The Expendables 3 (2014) – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

The Expendables 3 (2014) – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
I’ve not been the biggest fan of the Expendables films.  The first had a great concept but fell short and the second, whilst fun, was pretty forgettable.  So it really was with limited expectations that I arrived at Expendables 3.  And you know what?  Not only is it the best of the three films, it’s also one of the better films of 2014. Fun, funny (with some amazing one liners and call backs to classic action films from the cast) with top notch action scenes and a cast at the top of their game (not least a resurgent Mel Gibson & Wesley Snipes).  In short: Great fun.

Best Bit: The finale

Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Buy

If You Liked this Try: Expendables, Expendables 2, Commando

 


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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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Con Air (1997) – A Hall Of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Con Air (1997) – A Hall Of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Hall of Fame Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:

Con Air is 20 today.  So I decided it would be a good idea to take a look at one of my favourite 90’s films. 

The first thing you notice re-watching Con Air is that for an action film it features very little action.  Seriously other than a shoot out, the “Put The Bunny Back in the box” fight and the excellent bone yard scene it’s not the most action packed of action films. That said… it’s still a cracking film that’s aged (and continues to age) very well indeed…

Simon West, a former assistant editor with the BBC and commercials director made his directorial debut under the guidance of producer super star Jerry Bruckheimer (in the days when he made more than terrible Pirate films) working alone after the death of his partner Don Simpson the previous year.  Side note: Simpson apparently hated the idea and relinquished all ties to the film when he and Bruckheimer split prior to his death.  To put this in context the summer tent pole movies of the Simpson/ Bruckheimer partnership had been on a role after The Rock, Bad Boys & Crimson Tide launching along the way directors like Michael Bay and cementing the late Tony Scott as one of the best action movie directors in the business. But things had soured between the producing pair and Bruckheimer was going it alone.  In short: Con Air and West had a LOT to live up to.
And for me at least, It did. With an all star ensemble cast include Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Danny Trejo , Colm Meaney, Ving Rhames and Steve Buscemi, the film was released on June 6th 1997 in the USA.  With a on fire Cage (in his new guise as action man) in the lead as Cameron Poe, a newly paroled ex Ranger who is caught on a prisoner transport plane as its taken over by some of the worst criminals in America (who would have thought that plan would have gone wrong) the film delivers killer one liners, a top notch musical score and some very assured direction to make this one of the best action films of the decade.

It’s just great unpretentious fun where every action beat isn’t edited to an inch of it’s life and the film is allowed to breathe between set pieces. It’s measured and even it’s OTT ending (which admitably does jump the shark a bit in Vegas) isn’t totally unbelievable.  But like a lot of the films around this era (See Armageddon the follow year) it’s the cast that make it shine.  Malkovich especially is great in the villain role and every member of the cast delivers a memorable performance.  It just works.  It even received awards kudos for the accompanying LeAnn Rimes warbling country track “Who Do I Live”.

Its not all good.  Whilst reviews were generally okay some were savage.  Cusack apparently hates the film refusing to be interviewed about it and Ving Rhames confesses to having never seen it.  On top on that Malkovich hated the fact the script was being rewritten on a daily basis and the film saw FX specialist Phil Swatz killed on set.

Problems aside, the film took $223million USD worldwide (on a $75million USD Budget) so was a hit and has been a cult favourite with it’s stature growing as the years have gone on.  I personally prefer it to The Rock and Armageddon and it gets played at least once a year in my house.

Shortly after Con Air the hyper quick editing and explosion driven direction that now make most big budget blockbusters almost unwatchable started to set in.  The ensemble action movie (after the following years Armageddon)  would take a hiatus until The Expendables franchise launched years later (which ironically West would end up directing the 2nd film) and whilst Bruckheimer would go on to have commercial success with Disney and the Pirates films, director West would never manage to out do his work here, with disappointments like Lara Croft Tomb Raider, The Generals Daughter and Stolen.

In short: If you fancy a slice of unpretentious 90’s action fun full of silly one liners, OTT charecters and Steve Buscemi’s most insane character yet you can do FAR worse than Con Air.

 

Best Bit: Is that my car…

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Buy

If You Liked this Try: The Rock, The Expendables 3, Armageddon

IMDB Rating: 

Author: Phil Hobden

 

Blood Father – A Quick Capsule Review

Blood Father – A Quick Capsule Review

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

IMDB Rating: 

 

Author: Phil Hobden

Blog: Grosse Point Geek – Rapid Fire Reviews Jan 2015

Blog: Grosse Point Geek – Rapid Fire Reviews Jan 2015

A Blog Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

Happy New Year fellow film fans! Welcome to Grosse Pointe Geeks Jan 2015 Rapid Fire Review!

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Exodus: Gods and Kings

Director: Ridley Scott

Actors: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver.

Scott has another stab at the historical epic with this so-so retelling of the story of Moses. On the plus side its beautifully photographed, very well directed and the set designs are amazing. However, its too long, fairly dull in places and there isn’t nearly enough action. Also Weaver and Aaron Paul barely get a look in -making one wonder why they were cast in the first place, not only that but to be honest the whole thing had a distinct whiff of Ridley Scott tapping Gladiator all over again.

At Cinemas now

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The Expendables 3

Director: Patrick Hughes

Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Dolph Lundgren, Wesley Snipes, Jet Li, etc etc.

Recently released on Blu Ray, which includes an extended more violent version than the one released in cinemas. Now i know i did a quick review of it last year, but if I’ve said it once I’ll say it again – for the love of God and Mammon – if you haven’t done it already  -please please watch this film!

Yes its silly, no it isn’t Shakespeare but if you love an action movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously, is well made and extremely entertaining – then this is definitely for you.

(On Blu Ray and DVD now  – however i would recommend getting it on Blu Ray)

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The Heat

Director: Paul Fieg

Actors: Sandra Bullock, Mellissa McCarthy

The mismatched cop genre is mined once more in this fairly good action comedy. Bullock is the straight laced FBI agent who reluctantly teams up with McCarthy’s slobbish Boston detective. Skips along at a rare old pace, very profane and actually quite funny in parts – especially McCarthy who gets all the quality one liners.

However we have seen this kind of film many times before in the 1980’s and one hopes that its success wont necessarily inspire Hollywood to go down that route all over again.

Available on DVD/Blu Ray and Netflix

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The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies

Director: Peter Jackson

Actors: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Ian McKellan, Lee Pace, Orlando Bloom.

The Middle Earth saga comes to a close with this epic final chapter that sees all and sundry close in on the Lonely Mountain to try and claim the gold from Thorin and Dwarves.. Freeman, Evans, Armitage and McKellan give faultless performances once again, plus Jackson effortlessly crafts a film that not only looks fantastic but is incredibly enjoyable as well. I will say this though – as good as it is, it cant touch the Return Of The King and one did get the feeling that a lot of footage was held back for the yet to be released 2015 extended edition DVD.

At Cinemas now

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The Imitation Game

Director: Morten Tyldum

Actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly, Mark Strong, Charle Dance, Matthew Goode.

Based on the true story of Alan Turing – a brilliant mathematician who single handedly built a machine that could decipher the Nazi Enigma Code and as a result turned the tide of World War 2, saving millions of lives in the process. A totally outstanding film, with a mesmerising performance from Cumberbatch that, if there is any justice, will bag him a much deserved Oscar nomination. One of the best films of 2014 – highly recommended.

At cinemas now

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The Pyramid

Director: Gregory Levasseur

Actors: James Buckley, Ashley Hinshaw

Found footage film featuring a team of archaeologists who unearth a lost pyramid then get trapped inside, whilst being pursued by evil supernatural forces and all manner of flesh eating beasties. Descends into CGI madness at the end but to be fair the story is quite interesting, there are some pretty scary bits and its certainly worth a look for anyone who enjoyed last years As Above So Below.

Possibly still at cinemas now

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Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For

Director: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller

Actors: Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Eva Green, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon levitt, Powers Booth.

Not bad sequel to the 2005 original. Well made, fairly enjoyable with some good performances  – especially Brolin, Levitt, Booth and Green, however the narrative and story aren’t as well structured as the first film and overall it all feels like a case of been there done that with no need to do it again  – which seems to be all Robert Rodriguez does these days anyway.

Available on DVD/Blu ray

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The Wicker Tree

Director: Robin Hardy

Actors: Graham McTavish, Christopher Lee

Adaptation of the novel ‘Cowboys for Christ’ and a sort of sequel/companion piece to Hardy’s original film – The Wicker Man.

Suffice to say that once in a while there comes a film that is so bad that it automatically gets into my top ten worst of all time list………and this is that film. Awful in just about every way you can imagine – cheap looking, amateurish direction, terrible acting, appalling script,  and overall a complete and utter insult to anyone who enjoyed the first film.

Avoid

Available on Netflix (if you can be bothered)

 

 

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That’s it for now.  I’ll be back soon…

Author: Will Strong 

 

Blog: Grosse Point Geek – 2014 Roundup Best & Worst Of The Year!

Blog: Grosse Point Geek – 2014 Roundup Best & Worst Of The Year!

A Blog Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

As the year comes to a close, it has to be said that on reflection, 2014 has been pretty damn good for films. The summer blockbuster season produced one of the best sequels for ages in Dawn of The Planet of The Apes, we bade a fond farewell to Middle Earth with the release of the final Hobbit film and Marvel managed to do it again with the one two punch of both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of The Galaxy. There was also the continued rise of some really exciting actors, specifically Richard Armitage (The Hobbit and Into the Storm) Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) and Matthew McConaughey (just about everything).

It wasn’t all plain sailing though – Michael Bay managed to take a stinking robot sized dump on us all with the appalling Transformers: Age Of Extinction, Renny Harlin proved that Die Hard 2 and Cliff-hanger were but distant memories by giving us the risible Legend Of Hercules, and shockwaves went round Hollywood with the untimely deaths of both Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams – both wonderful, talented actors who will be sorely missed.

So to business – now remember the following is only my opinion and doubtless a certain person (no names mentioned Hobden) will be in dire disagreement with me on most of it.

Read On.

 

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2014’s Top Ten Best Films (in no particular order):

  • The Wolf Of Wall Street – one of the most entertaining, profane and downright hilarious films since Pulp Fiction.
  • The Dallas Buyers Club – managed to be both heart-breaking and very funny with a brilliant academy award winning turn from Mathew McConaughey
  • Dawn Of The Planet of The Apes -really well made with amazing SFX, Andy Serkis’ astounding motion capture performance as lead ape Cesar and some exciting top notch action.
  • Captain America The Winter Soldier -incredibly entertaining and refreshingly different.
  • Guardians Of The Galaxy – utterly mental but so much good fun – damn clever too.
  • The Imitation Game – cracking film – If Cumberbatch doesn’t win an Oscar for this there’s simply no justice.
  • Fury -highly realistic, relentlessly exciting, and superbly acted – will stand the test of time as one of the best war movies ever made.
  • Interstellar -mind bending sci fi, outstanding SFX, great direction from Nolan and yet another amazing performance from McConaughey.
  • Gone Girl -great date movie, Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike were fantastic in the lead roles, and there was the usual rock solid direction from David Fincher. A must see.
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies – certainly flawed and not as good as Return of The King, but still a cracking good movie, full to the brim with director Peter Jackson’s boundless imagination, epic battles and great acting (especially Richard Armitage as Thorin).

 

The Top Ten Honourable mentions

  • The Expendables 3 – daft as a brush, but absolutely huge fun, jam packed with fisticuffs, explosions and gunfights – plus Mel Gibson was a revelation as the villain.
  • Godzilla – Would have easily made the top ten best list if it hadn’t been for some very limp human characters and the criminal underuse of Brian Cranston. However it was exceptionally well directed by Blighty’s own Gareth Edwards and featured SFX and monster action that was frankly gobsmacking.
  • Maleficent – surprisingly lovely film, with real hidden depths and a wonderful performance from Angelina Jolie.
  • Pompeii – great action, good use of 3d that actually benefitted proceedings and a deliciously OTT Kiefer Sutherland as the chief Roman baddie.
  • Hercules – preposterous in just about every way you can think, but a rollicking good ride, featuring some top battles and good show from Dwayne Johnson.
  • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – Another fun film – Phil hated this, but I just couldn’t help liking it – hopefully there will be more.
  • 300: Rise Of An Empire – ridiculous prequel/equal/sequel to Zach Snyder’s 2006 original. Nary a shot was without a rippling torso, severed limb or a lot of shouting, and Gerard Butler was sorely missed – but despite this it managed to be extremely entertaining.
  • The Raid 2 – Another one that would have made the top ten best list – not quite as good as the first entry, a bit talky and at least 20 minutes too long, but the presence of the indestructible Iko Uwais, Gareth Evans sure handed direction and some bone crunching fight scenes made for a absolute corker of a film.
  • Lone Survivor – Peter Berg atones for Battleship, with the true story of four Special Forces commandos trapped behind enemy lines in Afghanistan. Featuring brutal action, a welcome absence of jingoistic American flag waving and some great acting – especially from Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Kitsch.
  • Edge Of Tomorrow – Basically Groundhog Day meets Aliens –but Cruise gets his best role for a long time, plus it was really well written, and all the set pieces were excellent.

 

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The 4 Most Overrated of 2014

  • X-Men: Days Of Future Past – With Bryan Singer back directing, I expected to be blown away by this one – but instead of a welcome return to the awesomeness of X2 and X-Men 1st Class, what we got was at times a very entertaining film, that sadly let itself down all too often by miring the audience in overly talky dialogue and overblown exposition. Not only that but the ending made no sense at all.
  • 22 Jump Street : The first one was well written and funny, this admittedly was good in places – especially when Ice Cube was on the screen – but was I the only one who thought it was just a rehash of the original film?
  • Lucy – On release this was a massive box office hit – however I am still trying to fathom out as to why. Ok Scarlett Johansson was pretty good in the title role, but the story was basically a rip off of Limitless and by the end got so preposterous that it stretched even my usual levels of tolerance.
  • Snowpiercer – Despite having a good first 40 minutes plus a great title, cast and setting – this one turned out to be a right let down. Mainly due to the fact that what should have been a slam bang post apocalyptic actioner ,turned out to be a rather boring arty farty oddity that had woefully disappeared up its own orifice by the time the credits had rolled.

 

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The Top Five Worst of 2014

  1. Transformers: Age of Extinction – There are not enough words in the English language to describe the utter unmitigated hatred I have for this steaming pile of celluloid ordure. There is just no excuse for a summer blockbuster about Robots fighting each other to be nearly 3 hours long, deathly dull, mind numbingly boring, badly written and offensive. Without doubt the worst film of 2014 and quite possibly of the last 10 years too. Shameful.
  1. The Legend Of Hercules – Laughably pants, with a balsa wood infused “performance” from Kellan Lutz, crap fights; terrible direction from Renny Harlin and editing that appears to have been done with a blunt machete. Avoid like the plague.
  1. Non Stop – how on earth an action movie starring Liam Neeson of all people can be this bad is beyond me. Dire.
  1. 3 Days To Kill – Despite a spirited central performance from Kevin Costner , this meandering Taken wannabe failed miserably on every level to be even remotely engaging and provided more evidence (if any was needed) that McG is one of the most inept directors working today.
  1. The Amazing Spiderman 2 – Overly bloated sequel with an oddly dislikeable performance from Andrew Garfield as Spidey, Jamie Foxx’s awful pantomime villain, zero story and dull action scenes – which all in all made for one of poorest superhero movies for a very long time.


Next Time: My Preview of 2015

 
Author: Will Strong 

 

Will Strong’s Preview Of 2014…

Will Strong’s Preview Of 2014…

A Blog Grosse Point Geek Quick Review

Every year Phil and Will look at what’s grabbing their attention for 2014.   Here’s Will Strong’s pick for the films to look out for in 2014…

    1. Hobbit –There and Back again (cant wait!)
    2. Godzilla (trailer looks amazing)
    3. X Men Days of Future Past (could be brilliant, could be X Men 2 good or could be meh)
    4. Interstellar (Nolan needs to deliver here but will be interesting)
    5. Pompeii (looks fun and its P WS Anderson!)
    6. Robocop (could be very good – trailer is excellent – however the original was so good I cant see this being better )
    7. Hercules The Thracian Wars
    8. Expendables 3 – Gibson, Banderas, Stallone, Arnie, Snipes etc etc  – nuff said!
    9. Fury – sounds like it could be awesome
    10. The Monuments Men – looks very good and lots of fun
    11. Captain America The Winter Soldier – im worried about this one – could be ok but the directors are very untested and are we experiencing too much Marvel output at the moment?
    12. Guardians Of The Galaxy – this will ether be Star Wars meets the Avengers or John Carter meets Dune
    13. Sabotage – looks very action packed plus Arnie is in it
    14. Edge Of Tomorrow – could be very good
    15. The Raid 2  – this could be awesome but how do you top the original?????