Tag Archives: 2017

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017) Review

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The Hitman's Bodyguard

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Ryan Reynolds as Michael Bryce
Samuel L. Jackson as Darius Kincaid
Gary Oldman as Vladislav Dukhovich
Salma Hayek as Sonia Kincaid
Élodie Yung as Amelia Roussel
Joaquim de Almeida as Jean Foucher
Kirsty Mitchell as Rebecca Harr
Richard E. Grant as Mr. Seifert
Director: Patrick Hughes

Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), a protection agent, is tasked with protecting Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), one of the world’s most famous assassins. The two must then set aside their differences to tackle several dangerous events.

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I heard about The Hitman’s Bodyguard when it came out, an action comedy with the pairing of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in the lead roles. I didn’t watch it when it came out, it looked fun enough despite the mixed reviews, but it wasn’t something I was actively pursuing to watch. However with it getting a sequel this year, I decided I should probably get around to it. The Hitman’s Bodyguard was about what I expected it to be, it’s not that good and it’s a little generic but I had fun with it.

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The plot doesn’t really have much to it. I didn’t care much about what was happening, but it was simple enough and not overly convoluted. It’s also not particularly original, two people who have a lot of differences between them are stuck with each other but put their differences aside by the end. It’s very similar to the plots of other buddy action comedies. It’s very familiar, by the numbers and predictable but it’s still quite enjoyable. The movie does exceed when it’s the two characters getting in shenanigans, more so than its actual generic plot. The writing can be funny. Not all of it worked and for the most part I didn’t find it to be laugh out hilarious or anything, but the comedy was alright. One unexpected issue was that tonally, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a bit inconsistent. It has the goofiness as expected but also has its fair share of tonal shifts into dark moments and plays some scenes a hair too seriously. I’m not saying the mix of the two can’t work, but they certainly don’t pull it off in this movie. It probably would’ve been better leaning into the silliness. Finally, the movie does run on for too long. It’s around 2 hours long and you do feel that length, and the inconsistent pacing doesn’t help matters.

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The main draw of the film is Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in the lead roles, it’s what most people who watch the movie are here for, and thankfully they deliver. The movie plays into the personalities that each lead has cultivated over their careers, and it certainly felt like each of them were playing themselves. The two of them are funny, have good chemistry and play off each other well. However I do feel like the writing wasn’t quite all there to utilise them the best and it could’ve been a bit better. The rest of the supporting cast are fine but they all feel wasted in a way. In fact, when it’s not focusing on the two leads, the majority of the characters are just sitting down and waiting for stuff to happen. Gary Oldman plays a generic dictator villain, and all he does is just sit down looking menacing and giving out orders to kill Samuel L. Jackson’s character. Salma Hayek is a standout in her scenes as Samuel L. Jackson’s character’s wife, but generally she spends much of the movie just in a prison cell and doesn’t do anything really. Elodie Yung is a disgruntled former lover of Reynolds’s character and doesn’t do a massive amount in the plot outside of waiting for Ryan Reynolds to show up at the final location with Samuel L. Jackson.

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Patrick Hughes is the director of The Hitman’s Bodyguard, and initially I was sceptical going in since his last movie was The Expendables 3, which I found to be quite lacklustre. I will say however that the action here is definitely better than the action in Expendables 3, if only because it doesn’t feel forcibly toned down to get a PG-13 rating. The fight scenes are pretty decent and overall, the action is fun and entertainingly dumb, if nothing unique or special. However, some aspects take away from them. It has a little too many cuts and edits, the visual effects aren’t that great, and the scenes weren’t shot the best. I previously mentioned about the tonal inconsistencies and that especially is the case when it comes to the action scenes, specifically the violence. The violence at times can be surprisingly graphic and bloody and even lingers on gruesome images, but there’s also some very silly and comedic action scenes. Again, gore aside, I think the issue is that some of those scenes are played a little too seriously that they feel out of place even if they are going for dark comedy.

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The Hitman’s Bodyguard was pretty much what I expected, a very flawed action comedy with some mildly entertaining action and the highlights being Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. Much of the plot is very generic and underwhelming, and even for a standard buddy action movie could’ve had more to it (or at least been a little more fun). However, the chemistry of the leads completely carry the movie. I’m just hoping that The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is better than the first movie.

Jigsaw (2017) Review

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Jigsaw

Time: 92 minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Torture & Sadistic Violence
Cast:
Matt Passmore as Logan Nelson
Callum Keith Rennie as Detective Halloran
Clé Bennett as Detective Keith Hunt
Hannah Emily Anderson as Eleanor Bonneville
Director: Peter Spierig, Michael Spierig

The police are at a dead end when investigating numerous ghastly murders in the city that resembles the work of a serial killer who is known to be dead since ten years.

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After the Saw movies concluded with the embarrassing Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, it seemed like that was it for the series. However, a Saw movie following on after that point was in development for some time, emerging as Jigsaw in 2017. With it being 7 years after the last film and seeming to have a fresh start without the convoluted storylines, Jigsaw might be what the years-dead franchise needed. It made for an enjoyable movie in the series, however manages to be a disappointment at the same time.

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Overall, the writing isn’t that good, the biggest problem of the movie really is the script. Compared to the past Saw movies, the plot is mostly simple. There are 5 people stuck in a Jigsaw game, and there’s police trying to figure it out as they discover dead bodies along the way. This time however, Jigsaw is meant to be dead, yet there’s evidence that he’s potentially still alive, including John Kramer’s voice on the tapes. This does add an intriguing element to the plot at least. With the 5 people in the game, it’s just same old trap stuff that you’ve seen in the past movies. You do get the feeling that it is sort of aware of stuff from the past movies, however it also doesn’t go all the way with the self awareness. Some of the stuff with the traps are far fetched, as in Jigsaw (or whoever is behind the traps) is going off the assumption that characters do certain things. There’s specifically one moment where a character says something about their past and later on there’s a pre-recorded Jigsaw tape that mentions that what this character previously mentioned. The investigation from the police is also pretty typical of similar plotlines from previous Saw movies. With that said, the mystery of what’s going on was a little intriguing, as evidence seemed to indicate that it really was Jigsaw behind this.

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The movie doesn’t really directly follow much from the last movie, don’t expect even references of Gordon, Hoffman, Amanda or Jill here (don’t expect Gordon to be the killer despite the ending of the last movie). In some ways, I can understand them abandoning stuff from the past movies, I don’t blame them especially after Saw 3D. With that said, it doesn’t really bring anything original to the table at the same time. It’s definitely not a reimagining of the series. Plotwise it does have more of the same story beats (the game and the cop side of it), and so it feels rather formulaic, generic and uninspired. Not that having similar plotlines is a bad thing, but they don’t even add their own unique spin on it. With that said, there are some decent aspects. The movie has some entertaining moments in both storylines, and the pacing was consistent if nothing else. Plotwise, the movie only gets really messy at the end when it has one of those famous Saw reveals. There is a certain point in the third act where you can probably figure out some aspects of the twist through process of elimination, however it’s not just that. I’ll do my best not to reveal much of the reveal. What I will say however is that it does to a degree mess with the timeline of the Saw movies and there are things that don’t make sense from character decisions to logistics and more. Not to mention that it does actually feel like multiple Saw twists put together. It’s not as undeserved as the Saw 3D ending reveal and there are aspects of it that I do like, but it does stick out to me as really not really working.

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As far as acting goes, rather average and unmemorable for the most part. The characters are passable enough, some are better than others. The group of 5 going through the Jigsaw game aren’t among the worst actors in the series but again weren’t particularly memorable save for maybe a couple. On the procedural storyline, there’s a detective named Halloran played by Callum Keith Rennie, and there’s a forensic team with Logan Nelson played by Matt Passamore, and Hannah Emily Anderson as Eleanor Bonneville. Of the new characters, Eleanor was by far the most interesting because she is fascinated by Jigsaw. That’s something we haven’t seen before from a Saw character across all 8 movies, and I’m honestly surprised that we hadn’t seen someone like her appear in any of these stories before. Sadly she’s only really a supporting character and doesn’t really do a whole lot in the movie. As for Tobin Bell as Jigsaw, all I can say is that he has a part in this movie. I won’t elaborate on that, but I really liked those parts involving him and even 7 years after the last film still performs this iconic horror movie character perfectly.

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The directors of Jigsaw are the Spierig Brothers (Peter and Michael), which was a big interest to me considering that they made Daybreakers and Predestination, both of which I really liked. Jigsaw is definitely a modern movie, and looks quite different from the past Saw movies. It doesn’t quite have the grimy look from the first 6 Saw movies but still is a good-looking movie (again looks better than Saw 3D). Most of the Jigsaw games have been held in bathrooms, houses, basements and warehouses, so I guess changing the setting to a farmhouse this time at least was something different. As to be expected from these movies, there are traps. The traps are pretty entertaining but looking at the traps in the series as a whole, most of these new ones are a little unmemorable. The one trap that was out of place was something involving laser cutters, and while a lot of the other Saw traps aren’t the most realistic, lasers seem to be a little out of place as it’s going into technology that doesn’t really exist. With those traps comes gore as to be expected. There’s a decent amount of gore but it’s unexpectedly a bit subdued. The gore itself is a mixture of practical and CGI, the CGI isn’t great but its at least better than 3D’s (not saying much). Charlie Clouser provides the score once again, and as usual his work adds a lot to the movie.

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Jigsaw has some good parts to it for sure, it’s directed well, it’s entertaining and it’s definitely better than some of the worse sequels, certainly way better than Saw 3D. With that said, you do wonder what the point of the movie is. While it does remove some aspects to make itself stand out from the past movies, it also falls back on familiar territory, it doesn’t really add anything new, and doesn’t do enough to make itself its own thing. It’s looking even worse with Spiral coming out in 2021, intended to reenergise the franchise, and this time to be a much more effective soft reboot. I’m not expecting Spiral to even reference this movie. With all that said, if you like the Saw movies, Jigsaw is worth a watch.

Wonder Woman (2017) Retrospective Review

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Time: 141 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] violence
Cast:
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Chris Pine as Steve Trevor
Danny Huston as General Erich Ludendorff
David Thewlis as Sir Patrick Morgan/Ares
Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta
Elena Anaya as Doctor Isabel Maru/Doctor Poison
Lucy Davis as Etta Candy
Saïd Taghmaoui as Sameer
Ewen Bremner as Charlie
Eugene Brave Rock as Chief
Director: Patty Jenkins

Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) of an all-female Amazonian race rescues US pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Upon learning of a war, she ventures into the world of men to stop Ares, the god of war, from destroying mankind.

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With Wonder Woman 1984 not too far away, I decided to check out the first Wonder Woman movie from the DCEU again. From my first viewing to my third viewing, my opinion on the movie jumped from considering it one of the best comic book movies, to just really liking it. So I needed to know for sure, and from watching it again, I think it’s still good.

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With this review, I get the freedom to talk more about spoilers freely, though there isn’t a huge amount to spoil. The plot isn’t unpredictable, and is pretty typical of that when it comes to origin stories or other fantasy stories that are similar. However, it is the first time we are seeing Wonder Woman in live action, and looking at it like that, it’s very well handled. I will admit that on repeat viewings when you know what’s happening, the pacing does feel a bit slow honestly, that’s what I felt the second and third times I watched it. Maybe it’s because 3 years since I last watched it, but I enjoyed it a little more this time, though it still has that problem. Wonder Woman does the whole fish out of water thing once Diana leaves Themyscira, which has been done many times, but the movie does make it entertaining to watch. The setting with World War 1 was fitting for this story, as well as refreshing as opposed to the commonly used World War 2. I do have some issues with the third act with the movie, and unlike most people, it’s to do with the story than the visuals or action. Much of the movie is Diana hunting down Ares, believing that he alone is the reason for everything bad that mankind is doing, particularly with the war. After killing Ludendorff (who she believes is Ares), she discovers that it doesn’t change anything, and that it seemed to be mankind doing it themselves. It is quite an effective moment and I liked the subversion. However later the real Ares shows himself and there’s a big battle between the two. I do like how he plants ideas for war rather than directly being the ones who starts the war. However, after the death of Ares, there’s a moment where everyone just stops fighting (including the German soldiers) and it just seemed to contradict the message and almost seemed to imply that it was Ares after all who caused it. Over time I have grown warmer on it, and took it as everyone reacting after watching literal gods battle to the death on such a large scale, though I guess they could’ve handled that aspect a little better. The strongest scene and probably most iconic scene is that of the No Man’s Land scene around halfway into the movie, on both a directing level and a story level, as well as a moment for Wonder Woman.

Gal Gadot straight up is Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, she embodies the character perfectly, and I like the arc she goes on throughout the story. Chris Pine is just as good as Steve Trevor, honestly Pine probably made this role even better. Gadot and Pine are among the best on screen pairing I’ve seen in any comic book movie, and they share great chemistry. Those two had by far the strongest characters. The rest of the characters range from average to decent, but were all performed well. Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright are really good as Diana’s mother and aunt respectively in the first act. The group of people that Diana and Steve team up with are okay but forgettable. Danny Huston and Elena Anaya made for some over the top yet entertaining villains. They aren’t great but they work alright for the story. David Thewlis is the secret villain Ares, who at first appears to be an ally. He really does play the scene well in which he reveals himself to Diana to be the God of War. With that said, he does get quite silly in the actual battle with over the top lines, though he’s still fun to watch.

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Patty Jenkins directs this movie very well. The action is quite good and feels very smooth, particularly with the stunts. It particularly portrays Wonder Woman’s power and abilities really well. If I could find a flaw in the action scenes, some of the slow-motion isn’t used as greatly as it could’ve, making it feel a little awkward at many points. So many people complain about the third act, especially with the use of the CGI. There are parts where it does get messy but I thought it was pretty enjoyable nonetheless. The score from Rupert Gregson-Williams was also great and elevates many of the scenes, especially with the action scenes.

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Wonder Woman is a solid comic book movie, and a really good Wonder Woman origin movie for audiences. It’s well directed, and the cast were really good, especially Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. There are some issues I have with it, and it doesn’t rank among my favourite comic book movies (or even favourite DC movies), but on the whole I still think it’s really good.

Justice League: Theatrical Cut (2017) Retrospective Review

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Justice League

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash
Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman
Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg
Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta
J. K. Simmons as Commissioner James Gordon
Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf
Amber Heard as Mera
Joe Morton as Silas Stone
Director Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon

Fuelled by his restored faith in humanity, and inspired by Superman’s (Henry Cavill) selfless act, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) enlists newfound ally Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) to face an even greater threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly-awakened enemy. Despite the formation of an unprecedented league of heroes in Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and the Flash (Ezra Miller), it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

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Note: Most of this review is written at a time when the Snyder Cut (or director’s cut) of Justice League wasn’t announced.

Justice League was my most anticipated film of 2017, and when I first watched it I was slightly disappointed at the results but I still enjoyed it. As time went by however, it really got worse, and I really needed a rewatch to be sure what my final thoughts on it were before I never see the movie again, it just took me a while to get around to that. Now I had been intending for this review to be released much later on but as it turns out, the Snyder Cut was announced to be coming in 2021, so there was no better time for my to release this review. The theatrical cut of Justice League isn’t one of the worst movies I’ve seen by any means, but it’s among the most crushingly disappointing ones, so much potential and talent cut down and thrown away, and the end product isn’t even fun in a so-bad-it’s-good way, it was just sad to think about.

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To get this out of the way, for those who don’t know, during production director Zack Snyder was replaced by Joss Whedon, who would be filming the reshoot. While it was being said that Whedon would be directing pretty much as Snyder for some additional scenes, it really turned out to be an attempt to completely reshape the movie, with some very bad results. The story itself on paper sounds fine but it needed a lot more fleshing out, the final product at best reads like a very rough first draft. There’s a lot here that was very clearly cut out, and indeed I get the impression that they cut down the movie to its simplest form and reshot some of the scenes that remained. There are some moments where the characters just deliver so much explanatory exposition about everything, their current states, their origins, what they have to do and the like, all of that they just briefly mention and never talk about again. It’s like they’re compensating for all the scenes they cut out basically delivering the same points. From what I can tell, the movie was going to be longer and explore each of the characters a lot more, and tell their stories in a more naturalistic and less rushed way. WB seemed to want to brighten up Justice League quite a bit, and you can feel that throughout, everything feels off. It’s not just that Justice League has problems, the final product is very bland, it’s not even that entertaining or interesting. From the beginning it is already pretty rough, from that opening cell phone footage of Superman, to the Batman scene that just felt really off, it wasn’t starting off so well. Now the opening credits sequence set to “Everybody Knows” was legitimately good, but after that it reverts back to being not so good. The rest of Justice League until the climax jumps between having good moments and bad moments, but over time the movie just gets worse. The movie also doesn’t flat out doesn’t address things set up from Batman v Superman, most notably the Knightmare sequence. Even people who were confused by the significance of that scene might’ve been willing to wait for Justice League would bring it all full circle and give an explanation… but that was never addressed here.

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I guess since I talked about the scenes that were removed, I should talk about the additional scenes that Joss Whedon inserted. Whedon seemed to want to add humour to everything, and it’s just unfortunate that the humour here is terrible. Fun fact, the first Batman scene where he uses a criminal to bait a Parademon, that was directed by Joss and was a somewhat okay directed scene. However, it was originally shot to be very comedic, and even WB had to come in and reign him in. Some of the dialogue and moments are so horrendous that I couldn’t believe it actually made it into the theatrical release. There is a scene with Martha Kent and Lois Lane, where Martha says that Clark called Lois the “thirstiest young woman he’s ever met”, somehow managing to be by far the worst line in the movie, and that’s saying a lot. There’s also a scene where Flash accidentally falls onto Diana’s breasts, and you know it’s a Whedon reshoot as it resembles that scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron where Mark Ruffalo falls on Scarlett Johansson in the same way. While I’m not a massive fan of Whedon, he’s done so much better in the past that it’s a little astounding that somehow almost everything new he added was bad. So many of the reshoots were also unnecessary. One was the first scene between Barry Allen and Bruce Wayne, that scene seemed to have largely played out the same way as the original, but for whatever reason at the end Barry starts going on this tangent about brunch or something, very clearly a reshoot so as to add a joke, and an unneeded one at that. Another instance was the random focusing on a Russian Family in the area the parademons are located (also the location of the climax), and I just have no idea why we kept seeing what was happening with them. It seemed like they were placed in the movie just so they could be there for The Flash and Superman to rescue on screen, but they really didn’t need to establish them this early on even if they wanted to do that.

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This movie has such a large and talented cast, and most of them managed to be misused. There is a lot to talk about with the characters and actors, so I’ll start with the supporting cast. J.K. Simmons was a great pick for Jim Gordon, while I would’ve liked to have seen more of him, he served his purpose well enough. Shame we’ll never see him reprise his role. Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth is also once again a delight, despite all the changes that happened in the movie, I had no problem with him or the way he was utilised. Billy Crudup makes a brief appearance as Barry Allen’s father, his scene with Ezra Miller’s Barry early on is legitimately good, and I hope Crudup returns for The Flash movie. Connie Nielson also reprised her role as Hippolyta, Diana’s mother in one of the better scenes of the movie, while she’s like in only two scenes at most she did pretty well. The rest of the supporting cast had issues though. Zack Snyder in both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman (the Ultimate Edition at least) made Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams, a prominent part of the plot. With all the cutting done here though, all she’s left to do is to be there for Superman to see her, so that he could stop being crazy. Justice League is the debut of Mera, played by Amber Heard. While she wasn’t going to have a big role, it seems that they cut down scenes with her. The end result didn’t give Mera the best impression. Thankfully Aquaman gave audiences a much better impression of her, and showcased her a lot better. Ciaran Hinds plays the villain of Steppenwolf and a lot of people really thought he was terrible. I actually ended up liking Steppenwolf more than most people, I don’t think he’s one of the worst comic book movie villains like a lot of people found him. However, he’s not that good of a character or villain either. The thing is, outside of some cliché villain lines and some horrible CGI, the individual scenes with him aren’t bad. The problem is that all the development and depth with him is just missing. Hinds prior to the movie talked about how Steppenwolf was different as a villain, and he had a certain way of playing him. It’s not surprise that after the movie was released, he was unsatisfied with the end product, particularly with how pretty much all of his backstory was removed. There is something I realised while watching Justice League for the first time. Unless you are at least aware of some comic book knowledge about Steppenwolf, Darkseid, the parademons and Apokalips, you have no idea what’s happening with them. Steppenwolf at one point in one of his speeches says “for Darkseid” but the general audience doesn’t know who that it, or even necessarily that he’s referring to a person and not a planet or whatever. For all the exposition that the reshoots dump out, they never really gave them a solid explanation outside of a vague description.

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I’ll talk about the League itself, from best to worst, in terms of who comes across the best. First of all Cyborg played by Ray Fisher was actually quite a surprise. Fisher added a lot with his performance, and the CGI on him didn’t distract too much (only occasionally). There was also his connection with his father Silas Stone, but it also seems like their scenes together were changed, maybe in an attempt to lighten the movie up. Like with a lot of the movie, he’s held back from much of his arc being removed from the movie. It’s a shame that I’m not sure if we’ll ever see him again on screen. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is also good, though at a lower level compared to her previous appearances. Jason Momoa’s Aquaman really doesn’t get much to do here, having some of the same problems as the rest of the league with their arcs not being fleshed out or their origins just briefly explained. I’m just glad that Momoa at least got his own movie to show off his potential. Ezra Miller is a very talented actor, but his Flash seemed to be really negatively affected by reshoots. Since Barry Allen seemed to be quite comedic for the movie to begin with, it seemed they leaned in heavy with this and made him even more hyper, comedic and over the top. As I said he did have a really good scene with Billy Crudup, and it was a genuinely heartfelt scene, so he can definitely work in the role. However for the most part, he’s reduced to just being the comedic relief, and I really hope his solo movie (if it ever gets released) shows him off a lot better.

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Now for the two of the League that fare the worst, Batman and Superman. Zack Snyder and Chris Terrio were going to take Batman in a less dark direction compared to Batman v Superman and they even said this. It didn’t seem enough, as the reshoots seemed to redo a lot of his original scenes. Even though he wasn’t going to be as dark as he was in BvS, apparently Batman in this movie was originally supposed to be on like a suicide mission, so they had a strong intention of where to take him. WB and/or Joss Whedon however didn’t just trim off some edginess or darkness, they flat out removed almost all of it. What we are left with is a Batman that is not dark at all. He’s not quite George Clooney Batman but he’s definitely in Val Kilmer territory, but actually he’s worse because even Kilmer’s version at least acknowledged that Bruce Wayne was quite a dark individual. Going from BvS to this, he just feels very off. Affleck in the Snyder footage looks like he’s playing his part fine enough. In the Whedon footage however, he either looks like Ben Affleck playing himself saying the lines or just looked really unhappy and doesn’t want to be there (which is very likely the case). Honestly the way he sometimes acts in some of the reshoots is like he’s acting in a Late Night Talk Show skit for Justice League, rather than the actual movie itself. It was a real shame that this would be the last time we’ll be seeing him as Batman.

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Henry Cavill’s Superman is really divisive but I really liked him in the previous films. Justice League’s Superman annoyed me even when I first watched it, and that’s still the case now. Now I should get something out of the way, my primary issues have got nothing to do with the CGI on Henry Cavill’s face. Honestly, I’d rather Snyder’s Superman with a weird CGI face than the Superman we got with the face looking fine. It’s pretty clear that WB removed almost all of Snyder’s footage of Superman, I’m pretty sure there’s like 2 scenes of Snyder’s Superman, and that’s not even including the two deleted scenes. This doesn’t just feel like an attempt at being like Christopher Reeve’s Superman, this flat out feels like a mockery of that version, being overly cartoonishly cheesy and silly. I know a lot of people thought his past two movies that he was stiff, but he felt more human and grounded in those movies. However, I didn’t like him here, he seemed so unnatural and forced, he seemed like what many haters of the Superman character think he’s like. Even the Superman on the Supergirl tv shows fared better. In short, he’s pretty much the Superman that some of the detractors of Snyder’s Superman wanted him to be, happy, quippy, with no conflict and with not much personality or character beyond that whatsoever. Also on a lesser but still disappointing note, when it comes to showcasing his powers, he doesn’t seem like he’s directed by Snyder, you don’t really feel the weight of his power, he comes across as a little more cartoonish. Last point about this Superman, at the end of the movie he pretty much saves everything. The whole thing about the League is that all of them are needed to come together. It seems that originally Superman would be the last necessary addition to the team that’s enough to stop Steppenwolf and save the world. However with this Superman, he probably would’ve been able to solve everything himself. This makes the tagline of one of the posters “You can’t save the world alone” rather silly looking back at it. Maybe the saddest part about all of this is that despite all the changes made to Superman here, it’s still not enough to get people on board with Cavill’s version, I’m not even sure if we’ll see his Superman on the big screen again in any format.

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You can blatantly see the differences between Zack Snyder’s direction and Joss Whedon’s direction on screen at many points. Some of the action was pretty good, but other aspects of the direction held it back a little. In terms of the best sequences, one of them was seeing the Amazons fight against Steppenwolf. Even though the Steppenwolf CGI looked iffy, it showed off both his power and the Amazons skills. Also the flashback showing mankind, Amazonians and Atlantians fighting against Steppenwolf, even though it was brief and no doubt cut a lot of things, was good to see. I did like seeing certain things on screen, like I liked the way they showed off The Flash with his speed.

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The CGI goes from looking actually pretty good, to looking so incredibly awful, the look of the movie was inconsistent. Even at its best, there was always something off, like they deliberately tried to brighten up the look of the movie. An example was the fight between the Justice League and Superman, the way the background looked and the windows particularly really did seem like it took place at night but they just brightened everything up. I would also bring up the moustache debacle with Henry Cavill but it’s been talked to death so I won’t bother. Its far from the film’s biggest problems. Despite some of the CGI not looking so good in the first two acts, it’s the third act where it takes a massive downgrade and looks downright ugly. There are glimpses from the trailers of the third act that made it into the movie, and they didn’t have this horrible red filter over everything, it only looked dark. If it the previous acts didn’t make Justice League a disaster, the climax certainly made it. It is worth noting that this is one of the most expensive movies ever made, that money didn’t seem to have gone to good use. The third act apparently was almost entirely reshot and looking at the results, it definitely looked that way. If they really wanted to have extensive reshoots, and changing pre-existing scenes, they should’ve moved the movie back many months, that way that would give them enough time to do all the reshoots and also have enough time to get the effects all under control. But alas, instead we get an incredibly rushed film. I was one of the only people leading up to its release rooting for Danny Elfman to deliver a good score for Justice League after replacing Junkie XL but I was completely disappointed in it. Even if the movie wouldn’t necessarily be made better by it, it could’ve at least elevated the movie but it’s so generic. Elfman when it came to his score talked about how he’s using John Williams’s Superman theme and his own theme for Batman, and they do make an appearance in the movie at brief moments. Unlike some people I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, the problem is that his score literally doesn’t have anything else to offer. It probably would’ve been better if he literally just took the score from his Batman and Donner’s Superman and just played it because at least they’d be more memorable than whatever he was trying to make here. It is worth noting that Elfman also straight up ripped off the theme of The Flash from the tv series The Flash on the CW, it’s so incredibly lazy. Also what Elfman did with Wonder Woman’s theme, especially in her introduction in the Bank scene, is absolutely atrocious. It’s like someone was parodying Wonder Woman and made some incredibly basic theme to somewhat resemble it.

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Now I think some people are wondering about how good the movie could be had it all been under Snyder. I’m of the mind that Snyder’s version would’ve been a lot better, but even a complete Joss Whedon Justice League movie would’ve been better than what we got here. You can feel this real laziness when it comes to some of the reshoots by Joss, and I feel like even he wasn’t satisfied with his work here. I’m not saying that everything Zack would’ve done with the movie would’ve been gold or anything. Originally this movie was going to be in two parts, but the first part would end by having Darkseid kill Lois and setting the chain of events in the Knightmare timeline, seemingly setting the stage for Part 2 to be something like Avengers: Endgame. While that idea is bold, it’s understandable why WB weren’t so hot on it, and Snyder and Terrio compromised for a straight forward Justice League, however one that was worldbuilding, expansive and epic. From the leaks and unfinished footage that we got, it would’ve at least been a lot more interesting. That said, now we know that the much desired Snyder Cut is coming to HBO Max. Not only will it be all from the original director, he’ll be releasing it much more of it, around 4 hours as opposed to the length that he’d no doubt have to cut it down to if the final theatrical cut was his. I won’t go into too much depth about what will be in this new version here, but essentially Zack and a post production crew will finish off his cut, and will shoot some additional scenes. Snyder had said that what made it into the theatrical cut was like 25% his, and that this new cut will be a completely different experience, and I don’t doubt that.

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The theatrical cut of Justice League is one of the most disappointing movies I have ever watched. It’s by no means one of the worst comic book movies ever made, but it is so incredibly lacklustre. However the Snyder Cut turns out, I don’t know if we’ll be getting any future Justice League movies, for a while at least, and it led to a number of negative things happening with the DCEU. Actors leaving, characters probably not going to appear again on screen again, and so many changes made. If anything can come from this, hopefully WB has learnt their lesson of not cutting and interfering, but then again that’s what I thought Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad would’ve taught them. I can’t even muster up any hate for this movie, it’s just disappointing and sad to watch and think about. With that being said, I don’t see the upcoming the Snyder Cut not being supremely better and at least make Zack Snyder’s DCEU trilogy feel complete and satisfying.

The Snowman (2017) Review

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, horror, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Michael Fassbender as Detective Harry Hole
Rebecca Ferguson as Katrine Bratt
Charlotte Gainsbourg as Rakel Fauke
Val Kilmer as Gert Rafto
J. K. Simmons as Arve Støp
Toby Jones as Investigator Svenson
Director: Tomas Alfredson

For Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender), the death of a young woman during the first snowfall of winter feels like anything but a routine homicide. His investigation leads him to “The Snowman Killer,” an elusive sociopath who continuously taunts Hole with cat-and-mouse games. As the vicious murders continue, Harry teams up with a brilliant recruit (Rebecca Fergusson) to try and lure the madman out of the shadows before he can strike again.

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I remember The Snowman being one of my most anticipated films of 2017, however upon its release, I heard it was utterly disastrously bad. I had been meaning to getting around to it sometime, and I remember watching it sometime the past year or so, and while I don’t hate it as much as other people, it wasn’t good. It is a complete mess, and not a very interesting or entertaining mess at that. Only some of the performances and the decent cinematography are holding the movie back from being a failure on every front.

The Snowman is based off a novel of the same name, I never read the book, but I’ve heard it is great and is probably not done justice in the movie. The Snowman has a bizarre feeling throughout, and not really the one intended. Much of the way things are played seriously come across as being unintentionally hilarious. For one, the lead character played by Michael Fassbender is named Harry Hole, which immediately opens up so many obvious jokes. Harry Hole was the name of the lead character in the book, however it was pronounced something like Harry Holy, so they could’ve either pronounced it that way or just changed it, but they didn’t. However, the name thing is just a minor issue in a movie full of major issues. The script itself wasn’t that good, its full of familiar serial killer and thriller tropes and doesn’t really do anything unique, but the story itself isn’t particularly interesting either. The first act had me on board, it wasn’t good but it was starting out, so I was willing to give it a chance. However, at the end of the first act, I began to realise that the plot hadn’t really started yet. It threw in a bunch of subplots with a bunch of random characters, and it became incredibly hard to follow anything that was going on. There is a subplot with Val Kilmer that the movie would randomly cut to, it’s only later that you learn why he’s somewhat important, but it’s really distracting when he seemingly has nothing to do with the plot and it kept focussing on him. Then there’s also a subplot with J.K. Simmons and I don’t remember why the movie spent so much time with him. The Snowman is also not very engaging, it’s just tedious to watch. The 2 hour runtime feels closer to 2 hours and 30 minutes. I will say that the experience is improved by doing literally anything while watching it, so if you have a computer or phone in front of you while watching, it’s an alright way of watching it. The third act is incredibly rushed, and if the movie hadn’t already gone to its lowest point, it certainly did by then. When the killer was revealed, it wasn’t necessarily something I predicted, but it was also something I didn’t really care for. By the time the reveal happened I had lost any shred of interest in the plot, but I’m not entirely certain that the character got any setup or hints suggesting that they would be the killer. It’s also worth noting that the director admitted that there was a short filming schedule and that 10 to 15% of the script remained unfilmed, leading to narrative problems when editing commenced. While I’m sure that the film would’ve retained much of its problems even with the extra footage, it definitely would’ve made the movie at least more comprehensible than how it turned out. At the end they even try to tease a possible sequel with Fassbender’s Hairy Hole (since there’s a book series featuring him, The Snowman is not just a one-off) which probably won’t happen.

This movie has such a great cast and doesn’t manage to use any of them to their fullest potential. Most of them aren’t bad and they are trying their best, however they aren’t great either. Michael Fassbender’s Harry Hole is disjointed, and I don’t mean that in a good way. His character is an alcoholic but there’s no real reason given as to why he is one. Everyone also keeps mentioning how he’s some kind of legendary detective, but we get nothing to see to really back it up. There’s no real defined character for him and he is all over the place, in that it feels like the writers didn’t know what to do with him. Fassbender played him as best as possible given what he had to work with, but needless to say this is far from his best work. Rebecca Ferguson is also the other lead in the movie and also does what she can, however she also doesn’t have much to work with and can only do so much. Charlotte Gainsbourg is pretty good as Hairy Hole’s ex-husband, but again there’s really only so much she could do in her role. The rest of the cast of characters seem out of place and pointless. J.K. Simmons is here playing some shady business tycoon, who I guess is one of the suspects or something (it’s hard to remember), but he doesn’t really add to anything. Not to mention he’s doing this random Scandinavian accent that really does nothing to help his performance at all. Toby Jones is also here for some reason, even though his character could be played by literally anyone. No one in the rest of the cast is really worth mentioning with the exception of one notable actor, and that is Val Kilmer in a supporting role as some detective that the film would cut to occasionally. Kilmer is not looking quite like himself, and it’s not from intentional makeup, he was actually suffering from a form of mouth cancer. That probably explains why his mouth is not moving that well and why there is terrible and out of sync dubbing, with someone’s voice that is clearly not his. Maybe he was put into the movie as like a favour but for his own sake it might’ve been better if they got someone else to play the role.

I like the director Tomas Alfredson, who also made Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Let the Right One In (the latter of which I haven’t seen yet). He’s clearly a more than capable director, yet for some reason parts of the direction just wasn’t working here. The cinematography by Dion Beebe is one of the best parts of the movie, it actually looks quite stunning, especially in the scenes taking place amongst a lot of snow. It does elevate the movie just a bit, so it’s not an ugly looking movie. The music choices were terrible, most of the score is fine if generic and uninspired. As for the non-score bits, there are some other songs that randomly make an appearance and don’t fit in at all with the movie. The editing in many of the scenes is terrible, the editing between the scenes is jarring and doesn’t fit together but even some scenes have been cut up very roughly. Many of the ‘tense’ scenes are just disjointed that they’re hard to get into.

The Snowman is such wasted potential, and I’m not sure how this movie ended up the misfire it was. At best it’s an average but good looking and passable thriller, at worst it’s a disastrous, laughable mess of a film, that shouldn’t have been approved for release. I guess it might be okay to watch if it’s on in the background as that’s what I did, and I didn’t hate it that way (I can only imagine what it was like seeing it in the cinema). However, if you are like a fan of the book or are genuinely looking forward to the movie, you’ll be disappointed with this movie. I don’t put this up to American adaptations ruining the book or whatever, after all David Fincher did well adapting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, another Swedish thriller. Hopefully, The Snowman will get the proper live action treatment that it deserves.

Taboo Season 1 (2017) Review

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Taboo Season 1

Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, sexual violence, offensive language & sex scenes
Cast:
Tom Hardy as James Keziah Delaney
Leo Bill as Benjamin Wilton
Jessie Buckley as Lorna Delaney
Oona Chaplin as Zilpha Geary
Stephen Graham as Atticus
Jefferson Hall as Thorne Geary
David Hayman as Brace
Edward Hogg as Michael Godfrey
Franka Potente as Helga von Hinten
Michael Kelly as Edgar Dumbarton
Tom Hollander as Dr George Cholmondeley
Marina Hands as Countess Musgrove
Jonathan Pryce as Sir Stuart Strange
Jason Watkins as Solomon Coop
Nicholas Woodeson as Robert Thoyt
Creator: Steven Knight, Tom Hardy and Chips Hardy

James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) returns to 1814 London after 10 years in Africa to discover that he has been left a mysterious legacy by his father. Driven to wage war on those who have wronged him, Delaney finds himself in a fact-off against the East India Company, whilst playing a dangerous game between two warring nations, Britain and America.

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I knew about Taboo for some years, I just knew it as some period tv show with Tom Hardy in the lead role, that’s it though. Having watched a number of Hardy’s movies recently however, I thought that it would be the best time to Taboo’s first and currently only season. I eventually got around to it and I’m glad I did. Taboo may have its fair share of issues, but I really liked what I saw from this season.

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One of the biggest comparisons that has been made with this show was to Peaky Blinders, a show that Steven Knight also wrote and created. Both are period crime dramas that star Tom Hardy, but make no mistake, they are very different shows. While Peaky Blinders had its slower moments, it was much more entertaining, flashy and fast placed. Taboo is much more of a slow burn, and that’s probably the main thing that will turn some people off the show. If you intend on watching through all of Taboo going in, I highly recommend watching multiple episodes in each sitting. If you say only watch one episode a day, it more than likely feel like a drag to get through it all. I watched about 2-3 episodes a day and that worked for me. I won’t deny that it was quite slow to begin with, but the further you get into it, the more invested you become and the better it becomes. The second half in particular is better, with the last two episodes standing out the most. While the pacing doesn’t necessarily pick up, the plotlines become more interesting, it’s just that to begin with you’re not as into it just yet. There are 8 episodes in the first season of Taboo, each being an hour long, and I thought that was about the right length for this season. This show also is a little weird, mainly is that there is an element of magic when it comes to Tom Hardy’s character that’s quite present throughout the show, and he even has some visions at times. It doesn’t bother me particularly, but I thought it was worth pointing out, especially with such a gritty show like this that it’s a little stranger than it initially looks.

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Tom Hardy is front and centre for the vast majority, and Taboo is very much his show, in fact he’s the main reason most people even checked this show out. Hardy is reliant as an actor, and his work in this show is no exception. As protagonist James Delaney, Hardy has immense screen presence. Sure Delaney is yet another broody TV anti hero, cunning, ruthless and with a lot of issues, but he works exceptionally well for this show, mainly because of Tom Hardy’s work, especially with the fact that he actually is one of the creators of the show alongside his father and Steven Knight. While Hardy is fantastic as usual, the supporting cast deserve to be noted as well, even if some get more chances to shine than others. Among the highlights were Jessie Buckley, David Hayman, Michael Kelly, Tom Hollander and Jonathan Pryce. Additionally, you have Stephen Graham and Mark Gattis who also work in their roles. The only character I thought was a little mishandled was that of James’s half-sister/lover played by Oona Chaplin, whose story arc was a little half baked and felt like a weak link compared to the rest of the storylines.

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Taboo is directed very well, with the first half by Kristoffer Nyholm and the second half by Anders Engstrom. The period of the 1810s is very well portrayed, from the costumes, the production design, all of it works, also excellently showcased through the cinematography by Mark Patten. Much of the show looks very muddy, grimy and dirty, and that perfectly is in line with the tone of the show. The show doesn’t feature that many scenes of violence (at least compared to the likes of Peaky Blinders), but the violence that occurs can be very brutal and gruesome, so it’s not really a show for the faint of heart. One other technical aspect of the show that is well worth noting is the great score by Max Richter, his themes really added a lot to the show and made already good scenes significantly better. It’s not surprising given that Richter is a really good composer, but this probably ranks among my favourite works of his.

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Taboo isn’t a show for everyone, it is slow, it is gruesome, it gets weird, it takes a while to really come into its own, and not everyone can really get into it. However, if you like dark movies/shows, or even if you just like Tom Hardy, I reckon that it’s worth checking out, at least watch the first 4 episodes. I have no idea whether Taboo is getting another season (with Steven Knight intending this to be a 3 season long series), apparently it is happening but for whatever reason it’s taking a very long time for it to release. As someone who liked the first season, I really want to see it happen. From the point that season 1 ended, it feels like the story of the show has only just started and I want to see where Knight is intending to take this story.

Happy Death Day (2017) Review

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Horror themes, violence, sexual references and coarse language
Cast:
Jessica Rothe as Theresa “Tree” Gelbman
Israel Broussard as Carter Davis
Ruby Modine as Lori Spengler
Director: Christopher Landon

Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) is a blissfully self-centered collegian who wakes up on her birthday in the bed of a student named Carter (Israel Broussard). As the morning goes on, Tree gets the eerie feeling that she’s experienced the events of this day before. When a masked killer suddenly takes her life in a brutal attack, she once again magically wakes up in Carter’s dorm room unharmed. Now, the frightened young woman must relive the same day over and over until she figures out who murdered her.

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Happy Death Day was a movie I heard about for a while, I saw that it involved a masked killer and some time looping premise. However I just had no interest in it, so I never checked it out, or even looked into the reactions until recently. It turns out it was quite the surprise hit, and even successful enough to get a sequel released this year. So I decided to check out the first movie to see what all the fuss was about and I was surprised at how much I liked it.

Happy Death Day may have a familiar premise with the likes of Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow being about the main character reliving the same day again and again, but I’ve never actually seen it given to a horror movie (I could be wrong). The movie at least seems pretty self aware about how familiar the premise is, and it certainly helps that the movie is partially a comedy on top of it being a horror. Once the first loop happens, that’s when the movie really picks up and becomes quite entertaining, especially when our lead character tries to figure out who keeps killing her in every loop. The movie has some effective comedy throughout, especially when it comes to the time loops. Some of the twists are a little predictable, although mostly manages to stay away from being completely obvious so you are still on board with the story. One of the major twists towards the end however is something you can figure out pretty early on. The runtime is just over an hour and a half and that was a pretty good length, as I said after the first loop, that’s when it really picks up.

Part of what makes this movie so well was Jessica Rothe as the lead character, she played her part very well. She does well at conveying the horror that her character feels, but was also very effective at pulling off the comedy, really showing off quite a large range of emotions. There’s nothing to really say about the rest of the cast, they’re fine but generally they’re at the level of acting in most slasher/horror movies.

I’ve not watched any of Christopher Landon’s movies prior to this but his work here is pretty good. The movie never felt scary, horror movies in general don’t scare me and I know this movie is a bit of a comedy as well, but if it at any point was intending to be genuinely scary, I wasn’t creeped out at all. Most of the horror seems to come from the killer, and while that mask I guess looks a little creepy, it doesn’t really produce any real effective scares (however it’s a pretty simple yet memorable mask). Still, the killer was effective enough, and the kills were good for PG-13 standards, without feeling edited down heavily to fit the rating to get more people to see it in the cinema.

Happy Death Day was a lot better than I thought it would be. It’s not one of the best horror movies to come out in recent years or anything like that, but it’s an entertaining horror flick nonetheless, and I was pleasantly surprised at what we got. With the sequel Happy Death Day 2U released, I might need to get around to watching that as well, even though I’m not sure the sequel is really needed.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Retrospective Review

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Vin Diesel as the voice of Baby Groot
Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket
Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Pom Klementieff as Mantis
Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha
Chris Sullivan as Taserface
Sean Gunn as Kraglin
Sylvester Stallone as Stakar Ogord/Starhawk
Kurt Russell as Ego
Director: James Gunn

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his fellow Guardians are hired by a powerful alien race, the Sovereign, to protect their precious batteries from invaders. When it is discovered that Rocket has stolen the items they were sent to guard, the Sovereign dispatch their armada to search for vengeance. As the Guardians try to escape, the mystery of Peter’s parentage is revealed.

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In the lead up to Avengers: Endgame, there were a few movies I wanted to rewatch beforehand. The first was The Incredible Hulk, which I reviewed very recently. The other two were Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Captain America: Civil War. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was a movie I was mixed about when I first saw it, while the second movie had some of the things that made the first movie so good, it felt like some things were missing and it just didn’t work for me. However, I decided to give it another go so that I was sure how I felt about it, and I’m glad to say that after my second viewing, I like the movie a lot more now.

As this is a retrospective review, I will be going into some spoilers throughout the movie, so if you haven’t seen the movie you should probably watch it first before reading this. I think probably the most jarring part that might’ve prevented me from liking the movie as much as I could’ve when I first watched it was that it wasn’t as fast paced and action packed as the first one, it’s a very different kind of movie. Most of the movie is most of the Guardians of the Galaxy (aside from Rocket and Yondu who have their own plotline elsewhere) on planet Ego, so for a large portion of the movie, not much is happening plotwise. It seemed to be much more focussed on characters, and in that it did rather well, even if it took me 2 viewings to appreciate it. The movie is about family, when it came to Peter and Ego, Peter and Yondu, Gamora and Nebula, and so on. It’s by no means anything original, even when it comes to comic book movies, but still they pulled it off rather well. The jokes worked a lot better for me this time too. One of the main criticisms of the MCU is that some of the jokes can take away from the dramatic and emotional impactful scenes, and I regarded this movie in my original review as suffering from that heavily. On a second viewing however, I found that it doesn’t take away as much as I thought it did. With that said, I I feel like it really only is effective on an emotional level at the end of the movie. I still consider the Yondu death scene one of the highlight MCU scenes, very well executed, the final moments on the whole were really well handled. With a lot of the other MCU movies building up to Infinity War and setting up things, it is nice seeing an instalment that’s working as its own story first and buildup second.

The cast generally did well, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and the rest all do commendable jobs in their roles. Dave Bautista’s Drax in this movie wasn’t as bad as I remembered him being. I remembered him as being such a laugh machine (as in he would laugh a ton) compared to the first movie, and was just really distracting and annoying. While it’s still kind of true, I didn’t mind him as much now. Baby Groot from the trailers look like they were going to overuse him to an annoying amount and rely on him too much, but they utilise him well and don’t overdo it. Michael Rooker’s Yondu got to shine a lot more here and he was paired with Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Racoon for a large amount of the film, the two of them played off each other very well. Karen Gillan’s Nebula also has her storyline with Saldana’s Gamora, which further developed both characters and their relationship. The newer additions were also good. Mantis (played by Pom Klementieff) unfortunately in both this movie and Infinity War hasn’t been utilised a lot (I’m unfamiliar with the character from the comics), but still she was a nice addition to the group. Kurt Russell was great as Star Lord’s father, Ego, the secret main villain of the movie. In my original review, I mentioned that his character kind of goes downhill after he’s revealed and becomes a typical big CGI villain that needs to be dealt with (or I implied it at least, with it being a non-spoiler review). While he’s not as strong (as in interesting) in the third act, seeing the movie again he still works reasonably well. Sylvester Stallone also appears here, and while the idea of him in a Guardians of the Galaxy movie sounded fantastic, he appears for like two scenes, with the first just being to deliver a bunch of exposition about Yondu. Unless he reappears in the sequel, I’m not exactly sure why he’s here (unless it was only just meant to be a cameo). The characters who suffer the most no doubt were The Sovereign. You see them at the beginning as the Guardians try to escape them after Rocket stole some of their batteries and then at the end when they track them down when they’re facing off against Ego. It’s like they’re only in this movie so that Rocket could steal something that would eventually be used in the climax. When they do show up at the end, they don’t pose really any threat against the Guardians. I guess it wouldn’t feel as bad if a talented person like Elizabeth Debicki wasn’t in the role of the leader of the Sovereign, she really isn’t given anything to do here. Hopefully they get a chance to actually do something in the third movie, one of the credits scenes at least implies that they’ll play a part in the sequel.

James Gunn directed the movie as well as he did with the previous movie. This movie is visually stunning, it really is one of the best looking movies in the MCU. While there weren’t as many action sequences as in the previous movie, they are fast paced and very entertaining. Probably my favourite of these scenes are when Yondu and Rocket are taking back the ship from the mutineers and Yondu’s arrow is flying all around the ship killing people, so well edited and put together (and plus the use of Come a Little Closer by Jay & the Americans helped quite a bit. I loved the soundtrack from the first movie, however the music picks for the second movie are taken to the next level. Brian Tyler’s score also shouldn’t be overlooked.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 worked a lot more for me when I saw it again. It’s a visually stunning and entertaining movie, while also having some very effective emotional bits to it. I still think that the first movie works better but I can appreciate the second movie, and consider it to be in the top 10 best MCU films so far.

Pottersville (2017) Review

Time: 84 Minutes
Age Rating:
Cast:
Michael Shannon as Maynard Greiger
Judy Greer as Parker
Ron Perlman as Sheriff Jack
Thomas Lennon as Brock Masterson
Christina Hendricks as Connie Greiger
Ian McShane as Bart
Director: Seth Henrikson

Maynard (Michael Shannon) is a beloved local businessman who is mistaken for the legendary Bigfoot during an inebriated romp through town in a makeshift gorilla costume. The sightings set off an international Bigfoot media spectacle and a windfall of tourism dollars for a simple American town hit by hard times.

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I saw Pottersville out of morbid curiosity when it came onto a Netflix. It seemed to be a movie that would never ever exist, like a Saturday Night Live skit or one of those fake trailers at the beginning of Tropic Thunder with a cast including Michael Shannon and Ron Perlman in a movie about Bigfoot which happens to be a light hearted comedic film set around Christmas time. Everything from the posters to the trailer seemed completely fake, but it turns out it is real, someone really made this movie. Having seen it, I have to say that it really caught me off guard by how much I had fun with it. Not that it’s a good movie, it’s far from that. But it was such a weird movie to watch and had such bizarre moments that I couldn’t help but enjoy the randomness.

All the plot synopsises may say that Pottersville is about Michael Shannon getting drunk, dressing up like a sasquatch and the town the next morning believes that Bigfoot is a thing. But what they don’t tell you is that in this movie, Michael Shannon gets drunk and dresses up because he found out that his wife played by Christina Hendricks is having an affair with Ron Perlman and they are both furries. And they are in a club of furries in the town. So that’s pretty much the plot. I found myself finding unintentional funny moments more hilarious than the intentionally funny moments. However, to be honest, I’m wondering whether the ‘unintentionally funny’ moments was actually meant to be funny. When you see Ron Perlman say how he’s a furry and how he’s proud of it, it makes you wonder how self aware the people working on the movie were. It’s not like a studio movie, and at times it feels like there was some actual passion put into it, so I honestly can’t tell. Whatever the case, it is rather entertaining. I won’t go into too much of the random moments for your benefit if you choose to watch it. Plotwise this movie isn’t very interesting, outside of some random aspects it’s a fairly generic ‘Christmas movie’ (even though this movie doesn’t really have much to do with Christmas). There are parts, especially in the middle of the movie, where it isn’t very entertaining and it feels like a basic generic family movie, so it’s not consistently entertaining. But looking back on the overall film, I just have this really positive feeling towards it.

This movie has an weirdly big cast, with big names like Michael Shannon, Judy Greer, Ian McShane, Ron Perlman and Christina Hendricks all part of it. As you can probably tell, they don’t do their finest work here, though they aren’t really that bad and are trying to a degree and at the same time they know what movie they are in. Out of all of the main cast I’d say that Christina Hendricks really doesn’t get to do much here, she’s more wasted than the others (not that she’s missing out on much). The standout here is Michael Shannon, because despite him being known for playing crazed, insane, and villainous characters, here he plays a good guy, and it’s weird, adorable or hilarious (or all three). Shannon doesn’t appear to be phoning it in and is trying to an extent. His involvement with the movie just made it more enjoyable.

At times the direction by Seth Henrikson is okay, at other times it is incredibly basic and straight to DVD. There’s nothing to really say about it, the direction is incredibly average but the majority of it isn’t particularly terrible by any means.

I wouldn’t call Pottersville a good movie but I’m questioning myself when I’m calling it a bad movie. I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the movie, because I did. It’s such a bizarre movie, made more bizarre by the bizarre plot, the bizarre choices and the bizarre amount of talent involved. It’s not completely unintentionally hilarious, it’s not quite the 2010’s equivalent of The Room, because some elements are okay (or generic) enough instead of being a complete disaster. But I still had a fun time when I watched it ironically. If you are morbidly curious in it, give it a watch when you can, but it might be a good idea to know what you’re in for beforehand.

Gerald’s Game (2017) Review

Time: 103 Minutes
Cast:
Carla Gugino as Jessie Burlingame
Bruce Greenwood as Gerald Burlingame
Chiara Aurelia as Young Jessie
Carel Struycken as “Moonlight Man”/Raymond Andrew Joubert
Henry Thomas as Tom
Kate Siegel as Sally
Director: Mike Flanagan

When a harmless game between a married couple in a remote retreat suddenly becomes a harrowing fight for survival, wife Jessie (Carla Gugino) must confront long-buried demons within her own mind – and possibly lurking in the shadows of her seemingly empty house.

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I had been hearing things about Netflix’s Gerald’s Game for a while. Mike Flanagan has been directing a lot of solid horror films with Oculus, Hush and Ouija: Origin of Evil, so naturally his involvement with the film immediately that had my interest. Add on top of that Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood and the fact that they are adapting a Stephen King book (that I’ve admittedly never read) and you’ve got some great stuff. And indeed, Gerald’s Game is a really effective movie, one that’s simple yet very effective.

It’s an adaptation of a story by Stephen King and once again I haven’t read it, but I heard that it’s not one of King’s finest work. That didn’t seem to stop Flanagan, however, how seemed to be able to make it one of the better Stephen King live action adaptations. On the whole, Gerald’s Game isn’t really scary to me, save for a few moments. It is more of a psychological thriller (for the most part at least) and is very captivating from start to finish. It’s pretty much focussed on our main character trying to escape, while going through some hallucinations (won’t go into detail about them because I didn’t know much and was surprised by some things). On the whole, it had my attention and was really effective. There are some faults with Gerald’s Game however. There is quite a lot of exposition in the movie, and there are lots of flashbacks showing the backstory of Gugino’s character which is necessary to the story and it ties into the present storyline but it does drag a little in terms of pacing. Then there’s the ending which I do have mixed feelings about, it’s not just too long, without spoiling anything it feels a little forced and doesn’t work with the rest of the movie at all. The movie is an hour and 43 minutes long and outside of the flashback and exposition scenes which does bring the pacing down, it works. However a shorter run time probably would’ve made it work much better.

A performance that didn’t and still doesn’t get enough praise is Carla Gugino here, who is great here. Much of Gerald’s Game is basically based around her being handcuffed to a bed and is relying on her to carry the movie and she absolutely delivers. Honestly she is one of the best parts of the movie, her character has to go through a lot. Bruce Greenwood was also good and deserves some praise as well as the husband of Gugino’s character of Jessie. So often Greenwood has been in very supporting roles (being quite a character actor), and while he is that again here, here he gets some chances to shine. Most of the movie is just focussed on these two, but other performances by a few people like Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel are decent enough as well.

Mike Flanagan knows how to direct horrors and thrillers well and he does it once again with Gerald’s Game. There are also some great used of shadows, lighting and colour at certain points. There is one scene in the third act which is particularly intense and without delving too deep into it, it’s very hard to watch. There is no music played throughout the entire movie and it really benefited from it.

Gerald’s Game is a pretty good movie, it’s an effective thriller with an excellent lead performance from Carla Gugino and Mike Flanagan’s great direction. It is however brought down a little by the overuse of exposition, a little too many flashbacks and the ending which doesn’t quite work. With all that said, it may end up being one of the better movies based on a Stephen King novel. If you like horror thrillers, Gerald’s Game might be what you want, give it a watch if you have Netflix.