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Jungle Cruise (2021) Review

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Jungle Cruise

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Dwayne Johnson as Captain Frank “Skipper” Wolff
Emily Blunt as Dr. Lily Houghton
Jack Whitehall as MacGregor Houghton
Édgar Ramírez as Aguirre
Jesse Plemons as Prince Joachim
Paul Giamatti as Nilo Nemolato
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) enlists the aid of wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) to take her down the Amazon in his ramshackle boat. Together, they search for an ancient tree that holds the power to heal — a discovery that will change the future of medicine.

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I heard of Jungle Cruise in the lead up to its release, I knew that it was going to star Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, and that it was based off the theme park ride of the same name in Disneyland. Initially I wasn’t that interested in it, at the very least I found an adaptation of this to be quite a strange idea since all it pretty much is just a jungle ride with not much of a plot to really adapt. However some early responses were fairly positive, and the trailer looked fun enough. So I checked it out for myself and I’m glad I watched it.

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I haven’t been on the Jungle Cruise ride in quite some time so I don’t know if the movie contains many references to it. However from what I can tell, having the movie being based off the ride is just an excuse to have another adventure movie, definitely a throwback to those kinds of film. You definitely get the vibes of Indiana Jones, The Mummy, as well as National Treasure to a degree. If you enjoy those kinds of movies, then you’ll probably have a fun time with this. The plot itself is nothing unpredictable, you can tell what kind of movie you are in for, and as that I found it enjoyable. The first third is a bit slow but once the main characters are on the boat it was a smooth and fast paced ride. There are plenty of jokes throughout and most of them land. Tonally it is mostly consistently light and fun, and the movie knows what kind of film it is. At the same time, it does play around with the tone and gets surprisingly dark at points. One of the most standout yet confusing moments is a flashback sequence that has Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters playing, that makes it feel like it came out of a completely different movie. Definitely a memorable scene, but I can’t figure out whether I liked the inclusion, or whether it shouldn’t have been in it. Although the script is fairly straightforward, at times it can get a bit too convoluted. Also while it always shines whenever its following the main trio, some aspects of the story aren’t the most interesting. There are two villainous storylines, one is more relevant to the story but isn’t as interesting. The other involves Jesse Plemons and is less relevant to the story, but is a lot more fun because of his performance. The finale itself was pretty fun but a bit lacklustre when compared to the rest of the movie.

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The cast were good too and they added a lot to the enjoyment of the movie. Dwayne Johnson once again plays Dwayne Johnson, however for what its worth, he is entertaining, and his familiar personality and charisma works for this film. Emily Blunt was really the star of the whole movie, she’s really good and has a lot to work with in the film. She and Johnson has good chemistry. Jack Whitehall is the third main character as Emily Blunt’s brother and while I wasn’t sure about his character when it started, he actually grows on you as the film progresses. Jesse Plemons plays one of the main villains as a German aristocrat, and he is having a ton of fun here. The character isn’t interesting or memorable, but Plemons adds so much with his fun on screen appearances to make him stand out in the movie.

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Jaume Collet-Sierra being the director was one of the more interesting parts of the movie going into it. He previously made 4 Liam Neeson action movies (Unknown, Non Stop, Run All Night and The Commuter) and some horror movies (including Orphan and The Shallows). I think his work as a director added a lot to the movie. A lot of the action is fast paced, well filmed, and was fun to watch. Where the technical elements falter a little bit is the visual effects, which are a bit of a mixed bag and ranged in quality. I do think that they could’ve afforded to use more practical effects and rely less on CGI, and the CGI itself could be a little unpolished at times.

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As far as Disneyland theme park rides turned into movies, it is no Pirates of the Caribbean, but it was still fun. Jungle Cruise is nothing special when compared to the type of movies it taking inspiration from, but its nonetheless entertaining for what it is and better than it had any right to be. Its directed pretty well, the cast are good, and I was enjoying the experience from beginning to end. If you go in expecting a fun adventure, then that’s what you’ll get.

Bright (2017) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast
Will Smith as Daryl Ward
Joel Edgerton as Nick Jakoby
Noomi Rapace as Leilah
Lucy Fry as Tikka
Édgar Ramírez as Kandomere
Ike Barinholtz as Pollard
Director: David Ayer

In an alternate present day, humans, orcs, elves and fairies have been coexisting since the beginning of time. Two police officers, one a human (Will Smith), the other an orc (Joel Edgerton), embark on a routine night patrol that will alter the future of their world as they know it. Battling both their own personal differences as well as an onslaught of enemies, they must work together to protect a young female elf (Lucy Fry) and a thought-to-be-forgotten relic, which, in the wrong hands, could destroy everything.

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I heard about Bright for a while leading up to its Netflix release. I like David Ayer as a director, and I like Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, however one thing that caused me to become sceptical about Bright being any good was Max Landis. It has received a lot of hate upon its release and after seeing it, I have to say that it is far from being the worst movie of 2017, but it definitely has a lot of problems. While there are some good parts to it, there is a lot of mixed aspects to it.

David Ayer hasn’t had a good track record with scripts lately. Sabotage was written by Skip Woods (who wrote Max Payne, A Good Day to Die Hard and X-Men Origins Wolverine) and Suicide Squad was written by Ayer himself, and although he can write some good movies (Training Day) he had only 6 weeks to do it. Now with Bright, Max Landis is writing, Landis is not a very good writer and surprise surprise, the script to Bright is not very good. I know that Ayer rewrote some of it but again, he had 6 weeks to write Suicide Squad and that didn’t turn out so well. Bright has some attempt to add some racial social commentary, the problem is that it is very heavy handed that its laughable at time. In fact, one of the biggest problems is that the film isn’t subtle at all. I also feel like it takes itself way too seriously, if it went more insane and over the top it might’ve worked better in a weird way. I’m not saying that it would only work if its over the top, I’m saying this because a lot of the moments when it tries to be serious and impactful, it really doesn’t leave the impression that it’s trying to have. The closest it comes is when it deals with Joel Edgerton’s character, I liked what happened with him. I was reasonably invested throughout the whole movie, flaws aside I found it to be just okay, however the third act was underwhelming. Not everything is sub par, I like the world that they have created, combining mankind with orcs, elves and fairies. The blending of fantasy element to the real world actually worked well. There’s definitely potential for a good Max-Landis-free sequel to Bright. It’s going to need a much better writer however.

Will Smith and Joel Edgerton are the leads and they had great chemistry. Some of the banter dialogue between the two doesn’t always work and can feel forced at times but the actors do what they can and they do enough to make a real impression. Edgerton in particularly is a highlight, being one of the best parts about the whole film. Nobody in the supporting cast really gets to stand out, they are okay but don’t leave a real impression. Noomi Rapace is the villain and she was okay but was completely wasted. All she did was villainous things and lacked a lot of character depth, she’s not even in the movie that much. Smith and Egerton are definitely the standouts among the cast.

David Ayer does direct this movie well for the most part. The action sequences are well filmed and were quite entertaining. The makeup is very impressive especially with the orcs, they all look great. Even the visual effects are quite good for a Netflix movie. The use of music wasn’t always the best, like Suicide Squad, Bright would often have scenes that would randomly switch between modern day songs and it would feel very out of place and unneeded.

A lot of people are wondering one thing: is Bright better than Suicide Squad? As someone who now finds SS to be a guilty pleasure, I’d say yes, but not by a huge amount. Bright is not that good of a movie but I wouldn’t call it bad either. It has an interesting world with its fantasy genre blending, Smith and Edgerton play well off each other and Ayer’s direction is solid overall. As repetitive as this criticism is, I gotta say it, Max Landis’s script is really what really holds it back from being good. Nothing is subtle and not as well executed as it should have been. Apparently, a sequel is already in the works and thankfully Max Landis is not involved. As long as they get someone else much better to write the script, I’m on board with it. It definitely has some potential.

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) Review

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The Bourne Ultimatum

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne
Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons
David Strathairn as Noah Vosen
Scott Glenn as Ezra Kramer
Paddy Considine as Simon Ross
Édgar Ramírez as Paz
Albert Finney as Dr. Albert Hirsch
Joan Allen as Pamela “Pam” Landy
Director: Paul Greengrass

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) continues his international quest to uncover his true identity. From Russia to Europe to northern Africa to the United States, he must stay one step ahead of those who would capture or kill him before he has a chance to discover the truth.

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The Bourne Ultimatum is quite possibly the best film of the Bourne franchise. Like with the other films of the trilogy they are quite similar, regarding the action, acting story, etc. However I personally feel like this is the strongest out of the films by a little bit, maybe it’s just my personal preference. Imagine if Bourne Supremacy if it was a full on action movie and the issues with the shaky cam in that film were dealt with. This third instalment makes the Bourne trilogy one of the best film trilogies.

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This film is quite similar to the previous Bourne movies. So chances are, if you didn’t like the previous Bourne movies, you won’t like this one. Whereas Bourne Identity is a mystery movie and Bourne Supremacy is a thriller, Bourne Ultimatum is the best action movie out of all of them. This movie’s pace is quite fast, and doesn’t slow down a lot, even the smaller character moments or moments of dialogue feel like they progress the plot, in a good way. There is no moment that feels unnecessary or wasted. There is no pointless romance thrown into the movie just because, even when Damon is paired with Julia Stiles, the film doesn’t waste time on any romance. Greengrass also did well to never drop the tension throughout the film. The conclusion was also great and satisfying, when we find out what happened with Jason Bourne and why and how he became an assassin.

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Matt Damon is once again excellent in the role of Jason Bourne. He continues to be believable as this assassin whether he’s in action scenes or the fewer smaller moments. The supporting cast also are great. In the previous film Joan Allen was trying to hunt down Bourne with Brian Cox, both with different reasons. Joan Allen returns to her same role in the movie, along with David Stratharin, who’s also trying to find Jason Bourne. Both of them are truly great in the movie. Other actors like Julia Stiles, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine, Edgar Ramirez and Albert Finney are also great in their roles.

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In the Bourne Supremacy, while for the most part the shaky cam was handled well, there were a couple scenes which weren’t handled the best. Greengrass doesn’t have any of those moments in Ultimatum. I can’t think of any moment in this film that didn’t work. As I said, this is the best action movie out of the three Bourne films. This has a wide variety of action scenes, there’s motorbike chases, foot chases, car chases, fight scenes, you name it. Speaking of fight scenes, there is a brutal fight between Jason and a character named Desh which is the best fight in the series yet and is one of the best scenes in the franchise yet. Greengrass massively improved the way he shot his fight scenes since Supremacy.

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The Bourne Ultimatum is truly a great Bourne movie, with its fast paced yet well filmed action, excellent acting from its talented cast and well told story. Even though as I said many times this is very similar to the other movies in the series, this might actually be my favourite film in the series. We’ll just have to see if Jason Bourne this year can top what they did with The Bourne Ultimatum. It won’t be an easy task though.

Joy (2015) Review

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Joy

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast:
Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano
Robert De Niro as Rudy Mangano
Edgar Ramirez as Tony Miranne
Diane Ladd as Mimi
Virginia Madsen as Terri Mangano
Isabella Rossellini as Trudy
Bradley Cooper as Neil Walker
Director: David O. Russell

A story of a family across four generations, centred on the girl who becomes the woman (Jennifer Lawrence) who founds a business dynasty and becomes a matriarch in her own right. Facing betrayal, treachery, the loss of innocence and the scars of love, Joy becomes a true boss of family and enterprise. Allies become adversaries and adversaries become allies, both inside and outside the family, as Joy’s inner life and fierce imagination carry her through the storm she faces.

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Joy was a movie which didn’t initially interest me because its premise wasn’t very interesting but its cast and its director made me curious about it. Before watching it, I noticed it hadn’t gotten quite the praise that David O. Russell’s previous films have received and had mixed reviews. After seeing it I can say that while it’s not a bad movie, Joy was a little disappointing. The performances, particularly from Jennifer Lawrence was good, the direction was decent and the writing for the character of Joy is good. But the writing for the overall story wasn’t always strong and the supporting characters were too two dimensional, which really brought the movie down.

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The plot for this movie was fine, it wasn’t bad, I just wasn’t invested in what was going on as much as I should’ve. The movie is also a little shaky at the start, it didn’t really know how to start off the movie. Eventually the movie did fix itself over time and it knew what sort of movie it was going for. The writing for the character of Joy is great (which elevated Jennifer Lawrence’s performance), the same can’t be said for the other characters. These supporting characters felt too much like movie characters and never did feel like real people, which is a real shame since David O. Russell is usually great at having interesting characters. A lot of the time, many of the scenes with these supporting characters got annoying as they really were just generic movie characters with no real rhyme or reason for their actions.

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Jennifer Lawrence as Joy is definitely the best part of the whole movie and she had the benefit of having the best interesting writing. Joy is the most complex, interesting, entertaining and likable character in the movie, in fact she’s probably the only likable character in this movie. Even though I had issues with the writing of the characters, the supporting actors like Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper gave good performances with what they have. It’s just a shame that their characters aren’t as well written as they should be.

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Even with all its flaws, one thing I can say is that this film is well directed and the technical side of the movie is pretty good. The look was great and the style was also pretty good and worked for the film, which I think is something that David O. Russell is great at, it’s strange that he couldn’t do that with everything else.

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Joy isn’t by any means a bad movie. It does have some good performances, most notably from Jennifer Lawrence but the writing was quite flawed, not as interesting as it should be and had very underdeveloped and surprisingly one dimensional supporting characters. It is a little disappointing considering that I loved Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, both of them previous David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro collaborations. I will say that if you’re going to see this movie watch it for Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, because the movie on the whole is quite flawed.