Mini Movie Review: Justice league (2017)

Friday 2 February 2018 @ 1:42 pm

Following on from Batman V Superman, the Caped Crusader rounds up the other meta-humans (The Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman) to take on a super villain called Steppenwolf who’s intent on transforming Earth into his own world.

I like Justice League. It’s a good solid movie and, like Batman v Superman, unfairly panned. Fuck the critics, what do they know? I’ll stick my hand up here and say Justice League is the best one yet in the wider DC Universe and I enjoyed it far more than I expected to. I’m not overly familiar with any of the back stories or even the characters themselves so it was interesting to see how they were introduced.

Batman is still the grizzled soldier from the previous movie; a little older, greyer but still cynical and loaded with cash to spend on over-the-top gadgets. Affleck is on cruise control here and doesn’t need to do anything else. He makes a really good Batman for this particular angle.

Wonder Woman is still hot, sexy and the first time you see her, she’s standing on top of a building in full riot gear so you can take in her legs and cute frown. She’s much better here than in the wet-behind-the-ears Wonder Woman movie. Go Gal!

The Flash is the joker, and also the baby of the pack and gets some of the best lines. Ezra Miller nails all the quirks and tics of The Flash and apart from the slightly weird running style that looks like he might be having a fit, adds a nice light touch to a movie that veers between dark and funny and can’t quite make up its mind which to be.

Aquaman is played by Jason Momoa as a big, bearded, butch New Age traveller type character with a gruff yet cool sideline in drinking beers and taking his shirt off. The thing is Aquaman has always been the least interesting character of the bunch and apart from being a fantastic swimmer and able to control water, which seems to conveniently appear purely as a reason for him to join the action, there’s no other USP. If the Justice league got rid of Aquaman, it’d be no great loss and the jury is still out as to whether he actually adds any value.

Cyborg is the Iron Man of Justice League and I’d never heard of him before watching the movie. He’s kinda like an ultra serious version of Inspector Gadget and seems to be the ultimate Swiss Army Knife capable of producing anything and everything at will. If the Justice League were trapped in a restaurant and stuck making a souffle because they didn’t have the right kitchen utensil, Cyborg would be the one to rustle up an egg whisk.

That leaves Superman and let me say that in Jutice League, he’s awesome. Henry Cavill plays him with just the right amount of menace; when first confronted by Batman you could even believe Superman has gone all Breaking Bad. It’s a bit like the apocalyptic dream sequence scene in Batman V Superman dialled up several notches.

Cavill also captures the humourous side of Superman who delivers several quips whilst beating the shit out of Steppenwolf, managing to make the whole thing look like a picnic. I’ve seen Clark Kent having to work harder making a cup of coffee.

The villain is some big bad bod called Steppenwolf who seems be a hackneyed cliche version of pretty much every villain you might see in a super hero movie. No complaints from me and he’s a damn sight better than the Cave Troll that Batters, Supe and Wonder Woman defeat in the previous film.

All things considered, this could have been a lot worse and it could have been much better. You can see the directions that both Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon were going and as it stands, Justice league is hugely enjoyable, certainly a film that deserves repeat viewings. Rumour has it that there’s an Extended / Directors Cut possible and I can’t wait.

Score: 4/5


Mini Movie Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

Monday 28 August 2017 @ 10:33 pm

Amazon princess Diana leaves her tranquil island of Themyscira, home of the Amazonian race of warrior women created by Zeus, and joins US pilot and Allied spy, Steve Trevor, to fight against the Germans who are developing a lethal type of gas to win the war. Diana believes that only she can bring an end to the war by finding and killing Ares, the God of War, who despises mankind and is intent on wiping them out for good.

In short, there are four things wrong with this movie.

Firstly, Gal Gadot is too sexy and comes across as a little dim naive. She’s hot, beautiful, has a body built for sin the catwalk but, as a kick-ass warrior princess, about as believable as a lingerie model advertising burgers. This isn’t a criticism of Gal, I like her lots, but she just doesn’t have the build for this part and is the type of woman who could turn you on whilst wearing a burka with a gas mask. The coy glances and seductive smiles peppered throughout the movie don’t help and neither does the sexy foreign accent. I’m not saying a woman can’t be sexy and aggressive (Linda Fiorentino nailed it in The Last Seduction) but Gal Gadot was so much stronger and intelligent in Batman v Superman.

Secondly, Diana’s weapons are all pretty lame; a lasso of truth which is as naff as it sounds; a pair of gauntlets which can deflect all manner of bullets conveniently fired at head height; a standard issue super hero shield which Captain America rejected; and an elaborate sword that looks like it was borrowed from the 1960’s Sinbad movies. Granted, her abilities are super cool and the fighting scenes are awesome when Diana gets to kick ass but these are all too fleeting and brief.

Thirdly, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor comes across as a typical smug know-it-all American. The last time such a hackneyed clichéd version of a smarmy US Air Pilot was on-screen, he was feeling the need for speed and playing volleyball with a bunch of other buff guys pretending to be straight. A drop dead gorgeous Amazonian warrior princess and a male model look-a-like pilot in World War I? I don’t buy it, not even on celluloid.

Lastly, the movie is too long and the fundamental issue of love conquering everything is a proper cop out. I actually groaned out loud when I heard some of the atrocious dialogue. Gal deserves better than this.

Another way of looking at this film is that the Wonder Woman portrayed in Batman v Superman is a hundred times more entertaining in less than a quarter of the on-screen time than the full 2+ hours of this movie. I mentioned in a previous blog that the DC Universe is no match for Marvel and on the basis of this flick, nothing’s changed. Roll on the next Batman movie.

Score: 2/5

Mini Movie Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Tuesday 17 May 2016 @ 9:29 pm

Following on from the rather dull Man of Steel, public opinion is divided as to whether Superman is a good guy or a threat to all. Batman however has no such qualms and is determined to get rid of Supe once and for all after the Man of Steel demolished Metropolis whilst battling General Zod. Meanwhile, Lex Luther has found some kryptonite as well as a Kryptonite ship and wastes no time in setting the two up for an epic fight and unleashing a seemingly invincible monster engineered from General Zod’s DNA. Wonder Woman pops up to both beguile and befriend the two superheroes whilst the other nobody’s who form the Justice League also fleetingly appear, The Flash as a tramp for some inexplicable reason, as a prelude to the next movie.

Batman v Superman has been unfairly panned I reckon. Sure, it’s not a great movie but it’s a good movie. Ben Affleck is suitably grizzled as a much tougher and more brutal Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is excellent. Some of the supporting characters are good too, Perry White in particular. However, there are two big elephants in the casting room; Jesse Eisenberg as a spoiled rich kid Lex Luthor who is all edgy nervous tics and trying too hard to be cool. I really like the new interpretation of Lex but he’s no evil genius, that’s for sure. Then there’s Amy Adams as Lois Lane and pretty much responsible for fucking everything up at the end. Teri Hatcher’s Lois Lane is smart, sexy and sassy whereas Any Adams is about as sharp as a wooden spoon.

The whole movie is a gloomy, ponderous affair, full of moody lighting and devoid of humour. The Marvel movies have the right mix but Batman v Superman takes itself too seriously and you just long for the odd wisecrack. The plot is muddled too with dream sequences and scrappy bits left unexplained. Oh, and the end battle is a bit naff, I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on and the monster looks exactly like a Cave Troll from LOTR.

Despite all that though, it’s still a good movie, very watchable in its own right but I can’t say I’m looking forward to the useless Justice League. With the exception of Batman and Superman, and Wonder Woman purely because of Gal Gadot’s portrayal, there isn’t a single interesting or redeeming character to rival even third rate Marvel superheroes.

Score: 3/5

Mini Movie Review: London Has Fallen (2016)

Thursday 12 May 2016 @ 6:59 pm

Secret Agent Mike Banning returns as Head of the US Presidential Protection Detail. A funeral in London for the Prime Minister gathers all the heads of state who are a prime target for Aamir Barkawi, a Pakistani arms dealer and terrorist. When Barkawi ambushes the party, and picks off the US Security Services, it’s left to Banning to protect the US President at all costs.

Screw the so called critics, this is terrific entertainment and a great action movie. Is it better than Olympus Has Fallen? Yes, most definitely. There’s more action, everything is on a bigger scale and even some of the more dodgy CGI bits can be overlooked in favour of the plot that moves along briskly. One bit in particular, when Banning and the Special Forces mount an assault on a suburban terrorist base, is excellent and filmed in the style of a video game with a single panning shot that follows Banning around as he ducks and weaves past enemy fire.

Banning and the POTUS spend more time together here unlike in the previous movie and an added bonus is that it’s set in London which is not the natural choice for action films so it’s great to see recognisable landmarks. A solid by-the-numbers action flick then and if you enjoyed Olympus Has Fallen, this is more of the same but much better.

Score: 5/5

Ferris Bueller is a dick

Saturday 15 August 2015 @ 11:32 pm

One of the most popular comedy films from the 1980’s is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where Ferris decides to bunk off school and take his best friend’s dad’s prize car for a spin. Am I the only one who finds Ferris a complete twat? No matter how many times I’ve seen the movie, he’s still the kind of irritating slacker that everyone hated at school and let me tell you, if he tried to pull a stunt like nicking my dad’s Ferrari, I’d kick the shit out of him.

Ten great comedy films from the 80’s

Friday 18 July 2014 @ 11:15 pm

It seems like they just don’t make great comedy films any more. By this, I mean genuinely funny movies that are as good now as they were back in the 80’s and which you could watch again and again. Most of the rubbish they churn out these days sacrifices laughs for crudity or gross-out humour, neither of which stands the test of time.

So, with plenty of great films to choose from, here are my 10 favourite comedy movies from the 80’s.

Airplane! (1980)/Airplane II (1982)

Ted Striker (Robert Hays) saves the day when the passengers on an airplane, including the pilots, fall ill from food poisoning. The sequel, Airplane II, has a similar plot only this time Ted Striker is aboard the Mayflower One, a commercial lunar shuttle on its maiden voyage that goes awry when the in-flight computer malfunctions.

What makes both of these a pair of fantastically funny movies is that everyone plays it deadpan straight and they’re absolutely rammed with both visual and verbal gags. If you miss one, there’s another along in half a minute with plenty of scenes having something hilarious going on in the background. As parodies of umpteen disaster movies, they also expertly nail all the clichés. The sequel reprises most of the cast and is even better with a great comedic turn by William Shatner as Buck Murdoch.

Stir Crazy (1980)

Skip Donohue (Gene Wilder) and Harry Monroe (Richard Pryor) are two out-of-work friends who, after being fired from their jobs in New York, head for Hollywood. En route, they are wrongly convicted of a bank robbery and end up in the slammer from where they plan to escape during a prison rodeo.

This is the second movie of four starring both Wilder and Pryor and their best I reckon, with the interaction and chemistry between the two serving up much of the comedy as they adjust to prison life, a corrupt warden and a collection of motley inmates.

Trading Places (1983)

The uber rich Duke brothers hatch a social experiment plot to see if they can turn their managing director, Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), to a life of crime and poverty whilst at the same time taking a poor street hustler, Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy), and making him a successful and rich commodities broker.

This is my most favourite comedy film of the 80’s and I’ve watched it so many times that, like most of my favourite movies, can pretty much quote the whole thing. It’s not just the sharp script, witty dialogue and comedy timing between the stellar cast but also the fab soundtrack that veers between classical music (The Marriage Of Figaro) and funk. The trading parts are also great and you’ll never look at OJ futures in the same way again.

Police Academy (1984)

When the doors are thrown open to let anyone become a cop, a group of misfits join the Police Academy and are assigned to D Squad, (the D stands for Dirtbags). With the Chief lamenting that when he joined the force “every cadet was the right weight, the right height, the right colour and they all had johnsons”, the academy staff do their best to force the cadets to quit.

Forget the rubbish sequels after part 2, the original is still the best and a damn funny movie. With so many diverse characters, everyone will have their favourites (mine’s Tackleberry!) with most of the laughs derived from the pranks played by D Squad on Lieutenant Harris and his two cadet stooges.

Ruthless People (1986)

Sleazy millionaire Sam Stone plans to murder his wife Barbara but before he can execute his dastardly plan, Barbara is kidnapped and a ransom demanded. Unwilling to pay the ransom and with the hapless but kindly kidnappers prone to drop the price so they can get rid of Barbara, Sam’s mistress and her lover soon become embroiled in the plot along with the Chief of Police who unwittingly finds himself the star of an amateur video.

This is a hilarious, often overlooked film full of back-stabbing double-dealing charlatans all held together by the wonderful performance of Danny DeVito as Sam Stone. The humour is derived from the plot rather than the script with everyone out to scam everyone else which doesn’t always work out well for the kidnappers who are about as ruthless as a rubber duck.

Three Amigos (1986)

Dusty Bottoms (Chevy Chase), Lucky Day (Steve Martin) and Ned Nederlander (Martin Short) are the Amigos, three stars of the silent screen who in the movies always end up beating the bad guys and saving the village folk. When real life villain El Guapo (Alfonso Arau) takes over a small Mexican town, one of the residents sends a telegram to the Amigos asking for help. The Amigos, thinking it’s a lucrative new movie opportunity accept and unwittingly take on El Guapo and his gang.

A gloriously silly movie with a cast at the peak of their game. There are plenty of absurd moments and despite the different personalities of the Amigos, they’re all equally clueless when it comes to dealing with real life villains.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

Uptight marketing executive Neil Page (Steve Martin) is in New York on a business trip and trying his best to get home to Chicago on the eve of Thanksgiving. Reluctantly teaming up with nice guy Del Griffith (John Candy), a travelling shower curtain ring salesman with annoying habits, after the flight and then the train to Chicago is cancelled, the two set off to try and get Neil home in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

A wonderful comedy about two guys who really don’t get on but learn to muddle through together. Although this is a comedy, it’s equal parts road movie and buddy movie with an ending that hits all the right notes. I reckon both Steve Martin and John Candy have never bettered their roles here and it’s tragic that a decent DVD with all the alleged hours of deleted scenes has never been released.

Coming To America (1988)

Prince Akeem Joffer (Eddie Murphy), together with his best friend Semmi (Arsenio Hall) heads to America to find his bride. Determined to find a woman who loves him for who he is rather than what he is, the two pretend to be a poor foreign students and take up a low paid job in a local burger bar where the Prince falls in love with the daughter of the proprieter.

This is a marvellously funny movie with both Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall playing several other comedy characters. The laughs are based mainly around the Prince and his best friend as they do their best to fit in with the locals including a slum landlord, jealous boyfriend and a trio of barbers who love nothing more than talking about boxing. There’s a wonderful cameo scene as Prince Akeem helps a couple of tramps who turn out to be two down-on-their luck commodities brokers.

The Naked Gun (1988)

Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) of Police Squad is tasked with investigating a drugs bust that went wrong and put his friend (OJ Simpson) in hospital. The trail leads to the sinister Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalbán) and his glamorous assistant Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley). Meanwhile Police Squad are put in charge of security for a visit by Queen Elizabeth II and it’s not long before Drebin puts the two together to foil an assassination attempt.

Nobody does deadpan better than Leslie Nielsen and this is a fitfully funny movie that, like Airplane!, is just stuffed with rapid fire slapstick. A lot of the gags are lifted from the series Police Squad upon which the movie is based (and also starred Leslie Nielsen) but this no bad thing, especially since the series never got a huge airing, at least here in the UK. If you like Airplane! this is a must see and if you haven’t, this is even more of a must see.

The Burbs (1989)

Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks) lives in a normal suburb with his wife and kids and whilst mooching around the house on vacation, begins to obsess about who his strange new neighbours, the Klopeks, really are. Enlisting the help of his other neighbours, the paranoid Art Weingartner (Rick Ducommun) and military enthusiast Mark Rumsfield (Bruce Dern), the trio begin to spy on the Klopeks in an attempt to discover what is really going on in their house.

A perfect example of a film that is just wildly entertaining, I never tire of watching The Burbs. The humour is very much situation driven and what makes this funny is that you recognise the characters in the neighbourhood and the seemingly humdrum day-to-day life of the residents which is nothing out of the ordinary meaning they just can’t help poking their noses into the Klopecs business.

Mini Movie Review: RoboCop (2014)

Sunday 8 June 2014 @ 8:45 am

A remake of the magnificent 1987 movie, this is a similar to the original. Detective Alex Murphy is nearly killed by a car bomb and chosen for the RoboCop program that transplants his remains into a cybernetic suit. Battling with the total loss of his body (Murphy’s head throat and lungs are the only thing that survive), his emotions towards his wife and son and striving to better more efficient fully mechanical robots, Murphy sets off to take down the drug kingpin who planted the car bomb.

Occasionally, there are films that are much better than the original. This isn’t one of them. The big, big, big problem with the remake is that Murphy doesn’t resemble or act like a robot. He can run, wears black body armour, uses a normal gun and moves like a regular human. The story places too much emphasis on political shenanigans and doesn’t show off enough of RoboCop’s supposedly superior abilities.

The suit is too sleek and not bulky or mechanical enough. There’s hardly any technology on show and it just makes Murphy look like a regular skinny white dude wearing a SWAT uniform. Sure, a large part of the story has always been about RoboCop finding his humanity but the film overdoes it to the extent that you feel Murphy never even becomes a robot.

Plus, this wishy-washy remake has none of the humour, tongue-in-cheek violence, smart scripted dialogue or funny adverts of the original. Even the ED209’s look weedy and far less menacing than the original. A real wasted opportunity then, stick with the original (and even the sequel) which is by far the better film.

Score: 2/5