Grosse Point Geek’s Wrap Up Of 2019 (and 2020 preview)

Grosse Point Geek’s Wrap Up Of 2019 (and 2020 preview)

2019: In Review A Blog Year In Review

As we approach the end of 2019 I have to say that on the whole it’s been a fairly good year for films. Stars Wars had a great send off with JJ Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker, the Infinity Stones story arc which had been the backbone of the MCU since 2008 ended spectacularly with the outstanding Avengers Endgame, DC finally got their house in order and delivered an absolute humdinger with Joker  – which is now the first and only R rated movie to pass the $1 Billion mark at the worldwide box office.

 

There was utter lunacy to be enjoyed in Hobbs and Shaw which was really great fun, John Wick Chapter 3 delivered some top notch action and proved to be the best entry in the franchise so far, a very funny and rather endearing love story played out  in Long Shot and good old Sylvester Stallone returned for the fifth time as Rambo in a film so violent it may well have offended just about every single critic on the planet– not that he cared, it did big bucks at the box office and we film geeks lapped up every brilliant blood drenched minute of it – (the sound of Mexican drug gangs running for the hills in terror can still be heard).

 

We also witnessed the continued rise of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime  -it has to be said though that with the notable exception of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, these still haven’t quite mastered their film output but series wise they can’t be touched – The likes of the Expanse, The Man In The High Castle, The Crown and Jack Ryan were all excellent.

 

Finally there were some top notch performances from the likes of Adam Driver (Marriage Story and Star Wars) Daniel Craig (Knives Out) Mahershala Ali (Green Book) Brad Pitt (Once Upon a time in Hollywood) Matt Damon (Le Mans 66) and of course Joaquin Phoenix who was astounding in Joker

 

Naturally and as per bloody usual there were also some serious let-downs and downright dogs,  – Alita Battle Angel was staggeringly awful, Godzilla King Of The Monsters was beyond crap, X-Men Dark Phoenix proved to be even worse than we feared, Blinded By The Light was so appallingly bad and badly acted that I almost walked out of the screening, The Lion King remake didn’t work at all  and was nothing more than a shot for shot remake of the original , then there was Dumbo which failed to recreate any of the magic that made Disney’s original such a classic, Neil Marshall’s pointless Hellboy reboot showed promise in its design work and story but ultimately turned out to be an utter turd of a film, and whilst it had its good points, the highly anticipated Terminator Dark Fate proved to be nothing more than a complete re-tread of everything we had already seen before in this franchise.

 

Anyway, enough ranting  – here are my 2019 top ten best, top ten worst, top 15 honouree mentions, top 15 best performances and finally the films I’m most excited to see in 2020.

 

Top Ten Best films:

  1. Avengers: Endgame
  2. Green Book
  3. The Irishman
  4. Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker
  5. Joker
  6. John Wick Chapter 3
  7. Le Mans 66
  8. Knives Out
  9. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
  10. Rambo: The Last Blood (yes I know  – I’m on my way to hell for including this one!)

 

Top Ten Worst films

  1. Alita Battle Angel (pointless, boring, dull, piss poor)
  2. Hellboy (awful)
  3. Godzilla King Of The Monsters (definitely left a Michael Bay-alike stench in the nostrils – total crap and badly acted to boot)
  4. Blinded By The Light (the mere thought of this film makes me angry)
  5. The Lion King (cynical audience rip off)
  6. X-Men Dark Phoenix (damp squib – how did they screw this one up?)
  7. The Silence (terrible copy of a Quiet Place)
  8. Shazam (despite everyone really liking this one I absolutely HATED IT!)
  9. The Prodigy (forgettable rubbish)
  10. Glass (garbage sequel to Unbreakable and Split – I’m now beginning to seriously dislike M. Night Shyalaman)

 

 

Top fifteen Honouree Mentions:

  1. Long Shot
  2. Hobbs and Shaw
  3. Ad Astra
  4. Hustlers
  5. Angel Has Fallen
  6. The Mule
  7. It Chapter 2
  8. The Man who killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot
  9. Zombieland 2
  10. Last Christmas
  11. Captain Marvel
  12. Bumblebee
  13. Fighting with My Family
  14. Rocketman
  15. Marriage Story

 

 

Top 15 best performances:

  1. Joaquin Phoenix  – Joker
  2. Adam Driver – Marriage Story and Star Wars The Rise Of Skywalker
  3. Scarlett Johansson  – Marriage Story
  4. Joe Pesci  – The Irishman
  5. Jennifer Lopez  – Hustlers
  6. Seth Rogen – Long Shot
  7. Mahershala Ali – Green Book
  8. Viggo Mortensen – Green Book
  9. Robert Downey Jr – Avengers Endgame
  10. Matt Damon – Le Mans 66
  11. Brad Pitt – Once Upon a time in Hollywood
  12. Daisy Ridley  – Star Wars The Rise Of Skywalker
  13. Sam Elliott – The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot
  14. Daniel Craig – Knives Out
  15. Clint Eastwood  -The Mule

 

 

Most Anticipated Films of 2020:

  1. Tenet
  2. 1917
  3. Top Gun: Maverick
  4. Fast and Furious 9
  5. Black Widow
  6. The Eternals
  7. Bill and Ted Face The Music
  8. Ghostbusters : Afterlife
  9. Army Of The Dead
  10. No Time To Die
  11. Wonder Woman 1984
  12. JoJo Rabbit
  13. Dune
  14. The Gentlemen
  15. Bloodshot

 

Finally will someone at Warner Bros. please please please please release the Snyder cut of Justice League! You know it exists, we know it exists, Snyder has given us proof it exists, Momoa, Affleck and Gal Gadot have seen it and said its great, you and sodding Joss Whedon short changed us with whatever the hell that version was you released last year – we are pissed off, motivated, and we demand to see it NOW!

 

Right that’s it for another year, many thanks to all the fans of Phil’s Quick Capsule Reviews for sticking with us (whoever you are) , also a big shout out to my dear friend Phil Hobden, without whom I would have no one to win arguments with about films and who does such a sterling job of keeping this great website going all year round.

 

I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year

 

My name is Will Strong and I’ve Been Grosse Pointe Geek – may the Force be with you all.

 


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Phil’s Best To Worst: Star Wars Movies! (Updated with The Rise Of Skywalker)

Phil’s Best To Worst: Star Wars Movies! (Updated with The Rise Of Skywalker)

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Listed from best to Attack Of The Clones, Phil, of Phil’s Quick Capsule Review, breaks down a film related subject in order of his own personal enjoyment.  This time out: Star Wars Films!

 

The Rules: So I’ve excluded the throwaway 80’s Ewok kids films here as well as the Christmas special as it’s far from cannon.  So just the main 12 Star Wars films and the feature length Clone Wars movie.

——

 

BEST: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Empire Strikes Back is a franchise high point for many reasons but MOSTLY as it’s the Star Wars film Lucas had least to do with, instead putting the film into the hands of Kasdan.  It shows – more mature, darker and edgier it still boasts one of cinemas best twist endings and adds depth to the cut out characters from Star Wars.  Essential.

 

——

2. Star Wars: A New Hope

Groundbreaking, epic and genre defining space sagas don’t get much better than this. A lean plot, some edge of your seat action sequences and THAT ending make Star Wars a simply outstanding film.

——

3. Star Wars: The Return Of The Jedi

I love Return of The Jedi.  Growing up it’s the Star Wars film I watched the most (it certainly has the best action of any Star Wars films).  Years on the excitement still holds but there are shadows of the failings of the prequels here also (Ewok’s for some but mostly the convoluted plotting, the fact everyone knows or is related to the Skywalkers and the weak dialogue).  Still the final space battle and the lightsabre duel stand out as the franchises two best moments

——

4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Yup that hit the spot.  Rogue One, a war story, a story of hope and overcoming overwhelming odds.  And thats just the making of it.  Yet it works.  It works SO well in fact that it’s jumped to No4 on this list.

 

——

5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi 

Delivering a new style of Star Wars film, The Last Jedi makes some bold choices (and some silly ones) to take Star Wars in a fresh new direction that will finally allow it to move past it’s Skywalker focus story and firmly land the legacy on the shoulders of some new characters. It doesn’t all work but when it does it’s some of them most spectacular Star Wars yet!

——

6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens  

After the much maligned prequels, the first Star Wars film to be Lucas free felt very much like a homage as it retooled A New Hope’s story and gave us a “Best of” compilation.  That said it was well done, set up an array of exciting new characters and gave us well hell of a twist when you know what happens to you know who.  Not as good as we wanted it to be but a massive step up from the prequels.

 

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7. Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker 

Look The Rise Of Skywalker is a mess for sure, the whole trilogy lacking a cohesive drawn out narrative from the start and this for sure plays out as a massive negative here as JJ struggles to pull it all together.  It also is hampered by Carrie Fisher’s death, something that causes narrative issues.  BUT these points aside it’s a good film – spectacular action sequences, solid twists and turns and some great character work by the core cast.

——

8. Solo : A Star Wars Story 

Solo is good.  It’s just a victim of the production issues that plagued it from the start.  The cast are mostly superb (Clarke isn’t sadly) but the film runs out of steam as it tries to hit every Solo touch point referenced in previous Star Wars films.  Good but could have been better

 

——

9. Star Wars: The Revenge Of The Sith

The best of a very bad bunch, Sith at least had a darkness to it that the franchise had avoided previously.  It’s still shouldered with terrible acting, a plot that steps on the original trilogy more than it ever needed to and some terrible FX work BUT it’s not Attack of The Clones.

 

——

10. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2005)

From little acorns big Oak Trees grow and that’s very much the case here.  See the Star Wars: the Clone Wars animated film has nuggets of promise that would later be fulfilled by the excellent TV show but the feature length pilot instead gets itself weighed down in trying to please too many people and ends up being a bit of a mess.

 

——

11. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 

Deeply flawed, badly plotted and criminally dull at times this film is saved by some excellent visuals (although dated FX), the pod race and the final duel between Jedi & Sith.  It overplays it’s hand throughout however and the Jedi prove to be rather dull as leading characters.  Less said about Jake Lloyd the better.

 

——

WORST: Star Wars: Attack of The Clones 

A real low for the series and one of the worst sequels ever made, Attack of The Clones gets almost nothing right.  If A terrible story that makes no sense, a boring end battle where CGI things shoot CGI things and the blowing of one of Star Wars most talked about moments (The Clone Wars!!!) weren’t enough you also have one of the most wooden central performances ever (helped by some of the worst dialogue ever).  It’s a bad film. And one to be avoided.

 

 


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Star Wars: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019): Review by Grosse Point Geek

Star Wars: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019): Review by Grosse Point Geek

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Plot in a nutshell

Sometime after the events of The Last Jedi, the Resistance are still battling the First Order and Rey (Daisy Ridley) is training to be a Jedi under the watchful eye of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher),  meanwhile a terrifying message is detected coming out of the depths of space  – the evil Emperor Palpatine is alive and threatening to destroy all who oppose him  – its now a race against time to find his whereabouts before he can unleash a vast armada of planet killing ships and bring about the return of the Sith.

 

What worked?

In my view – a lot.

To begin with the story is superb, a rollicking good old fashioned space adventure, spanning lots of different locations, throwing in various McGuffins with some really interesting twists and unexpected turns.

As always with Star Wars, the action scenes deliver in spades, light sabre duels, blaster fights, space battles and endless escapism which had me whooping for joy.

Once again, the acting is also excellent  –  Adam Driver as Kylo Ren/Ben Solo is extremely good and has now become one of the film industry’s most talented actors working today.

I also have to say that Daisy Ridley was brilliant as Rey, effortlessly showing how she has come on leaps and bounds from her rather wide eyed performance in The Force Awakens, the girl absolutely gives it her all here and along with Adam Driver totally anchors the whole film. The ever charismatic Oscar Isaac is great as Poe Dameron, even managing to channel his inner Han Solo with some cheeky one liners and knowing smirks. Finally there is the return of the magnificent Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine  -the stuff of nightmares, seriously evil, and completely beyond redemption  – the guy owns this role so completely that when he’s on screen you just cant take your eyes off him – to say he is incredible in this role would be the understatement of the millennium.

 

What could have been better?

Despite how good the plot was I have to say that it was at times a bit too densely packed and there were some ‘Basil Exposition’ moments that caused me to roll my eyes on several occasions.

The whole thing also seemed somewhat too focussed on Poe, Rey and Kylo which meant that some characters remained underdeveloped or didn’t get enough screen time – for example Billy Dee Williams comes back as Lando Calrissian but isn’t nearly in the film enough, then there is the excellent Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico who finds herself side-lined here in an almost afterthought of an appearance – a decision which seemed to be paying lip service to the hammering she had off the idiotic troll fanboys for The Last Jedi. Lastly, even though he’s on screen for most of the film, John Boyega as Finn isn’t really allowed to shine much at all and is very overshadowed by Ridley, Driver and Isaac – which is a shame as he is a great actor and was very central to the plots of the last two films.

 

Review summary

Very well directed by JJ Abrams, winning performances from Ridley, Driver, Isaac and McDiarmid , cracking action, lots of throwbacks to the original trilogy and an interesting plot with lots of unexpected twists and reveals -Rise Of Skywalker is a fantastic thrill ride that had me completely fixated for its nearly 140 minute running time, yes there are flaws, but to be honest I was so caught up in the whole thing that it really didn’t matter. Wonderful stuff, I loved it.

 

 


Review epilogue

As the Skywalker story comes to a close I thought id share with you some of my thoughts on this incredible film franchise. As most who know me (long suffering girlfriend, long suffering family, the eternally exasperated Phil Hobden etc) will be aware that I have been a dedicated Star Wars fan for nigh on 42 years. For me its always been about the films themselves, I’ve never cared for the expanded universe, the books, the games etc plus I really don’t take any notice of the highbrow critics or rabidly moronic fanboys who still cant see what Star Wars is all about.

For me Star Wars is simply a wonderful fairy story  -one based on all the classic tales our parents read us when we were little –   theres a castle, a hero, a princess, a wise old wizard and a man dressed in black –and  that’s all a fairy story needs to be.

Star Wars represents everything incredible in this world and in life itself-  the ability to rise above your standing, that mastering a skill isn’t ever easy and takes lots of hard work, that failure is the best lesson of all because it teaches us to always try harder,  that those who are older and wiser are in fact pretty much right about everything (even if they are 900 years old) that heroes can be flawed, villains can be redeemed and most important of all –  good will always triumph over evil.

Thankyou George Lucas and may the force be with you – always.


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Terminator Dark Fate (2019):  Review by Grosse Point Geek

Terminator Dark Fate (2019): Review by Grosse Point Geek

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Plot In a Nutshell: Forget everything you already have seen in the previous three sequels (Rise of The Machines, Salvation and Genysys), Dark Fate is a direct sequel to Terminator 2 Judgement Day and thus completely reboots the franchise. Linda Hamilton is back as Sarah Connor, as is Arnie in another reincarnation of the T800, plus James Cameron returns in a principal producer capacity and contributes heavily to the story.

As we saw in T2 Skynet is no more however in the near future its been replaced by another AI program gone mad called Legion, which attacks humanity by setting off a nuclear war, the surviving  humans fight back, Legion then sends an advanced terminator (known as a Rev 9) back in time to kill the leader of the resistance (Natalia Reyes), who in turn send back a heroic warrior (Mackenzie Davis) to serve as said future leader’s protector.

What worked? The action is excellent  – in fact its the best its been since T2 – an opening freeway battle is expertly handled by director Tim Miller (Deadpool) as is a breathtaking  aerial set piece featuring two huge planes and alot of firepower.

Linda Hamilton is once again brilliant as Sarah Connor,  Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes are superb plus Arnold Schwarzenegger gives a very good and pleasingly understated performance as a T800 who has become almost human after spending years in the present timeline. Finally the effects are pretty impressive too  – particularly those used to create the Rev 9 terminator who is even more unstoppable than Robert Patrick’s T1000 from T2.

 

What could have been better? In a word – The Plot. With the notable exception of the fourth film (Salvation – flawed but still pretty good) the Terminator series at its base level has always just been about two characters coming back in time from a nuclear ravaged future to kill/protect a person of extreme significance to the survival of the human race – with a few twists here and there.

This same story has now been done FIVE times over and its wearing pretty bloody thin. As a good friend of mine is known to say “same shit – rehashed” – and rehashed Terminator Dark Fate most certainly is. Yes there is a couple of twists (one fairly shocking) but so what?- At its heart the film is nothing more than everything we have seen before and the result is that it doesn’t move the Terminator story on one inch more. Yes i agree its a helluva lot better than the godawful Genysys – which was absolutely piss poor, but on reflection i found that it was marginally better than Rise Of The Machines and overall only managed to be on about a level par with Salvation.   

 

So what next for this franchise?  – well I for one want to see the future war actually happen, i want to know what is in store for Sarah, i want to see how Natalia Reyes character becomes the leader of the resistance, how the human race fights back, how they get their weapons, what battles they fight etc etc  -what i DON’T want is the same old sodding time travel plot  told over and over again  as it has been done to death! I also certainly don’t want to have my intelligence insulted any more by the likes of James (slowest film maker in the universe) Cameron braying on about how he is going to bring something fresh to the table when all he and director Tim Miller have done is serve up the SAME DAMN STORY AGAIN! 

Finally can someone please have a word with dear old Arnold Schwarzenegger? The man is an absolute legend, we all love him to death but theres no denying that the Austrian Oak is looking seriously past his prime and now needs to hang up the shotgun and let this franchise move on without him  –  just saying.

 

Review Summary: Certainly not at all the worst of the franchise – not by a long long way – in fact i have to admit that on the whole it IS a pretty good film, the action is superb, its well acted and its never ever less than enjoyable, indeed if there is another sequel i will of course go and see it. However  – its glaringly not even close to the brilliance of the first and second films plus the plot is nothing more than a complete and utter redo/rehash/total copy of everything we have already seen before  – and if anyone says otherwise (i.e James Cameron) then they are lying their heads off.

 

See at The Cinema? – Yes

Buy On Blu Ray? Yes

Pray the next sequel has a different plot? Get on your knees now

Author: Grosse Point Geek 

 

 


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Rambo: Last Blood (2019): Review by Grosse Pointe Geek

Rambo: Last Blood (2019): Review by Grosse Pointe Geek

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Plot In a Nutshell: 10 years after returning home from Burma, Ex Green Beret John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone)  looks to have finally  found peace running his deceased fathers horse ranch in Arizona and looking after his teenage niece. However things take a turn for the worse when said niece goes looking for her long lost father in Mexico and ends up being kidnapped by a notorious sex trafficking cartel – naturally Rambo heads off to save her  – cue explosions, guns, knives, arrows, claw hammers, buckets of blood and a very large number of dead Mexican gangsters who frankly should have stayed at home – or at least wished they had.

 

What worked: The action is brilliant  – particularly the final 20 minutes which simply has to be seen to be believed.  Its also one of the most violent blood drenched films i have ever watched in my life….and thank God for it  – Stallone promised us a hard R action fest and has delivered in spades  – speaking of which the big man is awesome once again as Rambo, chewing the scenery with gusto and proving that at 73 he can still kick ass with the best of them.

 

What could have been better: It could have done with being 10 minutes longer and maybe had one more action scene plus the script is a bit clunky. Its also not a film for the faint of heart (pardon the pun), nor what what one would call a date movie  plus it has mostly been made to appeal to certain niche fans who grew up happily watching these types of films  – i.e 40 – 50 year old adolescents (people like me).

 

Review Summary: A proper old school action packed slice of mayhem and ultra violence  –  Stallone is a legend, obviously knows his audience well, has happily stuck two fingers up to the critics and the politically correct brigade and made a film for all us proper Rambo fans who have loved this character since he blasted into our consciousness 37 years ago in First Blood.

 

What a film  – see it now.

 

Author: Grosse Pointe Geek 

 


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I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story (2019): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story (2019): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

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In the opening minutes of this documentary I was treated to a dose of dread I don’t quite remember ever feeling before. Documentaries tend to be the odd genre out for me, I’m up for watching anything that’s fiction but I, fairly or unfairly, have to be legitimately interested in the subject matter if I feel I can give a documentary the accurate time of day.

When this strange beast of a film opened up I was treated to the sight and voice of a young woman, in film with production reminiscent of a half-assed Disney channel puke fest, gushing about her love… for One Direction – the alarm bells went off. I didn’t know anything about this thing before hand, the only reason I watched it was for a review assignment, and that being the case – it would be rude and inconsiderate of me to even consider turning it off if the first sign of trouble only persisted for longer than I can take.

But, determined I was to see it through so I sucked up my feelings of horror and trudged on. I’m glad to say they were not to last as the subject quickly shifted to a different boy band and the overall premise of this thing became apparent, a number of females, ranging multiple ages, are interviewed about their love/obsession with particular boy bands. I will admit that, as I just wrote those words, it does seem a bit dumb, and had I known that was the story being told here (and how sickeningly cheerful it can be at times) I wouldn’t have been interested to see this one if it was up to me.

There are some interesting subjects touched upon here, the filmmakers did do a good job at delving as much as possible into the psych behind this kind of extreme fandom, the interviewees are articulate, have interesting things to say and engaging stories to tell, the weren’t boring or annoying – quite the opposite; and I related to much of it due to myself admittedly having things I know I am a fan of to the extreme. But, what put me off a bit, was how cheerful the tone is – persistently, there’s nothing to suggest the film has any other intention than to celebrate the fandom of its interviewees, have them say a bit about themselves and that’s pretty much it.

Like I said – there were bits and things said I did find interesting but I give it a 5/10 because the good and bad seem equally balanced, there is some intrigue but it could’ve/should’ve explored more territory, regardless of these girls all having different boy bands they obsess over it all feels like the same story being told in different ways. It was intense when they talk about strained family relationships and fascinating when they talk about journeys to meet or see their idols but it wares thin after a while and it especially doesn’t help that, like I said before, filmmaking-wise it looks like the kind of thing the Disney channel would push out with the hope of no one noticing.

After seeing the whole I still think it would have been no great loss if I gave it a miss if it were up to me and I just wish it went deeper than it did, explored more territory and did more than just celebrate its subject, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating something, even extreme fandom, but you need to do more than that, you need to present a subject, that gave me the creeps when it first reared its head, with a broader treatment than simply “isn’t it cute?” So its ok, don’t need to see it again, didn’t change my life but wasn’t painful despite a cheap look and did have at least some interesting things to say.

 

Author: Motion Picture Maniac  

 


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Angel Has Fallen (2019): Review by Grosse Point geek

Angel Has Fallen (2019): Review by Grosse Point geek

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Plot In A Nutshell: When the President of The United States (Morgan Freeman) is attacked and his security detail wiped out, legendary secret service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler)  finds himself framed and forced to go on the run to clear his name and find out who the real villains are.

 

What worked: Butler is solid as ever, Freeman is wonderful as POTUS and the great Nick Nolte steals every scene he’s in as Banning’s estranged war vet father.

 

Most importantly the action is really great  – lots of explosions, gun fights, fisticuffs, death, destruction and a cracking last 20 minutes when all hell breaks loose in a bullet riddled fight to the death between Banning and the baddies.

 

What could have been better: To say the least its somewhat predictable  – you can guess who the villains are from a mile off, the dialogue is at times a bit ‘Basil Exposition’ and on the whole it isnt as good as the last two films in the ‘Has Fallen’ franchise.

 

Review Summary: Lacks the kinetic lunacy and heart in the mouth cheer for the good guys spirit of Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen but Butler, Freeman and particularly Nolte are fantastic, the action delivers in spades and the whole thing is hugely enjoyable from beginning to end. Ok it isnt exactly Oscar friendly but who cares when a film is this much fun?

 

 

See it at the cinema? Yes

 

Buy It On DVD/Blu Ray ? Yes

 

Author: Grosse Point Geek  

 

 


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Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019): Review by Grosse Point Geek

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019): Review by Grosse Point Geek

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Plot in a nutshell: Special Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and former SAS Operative Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are reluctantly forced to team up with Shaw’s sister (Vanessa Kirby) who also happens to be a rogue MI6 agent and go after a genetically and technologically enhanced terrorist (Idris Elba) who is hell bent on releasing a virus that will wipe out most of humanity.

 

 

What worked: Being honest  – pretty much all of it. Johnson and Statham make a great double act and bounce off each other very well, both delivering some great one liners and trading  alot of extremely funny insults. However its Vanessa Kirby who really shines , displaying bucket loads of charisma, out acting both her hulking male co stars, and  more than holding her own in all the action scenes. In addition, despite being too good for a film like this Idris Elba is excellent as the principle baddie.

 

 

Speaking of action this film doesnt disappoint – and its virtually non stop from the get go – theres a great car/motorbike chase early on, a preposterous but extremely well handled set piece in Russia which involves enormous explosions, masses of gunfire and more than just a bit of bone crushing fisticuffs. However the best is left to last when Johnson, Kirby and Statham enlist the help of Hobbs hard as nails Samoan family for a bonkers final 20 minutes that really has to be seen to be believed.

 

 

What could have been better: Its very hard to criticize a film as mad as this – admittedly its a bit long, some of the one liners dont always land, and a theres a gratuitous Kevin Hart cameo about an hour in that didnt really work at all.

 

 

Review Summary: A great big utterly mental popcorn blockbuster, jam packed with action, pickled with funny one liners and featuring some great chemistry from its three central leads.

 

 

I loved it – Great fun

 

Author: Will Strong aka Grosse Point Geek 

 


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The Lion King (2019): Review by Grosse Point Geek

The Lion King (2019): Review by Grosse Point Geek

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After his father King Mufasa (James Earl Jones) is murdered by evil Uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), young Prince Simba is banished from the Pridelands and is presumed dead by the rest of his family. Years later, a chance encounter with an old friend forces the now adult Simba (Donald Glover) to make a choice  – stay in exile or face his destiny and challenge Scar for the throne.


What worked: 

The photo realistic animation used to bring the animals and the varying African landscapes to life  is frankly astounding  – so good in fact that you will actually think what you are watching is totally real and not animated. The voice cast are also very good and the songs are still as wonderful as the 1994 original.


What didnt work:

 As amazing as the animation is it has two major problems – and that is as we all know in real life animals dont express a vast range of facial emotions  – and this is what happens here – meaning that you are left a bit cold as the characters faces dont express the same levels of emotions as the ones in the original version also and very tellingly it just didn’t look or feel right when they talked – see it for yourself and you will know what i mean. In addition it isnt nearly as downright hilarious as the 1994 version, yes Timon and Pumbaa (voiced by Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen) still steal the show but simply can’t match the utter lunacy that Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella brought to the characters in the original film. 

 

Finally one has to say that its all very well having brilliant photo realistic effects but unlike The Jungle Book remake and to a certain extent this years Tim Burton directed Dumbo update, when you break it down the Lion King 2019 brings absolutely nothing new to the party and at its heart is little more than a shot for shot, line for line recycled copy of what was and remains to be one of the greatest animated films of all time. Therefore if you look it it that way this means that one must view this film very cynically  – as all its purpose seems to be is to show off some fancy SFX, and make lots of money for Disney. 


Review summary: Never less than enjoyable and the animation is the best you will ever see  – but there is not one scrap of originality on show here.

 

Author: Will Strong aka Grosse Point Geek 

 

 

 


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Rated: Marvel Cinematic Universe (up to Spider-Man: Far From Home)

Rated: Marvel Cinematic Universe (up to Spider-Man: Far From Home)

A Blog

RATED looks at EVERY Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film and gives a QuickReview as well as putting them in order of BEST to, well, Iron Man 2.!  Updated as and when a new Marvel (Studios) film is released…

(Note scores reflect my original IMDB ratings)


Best: Captain America Winter Solider

A cold war thriller with Robert Redford and a mini Avengers team up.  Add in the always awesome Frank Grillo and a genuinely interesting script and you have Marvel’s strongest cinematic outing.

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2. Guardians Of The Galaxy

Massively far out of Marvel’s usual comfort zone, Guardian’s introduced spaceships, talking racoons and a giant tree person. Cracking script, expert action and a heap of fun.

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3. Iron Man 3

The Iron Man film that broke a lot of Marvel fans, Shane Black took the playbook and ripped it up.  Twists, turns and a cute central relationships made this a different take on the norm and was all the better for it.

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4. Thor: Ragnarok

Well this was a bundle of fun.  The previous Thor films have been okay but Ragnarok delivered a brilliant romp which dragged in The Hulk, a handful of memorable new characters (Korg!)  and some great set pieces to end up being one of Marvel’s best films yet.

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5. Avengers: Endgame

Funny, emotional, heart breaking and smart – Endgame ties up 21 films worth of story across 12 years almost perfectly.   Bitter sweet for sure but Marvel totally stuck the landing.

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6. Marvel’s The Avengers 

All the groundwork paid off as Marvel delivered it’s first ever super hero team up.  The Hulk was back (and done right this time), Hawkeye and Black Widow joined the team and director Joss Whedon delivered the goods.

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7. Spider-Man: Far From Home

Far From Home takes the ball from both Homecoming and Endgame and runs with it.  A charming, funny and emotionally charged MCU film…  it delivers real relationships, a superb villain, an interesting enough story and characters you really care about.

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8. Spider-Man Homecoming 

Funny, charming, with Marvels best villain and best Spiderman (yup sorry Andrew Garfield) Homecoming is a joy of a film that is by far the closest to what the comic book Peter Parker is.

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9. Avengers: Infinity War

Shocking, well paced and with one of Marvel’s greatest screen villains Avengers Infinity War ALMOST delivered on it’s considerable promise.  Almost.

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10. Iron Man

The Film that started it all… Iron Man was a rock n roll action movie with an unlikely lead, an even more unlikely director and enough balls out moments to wow.

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11. Captain Marvel 

A great origins story, a fun film and a great soundtrack – what more could you ask for really?

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12. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

Loud, silly and funny as heck, Vol. 2 isn’t quite the tight film that it’s 2014 original is but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.  Add in an amazing cast (including Stallone, Hasselhoff and Russell) and you have another winner from Marvel…

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13. Ant-Man

Ant-Man is a heist movie. With Ants.  And fights on toy trains.  It’s crazy but it’s also full of charm, humour and fun.

 

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14. Black Panther 

Black Panther takes a different approach to the usual Marvel film, yet falls into a lot of the same traps of relying a bit too much on visual effects at times.  That said it’s one of Marvel’s most intimate stories and whilst not perfect is a really strong entry into the increasingly bigger MCU.

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15. Ant-Man & The Wasp

Ant-Man & The Wasp is GREAT fun.  It’s also totally forgettable and delivers what is possibly Marvel’s weakest villain to date.  Not bad by any stretch just off pace of the original.

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16. Doctor Strange

Off the big screen Doctor Strange looses a little but this visually stunning film shows that marvel are still interested in pushing the envelope as far as you can in mainstream blockbusters.

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17. Captain America: The First Avenger 

Solid, fun and well done, whilst it has little rewatch appeal Captain America again took a different approach and gave us a couple of Marvel’s most enduring characters.

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18. Captain America: Civil War

It’s not bad.  It just didn’t gel with me as much as it did others. Don’t get me wrong there’s a lot to like and again it plays with the expected formula, but ultimately i’m just not that keen to go back to it.

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19. Thor: The Dark World

I liked The Dark world MUCH more than others.  Okay so it’s flawed for sure but it’s crazy fun.

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20. Thor

Thor was a sold film, tasked with the near impossible job of making a god fit in a world of men.  It does it well but not one you’ll rewatch much.

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21. Avengers Age Of Ultron

Marvel’s first disappointment, Age Of Ultron was all show and little else.  Too big, too dumb and too long.

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22. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

It has charm and the casting works well but ultimately The Incredible Hulk (whilst FAR better than the Ang Lee version) just doesn’t have enough to recommend it.

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Worst : Iron Man 2

The idea was fine but sadly most of the film misses.  Even Mickey Rourke (yes one of the oddest Marvel villains ever) can’t save this.

 


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