Backtrace (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

Backtrace (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Backtrace is actually quite entertaining for what it is.  Just don’t expect this to be a full on Stallone action film. It’s not.  In fact save for the opening and the conclusion, little action actually happens – this is a thriller about a bank robber and missing money that Sly is actually only in a few scenes throughout.  At the core of the film is a great performance from Matthew Modine and the film never outstays it’s welcome.  It’s just missing that ‘Something special’ to push it over the top.  Good VOD offering…

Best Bit: Modine is ace

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Escape Plan, Bullet To The Head, Sabotage 

 


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Blood Father (2016) – A Quick Capsule Review  (Revisited)

Blood Father (2016) – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Okay so I love Mel Gibson films.  There I said it.  It may not be a popular opinion but Gibson is always good value on screen.   A few years ago ‘How I spent My Summer Vacation’ was a massive return to form for the once highly coveted Gibson.  No-one saw it and the critics were predictably snippy but after years in the shadows it was a welcome return.   He follows did up with a few supporting or lead bad guy roles but that return to lead actor status alluded him.  Blood Father continues to build on that earlier success and whilst not quite as impactful as Vacation, it’s still a bloody good film with a sterling central performance from Gibson who continues to prove once again with the right material (and personal baggage aside) he has a hell of a lot to offer Hollywood.

Best Bit: Gibson

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: How I spent My Summer Vacation, Machete Kills, The Expendables 3

 

Author: Phil Hobden


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Aquaman (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Aquaman (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Aquaman is not going to convert naysayers of the DC extended universe movies into putting aside past failures and embracing a new world.  It’s a hot mess of a film that is far too heavy on FX and far too light on comprehensible story.  But when it hits (which it does about 30% of the time) it’s a bombastic, crazy, inventive and frankly insane mix of Thor, Star Wars, The Karate Kid (yes really) and The Matrix.  Momoa does a good enough job but is sidelined for a lot of the film and the support cast range from bored (Kidman) to confused (Heard) to ;God have I really landed a role in this film; (Dolph!).  With very few mentions of the extended Universe this feels like a stand alone film and is probably the better for it but much like Cyborg you end up with the feeling that less is very much more with Aquaman and he shines far better in a support role alongside more established heroes.  See in the cinema but check brain at the door.

Best Bit: Dolph!

Cinema, Stream, Avoid: Cinema

If You Liked this Try: Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Man Of Steel, Thor: Ragnarok 

 


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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 25 Best… Action Films of All Time

The 25 Best… Action Films of All Time

Best... Other Cr*p

In our continuing regular feature, Phil (of Phil’s Quick Capsule Review)  along with podcaster Josh Morris, Writer Mike Parkin, Grosse Point Geek’s Will Strong and Motion Picture Manic Jamie Robinson breakdown the 25 Best Films Of a particular genre… 

This time out: The Best Action Films of All Time

 

The close but no cigar Films: The Bourne Supremacy, Men of War, Speed, Captain America: Winter Solider, Fast Five, Hardboiled, Inception, Battle Royale, Speed, The Book Of Eli

 

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Blog:  Ninja Apocalypse – A Quick Capsule Review

Blog: Ninja Apocalypse – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Firstly let’s get this out of the way – Ninja Apocalypse is, by most standards, a pretty terrible film.  It’s also a bloody enjoyable one.  So if you can get past the wooden acting, the terrible script, sometimes weak FX, dull locations and  some often flat direction (and lets’ be honest most people won’t be able to) this is the most fun you can have mixing Zombies, Ninja’s and the Apocalypse in one movie.  To be fair these small (!) issues aside the action is well done, the setting and world it creates believable and, like I said, it’s stupid, dumb fun all the way.  It won’t win an Oscar but then most good films don’t…

Best Bit: Ninjas V Zombies

Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Sharknado, Warrioress, Ninja Assassin

 

Author: Phil Hobden

Blog: Grosse Point Geek – The Equalizer (Cinema)

Blog: Grosse Point Geek – The Equalizer (Cinema)

A Blog Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

Big screen adaptation of the 1980’s TV series which featured Blighty’s own Edward Woodward as Robert McCall, a former CIA/Special forces type who righted various wrongs, defended the helpless and kicked all kinds of arse in the process.

In Antoine Fuqua’s updated film version we instead have good old Denzel Washington as McCall  – a quiet unassuming guy who works in a local DIY store by day and reads classic novels in his favouritediner by night. That is until a local prostitute he has befriended (Moretz) is brutally beaten up by her pimps and McCall  vows revenge and ends up killing them all in the process. This turns out to be a major mistake as said pimps turn out to be heavily connected to the Russian mob who send over their best enforcer (Czorkas) to go after McCall.

Featuring another solid turn from Washington, The Equaliser is good old fashioned entertainment, very well made and at times extremely violent. The only issue i had with it was that it was a bit too similar to Man On Fire  -which also starred Denzel as a former government operative, with a penchant for torturing then offing all manner of bad guys. Now despite the fact that he’s a damn fine actor and always good value – Washington really does need to expand his repertoire a bit more, but then again when he’s making films as entertaining as this who the hell cares!

Recommended At Cinemas now

 
Author: Will Strong 

 

Blog: All Things Film – Expendables 3 Reviewed

All Things Film Blog Other Cr*p Uncategorized

Boy, do these guys ever expend. In the first instalment, director Sylvester Stallone expended with the opportunity to over-glorify the violence in exchange for a bunch of talking. In The Expendables 2, director Simon West ramps up the energy and voltage for a reasonably satisfactory outing. And now, the climax – Expendables 3 – and a director who’s so fresh faced, he directs as if he’s watching Expendables 2 on an iPad and pausing it every five seconds and trying to replicate the action. Almost any reason to sit through two hours of this shit is expended before the credits start. The tagline this time around screams “Never send a boy to do a man’s job”. As far as hiring directors go, it would seem that the movie can’t even take its own advice.

It seems unlikely that there’ll ever be an Expendables 4 – which, believe me is a great thing – but surely the movie studio knows better than to resign the franchise to the hell of a PG-13 rating? Okay it’s for a quick buck, but consider the long-term; anyone who’s too young to watch this movie unsupervised an adult will almost certainly want to revisit the previous R-rated outings. The previous, and best, two of the franchise are a hell of a lot more violent than this watered-down shite. So, who exactly does the MPAA and BBFC think they’re protecting, anyway? It’s all about the $$$, dummy.

Barney Ross (Stallone) and his innumerable Expendable team (collectively tallying in numbers roughly twenty-five times more than their combined brain cells) are totally shagged out and spent from rescuing Wesley Snipes from a prison train. He was imprisoned for tax evasion (lol). Now Barney feels as if they’re past it, and after a quick visit to Mogadishu (via every city known to man) they spot Mel Gibson shooting Somalians and realise that the main bad guy is still very much alive. Barney thought he was dead. But he’s not. And now they’ve been spotted. So Barney assembles a bunch of new recruits, including a woman – seemingly to deflect the PC crowd criticism – to go and kill Mel Gibson. And so they go, and they get kidnapped, except Barney who runs home. And then the old Expendable bunch go with Barney to kill Mel Gibson and free the new kids. With Antonio Banderas.

Christ, where to start? Okay, the script is packed full of awfully embarrassing dialogue and blatancy in its plotting. They rescue him, chat, try to kill him, chat some more, get kidnapped, get angry, get tooled up, get their mates, get even. Boring as shitehouse.

Next up: the direction. Or lack, thereof. Patrick Hughes’ direction is as inspired and exciting as his surname. It’s mediocre at the very best. In some areas, it’s very clear that characters are not driving their car or plane. Some of the green screen is choke-worthy. An entire monologue by Banderas, who’s standing still in an aircraft hanger, is so poorly framed in a medium close up that his prancing head frequently ducks in and out of shot. The camera is so desperate to look away at any hint of violence. The pacing is piss poor. Hughes is an awful director, and this could signal his last effort.

The characters. Piss poorly drawn, at best. There are some characters with literally nothing to do. Dolph Lundgren is one of them; consigned to be on the receiving end of a number of annoying character’s annoying dialogue. Jet Li – one of the world’s best martial artists – is given the two funniest lines of dialogue and chokes them down so that we cannot hear the punchline. He spends the rest of his time in a helicopter firing a machine gun. No punches, no kicks. And then there’s every other member of the So Solid Crew – all 10,000 of them – each equipped with approximately six seconds of rapid montage backstory (she, the bouncer – he, the … closet homosexual) that is quickly put to use in their generous 17 second flagship fight in the third act of the movie. Ohhh, look! He’s about to point the gun at the bad guy’s head and pull the trigger – BLAM! – camera cuts, not merely away, but to another scene where Jason StaaaayyyFAM is elbowing people in the tits, and, ohh.. here comes a neck break – KERRCCHHH:- CUT to Arnie choking down a stogie saying something funny like “Let’s go to da Choppah!” to the team, as the routine and artificially shite electronic timer counts down the building to explode.

The last act takes place somewhere in Russia. The first two acts take place in as many cities beginning with a consonant as it can cram in. There’s a whole section involving Kelsey Grammar where he and Stallone visit every single city in every country for some reason or another; either they’re recruiting tomorrow’s action heroes, or stopping a runaway train from crashing through the cinema. If there was ever a fourth instalment, they’d need to hop in a spaceship and start recceing far flung galaxies to find fresh squad members.

And this third act – the entire bunch of Expendables not particularly expending anything other than carbon dioxide as they hurriedly exasperate the “usual” shit with a plethora of masked bad guys. I mean, I think that should be plural, but it oh so easily could have been just the one stunt performer in the same mask. I dunno. We spend the movie wondering where the token second-in-command big bad guy who gets a nasty death is. He jumps out of a moving vehicle just as he’s required, to get pummelled by I-can’t-remember-who-in-a-PG-13-kinda-way. It’s shite.

There is but one saving grace about The Expendables 3. That is Mel Gibson. At a cool fiftysomething years old, he still commands the screen and the wrinkle factor. He doesn’t just chew the scenery as the bad guy; he swallows it whole, jiggles two fingers down his throat, vomits the movie back up and pisses the remains down the nearest drain. If there’s ever a reason to watch this rancid toss, then it’s Mel Gibson.

I love Mel Gibson.
And I hate this film.

 

Author: Andrew Mackay

Review: Thor The Dark World (DVD/BR)

Review: Thor The Dark World (DVD/BR)

A Blog Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

The Review:  Following on from the battle of New York, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is now back on Asgard, pining for Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and fighting to  bring peace to the Nine Realms, which are slowly descending  into all out war,  Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is firmly  banged up in the dungeons for – well -previously trying to take over the Earth and causing whole sale destruction in the Avengers (2012) , meanwhile a new enemy appears on the scene in the form of the Dark Elves, lead by the evil Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) who is hell-bent on possessing  the deadly Aether – a powerful energy that can destroy Asgard and the entire universe along with it.

By now everyone has their favourite Marvel movie character – be it Robert Downey JR’s Iron Man, Chris Evans’ Captain America or Sam Jackson as Nick Fury – all of them very good,  but mine has always been Thor.

A sort of cross between Gladiator’s Maximus and Henry V, we first met him in Ken Branagh’s superb 2011 blockbuster, as an immature, insufferably arrogant oaf, then wonderfully (and at times hilariously) transformed into a rock solid, charismatic hero, better still he was expertly played by Chris Hemsworth – who seems to have been born for the role.

In 2012 Joss Whedon  did the impossible  and managed to pull off the Avengers  -further expanding the character of Thor and blending him in expertly with Tony Stark, Cap, The Hulk et al – the result was one of the greatest super hero movies ever made.

Our favourite Asgardian returns with Thor: The Dark World –  the 2nd in Marvels “Phase 2” series of comic book adaptations  concentrating on Stan lee’s titular Avengers characters (the other being 2013’s Iron Man 3).

Directed by Game Of Thrones Alan Taylor, and featuring nearly all of the original films cast, I am very pleased to say that it is extremely good indeed.

Featuring a fantastic opening battle, a decent plot , exciting action sequences (the Dark Elves assault on Asgard is a standout) plus some very good performances from Hemsworth, Hiddleston and the returning Anthony Hopkins as Odin –  it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Joss Whedon’s super hero mash up – but it comes pretty close.

Of course, no film is perfect  – Natalie Portman is a bit weedy as Jane Foster, the final London set showdown between Thor and Malekith seems clumsily handled,   it certainly isn’t as funny as Ken Branagh’s 2011 original and, despite the much publicised rewrites to boost his character’s screen time, there simply isn’t enough of the quite brilliant Tom Hiddleston as Loki – who certainly deserves his own standalone movie by now.

With the massive success of this film, plus the billion dollar grossing Avengers and Iron Man 3, Marvel is certainly on a very good run – indeed DC Comics must be pulling their hair out by now  -they seemed to peak with the Dark Knight Trilogy and all they seem to be able to do now is produce mediocre fare like The Green Lantern and last years (admittedly pretty good) Man Of Steel. Even the planned and oft delayed Justice League movie now seems like its going to be just a poor second to 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and this years Guardians Of The Galaxy – one can only hope that Messrs’ Snyder and  Nolan can pull it out of the bag with Superman vs Batman – due for release in 2016 – but I have my doubts.

Thor 2 is released on DVD and Blu Ray on 24th February, I would highly recommend it.

 

Reviewed By: Will Strong

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Review: Reasonable Doubt (Cinema, USA)

Review: Reasonable Doubt (Cinema, USA)

Other Cr*p Uncategorized

The Review: Here we go again; it’s that time of year where a black guy is paired with a white guy for a do-or-die philosophical mindbender.

This time around, Dominic Cooper plays a prosecutor who finds himself in the invidious position of prosecuting a man in court he knows is innocent; but here’s the twist – it’s Dominic Cooper who’s guilty.

Ah, well, not quite – but that’s about as deep as I’ll go in my review at this point. Why? Because Brit director Peter Howitt couldn’t care less, either. He’s credited himself here as Peter P. Croudins, which is the sort of name you’d expect Peter Sellers to adopt when directed by Blake Edwards. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about this clock-watching streak of cinematic grey, then I guess you’re the perfect audience for this lame-brained thrill-less drama. I say cinematic…

In actual fact, the film’s central conceit is quite an interesting one; what would you do in this situation? You were drunk when you hit and killed a jaywalker, and left him to die on the side of the road. Turns out you’ve left your business card accidentally at the scene of the crime. And now Samuel L. Jackson (in token anti Caucasian mode) knows you’re responsible, but no-one knows that he is. It’s a cat and mouse affair; a stalemate of frustratingly dead-end proportions. This is over with within half an hour to make way for what is, to all intents and purposes, Lakeview Terrace 2. No-one wants Lakeview Terrace 2.

Even if they did, they probably wouldn’t want Joey off of “Bread” directing it via his trademark lifeless and flat visualisation. They probably wouldn’t want someone called Peter A. Dowling writing it, either. This year is not the year for anyone named Peter. No wonder Howitt wanted his name off the credits, Cooper turns in a dough-eyed performance that teeters on pay check. And guess what? No-one wants to see that, either.

My guess is that Reasonable Doubt will die a death almost entirely unheard of and little discussed. Allow me to follow suit, starting now…

 

Reviewed By: Andrew Mackay

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