance to finally see Mad Max: Fury Road and well, here’s my initial reaction:

MadMax_Furiosa

So yeah I totally agree with Ted’s review and I personally would’ve given it a 4.5/5 reels. My hubby and I have decided we’ll see this again in a bigger screen with Dolby Atmos as the visuals are simply astounding!! What surprised me most was how emotionally-gratifying the film was… the visual spectacle did NOT smother the story that it became more style over substance [I’m looking at you Tomorrowland!]

Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy are simply superb here, both bringing their A-game in terms of physical and emotional performance. This film is more about Furiosa’s story than it is about Max, but that’s not to say that Max was just tagging along. I think the story of a partnership between the two lost souls is beautifully realized… nobody needed *saving* but their shared journey ended up bringing redemption to both of them. The supporting characters are wonderful as well.

I found this Tumblr post and I agree wholeheartedly with what’s being said below on the relationship between Capable (Riley Keough) & Nux (Nicholas Hoult).

MadMaxTumblrPost


Cannes2015
I’ve been following Cannes 2015 the past week and now that it’s wrapped, so in case you haven’t been reading about it, here are some of the big winners…

The Palme d’Or winner: Dheepan by Jacques Audiard A Sri Lankan Tamil warrior who flees to France and ends up working as a caretaker outside Paris

Grand Prize runner up: Son of Saul by László Nemes – In the horror of 1944 Auschwitz, a prisoner forced to burn the corpses of his own people finds moral survival upon trying to salvage from the flames the body of a boy he takes for his son.

Jury Prize: The Lobster by Yorgos Lanthimos – In a dystopian near future, single people are obliged to find a matching mate in 45 days or are transformed into animals and released into the woods.

Best Director: Hou Hsiao-Hsien for The Assassin – Based on a short story written during Tang dynasty, “Nie Ying Niang” is a story about assassin Nie’s mission to assassinate a political rival

Best Actor: Vincent Lindon for The Measure of a Man (La loi du marché)

Best Actress (tie): Rooney Mara for Carol and Emmanuelle Bercot for Mon Roi.

I can’t wait to see all of these movies, I sure hope all of them will get a decent release here. I’m surprised Macbeth or even Mad Max: Fury Road didn’t get any award, especially the latter. The reviews I’ve glanced through so far for Macbeth have been positive so I really can’t wait for that! Of course it’s never too early to talk about Oscar and this HitFix article talks about which movies are ready for Oscar close-ups.


Of course my weekend wouldn’t be complete without some Stanley Weber viewing 😉 Friday night was Movie Nite with my girlfriends and we watched Not Another Happy Ending… I lost count how many times I’ve seen it but I still love it!

I also watched The Hollow Crown: Henry V, which is the last of the four-part BBC miniseries I’ve mentioned here. I can’t believe I still haven’t seen this given how many amazing British actors are involved. I will watch all four miniseries at some point, but I couldn’t help watching this one because Stanley has a small role as the Duke of Orléans.

HollowCrown_DukeOfOrleans

He barely got any screen time in this series, which is a pity. I wish one day I’d see him be the star of his own Shakespearean production! Judging from a dozen roles I’ve seen Stanley played so far, he’s definitely a versatile and dedicated actor who’s ready for his very own closeup any day now.

Well, since I’m currently obsessed with anything Parisian, it’s easy to decide what my May Blindspot movie pick would be:

Breathless
À bout de souffle (Breathless) – by Jean-Luc Godard

Can you believe it I’ve never seen a Godard film before? It’s also written by François Truffaut too, another French filmmaker whose work I’m not familiar with… yet. Review shall be up sometime Tuesday!


Well that’s my weekend roundup. How ’bout you, seen anything good?

FlixChatter Review – Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

MadMaxFuryRoadIt took over ten years for Mad Max to return to the big screen, originally set to hit theaters back in summer of 2004 and Mel Gibson was set to reprise his iconic role. Unfortunately, the filmmakers ran into some troubles securing locations and budget and the film was put on hold. 11 years later, the new film is ready for prime time with a new cast and bigger budget.

It never really implied but Fury Road picks up right around the time when Beyond Thunderdome ended. Max (Tom Hardy) still has his long hair from the last film and wandering in the wasteland. Suddenly he’s being chase by some awful looking men and then gets captured. He’s brought to another strange city called the Citadel, here it’s being ruled by a mad man named Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, same actor who played the main villain in the original film) and his War Boys.

MadMaxFuryRoad_ImmortanJoeMax is being use as a blood transferor to these War Boys and one of them named Nux (Nicholas Hoult) takes advantage of that right away. Joe rules the city by giving water to its citizens only few drops and false hope. Then we were introduced to Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who decided to betray Joe by stealing his wives to take them to a safer place called the “green place”. When Joe finds out, he and his War Boys sets out to bring the wives back and kill Furiosa. During the chase, Max got caught in the middle and has no choice but to become a hero again. Anyone who have seen the previous films will know that this franchise isn’t about deep plot, it’s about action and lots of car/truck chases.

MadMaxFuryRoad_Theron_HoultIf you want to see action, this is the movie to see. Just like last year’s John Wick, this film never tried to be anything but a non-stop wall to wall action. George Miller staged some of the craziest and most brutal action sequences I’ve ever seen. Some of the stunts he shot were just mind-blowing and best of all, he kept the cameras still and we the audience can see all the spectacular action sequences. But amidst all the chaos, he’s still able to give each of the characters some screen time and we got to know their motivations. Kudos also go to the film’s cinematographer John Seale, he shot the movie in digital and the picture looks amazing. I didn’t see it in 3D but clearly he and Miller shot the film with 3D in mind. The film’s soundtrack by Junkie XL was quite amazing; the thundering sound definitely enhances the action scenes.

Even though he only had a few lines of dialogs, Tom Hardy was very convincing as the brutal action hero. He shoots, punches and kicks his enemies without hesitation. Clearly he’s trying to differentiate his Max from that of Gibson’s. Here Max is more of a brute while Gibson’s version was more laid back and not as cold as Hardy. Theron on the other was marvelous as Furiousa, she’s the best female action hero since Ripley in the Alien films. In fact, I think they should have named the movie Mad Max and Furiosa. She’s as tough as Max and kick some serious ass. There’s a fight scene between her and Max that was quite fun to watch and she could definitely handle herself.

MadMaxFuryRoad_TomHardyMadMaxFuryRoad_Max_FuriosaI actually think the movie was really about Furiosa since Max was just there to help out. Nicholas Hoult’s character started out as a foe but then became part of the team and I liked his character. We also got to know each of Joe’s wives; they’re not there to just be eye candy. As for Immortan Joe, well he’s just another one-note villain that’s similar to Lord Humungus in the second film.

Fans of the series will get a kick out this one new film and maybe new comers will enjoy it as well. I do recommend that you watch one of the previous films before going into this one if you’ve never seen the previous films, particularly Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. You need to familiarize yourself with the weird and crazy world that Miller has created. As a fan of the series and action films, I truly enjoy this tremendous action picture. If there’s a theater in your area that has Dolby Atmos, I highly recommend you see it there. I plan to see it again in 3D and hopefully it’s as good as the first time I saw it.

4Reels

TedSPic


Have you seen this movie? Well, what did YOU think? 

Everybody’s Chattin’ & Question of the Week on Movie Franchises

Happy Thursday everybody! I’m going to hit two birds with one stone today in combining two post *series* in one. Well, inspired by my recent viewing of Transformers 4 and some other news, the topic this week is: Hollywood Movie Franchises.

EverybodysChattin

Ok, so let’s start with some of my favorite posts from the past couple of weeks:

  • RIPEliWallachI LOVE actors appreciation posts! Cindy wrote a fan letter to the great Bill Murray, while Fernando paid birthday tribute to Queen Meryl, as in Meryl Streep. As we’ve just lost Eli Wallach, Michael paid tribute by listing his favorite films of one of the master Hollywood character actors. RIP Mr. Wallach.
  • A few reviews of 2014 movies I haven’t seen yet: Josh reviewed ENEMY, Sati reviewed MALEFICENT, and Melissa reviewed PALO ALTO, which was by yet another Coppola, Gia Coppola (Sofia Coppola’s niece)
  • Keith reviewed QT’s latest from 2012: DJANGO UNCHAINED and Mark reviewed a 90s sci-fi that’s definitely worth your while: CONTACT.
  • On the classic film front, Steven just reviewed yet another film by Douglas Sirk, Written On The Wind, starring Rock Hudson & Lauren Bacall.
    ///
  • Now, Andrew has been doing Recasting Posts of Best Picture Lineups, which is a VERY cool idea! Of course this one on Roman Holiday caught my eye, I mean I don’t think anyone could top Gregory Peck/Audrey Hepburn, but still it’s fun to see his picks.
  • Mikey recently interviewed Eli Roth & Lorenza Izzo and talking about the World Cup!
  • Vic gave us an updated list of what’s just been added to Netflix Streaming. Very informative, thanks Vic!
HitchcockJimmyStewart
Hitchcock w/ Jimmy Stewart on the set of Rear Window

Now for Question of the Week!

Interesting that on the same day I saw Transformers 4, I read Josh’s post on 10 Movie Series (Franchises) that he gave up on. Fortunately there’s only a couple there that I have seen, Twilight and Underworld, both of which are NOT worth following anyway.

EW_MadMaxCover

This past week I’ve also seen news updates on the reboot of the Mad Max franchise from the late 70s-mid 80s. In place of Mel Gibson, we’ve got the charismatic & bad ass Tom Hardy in the role. Check out the cover of EW with the first look with Hardy and Charlize Theron. Boy it’s been FIVE years since I first started blogging about that movie! Everything is old is new again, as it’s always been the case in the Hollywood… as the creativity has dried up long ago. I also heard news about the upcoming PREDATOR sequel or reboot, what have you. Something that made Tim VERY happy indeed 😉 He’s already offered up 5 Ways to do the Predator sequel right.

Well, I don’t mind some reboots and not every sequel is automatically horrible. I for one am anticipating this Mad Max movie that’ll be out May of next year. I’m also looking forward to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the third Hobbit film, as well as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I later in November. Speaking of which, check out the latest teaser:

Whoah, that’s pretty creepy! Can’t wait to see that one.

But out of the few movie franchises I do like, there are dozens and dozens I wish would never get made. I think all that Josh has mentioned in his post are such time-wasters, and I definitely would add Transformers on the list as this fourth installment is so mind-numbingly horrible! And at 165 min (that’s nearly 3 hours long!!), it’s such another overindulgent Michael Bay’s plaything masquerading as a movie! It’s like eating the most gut-growing, heart-threatening, life-shortening junk food saturated with sugar & fat, but the worst part is, it doesn’t even taste good! Ok I’ll save my rant until my review this weekend.


So my question to you is two-fold:

Which film franchise(s) are you a big fan of & don’t mind that it keeps on going and which ones you wish would die a thousand deaths?

Guest Review: Prometheus – from a die-hard ALIENS fan

In August last year, I posted this Random Question: What movie you’ve seen most often on the big screen as I was inspired by my colleague who saw Aliens twelve times on the big screen. Well, now he’s here to tell us whether Prometheus lives up to his lofty expectations.


Review by Phil Thompson

Full disclosure: I am a big fan of the first 2 Alien movies, Aliens is my all-time favorite movie, and I actually saw it twelve times in theaters. So yeah, I’m a fan.

“A king has his reign, and then he dies. It is inevitable.”

These words open the narration of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, a return to the Alien universe he created back in 1979 with Alien. A character will speak these words again later in the movie, and their significance will be apparent at that time.

Prometheus is a gorgeous movie, with excellent cinematography, sets, and special effects, and is generally well-cast and well-acted. The soundtrack was a bit of a let-down for me; it never really conveyed a sense of fear or dread. The movie combines the genres of science-fiction, action, and horror, with a touch of religion added in. It has a lot in common with the original Alien, but also interestingly evokes memories of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And although this is clearly a prequel to the movie Alien, it is not a direct prequel in the sense that the events of this movie will lead to the beginning of Alien. Rather, the events in Prometheus will answer some questions about Alien, and will help you better understand the Alien movies.

The general storyline of Prometheus is that in the late 21st century, a handful of scientists/archaeologists convince the massive Weyland mega-Corporation to bankroll an expedition to the moon (“LV-223”) of a distant planet, where they hope to find some answers about the beginning of mankind on Earth.

The 2 scientists/archaeologists behind Prometheus’ mission are Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fame) and Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). Michael Fassbender plays the eerie robot David who must look after Prometheus’ sleeping human passengers on the 2+-year journey from Earth to LV-223. Charlize Theron is the grumpy corporate Meredith Vickers, who is in charge of the expedition for the Weyland Corporation, and Idris Elba is Janek, the ship’s gruff, Christmas-loving pilot. Guy Pearce also appears in heavy makeup as Peter Weyland, the CEO of the massive Weyland Corporation.

Prometheus is Noomi Rapace’s movie, and she is a strong female character in the vein of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in the first 2 Alien movies. The harrowing scene where Shaw undergoes a self-inflicted medical procedure is the movie’s best, in my opinion. The other standout star of this movie is Fassbender’s David. He evokes memories of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and you will spend much of the movie trying to understand why he acts the way he does.

Spoiler Alert: [highlight the text below if you want to read the spoiler]

Shaw and David will be part of any “Prometheus” sequels.

Theron’s Meredith Vickers doesn’t have a lot to do in this movie, but she does deliver one of my favorite lines in the movie: “If you’re going down there, you’re going to die.” Interestingly enough, the person(s) she says this to are not the persons she appears to say it to in the movie’s many trailers.

The movie starts out relatively quickly, with a couple quick setup scenes, and in less than 15 minutes, the Prometheus, an opulent trillion-dollar spacecraft with a crew of just 17 people, is in orbit around LV-223.  At this point, Drs. Shaw and Holloway announce to the ship’s crew that they believe some beings they call “Engineers” left some breadcrumbs on Earth “inviting” us to follow them to this exact location, and that they hope to find some evidence of these “Engineers” on this moon, and maybe even meet one of them.

The Prometheus finds some clearly non-natural structures on LV-223, and sets down to investigate them. What they find is not what they expected to find, and some characters’ hidden agendas eventually appear, making things even more interesting. The rest of the movie is a roller-coaster ride, with very few wasted scenes. The ending clearly calls out for at least one sequel, and the final scene of the movie is not to be missed by fans of the “Alien” movies.

So did it live up to my own lofty expectations?

Short answer is: YES. I enjoyed this movie, and I would recommend that you go see it.  But the movie does have several flaws. Its alien creatures (all but one) are surprisingly uninspired (in my opinion), compared to H.R. Giger’s creations for the earlier movies. It has a few serious plot holes – in a trillion dollar expedition to a remote moon, would there really be nobody monitoring 2 scientists stuck off-ship during a storm? And the movie brings up an awful lot of questions that will leave you shaking your head days later. And some of those questions can only be answered by a sequel.  But these are relatively minor flaws, and will not prevent you from enjoying the movie.

As a big fan of both the Alien and Aliens movies, I was a little disappointed that this movie kind of sets off in a different direction. It explains how the aliens in the Aliens movies came to be, but then moves off in another direction with the Engineers and the questions associated with them, and any “Prometheus” sequels would appear to marginalize the “Alien” storylines. I think I might’ve enjoyed the Jon Spaights version of the script more, which supposedly was more of a true Alien prequel, with the same aliens/eggs/chest-bursters that we’ve come to know (and love?).

Thoughts on the Box Office take and the 3D quality:

From what I’m reading right now, Prometheus has opened to a $50 million box-office take in its opening weekend. I think that amount would’ve been a lot higher if the movie didn’t have an R rating. Madagascar 3D bumped Prometheus off the large UltraScreen in the Marcus Oakdale Theater near me, and also out of the main large 3D theater in my local theater. I was stunned that a movie of Prometheus caliber would have to play second fiddle to an animated film about a bunch of animals.

I would recommend getting to the theater on time, as the very first scene of the movie is somewhat important, especially if you want to understand some of the deeper concepts in the movie. Also, I saw the movie both in 3D and on a regular screen, and I didn’t feel that the 3D added much. But I did not see it on an IMAX screen, and I do wear glasses, so any 3D movie for me means 2 sets of glasses. Add in the fact that a lot of the movie’s scenes are in dark scary places, and it doesn’t make for the best 3D viewing.

If you’re like me, you’ll have at least one or two very large questions after the movie ends, and if you go online to get some answers, you’ll find all sorts of them. And you may be surprised to find that the movie may have been hinting at far bigger things than you may have first thought.

4 out of 5 reels

Have you seen Prometheus? Feel free to add your thoughts below on whether this film lives up to the hype.

Weekend Roundup: Snow White and the Huntsman review

Hope your first June weekend was a good one, folks. I finally made my way to the cinema since The Avengers a month ago. That movie is still box office gold as it still place third this weekend with over $20 mil, so it’s overall worldwide gross now stands at 1.3 Billion, wow, hulk smash all right! The reigning champion is Snow White and the Huntsman which beats expectation with $56 mil, which actually beats the Universal studio’s expectations.

I was quite looking forward to this movie because of Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth’s casting, and the trailer was pretty impressive. Well, did it live up to my expectations? Read on…

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN

With TWO Snow White movies released within the same year, this one promises to be the grittier and perhaps takes the most liberties with its ‘re-imagined’ version of the fairy tale. Well, one thing for sure this one offers more twists than the curliest branch in its mythical dark forest.

The first part of the ‘origins’ story starts off promisingly. It opens with a beautiful shot of Snow White’s kingdom in the Winter time, and where her beauty and her name comes from. She seems to have merry childhood with his valiant father and beautiful, kindhearted mother. But soon tragedy strikes with the death of her mother and her father being drawn into a peculiar battle, followed by a hasty marriage to an equally mysterious beautiful blond named Ravenna in the form of Charlize Theron.

Unlike in the Disney animated feature, we get somewhat of a back-story of how the evil queen becomes obsessed with her looks and why she is so threatened by Snow White, whom she locks in a dark tower until she reaches adulthood. To her chagrin, her inept brother somehow lets her get away as he’s about to retrieve her for Ravenna. How the frail-looking princess is able to outrun Ravenna’s army is perplexing, but I chug it out to this being a ‘fairy tale’ after all, so anything is possible, ehm.

With the help of a pair of little birds and a white horse conveniently waiting for her to aid her escape, Snow White manages to outrun the evil horsemen riding bareback into the dark forest. Impressive indeed! Good thing she’s got some rugged boots under her dress though, instead of some flimsy slippers like Cinderella’s, as those come quite handy in the muddy and damp environment she now finds herself in. I have to admit I was quite spooked by the scene where Snow White is haunted by visions of a terrifying forest in the animated feature, but it’s nothing compared to the horror our heroine is facing here.

To make matters worse, now Ravenna has hired a Huntsman to track her down. Despite all her powers, she doesn’t seem to have any power in the dark forest, and we’re left to our imaginations as to why that’s so. The Huntsman is no other than Thor, er I mean Chris Hemsworth, who’s now lived as a mischievous drunkard following his wife’s death. But the evil queen gives him an offer he can’t refuse so off he goes to retrieve Snow White. The movie is true to its title in that the seven dwarfs take a backseat to the Huntsman as the protector and mentor of the princess. The movie even hints at something more perhaps, as Prince Charming (Sam Claflin), despite his Legolas-like archery skills, is not given much to do in the entire movie.

Before I get to the um, shortcomings, I have to hand it to newbie director Rupert Sanders [so new he doesn’t even have a bio on IMDb yet!] for making a visually-arresting spectacle. The cinematography is beautiful, offering a stark contrast between a dark and eerie mythical world and that of a bright, enchanting realm where the fairies live. The costumes are spectacular, especially those worn with such exquisite grace by Theron. No surprise as the costume design is done by triple Oscar-winner Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland, Memoirs of a Geisha, Chicago).

But looks alone doesn’t make a movie. And the pretty scenery can’t possibly makes up for the terribly uneven pacing, uninspired acting and gaping plot holes all around, and I’m already setting aside the fact that Ravenna already IS fairer than Snow White! There are too many unexplained circumstances but the biggest one involves a magical white deer with tree branches as antlers. That scene itself is breathtaking to behold and for a while I was quite engrossed in it. It reminds me of the scene where Lucy meets Aslan in the Narnia movie, except that we’re never told just what that deer represents and its significance to the story [scratch head]

Now, the acting. Theron makes for a fierce villainess but her range is not utilized at all as the script only requires her to be a slithering and conniving beauty. She even looks bored in some scenes, all that scenery-chewing surely gets to be laborious after a while. Hemsworth is much more captivating, his character seems to have more depth compared to the rest (though that’s not saying much), plus the Aussie actor has such strong screen presence and undeniable magnetic charisma. He’s the saving grace in the movie for me, and every time he comes on screen, the movie seems to ‘pick up.’

Can’t say the same thing about Kristen Stewart. In fact, the opposite is true. My husband said that she was mediocre in the beginning of the movie and he’d be ok with it as long as she just stays that way. Alas she seems to progress downward as the movie goes on, and the worse part is when she has to give a rousing speech to a flock of people to fight against the evil queen. Ok, I’d be hard pressed to believe Stewart can inspire a four-people book club, let alone an entire village to take back her country! I mean, suspension of disbelief is a given in any movie, but this is just too much. She’s also not believable as a kindhearted princess that everyone is immediately drawn to, as she comes across cold and standoffish most of the time. I’m even more baffled why Stewart is in such a high demand as she seems to only have two forms of expression, one of nervousness and one of sorrow, that’s it. She alternates between those two no matter what scene she’s in.

Last but not least, it’s really a crime to hire some of the best of British actors to play the dwarfs and not give them hardly anything to do. We’re talking about the likes of Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Toby Jones and Nick Frost, and they’re all practically wasted here. They all seem a surly bunch and there’s no sense of fun other than a couple of wisecracks by Nick Frost.

Final Thoughts: I think if they had cast someone else besides Kristen I’d have been kinder on the movie, but there are some scenes with her that remind me of the Twilight and that’s NOT a good thing at all. At least the visuals keeps it from being a complete waste of time, but I can’t give it a high mark just for that. I’d say my rating is mostly for the visuals, Hemsworth and Theron, in that order 🙂

2.5 out of 5 reels


Have you seen this film? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it and the cast, particularly miss Stewart.