Category Archives: Movies

Raised Arizona

Raising Arizona is a 1987 American crime comedy film written, produced and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.

It stars Nicolas Cage as H.I. “Hi” McDunnough, an ex-convict, and Holly Hunter as Edwina “Ed” McDunnough, a former police officer and Hi’s wife. Other members of the cast include Trey Wilson, William Forsythe, John Goodman, Frances McDormand, Sam McMurray, and Randall “Tex” Cobb.

This film I saw originally in the cinema at the time of its original release. I remember it as this was one of the last films I saw that had an interval. This occurred when the guy bangs into a cactus. I thought it was the main character, but it turned out to be someone else.

Watching it again, some scenes were familiar – where John Goodman extracts himself from the ground, covered in mud (and other things) is memorable. And the ‘I’ve got the pin’ moment in the final confrontation I knew, but forgot it was part of this film.

Overall it’s a fun film despite the dark and criminal nature of the story. Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter are perfectly cast. Plus there are a few familiar faces that have appears on lots of American TV over the years.

So despite being 33 years old, it holds up very well. And it’s 31st on the American Film Institute’s ‘100 Years…100 Laughs list’ and 45th on Bravo’s “100 Funniest Movies” list.

 

Superman’s Dead

The Death of Superman is a 2018 American animated direct-to-video superhero film produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment. It is based on the DC comic book storyline of the same name. The film, which chronicles the battle between Superman and Doomsday.

This was a rather adolescent film. Firstly, the character design of superman just looks wrong. And the voice doesn’t match the character. In fact all the male characters sound very similar. The only voice actors of note are Nathan Fillion (Green Lantern) and Rain Wilson (Lex Luthor).

The graphic design is basic and  functional.

The film is rated as 92% on rotten tomatoes, by the experts (?).

Unfortunately the story really lets things down. There is some time spent on establishing the relationship between the major characters.  As if anyone watching would not be aware of the Superman/Clark Kent/ Lois Lane  relationship.

But the main story is:
Creature Villain shows up, starts destroying things.
After everyone in the Super Hero League gets punched around and put down, Superman shows up.
Big battle at the end; beast dies; superman killed (but is he ?)

There is nothing special here. It’s just the biggest punch that wins the fight. No co-ordination between heroes, no revelations of motivation or reason for the beast. Nobody tries to find a weak spot of vulnerability of the creature.

It’s all very boring and predictable.

 

Vendetta

V for Vendetta is a 2006 dystopian political action film directed by James McTeigue and written by the Wachowskis based on the 1988 DC/Vertigo Comics limited series of the same name by Alan Moore and David Lloyd.

Alan Moore

Set in an alternative future where a Nordic supremacist and neo-fascist totalitarian regime has subjugated the United Kingdom, the film centers on V (portrayed by Hugo Weaving), an anarchist and masked freedom fighter who attempts to ignite a revolution through elaborate terrorist acts, while Natalie Portman plays Evey, a young, working-class woman caught up in V’s mission and Stephen Rea portrays a detective leading a desperate quest to stop V.

An interesting film, especially given it’s focus on events surrounding Nov 5 (Guy Fawkes night). It’s all about order vs chaos and the oppressive nature of absolute power.

Listening to an explanation of the source material, it’s clear they went for a Hollywood ending. But the graphic novel is more subtle. Both V and the Chancellor are similar characters. Both egotistical and bent of sublimating all around them to their will. There is part of the movie where Evey is tortured where that is apparent, but mainly V is portrayed as a heroic character, despite his violence.

And John Hurt as Adam Sutler, the Chancellor is played as a one dimensional bad guy.

The only really sympathetic character is Stephen Rea as Finch the Chief inspector of New Scotland Yard. During his investigation he uncovers government crime and begins to understand V’s motivations. In the end it’s him that partially instigates the ending of the regime.

Stephen Rea as Finch

While the book leave the future unknown, the film brings everything to a neat resolution.

This is a film where the more you examine the plot, the less plausible is becomes. However watching it is an engaging story. An Natalie Portman, while suited to the role doesn’t have much to do but act as an innocent bystander.

 

Campaign

 

The Campaign is a 2012 American political satire comedy film directed by Jay Roach, written by Shawn Harwell and Chris Henchy and stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as two North Carolinians vying for a seat in Congress. The film was released on August 10, 2012 to favorable reviews from critics.

At last, a decent film with Will Ferrell, mainly because he pushes things past comedy to satire, parody and farce. Zach Galifianakis is the centre of the film, as the dim witted son pushed to run for the senate. Also having fun are Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow.

Sing

Sing is a 2016 American computer-animated musical comedy.

It was written and directed by Garth Jennings, co-directed by Christophe Lourdelet. The film is about a group of anthropomorphic animals that enter a singing competition, hosted by a koala who is trying to save his theater.

Some great singing actors here:

Plenty of fun and lots to enjoy. I was surprised at Seth McFarlane’s singing voice (if that is really him). It’s fairly predictable fare until half-way through when disaster strikes. From then on it’s a short but interesting way to wrap up a situation where there would have been winners and losers. In the end everyone wins !

AND it has Jennifer Saunders as Nana Noodleman, a singing sheep.

Magnificent

The Magnificent Seven is a 2016 American Western directed by Antoine Fuqua.

It is a remake of the 1960 film of the same name and also a remake of the 1954 film Seven Samurai.

The film stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett, and Peter Sarsgaard.

It was the final film of composer James Horner, who died the previous year after composing part of the score; his friend Simon Franglen completed the music.

Very simple story. Bad guy comes to town and offers to buy land for a cut price. Shoots a few people and leaves. Female protagonist (it’s a modern remake) hires vigilantes to defend the town.  Everyone turns up and war starts.

Well, this has all the tropes and clichés of the western. Have not seen the films this was based on, but it’s a revenge story made all the easier by a really nasty villain.

Most of the film is fun up to the big battle where all logic disappears. It’s a bit like a Tower Defense computer game, or ‘Home Alone’ for adults.

Nobody has heard of soap. And how everyone determined who was on which side became a bit of a mystery.

There seems to be an endless supply of bad guys. Good guys have instant kills, baddies miss. Then the Gatling gun comes out – he really should have lead with that !

This Gatling Gun is cleaner than the people !

At the end the woman turns up to finish the job.

Still, enjoyable for what it was; a bit of escapist entertainment.

 

Next Gen

Next Gen is a 2018 computer-animated science fiction action film that is based on the online Chinese comic 7723 by Wang Nima, and is directed by Kevin R. Adams and Joe Ksander. The film stars the voices of John Krasinski, Charlyne Yi, Jason Sudeikis, Michael Peña, David Cross and Constance Wu.

It tells the story of Mai Su, a lonely rebellious teenage girl living in a world where sentient robot technology is commonplace, and 7723, a top-secret weaponized robot, who, through a chance encounter, meet each other and form an unlikely bond that they must use to stop a vicious threat.

 

Mulan 2020

Mulan is a 2020 American action drama film produced by Walt Disney Pictures. It is a live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1998 animated film of the same name, based on the Chinese folklore “The Ballad of Mulan”.

The film stars Yifei Liu in the title role, alongside Donnie Yen, Tzi Ma, Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An, Ron Yuan, Gong Li, and Jet Li in supporting roles.

It is directed by Niki Caro, with screenplay by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek, and Elizabeth Martin.


Overall, not as good as the animated version. This lacks the cute sidekick and the caricatures that an animated film can incorporate. And it has no songs.

It’s going for an epic look. And the NZ/Chinese landscapes do it justice. There are some great fight sequences and impressive horse riding. But Mulan herself has little empathy for most of the film. It’s not until the ending when she re-unites with her family that there is any emotional payoff for her journey.

Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6 is a 2014 film produced by Walt Disney. Loosely based on the superhero team of the same name by Marvel Comics, the film is the 54th Disney animated feature film.

Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, the film tells the story of Hiro Hamada, a young robotics prodigy who forms a superhero team to combat a masked villain.

The film features the voices of Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell and Maya Rudolph.

Couldn’t recall if I had seen this one in the cinema. Another big fun action/adventure. The best thing about it that it gives the ‘villain’ real motivation and purpose. And the guy set up as the baddie gets a surprising ending. Goo to see that Disney is getting away from the easy good vs evil trope and putting some grey in the characters.

The film is followed by short videos and a TV series comprising two seasons of 25 x 23 minute episodes. With a third series starting 21 Sept 2020.