Kick Ass 2 – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Kick Ass 2 – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Quick Review

The Review: First let me say this. I wasn’t a massive fan of Kick Ass. I didn’t hate it but much like Scott Pilgrim, Sin City & Watchman I found it to be more style than substance. Too aware of it’s own geek cool and not afraid to point it out at every moment.

Yes Mortez was great, no I didn’t care she said ‘Cunt’ at the tender age of 11 and yes the action was brutal, but nothing I hadn’t seen a million times before. I liked the central idea of an everybody becoming a superhero but overall I walked out think “that was okay” and haven’t revisited the film since.\

With this in mind I pretty much stayed away from the hype and promotion for KickAss 2, fully aware that I’d probably see the film but didn’t need that geek cool to be rammed down my throat once again.

With graduation looming and uncertain what to do, Dave decides to start the world’s first superhero team with Mindy but when Mindy is busted for sneaking out as Hit Girl, she’s forced to retire. With no one left to turn to, Dave joins forces with Justice Forever, run by a born-again ex-mobster named Colonel Stars and Stripes. Just as they start to make a real difference on the streets, the world’s first super villain assembles his own evil league and puts a plan in motion to make Kick-Ass and Hit Girl pay for what they did to his dad.

Looking at the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes this morning I was shock to see this film sitting at a paltry 28%. That’s less than the critically mauled Lone Ranger. Especially surprising as I thought, overall, this was a much more enjoyable film that the original Kick Ass, less concerned about looking cool, shocking for shock’s sake and shouting ‘I Was Based on a Really Cool Comic Book Don’t You Know’ and more about just interesting characters in even more interesting situations.

In fact, as much as I loved Iron Man 3, for me Kick Ass 2 is the best superhero film of 2013. Cool in it’s own way, with people I actually cared about. Okay so apparently it’s toned down from the comic (I’m not sure we really needed the gang rape of a main character) but as I’m not a fan of the source material that doesn’t really bother me. In fact more over the fact that it doesn’t just set out to shock is for me what stands out about it’s predecessor.

Kick Ass 2 also has some strong action sequences, not least a Good Guys Vs Bad Guys battle that looses the now standard CGI monsters vs Monsters stick of the studio Marvel films and goes with something a little… different. And is FAR more entertaining because of it. Hit Girl vs Mother Russia is for sure the fight of the year to date.

On the subject of Hit Girl, Props go to Chloe Grace Mortez who once again shines and shows that, as long as she doesn’t go all Lohan, she has an amazing and probably award winning career in front of her. Also a massive shout out for Jim Carey who delivers the best performance of his twilight career, even if he was too much of an arse to promote the film (even though his winging actually created even more publicity of the movie… ). Mintz-Plasse is also great as the self titled Mother Fucker, even if he does just deliver the TradeMarked Mintz-Plasse performance.

With assured but not overly showy direction, some social commentary about what it is to fit in, a host of solid action sequences and characters you actually care for, Kick Ass 2 is that rare beast of both a sequel that ends up being more enjoyable that the original and a superhero film that didn’t feel the need to collapse into a CGI want fest.

In short: Fuck the critics, fuck the source material. Just go make up your own mind. You may be pleasantly surprised.

 

Rating:

 


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Sharknado Week: Sharknado – A Quick Capsule Review

Sharknado Week: Sharknado – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Sharknado. Yes. Shark-bloody-nado. Hell I have ZERO idea what I can say about this film other than if you think the title sounds silly then this is a film you will hate with an extreme passion.  If like me the title sounds all manor of awesome, then there’s a lot to love in this knowingly cheesy, cheap as chips, barking mad Sharks in a tornado movie. For everyone else, I’d probably recommend avoiding this. Genius.  Mad genius.

Best Bit: Chainsaw + Shark = Fun

Rent, Borrow, Buy, Stream: Buy

If you liked this try: Ghost Shark (UR); Sand Shark  (UR); MegaShark vs Crockosaurus (UR)

Rating: 

Author: Phil Hobden

 

 

 

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The Bay – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

The Bay – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
The Bay is a real surprise.  Firstly it’s a big name director (Oscar winner Barry Levinson) doing something VERY different and secondly, probably even more relevant, it’s an original and engrossing found footage movie.  Shocks, scares and thrills aplenty here but also a good story that replies on more than jump shocks (that said it ha s a few classics) and cheap tricks.  Highly recommended.

Best Bit: The direction and concept

Rent, Borrow, Buy, Stream: Buy

If you liked this try: The Blair Witch Project (8/10); REC (8/10); Paranormal Activity (8/10)

 

Rating:

 

 

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Avengers Week: Thor The Dark World : A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Avengers Week: Thor The Dark World : A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

With Avengers: Infinity War opening this week, Phil’s Quick Capsule Review will be rerunning the reviews of some of our favourite Marvel Films!

The Review: For me the original Thor film was my second , least favourite Marvel adaptation after Captain America (sorry Capt.).  It wasn’t bad but it always felt like it was missing something special.  Now, two years later and bolstered by an appearance alongside his Avengers buddies, the Blonde, buff god returns in what is a far more well rounded and successful movie.

The Story: Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

Firstly let’s get this out the way.  Thor 2 is actually really good.  Excellent in fact.  Of all the Avengers films, it’s probably the most ‘together ‘ .  It has a simple story, which moves at pace, with action and drama but keeping it tight enough to come in at under 2 hours.  It even manages to get around (at least MOSTLY get around) the standard CGI monster fighting CGI good guy trope that has hobbled the end of every Avengers film since Iron Man.

A large reason why the film works so well is the sublime decision to once again sit an unlikely candidate in the director’s chair.   Be it Jon Favreau for Iron Man or James Gunn for the upcoming Guardians Of The Galaxy, Marvel have a knack of picking the right man for the job.  This time out respected TV and Game Of Thrones director Alan Taylor brings a more even vision to the film, much more suited to the material than Kenneth Branagh, and obviously revels in having a larger that his usual budget to play with.   The action is clean and well shot, and best of all you can see every punch, every explosion and every insane flying spaceship moment.

Oh and talking of flying Spaceship moments… director Taylor is obviously a fan of 80’s cheese fest Flash Gordon, being that he borrows a considerable part of the films finale for the attack on Asgard.  Not that I’m complaining as the mix of sci-fi, Norse legend, super hero and action make for a pleasant change form the usual Earth bound Marvel world.

Hemsworth once again proves he is a man of considerable talent, delivering action alongside comedy and the occasional pathos.  Naturally Natalie Portman has little to do (as is the female role generally in a Marvel film) but she remains a welcome addition, as does the returning Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston (once again a stand out as Loki) and Anthony Hopkins (as his most gravelly).  Rene Russo even gets to kick arse, which is nice.  As for former Dr Who and professional grump Christopher Eccleston he does good with his limited bad guy role, but in reality with the added make up and FX it could have been anyone as Dark Elf leader Malekif.

In truth the film has little against it, other than maybe an element of familiarity, and ends up being one of the best blockbusters of the year.  Maybe not as good overall as Iron Man 3, but certainly more fun. For the most part.

So overall a good script, great characters and some snappy dialogue alongside standout action sequences and a fast pace mean that deservedly Thor The Dark World will be another hit for Marvel.  Truly a studio that cant seem to get it wrong.

Rating:

 

 

Logan – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Logan – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s (Not So) Quick Capsule Review:

Logan is a violent film.  If you are expecting the standard PG-13 rated X-Men franchise cartoon action and happy endings then this may not be for you.  Because what you have here is a full on R rated swear fest with some pretty hardcore claws through the face, arm ripping off, Wolverine action that comic book fans have been waiting for since the character first stepped onto the big screen.

A sequel of sorts to the whole X-Men universe but without ever needing to be propped up on the weight of the series mythology, Logan takes the ball that Deadpool threw out last year and runs with it.  Deadpool showed that there was a huge market for a more mature comic book adapation and whilst that film added humour to pepper it’s violence, Logan just goes all in on the blood and guts. That’s not to say the film has no laughs.  It does.  But usually they are dark humoured and surrounded by limbs being severed.

Logan is the Unforgiven of superhero films, a latter day John Wayne western that tracks the broken hero of old on one last quest.  It’s moody, it’s full of long drawn out moments and it’s unlike any comic book adaptation you have ever seen.  And this is it’s major strength.  It a world where these films are generic and cookie cutter, Logan takes the format and throws it away. Yeah it keeps elements of what we expect but for the most part the film remains grounded. It feels real.  Turns out director Mangold, who delivered the almost good 2013 Wolverine film, when unshackled from the grasp of the studio can deliver the film we’ve all been waiting for.

As with most X-Men films it manages to both feel part of a wider universe but also manages to have no real connection of any actual continuity, a fact that long time X-Men fans have come to accept (Fox are like the anti-marvel in this regard).  It goes without saying that Jackman, always a high point of the franchise, kills it here untethered  from the family friendly films of old.  He relishes every cuss word, every strike of his claw, every brutal kill.  Patrick Stewart is also commanding in a role that feels like a very natural progression for the character he’s played alongside Jackman for many years.  But it’s newcomer  Dafne Keen who manages to steal the show as X-23.  She’s completely believable in a role that sees here switch from cute kid to murderous rage filled killer.
It’s not all successful.  I’m still not sold on Merchant’s casting who brings his usual one note performance here and the film could easily loose 15+ minutes as several of the action scenes, whilst fun, are repetitive.  It may also been seen as a bit too bleak.

But… the film is good enough for these not to matter.  This is a brave film in a genre that sometimes fails to take enough chances.  It’s not afraid to give conclusions, to be brutal, to show the young X-23 in full on berserker mode.

Despite it’s few faults, the film does more than enough to warrant your attention.  It’s good.  Really good at times.  It’s finally the Wolverine movie we’ve wanted for over 15 years.

Best Bit: Beserker. 

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Buy

If You Liked this Try: The Unforgiven, The Searchers, Deadpool

IMDB Rating: 

 

Author: Phil Hobden

Blog: Straight Outta Compton – A Quick Capsule Review

Blog: Straight Outta Compton – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Biopics are hard to pull off, especially when the subject (s) are both well known and still living.  But give a good director a good story and an oscar nominated script (criminally the only nominations or this film) and you end up with Straight Outta Compton – a quality look at the rise of N.W.A and rap music in America in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  Dre, Cube, E and Snoop are all represented here and whilst the film has taken some flack for leaving some of the rougher edges out, it’s still pretty hard hitting at times. Racism, AIDS, betrayal, drugs and money – it’s all on display alongside some of the best music of the decade.  A must see.

Best Bit: F–k The Police

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Buy

If You Liked this Try: 8 Mile; Boyz In The Hood

IMDB Rating: 

 

Author: Phil Hobden

Blog: All Things Film – John Wick Reviewed

Blog: All Things Film – John Wick Reviewed

All Things Film Blog Other Cr*p Uncategorized

You’d have thought the Americans would want to wage war with Middle Eastern bad guys as opposed to Russians. They seem to be cropping up in almost every violent revenge/thriller, lately. The Equalizer didn’t so much “equalize” as simply “revengerize”; thereby massively doling out unfair odds to the competition. Less than a month later, out comes Keanu Reeves to make sure the Russians stay down.

Here, Keanu plays John Wick, the titular ass kicker in question. He’s a retired hitman who’s recently bereaved after his partner passes away. In a fitting tribute to her love for him, she sends him a final message accompanied by a cute puppy dog. The opening twenty minutes is pure grieving on Wick’s part, and he’s just about getting over the whole damn thing when one day he stops to fill up his car at the wrong gas station.

There’s a pent-up, angry Russian juvenile named Iosef who takes a liking to his 1969 Mustang. Wick won’t sell it and drives off. Later, he’s visited by this nincompoop who resembles a curious cross between Ewan MacGregor and Peter Dinklage. Iosef and his chums knock ten bells of shit out of Wick, and kill his dog. And this really pisses John off. Or, should I say, really gets on his wick.

So, Wick goes on the hunt to find Iosef who has run back to his father; a megalomaniac patriarch named Viggo, played by Michael Nyqvist. Father tells son he’s killed the wrong owner’s dog; that Wick used to work for this clandestine oligarchy, and now he will come for them.
And, boy oh boy, does he ever come for them.

About 45 minutes into John Wick, I lost count. By that I meant, I lost count of how many Russian henchmen Wick had dispatched. Lost count on how many bullets were fired, and how many litres of blood had splattered. And there was 45 minutes left to go.

Into the mix is Willem Dafoe as a hitman hired to kill Wick and, just to make sure, Adrianne Palicki is a female hitman out to get him, too. Both are ordered by Viggo to “take care of him” but, you see, Wick is a walking grim reaper of death and makes up for in body count what he lacks in one-liners.
John Wick is mile-a-minute, bloody, messy and razor-sharp in its direction and efficiency. It truly never lets up after its relatively sombre opening twenty minutes. But from that point on, hold on to your pants.

Directed by stuntman Chad Stahelski (with David Leitch), John Wick boasts no fewer than five awesome extended action set pieces; my favourite being slap bang in the middle of the picture set in a nightclub; reminiscent, to an extent, of the Kane and Lynch video game. All the set pieces in question feature innumerable weaponry from knives, to guns, to high calibre fuck-you canons. At one point John manages to, I shit you not, flying head butt someone with a plastic bag over his head and soon thereafter go on to punch someone with his SUV. It’s truly astonishing stuff.

Okay, it’s stuff we’ve seen before, but this time director Stahelski shows real verve for the energy in his direction; you feel every hit, wallop and stab. It’s actually indescribable. You can see everything. And this is almost certainly down to some truly stunning and creative cinematography by Jonathan Sela. The soundtrack is gobsmackingly awesome, as well – from light hearted 80s inspired “chill out” to grinding, thumping bass-ridden pangs of incoming rad doom.

And the utter, gasping remorselessness is also something which will leave you reeling and rooting for Wick. He’s the audience’s antithetic Anton Chigurh; death is coming for these Russians. It’s just a matter of time how they are despatched and with which weapon. Most of it is played by stealth, which means the majority of the movie is played out execution-style, for a grand total of (easily) 150+ onscreen kills. Commando, you have met your match, here. Want more proof? David Patrick Kelly turns up as the Winston Wolf character to clean up. Man, this film just fucks the right notes and orders them all a cab after it’s shot its load.

And to think, there were us critics bemoaning how watered down action films are. Not here, not this time; this is giddily stupid, masochistic fun, and I emerged from the screening a dribbling buffoon, high on the silly, gloriously sound-tracked mayhem, easily happy to sit through it all over again.

I defy anyone reading this review to disagree, and instead just take the plunge and enjoy yourself. John Wick is FUCKING AWESOME.

 

Author: Andrew Mackay

Blog: Grosse Point Geek – Intersteller Reviewed

Blog: Grosse Point Geek – Intersteller Reviewed

Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

Director: Christopher Nolan, Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, John Lithgow, Michael Caine, Matt Damon.

In the near future, Earth is dying, food resources are running low and mankind is now no more than a caretaker population awaiting the inevitable coming apocalypse.

However, hope lies in the discovery of a wormhole near Saturn that leads to another galaxy, wherein it is postulated that there may be Earth like planets that could potentially re-home the human race.

Naturally the wormhole has to be explored – so NASA recruits former air force pilot Cooper (McConaughey) and three scientists (including Hathaway) to boldly go and see what’s on the other side, however things do not go as planned and the team find themselves up against everything from a giant black hole, to the laws of space time and the perils of exploring strange new worlds.

Putting it mildly – Christopher Nolan is one of the best directors working today – thus far all of his films have been imaginative, well plotted and most of all extremely clever – rare traits which are sorely lacking in many of today’s modern blockbusters (the films of Michael Bay being a notable example).  So I am very happy to report that Interstellar is no exception.

Nolan once again proves to be a story teller of immense talent and intelligence, weaving a plot that twists and turns whilst cleverly throwing in proper scientific theory, which refreshingly never insults its audience but instead makes one fully concentrate and  think properly about what is unfolding on screen.

It’s also technically flawless – with VFX that serve the film rather than take it over completely. In addition Jonathan Nolan’s script is pitch perfect, with nary a clunky line to be heard.  Finally the cast is universally excellent –  McConaughey continues his stunning run of form with a wonderfully understated performance of real depth and breadth, Michael Caine is fantastic as the NASA scientist who persuades Cooper to take on the mission and there are also superb turns from Damon (in a small but pivotal role) Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck and Anne Hathaway.

One thing I will say is that if you are expecting a slam bang space adventure akin to Armageddon or Star Trek, then Interstellar isn’t the film for you. For a start its very long (3 hours), takes its time to get going, is slow in parts  and features some mighty plot twists and mind bending science that may not be for all tastes. However if you like a movie that is brilliantly made, challenging and most of all damned intelligent, then this will be right up your alley.

Don’t miss this one folks

 
Author: Will Strong 

 

Blog: Grosse Point Geek -Fury Reviewed

Blog: Grosse Point Geek -Fury Reviewed

Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

Set in April 1945 when World War 2 was coming to an end and the allied forces were marching into Germany, Fury centres on a battle hardened tank crew, led by Pitt’s aptly monikered ‘Wardaddy’ and consisting of Lerman’s green as grass rookie, Leboeuf’s religious idealist, Pena’s dead shot gunner and Bernthal’s somewhat mentally unstable mechanic.  In recent years films about World War 2 have been few and far between, with many not even seeing the inside of a cinema –  notable exceptions are of course Tarantinos’s Inglorious Bastards and Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan.

Now anyone who has seen both of these will know that they are pretty much at the opposite ends of the war movie spectrum -whereas Bastards was a  violent “men on a mission” homage, played out like a jet black comedy/drama, Saving Private Ryan was at times an overly worthy effort notable for its incredibly realistic depiction of the Omaha beach landings.

Fury, however, is none of these and as such is likely to be one of the most accurate and unflinching depictions of war that you will ever see on screen.

Acting wise its faultless, in particular, Brad Pitt, who is superb as Wardaddy, brilliantly portraying him as an intelligent man tainted by war and unafraid to kill without mercy.  Then there is ShiaLeboeuf, who effortlessly banishes all memories of Lars Von Trier’s risible Nymphomaniac, to deliver a career best performance that has to be seen to be believed -yes he really is that good (iknow i couldn’t believe it etheir!). The rest of the cast are equally impressive too -John Bernthal and Michael Pena do fantastic work and seem to have completely thrown themselves into their roles,  with young  Logan Lerman finally coming of age with an impressive breakout turn as Norman, the tank’s newest recruit.

David Ayer’s direction is surefooted, refreshingly economical and unflashy, his camerawork making excellent use of the Buckinghamshire countryside which doubles for 1945 Germany. Then there is the action  – mainly consisting of two brutal edge of the seat tank battles and a climactic nail biting do or die fight to the death between the Fury crew and an entire army of Nazi soldiers.

Its not all guns and blood though  – Ayer also skilfully brings in quieter moments allowing for some welcome character development for all the main cast, one scene in particular involving Pitt and Lerman sitting down for a meal with two German women is a particular highlight.

I did have a couple of niggles though , one being that Lerman’s character seems to go from terrified greenhorn to full on warrior mode in a very short space of time and the main characters do seem have more than a certain passing resemblance to those in Saving Private Ryan.

However these are minor criticisms in what is a very well directed, superbly written, brilliantly acted and relentlessly exciting film. Certainly a contender for one of 2014’s best and a must for any serious cinema goer. Highly recommended.

 

 

Author: Will Strong 

 

Blog: All Things Film – Horns Reviewed

Blog: All Things Film – Horns Reviewed

All Things Film Blog Other Cr*p Uncategorized

It’d be easy to say this Daniel Radcliffe vehicle appeals to his target demographic of swooning teenage, post-Potter girls because it features the hunky dreamboat in a lightweight rom-com which happens to have him sprout devil’s horns in the movie. In some ways, one can imagine that those very cinemagoers will go into Horns expecting the sassy, female equivalent of Romeo & Juliet or Twilight.

For those of us who have seen the movie now will know is that whatever the price of the ticket you pay, it won’t be nearly as valuable as the look on the faces of those mothers who went with their daughters to see the film.

Why do I mention this? Well, it’s simply – Horns is not that film. Not really. At its very nucleus it is a love story; the story of a young man who is demonised (sort of) for the murder of his girlfriend, played by Juno Temple. There’s no doubt that something is afoot, and the “did he or did he not?” detective aspect of the story is quickly quashed. We follow our protagonist around on his quest to discover who actually killed her, and unmask them.

Now, because this is Alexandre Aja directing, this was never going to be straightforward fluffy, sort-of-edgy nonsense. Don’t get me wrong, it is nonsense – but there’s something bubbling underneath the sheen here which I think will have a longevity we’ve not seen since genuinely thought-provoking and gripping stuff since Stand By Me or, in recent memory, Chronicle.

Horns is a film that operates on two levels. One, as a detective story and, two, as a parable about love and death, angels and demons and good and bad – and the intrinsic locking of horns between two ends of the extreme. Horns borrows liberally from a great many other movies; the locket around the neck was the same McGuffin used in Shocker and countless Hitchcock movies, for a start.

What Aja brings to this movie, however, is a wacky tone that is unfettered in its casual approach to its own material. Horns never quite feels like it’s taking itself seriously, and it is to the film’s credit that it manages to step one foot in front of the other on this correct path, where others (Twilight etc) have failed. It’s very definitely, too, a film for a more mature audience. Not adults, necessarily, but certainly those teenagers and above who can get to grips with material such as this.

Horns is a vomitorium of gore and swearing – it’s always nice to see Harry Potter say the word “motherfucker” to his drug-addled older brother, and mean it – but it is also a gleeful carnival of creativity; the fact that it can set its parameters and play by its own daft rules. If it takes anything seriously, then it should be this; and it nails it.

The film shifts between present day and flashbacks, which will diminish the repeat viewing factor somewhat. At it’s core is a love story seeped in detective-based frolicks. Ig, played wonderfully by Radcliffe, will effectively learn about himself and others via one of the movie’s most audacious, yet very well handled, tricks; everyone confesses their deepest dark secrets to the horned one. In the hands of another writing and directing team (and indeed performers) this will have come across as cheap and laboured. In the hands of Radcliffe, Aja and writer Keith Bunin (working from the novel by Joe Hill) it seems perfectly natural and is a truly invigorating clique to the movie’s canon; it’s a bit like Liar Liar, but in reverse. And of course the lead character of Iggy Perrish could well have been played by Jim Carrey, if only this was 1990.

Horns is a tall, ugly tale and very well told. It’s a milestone in dunderheaded teenage drama – the film has been cut to secure a ‘15’ rating, and it’s easy to see why – and even easier to see the eventual DVD release featuring all the nastiness. Nevertheless, it’s a truly creative piece performed well by everyone involved.

Horns is an updated, cheeky twist on a story as old as time itself – which could well prove to stand the test of time, too.

 

 

Author: Andrew Mackay