Tag Archives: review

London Has Fallen (2016) Review

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London Has Fallen

Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and Offensive Language.
Cast:
Gerard Butler as Mike Banning
Aaron Eckhart as Benjamin Asher
Morgan Freeman as Allan Trumbull
Alon Moni Aboutboul as Aamir Barkawi
Angela Bassett as Lynne Jacobs
Robert Forster as Edward Clegg
Melissa Leo as Ruth McMillan
Radha Mitchell as Leah Banning
Charlotte Riley as Jacqueline “Jax” Marshall
Jackie Earle Haley as DC Mason
Sean O’Bryan as Ray Monroe
Waleed Zuaiter as Kamran Barkawi
Director: Babak Najafi

After the death of the British prime minister, the world’s most powerful leaders gather in London to pay their respects. Without warning, terrorists unleash a devastating attack that leaves the city in chaos and ruins. Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) springs into action to bring U.S. President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) to safety. When Asher falls into the hands of the sinister organization, it’s up to Banning to save his commander in chief from a horrible fate.

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Olympus Has Fallen was a surprising action movie, it really was the Die Hard that we deserved in 2013 (and unfortunately was a better Die Hard movie than the actual Die Hard we got that year). However I didn’t feel like it needed a sequel and after seeing London Has Fallen, I can say that I was pretty much right. London Has Fallen is still enjoyable with reasonably fine action scenes and a pretty good cast involved. However, it definitely feels like a step down compared to the previous movie.

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Let’s get this out of the way, even if you cared about what happened in Olympus Has Fallen, you likely won’t care about what happens in London Has Fallen. Even though the previous film’s focus wasn’t really on the story, you could at least feel tension for what’s going on. The sequel tries to recapture it but it doesn’t really achieve it. The writing is significantly lesser in comparison, I can’t really describe it, it feels like its missing something, it was probably Antoine Fuqa’s direction from the first film, which really made the first film work. The humour and dialogue is also a little off. Overall though this movie is fine, it’s just really forgettable, typing this review out was hard actually because I was trying to remember what happened in the movie.

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Gerald Butler really worked in the movie, he was great in the action scenes and you bought him in this movie. I also liked Aaron Eckhart who was also really good in this film. I really liked how Butler and Eckhart played off each other, you can actually buy that they are friends. The acting in this movie for the most part is fine, nothing spectacular, nothing horrible, it just works fine. The villain in the first film worked pretty well for the film, the villain in London Has Fallen however isn’t interesting. He worked fine I guess, but there wasn’t anything compelling about him.

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This film definitely feels like it’s missing something, especially when compared to Antoine Fuqua’s direction for Olympus Has Fallen. The direction for the most part is fine though. The action is decent, reasonably entertaining but aren’t anything special. There’s not much tension and it feels more in line with a normal above average action movie (which is really what this movie is). The first film felt a little gritty, but aside from the blood there really is nothing gritty about Olympus Has Fallen. There are some moments which are noticeably CGI and fake. Direction wise this film was quite a significant step back from the previous movie.

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Overall London Has Fallen is entertaining but I’m not sure if I can call it good. I know that it’s a mindless action movie (much like the first film) but even so, the writing isn’t really good and the direction feels like its lacking. I think the main thing missing was Antoine Fuqua’s direction. He made the first film way better than it could’ve been. Still, the action in this film is fine enough and Gerald Butler was great so I can say that I enjoyed the movie. If you liked Olympus Has Fallen, you might like the sequel but know that it’s not as good as the first film. It was fine overall.

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016) Review

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Kung Fu Panda 3

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Low level violence
Cast:
Jack Black as Po
Bryan Cranston as Li Shan
Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu
Angelina Jolie as Master Tigress
J.K. Simmons as Kai
Seth Rogen as Master Mantis
David Cross as Master Crane
Lucy Liu as Master Viper
Jackie Chan as Master Monkey
Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni

Living large and loving life, Po (Jack Black) realizes that he has a lot to learn if he’s going to fulfill the next challenge from his beloved instructor (Dustin Hoffman). After reuniting with his long-lost father (Bryan Cranston), Po must transition from student to teacher and train a group of fun-loving, clumsy pandas to become martial-arts fighters. Together, the kung-fu brethren unite to take on the evil Kai (J.K. Simmons), a supernatural warrior who becomes stronger with each battle.

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I do like the Kung Fu Panda films. Even though they aren’t as great as certain other animated films such as Toy Story, they are fun children’s entertainment and I was a little excited to see the third instalment of the franchise. I quite liked Kung Fu Panda 3, I had a good time with it. Although I don’t think it was as good as the previous film (in my opinion), it’s still a very solid film with great voice acting, a decent story and fantastic animation. If you liked the previous movies, you’ll like Kung Fu Panda 3.

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Though I’m not entirely sure why, I wasn’t as invested in this story as I was in the second, maybe it’s just personal preference. Make no mistake though, the story is still quite good and kept me interested and entertained from start to finish. The humour for the most part worked well, it worked about as well as the previous films. The connection between Po, his father and his adopted father was really a focus of the story and was handled well. One thing I also like about these films is that despite each film being quite similar in terms of structure and character arcs, Po is constantly changing. He doesn’t just forget the knowledge that he picked up in the previous movies, so despite the similar formula, the films still feels fresh and new. And 3 is no exception, he’s evolved since the previous film but yet has much to discover about himself. There really is no dull moment in the movie.

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The voice work for the characters as usual was great. The new voice additions to the new character were also great, one of them was Bryan Cranston as Po’s father, it’s always nice to see (or in this case hear) Cranston in more movies and he does very well here. The main villain Kai was also great here voiced this time by J.K. Simmons. The villains in the Kung Fu Panda movies are pretty good and Kai was no exception.

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The animation is slick and smooth, all of it is top notch, which is to be expected as it’s a Dreamworks film. The action and Kung Fu in particular is animated so greatly, you can clearly see everything unfolding on screen. The designs for the world and characters are also fantastic and creative. I also really like the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, it really fitted in and added to the movie. On a technical level at least, Kung Fu Panda 3 works very well, there aren’t really any immediate flaws in that aspect that I can think of.

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If you liked the previous films in the Kung Fu Panda series, you will definitely like Kung Fu Panda 3. The animation is very well done, the story is quite good and the movie overall is just fun to watch. Again, like with the other films I don’t think they are amazing, they aren’t going to be remembered as classic animated movies but they are still undeniably very enjoyable movies, and are definitely entertaining to watch. So if you liked the previous movies, check this movie out when you get a chance.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) Review

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Time: 151 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
Jesse Eisenberg as Alexander “Lex” Luthor
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Laurence Fishburne as Perry White
Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
Holly Hunter as Senator June Finch
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Director: Zack Snyder

It’s been nearly two years since Superman’s (Henry Cavill) colossal battle with Zod (Michael Shannon) devastated the city of Metropolis. The loss of life and collateral damage left many feeling angry and helpless, including crime-fighting billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Convinced that Superman is now a threat to humanity, Batman embarks on a personal vendetta to end his reign on Earth, while the conniving Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) launches his own crusade against the Man of Steel.

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Click here for my review of the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the superior version of the film

Batman v Superman has been 3 years in the making and it has been my most anticipated movie of 2016 ever since its announcement. So much was riding on this movie to succeed, with it having to establish Batman, Wonder Woman with cameos from the Justice League, all in one film. Even though the film’s premiere received critical acclaim, the reviews started to worry me, with the Rotten Tomato score being around 30%. However after watching the movie, I have to say that I’m very satisfied with what we got in the end. The acting from its very talented cast and the direction from Zack Snyder was great, but it’s the script from writer Chris Terrio which ties it all together, and sets up the DC Cinematic Universe perfectly.

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When you compare Dawn of Justice to Man of Steel, you will notice how significantly the writing’s improved and that’s all thanks to Chris Terrio. This film doesn’t rely on a lot of action scenes to move the plot along like the previous movie, it really for the most part follows Clark and Bruce’s inner struggles as they are trying to find their place in the world as well as the conflict between them. I know from the reviews that this put people off as there’s not a whole lot of them saving the world or even physically fighting each other but I appreciate the risks that the movie took. This isn’t your typical comic book film. This movie had a lot of elements that they had to incorporate with the Justice League forming and I thought the film managed to pull it off quite well. As for the cameos of the other Justice League members, they were done well, to some they would probably feel a little forced but I have a feeling that was supposed to feel forced, it’s just a little taste of what’s to come. I will just say this, the final act is absolutely incredible, not only on an entertaining level but on an emotional level too, the ending is one of the best comic book endings I’ve ever seen, you’ll never see it coming.

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I will say that looking back at the film, there were some elements that felt missing. For example, one element that I wished the film delved deep into was Lex’s motivation. I’ll go onto the performance later but I have a feeling that there is a scene explaining Lex Luthor’s perspective on Superman that was missing, which is a shame as that would’ve made his character even more compelling. I know that there is a 3 hour cut that will come to Blu Ray, maybe that might fix the problems but for the most part the movie really works on its own. Now onto the elements that might divide some people. Ben Affleck’s Batman is very hardcore, this is like Dark Knight Returns and Thomas Wayne Flashpoint Batman. There are moments where his actions lead to many deaths and that might be hard for some viewers to stomach after Bale’s ‘no kill’ portrayal. Also this movie is 3 times darker than Man of Steel so if you found that movie hard to watch, you will be horrified with this movie. As I said before, this isn’t your typical comic book movie, it’s quite unconventional, so that might alienate some people.

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The performances were phenomenal. I’ll start with Henry Cavill, I have a feeling he will be forgotten as a result of being overshadowed by Affleck and he really shouldn’t. He was given a lot more to work with than in Man of Steel and after this movie, he is my personal favourite version of Superman. Unlike other versions there is a humanity and relatability that Cavill infuses that makes us really care for him, this was seen especially in his scenes with Lois played by Amy Adams, who was also great and shares better chemistry with him than in the previous film. No matter what anyone thinks about the movie, most people agree with one aspect, Ben Affleck was incredible as Batman. He was incredibly dark and has a history and every moment he’s on screen, Affleck sells it. His relationship with Alfred (played Jeremy Irons, who also does an excellent job) was also entertaining to watch, I just can’t wait for the Batman solo movies. Keaton’s and Bale’s Batman roles needed to perfectly play the Bruce Wayne and Batman roles, and both of them really did one aspect better than the other (Keaton did Batman better and Bale did Wayne better). Affleck was the first actor to nail both Bruce Wayne and Batman perfectly. We didn’t see a lot of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman but when she’s on screen she is great, and she stole the show in the third act. I’m now even more looking forward to seeing her solo movie next year.

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The other supporting cast was also great with Holly Hunter, Laurence Fishburne and others being quite good in this movie. The one divisive performance will be Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. If you thought he looked a little over the top in the 2nd trailer, just wait till you see how he is here. From my limited knowledge of Lex Luthor in the comics, he is quite different from this incarnation, but this was such a strong decision that I have a feeling he will be developed more as the films go on. I personally liked the performance, this was a more crazy portrayal of Lex Luthor, and he worked quite well for the film as he manipulates the dark knight and the man of steel to fight. However I can’t guarantee that you will love his performance, as his performance has so far divided many.

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As this is Zack Snyder directing, the visuals look very beautiful. One of my issues with Man of Steel was the cinematography, it adopted more of a handheld sort of camera work and while that worked for the most part, it could’ve been done better. This time, it has a much steadier direction as Snyder this time used his cinematographer from Watchmen. As I said earlier, there aren’t as many action scenes as there was in Man of Steel but all of them are done excellently. There are so many memorable scenes, the beautiful opening credits sequence, the flashback to Metropolis’s destruction from Bruce Wayne’s perspective, the Knightmare sequence (which features an incredible one take moment) and more. The fight between Batman and Superman, while a little short, was still enthralling to watch. The final act in its entirety was great, especially the final battle featuring the trinity. Last but not least is the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL. All of it was great, from Batman’s theme, to Lex’s theme, to Superman’s theme as well as the fight between Batman and Superman. However I’ll just say that Wonder Woman’s theme was my favourite of the lot.

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From my first viewing, I can say that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is now one of my favourite comic book movies of all time. The performances were great, with standouts from Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and Jesse Eisenberg, Zack Snyder directed this movie beautifully and Chris Terrio gave even more depth to this movie than most would initially expect. Looking at the mixed reactions from both critics and fans, I’m not entirely sure if you will like this movie or not, and I can understand how some elements might rub people the wrong way. However I think you should watch it and make up your own mind about it. For me, this was an incredibly satisfying experience. Don’t wait for it to come out on Blu Ray, see it on the biggest screen that you can find as soon as possible.