Tag Archives: Will Smith

I, Robot (2004) Review

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I, Robot

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Will Smith as Det. Del Spooner
Bridget Moynahan as Dr. Susan Calvin
Alan Tudyk as Sonny
Bruce Greenwood as Lawrence Robertson
James Cromwell as Dr. Alfred Lanning
Chi McBride as Lt. John Bergin
Director: Alex Proyas

Del Spooner (Will Smith) investigates the murder of Dr Alfred (James Cromwell), who works at US Robotics, with the help of a robopsychologist. He tries to deduce if a robot has violated the laws of robotics and killed him.

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I saw I, Robot a long time ago and I remembered liking it, but I didn’t remember it strongly. Having seen director Alex Proyas’s The Crow and Dark City (and unfortunately Gods of Egypt) since, I was interested in watching it again. While there are issues for sure and it could’ve been better, I enjoyed the movie for what it was.

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I, Robot is seemingly based off a sci-fi novel, I’m not familiar with it however so I’m treating it as its own movie. Whilst there are moments of interesting scientific musings about the nature of AI and consciousness, it doesn’t really go below the surface level. It could’ve been more, especially considering that it’s from the director of Dark City. It opens strongly with an interesting murder mystery which questions the evolution of technology but by the end is a rather familiar sci-fi action blockbuster. With all that being said, it’s pretty enjoyable taken solely as an action oriented Sci-Fi adventure. Overall, it was a semi-predictable but still moderately intriguing work of sci-fi that still kept my interest. It does take heavy influences from sci-fi films in the past, the robots desiring to become human aspect alone has been popular since Blade Runner. However, it at least has its own creative voice to the table in its worldbuilding on artificial intelligence. It questions the nature of free will, and the plot is a well thought out mystery. It’s not one of the most intelligently defined feature film on robotics (it’s no Ex Machina) but it works enough. There are some issues for sure. There’s a general amount of generic action tropes present, and some dumb dialogue scattered about. The story also does have its cliches and also have some pretty obvious twists. At the same time, it holds a certain charm to it, whether it be the sci-fi aspects, or the over the top 2000s action stuff. Additionally its paced pretty well and I was reasonably engaged throughout.

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The acting is mostly good from the cast. Will Smith is charismatic, energetic and layered in the lead role of a cop who’s prejudiced against robots. He’s close to playing the same hero character he usually plays, but he’s not just mugging to camera, he’s actually playing a fully defined character. Overall he made for an enjoyable protagonist. Alan Tudyk gives a very thoughtful performance as a robot named Sonny, who’s a key character in the story. Even though it’s a voice performance, Tudyk was the highlight performer. The rest of the supporting characters and actors are capable, if not exceptional. Bruce Greenwood is convincing in a villainous sort of role, and James Cromwell works as the murder victim at the centre of the mystery. If there’s a weak leak amongst the cast, it’s Bridget Moynahan in one of the main roles. Her performance is rather bland and forgettable, and robotic (no, there’s no twist where she’s a robot or anything), and the character wasn’t that interesting. Otherwise the rest of the acting was overall decent.

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Alex Proyas directs this, and while it’s not one of his best works, he does some good stuff here. The movie is high on his trademark visual flair and action. The production design was well done, much of the world that we see is just ‘typical futuristic sci-fi stuff’ but the style is good and well put together. The film is littered with dated early 2000s CGI that hasn’t aged gracefully, the CGI visuals for the multiple robots particularly don’t hold up as well now. Overall, I liked the visual atmosphere of the film though. Proyas knows his way around an action scene, and there are some entertaining action here. It does have some excessive early 2000s slow motion action and the hollow and dated effects do hold these scenes back from being as great as they could be. With that said, it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of those moments hugely, I still had fun with them.

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I, Robot isn’t a particularly original film in the sci-fi genre, and it has plenty of problems from the CGI to the predictable and standard plot (especially in the last act). However there are some entertaining action, good performances from Will Smith and Alan Tudyk, and at the very least is a good enough action sci-fi movie which entertains. Don’t expect anything like Ex Machina, but if you’re looking for a fun sci-fi action flick, it’s worth a watch.

Collateral Beauty (2016) Review

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Collateral Beauty

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Will Smith as Howard Inlet
Edward Norton as Whit Yardsham
Keira Knightley as Amy/”Love”
Michael Peña as Simon Scott
Naomie Harris as Madeleine Inlet
Jacob Latimore as Raffi/”Time”
Kate Winslet as Claire Wilson
Helen Mirren as Brigitte/”Death”
Director: David Frankel

When a successful New York advertising executive (Will Smith) suffers a great tragedy, he retreats from life. While his concerned friends try desperately to reconnect with him, he seeks answers from the universe by writing letters to Love, Time and Death. When his notes bring unexpected personal responses, he begins to understand how these constants interlock in a life fully lived and how even the deepest loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty.

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I remember first hearing about Collateral Beauty when both Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara were initially attached to it, although they later both dropped out. Still, it had a cast with the likes of Will Smith, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren and the like, so even though I wasn’t quite sure what the movie was about, I was definitely open to it. Having seen it though, I can say that Jackman and Mara dodged a bullet by dropping out. In the lead up to watching it, I heard so many surprisingly negative things about it, but watching it, it truly blew me away how bad it was.

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There’s no sugar-coating this, the trailers of Collateral Beauty straight up lied about the movie. According to the marketing, it’s about Will Smith writing to Love, Time and Death after a particular tragedy, and them actually coming in person to speak with him. That’s not quite what the movie is however. I would say spoiler alert, but this is pretty much shown within the first 20 minutes. What the movie really is about is that Smith’s friend/colleagues are worried about losing their jobs, so they decide to hire actors to portray Love, Time and Death, get them to talk to Will, record the conversations and then edit the actors out so that Smith can look crazy. I couldn’t make that up if I tried. I should also emphasise that the employees’ plan was literally recording Will Smith and the actors on an iPhone and somehow editing the actors out. What I said was just the premise, the rest of the movie is weak, melodramatic, or unintentionally silly. Some of the things in the movie including the ending is just truly absurd. It’s not so outrageous that you can have a blast watching it, but it had its unintentionally funny moments. It doesn’t even succeed on an emotional or touching level, you don’t like many (if any) of the characters, and it’s hard to get invested with what’s going on.

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This movie has an absurdly talented cast, with Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Michael Pena, Naomie Harris and Helen Mirren all involved. The cast is by far the best part of the movie, giving decent performances, but they are by no means some of the best performances of their careers, and it’s such a shame that their talents aren’t utilised the best here. Smith is in drama mode here, you can tell that he’s trying, but the material doesn’t leave him anything to work with outside of just moping around and acting sad. While he’s at the centre of the movie, you really get to know the side characters more than him.

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There’s really nothing that special about the direction by David Frankel. It’s competently directed I guess but there’s not much to say about it. At times with the way its shot and especially the music, it’s like Collateral Beauty trying to get an emotional reaction out of the audience (and failing greatly).

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Collateral Beauty is truly astounding. While the cast are alright and it is directed okay, the script is a complete mess, with plenty of questionable choices throughout. By the end you’re not even sure what the point of it all was. I can’t recommend seeing it even as a movie to make fun of, but it’s generally harmless, if terrible.

 

Gemini Man (2019) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Will Smith as Henry Brogan/Jackson Brogan
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Dani Zakarewski
Clive Owen as Clayton “Clay” Varris
Benedict Wong as Baron
Director: Ang Lee

Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is an elite 51-year-old assassin who’s ready to call it quits after completing his 72nd job. His plans get turned upside down when he becomes the target of a mysterious operative who can seemingly predict his every move. To his horror, Brogan soon learns that the man who’s trying to kill him is a younger, faster, cloned version of himself.

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Gemini Man was a movie I was cautiously optimistic about. It had a cast involving Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Clive Owen and it was also directed by Ang Lee. However, it was a bit of an odd movie for Lee to be taking on, the director of Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi was taking on an over the top blockbuster that sounds straight out of the 90s, that probably would’ve starred Will Smith. It also turned out that this movie has been in development hell for nearly 20 years with multiple directors and stars set to star in this movie, before eventually being made with Lee and Smith. I didn’t watch the movie in cinemas, mainly because I didn’t hear some favourable things about it. Nonetheless I still wanted to check it out, and I ended up having a good time with it, despite all its problems, and there are many.

The script is definitely the weakest part of the movie. When you hear a director like Ang Lee taking on this movie, you’d think that he would do something special with it to elevate it above its premise. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much what you’d expect it to be, there aren’t many surprises to be had with the movie. First of all, it takes a while for the movie to become what you think it is. You might’ve seen the trailers, with a lot of heavy emphasis on Will Smith on Will Smith action. It’s not quite that movie, in fact the first time the two Will Smiths meet are probably at least 45 minutes into the movie, and that’s just the first encounter. With that said, the movie did pick up when that first encounter finally happened. The plot isn’t all that interesting, but you can follow along with it all right as a standard blockbuster. I’m not kidding when I said that when the third act of the movie concluded however, I was expecting the real climax to follow it up. The end despite its action was rather underwhelming, and I expected a much more satisfying conclusion.

Will Smith is in the lead role, and I think he performed his part pretty well. CGI aside, I thought he did a reasonably good job at playing the younger clone too. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was also good, she also got to take part in some action scenes, and was convincing in them. Benedict Wong didn’t really get to do much but he’s always good to see on screen. Clive Owen plays the villain of the movie, and watching the movie he actually fared better than I thought he would based on some of the reactions I read about him. However, he still was a typical villain and wasn’t all that impressive, even though Owen clearly tried with what he had.

Ang Lee is a great filmmaker, and he still does some decent things with this movie on a directing level. The action was quite good, and it was filmed in a unique way. Along with the idea of a younger Will Smith, a unique aspect on the technical side was that it was filmed at an extra high frame rate of 120fps. I don’t know if it was meant to be seen in 3D to experience anything, but I watched it in 2D, and as that I didn’t really notice anything, so I can’t comment on how well it worked (or didn’t). All the same the action is fast paced and entertaining. We should probably talk about the de-aging CGI on Will Smith to make his clone character look younger. In his first scene and last scene, he looked really off. Maybe I’m reading too deep into it, but maybe it’s because the scenes are quite bright and that usually made the CGI not look all that good. In between those scenes though, it works well enough. You’ve definitely seen better in other more recent movies like The Irishman or Captain Marvel, but it’s enough that you can accept that this is a younger Will Smith.

Gemini Man is the movie that it looks like from the trailers but it’s still a little entertaining. Despite the premise and director, it really doesn’t become much more than an average to decent action flick. It’s still reasonably fun to watch, it has its moments, and the cast are pretty good. It’s not going to rank amongst Ang Lee’s best movies by any means, but I think he still does some good things with it. If you want to be entertained by a simple action movie for 2 hours, Gemini Man fills that need okay enough.

Aladdin (2019) Review

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Will Smith as Genie
Mena Massoud as Aladdin
Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine
Marwan Kenzari as Jafar
Navid Negahban as The Sultan
Nasim Pedrad as Dalia
Billy Magnussen as Prince Anders
Director: Guy Ritchie

Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is a lovable street urchin who meets Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), the beautiful daughter of the sultan of Agrabah (Navid Negahban). While visiting her exotic palace, Aladdin stumbles upon a magic oil lamp that unleashes a powerful, wisecracking, larger-than-life genie (Will Smith). As Aladdin and the genie start to become friends, they must soon embark on a dangerous mission to stop the evil sorcerer Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) from overthrowing young Jasmine’s kingdom.

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I missed 2019’s version of Aladdin in cinemas, and I’ve only recently caught up on. I really didn’t know how I would feel about it leading up to its release. I like Naomi Scott and Will Smith, and I’ve liked most of director Guy Ritchie’s movies I’ve seen. However certain parts of the trailers I weren’t really feeling, not to mention I’m not that hyped for live action Disney remakes in general, even if a couple are decent. It looked like it could be a real mess, but nonetheless I gave it a shot, and hoped that I would somewhat like. I was actually surprised at Aladdin 2019, it’s not anything great but it was quite entertaining.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve watched the original Aladdin, so I can’t remember exactly how similar in plot the new movie is to the animated version. From what I can tell, largely plotwise it’s the same, however certain plot points and moments were handled differently. Having forgotten how the original movie did certain things, I don’t think I have a problem with how they handled the plot in this version of the story (except for maybe Jafar, which I’ll get to in a bit). It is a little long at 2 hours and 10 minutes. Not that it dragged or anything, just feels like it is a little stretched out. I think it’s like 50 minutes into the movie when Aladdin encounters the Genie for the first time. Maybe 5-10 minutes could’ve been shaved off the first act but it’s not a big deal. While it does some different things with the plot, it’s basically just the same plot, so there aren’t any surprises. So as the movie is progressing you’re just waiting for certain plot beats to occur. I’m not quite sure I’d call the movie ‘soulless’ (like most of the other Disney remakes have been called), but that let’s just say I was mostly just watching the movie go through the motions and wasn’t actually invested in the story.

Mena Massoud plays Aladdin and he did a pretty good job in his role. Same goes for Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine, her singing was particularly good (they even give her a new original song for her to sing, that wasn’t in the original movie). Following Robin Williams’s work in the original Aladdin as The Genie is not easy by any means, he’s solidified that as one of the best animated voice performances. Will Smith however managed to have his own take on the iconic character, which was really the only thing that he could’ve done. He’s by far the standout in the whole movie and he improves every scene that he’s in. Even though I like other aspects of the movie as well, I really don’t think I would’ve liked this movie as much without Smith’s Genie. Probably the weakest link of the main cast however is Marwan Kenzari as Jafar. I don’t think it’s necessarily his acting ability that’s the problem. He’s much less over the top in this version, and instead they try to have a much more serious take, which is fair enough, they actually went all in instead of having a half measure of both the original and the new take. With that said it didn’t really work out, he’s not threatening, he’s not interesting, he’s not memorable, he doesn’t even convey any kind of presence at all. Whenever he came on screen, he just seemed like some random guy who I guess was the villain, rather than the powerful and dangerous Jafar. Supposedly there’s going to be an Aladdin sequel based on the sequel to the original animated movie titled Jafar’s Return. If that’s the case, then they are going to need to change a lot with this version of Jafar in order for him to make it work, because after seeing him in this movie, it doesn’t sound appealing at all.

I generally like Guy Ritchie and most of his work here is pretty good, definitely not one of his best movies though. The visuals are bright and overblown, which could be too much for some people, but I’m at least glad that they went all out instead of just replicating exactly what the animated movie did. The CGI mostly worked, but occasionally it had some really fake looking moments. Whenever it came to the Genie however, the CGI actually worked really well, and complemented Smith’s performance nicely. The editing could be a little off at certain points, especially near the beginning. There’s a chase scene that also had some singing and it was really rough. Thankfully the direction of the singing scenes improved later on. The singing itself was mostly fine, though most of it really sounded like it was autotuned and that really took me out of it.

Aladdin 2019 was pretty decent, although it’s got its issues, it’s entertaining, and Smith, Massoud and Scott worked well in their roles. I’m still not on board with these Disney Animated remakes, and just the very idea of them still feels like soulless cash grabs to me. I will say though, at least with Aladdin, they attempted at changing some aspects to have an ‘updated’ take on the story, even if it doesn’t completely work. If you’re the least bit curious, check it out, but if you’ve hated all of Disney’s live action remakes, then Aladdin isn’t going to change your mind.

Men in Black 3 (2013) Review

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Will Smith as James Darrell Edwards III/Agent J
Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin as Kevin Brown/Agent K
Jemaine Clement as Boris the Animal
Michael Stuhlbarg as Griffin
Emma Thompson and Alice Eve as Agent O
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Even though agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) have been protecting the Earth from alien scum for many years, J still does not know much about his gruff partner. However, J soon gets an unexpected chance to find out what makes K tick when an alien criminal called Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) escapes, goes back to 1969, and kills K. With the fate of the planet at stake, J goes back in time and teams up with K’s younger self (Josh Brolin) to put things right.

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The idea of Men in Black 3 leading up to its release didn’t look that good. It’s a movie released 11 years after to a sequel that didn’t hold a candle to the original classic, and the plot involves time travel. It’s really the sequel that no one wanted, and on paper sounded like a complete dud. However, Men in Black 3 somehow was actually pretty good, definitely much better than 2 and was quite a bit of fun for what it was.

Men in Black (or at least the 3 movies) heavily relies on the two leads being J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones). The second Men in Black even brought back K (despite being mind-wiped at the end of the first movie). The third movie is about J being paired up with a younger version of K. It’s at least trying something different, with the whole time travel aspect, and so doesn’t fall into falling into familiar territory like the second movie did. With this being a time travel movie, there might be some plot aspects that don’t always work perfectly, but there’s nothing too major that breaks the movie or anything. Generally the movie or plot is nothing special, but is still entertaining, and still feels like a Men in Black movie. They even managed to add a little bit of emotion towards the end, and tied the whole trilogy together quite well.

Whereas the lead roles of the Men in Black movies are split over two characters, Will Smith is the clear cut lead here and is just as good he was in the previous movies. Tommy Lee Jones only gets a little bit of screentime, it feels like he’s mainly here to contrast with his present day version, but the use of him was fitting. More screentime is given to the younger version of K, played by Josh Brolin, who is perfect at a younger, less grumpy and generally happier version of him. It definitely makes the dynamic between the two very fresh, especially as J is constantly surprised how different and similar the younger K is to the older version. Its really uncanny how well Brolin does his impression, and was definitely one of the highlights of the movie. Jermaine Clement is the villain of the movie, and works well enough for the movie, has a pretty good opening scene. Nothing too memorable but he hams it up appropriately without going way too goofy like the villain in Men in Black 2.

Barry Sonnenfeld returns to direct, and once again it still feels like a Men in Black movie. It’s 11 years later and the effects don’t look that much better than those in the original Men in Black movie (however a lot better than the second movie). With that said the action scenes are a lot better than those in the previous movies.

Men in Black 3 was quite the surprise, not yet on the level of the first movie but still an entertaining watch nonetheless. Even if you don’t like the second movie, if you liked the first movie, MIB 3 is definitely worth giving a chance. While it didn’t seem to announce itself as such, it does work as the end of the trilogy. Now we’ll just have to see if the Men in Black spinoffs actually work without the pairing of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

Men in Black 2 (2002) Review

Time: 88 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tommy Lee Jones as Kevin Brown/Agent K
Will Smith as James Darrell Edwards III/Agent J
Rip Torn as Chief Zed
Lara Flynn Boyle as Serleena
Johnny Knoxville as Scrad/Charlie
Rosario Dawson as Laura Vasquez
Tony Shalhoub as Jack Jeebs
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) and Jay (Will Smith) reunite to provide our best line of defense against a seductress who levels the toughest challenge yet to the MIBs mission statement: protecting the earth from the scum of the universe. While investigating a routine crime, Jay uncovers a plot masterminded by Serleena (Boyle), a Kylothian monster who disguises herself as a lingerie model. When Serleena takes the MIB building hostage, there is only one person Jay can turn to — his former MIB partner.

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Men in Black was such a hit when it came out back in 1997, inevitably it would be getting a sequel. However, Men in Black 2 just didn’t live up to the first movie and really pales in comparison. It’s not terrible by any means, and it’s still rather entertaining. After watching the first two movies in one night though, you can clearly see the downgrade.

With the (spoiler alert) ending of the previous movie with Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) having his memory erased, the sequel really needed to bring him back, it really does undo a bit of the impact from the ending of the first movie. However, it was kind of inevitable, the paring of Kay and Jay (Will Smith) is what made the first movie especially good and stand out. The plot is about Kay having to remember certain things, even after regaining his memory of himself. The plot in the first movie wasn’t fantastic by any means but the plot in this movie just feels rather underwhelming in comparison, like they’re just backtracking and isn’t really that exciting. Much of Men in Black 2 recycles many of the stuff from the first movie and doesn’t do anything too special. While there was still quite a bit of humour that I liked, some of it didn’t feel as fresh. Not that it’s a massive downgrade, it’s just a cut below how funny the first movie was. The previous movie is just under an hour and 40 minutes long, surprisingly Men in Black 2 is less than 90 minutes long, and it really feels like it. While it doesn’t even need to be like 2 hours long, it could’ve had more happening in it, because as it is, it felt a little empty.

The best part about this movie unsurprisingly is Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. Their chemistry is still just as good as in the first movie and they worked well, especially with the dynamic between them. Rosario Dawson is a great actress but despite her having a somewhat important role in the movie, really doesn’t get to do much unfortunately. She’s not bad at all but is just sort of a plot device and nothing more. The villains of Men in Black are a little weird but mostly work, that is to say that 2/3 of them work, and the missing third is from Men in Black 2. Lara Flynn Boyle plays some shapeshifting alien seductress with tentacles, who takes the appearance of a lingerie model. It’s just painful watching her on screen, Boyle really doesn’t have anything to do here except act threatening and sexy, really among my least favourite parts of the movie. Also, Johnny Knoxville is here for some reason and I really would’ve preferred that he wasn’t. Oh and also Michael Jackson shows up at one point for some reason.

Barry Sonnefeld returns to direct and one of the things going for the movie is that it still feels like a Men in Black movie, even if many of the other aspects are weaker than the first movie. The visual effects in the first movie were a little dated but even the weaker effects were at least entertaining in a campy way. With the sequel, somehow the effects have aged much worse, embarrassingly so. I guess they wanted to go bigger, and certain action scenes are bigger and involve larger things happening, but as you can probably already tell the effects on them don’t look particularly good. I’ve seen worse for sure though, and after a while you can get over it.

Men in Black 2 wasn’t that good, while it doesn’t do anything particularly terrible (outside of the effects), it feels like a rehash of the previous movie, only not done quite as well. I probably do like it more than most people who’ve seen it though. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are still good and there are some entertaining bits to it. If you’re a fan of the first movie you might like the second one, worth giving it a shot at the very least.

Men in Black (1997) Review

Time: 98 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Tommy Lee Jones as Kevin Brown/Agent K
Will Smith as James Darrell Edwards III/Agent J
Linda Fiorentino as Dr. Laurel Weaver/Agent L
Vincent D’Onofrio as a giant alien insect
Rip Torn as Chief Zed
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

They are the best-kept secret in the universe. Working for a highly funded yet unofficial government agency, Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) and Jay (Will Smith) are the Men in Black, providers of immigration services and regulators of all things alien on Earth. While investigating a series of unregistered close encounters, the MIB agents uncover the deadly plot of an intergalactic terrorist who is on a mission to assassinate two ambassadors from opposing galaxies currently in residence in New York City.

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With Men in Black International coming soon, I wanted to check out the original trilogy at the very least. I know for sure that I watched the trilogy at least once, but it was many years ago, and so I wanted to see how I felt about it nowadays. I’m surprised at how good it still is, it was pretty entertaining and you can definitely see why it was such a surprise hit when it came out.

You can even tell in some aspects of the writing that Men in Black is a little dated but nonetheless is still quite fun. It’s under an hour and 40 minutes which is really the perfect length for the movie. Not only that, but they keep the movie moving at a pretty good pace, never allowing for a dull moment. Some of the movie sounds insane and weird on paper but they managed to pull it off well. The plot itself isn’t anything special despite this, with it being about aliens trying to take over the world and a secret organisation trying to prevent this. However, you can consider that in the late 90s, this was such an strange yet original idea, and plenty of other films would proceed to take inspiration from and copy it.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones lead the movie and they do it well. As decent as the rest of the movie is, it wouldn’t have worked as well without the two of them, undeniably the highlight of the movie. Probably the biggest surprise was how good Tommy Lee Jones was here. It’s very rare to see him in a comedy but he plays the role very well and his deadpan delivery works perfectly. Will Smith is in his prime in this movie and as you can expect is just great, stealing the show. Both of them played off each other really well and their dynamic is really the driving force of the movie. As great as the cast of Men in Black International is, I can already tell that it’s going to be missing that very entertaining duo. Vincent D’Onofrio is the villain and it certainly isn’t a performance you’ve seen him give outside of this role. He does really well at playing an alien loosely wearing human skin and trying to pass off as a human (which he is). It’s a bizarre performance for sure, but it somehow works amongst the movie’s occasionally strange tone. Not much to say about the rest of the cast, they play their roles fine but don’t particularly stand out.

I’m not too familiar with director Barry Sonnenfeld’s work, I’ve seen Get Shorty and the other two Men in Black movies but that’s it. His work on this first Men in Black movie was good though. Some of the effects still work today, some of the other effects really haven’t held up well but even those work in a 90s blockbuster way. You can tell that even some of the worse effects were probably impressive in the late 90s. The practical effects and makeup was good and the alien designs were very creative and great overall.

Men in Black is by no means one of the best sci-fi films, not even when it comes to just those released in the 90s. However, I had a lot of fun with it, even the dated aspects have some enjoyment to them, and Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are great. If you haven’t checked it out, I do recommend giving it a go, it’s definitely worth a watch.

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.

Suicide Squad Extended Cut and Retrospective Review (2016)

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Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, horror & cruelty
Cast:
Will Smith as Floyd Lawton/Deadshot
Jared Leto as Joker
Margot Robbie as Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn
Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag
Viola Davis as Amanda Waller
Jai Courtney as Digger Harkness/Captain Boomerang
Jay Hernandez as Chato Santana/El Diablo
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Waylon Jones/Killer Croc
Cara Delevingne as Dr. June Moone/Enchantress
Karen Fukuhara as Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana
Adam Beach as Christopher Weiss/Slipknot
Director: David Ayer

Figuring they’re all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret mission. Now armed with government weapons, Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and other despicable inmates must learn to work together. Dubbed Task Force X, the criminals unite to battle a mysterious and powerful entity, while the diabolical Joker (Jared Leto) launches an evil agenda of his own.

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My initial review of Suicide Squad.

I loved Suicide Squad when it came out. It was something different and unique and despite all its flaws, I still really liked it. It’s been many months since I saw this movie for the first time and after many months of thinking about it and especially after watching it again (the extended cut) … let’s just say that my thoughts on Suicide Squad have changed quite a bit. I still like the movie but it’s clearly got a lot of issues.

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Now I think I should get a brief review of the Extended Cut out of the way. How much new Joker footage is in the extended cut? Well there is a extended flashback scene with Harley and Joker in Arkham, as well as a new Joker and Harley flashback. That’s it. That’s literally it. So don’t expect the extended cut to be ‘Suicide Squad: Joker Edition’ as you might think it is. This is a real shame, as we will probably never see even half of the Joker footage which was filmed. The extended cut’s new footage mostly consisted of more interactions with the Squad, which is what the movie needed more of. That’s really it. The new footage doesn’t change the movie in a huge way. The extended/director’s cuts of Batman v Superman and Watchmen really added a lot and improve the movies greatly. With Suicide Squad, the extended cut is better than the theatrical cut, but not by a huge amount. If you watched the Theatrical Cut and didn’t really like it, the Extended Cut isn’t going to make you change your mind.

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Now, to the retrospective review. There are many problems that I have with the film now after thinking about it for many months. There were particularly two major problems that really bug me. The first was with the editing and the cutting of the scenes. It’s practically become infamous with how much footage from the trailers didn’t actually make it into the movie. Even the Extended Cut, which had 12 minutes of new footage even came close to showing all the footage shown in the trailers. Joker, despite being promoted heavily in the film, is only in the film for about 9 minutes in the theatrical cut, and maybe a minute more with the extended cut. It can be shown in both behind the scenes footage and trailer footage that there was a lot of his footage that didn’t make it into the film. This ultimately made Joker feel out of place, it felt like he didn’t exactly belong, especially in the present day sequences where he’s trying to rescue Harley. Granted, he wasn’t implemented that well in the movie overall, but if he was in the movie more he would’ve been less distracting, and plus we would’ve been able to get a better idea of what his Joker actually is. But it’s not only Joker that the cutting of the scenes affected. Certain scenes seem out of place and feel like there were supposed to be more scenes there. The film tries to hide this sometimes, such as the Harley and Joker Flashbacks, where certain parts have these weird coloured filters which were really out of place, and quick sudden cuts (especially shown during the Arkham sequence), and so it felt really awkward. Now I have no idea if the entire direction of the film was changed by Warner Bros or what happened, but it’s pretty clear that Warner Bros did cut a lot out and interfered with the editing of the film. At least with Batman v Superman, the Ultimate Edition restored the footage to Zack Snyder’s cut. Suicide Squad however, not the same case.

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The other major problem I have was the direction that the film was going in. What really bugged me was that Enchantress was the main villain of the film. And my problem with that wasn’t so much the execution of Enchantress (though I definitely had problems there), it was the fact that the Suicide Squad were put up against a godlike character. This is disappointing in many ways. First of all, Suicide Squad (the film) was looking very unique amongst all the other comic book movies, with it having villains as the main characters. It was getting everything right but then the film ultimately turned out to be just another ‘save the world’ movie. Also Enchantress’s powers weren’t handled well. She’s a godlike character who caused a lot of damage but because she was so powerful, the film needed to depower her otherwise the Squad wouldn’t stand a chance against her. Really, none of the Squad stood a chance against her, only perhaps El Diablo was capable, that’s it, and of course he died during the fight against Incubus, Enchantress’s brother. That’s another thing, Incubus was utterly pointless in the movie (not to mention that the CGI started going into Gods of Egypt territory). As a result, the film culminated in an underwhelming fight. The film would’ve benefited a lot more if it was crime based. That’s where David Ayer excels. Perhaps if the Squad was put up against the Joker it would’ve worked more. If the Joker would’ve overshadowed things, than maybe put them up against some other crime based character, just not Enchantress. It’s not like the only issue of the film was the editing, the writing by David Ayer could’ve been better, whether it comes to the story, character motivation and the dialogue (yes, a lot of the dialogue did not work). But we can’t really blame him a lot for that, he only had 6 weeks to write the screenplay (another failing on Warner Bros’s part). Other gripes with the film was that aside from their introductions, all the members of the Squad were more anti heroes than actual villains, and it is possible for them to be villainous protagonists. Only Amanda Waller and Enchantress actually felt like villains.

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Now, to some more positive stuff. The characters are great and are what carries the movie. However, there are still some issues there, I do have at least one problem with each of the characters, Deadshot felt a little too heroic, Harley Quinn was inconsistent, Rick Flagg was just fine, El Diablo could’ve had a little more depth, Katana and Killer Croc don’t have a lot of development and are just sort of there, Boomerang is entertaining but doesn’t have a lot to work with. And Slipknot… well he served his purpose, a random person to be killed at the beginning of the movie. As for The Joker, the major issue was really with the editing, and plus the writing for him could’ve been better. I loved what Leto did with the character but The Joker didn’t really fit well in the movie. As for Enchantress… she could’ve been a lot better, however I will say that I liked her more on the second viewing. I found that it was mostly the dialogue that worked against her. She was a ‘take over the world’ villain, which could work (I love Apocalypse), but her dialogue just made it hard to take her seriously. However, when she was in both forms when she was just using magic and carrying out her plan, she was great. To put it simply, I like Enchantress when she doesn’t speak. The best character of the film for me was Amanda Waller, Viola Davis played her excellently, I can’t wait to see more of her in the DCEU. I do like all the characters despite their problems. They are fun to watch, and the actors do play them quite well. The action is good, if forgettable at times, the first action sequence was the best (especially when Deadshot was on the car). The soundtrack is good but inconsistent (like every scene would have a new song, way too many songs were used). The score by Steven Price is criminally underrated. I liked Ayer’s overall direction of the film (except when it came to dealing with the cut scenes), it was entertaining and worked mostly well.

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Overall, I still like Suicide Squad quite a bit but like with Captain America: Civil War, I noticed more flaws in it as time went on. There’s definitely some problems as stated up above. Even though Suicide Squad is disappointing in retrospect, I wouldn’t consider it bad. We can only hope that Warner Bros learns from this and Batman v Superman, letting the director’s handle their own cuts is a much better idea. It’s honestly a miracle that this film got made with all the random decisions that were made. I’m sadly not really hyped for a Suicide Squad sequel. I will give Suicide Squad credit for introducing many characters into the DCEU but I feel that they could’ve done it a lot better. Now, it was announced recently that director David Ayer would be directing Gotham City Sirens (which will have Harley Quinn, Catwoman and Poison Ivy). He’s not writing it, instead it’s written by Geneva Robertson-Dworet (who’s not really written anything, so we’ll have to see how she does), so there might so there’s potential for the movie to be quite good. The direction (aside from the editing) of the movie was quite good so we’ll just have to see what happens. Overall to me, Suicide Squad is still enjoyable, just disappointing looking back at it.

Suicide Squad (2016) Review

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Suicide Squad

Time: 123 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Will Smith as Floyd Lawton/Deadshot
Jared Leto as Joker
Margot Robbie as Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn
Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag
Viola Davis as Amanda Waller
Jai Courtney as Digger Harkness/Captain Boomerang
Jay Hernandez as Chato Santana/El Diablo
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Waylon Jones/Killer Croc
Cara Delevingne as Dr. June Moone/Enchantress
Karen Fukuhara as Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana
Adam Beach as Christopher Weiss/Slipknot
Director: David Ayer

Figuring they’re all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret mission. Now armed with government weapons, Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and other despicable inmates must learn to work together. Dubbed Task Force X, the criminals unite to battle a mysterious and powerful entity, while the diabolical Joker (Jared Leto) launches an evil agenda of his own

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My updated thoughts on Suicide Squad.

Suicide Squad was one of my most anticipated movies of 2016. It has a unique premise and its part of the DCEU, which I’m loving so far. Having finally seen the movie, I have to say that I am quite satisfied with Suicide Squad. I will admit that it does have its noticeable flaws but I still do think it’s really good. It’s a lot of fun, the characters are handled well, it was a very enjoyable movie.

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The story is very straightforward and simple, aside from the bit about criminals working for the government, it’s a pretty standard save the world type story. There’s not a whole lot of surprises in the movie. For me though it was the characters and their interactions that drove the movie. The humour was incorporated well into the movie, it’s funny when it needs to be but doesn’t feel out of place, it still maintains a reasonably dark tone. And yes, before many people ask, this movie is ‘fun’. Some have criticised the first act, it’s basically all the backstories of the main characters. I personally really liked it, even though there are a couple of flashbacks during the rest of the film, by establishing most of the characters’ stories at the beginning of the film it got all of it done earlier, no need for constant flashbacks throughout the rest of the rest of the film. I liked the other 2 acts in general as well plotwise. There is a mid credit scene which ties into other movies in the DCEU so be sure to stick around to the end. I pretty much enjoyed this movie from start to finish, I was interested in what was going on but once again it was the characters that were the highlight of the film.

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Most of the main characters got at least one moment to shine, and there was something memorable about all of them. Margot Robbie IS Harley Quinn, she was absolutely fantastic in the role, she’s one of the most entertaining characters to watch in the film. Will Smith as Deadshot surprised me, I didn’t really know what to expect from him but he was one of the showstealers, he had charisma, he was nice to watch, he was believable in the role, he was great. Another surprising performance was Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag. That was a role that could’ve just been a generic soldier character but Kinnamon did a great job and elevated the role, he and Smith really played off each other and was one of the most entertaining dynamics of the film. Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang was great, he was really the comic relief of the movie and was absolutely hilarious. He finally found a role that worked out for him. Another stand out was Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, who was also a surprise for me, he is given quite a bit of depth and probably one of the most likable characters in the film. There is a scene involving his backstory which was done especially and incredibly well. The other squad members, Katana (Karen Fukuhara), and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Abaje) are also great in their roles. And the final member Slipknot…. well there’s not much to say about him, not spoiling anything.

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In regards to Jared Leto’s Joker, he’s not in the movie a lot, he’s on screen for like 7 minutes max. I liked what Jared Leto did with the character though, you can’t compare him to Ledger’s Joker because for one, it’s a completely different kind of Joker and two, there’s not enough screen time given to Leto to judge. I do think that we should’ve gotten more of him, and a lot of his footage shouldn’t have been cut (but I’ll address all that later). It was a decent taster of what’s to come for his character in future movies. His relationship with Harley does differ from the comics, here he actually somewhat cares for her, and that will divide some people, I’ll bring it up later on. But I’ll say that I have mixed feelings about how they decided to portray their relationship. The main villain, which I won’t reveal for those who don’t want to spoiled (not really a spoiler though) was kind of weak. The person who played the villain did put a lot of effort into it, and I think the effects for the character were great, and there’s something intriguing about the concepts of the character (especially at the beginning) but the writing wasn’t good for the character, especially the dialogue, which is pretty much clichéd taking over the world villain dialogue. It was a shame because if they gave more depth to the villain and have more development for the character in general, the villain would’ve worked better. However, I will say that despite this, Suicide Squad still has a great villain with Viola Davis’s Amanda Waller (yes she counts as a villain), she was absolutely fantastic. Intimidating and cold, she was also a showstealer (and perhaps gave the best performance in the whole movie). I can’t wait to see her interact with other characters in the DCEU. I think that’s the biggest takeaway I had with these characters, they played so well off each other and made huge impressions that I’m excited to see them in other films. While I’m at it I should mention that the cameos were handled quite well, it makes the DCEU feel even bigger.

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Direction wise I think the film is very good, David Ayer is a very talented director. The film definitely feels more real in its locations, costumes, etc, which makes it quite fresh and new for a comic book movie. The film does have quite a lot of Easter eggs that I won’t spoil in case they haven’t been spoiled for you yet. The action scenes are good and very enjoyable to watch, though the action isn’t really very memorable. Also while I liked the third act and the action during it, the fight with the main villain at the end was honestly underwhelming, wasted potential, like the treatment of the villain in the film. The only effects that were iffy for me was for one of the villains (not the main villain), it looked really out of place and fake, borderline Gods of Egypt CGI (I’ll review that movie soon by the way). The rest of the CGI was fine. While I was questioning the modern day soundtrack before seeing the movie, I thought it worked well. Composer Steven Price’s score also was good.

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Now onto the editing. The editing has been getting a lot of criticism. Personally like with Batman v Superman I was generally fine with it, I was able to watch and follow the movie. But for me the one problem I had with the editing was the fact that they cut a lot of footage, there’s a lot of footage that’s in the trailers but not in the movie. This happened quite a lot with The Joker. I felt like Warner Bros cut some things out because they were too scared to show them, for example they cut out a scene which showcased Joker and Harley’s abusive relationship, but I have a strong feeling that this worked against them. Even though Batman v Superman’s original cut had editing issues, I felt like Suicide Squad suffered from this problem more, at least in terms of the scenes they decided to cut. I don’t know who’s to blame for the cut footage but I do think it was a mistake for them to make this decision. Despite this being a problem for me, the film still works quite well with the scenes that are still included.

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With this film branching off into different DC characters never seen before on the big screen, I can say I’m loving the direction the DCEU is going in. Suicide Squad had a lot of great characters, it’s very fun and entertaining and its something we’ve never seen before. Even though I have listed a lot of problems with the movie (mostly due to the villain and editing and especially the cut scenes), it’s pros really do outweigh the cons. Amongst audiences this film is quite divisive, about as divisive as Batman v Superman. Don’t use that film as an indicator of whether you’ll like Suicide Squad or not, they are very different types of films. I’m not sure if you’ll actually like this movie. But I do think it’s worth seeing for yourself.