Category Archives: Movies

Breakups

Two women cynical in love, set up an agency to break couples up as a way to avoid letting go and moving on with their lives.


At last, a kiwi comedy I liked. Sure, it’s from a women’s point of view and not laugh-out-load funny. But it is observant and quirky.

A lot of the actors are recognizable NZ talent:

Madeleine Sami & Jackine van Beel are on the comedy sketch TV show’Funny Girls’.

Jaquie Brown has had her own show. Rima Te Wiata is a well known actor. Executive Producer is Taika Waititi.

 

 

 

Avenger’s War

Avengers – Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War is a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team. It is the sequel to 2012’s The Avengers and 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the nineteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Starring: Everyone (in the Marvel Universe)


One big $300m+ mess of a film.

Firstly, because absolutely every superhero is in this film, it takes its time. After each action set piece, we skip to another set of characters and Dr/Capt Explain-o  turns up to tell us what is happening and who to blame. It’s not until the final act that things come together to a cohesive narrative that moves along unimpeded by info-dumps.

The plot: Big bad Thanos wants to obtain all six infinity stones (created as the start of the universe) so he can destroy half of all life. This is because there just isn’t enough resources for everyone. So removing half will allow the other half to survive. But wait, I just read this justification in Drastic Measures where a contagion is ravaging the food supplies of the remote Federation colony Tarsus IV. The main villain Kodos has the same justification as Thanos (could they be related).

Problem Two: It is quickly established that hitting Thanos (even very hard) will not destroy or stop him. So why do the superheroes persist in this method. They must be really dumb. The only one possibly with a plan is Dr Strange who could be trying to trap Thanos in an alternative time-line.

Problem Three: Everyone gloats. Traditionally, the villain gets to yammer on about himself before being thumped by the hero. But here, the Heroes perform soliloquies before combat. There is only one unexpected attack I can recall.

And who knew that this was part two of a series. Are the writers trying to out-do the original Star Wars trilogy ?

 

Minions

Minions is a 2015 American 3D computer-animated comedy film, serving as a spin-off/prequel to the Despicable Me franchise.
Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, written by Brian Lynch, and produced by Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy.
It was first foreshadowed in the end credits of Despicable Me 2 (2013), where Kevin, Stuart, and Bob, three of the Minions and the film’s main characters, are seen auditioning for the film. A sequel is planned for release in 2020.

Cast:
Geoffrey Rush as The Narrator

Pierre Coffin as Kevin, Stuart, Bob and The Minions
Sandra Bullock as Scarlet Overkill
Jon Hamm as Herb Overkill

Michael Keaton as Walter Nelson
Allison Janney as Madge Nelson
Katy Mixon as Tina Nelson

Steve Coogan as Professor Flux and The Tower Guard
Jennifer Saunders as Queen Elizabeth II

Michael Beattie as a VNC Announcer and Walter Nelson Jr.
Hiroyuki Sanada as Dumo, the Sumo Villain
Dave Rosenbaum as Fabrice
Alex Dowding as The Royal Advisor
Paul Thornley as a News Reporter
Andy Nyman as Frankie Fishlips, a Gill-man-like creature super-villain

Steve Carell as Young Gru


The minions were always the best part of Despicable Me. Here they get to play to their strengths of causing mirth and mayhem. The basic plot is that they want to work for the biggest, baddest villain of the time. We get to see them working for everyone from the Egyptians to Napoleon. This is set in 1968 (although it feels very modern). Three minions leave their home in the Arctic and journey to America where they find Scarlet Overkill. She takes them to England where they are instructed to steal the Queens crown….

Sandra Bullock gets the right amount of villiany to be fun without
menacing. Jon Hamm is surprisingly good as a really thin husband to Scarlet. And Jennifer Saunders really nails a young Queen Liz, who would have been 42 at the time.

This is a movie that survives repeated viewings. Each time you get
something new from it.

Megamind

Megamind is a 2010 American 3D computer-animated superhero comedy film directed by Tom McGrath. The film was released on November 5, 2010.

The film tells the story of a super-intelligent alien super-villain, Megamind, who after a long-lasting battle one day actually destroys his foe, the much-loved superhero Metro Man. Having Metro City for himself, Megamind finds out that his villainy has no purpose and thus creates a new superhero to serve as his nemesis.

His plan backfires, as he ends up creating instead a new super-villain. With Metro City spiraling out of control, Megamind attempts to set things right and discovers his newfound purpose—as a superhero.

Cast:
Will Ferrell as Megamind, an extraterrestrial mastermind.
Tina Fey as Roxanne “Roxie” Ritchi, a TV news reporter.
Jonah Hill as Hal Stewart/Titan
David Cross as Minion, Megamind’s sidekick
Brad Pitt as Metro Man, Megamind’s former nemesis.
J. K. Simmons as the Warden, the head of Metro City Prison.
Ben Stiller as Bernard, a museum curator.
Christopher Knights as a prison guard.
Tom McGrath as Lord Scott and a prison guard.
Jack Blessing as Newscaster.
Justin Theroux as Megamind’s father.
Jessica Schulte as Megamind’s mother.

Rampage

 

Rampage is a 2018 American science fiction monster film directed by Brad Peyton, loosely based on the video game series of the same name by Midway Games.

The film stars Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Åkerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. It follows a primatologist named Davis Okoye (Johnson) and George, an albino gorilla who turns into a raging creature of enormous size following a rogue experiment.


This film embraces its B-movie origins. It’s a very derivative plot, simple characters but a rather weak villian. However knowing all that, it pulls it off with competence. Technically there is little to fault. The CGI effects are well done, the monsters have the feeling of weight and inertia lots of other movies lack.

There is a surprising  about of humour, however most of it comes from the gorilla.

 

Early Man

Early Man is a 2018 British stop-motion animated historical sports comedy film directed by Nick Park, written by Mark Burton and James Higginson, and starring the voices of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, and Timothy Spall.

The film follows a tribe of primitive Stone Age valley dwellers who have to defend their land from bronze-using invaders in an association football match.


Not quite as good as ‘Chicken Run’ or ‘Curse of the Were-Rabbit’, this still a funny and enjoyable romp through pre-history.

There are a lot of things that are historically inaccurate. But it doesn’t really matter as the characters resonate and are engaging.


The history of ball sports extends across countless cultures throughout recorded history. Solid archaeological records of ball sports extend back as early as 1600 BC – for example, discoveries of rubber balls used in the ancient sports like the Mesoamerican ball game. However, with the phrase “ball sports” being so broad and inclusive, games that could fall under this category have undoubtedly been played for millennia even before that time.

Annihilation

 

Annihilation is a 2018 US/UK psychological science fiction horror film, written and directed by Alex Garland, and based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer.

The film stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, and Oscar Isaac, and follows a group of military scientists who enter “The Shimmer”, a mysterious quarantined zone full of mutating landscapes and creatures.


I had a go at reading the book as it was a Sword & Laser pick in  January 2015. I didn’t get far and gave up.

The movie is notable as being one of the first Netflix movies and the first streaming movie review by  Mark Kermode on his film review show.

The movie is a slow moving and dream-like. It’s more horror than science fiction. While there is a sense of realism in the science, it does descent into strangeness at the end.

Initially I saw it on TV, but gave up halfway through. As netflix saves the last position, I could come back the next day and finish it on my PC.

Not a genre I like, so I’m not as enthusiastic about it as Mark Kermode was. (3/5).

 

 

 

Ready Player 1

 

Ready Player One is a 2018 American science fiction adventure film, produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline, based on Cline’s 2011 novel of the same name. The film stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance.

The film is set in the year 2045, when much of humanity, escaping the desolation of the real-world, uses the virtual reality software OASIS to engage in work and play. Wade Watts (Sheridan) discovers clues to a hidden game within the program that promises the winner full ownership of the OASIS, and joins several allies to try to complete the game before indentured players working for a large company, run by Nolan Sorrento (Mendelsohn), can do so.


I read the book back in 2011, so after seven years there isn’t much of the original book I remember. But I would see this before reading reviews. Firstly, there is a lot of eye candy. And despite being 2:20hrs long, it had good pacing.

The first third of the movie is dominated by popcorn CGI of the Oasis and it’s difficult to sympathize with the characters. It isn’t until the last third that the  characters work and the drama pulls you in.

 

Wind Rising

The Wind Rises
 

The Wind Rises is a 2013 Japanese animated historical drama film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, animated by Studio Ghibli.

The Wind Rises is a fictionalized biopic of Jiro Horikoshi (1903–1982), designer of the Mitsubishi A5M fighter aircraft and its successor, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, used by the Empire of Japan during World War II. The film is adapted from Miyazaki’s manga of the same name, which was in turn loosely based on both the 1937 novel The Wind Has Risen by Tatsuo Hori and the life of Jiro Horikoshi.

The Wind Rises was the highest-grossing Japanese film in Japan in 2013. It won and was nominated for several awards, including nominations for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year.


While beautiful to look at (even the images of war have an engaging style) this is does not have the same emotional intensity of previous Miyazaki films I have seen: ‘When Marnie Was There’ and ‘Princess Kuguya’. It’s a straight forward telling of Jiro’s story, interspersed with dream sequences featuring innovative aircraft designs.

After watching, you have to remind yourself that these were devices for destruction. The result is that the film’s theme is one of the creative impulses, even in times of war.

 

Uprising

Pacific Rim Uprising

is a 2018 American science fiction film directed by Steven S. DeKnight (in his feature-film directorial debut) and written by DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, and T.S. Nowlin. It is the sequel to the 2013 film Pacific Rim, with Guillermo del Toro, director of the original, serving as a producer here.

The sequel stars John Boyega (making his producer debut) as well as Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Jing Tian, Adria Arjona, and Zhang Jin, with Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, and Burn Gorman returning from the original film.

Set in the year 2030, the plot follows humanity needing to again fight Kaiju, giant monsters set on destroying the world.


Big bangs and crash-whollup.  Its big machines hitting each other and monsters from another dimension. Enjoyable while it lasted, but very forgettable.