Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Home Alone: The Holiday Heist Review

Home Alone: The Holiday Heist

Broadcast Date: 25th November 2012 - US  

Production Companies
Fox Television Studios
Manitoba Film and Tax Video Production Credit
Original Pictures

Genre: Family

Rating: PG

Runtime: 90 minutes

Plot Summary
10-year-old Finn Baxter thinks his family’s new house in Maine is haunted – but the truth might be even scarier! A trio of thieves is after a priceless painting hidden in a secret room by the previous owner. So when Finn and his sister find themselves home alone, Finn rigs up an elaborate array of techno-gadgets and booby traps to protect his pad from the bumbling criminals trying to break in. 

Christian Martyn - Finn Baxter
Jodelle Ferland - Alexis Baxter
Malcolm McDowell - Sinclair
Doug Murray - Curtis Baxter
Ellie Harvie - Catherine Baxter
Debi Mazar - Jessica
Eddie Stephen - Mr. Hughes
Edward Asner - Mr. Carson
Adriana O’Neil - Gabby Marano
Peter DaCunha - Mason
Bill Turnbull - Simon

Director - Peter Hewitt
Based on Original Characters - John Hughes (Uncredited)
Screenplay - Aaron Ginsburg and Wade McIntrye
Executive Producer - David Madden
Producers - Lisa Demberg and Adrian Pjevc
Co-Producer - Paul D. Goldman
Production Designer - Craig Sandelis
Costume Designer - Patricia J. Henderson
Cinematography - Peter Benson
Film Editor - John Congilo
Composer “Home Alone” Theme - John Williams
Music - David Kitay

The joyous season of the holiday is over, but just before it can happen, I borrowed HOME ALONE 5 from a friend so I may review it for Christmas. I was so fortunate to skip ahead to the third and fourth installments but found neither of them are as acceptable as the original and to a lesser extent, the second movie. The first HOME ALONE feature was by far the best of the series and Macaulay Culkin was probably the best child actor in this classic comedy. It seems nowadays that Culkin is fully grown up from his childhood status and the series’ creator John Hughes was deceased when HOME ALONE 5 was made in 2012. THE HOLIDAY HEIST is forgettable, but probably would have been a decent film if the script and booby traps were a little more inventive. This sequel was meant for television as I wasn’t aware that it was shown in America on the ABC Family channel (now known as Freeform). The acting was so-so with the exception of Malcolm McDowell who seems fittingly appropriate as Sinclair, the leader of the art thieves. He isn’t the only gentleman actor who is qualified for his recognisable experience in a family picture.

While this film was a bit of an improvement over HOME ALONE 4, (which made no sense whatsoever!) because it was a pilot for a television series, HOME ALONE 5 doesn’t however change the fact that this sequel pales in comparison to the legacy of the original. It’d be best to skip this installment in favour of the first two movies through the next holiday.

Star rating: (4/10) Below Average

Monday, 11 December 2017

Power Rangers Review

Power Rangers

Release Date: 23rd March 2017 - Australia

Production Companies
Saban Films
TIK Films
Temple Hill Entertainment
Toei Company (Uncredited)

Roadshow Distribution

Genre: Action

Rating: M

Runtime: 121 minutes

Budget: $100,000,000

Box Office Gross: $142,337,240 

Plot Summary
Five ordinary teens must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove - and the world - is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so, they will have to overcome their real-life issues and before it's too late and band together as the Power Rangers.

Dacre Montgomery - Jason (Red Ranger)
Naomi Scott - Kimberly (Pink Ranger)
RJ Cyler - Billy (Blue Ranger)
Ludi Lin - Zack (Black Ranger)
Becky G. - Trini (Yellow Ranger)
Elizabeth Banks - Rita Repulsa
Bryan Cranston - Zordon
Bill Hader - Alpha 5 (Voice)
Matt Shively - Damo
Cody Kearsley - Hawkeye
David Denman - Sam Scott
Robert Moloney - Ted Hart
Anjali Jay - Maddy Hart
Sarah Grey - Amanda
Morgan Taylor Campbell - Harper
Caroline Cave - Beverly Scott
Kayden Magnuson - Pearl Scott
Lisa Berry - Candace Cranston
Fiona Fu - Zack’s Mom
Fred Tatasciore - Goldar/Putties (Voice)

Director - Dean Isarelite 
Creator “Power Rangers”/
Producer - Haim Saban 
Creator “Power Rangers” - Shuki Levy (Uncredited)
Story - Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless and Michele & Kieran Mulroney
Producer - John Gatins
Executive Producers - Qiuyun Long and Allison Shearmur 
Executive Producer/Unit Production Manager - Brent O’Connor
Producers - Marty Bowen, Brian Casentini and Wyck Godfrey
Co-Producer - Stephen Meinen 
Co-Producer/First Assistant Director - Aldric La’auli Porter
Production Designer - Andrew Menzies
Costume Designer - Kelli Jones
Director of Photography - Matthew J. Lloyd
Special Effects Supervisors - Andrew Durno, Steve Hamilton and Dan Sedlacek
Visual Effects Supervisor - Sean Andrew Faden
Film Editors - Martin Bernfeld and Dody Dorn
Music - Brian Tyler

The POWER RANGERS series was a highly successful action show for children that it was shown on television around the world (including Japan, where most of the footage was borrowed from a Tokusatsu franchise and was later re-dubbed into its international broadcast). Having only seen some episodes on TV and a few video cassettes since I was very young, I’ve never forgotten how it impacted me on my childhood. Power Rangers began life as a campy kids show and then, many years later, a movie was officially announced. It’s very strange to consider POWER RANGERS as having the big-screen treatment when there hasn’t been a film spin-off since the 1997 series, although a movie was to be based on TIME FORCE but Disney pulled the plug in its pre-production after their earlier purchase of the franchise. Deciding to skip through the newer adaptation in favour of the 2017 remake of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (click here), I wasn’t exactly interested in seeing this cinematic re-telling when I was in my hometown. Then I got a chance to rent it and watched it on-demand while I was staying in Holiday Inn at Parramatta. 

POWER RANGERS wasn’t as colourful and cheesy as the show had been since its inception. The film was completely modernised by the filmmakers who brought back the nostalgia and added a style that was considered darker and edgier than the TV series’ standards. Fans of this franchise are biased about this new approach along with the redesigns of the Ranger outfits and Zords; being clearly divided into those criticizing it and those enjoying it. Some of the other changes proved to be very useful, had they been first conceived in the original series; including that one character Billy Cranston, who is the classic Blue Ranger (and coincidentally shares the surname of one of the movie’s supporting players) who is now an African-American with high-functioning autism.  

The casting of this movie was quite convincing in that each of these young actors are perfectly suited for the titular characters destined to save the world. They absolutely done it with hint of their inter-personal onscreen chemistry as well as starting future careers in their own. Bryan Cranston did a much simpler job in reprising the benevolence of Zordon who helps to bring the Power Rangers together and teaches them how to fight evil in their destiny. Elizabeth Banks was the only other known star who also did good in her antagonistic role of Rita Repulsa whose motivations are predictable. 

It wasn’t a financial success or a critical hit by any chance. Nothing spectacular or anything original has came up in POWER RANGERS despite it being a decent film of its year. I do believe that it’s a hit-and-miss. Most non-fans like myself  naturally tend to disagree with some of the fans’ opinions of what they enjoyed the film. I’ll have to revisit most of the ongoing series and the first two films before anything new is released.

Star rating: (6/10) Fair Movie

Monday, 27 November 2017

Justice League Review

Justice League

Release Date: 16th November 2017 - Australia

Production Companies
Warner Bros. Pictures
RatPac-Dune Entertainment
DC Comics
DC Entertainment
Cruel and Unusual Films
Atlas Entertainment
Lensbern Productions

Roadshow Distribution

Genre: Action

Rating: M

Runtime: 121 minutes

Budget: $300,000,000

Box Office Gross: $657,924,295 (Worldwide)

Plot Summary
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act. Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.

Ben Affleck - Bruce Wayne/Batman
Henry Cavill - Clark Kent/Superman
Gal Gadot - Dian Prince/Wonder Woman
Ezra Miller - Barry Allen/The Flash
Jason Momoa - Arthur Curry/Aquaman
Ray Fisher - Victor Stone/Cyborg
Ciarán Hinds - Steppenwolf
Connie Nielsen - Queen Hippolyta 
Jeremy Irons - Alfred Pennyworth
J.K. Simmons - Commissioner Gordon
Amy Adams - Lois Lane
Jesse Eisenberg - Lex Luthor
Diane Lane - Martha Kent
Billy Crudup - Henry Allen
Julian Lewis Jones - King Atlan
David Thewlis - Ares
Amber Heard - Mera
Joe Morton - Dr. Silas Stone
Joe Manganiello - Mr. Wilson (Uncredited)

Story/Director - Zack Snyder
Based on Characters - Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel
Character Creator: Wonder Woman - William Moulton Marston 
Story/Screenplay/Executive Producer - Chris Terrio
Screenplay - Joss Whedon
Executive Producers - Michael E. Uslan, Benjamin Melniker, Ben Affleck, Wesley Coller and Curt Kanemoto
Producers - Geoff Johns, Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder
Co-Producers/Unit Production Managers - Marianne Jenkins and Gregor Wilson
Production Designer - Patrick Tatopoulos
Costume Designer - Michael
Cinematography - Fabian Wagner
Second Unit Director/Stunt Coordinator - Damon Caro
Stunt Coordinator - Eunice Huthart
Special Effects Supervisor - Mark Holt
Film Editors - David Brenner, Richard Pearson and Martin Walsh
Visual Effects Supervisors - John ‘D.J.’ Des Jardin and Seth Maury
Visual Effects Supervisor: Weta Digital - Keith Miller
Music - Danny Elfman

Because of my experience over the past years, I had high expectations about the new JUSTICE LEAGUE movie which is DC and Warner’s answer to THE AVENGERS (click here). I remember reading a few comics of the JUSTICE LEAGUE as well as a hit animated TV series from Cartoon Network. Marvel and Disney hit the jackpot with the surprise success of their big-budgeted movie. Audiences from everywhere, including comic book fanatics, praised the film as it was nothing like they’d ever seen before. This in fact, would later inspire DC into making their own grandiose feature to upstage THE AVENGERS. I’ve waited for the release of this movie for a long time as the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) was at a rocky period for being controversial to the fans. The latest and fourth entry WONDER WOMAN (click here) was the only one that was heading in the right direction as it was the first of these films to set a benchmark for the DCEU. However, what we got there is a movie that is extremely over-reliant on visual heavy spectacles and it is a tough act to follow. 

JUSTICE LEAGUE has a rushed and uneven story-line due to a personal behind-the-scenes tragedy that caused its director  Zack Snyder to leave through post-production and Joss Whedon, who is the former director of the AVENGERS movies took over his supervision. I like how Whedon contributed to the writing of the humour and the tone being lighter. The geniuses’ visions were clashed together with Snyder’s filmmaking style being there in the picture as well as Whedon’s quips with a sense of fun and entertainment. While these attempts to breathe life into JUSTICE LEAGUE, the movie sometimes works but not on its own. I did not like how they changed the idea of Superman being brought back from the dead as it could have got a better explanation in order to resolve the ending that we last saw in BATMAN v SUPERMAN (BvS) (click here). I couldn’t agree more that Steppenwolf was a weak villain who is by-the-numbers and undeveloped and falls into the “wanting to destroy humanity” cliche. But enough about the negative aspects, it’s time to move on for the positives.

Ezra Miller was excellent and funny in the role of Flash, I liked how he conveys the personality of this character as wisecracking which is an appropriate source of his comic relief. Jason Momoa was brought into stardom with a marvellous portrayal of Aquaman and so is Ray Fisher for Cyborg. Continuing her role of Wonder Woman is Gal Gadot who is fresh from her last film and she makes the character look very attractive. Henry Cavill triumphs his way of acting as Superman who reverts back to his old and heroic self than the lifeless-driven counterpart in MAN OF STEEL (click here) and BvS. Danny Elfman was the right composer for mastering the majestic and upbeat score on the picture and re-used a few themes that were previously heard in DC’s classic features (including his own from Tim Burton’s BATMAN and BATMAN RETURNS).

JUSTICE LEAGUE is no longer an anticipated box-office film as audiences have already seen the missteps from the last two entries that Snyder directed. Though, it was certainly an improvement and still, this could have gone to Zack Snyder had he not backed out from post-production. A director’s cut of the movie might contain the elements that were not seen in the theatrical edition, we will have to wait to see if this is released in DVD/Blu-ray format.

Star rating: (6/10) Fair Movie

Sunday, 26 November 2017

My New Community Page

I have recently started my own community page on Facebook as FilmGuruLad and I encourage my viewers to go on to Facebook and try to find my page type in filmgurulad in the search bar. Otherwise if you already have an account on the social network you’ll probably know where it is. You’ll notice that each of these posts on my page of Facebook are linked to my reviews as well as obituaries and features including those that were shared from my account, so enjoy.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Space Chimps Review

Space Chimps

Release Date: 25th September 2008 - Australia

Production Companies
Vanguard Animation
Odyssey Entertainment
Starz Animation
The Weinstein Company 
Roadshow Distribution

Genre: Animation/Family

Rating: G

Runtime: 77 minutes

Budget: $37,000,000

Box Office Gross: $64,834,964

Plot Summary
Ham III, the grandson of the first chimp astronaut, is blasted off into space by an opportunity-seeking senator. Soon, the fun-loving chimp has to get serious about the mission at hand; ridding a far-away planet of their nefarious leader. Fortunately for Ham III, two of his simian peers are along for the ride.

Voice Cast
Andy Samberg - Ham III
Cheryl Hines - Luna
Patrick Warburton - Titan
Jeff Daniels - Zartog
Kristin Chenoweth - Kilowatt
Kenan Thompson - Ringmaster
Zack Shada - Comet/Nava Boy
Carlos Alazraqui - Houston
Omid Abtahi - Dr. Jagu
Patrick Breen - Dr. Bob
Jane Lynch - Dr. Poole
Kath Soucie - Dr. Smothers
Stanley Tucci - Senator
Wally Wingert - Splork/Various

Story/Screenplay/Director - Kirk De Micco
Screenplay - Robert Moreland and Joe Piscatella (Uncredited)
Additional Screenplay Material - Jason Mayland
Executive Producers - Eric M. Bennett, Morris Berger, Neil Braun, Steve Brown, Jerry Davis and John W. Hyde
Producers - John H. Williams and Barry Sonnenfield
Co-Producer - Curtis Augspurger
Production Designer - Bo Welch
Additional Production
Designers - Keith Graves
and Deane Taylor
Character Designer/Storyboard Artist - Sterling Sheehy
Animation Director - Adam Wood
Cinematography - Jericca Clelamd
Film Editor - Debbie Berman
Supervising Editor - Tom Finan
Music - Chris Bacon
Composers: Additional Music - Blue Man Group
and Gad Emile Zeitune

Vanguard Animation, the studio headed by one of the producers of SHREK has been producing a few animated films in the past decade and each of them were ranked as okay to mediocre. Their third movie SPACE CHIMPS had appalling box office takings it was outranked by its formidable competitor WALL-E (click here). While it wasn't a surprise hit by any chance, the film however did spawn a sequel that was never released in theatres. The original movie however feels like an animated movie that wastes its potential and was literally written by monkeys on typewriters. The animation isn't too great and the story-line is much too bland and not original enough. The over-abundance of ape puns were all over the movie like it's all covered with monkey paw-prints. A few bits of comedy remained funny and most of the other jokes don't quite get the same laugh from its intended audience.

The voice cast is imperfect, particularly Andy Samberg who is not a horrible actor but tries to give his character a daredevil persona which falls flat. Jeff Daniels who was a great actor, from his extraordinary supporting and leading parts in acting, drama and comedy has been miscast in the role as the evil alien Zartog and this may be the reason why he never has been offered any more voices in the animated features. Stanley Tucci had bad luck to voice a certain senator who seems to care about himself more than NASA as well as the opportunity that he craves. Only Patrick Warburton succeeds in following the characterisation of by-the-book chimp Titan and he seems to be more quick to follow an ill-gotten script.

Monkey see, monkey don't, this is the phrase I would use to sum up my review. SPACE CHIMPS is a simple, yet juvenile family animation for young kids.

Star rating: (4/10) Below Average

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Thor: Ragnarok Review

Thor: Ragnarok

Release Date: 13th October 2017 - Australia (Gold Coast, Queensland)

Production Companies
Marvel Studios
Marvel Entertainment (presents)

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Australia

Genre: Sci-Fi

Rating: M

Runtime: 130 minutes

Budget: $180,000,000

Box Office Gross: $450,201,764 (Worldwide) (This figure may change as new editions earn more money and increase the overall value of the box office gross)

Plot Summary
Building on the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor is imprisoned on the far side of the universe (the planet Sakaar, to be exact) without his mighty hammer. He's forced to engage in an intense gladiatorial contest arranged by the Grandmaster, and to survive, must defeat his competitor - none other than former ally and fellow Avenger, the Incredible Hulk.

With his home world of Asgard under threat of destruction by the powerful and ruthless goddess of death Hela, the stakes for Thor have never been higher. Can he save it from the fierce villain's clutches?

Chris Hemsworth - Thor
Tom Hiddleston - Loki
Cate Blanchett - Hela
Idris Elba - Hemdall
Jeff Goldblum - Grandmaster
Tessa Thompson - Valkyrie
Karl Urban - Skurge
Mark Ruffalo - Bruce Banner/The Hulk
Anthony Hopkins - Odin
Benedict Cumberbatch - Doctor Strange
Taika Watiti - Korg/Surtur
Rachel House - Topas
Clancy Brown - Surtur (Voice)
Tadanobu Asano - Hogun
Ray Stevenson - Volstagg
Zachary Levi - Fandral
Luke Hemsworth - Actor Thor (Cameo)
Sam Neill - Actor Odin (Cameo)
Charlotte Nicdao - Actor Sif (Cameo)
Matt Damon - Actor Loki (Cameo) (Uncredited)

Director - Taika Watiti
Based on Comic/Executive Producer - Stan Lee
Based on Comic - Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby
Writers - Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost
Executive Producers - Victoria Alonso, Louis D'Esposito and Brad Winderbaum
Executive Producer/Unit Production Manager - Thomas M. Hammel
Producer - Kevin Fiege
Co-Producer - David J. Grant
Production Designers - Dan Hennah and Ra Vincent
Costume Designer - Mayes C. Rubeo
Director of Photography -
Javier Aguirresarobe
Special Effects Supervisors - Brian Cox and R. Bruce Steinheimer
Visual Effects Supervisors - Jake Morrison and Stuart White
Visual Effects Supervisor: ILM - Chad Wiebe
Animation Supervisor - Raphael A. Pimentel
Animation Supervisor: ILM - Steve Nichols
Editors - Zene Baker and Joel Negron
Music Supervisor - Dave Jordan
Music - Mark Mothersbaugh

Marvel has taken one of the Avengers through the cosmos into a completely new standalone film as THOR: RAGNAROK becomes a full-scale interstellar action comedy with less balance. This movie doesn't mesh well with sci-fi, considering what has happened to its predecessor THE DARK WORLD (click here) and the mistake has not entirely been fixed. It has too much humour displaying that playful tone similar to one of Marvel’s previous entries, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (click here) and fails to return the omnipresence found in the first instalment. RAGNAROK has great visual eye-candy to behold the maximum impact and has no romantic subplot involving Jane Foster who was nowhere to be found as this relationship was quickly forgotten after the second film was criticised for putting too much focus on it. The film even featured the addition of everyone’s favourite Avenger, the Incredible Hulk who was once again played by Mark Rufalo. Having not read the original comics and neither Planet Hulk, I believe that this film should have been a continuation for the character who hasn’t been the main lead since 2008’s THE INCREDIBLE HULK. 

Jeff Goldblum makes up for a terrifically entertaining performance as the Grandmaster. Cate Blanchett was the villainess Hela who succeeds at overpowering Thor which is something that Loki could not do and she was a better sequel antagonist than Malekith. Karl Urban convincingly portrays Skurge who unwillingly switches his allegiance to Hela as he becomes her right-hand man. Tessa Thompson was then added to the cast as Thor’s new reluctant ally Valkyrie. Mark Mothersbaugh’s background score fits the movie of its retro-spacey feel and its new colourful integration.

Although THOR: RAGNAROK was newly appreciated by fans and critics who proclaim this to be the cinematic holy grail of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I have to disagree on what they say about the movie. It is a bit of an improvement of THE DARK WORLD but it’s a solid addition to the ongoing cinematic franchise of Marvel and therefore, a must-see film for all fans.

Star rating: (7/10) Good Movie

Monday, 23 October 2017

Mars Attacks! Review

Mars Attacks!

Release Date: 20th February 1997 - Australia

Production Companies
Warner Bros. Pictures
Tim Burton Productions

Genre: Sci-Fi/Comedy

Rating: M

Runtime: 106 minutes 

Budget: $70,000,000

Box Office Gross: $101,371,017 

Plot Summary
A fleet of Martian spacecraft surrounds the world's major cities and all of humanity waits to see if the extraterrestrial visitors have, as they claim, "come in peace." U.S. President James Dale receives assurance from science professor Donald Kessler that the Martians' mission is a friendly one. But when a peaceful exchange ends in the total annihilation of the U.S. Congress, military men call for a full-scale nuclear retaliation.

Jack Nicholson - President James Dale/Art Land
Glenn Close - First Lady Marsha Dale
Annette Bening - Barbara Land
Pierce Brosnan - Prof. Donald Kessler
Danny DeVito - Rude Gambler
Martin Short - Press Secretary Jerry Ross
Sarah Jessica Parker - Nathalie Lake
Michael J. Fox - Jason Stone
Rod Steiger - General Decker
Tom Jones - Himself (Cameo)
Lukas Hass - Richie Norris
Natalie Portman - Taffy Dale
Jim Brown - Byron Williams
Lisa Marie - Martian Girl
Sylvia Sidney - Grandma Florence Jenkins
Paul Winfield - General Casey
Pam Grier - Louise Williams
Jack Black - Billy Glenn Norris
Janice Rivera - Cindy, Bryon's Co-Worker
Ray J - Cedric Williams
Brandon Hammond - Neville Williams
Joe Don Baker - Richie's Dad
O-Lan Jones - Sue Ann Norris
Christina Applegate - Sharona
Brian Haley - Mitch, Secret Service Agent
Jerzy Skolimowski - Dr. Zeigler 
Barbet Schroeder - Maurice, the French President
Chi Hoang Cai - Mr. Lee

Producer/Director - Tim Burton
Based on Trading Card Series - Len Brown, Woody Gelman, Wally Wood, Bob Powell and Norman Saunders
Screen Story/Screenplay - Jonathan Gems
Producers - Larry J. Franco and Laurie Parker (Uncredited)
Production Designer - Wynn Thomas
Costume Designer - Colleen Atwood
Cinematography - Peter Suschitzky
Special Effects Supervisor - Michael Lantieri
Visual Effects Supervisors - David Andrews,
Michael L. Fink and Jim Mitchell
Film Editor - Chris Lebonzon
Music - Danny Elfman

MARS ATTACKS! wasn't Tim Burton's first choice to adapt this series of a trading card game into the big screen. He was supposed to direct another adaptation of its sister series DINOSAUR ATTACKS! until the success of JURASSIC PARK (click here) and its forthcoming instalment THE LOST WORLD (click here) halted these plans and he switched to produce MARS ATTACKS! However, it was not a commercial success for the director when released in America at the same time as another over-the-top sci-fi flick INDEPENDENCE DAY (click here) outgrossed it. The competition was inevitable and MARS struggled to attain a few million dollars at the box office but is not enough for Tim Burton to beat Roland Emmerich of his successful feature when it is mirrored in terms of success. It remains as one of Burton's few overlooked but underrated features. Some people claim that this was the reason why the DESTROY ALL HUMANS video game series existed because of its minor influence.

Still, the Martians are coming to a black comedy satire that parodies the early alien invasion films like THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, etc. It's therefore obvious that Burton has been trying to get his comedic touch since BEETLEJUICE and this isn't the first genre that the director had encountered. Elements of classic science-fiction were mixed together with dark humour and created a very imaginative look and it seemed very reminiscent to the B films of the 1950s that deal with these alien apocalypses. These Martians in the movie are undeniably goofy but still threatening as they pose a threat to most of the humankind that make poor decisions, were at their utmost of selfishness and have barely redeemed themselves except for some that were saved in the film's end. It helps that this came after the director’s semi-autobiographical movie of ED WOOD and it explains a lot of inspiration and detail. He even took some scenic inspiration out of DR. STRANGELOVE (click here) from the late Stanley Kubrick, particularly the war conference room. 

Jack Nicholson was the most prominent player as he had a dual role in the feature as the President and as a immoral casino manager. Most noticeable of the other featured actors in supporting roles and cameos include Michael J. Fox (in his last live-screen appearance), Pierce Brosnan, Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Sarah Jessica Parker, singer Tom Jones, Martin Short and Glenn Close. A lot of viewers most of whom are Star Wars fans may recognise Natalie Portman for her later work other than the divisive prequels vice versa, would be surprised that she was among the actors who get small notice in the film as it did to Jack Black when acting as one of the soliders who gets vaporised by the Martians. The movie's CGI was plain and effective but was certainly out-of-date when compared to the modern films that many of its visuals have worked through the use of better quality.

It may not have been the finest hour for Tim Burton and his crew. He can do pictures whenever that he pleases us and were no better than MARS ATTACKS! even by a long-shot. I purposely recommend to all moviegoers that this is a semi-decent film.

Star rating: (7/10) Good Movie

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Kingsman: The Secret Service/The Golden Circle Review

Kingsman: The Secret Service/The Golden Circle

Release Date: 5th February 2015 - Australia (Secret Service)
21st September 2017 - Australia (Golden Circle)

Production Companies
20th Century Fox
Marv Films
Cloudy Productions
TSG Entertainment (made in association with)

20th Century Fox Australia

Genre: Action

Rating: MA15+ (Not Suitable for Young Children)

Runtime: 129 minutes (Secret Service)
                141 minutes (Golden Circle)

Budget: $94,000,000 (Secret Service)
$104,000,000 (Golden Circle)

Box Office Gross: $414,351,546 (Worldwide) (Secret Service)
$287,633,074 (Worldwide) (Golden Circle) (This figure may change as new editions earn more money and increase the overall value of the box office gross)

Plot Summaries

Gary "Eggsy" Unwin, whose
late father secretly worked for a
spy organis.ation, lives in a
South London housing estate
and seems headed for a life
behind bars. However, dapper
agent Harry Hart recognises
potential in the youth and
recruits him to be a trainee in
the secret service. Meanwhile, 
villainous Richmond Valentine 
launches a diabolical plan to 
solve the problem of climate 
change via a worldwide killing 

Gary “Eggsy” Unwin is learning 
what it takes to be a true 
Kingsman from mentor Harry 
Hart. He learns nice clothes, 
fancy cars and cool weapons 
help the Kingsman with their 
ultimate goal: to sacrifice 
anything for the greater good.

But when the Kingsman 
headquarters is destroyed, 
Eggsy and Merlin have to 
figure out who is responsible. 
Their research leads them 
to discover an allied American 
agency called Statesman 
comprised of Agent Tequila, 
Agent Whiskey and Agent 
Champagne. The two agencies 
decide to band together to try 
to discover this new enemy 
and save the world.

Talon Egerton - Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin
Colin Firth - Harry Hart/Galahad
Mark Strong - Merlin
Sophie Cookson - Roxy
Edward Holcroft - Charlie
Samantha Womack - Michelle Unwin
Tobi Bakare - Jamal
Hanna Alström - Princess Tilde

Samuel L. Jackson - Richmond Valentine
Sofia Boutella - Gazelle
Michael Caine - Chester King/Arthur
Mark Hamill - Professor Arnold 
Jack Davenport - Lancelot
Geoff Bell - Dean
Jordan Long - Poodle
Alex Nikolov - Little Eggsy
Fiona Hampton - Amelia
Jack Cutmore-Scott - Rufus Saville
Bjørn Floberg - Scandavian Prime Minister
Lily Travers - Lady Sophie
Richard Brake - The Interrigator
Nicholas Banks - Digby
Tom Prior - Hugo
Jonno Davies - Lee
Theo Barklem-Biggs - Ryan
Morgan Watkins - Rottweiler
Nicholas Agnew - Nathaniel
Rowan Polonski - Piers

Julianne Moore - Poppy
Channinng Tatum - Tequila 
Pedro Pascal - Whiskey
Jeff Bridges - Champ
Halle Berry - Ginger
Elton John - Himself
Michael Gambon - Arthur
Keith Allen - Charles
Tom Benedict Knight - Angel
Mark Arnold - General McCoy
Bruce Greenwood - The President
Poppy Delevingne - Clara
Emily Watson - Chief of Staff Fox
Bjorn Granath - The King of Sweden
Lena Endre - The Queen of Sweden
Calvin Demba - Brandon
Thomas Turgoose - Liam

Screenplay/Producer/Director - Matthew Vaughn
Based on Comic Book “Secret Service”/Executive Producers - Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons
Screenplay/Co-Producer - Jane Goldman
Executive Producers - Pierre Lagrange, Stephen Marks and Claudia Schiffer
Producers - Adam Bohling and David Reid
Production Designers - Paul Kirby (*) and Darren Gilford (**)
Costume Designer - Adrianne Phillips
Cinematography - George Richmond
Stunt Coordinators - Bradley James Allan and Adam Kirley
Additional Stunt Coordinator - James O’Donnell (*)
Fight Coordinator - Guillermo Grispo
Skydiving Supervisor - David Emerson (*)
Special Effects Supervisor - Steven Warner
Special Effects Consultant - Neil Corbould (*)
Visual Effects Supervisors - Steven Begg (*) and Angus Bickerton (**)
Visual Effects Supervisor/Lidar and Cyber Scanning Supervisor -
Huseyin Caner (*)
Additional Visual Effects Supervisors - John Paul Docherty
and John Bruno (*)
Film Editors - Eddie Hamilton and John Harris (*)
Music - Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson

I apologise for taking another break as I had to finish my long-term animated project among other things. While taking a trip down to Sydney, I recently come across the Hoyts cinema in Penrith where I saw the second KINGSMAN instalment THE GOLDEN CIRCLE. Before that, I had watched THE SECRET SERVICE and it was the fourth time that I’ve watched this film. 

An excessively violent spy-fi movie with stylised action sequences that reminisces the classic spy movies from the 1960s and 1970s like James Bond. KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE is a dapper movie with a great sense of humour and action-packed storyline. Matthew Vaughn has never been formally introduced to the espionage sub-genre for a film that’s based on an original comic. Much like his few other films that were previously adapted from comic-books, this movie also has the Director’s penchant for gruesome violence and vulgarity. Trust me, this one is completely different to his superhero flicks that were KICK-ASS and X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (click here). This film has very much of the hardcore fight scenes and explosions and speaking of these two, the church scene and the pub-fight are absolutely two of the best moments and the part of the exploding heads is to die for.

Taron Egerton was warmly welcomed as the new star in a much-deserved role as Eggsy, a young man who desires to do good in his life. Colin Firth was even a suitable British actor when he is fantastic as Harry Hart who trains Eggsy to become a proper English gentleman spy. Hollywood’s living legend Samuel L. Jackson has had a dazzling opportunity to do an over-the-top portrayal as the lisping villainous businessman named Richmond Valentine. Mark Strong was the director’s frequent collaborator and is once again working with him in a supporting role as Merlin. Sofia Boutella was ideally chosen in her debut role as the deadly henchwoman Gazelle.

This movie may be horrifying for some with graphic violent scenes and crude language, and don’t mind the campiness that hasn’t been used before in a recent spy movie. I appreciate the level of enthusiasm that has been brought to THE SECRET SERVICE and is properly envisioned as the year’s ultimate action-packed blockbuster. If you are old enough to see it, just buy it or rent it elsewhere in online and retail.

Star rating: (8/10) Very Good Movie

It seems that the wait is over as the first KINGSMAN movie’s helmer Matthew Vaughn is back for its newest chapter to revisit the glamorous but violent style of espionage. Unfortunately for him, he’s forgotten what he had promised us, more genuine class in the sequel.  THE GOLDEN CIRCLE was twice as big as the original film but rehashes everything that was done in its predecessor. There are a few grating plot-holes that were noticeable enough to derail the film off its corners. Nevertheless, the new characters were added to the plot like those from the Statesman agency plus the violence and action sequences are still intact but remained as over the top and edgy. 

It was truly unexpected to see Colin Firth return in a screen combination with the main lead actor Taron Egerton. Actress Julianne Moore does a great performance as the smart and cunning villainess who has a secret motivation that doesn’t involve world domination or doomsday cataclysm. Pop musician Elton John was no actor but rather than a cameo, he outplays himself as being in a supporting role. Halle Berry was sweet as the American female counterpart of Merlin. Jeff Bridges was a bit of a dandy as the head of the Statesman agency. Channing Tatum was good but I felt his character Tequila could have had more screen-time, if he was featured in the rest of the movie for more action. 

THE GOLDEN CIRCLE is somewhat decent but it was an instantly forgettable continuation and some believed it was being put upon for the sake of the style. There is still much fun going on with just this film to get the KINGSMAN saga going until the next instalment is unveiled..

Star rating: (6/10) Fair Movie