Pacific Rim: Uprising – Motion Picture Maniac

Pacific Rim: Uprising – Motion Picture Maniac

Motion Picture Maniac

I like Steven S. DeKnight as a creative force, Spartacus is one of my favourite TV shows of all time; I enjoyed the first Pacific Rim for what it was, a self aware excuse to put giant robots and giant monsters onto the big screen, it was stupid and had bits here and there that were straight up garbage but almost in a deliberate, fun way. For that, I was looking forward to Pacific Rim: Uprising, the trailers didn’t promise the same style or sense of scale as the first but seemed to showcase some new ideas and still maintained a sense of dumb fun; which is what I wanted. So is Pacific Rim 2 a good film? That’s honestly a tough question to answer.

Set ten years after the events of the first film, Idris Elba’s character’s son, played by John Boyega, is determined to deface his father’s heroic legacy and live a life of care free partying, stealing old jaeger parts and generally getting into trouble. One day, a misadventure lands him in police custody and he is offered a choice by a familiar face from the first movie, go to prison or join the jaeger program for new recruits in case the kaiju ever want to make a return; which of course they do, this is a Pacific Rim movie!

There are things I like about this movie and things I don’t, along with a bunch of other stuff I have no idea how to feel about. The Pacific Rim movies do not have depth or subtext on their minds and neither should they, the steam they run on is the concept: big robots fight big monsters, boom! This film doesn’t make the mistake of trying to be about some kind of real world issue and forget what it should be (if you’ll forgive the smack of my own pretentiousness there: “ooh, that’s not how the film should be, ooh”) it knows its audience and has a good grip on why it could have an excuse to exist.

The CGI is ok, not as good as the first but it’s fine, the sets are pretty good, the designs of things are interesting, the action scenes are cool and fun to watch; the image of a jaeger upper cutting another jaeger causing it to scrape up a building before gravity does what it would do with something that size and weight is a very satisfying spectacle. That’s what the film has going for it the most, instances of cool looking stuff that appeals to one’s child at heart, the new jaeger weapons, the image of three Kaiju’s channelling Devastator and combining into one even bigger beast; is offering up childhood dreams which is all good and fine.

Unfortunately, the action scenes are surprisingly few and far between, it’s actually quite a while before the kaiju show up so we’re left to fend for ourselves with the characters – in a big dumb action film that sets out to be dumb, we’re expected to care about the characters; always a good sign. John Boyega is a likeable enough screen presence and propels his character out of annoying territory and makes him tolerable but that’s about the extent of that, Scott Eastwood has nothing to him, this girl who teams up with Boyega is a little irritating with all of her wide eyed “aww-ing” at all of her surroundings and they try something with Charlie Day’s character which makes sense in theory and I want to like it but I’m not really sure it worked as well as it should have.

A character from the first film is killed off way too quickly and without much of a lasting impact, the whole ten year gap thing doesn’t make much sense regarding another character’s age and one can’t shake the feeling of discomfort when it becomes clear the jaegers are causing more damage than the kaiju’s. If I’m giving this film a 5, it’s because the bad stuff didn’t really annoy me that much, it all just stuck out enough for me to notice, like how the cinematography is rather bland and uninteresting when we follow the humans but becomes footage from a whole different movie when the big boys kick into gear, hardly a problem big enough to dwarf the super kaiju but noticeable enough to take into account.

I get what the film is going for by trying its hand at comedy relief, being aware of what it is and all, but the jokes never really got more than a slight chuckle from me sometimes and other times just fell flat on it’s face which is a shame, a film like this could do with a sense of humour; just a good one. So those are my thoughts, when the action happens it’s fun and entertaining to a certain extent but when it isn’t being big and action-y it’s rather stale, over-edited without grace or style and without much point to care, though this didn’t tick me off as much as some other films like Transformers and whatnot; I admired the effort.

I think kids will love it and they’re really the ones it’s meant for, not some jaded 20-something who thinks a real kaiju invasion would be just the kick in the arse the world deserves at the moment if it doesn’t buck up its ideas. The film isn’t bad; it has bits and pieces I liked but also a lot of not so good bits that were disappointing, would I watch it again? Maybe, I dunno, we’ll see, but for now; go enter at your own risk and see for yourself.

Proud Mary – Motion Picture Maniac

Proud Mary – Motion Picture Maniac

Motion Picture Maniac

The opening credit sequence of Proud Mary gave me the impression that it would be a more action oriented version of Jackie Brown, with text directly from the Blaxploitation films of the 70’s and completely contradicting the cheap televisual look of the trailer; I actually thought it might be worth a damn for a minute or two. Oh how wrong I was, immediately after the credit sequence ceases the film plunges straight down hill into the territory of, you guessed it, the cheap and televisual.

Why was this movie made? There’s not one single original bone in its body, the actors don’t sound like they particularly care for the material, often coming comically close to mumbling, the cinematography is basic and style-less and the editing is horrendous; in one scene it darts around from face to face with such clumsy ferocity I had to shut my eyes before they strained and another in which a cut was so abrupt it killed the momentum of the characters’ movement stone dead. My point? I couldn’t find any artistic fingerprints, despite moments of potential like the opening credits, the rest just feels passionless, bored with itself and therefor boring for me; even with an 89-minute runtime.

Mary is an assassin, she kills a target, leaving the target’s son an orphan, she feels guilty, follows him around, saves him from a mobster, takes him in and later on there’s some shooting. Forget the 70’s, this film feels like one of those straight to VHS knock-offs of 70’s movies that came out in the 90’s, back then it would have had a male lead like Arnold or Sly but that’s pretty much what it is. I must have checked my watch every ten minutes or so because I was just so bored out of my skull, its runtime is very modest but seemed to drag on for an eternity; it’s just one been-there-done-that after another like a montage of the oldest action movie clichés, some ancient, some more modern but old and tired nevertheless.

I’m running out of things to talk about here, Proud Mary is so lacking in intrigue, inside or out, that I barely have a thing to say about it, it’s cheap looking, boing, clichéd and nobody involved in it’s making seemed to give a shit. Danny Glover is in it and he’s a nice screen presence I guess, there are a few gunshots at the end that could have been fun if they were in a better movie I suppose but that’s it for the good, everything else is dull to the point of non-existence. I think it’s safe to say I hated this film, what it tries – it gets wrong, anything else it doesn’t even bother, “anything else” of course referring to things like originality and artistic integrity; I mean is that too much to ask for? You’re filmmakers – FILM MAKE!

Gringo – Motion Picture Maniac

Gringo – Motion Picture Maniac

Motion Picture Maniac

I’m confused, is Gringo supposed to be a comedy or not? The trailer is full on comedy, but if experience has taught me anything regarding films like The Village, Inglourious Basterds and Inherent Vice, you can’t even trust trailers to get the genre right so let’s not hold that against the film, the film contains, what feel like they’re supposed to be anyway, “jokes”, but then there are long stretches in which there are no jokes to be found. Lines and deliveries in the trailer that came off as funny are much more serious and sometimes even downright sinister in the actual movie but, you know what, enough about the trailer, let’s judge the movie on its own terms… I still don’t know what it’s supposed to be because it doesn’t even seem like the movie knows what it’s supposed to be, tonally and narratively; Gringo is an almost good mess.

David Oyelowo plays a loveable loser businessman who is sent to Mexico by corrupt bosses Joel Edgerton and Charlize Theron only to get caught up with drug lords, smugglers, mercenaries, death faking, car chases and a hundred and one subplots that seem only to serve the purpose of… actually I have no idea what purpose they serve. One subplot concerns Amanda Seyfried and her drug smuggling boyfriend who wants to get a hold of some of the bad company’s new medical marijuana without her knowledge and it all amounts to NOTHING!

The movie is directed by Edgerton’s brother, Nash, who has some experience in directing before this, that I hear turned out quite well, but juggling different tones does not seem to be his forte. But I don’t think it’s all his fault, guy needs to work on his directorial comedic timing, good luck next time, the real source of issue is the script, not the slick and sometimes downright handsome cinematography, not the cast, in fact I loved the cast, it’s the story and the way the script structures it.

When you boil the film down to its premise, it becomes even more of a mess because everything that happens leading up to the story finally kicking into gear feels like desperate contrivance, like they started with the premise but had zero idea how to actually get there and so you’re left with an overstuffed opening act that would be fine if it lead to satisfying development but I really don’t think it does. There’s a bit of perspective jumping that doesn’t lead to incoherence but I still found myself wondering why it was structured that way, I wouldn’t complain if I didn’t think it was messy and it’s the kind of messy that makes me think the script was rushed to the finish line and never given a second thought.

Gringo isn’t a bad film, I’m very split, it’s well shot, Nash can clearly handle all things technical and the actors are all great but I found it very slow, inconsistent and overstuffed, the script is such a mess and the tone so flip-floppy I was just scratching my head the entire time trying to get some kind of grip or define it in some why. I think it’s worth a look because all of my complaints are subjective to my point of view and I know some people who do like it so, hey, don’t take my word for it, give a shot, maybe you’ll feel differently.

Game Night – Motion Picture Maniac

Game Night – Motion Picture Maniac

Motion Picture Maniac

If ever there was such a thing as destiny, Game Night, at some point, was surely headed for disaster, on paper there is absolutely nothing special or unique about it’s material in any way, shape or form; even now I cannot bring myself to ignore the fact that it is, overall, nothing more than the latest cash-grab comedy plopped out by the studio machine every time they’re too disinterested to make something truly worth a damn. But the planets aligned on a blue moon on this one because Game Night has been elevated from the cheap schlock it could have been because someone, somewhere, got the brainy idea to actually direct it, to put in a bit of artistic effort to hopefully make a… you know, good movie!

The plot goes Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams play a married couple who love competitive games, board games, party games, video games, quizzes, the lot, and every week they host a game night at their house with their friends. One night, Bateman’s successful douche of a brother, played by Kyle Chandler, opts for a more unique game night experience whereupon he is kidnapped and the others must follow the clues to track him down; completely unaware of whether or not the kidnapping was real or part of the game.

That sounds pretty dumb and, to be fair – it is dumb, but I’m always ready to forgive a comedy movie any misgivings if it is able to do one simple thing, oh whatever could that be? Ah yes, make me laugh, and Game Night did that many times. I think the reason it really worked was down to the fact that everyone with a creative hand in principal photography and post production actually cared about what they were doing, the cast all have great chemistry with each other and part of the fun is riding along with them, it was fun going on this trip with these characters because the actors gave a crap.

But the kicker that really does it for me is the direction, when the movie begins it doesn’t appear to be anything special but it wasn’t long before I started noticing little flares scattered about the place, every now and then there would be an interesting camera angle or placement and there are a handful of wide shots that have been focused to make the surrounding area look like board game bits and pieces. It doesn’t have that god-awful cheap look every straight up comedy has nowadays and I really appreciated the consideration for filmmaking here, to the point where I’m actually pretty glad these guys are now directing flashpoint, I’d say they’re a good choice.

So there, Game Night is insubstantial and silly but it’s funny, well directed and well acted, I’m actually surprised this comedy the studio probably didn’t really care about that much contains proper filmmaking. There’s an action scene presented as a single long take that doesn’t look like a number smaller takes CGI’d together, the cinematography is creative and I’m just really happy this wasn’t ugly to look at, there’s been too much of that over the years, bravo to these filmmakers and actors for putting in the punch and making a very fun little romp.

Fifty Shades Freed – Motion Picture Maniac

Fifty Shades Freed – Motion Picture Maniac

Motion Picture Maniac

 

I’ve barely even started typing and I’m already tired of talking about this. Listen, people, this is the third Fifty Shades Of A Wasted Life, I went out there, I sat down in an auditorium full of giggling gangs of hens and I watched it, surprise, surprise, it isn’t very good, it’s everything you think it’s going to be, they’ve learned nothing from the previous entries, the acting is no better or worse, the dialogue is no better or worse, the sex scenes are still oddly safe and dull, I’m grateful they didn’t do what I was afraid they would do, which is split the last book into two parts (thank Satan), so this is definitely going to be the last one, they made their impact on pop culture (as embarrassing as it is), good for them, well done, E. L. James – see you in hell *joke*; goodbye.

I still have to explain why don’t I? UGGGHHH! I’ll be honest, I was pretty embarrassed going in, despite this being the third one I’ve seen in the cinema, I’m really not sure why, I dunno, something happens to you when you willingly go to see a film like this; anyway. This time around the empty moron Anastasia Steele has gone and married the creepy stalker Christian Grey at the beginning of the film and from there – stuff happens, which is exactly what I said in my review of the second one, these two idiots do “stuff”, they have sex, do stuff, look at houses, do stuff, drive a car, do stuff; blah blah blah.

I’m not just hating on the movie because that’s the trendy thing to do, this thing really is legitimately bad, it fails to earn its reputation for being taboo and instead lives up to one for specific badness, that and, for the third time around, it’s hard to provide an entertaining review when it’s all just the same sh*t as last time; it’s like trying to review a transformers movie. The acting is bad, I do feel sympathy for the actors, they’re working with hideous dialogue and unrealistic characters, bless ‘em because they certainly try their hardest; but it just doesn’t work.

Any semblance of a plot comes about when Anna’s sex pest boss from the second film shows up from time to time to cause trouble, now there’s an attempt at a twist with this character which I’m just going to spoil because I’m in a bad mood, it turns out that the boss and Christian Grey were in the same foster care together as children and the boss is angry at Grey because HE wanted to be the one chosen to live with an impossibly rich family. Yup, the designated villain has a grudge against Grey because he wasn’t chosen to undergo a silver spoon enema, the fact that there’s not even a hint at this in part 2 when he first showed up makes it all feel like a tact on after thought when they realised there wasn’t enough excitement for the big climax; also doesn’t change the fact that is one of the most absurd twists in recent years.

If you want to know why I’m giving it the same score as last time – a generous 3, it’s because, once again, I’m not enraged by this movie, I’m not ready to tear my hair out, this series is not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, it’s just colossally meh. Fifty Shades Freed is probably the most unintentionally hilarious of the three; it’s not the most boring, although it is boring, it’s not the most pointless, although it is pointless but I would definitely say it’s the funniest. I almost hurt myself trying not to laugh when Mr. Grey confronts his new bride in her office and gets deeply emotionally hurt by the fact that she hasn’t changed her name in her email address from Steele to Grey, and what about the scene where she tells him that she’s (spoiler alert) pregnant, he full on flips out and it’s supposed to be engaging but it is just so damn funny!

The unintentional humour almost makes it worth a watch so yeah, a generous three sounds ok to me, aside from that though, this movie just doesn’t work, not the performances, not the toilet paper that is the script, not the televisual cinematography or Hallmark quality direction – nothing. Sam Taylor Johnson was trying to conjure something interesting out of the first one but E. L. James just wouldn’t let her do it and James Foley, the director of the next two, functions only as a tool, they just needed somebody to direct principal photography but really he’s just a chess piece to be told what to do by E. L. James and as a result we have some very cheap looking trash.

I am done, I can’t talk about it any more, it’s not the worst thing ever, it’s just bland and meh and rubbish, it’s the third time around I’ve had to say this but now we can finally put it to rest, Fifty Shades Freed is a boring and badly made film with some entertaining unintentional humour and that’s all I have to say; thank the high heavens that we don’t yet know when they plan on doing a reboot of some kind or even movie adaptations of the rehash books from Grey’s perspective.

The 15:17 To Paris – Motion Picture Maniac

The 15:17 To Paris – Motion Picture Maniac

Motion Picture Maniac

I’m having trouble comprehending what the hell just happened, I like Clint Eastwood, both as an actor and as a filmmaker, even regarding some of his less popular stuff, I actually liked J. Edgar for example, I thought Jersey Boys was good fun and I disagree that American Sniper is nothing if not obnoxious propaganda. He’s got a smooth visual aesthetic to go along with his noble intentions when approaching a new work and I get excited every time he has a new film coming out; if you ask me – Clint’s still got it. This is also a true story that very much deserves a film about it, these guys who tackled down a wannabe mass murderer and saved many lives are undoubtedly heroes who deserve all the respect in the world, this film should have and could have been awesome given the ingredients at hand here. But not only was it not even good, I regret to say that The 15:17 To Paris is in fact… a terrible movie.

If there was one thing that concerned me before its release, it was Eastwood’s decision to cast the real life guys, Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, as themselves, that’s something that has worked very well in the past like when Paul Greengrass made United 93 and cast Ben Sliney as himself. He ended up doing a great job but that was different to The 15:17 To Paris because he wasn’t reciting any lines or even really acting for that matter, United 93 was made without a traditional script in order to achieve maximum realism so Sliney merely had to do his job on camera the way he did on 9/11, making it somewhat different to a performance; he was just doing his thing.

I wanted to stay optimistic though, if Clint’s made the decision to cast them as themselves – sure, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, I wasn’t there on set, for all I knew they rocked it… I’m sorry to say they didn’t. The 15:17 To Paris has a script and dialogue to be voiced and the non actors here just don’t have the chops, they’re not God awful, they’re just not believable and that’s a shame, these guys are heroes but here I am telling them they aren’t that good at acting; I feel like I’m being unfair. But I don’t want to put all the blame on their shoulders because the reasons I think this movie is RUBBISH would still be there whether they gave good performances or not.

The dialogue is horrendous, bitterly synthetic and fake sounding to the point where you start to wonder if the screen writer has ever seen a movie before; or rather has only ever seen movies without any real life experience. Everyone keeps spouting words like “bro”, “man”, “y’know” and “whoa” and it really comes across as obnoxious, when there is talk of God’s part to play in destiny, in the same nonchalant manner as deciding what to have for dinner, I starting wishing I was a tortoise so I could retreat into my shell as the humiliating cringe just became too much.

Now I know what you’re thinking, could it be possible that the inexperienced non-actors were just failing to pass it all off as believable? That would be a reasonable question if the actual professional actors populating the film were much better but, strangely enough, they’re the worst of the lot! Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler are all Daniel Day Lewis compared to the child actors portraying them in their youth, when these kids turn up and start trying to spout dialogue I became struck with horror and disbelief at how truly hideous their performances were. I struggled not to shut my eyes out of embarrassment and start wishing I were anywhere else, they’re bad – they’re unbelievably, unfathomably bad to the point where the film is almost worth recommending just so you can see for yourself; sorry kids but better luck next time.

The event on the train is relatively well handled but the scenes leading up to it, my word, they just go on and on and on, it’s quite clear during these stretched out segments that they are struggling to turn this singular happening into a full length film. Most of it deals with their childhood, then military experience, then their friendship as grownups but it’s still not enough to cover a whole movie so a lot of time is dedicated to them Skyping, talking about going on holiday, going on said holiday, taking photos, talking to girls, drinking, partying, chatting about destiny and whether or not life is pushing them towards something great (*gag*) literally anything that can push them to feature length.

I’ll give it this; it did make me want to go on holiday myself, so… there’s something… I suppose. I’m sorry but The 15:17 To Paris is badly acted across the board, the script was in dire need of a fresh perspective, the editing often feels like it’s struggling to fit around the performances, the story telling is wrong headed and amateurish, the pacing has been mistaken for Stretch Armstrong and treated as such, the good intentions are there, the cinematography has some pretty good bits but what’s bad is so bad that I struggled to even look. That’s the worst thing that can happen, when the acting and dialogue is so bad that I’m too embarrassed to watch.

These guys deserve better, the story deserved better, I was looking forward to this film and I’m sure Eastwood will do better next time but for now, this was a dud, a thundering, disappointing splat on the floor that had a responsibility to do well and failed – shamefully. Points for cinematography and the train attack isn’t bad at all but that’s it, everything else wasn’t just disappointing, it was full on terrible.

Black Panther – Motion Picture Maniac

Black Panther – Motion Picture Maniac

Motion Picture Maniac

In quick summary form – Black Panther is perfectly fine, it’s not one of the best Marvel films, it’s not one of the worst, I don’t think it’s quite as good as everyone has been saying thus far (made worse by the fact that it’s come out straight off the success of the fantastic Thor: Ragnarok) but it works as a good old fashioned popcorn blast that doesn’t squander its potential to mark cinematic pop culture and it gets a nice little thumbs up from me.

Oh I can hear it even as I’m typing this now, the sudden gasps and guffaws at my inability to use words like “brilliant”, “amazing” or “a superhero action masterpiece”. I get it, this one had a lot to live up to, a mostly black cast set almost entirely in Africa with variations of the continent’s cultures mixed into a superhero blockbuster for the first time ever? I understand the pressure and yes, this film seizes every chance it has to be the film everyone wants it to be and if that’s all you care about going in – you’re going to love it.

But I can’t help but feel that if I looked past this film’s triumphs I could find a few issues here and there, not massive gargantuan holes ready to sink the entire ship, just some issues that stop me from agreeing that it’s as great as everyone else is saying it is. The story is relatively simple to summarize for a non-spoiler review, after his father and king of Wakanda was killed during the events of Civil War, Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa aka Black Panther returns home to be crowned ruler, Michael B. Jordan as the villainous Killmonger doesn’t particularly like this too much and sets out to cause trouble.

Wait a minute, did I say the plot is easy to summarize for a non-spoiler review? Turns out I was wrong, as I was typing out my supposed “easy” summary of the plot just now, I suddenly realised that not giving away story details was actually taking some effort. While watching the film, something occurs, I won’t say what but just as it was happening I thought to myself “I think I know exactly how the rest of the film is going to play out”, I didn’t want to be right but I was. The plot is predictable in a way that I was starting to think that spoiling the entire third act wouldn’t actually be giving anything away – lucky save.

I think that’s my biggest issue, the story telling is very unremarkable in, what is becoming, a very typical Marvel fashion, it’s not bad, just a little overused nowadays and it has lead to movies like Black Panther becoming, in my opinion, very predictable and by the numbers. This is something that’s been said of Marvel films for some time now, they’ve started to feel very similar to each other and nothing all that new, every now and then we get a Thor: Ragnarok to spice things up a bit but Black Panther failed to do this in the story department.

Let’s get to the more prevalent good stuff, Chadwick Boseman suited the role back in Civil War and he continues to do so here, he’s proved himself great with putting on voices in other films and he owns T’Challa’s accent as if it’s legit. The same thing goes for the rest of the cast, Lupita Nyong’o is always a sure thing, Letitia Wright is very funny, upstaged in the humour department only by Andy Serkis whom utterly kills it as the armless arms dealer from Age of Ultron and it’s nice to see Martin Freeman’s somewhat irrelevant character from Civil War actually function in an entertaining supporting position.

Michael B. Jordan certainly adds a lot to a character that had some giant shoes to fill, much like every Marvel villain since it became accepted across the board that they’re mostly lacklustre, aside from Loki and Ultron, the expectation for them to bring it is as high as a drug addict pilot. The character doesn’t have quite enough screen time to give his impression an extra boost, leaving me with a feeling that something feels a little off about him, but he’s well developed, you understand his motivation, at times almost even agreeing with his agenda, and the performance has all the necessary anger and frustration to make the whole thing good enough.

The action sequences are fun to watch, the sound design makes all the points of impact feel appropriately crunchy and awesome, the soundtrack is completely unique, every now and again coming across as a snazzy combination of traditional African music and hip-hop, the expected humour never tries too hard or detracts from emotion and the infusion of African culture with sci-fi craziness really helps the film feel like its own thing in spite of all the standard superhero malarkey.

I was a little worried going in that Ryan Coogler wouldn’t be given necessary breathing room, given Marvel’s reputation for treating directors like tools and totally alienating those with an auteur approach, but I’m pleased to report that there is indeed a style and personality directed into this thing, seizing opportunities to get interesting with the camera movements, not to mention the costume design and a good little one-take action scene that made my eyes brighten up.

On an unfortunate note I mean that both figuratively and literally, this is a well directed film with interesting camera work but there were times around the beginning where I felt the cinematography was a little… murky; I’m not sure what it is but some of those early scenes were rather dim and difficult to focus. I’m not just attributing that to a night time action scene towards the start where one would expect it to be dark, I’m talking about that otherwise enjoyable one-take action scene I mentioned earlier; it was all great to watch – apart from how strangely murky it was.

That and I’m starting to wonder if Marvel is rushing their SFX department, there haven’t been many instances in which I’ve had a problem with their CGI but Black Panther really had some fake looking bits. There are some not so great looking rhinoceroses that made me cringe a little, the final fight between the hero and the villain is all good and fine if not for the regrettable lack of practicality, the green screen doesn’t always work as well as it should and Andy Serkis’s missing arm is one of the strangest looking anomalies I think I’ve ever seen.

I realise I’m getting into negatives again, look, Black Panther is fun, well acted, works as a popcorn action film, has interesting costumes and culture infusions, earns its medal as a notable stamper of pop culture and it’s FINE. I just don’t think it’s the great action masterpiece everyone is saying it is, it’s rather good, but I don’t think it’s great, entertaining, watchable, interesting but that’s it; I hope it’s clear that’s still a thumbs up though.

Top 10 Tom Hardy Performances – Motion Picture Maniac (with Venom Teaser!)

Top 10 Tom Hardy Performances – Motion Picture Maniac (with Venom Teaser!)

Motion Picture Maniac

So the standalone Venom movie got its very first teaser trailer today (as I am writing this anyway) and while it didn’t give us a look at the big black beastie himself it did give us an excuse to laugh at all those heartbroken web articles, demanding answers like a bunch of football fans on the losing side as to why the studio ultimately decided not to unveil his new look. Pretending, for a moment, that the potentially post-production related answer isn’t as obvious as picking a fight with Tom “shut the f**k up you c**t” Hardy is a bad idea, or that French kissing Carnage will get your face slurped off, or – OR, get this, or that maybe, just maybe, CGI motion capture characters need to be RENDERED AND ANIMATED FIRST! HUH?

On that note, what satisfied me about the trailer was hearing Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock and REALLY liking the sound of his voice, it’s not much to go on, this being a teaser and all, but it does sound like he’s got it down and I’m really looking forward to it. So I felt like putting together a list for him, my favourite performances of his, like I really need an excuse, he’s one of my favourite actors ever and I think I’m more excited for seeing his performance rather than the fact this could be Venom getting the cinematic justice he deserves; let’s get on – here are my top 10 favourite Tom Hardy performances.

Eames – Inception: “Mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling”

Farrier – Dunkirk: “I’m on him”

Max Rockatansky – Mad Max: Fury Road: “*grunt*”

James Keziah Delaney – Taboo: “Good day”

Ivan Locke – Locke: “I am the father”

John Fitzgerald – The Revenant: “I found God, and I shot and ate that son of a b**ch”

Reggie/Ronnie Kray – Legend: “Oh, I prefer boys/Hello Ron, cheers mate, f**k you”

Michael Peterson/Charles Bronson – Bronson: “What do I want…? What have you got?”

Bane – The Dark Knight Rises: “Shadows betray you because they belong to me”

Tommy Riordan Conlon – Warrior: “You owe me 200 bucks”

 

 

 

Motion Picture Maniac 

Hostiles – Motion Picture Maniac

Hostiles – Motion Picture Maniac

Motion Picture Maniac

You know a film means business when it has an opening scene like that of Hostiles, we’re used to westerns somewhat sugar-coating the historical relationship between “Cowboys & Indians” and how truly volatile it really was (the reason movies like Soldier Blue cause such a stir upon release). But Hostiles lets you know, right from the get go, just how it plans to tackle its subject matter; with grit, blood and teeth.

The latest from the rather underappreciated Scott Cooper, Hostiles tells the tale of a white army Captain played by Christian Bale, a seasoned “Indian fighter”, who is ordered against his will to transport his sworn enemy, a terminally ill native Chief played by Wes Studi, across the country to his homeland so he can die peacefully. As you can imagine, this tour across the old West is going to be anything but smooth, it’s bad enough suffering the routine attacks from lawless bandits and rival tribesman but Bale’s character is also an angry racist, ready the moment his fort and, more importantly, his superiors are out of sight to challenge his escort to a knife fight – good to know his priorities are in order.

We learn these men have prior history, all of it bloody and ugly, the Chief has moved on from such times, not a glint of hatred remains in his stare even as Bale roars for a brawl, Bale’s Captain seems forever soured by his experiences, even walking out into the wilderness to scream and cry when it’s clear he’ll be heading the transport whether he wants to or not. That’s what I found interesting about the story, you can predict the arc of its main character easily enough but I find it quite refreshing to see a protagonist whom is not necessarily a good person played by an actor known for heroic roles; he’s on the wrong side of history, we, the audience, know this to be the case and cannot wait for him to realise for himself.

I haven’t seen a Scott Cooper movie I haven’t liked, I think Out Of The Furnace is terribly underrated and I really don’t get the small number of complaints against Black Mass. They look beautiful, take risks and are always sure handed in their execution – Hostiles is no different. The cinematography is just splendid, as a western it had a responsibility to look nice and thankfully it succeeded, the performances are all top notch, Bale plays anger very well (I wonder why), Rosamund Pike has a lot to work with on the emotional front and pulls it all off seamlessly, the violence is brutal and unforgiving and its themes have nothing but relevance in this socially disappointing modern day.

On the side I also want to give mention to the musical score, guys this music was something else, when the end credits started playing – the music just fused me to my seat. It was very sad, haunting and for Christ sake, for music to keep me hooked even as the credits are rolling? You know it’s done something right when that happens, the only other film I can think of that recently did the same thing was Blade Runner 2049. Also worth a mention is the film’s handling of blame, both natives and whites committed atrocities during such a time in history and the film refuses to vilify one while praising another, there are two opening sequences, one of natives being violent and cruel, the other of whites being violent and cruel; a very grey ocean of blood that’s very well handled.

All that being said I would not call this a great film, it has great things in it and I do like it but this is definitely his weakest film, the second-to-last scene would have worked perfectly as an ending, but the film then continues with one extra scene and I don’t think it worked as well, everything it has to say was already heavily implied in the scene that precedes it and it just feels unnecessary. I’m also sorry to report that aside from the main players and one of Bale’s soldiers, everyone else is pretty noticeably underdeveloped, it doesn’t tank the film but it stings a little when you can see the opportunities being missed.

I think the best way to put it is like so – if you love all westerns, you’ll probably love Hostiles, if you like the cast, the director and find good cinematography irresistible then yeah, feel free to go right ahead. But if you don’t like slow burns then you should probably stay away, it’s a very particular kind of film I can see not a lot of people liking, I enjoyed it but I want to be careful and I shouldn’t just go by what I think, but if what I think is why you’re here then yes, Hostiles is well acted, well shot, has interesting themes and works well as a western adventure that’s worth watching, even if not everyone is developed as well as they could be and it goes on a bit too long.

Some slightly mixed thoughts but definitely lean on positive overall.

Downsizing – Motion Picture Maniac

Downsizing – Motion Picture Maniac

Motion Picture Maniac

Let me start off by saying – I get it, I am all for saving the planet, Mother nature is screaming at us to do something about our continuous battering of her Earthly resources and it doesn’t help that the most powerful man in the world at the moment is childishly refusing to believe such problems even exist; probably the same way an eight year old would argue that crisps are vegetables. I also agree that there is a serious lack of justice regarding those with more money than can be spent in a lifetime, and those with no personal property other than the worn-torn clothes on their backs. I get it, I understand and I’m all for doing something about it – that does not mean, however, that a film cannot fall utterly flat on its face and fail in its handling and presentation of such real world issues, and ladies and gentlemen – Downsizing failed hard!

Matt Damon plays an average Joe who notices his life is lacking in momentum, the world around him is stale and his financial troubles certainly aren’t helping the situation, BUT luckily for him this story takes place in an alternate reality where it is possible to get yourself shrunken down to five inches tall, thus allowing the population to produce less waste and ultimately save the planet. Add that to the fact that a loophole allows those who “downsize” to recalculate their current savings into a much larger sum, effectively making everyone who goes through the procedure into a multi-millionaire, this seems like a good way out for poor little Matt and Kristen Wiig who plays his wife.

Doesn’t quite all go to plan though, does it? After Damon finishes going through the very irreversible procedure he receives a call from his wife telling him she got cold feet at the last minute and plans on leaving him – whoops. They divorce, his wealth is liquidated and his only hope for salvation becomes helping out a Vietnamese political activist who was downsized against her will and spends her time cleaning houses and helping other poor people who had no value to increase in the first place. Is this film a comedy? I’m not sure, it has moments peppered throughout that are passingly funny I suppose, for a while anyway. Is it a drama? No, it’s too whacky and quirky for that? Political satire? Social commentary? Good grief, what is this thing?

I actually know full well what it is – it’s long, so very, very… VERY long! Compared to other films I’ve seen and enjoyed, two hours and 15 minutes doesn’t seem like all that much really, but length and pacing are two very different things and the sigh of relief I unleashed when the credits began to roll was loud enough to rival the one I released when Transformers 5 finally ended, Downsizing isn’t quite as bad as that but it is equally boring. I want to admire it for wanting to bring attention to planetary issues and social injustice but it handles them so poorly I started to wonder if they were only a last minute thing in a desperate attempt to add some depth where they felt it was missing, that probably isn’t the case but it sure as hell feels like it; it all feels very tacked on, sloppy and pretentious.

When it tries to handle these themes, it stops trying to be funny and becomes dull, it wasn’t very funny before but at least it was coming close, after it stops trying it feels like no other effort is really being made towards anything else, it’s dedicating time to its message but we’ve already established that its themes don’t work so the time it spends on them just feels wasted and contributes to little more than increasing the overall length. Not to mention its narrative feels comprised of scenes, scenarios and happenings we have seen and many other movies, the main character always has to get high at some point and have a freaky trip, get into an awkward exchange with a customer at his workplace, experience an epiphany when he comes across someone not as well off as he is, the list goes on as long as the actual movie does.

The special effects on those who are downsized are far from convincing, much of the dialogue wants to be quirky and cute but mostly comes off as awkward and embarrassing, the world building is interesting and the film never does anything truly offensive but it’s just such a long and boring waste of time I struggle not to refer to it as terrible. It’s themes are handled bad enough to contribute only to a bloated length which wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the film were able to offer up anything else to concentrate on but it doesn’t, the cinematography is unremarkable, the score is uninspired, I can’t stress how terrible its message is handled and it’s just… so… BORING!