Category Archives: Movie Review

Review: The Dark Tower (2017)

Stars: Matthew McConaugheyIdris ElbaTom TaylorDennis HaysbertJackie Earle Haley.

Director: Nikolaj Arcel

The plot:

Set in the current time but across different dimensions, The Dark Tower tells the story of young Jake (Tom Taylor) who has dreams of another world and a Dark Tower that preserves the worlds it overlooks.  Unfortunately he also sees “The Man in Black” (Matthew McConaugheywho seeks to destroy the tower and wreak havoc upon those worlds it protects.  More fortunately for Jake is that he sees “The Gunslinger” (Idris Elba), protector of the tower and a man seeking revenge upon the man in black for the death of his Father.  In the real world Jake isn’t taken too seriously, so much so that he is about to be taken away to a psychiatric facility to try to help with his delusions but Jake has other ideas.  He escapes to the other world and his adventure begins.

Collider

The cast:

There’s a good mix in terms of the cast. Idris Elba stands firm as the gunslinger as he battles with his demons and the unrelenting determination to avenge his Father’s death.  Initially a quite cold character, particularly towards Jake but this warms as time moves on and a more paternal persona emerges. Tom Taylor is likeable enough as the vision ridden Jake and I think the measure of any younger actor is that if they don’t grate on you they’re doing well and he didn’t grate on me.  There a very slimy and evil turn from the well chiselled Matthew McConaughey as the man in black.  He plays that role that every talented actor once to do at least once, the crazed and devilish bad guy and he was obviously enjoying his work here.  Possibly not a role he will be hugely remembered for against titles on his already impressive CV.  Vikings’ Katheryn Winnick makes a welcome if brief appearance as Jake’s mother and there’s an understated role for Jackie Earl Haley too.

The Verge

The film:

I think the tone of the film was lightened a little to ensure a 12 certificate in the UK and whilst the film did carry some dark overtones I feel the film suffered because of the need to reach a wider audience.  That said, the film is too bad.  Taken from Stephen King work it’s a fairly good crack at a “good versus evil” tale and offers misunderstood and troubled characters the film wants to tell you about.  It’s a little bit thin on the running time though and doesn’t really explore the characters in any great depth but there may be more with come in the stories to that will follow.  There’s some bright and panoramic views on show and a cracking stand-off between the Gunslinger and The Man in Black during the climax but then there’s a little bit of a cheesy science fiction ending that follows which is a bit frustrating.  The kind of ending you’d expect in a time travel episode of Family Guy.  The Dark Tower isn’t great by any means but it’s a decent bit of Sunday afternoon sci-fi to pass ninety minutes.  I’d hoped for a more grandiose spectacle but it wasn’t disappointing.

The verdict: 3.5/5 Stars – Not quite towering above the rest

The Dark Tower on IMDb

The Dark Tower Official Website

 

Review: Atomic Blonde (2017)

Stars: Charlize TheronJames McAvoyEddie MarsanJohn GoodmanToby JonesSofia Boutella.

Director: David Leitch

The plot:

Set in 1989, around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is sent to Berlin to investigate the murder of a fellow MI6 operative and to recover a list of double agents that has fallen into the wrong hands.  Given the contact name of David Percival (James McAvoy), Broughton is warned to trust nobody as she sets about her mission.  Thrown into the mix is “Spyglass” (Eddie Marsan), who brought the list to MI6 in return for a safe defection and titular blonde has her work cut out to complete her mission and stay alive.

IGN.com

The cast:

One of the few things that can be described as good in this movie is Charlize Theron she does her very best to hold the movie together but even that can’t save this movie from the disappointment that it is.   James McAvoy is just plain irritating throughout; he seems to consistently offer the same performance he does in a movie of this kind.  It’s a far cry from his excellent performance in last year’s Split.  It’s almost like Ewan McGregor turned the role down and he seems to be the go to guy in that event.  Toby Jones and John Goodman lend some assured supervisory performances and there is a nice appearance from Sofia Boutella as a French agent and love interest for Theron.

Odeon

The movie:

I really don’t know what this movie was trying to do.  Was it a nostalgia trip? Perhaps; the soundtrack would certainly suggest so and it is an excellent set of tracks to make up the movie’s theme but if you have to talk about the soundtrack more than the film itself then there’s a problem with the film.  I wouldn’t even say that it was a pleasant hark back to the cold war movies of the era when this movie is set despite it even lifting the plot directly from the first Mission Impossible film, there’s always a list isn’t there?  I noted in the opening credits that this was based on a graphic novel.  It was not something I had heard of but my blanket reasoning of not being able to compare movie to comic book that stands for Marvel movies for example applies here too.  The main problem is that Atomic Blonde was built up to be a big action hit for Charlize Theron and it just failed to raise its game.  It was tedious for long periods and the action sequences were really stretched apart.  They were violent when they did happen but by then I’d kind of lost interest.  As for the way the story unfolds it becomes a very contrived and frustrating tale that you just want to switch off.  The film also carries an underlying feeling that it was much cleverer than it was when it really was not even achieving a bog standard level within this genre.

The verdict: 2/5 Stars – Promised a lot. Delivered little. Very contrived.

Atomic Blonde on IMDb

Atomic Blonde Official Website

Review: Dunkirk (2017)

Stars: Tom HardyKenneth BranaghCillian Murphy

Director: Christopher Nolan

The plot:

I’m not sure I should really need to explain the premise to this story but in brief this is Christopher Nolan’s telling of one of the most significant events of the second world war.  Allied forces have been forced back and are surrounded upon the beach.  This film tells the story of how the combined efforts of the Royal Air Force and civilian boats managed to bring home as many of the trapped soldiers home as they could.

Iamag

The cast:

It’s an interesting one to talk about the cast.  I’ve listed Tom HardyKenneth Branagh and Cillian Murphy but in reality they are only small parts in a grand tale of heroics and bravery.  Perhaps I’m under valuing Hardy’s input but only to try to not take away too much from the rest of the cast.  Hardy and Murphy are well established in Nolan’s movies and, alongside Kenneth Branagh, they bring the big names to the movie to apply some familiarity to the cast list.  The support, not that they’re really just the support, is of an impressive standard and should be recognised equally in terms of Nolan’s direction.  The fear and sense of desperation shines through in a truly perilous fashion as these young men face their impending deaths or imprisonment whilst at the same time the bravery and valour shown by the rescuing forces goes a long way to showing how much the human spirit can achieve when used as a force for good.

Screen Rant

The film:

Dunkirk is excellent.  It’s a dark and harrowing tale from one of the darkest periods in European history.  Unlike Saving Private Ryan, for example, it does not resort to extremely graphic scenes to get its message across.  Nolan, instead, prefers to emphasise the very real element of peril and hopelessness of what confronts these soldiers.  This is matched by the optimism and dedication shown by saviours both airborne and sea-faring.   In particular the score presents a pounding back drop to the early events within the movie and moves into a more Vangelis-like moments of euphoria as scenes move towards the climax.  Nolan usually likes to make his films to run for a serious amount of time but here we’re at quite a shorter running time but it’s just about a perfect amount of time to tell the story he was trying to tell.  Visually it’s stunning, in particular the ariel photography is incredible.  Personally, it wasn’t quite up to the standard of a couple of war movies I hold in such high esteem, those being Full Metal Jacket and Platoon but those films are from a very different war and are completely different kinds of war films.  It’s definitely a film worth seeing, however, and it’s certainly a better choice than a lot of the mindless dirge to hit cinemas this summer.  You will still be able to hear the sound of those diving planes for some time to come after you’ve left the cinema.

The Verdict: 3.5/5 Stars – Well worth your time and money.

Dunkirk on IMDb

Dunkirk Official Website

Review: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Stars: Andy SerkisWoody HarrelsonSteve ZahnKarin KonovalAmiah Miller.

Director: Matt Reeves

The plot:

After an attack on their hideout amongst the woods, Caesar (Andy Serkis)offers a ruthless military Colonel a way to bring peace amongst humans and apes.  He returns, unharmed, the soldiers who survived the successful defence by the apes but rather than accept the offer, The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) attacks again and Caesar and his kind suffer terrible losses.  Caesar begins to feel the hate Koba felt towards the humans and orders the remaining apes to make for the desert whilst he seeks out The Colonel in a bid to end the war.  Caesar tries to carry out his mission alone but is joined by his closest allies and they pick up a human stray along their path to find the military base and The Colonel.

20th Century Fox

The cast:

What can you say about Andy Serkis?  He’s cornered this kind of role and the amount of work he must have to put in to these roles must be incredibly arduous.  The same goes for all the actors in Ape roles.  This must be one of the most and physically draining ways to play a part and they should be applauded for it.  Caesar still dominates the screen and only shares it when Woody Harrelson marks his arrival during a firefight.  Woody is the only one who gets close to the sort of presence Serkis’ Caesar has on-screen.  This was an ideal role for him and his manic portrayal of the determined Colonel serves the film exceptionally well.

Vox

The film:

This is certainly THE blockbuster of the season so far, for me, and I don’t see that changing as the summer goes on.  Even from the trailers you could tell that this was going to be something a bit special.  It’s certainly not your brain-dead blockbuster akin to a Transformer movie and it certainly doesn’t give off that smug aroma that many of the Marvel movies give.  It’s a well thought out, often poignant, often sad and very gritty movie.  For a large period of the film it’s almost a road movie as Caesar and his companions traverse difficult conditions to reach the military base.  Ultimately it’s about who would claim the planet for themselves and it’s a very tense journey to reach the conclusion.  Usually for me the effects are secondary to the film itself and that fact remains but this films is so good that to say that the effects match it stride for stride is the highest praise I can give.  It feels authentic throughout.

20th Century Fox

As I arrived early I plumped for the 3D showing.  I can’t really say whether that added anything to the movie but it rarely does.  What I will say is that the film itself was so immersive that anything the 3D brought to the film was not really a very striking effect.  This is very much the best film in this particular series of Apes movies and credit should go to the director for making this film work so well from start to finish.  If there’s anything to criticize it’s simply the running time of one hundred and forty minutes.  The film went slightly off pace in the middle period and probably about twenty minutes of film could have been kept for the DVD extras making it the perfect two hours but that’s a very small issue.

The Verdict: 4/5 Stars – Only the finest monkey business.

War for the Planet of the Apes on IMDb

Planet of the Apes Official Website

Review: Baby Driver (2017)

Stars: Ansel ElgortJon BernthalJon HammEiza GonzálezLily JamesKevin SpaceyJamie Foxx.

Director: Edgar Wright

The plot:

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is coerced into a number of bank jobs as the lightning fast getaway driver by Doc (Kevin Spacey). That is, until his debt is repaid in full.  (This debt is never fully explained)  Of course, being even with Doc by no mean says you’re out for good and you do not say no to Doc.  So Baby’s dreams of hitting the road with Debora (Lily James) have to go on hold as he teams up with Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Eiza González) and Bats (Jamie Foxx.) for that ‘one last job’ and then he can take off.

fandango.com

The cast:

This a well cast movie and you’d expect nothing less from Edgar Wright.  I was unfamiliar with Ansel Elgort but felt he was excellent as Baby.  He showed a good sense of vulnerability behind unmatched skills behind the wheel.  An easy to like character who develops into quite the determined individual as the stakes are raised. Jon Hamm was, again, very enjoyable as one half of the more empathetic pair towards Baby. He shows a nice brotherly warmth towards the hot-shot driver despite Bats’ constant taunting.  The interesting thing with Hamm’s character, much like Baby’s, is how he changes when tensions rise and blood is spilled.  Essentially Buddy is just out to fund the next nose bag with his better half Darling (Eiza González) who also shows an affection towards Baby but also towards big guns and having a great time with them!  

Destructoid

Jamie Foxx‘s character is the loose cannon in our mix.  He taunts Baby that one day he will have blood on his hands, not least because Bats doesn’t shy away from getting blood on his own hands.  Doc’s (Kevin Spacey) relationship with Baby is a little more complicated.  Spacey exudes his normal charm and wit throughout but always keeps you wondering about his loyalties.  Lily James appears as Debora and I wasn’t sure what to make of her.  At times she seemed a little flaky but she looked the part and her feelings for our anti-hero were clear so it’s all good.  Oh and Jon Bernthal appeared as well  but only very briefly and not in any kind of pivotal way.

Digital Trends

The film:

It’s a cracking movie.  It’s loud and exciting, sharp and clever.  As already indicated, the cast is very well-chosen and there’s an excellent chemistry between all the players and you get the feeling they enjoyed making the film as much as I enjoyed watching it.  As a big fan of car chase movies there was some excellent stunts and sequences included here.  I’d have liked to have known more about the debt Baby owed Doc as it wasn’t really explained but that’s only a minor complaint.  I saw one review call it the ‘coolest movie of the year’ and it’s certainly in that kind of mould, something a bit like the Scott Pilgrim movie, perhaps.  The soundtrack, naturally, is an eclectic dream.  The film is literally flooded with outstanding tracks from The Damned to The Commodores and this music really supports the film impeccably.  If you don’t get to the cinema much, this is a film worth making the effort for.  Original and different and never dull this will be up there in my movies of the year.

The verdict:

4/5 Stars: This is your killer movie.

Baby Driver on IMDb

Baby Driver Official Website

Review: The Mummy (2017)

Stars: Tom CruiseRussell CroweAnnabelle WallisSofia Boutella.

Director: Alex Kurtzman

The plot:

At the time of the second of the English crusades, Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) is mummified alive as punishment for murdering her Father when she sees what is rightfully hers transfer to his new-born son whom she also murders.  What she saw as a betrayal by her Father led her to tap into dark and demonic powers.  Once mummified she is taken thousands of miles from her Egyptian home and buried well below the surface in what is known in current times as Iraq.  Back in the modern-day and army officers Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) are seeking out hidden treasures to make their tours all that little bit more profitable.  When an airstrike unearths the ancient ruins of where Ahmanet was laid to rest Morton and Vail see dollar signs but they are soon hampered by the arrival of Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) who wants the find to be safely shipped back to London where Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) is waiting to investigate the find.  The trip back does not go well and soon Ahmanet is unleashed on the British public in search of her “chosen one” and will stop at nothing to reclaim what she believes is hers.

Universal Pictures

The cast:

I like Tom Cruise, let’s get that out of the way.  He does make well above average movies for the most part.  Unfortunately this is a very low point for Tom.  I was worried before I saw the film that this really didn’t strike me as a genre he had any history with and that it wasn’t a good fit for him.  He’s not the Indiana Jones type and he does not sit right in a Tomb Raider style movie.  If the rumours are to be believed that he had a lot of control over the movie then there’s only one place the finger can be pointed for any short comings the film suffers from.  To be fair, blame does not lay just at Tom Cruise’s door.  Russell Crowe, a great actor by any standards, really doesn’t do himself any favours here either.  There’s a part where he becomes manically possessed and starts hurling Tom Cruise around whilst giving his best impression on Ray Winstone on speed.  It’s just cringeworthy.  I’d hoped Annabelle Wallis might bring some respectability to the film, she’s obviously not incapable of playing a strong female role given her time on Peaky Blinders but here she is given the usual female supporting role you would expect and there’s not much she can do with it.  In contrast Sofia Boutella does make the film come alive at times but that isn’t really down to her acting but more the CGI effects the film offers up.  She really isn’t given the time and space she was offered in her very enjoyable role as Jaylah in Star Trek Beyond.

IndieWire

The film:

Put simply; this film is a disaster from start to finish.  It was dull and boring for large periods of time.  It was painfully unfunny when it tried to be.  Performances were well below par and as for the script and screenplay I’d have to ask if there was any script or screenplay written.  The story has plot holes galore and lots of key elements are left totally unexplained.  It’s just messy, lacks structure and it’s conclusion just leaves a heavy confirmation that you’ve just wasted two hours of your life.

The Verdict:

1/5 Stars – If this were a mission impossible movie I would have chosen not to accept it, Mr Phelps.

The Mummy on IMDb

The Mummy Official Website

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (UK title – 2017)

Stars: Johnny DeppJavier BardemGeoffrey RushBrenton ThwaitesKaya Scodelario.

Directors: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg

The plot:

Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) forms another unlikely alliance, this time with youngsters Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) and Will Turner’s son Henry (Brenton Thwaites).  They head in search of the trident of Poseidon.  Carina believes it will help her in her quest to find her Father’s identity, Henry hopes it will allow him to release his Father from the curse which holds him as Captain aboard the Flying Dutchman and Sparrow, well, he’s trying to evade falling into the hands of another crew of undead pirates led by Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) who seeks revenge for leaving them in their undead state some years previously.

Hindustan Times

The cast:

There isn’t really a lot to say with regard to the cast.  Johnny Depp provides his trademark Jack as does Geoffrey Rush as the returning Barbossa.  There’s some interesting introductions to both Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario.  After what I thought to be shaky starts for both I thought they settled down nicely, particularly Scodelario who grew into her role as the film progressed.  Thwaites was a good choice to take on the role of Will’s son.  He carried a sincere nature and gallantry you would expect from the offspring of Turner and Swan.  Of course, we know all about Javier Bardem and his now seemingly unshakeable bad guy image and nothing changes this here although, this being Disney, it’s all a little more tongue in cheek for the Pirates adventure.

Digital Spy

The film:

I enjoyed the film, it’s as simple as that really.  There’s nothing very new here, if at all.  It’s the usual mix of action, adventure and comedy you’ve come to expect from the series whilst still maintaining that darker edge of pirate curses although it does seem to get lighter with each instalment.   I found some of the CGI around Javier Bardem a little hard to accept and didn’t really help him appear all that menacing, quite the opposite but for the most part the effects and actions sequences were at the level the film should be aspiring to.  Some welcome returns, however brief, and a nice little cameo from a Beatle made for a satisfactory couple of hours without reaching the level of the very first movie but performs at least on a par with the best of the rest.  It will be interesting to see, with the introduction of new younger characters, where Pirates goes next.  It’s fair to say “No Jack, no Pirates” but is there maybe a plan that goes against that theory or, as is the way with Disney, can we expect some spin-off movies?  Time will tell but if they can maintain this satisfactory or better level of entertainment then you can count me in.

The Verdict:

3/5 Stars – Brings home the usual booty without the crown jewels.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge on IMDb

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge Official Website