Tag Archives: Sylvester Stallone

The Suicide Squad (2021) Review

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The Suicide Squad

Time: 132 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, offensive language & cruelty
Cast:
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn
Idris Elba as Robert DuBois/Bloodsport
John Cena as Christopher Smith/Peacemaker
Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag
Sylvester Stallone as the voice of Nanaue/King Shark
Viola Davis as Amanda Waller
Jai Courtney as George “Digger” Harkness/Captain Boomerang
Peter Capaldi as Gaius Grieves/The Thinker
David Dastmalchian as Abner Krill/Polka-Dot Man
Daniela Melchior as Cleo Cazo/Ratcatcher 2
Director: James Gunn

The government sends the most dangerous supervillains in the world – Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and others — to the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Armed with high-tech weapons, they trek through the dangerous jungle on a search-and-destroy mission, with only Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) on the ground to make them behave.

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I enjoyed the first Suicide Squad when it came out, however looking back on it, it was a bit of a disappointment to say the least. The follow up Suicide Squad film has been in development, eventually it was James Gunn, director of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, who ended up helming the project. Honestly I wasn’t that excited for the movie, first of all while I enjoy the GOTG movies, I’m not a massive fan of Gunn and his style. Second of all, the trailers weren’t that good, and didn’t do a great job at getting me interested in watching it. Nonetheless, I still decided to check it out. The trailers really didn’t do The Suicide Squad justice, it was better than expected. I still have some issues with it, but on the whole, I enjoyed it.

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First and foremost, you don’t necessarily have to have seen the first Suicide Squad to get into this new Suicide Squad. While it works as a sequel, it is more of a reboot. I will say that as a movie about the Suicide Squad, Gunn’s version does succeed more than the Suicide Squad movie from 2016 (speaking as someone who doesn’t generally read comic books). In these Suicide Squad comic books, there’s usually a large cast of characters, and by the end most of them are dead. Whereas the first Suicide Squad really only had two members of the Squad being killed off throughout the entirety of the movie, The Suicide Squad has a larger amount of people dying. The tagline “Don’t get too attached” is certainly apt. Gunn certainly delivered a lot of deaths, almost to the point of going overboard, but more on that later. The plot like the 2016 movie is pretty straightforward. I do think that it gets a little weirdly complicated at points, with the time jumps, perspective changes, and the like. I was able to follow it fine enough, it was just a bit jarring how it jumps from place to place at points. The movie even surprisingly has too much going on at times. The plot is familiar to a lot of other comic book movies and doesn’t break new ground, but I don’t think it really needed to. The first act starts off pretty well, as it introduces the main characters. The second act is where plotwise I have most of my criticisms, it slows down quite a bit. The movie is long at nearly 2 hours and 20 minutes, while I don’t have a problem with longer comic book movies, The Suicide Squad is one where occasionally you feel the length, and you especially feel it in the middle section. There’s also a section involving Harley which I really didn’t like for the most part, even though it does pay off by the end of it. The third act actually does a lot at making this movie work as well as it does. It is very reminiscent of other comic book movie climaxes with large scale threats that the main characters have to deal with, but of those examples, The Suicide Squad is among the best executions of them. There’s also some surprisingly emotional and impactful moments involving the characters. I would say that it’s worth watching the movie for the climax alone. It is worth noting that there are two credits scenes worth staying around for, the second of which is especially worth watching.

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One of my main two predictions going into the movie was that the humour would be my least favourite aspect, and that turned out to be true. It is strange because although I don’t find the Guardians of the Galaxy movies to be hilarious, they are funny, and are certainly funnier than The Suicide Squad. For every witty line and joke that’s actually funny, there’s a back and forth lines about “an island of dicks”, or a 69 joke. Somehow the R rating actually made the jokes less funny, and most of the time they attempted humour, at best it doesn’t leave much of an impact, at worst it’s annoying. However, if you watched that first red band trailer and found the jokes in that to be funny, you’ll probably have a good time with The Suicide Squad. Effectiveness of the humour aside, another issue with it is that sometimes it undercuts dramatic or emotional moments, something that also appears in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. The movie gets surprisingly dark at times, whether it be with characters, or the deaths that occur. With that said, there is a general feeling of Gunn trying hard to be edgy. This was a feeling I had ever since the trailers proudly announced that The Suicide Squad was “from the horribly beautiful mind of James Gunn”, and that feeling was in the movie itself. I don’t have a problem with the violence, gore, etc. However when it feels like it’s being done to get a reaction out of the audience, it does get annoying, and unfortunately The Suicide Squad slips into that at points. Some of it is the violence, which might be surprising and shocking in the first act, but by the halfway point it loses its impact. Some of it was the deaths, specifically who is chosen to die. I mentioned earlier that I thought the movie had killed off too many of its named characters. There were two deaths that I downright hated in this movie. The first was in the first half of the film, it was partly because of how quickly it was executed, and it seemed rather unnecessary outside of it being done for shock value. The second was in the second half of the movie, and it was mostly the nature of the death, how it was done without having any weight to it, and feeling like a joke despite the death being for a major character that we are meant to care about (and do care about).

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Some of the highlights of the movie were the cast and characters for me, and they shared great chemistry between each other. There were two standouts for me. One is Bloodsport, played by Idris Elba, who is essentially the main character. Immediately there have been a lot of comparisons between him and Will Smith’s Deadshot from the first Suicide Squad. However, Bloodsport is his own character and he’s a great character, from his action scenes, to Elba’s performance. The other standout is Ratcatcher 2, played by Daniela Melachior, who is essentially the heart of the movie. One of the new main characters is John Cena as Peacemaker, a character I was very curious about given that even before the movie was released, it was announced that he would be getting his own spin off tv series. I haven’t seen Cena in a lot of movies but this is definitely the best performance I’ve seen from him, he handled the humour, the action scenes, and even the emotional and dramatic moments really well. I’m not sure that he’s interesting enough to lead his own spin off but I am curious to see how it plays out. Another new main character is David Dastmalchian as Polka-Dot Man, and it really is a credit to the movie that they can make us like a character as ridiculous in concept as him. Another of the main characters of the Squad is King Shark (who’s basically just like a giant humanoid shark), and the second of my main two predictions was that I would really dislike him, mostly because he looked like he would be treated as a mix between Groot in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and any other ‘funny animal character’. However I was wrong, he’s not one of the best characters in the movie by any means, but I didn’t mind him and I surprisingly liked him. Joel Kinnaman returns as Rick Flag and although he basically has the same role as in the first movie, I do like him more in this movie.

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Another major returning Suicide Squad character is that of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, one of the biggest standouts in the first Suicide Squad, who had her own spin off with Birds of Prey last year. I do like Harley in this movie, although there were some decisions involving her I wasn’t such a fan of. There is a segment with Harley in the second act which I particularly take issue with. With that said, it does lead to one of the standout action sequences in the movie. In fact I really liked the action that she was involved with. She is more of a supporting player compared to her past appearances, but I didn’t necessarily mind that, as Suicide Squad in concept is more of an ensemble piece, and she does play off other characters quite well. Another returning Suicide Squad character is Amanda Waller, played by Viola Davis. Waller serves as the same purpose in the first movie as the person making the Squad take on this mission, and Davis as usually delivers her part at the top of her game as always. The character is made way more over the top in this movie, but my main issues with her lie in the third act. In that section, the way she acts, the decisions she makes, and her motivations just made no sense. Her character is really the one part of The Suicide Squad where I preferred the 2016 version more. Other cast members like Peter Capaldi also delivered, as well as the other Suicide Squad members who don’t get that much screentime.

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The movie is directed by James Gunn, and it certainly feels like it, while still feeling different from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. It does have a distinct visual style and it is well shot, from the camera movements, to the colours, the costumes, and the production design. Even the CGI is pretty strong throughout. The action scenes are one of the highlights of the movie, all very entertaining, bloody, well shot, and great to watch. The third act is particularly done well, and the final enemies managing to be effectively threatening despite the initially absurd concept. The Suicide Squad also handles its music a lot better than the first movie. In 2016’s Suicide Squad, there was a good score from Steven Price but most of the music that we hear is a ton of random song choices slapped together in so many scenes, and it was just a mess. In The Suicide Squad, we get both a great score composed by John Murphy, as well as a good lineup of pre-existing songs that are utilised well throughout the movie. There are some effective needle drop moments, even if they aren’t as memorable as in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.

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The Suicide Squad has its issues. The humour which mostly doesn’t work, some of the characterisation, and some of the plot decisions (especially in the second act) do linger in my mind as parts I really didn’t like. However, I did find myself enjoying it, and what it gets right, it really gets right. The cast and characters for the most part are great and they have great chemistry between each other, the visual style is strong and distinct, and the action is enthralling to watch. The Suicide Squad is also a reminder that the DCEU movies really are at their best when Warner Bros lets their directors deliver their visions, and it would be great to see them learn this from how well their latest movie turned out (not that I’m counting on that happening). Even if you dislike the first Suicide Squad movie, this second version might be worth a look.

The Expendables 3 (2014) Review

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross
Mel Gibson as Conrad Stonebanks
Jason Statham as Lee Christmas
Harrison Ford as Max Drummer
Antonio Banderas as Galgo
Wesley Snipes as Doctor Death
Dolph Lundgren as Gunner Jensen
Randy Couture as Toll Road
Terry Crews as Hale Caesar
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trent “Trench” Mauser
Jet Li as Yin Yang
Kelsey Grammer as Bonaparte
Ronda Rousey as Luna
Kellan Lutz as John Smilee
Glen Powell as Thorn
Victor Ortiz as Mars
Robert Davi as Goran Vata
Director: Patrick Hughes

Years ago, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) co-founded the Expendables with Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). After Stonebanks became an arms dealer, Ross was forced to kill him — or so he thought. Now, Stonebanks is back and he’s on a mission to end the Expendables. Ross decides that the way to fight old blood is with new blood, so he assembles a team of younger, faster, more tech-savvy recruits. The battle to topple Stonebanks becomes a clash of old-school methods vs. high-tech expertise.

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It’s been so long since I’ve watched the 3 Expendables movies. I seem to remember that the first was an okay but rather forgettable action movie, and the second was noticeably better and rather fun throwback flick. However, the 3rd movie really doesn’t work, and its surprisingly because the filmmakers somehow forgot the purpose of these movies to begin with. It’s not even entertainingly bad, it’s just middle of the road flat and average.

The movie starts off well with an entertaining opening action scene (it involves Wesley Snipes breaking out of prison). After that though it’s rather weak, even as a standard action flick, and on the whole still manages to be quite boring. Expendables 3 doesn’t seem self aware like in the 2nd movie and its worse than in the first movie. The Expendables was meant to be this throwback to 80s action movies but instead this movie is about getting a new team, in fact this movie spends too much time with recruiting the new Expendables. I’m also not expecting some kind of compelling story, but even on the level of trashy action movies, this falls pretty flat. Even some of the sillier aspects aren’t entertaining this time, its just incredibly hard to get into the movie. It does improve in the third act as it gets into the climax but it’s not worth sitting through the entire 2 hour runtime to get to that point.

The whole thing about Expendables is that part of its appeal is that it had 80s action stars all together (except Jason Statham for some reason). Expendables 3 forgot that, Stallone is very much the lead but much of the original cast of the first two movies is sidelined for the younger cast. The younger cast includes Ronda Rousey and Kellan Lutz, and the younger cast really don’t add anything to the movie at all and just end up being annoying more than anything else. The older cast fare a little better, the returning Expendables cast with the likes of Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger do well enough but again, sidelined. Harrison Ford in this movie pretty much replaces Bruce Willis’s role (since Willis didn’t return due to some disagreements between him and Stallone), having a few scenes and all. It’s nice seeing him here but unfortunately doesn’t elevate the movie enough. Wesley Snipes is also a nice addition. Antonio Bandareas is a good actor and on paper him being in the Expendables movies sounds really great, but his character is really annoying, so it was a bit of a missed opportunity. Mel Gibson was a good villain for the movie, the best villain in the trilogy by far, in fact he’s probably the best part of the whole movie. There’s particularly a standout scene with him in a truck like halfway through the movie.

The first Expendables was directed okay by Sylvester Stallone and the second was much better directed by Simon West. The third movie is directed by Patrick Hughes and unfortunately wasn’t all that done well. There is a lot of cuts and shaky cam during the action scenes, its like it was directed like an average modern action movie. Unlike the previous movies in the series, The Expendables 3 isn’t given an R rating. My problem isn’t necessarily that it’s not rated R (since you could just remove the blood from the other movies and they’d work almost as well, if not better), the problem is that it feels like it was shot to be R but then they changed to PG-13, resulting in some things looking different. For example, instead of blood spurting out when people are shot, it’s just lots of dust bouncing off them. There is some really poor CGI here, I know we shouldn’t be expecting much from it, but it even feels poor compared to the previous movie. The climax is entertaining enough, however the Stallone vs Gibson fight should’ve been more than what we got, doesn’t even touch the Stallone vs Jean-Claude Van Damme fight at the end of the second film.

The Expendables 3 is not awful but it’s rather average and somehow pales in comparison to the previous 2 movies, which weren’t even that great. It feels watered down, the new cast mostly don’t add much to it, and it’s just rather boring. Pretty much the only part about The Expendables 3 that is good enough that might be worth watching is Mel Gibson, who makes for an effective villain and the best out of the trilogy. Really the only movie in this trilogy that I’d say is worth watching is the second movie. Even if you’re a fan of the first two movies, I’m not sure that you’ll like this one.

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.

Creed 2 (2018) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed
Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa
Tessa Thompson as Bianca Taylor
Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago
Florian Munteanu as Viktor Drago
Phylicia Rashad as Mary Anne Creed
Director: Steven Caple Jr.

In 1985, Russian boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lungren) killed former U.S. champion Apollo Creed in a tragic match that stunned the world. Against the wishes of trainer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), Apollo’s son Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) accepts a challenge from Drago’s son (Florian Munteanu) — another dangerous fighter. Under guidance from Rocky, Adonis trains for the showdown of his life — a date with destiny that soon becomes his obsession. Now, Johnson and Balboa must confront their shared legacy as the past comes back to haunt each man.

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While I’m not a huge fan of the Rocky series (I’ve only seen the original film), Creed was one of my favourite films of 2015. The idea of a sequel to Creed, a movie that seemed to be a good sendoff for the Rocky series, but also being done without writer/director Ryan Coogler, seemed like a recipe for disaster. Also it’s bringing back a classic Rocky antagonist, Ivan Drago, and it just seemed really forced and cliched and looked like it wouldn’t really work. Creed 2 however turned out to be a real surprise.

Creed 2’s story admittedly isn’t the most unpredictable. Not that everything in the trailer is all that’s in the movie, but when watching the movie, you can get the idea of the direction the story will take and what things will happen. Not that this is a big negative against the movie, it’s just not as surprising as maybe the first Creed. Also, the Rocky series is very formulaic, so it’s a given that it would follow similar story beats. Without spoiling anything, structurally this movie is a bit different from what you’d expect based off the plot summary. On paper the idea of the plot sounds incredibly silly, but like the first Creed movie, they actually take the story very seriously and it works. This is probably the darkest of the Rocky series. The third act is so incredibly satisfying, with an ending which would be perfect for the entire Rocky/Creed series. The movie is 2 hours and 10 minutes and you can feel the runtime and some of the pacing was a little slower, but I was still invested in what was going on.

Michael B. Jordan is once again great as Adonis Creed, this is even more his movie than the previous Creed with the whole movie pretty much surrounding him rather than him and Rocky. He’s really convincing both in the dramatic side as well as on the physical side. Sylvester Stallone is also good as Rocky. Whereas in Creed where Rocky was a really present supporting character with a big storyline, here he’s even more of a supporting player but he’s still quite involved with the movie. Rocky Balboa is still Stallone’s best role and he gives yet another great performance as him. One of the highlights of Creed was Tessa Thompson as Bianca Taylor, Adonis’s girlfriend. Thompson made Bianca more than just the protagonist’s love interest and that continues into Creed 2, with their relationship playing a big part in the story. The chemistry between Jordan and Thompson is also once again great and feels really believable and genuine. The biggest surprise is of Dolph Lungren as Ivan Drago (again I should mention that I never saw Rocky 4), who gives a great performance. The film took a really cheesy character from Rocky 4 that was pretty much an 80s Russian villain and made him into a real fleshed out human being. The movie surprisingly gives some time focussing on Drago and his son Viktor (played by Florian Munteanu) and that really benefited the movie. Florian is a real boxer and that could’ve been either been good or bad, as being a good boxer isn’t guaranteeing that they are good at acting. Even though he doesn’t have many lines, he really works in the role and is imposing as this beast of a boxer, but he’s also someone you can sympathise with given what’s happening with him and how he’s been brought up. There are also some parallels between Rocky and Adonis, as well as Ivan and Viktor. I actually would’ve liked to have seen more scenes between Ivan and Viktor.

One of the biggest concerns of Creed 2 I had was the lack of Ryan Coogler being involved. His direction of Creed was fantastic and added a lot to it, and so I wasn’t sure how a different director would handle the sequel. While Steven Caple Jr.’s direction isn’t quite at Coogler’s level, it’s still rather solid and all around really worked. There isn’t as much fighting as you’d think there’d be, but the fight scenes that we get are really great. It doesn’t quite reach the levels of the first main fight in Creed with the tracking shot, but they’re all great. It all feels real tense, you feel every blow that’s dealt to Adonis. The last fight in particular was really great, and was captivating, cathartic and really satisfying.

Creed 2 is surprisingly great. It doesn’t quite reach the levels of greatness of the first Creed but it’s a very solid movie, very satisfying and well made, and also a perfect ending to the Rocky/Creed series. I heard that there may be like a Drago movie and while I’d be on board with that, I hope that the Rocky/Creed series ends here, because I can’t think of a better ending to the series than this. If you like Creed or the other Rocky movies, I’m pretty sure you’re going to like Creed 2 as well.

Judge Dredd (1995) Review

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Sylvester Stallone as Judge Dredd
Armand Assante as Rico Dredd
Rob Schneider as Fergee
Diane Lane as Judge Hershey
Jürgen Prochnow as Judge Griffin
Max von Sydow as Chief Justice Fargo
Director: Danny Cannon

In a dystopic future, where urban areas have grown into Mega-Cities that cover entire coastal regions, the justice system has evolved to a single person invested with the power of police, judge, jury and executioner: the Judge. Among the Judges of Mega-City One, Judge Joseph Dredd (Sylvester Stallone) is one of the best, and a particular favorite of the Head of the Council, Chief Justice Fargo (Max von Sydow). But there are evil forces at work in the Justice Department: block riots and the escape of Rico (Armand Assante), a homicidal maniac, are only steps in a plan that ultimately lead to the sentencing of Dredd for a murder he did not commit. And Dredd must discover the secrets of his own past and survive to stop the evildoers.

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Before the underrated 2012 film there was an attempt at making a Judge Dredd movie in the 1990s. The end product wasn’t very good. It is however an incredibly entertaining movie, it was cheesy from the over the top acting, to the cliché dialogue, it’s an enjoyable movie for how silly it is. But I really wouldn’t call it a Judge Dredd movie.

Judge Dredd feels like a typical sci-fi, dystopian action movie from the 1990s. The first 10 minutes felt somewhat like a Judge Dredd film but any of those elements is gone after that point. The Sci-Fi world that we are introduced to has been made a million times over, so it just feels rather generic and not very unique. On top of that, for a lot of the movie we aren’t even exploring that world, we are just going from random location to random location, and these locations aren’t really intersting. So to recap, the sci-fi world isn’t that unique and we are stuck in locations that are even less interesting. As for the plot, I’m not a Judge Dredd fan really but I don’t think this plot was right for Dredd. Dredd being falsely accused of murder and going from one place to another to further the plot really doesn’t feel like a story for him, it’s more of a plot for another Stallone character. This movie is also very goofy. The dialogue is very cheesy and over the top. Seriously, count how many times Stallone is talking about ‘The Law’, often in an over the top way, or asks people “How do you plead?” before responding to their replies with “I knew you’d say that”. In that sense it is very fun to watch, because of how silly it is. I was entertained throughout, there wasn’t a dull moment when viewing this as a silly Stallone flick (except for when Rob Schneider was on screen).

Sylvester Stallone is trying to play Judge Dredd and the character is barely Judge Dredd. It feels like the whole movie was trying to be a Stallone movie, just him with the name of Judge Dredd. If you want any proof, Stallone barely wears the mask, (and Stallone himself insisted having it on all the time but to no avail). The cheesy dialogue doesn’t help much, as I said Dredd in this movie comes across like a Sylvester Stallone character rather than actually Judge Dredd. Despite all that, he is very entertaining. Armand Assante is the villain and he is incredibly over the top. He’s not that great as a villain but he is entertaining and is super into his role, so I do appreciate it. Supporting actors like Max von Sydow are fine. In terms of bad acting, we’ve got the comedic relief by none other but Rob Schneider. Yes, that Rob Schneider. Honestly while the role was written to be an annoying comic relief, any actors could play that role and be passable in the role. Schneider however turns a mildly annoying role into an insufferable role. He just had no reason to exist, he wasn’t funny, nor did he serve to really help Dredd or the other characters. He was completely useless, and it made me wonder why Dredd kept bringing him along with him.

The action is typical over the top 80s/90s sci-fi action. It doesn’t feel particularly gritty (something that the new movie thankfully changed), it is entertaining however. I might even say that for the most part the action is done well. There is a space bike chase with some obvious green screen, then again this is typical for this type of movie in the 90s. The costumes are over the top and honestly kind of cheap. Even when Stallone is in the helmet, he just looks silly, and it’s not Sylvester Stallone, it’s the helmet surprisingly.

Judge Dredd is not a very good movie, it’s silly, it’s cheesy and its completely over the top. However it is endlessly entertaining for those same reasons, intentional or not. It’s a guilty pleasure for me, however it isn’t the movie that Judge Dredd deserves. If you want an entertaining and silly Stallone flick, you’ll like this movie. But if you would prefer a proper Judge Dredd movie I highly recommend the 2012 film with Karl Urban.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) 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

The team struggles to keep its newfound family together as it tries to unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) true parentage in the outer reaches of the galaxy.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 was one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. At the same time though, I felt a little worried about the movie as its release date got closer and closer, the marketing didn’t really sell this movie as being much more than just more of the same Guardians of the Galaxy. After seeing it I have to say that while it was a lot better than I thought it would be, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. is one of the weaker entries of the MCU. It’s balancing of the humour and handling of the characters really didn’t always work, and it could’ve been handled a lot better. With that said, the movie is entertaining, some of the humour worked and there are some surprisingly effective emotional moments. This movie is still decent overall, the MCU still hasn’t made a bad movie.

This plot of the movie is more personal, as Peter Quill is finally meeting his father Ego. This storyline is the main focus of the movie, and it was great. However, the conclusion of this storyline was quite underwhelming. There are surprisingly some emotional moments, some of them worked, others didn’t work so well (I’ll get to that in a moment). Despite some of the emotional scenes being hit or miss, I can say that there is a certain scene in the last act which is probably one of the best scenes in the MCU, you’ll know exactly which scene I’m referring to when you see it. Now a reason that some of the emotional scenes didn’t work was because a lot of times the humour actually decreases its impact. Something that really needs to be addressed is the humour in this movie. The use of humour was very hit or miss. The first movie had a lot of jokes but it was balanced out well with the characters and story. This movie however hammers you with an overload amount of jokes and at times it felt like (at least early in the movie) it was just relying on that. The first half of the movie is all fun and humour, the second half is more dramatic and ultimately better, even though there is still a little too much humour in there. Overall this movie had my full attention throughout, even if at the times the story wasn’t the strongest, I was at least entertained. As for post credits scenes, there are like 5 mid-credit scenes in the movie, all of them really weren’t needed, some of them could’ve been fitted inside the ending of the movie before the credits rolled. But some of them at the very least have me interested to see what the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie will be. There’s definitely a lot of potential for a great movie.

The actors all do a great job in their roles but the handling of the characters in this movie was a mixed bag. The best character in the movie by far is Michael Rooker’s Yondu, there is more focus on him this time than in the previous movie. He just has so many great moments in the movie. Also, the interactions between him and Rocket Racoon was absolutely perfect. Fantastic paring. Kurt Russell was also a highlight of this movie, it was great seeing him as Ego interact with his son Peter Quill (played of course by Chris Pratt), however as I said earlier, the payoff of that relationship was underwhelming and weak. Still, Kurt Russell played his part well, and was a scene stealer. Most of the original cast worked well. Zoe Saldana’s Gamora got to interact with Karen Gillan’s Nebula quite a lot, which worked well because of the conflict between them, and we also get to learn about Nebula’s history with her father Thanos. However, I felt that the storyline could’ve been a bit stronger and had more focus on it. Baby Groot wasn’t annoying like I thought he would be but he did feel overused and constantly forced into the movie just to be adorable. As for Dave Bautista’s Drax …. he really wasn’t used well at all. When he’s not a complete joke machine, he is laughing, like all the time. Also, there wasn’t really any arc to him. Sylvester Stallone makes an appearance in the movie, he doesn’t play a huge role but he was great in his short screentime and I can’t wait to see more of him in the future. As for the villain of the movie, I won’t go into spoiler territory. But I will say the villain for was great for most of the movie, but then the last act just reduced them to a simplistic typical MCU villain just to make an explosive climax, and ultimately had a poor payoff. Speaking of villains, there are some secondary villains in the movie who pop up every so often to cause problems, they were incredibly pointless and distracting. While in the long run I understand why they were in the movie, they really could’ve been handled better.

Directionwise, what you saw in the first film is what you get in the sequel, just on a much larger scale. The CGI and action were all really good, no real complaints there. The designs of everything from the ships, to the characters, aliens and the worlds are very creative. The makeup on all the types of aliens were also excellent. The soundtrack (as expected it being a Guardians of the Galaxy film) was very entertaining and well suited for the movie and tone with its use of the score and classic music.

Personally, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 wasn’t as good as the original. The handling of the plot was a bit of a mixed bag, not all the characters were used that well, there was a complete overload of jokes, most of it didn’t work within the movie and a lot of it detracted the effectiveness of the emotional moments. Despite all its many faults however, I do think that it’s worth checking this movie out. This movie is still entertaining overall and it has many elements which work very well (with some surprisingly emotional moments too), it’s just that most of them could’ve and should’ve been done better. Still, I recommend watching this, even if you didn’t like the first movie.

2016 Oscar Predictions

When you look at it in the grand scheme of things, movie awards really don’t matter. There are plenty of movies that should win but don’t, some of them don’t even get nominated, and there are some movies that don’t really deserve to win, but win anyway. So no matter what happens during the awards ceremony, it doesn’t really matter. But still, it’s fun to predict what movies will win and at the same time state what you think should win. Since everyone else is doing it, I decided to give my predictions for the 2016 Academy Awards. I have watched most of the films in the major categories but occasionally there’s a movie like The Hateful Eight which I can’t or just haven’t seen, so just keep that in mind.

* – Haven’t seen yet

BEST PICTURE

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The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room*
Spotlight

Will Win – The Revenant
Should Win – The Revenant
Should’ve Been Nominated – Carol

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Best Director

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Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson – Room*
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

Will Win – Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Should Win – George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should’ve Been Nominated – Todd Haynes – Carol

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BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

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Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Will Win – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Should Win – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

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BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

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Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room*
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years*
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Will Win – Brie Larson, Room
Should Win – Cate Blanchett, Carol
Should’ve Been Nominated – Rooney Mara, Carol (instead of being nominated for supporting)

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BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Will Win – Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Should Win – Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Should’ve Been Nominated – Benicio Del Toro, Sicario

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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight*
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Will Win – Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Should Win – Rooney Mara, Carol

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BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Left to right: Steve Carell plays Mark Baum and Ryan Gosling plays Jared Vennett in The Big Short from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises

The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian
Room*

Will Win – The Big Short
Should Win – The Big Short
Should’ve Been Nominated – Steve Jobs

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BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

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Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina*
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton*

Will Win – Spotlight
Should Win – Spotlight
Should’ve Been Nominated – The Hateful Eight*

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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

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Anomalisa*
Boy and the World*
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie*
When Marnie Was There*

Will Win – Inside Out
Should Win – Inside Out

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BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Bridge of Spies – Thomas Newman
Carol – Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone
Sicario – Johann Johannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – John Williams

Will Win – The Hateful Eight
Should Win – The Hateful Eight
Should’ve Been Nominated – Mad Max: Fury Road – Junkie XL

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BEST SOUND EDITING

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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BEST SOUND MIXING

Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

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Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should’ve Been Nominated – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

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Carol
The Hateful Eight*
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

Will Win – The Revenant
Should Win – The Revenant
Should’ve Been Nominated – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

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Mad Max: Fury Road
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared*
The Revenant

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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BEST COSTUME DESIGN

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Carol
Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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BEST FILM EDITING

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The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should’ve Been Nominated – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

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Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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So what are your thoughts, what do you think will win, what do you think should win and what do you think should’ve been nominated? Comment below and let me know your predictions for 2016.

Creed (2015) Review

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Creed

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Michael B. Jordan as Adonis “Donnie” Johnson Creed
Sylvester Stallone as Robert “Rocky” Balboa, Sr.
Tessa Thompson as Bianca
Phylicia Rashad as Mary Anne Creed
Wood Harris as Tony “Little Duke” Evers
Tony Bellew as “Pretty” Ricky Conlan
Director: Ryan Coogler

Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) is the son of the famous boxing champion Apollo Creed, who died in a boxing match in Rocky IV. Adonis wasn’t born until after his father’s death and wants to follow his father’s footsteps in boxing. He seeks a mentor who is the former heavyweight boxing champion and former friend of Apollo Creed, the retired Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). Rocky eventually agrees to mentor Adonis. With Rocky’s help they hope to get a title job to face even deadlier opponents than his father. But whether he is a true fighter remains to be seen….

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I haven’t watched many of the Rocky movies, I only really watched the first one; so although I was interested in seeing this movie for stars Michael B. Jordan and returning Rocky actor Sylvester Stallone as well as director Ryan Coogler, Creed wasn’t something that I couldn’t wait to see until I heard tremendous acclaim. Everyone is saying that this is the best Rocky film since the original, as I haven’t seen any of the other films I can’t attest to that, but I’m sure that’s the case. However calling Creed a Rocky movie or a boxing movie for that matter, is cutting it short in how incredible it is.

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Ryan Coogler was an interesting choice as director for a Rocky film, seeing as how he only did one film beforehand but as I said earlier, calling Creed a Rocky movie is cutting it short. He did an excellent job with this film. First of all the writing and dialogue is spectacular. I really liked the character of Adonis, he was going through a journey similar but different from Rocky. One thing I like about this is that Adonis is trying to make his own mark on the world without riding the coattails of his father’s name while this movie fights to make its own place in cinema without riding the coattails of the Rocky name. This is what I’m hoping Star Wars: The Force Awakens does, to be great as the previous movies but at the same time is its own thing as well. I also like how you don’t have to have watched the previous Rocky movies or any boxing movies in order to love it like I did.

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Michael B. Jordan shows once again that he is a great actor. He sells both the physical and emotional aspects and this might be his best performance to date. Another person that should be mentioned is Sylvester Stallone. He is absolutely incredible in this movie, I don’t know the last time I’ve seen him give a performance this good. I actually think it’s possible to be nominated (and perhaps win) for best supporting actor, I don’t usually think of these sorts of things but he’s that good.

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The scenes were incredibly well shot, all the environments look dark and real and this really added to the tone of the film. There aren’t many boxing scenes in this movie but when it’s there, it puts you right in the middle of the action. There are many highlights, the end fight was good but the fight I personally thought was the best was the one previously where I swear, all of it is done in one shot. I don’t know if there was any camera tricks used but it looked authentic and real and even if it wasn’t done in one shot, it’s incredible that they made it look like it.

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Creed is hands down one of the best films of the year. The real performances from Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone as well as the great story by Ryan Coogler, makes it an unforgettable experience. Even if you aren’t a big Rocky fan or a big fan of boxing movies, you should check it out as soon as possible. I don’t know if there are going to be any more Creed movies but if there is, I’m definitely looking forward to them, Jordan, Stallone and Coogler have made an amazing movie and one of the best of 2015 for sure.