FlixChatter Review: Pacific Rim Uprising (2018)

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Review by: Vitali Gueron

Pacific Rim Uprising is the sequel to the 2013 science-fiction monster movie Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Academy Award winner for Best Director and Best Picture). Uprising is directed by Steven S. DeKnight (in his feature-film directorial debut) and stars British actor John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Attack the Block) as Jake Pentecost, and American actor Scott Eastwood (The Fate of the Furious, Suicide Squad, The Longest Ride) as Nate Lambert. Boyega’s character Jake Pentecost—son of Kaiju War hero Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba‘s character in the first film) is brought back to the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) after being arrested for stealing and selling old jaeger (robot) parts on the black market. He then is made an instructor and starts training jaeger program recruits with his estranged former co-pilot, Lambert (Eastwood).

The film also brings back Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day), who helped save the world in the first movie, and is now working for the Shao Corporation, a company whose mission is to mass produce remote controlled jaegers developed by Dr. Geiszler and Liwen Shao (Jing Tian — a Chinese actress best known for The Great Wall & Kong: Skull Island). Dr. Geiszler is developing a program that combines jeager technology with cloned Kaiju (a Japanese word for giant monsters) cells.

The rogue jaeger Obsidian Fury attacks a PPDC conference and Pentecost and Lambert must use their own jaeger to fight back (the gigantic robot is controlled by at least two pilots, whose minds are joined by a mental link). Upon destroying the reactor of a defunct jaeger production facility in Russia which Obsidian Fury is using as a base of operations, Pentecost and Lambert are shocked to learn that Obsidian Fury was controlled by a Kaiju’s secondary brain.

While Obsidian Fury is eventually defeated by Pentecost and Lambert, Dr. Geiszler releases an army of Shao Corporation’s drones who incapacitate almost all of the PPDC’s jaegers and inflicting heavy casualties on the PPDC’s human staff, including most of the jaeger pilots. The drones begin to open new breaches all over the world and are successful in bringing over three powerful Kaiju. Pentecost and Lambert have no choice but to assemble a team of the jaeger program recruits. These young recruits had only simulated battles and not yet fully grasped the task of the mental link joining in order to pilot the jaeger. The team uses the PPDC confronts the Kaiju with their four remaining jaegers in Tokyo and eventually up the side of Mount Fuji. The team is eventually able to defeat the giant Kaiju and arrest Dr. Geiszler so he can no longer pose a threat.

I believe this movie is set up to initiate third-and-final movie, where humans will be the ones attacking the Precursors (the alien race who created the Kaiju) in their own world. Unfortunately, this film does little to nothing to generate new ideas that haven’t been seen before, whether in the first Pacific Rim or in other films with similar premises, such as Transformers.

While it’s easy to say that this is just another Transformers remake, the biggest thing Pacific Rim Uprising has it going for it is John Boyega as the lead. Boyega is even credited as a producer on the film and he continues to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with, whether on the Star Wars movies—using his pretty convincing American accent, or in this movie—where he uses his natural British accent. Boyega also sports a fantastic mustache which makes him cool, yet believable “bad-ass” Kaiju slayer. Aside from Boyega’s charisma, there aren’t very many other moments here that make the movie anything to get excited about. If you previously loved seeing robots battling gigantic monsters and wreaking havoc upon the world, then you won’t be disappointed this time around.

For the majority of its audiences, Pacific Rim Uprising will seem like another bad idea by a giant Hollywood studio to reuse a story line that has become all too familiar. If their writers and casting departments can somehow add more interesting humans (such as Boyega) and subtract the meaningless robot/monster battles, then there might be hope for the third-and-final movie. Otherwise, it will just be an endless comparison between Pacific Rim and Transformers – a battle of which franchise is worst.


Have you seen ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review: The Fate of the Furious (2017)

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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.

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

The Longest Ride interview with cast member Scott Eastwood & Britt Robertson

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Last Thursday I had the chance to be part of a roundtable interview with the two cast members of The Longest Ride, the upcoming Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation. Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson visited Minneapolis as part of their press tour around the country. Unfortunately I was unable to see the screening of the film, but here’s the synopsis:

THE LONGEST RIDE centers on the star-crossed love affair between Luke (Eastwood), a former champion bull rider looking to make a comeback, and Sophia (Robertson), a college student who is about to embark upon her dream job in New York City’s art world. As conflicting paths and ideals test their relationship, Sophia and Luke make an unexpected and fateful connection with Ira, whose memories of his own decades-long romance with his beloved wife deeply inspire the young couple. Spanning generations and two intertwining love stories, THE LONGEST RIDE explores the challenges and infinite rewards of enduring love.

Trailer:


Thanks ALLIED for co-ordinating the interview roundup in a downtown Minneapolis Hotel. I arrived 10 minutes early and there was still another interview going on in the room. As I was leaning against the wall in the hallway, Scott Eastwood walked by in front of me. I was immediately struck by how much he looked like his dad Clint, but most definitely he’s not 5’11’ as is listed on IMDb. You’ll figure it out from the photo I posted below. Just FYI I’m 5’3″ and I didn’t wear heels at the time.

In any case, both are warm and affable. Britt is especially cordial and sweet, I haven’t seen her in anything yet but I’m a fan now. Both seem to be in good spirits and answered our questions cheerfully. There are about a dozen interviewers in the roundtable. Now, lesson learned – whenever you participate in a roundtable interview, make sure to ask the question you REALLY want the answers to. My second question to Britt was going to be about Tomorrowland and Scott about Suicide Squad, two big-budget movies in a totally different genre than this one.

In any case, my question is marked with an asterisk (*) in front of it.

 Spoiler alert! Be warned that some of the conversation might touch some plot points.

Q: In the movie, there are a lot of scenes with bull riding. I read that you did all the stunts yourself, so I’m curious what encouraged you to do that and what are your thoughts on that experience?

Scott: Well I’ve been a big fan of rodeo actually, since I was a kid. Rodeo is different than PBR [Professional Bull Riders – ed] but I’m a big fan since I’m a kid. Sorry I can’t remember what age I was but I went to the Salinas rodeo and I remember seeing these guys and thinking that they’re bigger than life. So I became a fan of the PBR and one of my best friends has this Buck A Bull and he kept calling and calling and he said, ‘If you don’t buck a bull while you’re doing this, you’ll never hear the end of it from me” [laughs] So…

Britt: Is it just for him?

Scott: No, it wasn’t just for him. I mean y’know, these guys, going to play a bull rider and hanging out with these guys for four months, and having the respect that I had for them that I had, y’know it’s only right that I do it one time if I were going to portray someone who does that stuff.

TheLongestRide_BullridingQ: So how do you feel about it afterwards?

Scott: Well I thought I won’t do it again [laughter fills the whole room] No, I thought it was awesome, it was an adrenaline rush. The video will actually premier in Jimmy Fallon in about a week from now [April 8 – ed]

Q: So when you guys filmed this, what time of year, because it looked kind of hot some of the time? I’m sure it could get quite grueling, especially the material you wore when you’re riding. So do you have any stories as to how hot it was, as I know that North Carolina gets pretty…

Britt: Very, very warm. I mean, I’m used to it as I’m from North Carolina so I’m used to being in the humid, humid heat. But this was in the middle of Summer, y’know, I don’t even know if there are really stories. I can’t complain about it because then I’ll lose my cred…

Scott: The North Carolina cred?

Britt: Yes exactly. So how about you? Did you have any trouble with the weather?

Scott: I like it, I like the heat. I’m a warm weather guy so I liked it.

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Q: As far as the novel? Has either of you read this book before you did this film? Have you read Nicholas Sparks before?

Britt: I did not read the book before I auditioned. But I read it after I got the part and I have read his previous novels so I’m obviously familiar with his work, and also the movies that are based on his books. I waited until I got the part before indulging.

Scott: I hadn’t read the book but I was a fan of The Notebook so that’s the extent of my knowledge of Nicholas Sparks beyond the fact that he had a lot of successful movies, but each I was a fan of The Notebook.

Q*: Just to tie that to the question… Was there an audition process for you both?

Britt: I had met with one of the producers Marty Bowen two or three months before the shooting n he had given me the script n he thought that I might be right for the part. So I went and audition for the part with director George Tillman Jr. After the audition they told me I had the part but I was still pretty skeptical at that point. Then they brought me in to read with Scott and a few other guys and I got the part.

Q*: Scott, So you auditioned with her then?

Britt: Britt: did you already got the part when you auditioned with me?

Scott: You know, all these auditions blurred together. I honestly don’t remember.

Britt: hmmm, I didn’t realize that I didn’t know that.

LongestRideNovelQ: So you both read the books. I was there [at the screening] last night and I think Scott you might’ve answered this last night. Y’know it’s hard when you read the book, the you read the script and there’s changes. Was there anything in the book that you thought, oh I wish that had been in the movie?

Scott: that’s a great question, we had not been asked that question before. Actually you know what, I ‘m really proud how this movie turned out, extremely proud. And that doesn’t happen all the time. You do movies and sometimes they turned out well, so-so, so you go ‘well we gave that a shot.’ And that happens with great scripts, sometimes they turned to so-so movies, you get that with mediocre script and they turned into great movies. I think I really enjoyed in the book, that when Luke first met Sophia, Nicholas Sparks described it as ‘ a comfortable silence’ that you have with people and I think that happens with people you fall for. There’s something really nice about how she comfortable she felt with his silence, there doesn’t need to be words. And I strongly pushed my opinion about that scene when they first met, but I think some of them end up in the cutting room floor and that’s what happened. We did film a lot more of that opening scene.

Britt: Yeah… funny enough, before seeing the film there were a few things that I was curious to explore. Y’know, there are this stuff about Sophia’s life prior to her family, just where she comes from. I mean, it’s hard to relate to someone without knowing anything about their history. Actually that’s a big point that some people brought up… But now, seeing the movie, I don’t imagine it done any other way. A lot of the ideas that I miss or thought that might be interesting just don’t even work for the movie, I really am happy with the way it came out.

Scott: Some things just don’t work. I mean, I thought that the boyfriend thing…

Britt: Ugh…

Scott: … Now, I think it just doesn’t work at all. I mean, it’s very cliché, in words, what’s in a medium in words can be very different in picture, so we didn’t need that.

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Q: The movie is a lot about sacrifice in love. I’m curious what you guys think personally about sacrificing your dreams for a relationship. Especially when you’re super young, what you might advise your characters?

Britt: Well, my personal thought about sacrificing for relationship in relation to the film… is that, there’s really nothing that you’re sacrificing in life if you’re choosing to made a decision that you want. I said this a few times, but it’s something that resonates in my life. I think it’s important for young people when they’re watching the film, Sophia made the choice to give up her internship and not be a part of New York like so she can be with Luke. So that’s the decision she wants to make. And that’s her choice. I think people have to look at their life in terms of the big picture and long term, and what matters most. It’s really about priorities, really. You kind of just have to prioritize and see what means the most, and what gonna make you happy. And that’s the choices that you make, based on those priorities.

Scott: I don’t think I can answer that [laughs]

Q: What made you guys choose this project over some other ones you could have been working on at the same time?

Scott: You mean, sorry, previous Nicholas Sparks’ films?

Q: No, just in general. Why you chose this one What made you guys choose this one over some other ones you could have been filming and working on at the same time?

Britt: Well, they chose me and I chose them for… I mean, they chose me, I auditioned for it and I got the part. But more than that, to answer your actual question, is that I’ve always had this nostalgic connection with Nicholas Sparks because it was almost something I was raised on. I mean, my mom loves his books, loves his films, so I’ve always… it’s almost like a bonding experience in the house almost, watching his movies. I think for me, that was a really cool element, for being a part of his movies and being a part of this film. Other than that, I really like the character Sophia. She’s a really strong woman and it’s an interesting story. And I also really love the director, George Tillman Jr. So tons of stuff.

Scott: Yeah, yeah. It’s never really one specific reason, I think it’s a lot reasons. In this case, I was a big fan of the director, George Tillman Jr., and also a fan of The Notebook. I also thought this one in particular has a certain machismo, a certain guy element to it…

Britt: Machismo! [laughs] I like that!

Scott: Machismo… yeah, that I like. It’s something that I like which I haven’t seen in movies in a long time.

On set w/ director  George Tillman Jr.
On set w/ director George Tillman Jr.

Q: A lot of teenagers and high school kids are actually skeptical of Nicholas Sparks’ books and movies, because they’re seen as cheesy or cliché. So in your opinion, why would our age group want to go see this movie or what would draw them in?

Britt: The reason we’re proud of the film is just, because it’s good…

Scott: It’s not cliché

Britt: Yeah, I mean because it’s a good movie. It means more than just the typical y’know, kissing in the rain or like, sex on the beach. Or whatever it is that happens in books or movies that make them cliché. I think it’s a story about love, it’s a story about two people finding their way in life. There are some really interesting relationships and like he [Scott] said, there’s the action aspect of it, which is fun for guys. Or even for women, I mean I got really rowdy during those scenes, just fired up for them. I think it’s an interesting movie to watch and not think about it as a Nicholas Sparks genre.

Q: How did you start out as a teen that help you prepare for your career as an actor?

Britt: Hey, how did you start out? I don’t even know this.

Scott: You mean, how did I start acting?

Britt: Yeah, that was the question right? [gesturing to the person asking the question, to which she nodded]

Scott: I’ve been in plays in high school. I’ve also had been in a videography class throughout high schools where we’d do short films for various programming that we see in high school. There’s a programming for an advanced videography class where you do video shown on Monday morning and stuff. And to be honest, y’know, I grew up around movie sets, so it just sort of, I’ll give it a shot after high school.

Britt: Yeah, same with me. I started with plays, I was in theater in South Carolina and I ended up snagging an agent in L.A. and just started auditioning. Y’know, pretty simple story.

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Britt in a scene with Alan Alda

Q: So what’s your favorite scene to film in this movie?

Scott: I like a lot of the bull riding aspect. We were down in Winston-Salem, North Carolina for the bull riding for about a week. So we have a week doing PBR, with all the big trucks, the big lights, and all the bulls, and all the PBR guys. So that was a pretty exciting week. I had fun in that but the whole filming was pretty enjoyable.

Britt: Yeah, I like that the first date scene. That whole location, we shot that first date scene in this one location and also the very last scene of the movie where we took our clothes off and jumped in the lake. Those, I specifically love that location, I thought it was gorgeous, it was so much fun to be there. It was a hot Summer week and jumping in the pond, which was freezing. I don’t know how it could get that cold being so hot, so all that stuff was really fun.

Q: How was your experience working with the rest of the cast?

Britt: Well I didn’t really have a lot of cast to work with other than this guy. There was Melissa [Benoist] who played my sorority sister and Melissa is amazing. I’m actually a huge fan of her work, she was in Whiplash and that’s my favorite movie of this year. Obviously there’s Alan [Alda] was an absolute legend so working with him was a treat. That was an absolute delight.

Q: I know that you [pointing to Scott] said that you enjoyed rodeo when you’re younger, but did you guys have experience riding horses before filming this?

Scott: Yeah, I did. I still ride today. We have a couple of horses just north of L.A. so I go ride whenever I want to go riding. I love riding.

Britt: I didn’t know anything, I mean they gave me lessons but I’m pretty bad on the horses but I had to embrace it.

And that’s a wrap! 😀
The interview was only about 15-min long as there’s a photo-op right after. Towards the end of the interview, both Scott and Britt made a comment about the loud noise from music, construction and dog howling. Thankfully they’re such a good sport about the whole thing.


Thanks Britt & Scott for chatting with us!

Scott_Britt_LongestRideInterviewThe Longest Ride in out in theaters this Friday, April 10


Hope you enjoy the interview! Have you seen The Longest Ride? Well, what did you think?

Five for the Fifth: APRIL 2015 Edition

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Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Since this months’s edition falls on Easter Sunday, I think it’s the perfect time to highlight films with redemptive themes. They don’t have to be spiritual films per se, it could be from any genre, so long as it contains films where the character realize the error in his ways and become a changed person. Some of the ones that have memorable redemptive themes Road to Perdition, Michael Clayton, Schindler’s List, Gran TorinoLéon: The Professional, Children of Men, Star Wars, those are just at the top of my head.

But the one that I always find profoundly moving is the finale of Ben-Hur

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Judah: Almost at the moment He died, I heard Him say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Esther: Even then.
Judah: Even then. And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand.

It’s a perennial favorite around Easter time, but really, I’d recommend one of the greatest epics in cinema history any day of the year.

Which film(s) with redemptive theme resonate with you most?

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2. Check out the FIRST LOOK of Steven Spielberg‘s WWII drama Bridge of Spies.The name refers to a bridge across the Havel River in Germany used by the Americans and Soviets for the exchange of captured spies during the Cold War.  

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This marks the fourth Spielberg – Tom Hanks collaboration and the Coen brothers are apparently polishing the script originally written by Matt Charman. Wow, with such a pedigree and an intriguing premise, I can’t wait to see this! 

Too bad John Williams won’t be scoring the film though, apparently due to “a minor health issue that’s now been corrected,” (per EMPIRE) and replaced by Thomas Newman. The article also provides a caption of the image we see above: James Donovan (Hanks), a lawyer who was pushed headfirst into the Cold War during the 1960s when he had to negotiate for the release of downed U2 spy plane pilot Gary Powers after the airman was shot down over Russia. Alongside him is Mark Rylance’s Rudolf Abel, a suspected KGB spy who was defended by Donovan in a US courtroom in 1957.

What’s your initial thoughts of Bridge of Spies?

3. I just read this over at Slash Film that series creator Steven Moffat wants a crossover of Doctor Who and Sherlock. Now, though I’m not obsessed with either show, I totally get the appeal and I think both are fun and well-written. Crossover ideas are nothing new in pop-culture, we’ve seen ’em in a lot of comic-book adaptations like CW’s Arrow and The Flash, and of course the DC and Marvel Cinematic Universe are full of them.

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Photo courtesy of Geek Tyrant

Well, apparently Moffat is the only one excited for the crossover idea as the lead cast Benedict Cumberbatch & Martin Freeman, as well as the series’ co-creator Mark Gatiss aren’t keen on the idea, saying “Look, it will never be as good as they think it’s going to be.” You know what, I kind of agree with them. It seems like a fun idea, but whether it’ll actually work or not is another story. Though if there’s anyone who could somehow make it work, it’d be Moffat. So never say never I guess.

What do you think of this Sherlock/Dr.Who crossover or other crossovers on film/tv?

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4. This question is inspired by my recent roundtable interview with the two lead cast of The Longest Ride: Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood (I will post the transcript next week). Also, I saw A Woman in Gold last week in which Max Irons has a supporting role (I first noticed him in The Riot Club trailer) and Colin Hanks was just on MPR’s Wits, a live public radio show filmed here in town. Well, just looking at the last names, you might be able to deduce that all three have famous dads who are practically screen legends: Clint Eastwood, Jeremy Irons and Tom Hanks. Boy, they all seem to be splitting images of their dads, aren’t they?

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Scott Eastwood, Max Irons, Colin Hanks

Now, I haven’t seen enough of their work to judge their talent as an actor, but they seem to have a decent career so far in Hollywood. It made me think of other famous Hollywood actors’ offsprings who’ve made it in showbiz. There are no shortage of them, and some have even match or even surpass the success of their parents, Angelina Jolie, Michael Douglas, Jeff Bridges, those are just a few that come to mind.

So I’m curious, who are your favorite famous actors’ offsprings?

5. This month’s Five for the Fifth’s guest is Stu from Popcorn Nights blog!

BladeRunnerFinalCut

The Final Cut of Blade Runner has just been re-released in cinemas in the UK, and stands as Ridley Scott’s definitive version of the film, and far better than the 1982 cinema release. Here’s the trailer:

Which director’s cut of a film do you think is the biggest improvement on the original work?


Well, that’s it for the April 2015 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀