Category Archives: Movies

Sicario

Sicario (Spanish for “Hitman”) is a 2015 American action thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Taylor Sheridan.
It stars Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, and Victor Garber.

The film follows a principled FBI agent who is enlisted by a government task force to bring down the leader of a powerful and brutal Mexican drug cartel.

Sicario received praise for its screenplay, direction, musical score, cinematography, and Blunt’s and del Toro’s performances. The film was nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Sound Editing at the 88th Academy Awards. It also earned BAFTA nominations for Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Music. Its sequel, Sicario: Day of the Soldado, was released on June 29, 2018.

Just the sort of film critics love. It doesn’t follow the usual ‘man alone’ against the world Hollywood trope. Nobody is a ‘Hero’ and the genre is more ‘Political Realism’.  I don’t think any actor deserved an award nomination, but when you portray dark depressing characters, suddenly, somehow this is award nominating material.

Not recommended unless you want another lecture on how the world really works.

 

Snowpiercer

Earth has fallen into an ice age following a bungled geo-engineering attempt to fix climate change.

Snowpiercer is a “Science Fiction” movie with a daft concept that involves a giant allegorical train that goes continually travels the Europe continent, for years. It contains the last remains of humanity, living from the poor in the rear to the rich in the front and ultimately the creator at the engine.

The director and co-writer is Bong Joon-ho, who also directed Okja (previously reviewed).

The cast includes Chris “Captain America” Evans (who I didn’t recognize) and Tilda Swinton in ridiculous ‘Evil Henchman’ mode. Also along for the ride are John Hurt and Jamie Bell. And at the end we get Ed Harris.

Among the unwashed proletariat revolution is being fermented by Curtis Everett (Evans) and his loyal sidekick Edgar (Bell).
Their immediate target is to get through the gates to the next set of carriages, which are protected by brutal, gun-wielding guards. A lot of this movie makes no sense. Rather it seems to be a series of violent battles with numerous thugs. And train varies in width, and from the CGI exterior shots is much, much larger on the inside.

The tone is dark and brooding, just an endless supply of blood and dirt. It’s as if Terry Gilliam had been hired to rewrite Samuel Beckett.

The way the allegory works out is not exactly subtle or unexpected, and at the end you get a lecture on man’s inhumanity to man. Not much of a treat.

Movies of 2019

The Movies of 2019

2040
An environmental movie about the future.

6 Underground
Michael Bay goes nuts on Netflix.

Ad Astra
Brad Pitt wanders the Solar System looking for a plot.

Alita
James Cameron CGI spectacle.

Angel Has Fallen
Gerald Butler rescues the President.. again.

Captain Marvel
Invincible super-hero’s origin story.

Ford vs Ferrari
Kiwi racing drivers barely get a mention.

Frozen II
More snow and songs, more slush than sparkle.

Gozzilla 2
Dark and dumb – the Humans, not the Monsters.

Hobbs and Shaw
Statham & Johnson fight Idris Alba.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Now hidden from memory.

Jumanji 2
Funnier than before.

Knives Out
One Mansion Crime who-dun-it.

Laundromat
Explaining financial favors.

Lego 2
Block-tastic.

Mother
Netflix best SciFi so far.

Shazam
Zachary Levi (Chuck) gets big screen role.

Star Wars IX
The whole thing wrapped up, with thematic repeats.

Terminator Dark Fate
They should have stopped after #2.

The Wandering Earth
Nuts Chinese Big Budget Sci-Si.

Toy Story 4
Nobody ordered this one.

Alice 2

Alice Through the Looking Glass is a 2016 American fantasy adventure film directed by James Bobin, written by Linda Woolverton and produced by Tim Burton,

It is based on the characters created by Lewis Carroll and is the sequel to the 2010 film Alice in Wonderland.

The film stars Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Matt Lucas, Rhys Ifans, Helena Bonham Carter, and Sacha Baron Cohen and features the voices of Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, and Alan Rickman in his final film role.

As the Rotten Tomatoes site reads:
Alice Through the Looking Glass is just as visually impressive as its predecessor, but that isn’t enough to cover for an underwhelming story that fails to live up to its classic characters.

So it’s not surprising that despite some very impressive CGI that went into the $170 million budget, it’s just not very engaging.

The first thing wrong is the actress playing Alice Mia Wasikowska, at 27 when she made this, she is just too old and mature to play Alice, who has always been a young girl in the adventures. The story isn’t that good. It starts will a good action scene of a ship fleeing through stormy weather, but when it is revealed that the Captain is Alice, it looses credibility (being set in 1849).

She has to go back in time to save the Mad Hatter, why is not clear and there are leaps of logic that string the story together.

The best thing is Helena Bonham Carter, in all-out mode as the Red Queen, Anne Hathaway is the White Queen.

And Sacha Baron Cohen seems to be enjoying himself as Father Time.

Meanwhile, time is ticking away the decade…

Tick

Tock

Tick

Tock

Tick

Tock

Tick

Tock

 

 

Jumanji 1

Jumanji is a 1995 American fantasy adventure film directed by Joe Johnston.

It is an adaptation of the 1981 children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg and the first installment of the Jumanji franchise.

The film stars Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, (who was just 12 at the time) David Alan Grier, Bonnie Hunt, Bradley Pierce, Jonathan Hyde, and Bebe Neuwirth (who was also in the latest movie).

The story centers on a supernatural board game that releases jungle-based hazards upon its players with every turn they take. As a boy in 1969, Alan Parrish became trapped inside the game itself while playing with his best friend Sarah Whittle. Twenty-six years later, in 1995, siblings Judy and Peter Shepherd find the game, begin playing and then unwittingly release the now-adult Alan.

Unlike the later films, this takes place in the real world with creatures coming through the game to cause havoc in a small town.

Robin Williams is the real star, and delivers a performance not as outrageous as he can, but provides the humour.

The film is notable as one of the  earliest to use computer

generated images, coming just a few years after Jurassic Park (1993).

Jumanji 2

Jumanji: The Next Level

An American action adventure comedy film directed by Jake Kasdan and written by Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg.

It is the second sequel to 1995’s Jumanji, following 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and the fourth installment, overall, in the Jumanji franchise.

Featuring the regulars: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan reprising their role.

And few actors I had seen before: First, John Ross Bowie from Big Bang Theory.

And an actress I had seen before but couldn’t place; Bebe Beuwirth who was Frazier Crane’s wife in Cheers and Frazier.

 

 

 

Star Wars IX

Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker

The final in the nine movie series is produced, co-written, and directed by J. J. Abrams.

The film’s ensemble cast includes Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, and Billy Dee Williams.

With the weight of 42 years of history this generations of fans and not all will be pleased.

It is a big, fun adventure romp that closes the story, enjoyable but never able to match the cultural impact of the first trilogy.

Other opinions are available:

Mark Kermode Review:

Chris Stuckmann Review:

Dave Cullen Review

Jeremy Jahns:

 

Downsizing

Downsizing is a 2017 American science fiction comedy film directed by Alexander Payne, written by Payne and Jim Taylor and starring Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, and Kristen Wiig.

It tells the story of Paul and Audrey Safranek, a couple who decide to undertake a newly invented procedure to shrink their bodies so they can start a new life in an experimental community. When Audrey refuses the procedure at the last minute, Paul has to reassess his life and choices after befriending an impoverished activist.

A film I missed at the theatre and tried when it came on Nexflix. It has an interesting premise, and despite some unnecessary medical procedures starts well. It makes some subtle but interesting points about how we bring our problems with us, even when downsizing everything else. Then it wanders off into romantic comedy territory and end on a very downbeat note.

The film was a box office bomb, grossing only $55 million against a production budget between $68–76 million. It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised its cast and premise, but criticized its execution and failure to deliver on its potentially profound subject matter. Nevertheless, it was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2017.

From Rotten Tomatoes:
Downsizing assembles a talented cast in pursuit of some truly interesting ideas which may be enough for some audiences to forgive the final product’s frustrating shortcomings.

(22% Audience Score)

6 Underground

Underground is an action thriller film starring Ryan Reynolds and a bunch of actors I have never heard of, or seen before.

Reynolds character seems to be related to his Deadpool persona, similar wit, wisecracks and general demeanor.

It was directed by Michael Bay in a Michael Bay style if Michael Bay had no restraints.

The first 20 minutes of the film is a massive crazy car chase through the streets of Florence. Things slow down to establish the six main characters in flashbacks that do nothing to help with a cohesive story. Then it’s on to the  main plot to extract a politician and bring another down.

There was a time when 100 million dollars was a lot to spend on a film. The first was True Lies (1994) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis.

But Netflix gets to drop $150 million on this nonsense. It gets 35% from reviewers, but 65% from the audience. It is just nuts in it’s over the top stunts and invincible heroes.

If nothing else, it’s a film to watch and wonder.. how did they do THAT STUNT ?

Frozen Again

Frozen II is the sequel to the 2013 film Frozen and features the return of directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, producer Peter Del Vecho, songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, and composer Christophe Beck.

Lee also returns as screenwriter, penning the screenplay from a story by her, Buck, Marc E. Smith, Anderson-Lopez and Lopez,[2] while Byron Howard executive-produced the film.

Voice cast Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, and Ciarán Hinds return as their previous characters, and are joined by newcomers Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter, Rachel Matthews, and Jeremy Sisto.

Set three years after the events of the first film, the story follows Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven who embark on a journey beyond their kingdom of Arendelle in order to discover the origin of Elsa’s magical powers and save their kingdom after a mysterious voice calls out to Elsa.


While the graphics and sound are  outstanding, it’s the little character movements that really makes the difference.

Olaf gets more involvement, which is a good thing as I enjoyed  his humour from the first.

Kristoff gets to sing and has a story arc with his love for Anna. However his fumbling with her gets a bit tedious and he does detract with the main plot.

The main story is OK, although not as engaging as the first film. It does take the viewer to a few dark places before a suitably uplifting ending.