Tag Archives: Andy Garcia

Black Rain (1989) Review

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Black Rain

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Michael Douglas as Nick Conklin
Andy García as Charlie Vincent
Ken Takakura as Masahiro Matsumoto
Kate Capshaw as Joyce
Yūsaku Matsuda as Koji Sato
Director: Ridley Scott

Nick (Michael Douglas) and his partner, Charlie (Andy Garcia), are New York City policemen who must track down Sato (Yusaku Matsuda), a Japanese gangster, who gives them the slip while being transported to Osaka for his murder trial.

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I came across Black Rain at some point, I initially heard that it was a decent crime thriller starring Michael Douglas. Then I found out that Ridley Scott directed it so that got me interested in checking it out. I was actually pleasantly surprised by Black Rain, it is actually one of Ridley Scott’s more underrated movies, and it’s one worth checking out.

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The plot of Black Rain is nothing too special despite some interesting turns here and there. Basically the main two characters must escort the dangerous Yakuza gangster to Osaka, Japan, they are dragged into the Japanese underworld where things are done much differently. Don’t go in expecting a whole lot other than that really. The dialogue is occasionally cliched for this genre, and the plot occasionally relies too much on the expected tropes of the genre. This is as 80s cheese as it could be, it can get silly and over the top at times. However Scott’s take on the “tough cop” action movies that were more than prominent throughout the 80s was a step above other cop thrillers in that period. It is probably worth knowing going in that Black Rain more of a straight thriller than a pure action flick, so don’t expect a massive amount of action. It is also paced on the slower side, and the movie is a tad too long. However it is a well structured movie with a great atmosphere, and that atmosphere goes a long way towards getting you invested.

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There are some strong performances throughout. First of all there is Michael Douglas as the lead character of Nick Conklin, and this is the closest that Michael Douglas has been to leading an action movie. He plays a NYPD officer who plays by his own rules and the character is in many ways unlikeable and corrupt. However it works because the movie doesn’t try to make him more likable, Douglas adds a level of charm to the character (while not overdoing it), and he brings an intensity to the role. Andy Garcia is also good as his partner Charlie, offsetting Nick’s chaotic nature by being comparatively soft spoken and the voice of reason, and the two of them are quite believable as partners. Ken Takakura is also great as a sympathetic Japanese policeman who joins with the two to track down the Yakuza gangster. He has a great screen presence, and he shines from the moment he first appears till the end of the movie. The relationship between Douglas and Takakura is the heart of the movie and it was quite interesting see these two very different characters try to work towards the same goal. Yusaku Matsuda plays a yakuza boss, the scene chewing villain of the movie, and he is also great in every scene he is in.

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Ridley Scott directs this, and his work here as a director is one of the main reasons why this movie works as well as it does. Strangely enough, it is so stylised that you might actually mistake this as a film from Tony Scott instead of one from Ridley. There’s an art to the cheesy 80s action flick, and Ridley seems to know it quite well. It is visually stunning, the cinematography from Jan De Bont is amazing. It particularly shines when it takes place at night. Ridley shoots much of the movie in the same way he did Blade Runner with the heavy focus on streets with fog and neon lights, and contains some of the dark cityscapes and industrial looks that film has as well. Black Rain isn’t loaded with non stop action, again it is more of a crime thriller than an action thriller. The few action sequences aren’t absolutely bonkers, but they are well executed, and you feel the thrills and suspense. Its use of slow motion is corny at times, but this actually works in the movie’s favour. The sound design is great, and the electronic and orchestral score by Hans Zimmer is top notch, really adding to the movie.

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Black Rain is not one of Ridley Scott’s best movies, but it is one of his most underrated. The plot isn’t anything special, but it is elevated by the strong cast who give good performances here, and of course Scott’s stylish direction. So if you like 80s crime thrillers, you’ll definitely be on board with this movie.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains sexual references
Cast:
Amanda Seyfried as Sophie Sheridan
Meryl Streep as Donna Sheridan
Lily James as Young Donna
Dominic Cooper as Sky
Christine Baranski as Tanya Chesham-Leigh
Jessica Keenan Wynn as Young Tanya
Julie Walters as Rosie Mulligan
Alexa Davies as Young Rosie
Pierce Brosnan as Sam Carmichael
Jeremy Irvine as Young Sam
Colin Firth as Harry Bright
Hugh Skinner as Young Harry
Stellan Skarsgård as Bill Anderson
Josh Dylan as Young Bill
Cher as Ruby Sheridan
Andy García as Fernando Cienfuegos
Director: Ol Parker

In 1979 young Donna (Lily James), Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn) and Rosie (Alexa Davies) graduate from Oxford University — leaving Donna free to embark on a series of adventures throughout Europe. On her journeys, she makes the acquaintances of Harry (Hugh Skinner), Bill (Josh Dylan) and Sam (Jeremy Irvine) — the latter whom she falls in love with, but he’s also the man who breaks her heart. In the present day, Donna’s pregnant daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), dreams of renovating a taverna while reuniting with her mother’s old friends and boyfriends on the Greek island of Kalokairi.

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I watched the original Mamma Mia about a week ago and although I was entertained by it, I wasn’t a particularly huge fan of it, I didn’t really consider it to be a good movie but I had fun with it. Honestly I didn’t know what to expect from Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, the pre-sequel to the first movie 10 years in the making. So I just expected a dumb and over the top with a bunch of great ABBA songs. However, it actually surprised me quite a lot. Basically all the issues I had with the first movie were fixed here, with a stronger story, better use of songs and some surprising emotion. And like the first movie it is really campy and entertaining.

Something that occurred to me over the course of my viewing was that it seemed that Mamma Mia 2 fixed all my problems with the first movie. First of all, Mamma Mia 2 has more of a story. The first movie felt really like talented actors doing drunk karaoke – ABBA edition. Mamma Mia 2 has much more of a plot, half of it focussing on Amanda Seyfried’s Sophie in present day and the other half on Lily James’s younger Donna in flashbacks. The first movie jammed a whole lot of ABBA songs into moments where they didn’t really need it, and almost felt like padding to extend the movie. With the sequel though, there are enough breathing moments and it didn’t feel like they were just shoving ABBA songs into the movie just for the sake of it and all the song segments seem to work appropriately for the story and movie. Whereas the first movie had some humour which didn’t really land (most of the comedy I found in that movie was unintentional), the sequel is genuinely funny. Last but not least, there are genuinely solid emotional scenes. I wasn’t emotional myself during the movie (most movies don’t really get me to be that way) but the emotional scenes were earned and were well done, and I’m not exaggerating when there were some people in the cinema that I was in that were legit crying in some scenes particularly near the end. The movie like the first is over the top and campy. If you were fine with how absolutely silly the first Mamma Mia was, you’ll have no problem with how silly the sequel can get. Whether it be some of the dialogue, the song transitions and segments, and just some of the goofy things that these characters do, for me it was just really fun to watch. I think I should also mention that you really shouldn’t expect much of Meryl Streep here. The film made a really weird decision considering that she was part of what made the first movie so successful. What I can say that it was a risky move that paid off in the end, the story did actually work well for it.

Most of the original cast returns with Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranaski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Dominmic Cooper. It is a little jarring how much older all of them are now (10 years older to be exact) but they are good. One of the highlights of the original movie was that everyone there looked like they loved being there and are having a good time, thankfully that’s the same with the sequel. The younger cast also do well, whether it be the younger Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters played by Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies, or whether it’s the younger Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard played by Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner and Josh Dylan respectively. They all feel like younger versions of the actors/characters. In terms of stands outs however, it’s really Lily James, she is really believable as a young Meryl/Donna and really leaves an impression. The other people in the cast is also pretty good. Cher is in the movie plays Streep’s mother and Seyfried’s grandmother and while she’s good, she really doesn’t end up living up to the hype that the movie was building her up to be, and no I’m not just referring to the trailers or the fact that they got Cher for the part. The problem is that despite the fact that she was built up from the very first scene, when she finally arrives, she doesn’t really do much or leave that much of an impact. It ultimately feels like they could’ve gotten any half decent singer and actress for the part and so in that aspect it felt a little underwhelming after all that build up (or they could’ve cut the character from the movie). With that said, Cher is good in the role. The singing is also generally good. Once again, the women do fare much better than the men, but the men were okay enough for the most part. And yes, Pierce Brosnan does do some singing in this movie but he is actually somewhat okay, then again most of his singing time is spent with dozens of other singers. The one moment when he did some singing on his own actually worked for the scene.

This first Mamma Mia was directed by Phyllida Lloyd, whereas the sequel is directed by Ol Parker, both movies are actually pretty well directed for what they are. Like with the original movie, Mamma Mia 2 takes advantage of its locations, it’s a really good looking movie. The song segments are all entertaining and wonderfully goofy when it needs to be. It’s also always great hearing ABBA songs.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again honestly surprised me, it was a little bit better than just being a dumb and goofy movie (though it very much is a dumb and goofy movie). It fixed the issues that I had with the first movie and I was able to enjoy the movie both ironically and unironically. Speaking as someone who was entertained by but wasn’t a massive fan of the first movie, I really think the second movie is a significant improvement. If you love the first movie and haven’t seen this one, you’ll definitely love the sequel, especially in a packed cinema. If you disliked the first movie, I highly doubt that the second movie would change things for you.

Max Steel (2016) Review

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Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Ben Winchell as Maxwell “Max” McGrath/Max Steel
Josh Brener as the voice of Steel
Ana Villafañe as Sofia Martinez
Andy García as Dr. Miles Edwards
Maria Bello as Molly McGrath
Mike Doyle as Jim McGrath
Billy Slaughter as Agent Murphy
Director: Stewart Hendler

When teenage Max McGrath (Ben Winchell) discovers his body can generate the universe’s most powerful energy, he must bond with the only being able to contain it – a mysterious techno-organic extra-terrestrial named Steel (Josh Brener). United as the superhero Max Steel, the two friends must combat an alien menace and unlock the secrets of their past.

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Max Steel is a superhero movie based off the action figure of the same name. The Max Steel figures also had a tv series a few years prior to the film’s release. I went into this knowing that this movie knowing it was going to be bad. I kind of regret doing that now. Max Steel is an awful movie, with a faulty story, medicore acting and poor direction. Everything with this movie overall is faulty. The film really isn’t enjoyable in any way. The movie is not even unintentionally entertaining, it’s just boring, generic and poorly done. There’s no reason to watch Max Steel.

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Honestly, I can’t even remember Max Steel’s story that well. The story is extremely generic and predictable but also boring. It’s like this film tries to imitate a lot of superhero movies but doesn’t know how to do it, it’s very messy. This movie’s pacing is very slow, it is 20 minutes before Max actually discovers his powers, and this is a 90 minute movie. Also, there was no reason to make this movie dark, it’s based off a toy, it’s like it’s trying to imitate dark superhero movies and it feels like it’s trying too hard. It is also impossible to care about what is going on. The characters, and the world aren’t given much depth and it’s not even entertaining to watch.

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The acting wasn’t that good either. Ben Winchell plays one of the most boring and generic characters I’ve seen. He is so bland and unlikable. To be fair, there’s not much for him to work with. There’s no real reason to like Max at all. He’s not likable, he’s not funny, there’s nothing to like about him. Equally bland is the love interest is Ana Villafane, and this romance was complete garbage, one of the worst romances I’ve seen in a movie. Maria Bello and Andy Garcia are fine in this movie. The villain (who is so recognisable when he comes on screen, the twist is not unexpected at all) is underdeveloped and generic. And then there’s Steel (voiced by Josh Brener), the little robot that Max teams up with. He was really annoying and not likable. Childish as well, which doesn’t fit with the dark tone the film tries to force.

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The cinematography was hit or miss. Sometimes it looked fine, other times it looked really bad, especially with the lighting, which varies between being too bright and too dark. It looks like a fan made movie, and this movie is $10 million, which is very embarassing. Also the editing is really bad. This worst case displayed in the film is at a dinner scene which is intercut by and outbreak/SWAT sequence which didn’t work together at all. Despite the trailers hinting at it, there’s not a whole lot of action. There’s like two action scenes, and the first one I don’t even think counts as an action scene.

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Max Steel was such a terrible movie, it doesn’t offer anything to enjoy at all. The story is bland and uninteresting, the acting is passable at best and the direction was absolutely terrible. I think the worst part of this movie however that the film wasn’t even unintentionally funny or entertaining, save for like one or two small moments. Max Steel is not worth watching at all and is one of the worst films of 2016.