Summary: Gru meets his long-lost charming, cheerful, and more successful twin brother Dru who wants to team up with him for one last criminal heist.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 15th June 2017
Australian DVD Release Date: 20th September 2017
Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin, Eric Guillon
Screenwriter: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
Cast: Julie Andrews (Gru’s Mom (voice)), Michael Beattie (The Scar Faced Man/TMZ Announcer (voice)), Russell Brand (Dr. Nefario (voice)), Steve Carell (Gru/Dru (voice)), Adrian Ciscato (Niko (voice)), Pierre Coffin (Mel/The Minions (voice)), Steve Coogan (Silas (voice)), Miranda Cosgrove (Margo (voice)), Dana Gaier (Edith (voice)), Andy Nyman (Clive (voice)), Trey Parker (Balthazar Bratt (voice)), Nev Scharrel (Agnes (voice)), Jenny Slate (Valerie Da Vinci (voice)), Kristen Wiig (Lucy Wilde (voice)),
Runtime: 90 mins
OUR DESPICABLE ME 3 REVIEWS & RATINGS:
If you’ve got kids then you’ve certainly heard of the Despicable Me franchise. What a lot of people don’t realise is that while Despicable Me has become one of the most popular film franchises amongst families it also changed the entire animated film game. There was once a time when Pixar ruled that market but the arrival of the original Despicable Me saw a new challenger enter the ring and that challenger took it straight up to Pixar blowing them out of the water.
This new Despicable Me movie is technically the fourth film in the franchise (three Despicable Mefilms and one Minions films) and shows that there is certainly still a lot of life left in these films as the creative team behind it has once again found new ways to breathe new life into it and keep it interesting.
This new film sees Gru (Steve Carrell) now firmly entrenched as Lucy’s (Kristen Wiig) life and work partner. And while Lucy is having trouble coming to terms being a mother to Margo (Miranda Cosgrove – School Of Rock, Drake & Josh), Edith (Dana Gaier – 30 Rock, The Icecream Truck) and Agnes (Nev Scharrel – Fun Size Horror: Volume One, Clippings) Gru is slowly getting used to now taking down villains instead of being one… but then even he fails the test when Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker – ) steals one of the world’s largest diamonds.
The resulting stuff-up sees both Gru and Lucy fired from their jobs and while they are soul-searching at what they should do next with their lives Gru learns that he has a twin brother. Upon getting to know his brother Gru learns more and more about his life and soon finds himself wondering if turning his back on being a villain was really such a wise decision, especially when his beloved Minions leave him and start looking for greener pastures elsewhere.
Like the films before it in the franchise Despicable Me 3 has some great elements of humour that will have the whole family laughing while also touching on some very deep issues that many families have to come to grips with in everyday life – the storyline of Lucy trying to learn how to be a mother to the three girls is told in a way that many people could relate to. Likewise, the storyline of Agnes having to learn things such as unicorns not being real is something that every kid has to face at some time.
On the flipside, the film never loses site of the fact that it is also supposed to make families laugh. This is achieved in a number of different ways by the team of screenwriters behind the film, from the usual slapstick comedy of Gru and co getting hurt right through to the creativeness of the new villain – Balthazar Bratt. While the back story of being a childhood star may go right over the head of kids watching the film the great ‘music and dance battles’ that he is involved in certainly won’t. Credit needs to be paid on how creative they have been with this villain, Bratt actually ends up being memorable than any of the baddies Marvel have created recently.
Having praised the screenwriters for making Despicable Me 3 so funny I also have to point out that the film also lacks a little from the fact that the Minions don’t have such a big role this time around. Yes the Minions are around, and yes they do have their own little storyline, mainly about them leaving Gru, but that story almost feels tacked on and the film really does feel like it is lacking any brilliant ‘banana’ moments like we have had in the past… let’s hope instead that we get another Minions film sometime soon.
There is an air of difference around Despicable Me 3 to all the films in the series but this is a film that is going to be lapped up by those that have grown up watching the franchise. The film does have its laugh-out-loud moments and also contains some valuable life lessons. Yes, Gru is back and once again he is on a winner!
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Despicable Me 3 Reviews: You can listen to Dave’s Despicable Me 3 review on the 15/06/2017 episode of That’s Entertainment.
Summary: The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 15th December 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States
Director: Gareth Edwards
Screenwriter: Tony Gilroy, Chris Weitz, John Knoll (story), Garry Whitta (story), George Lucas (characters)
Cast: Riz Ahmed (Bodhi Rook), Jonathan Aris (Senator Jebel), Derek Arnold (Pao), Geoff Bell (2nd Lieutenant Frobb), Babou Ceesay (Lieutenant Sefla), Aidan Cook (Two Tubes), Richard Cunningham (General Ramda), Ben Daniels (General Merrick), Warwick Davis (Weeteef Cyubee), Andy de la Tour (General Hurst Romodhi), Ingvild Deila (Princess Leia), Guy Henry (Grand Moff Tarkin), Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Senator Pamlo), Fares Fares (Senator Vaspar), Beau Gadsdon (Young Jyn), Dolly Gadsdon (Young Jyn), Martin Gordon (Vanee), Michael Gould (Admiral Gorin), James Harkness (Private Basteren), Wen Jiang (Baze Malbus), Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), James Earl Jones (Darth Vader (voice)), Valene Kane (Lyra Erso), Paul Kasey (Admiral Raddus), Nick Kellington (Bistan), Diego Luna (Cassian Andor), Daniel Mays (Tivik), Ian McElhinney (General Dodonna), Ben Mendelsohn (Orson Krennic), Mads Mikkelsen (Galen Orso), Daniel Naprous (Darth Vader), Geneveive O’Reilly (Mon Mothma), Alistair Petrie (General Draven), Tony Pitts (Captain Pterro), Duncan Pow (Sergeant Melshi), Matt Rippy (Corporal Rostock), Jack Roth (Lieutenant Adema), Michael Shaeffer (General Corssin), Jimmy Smits (Bail Organa), Stephen Stanton (Admiral Raddus (voice)), Jordan Stephens (Corporal Tonc), Dee Tails (L-1), Alan Tudyk (K-2SO), Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera), Spencer Wilding (Darth Vader), Rufus Wright (Lieutenant Casido), Donnie Yen (Chirrut Imwe)
Runtime: 134 mins
OUR ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Normally when a film isn’t shown to a majority of critics before its release it’s because it has turned into a disaster and the studio wants to keep it from negative reviews before it is released. Then came the news the film had been subject to a massive amount of re-shoots. With that in mind when I finally sat down to watch the film I was genuinely afraid of what I was about to watch. As it turned out I need not of worried – the lack of media screenings was because a large corporation was being stingy and whatever re-shoots occurred obviously only enhanced the film, because this is one gem of a Star Wars film.
The film takes place before the original three films in the franchise and centres around Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones – The Theory Of Everything) who as a girl watched as her mother was murdered and her scientist father, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen – Hannibal), was kidnapped by the eager Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn – The Dark Knight Rises) who is determined to finish the Death Star for Darth Vader (James Earl Jones – The Lion King).
Now years later Jyn finds herself rescued by young Rebel fighter Cassian Andor (Diego Luna – Milk) and the re-programmed Imperial droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk – Firefly) who believe she is the key to being able to get the Alliance a meeting with rebel warlord Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker – The Last King Of Scotland) who helped raise Jyn. That meeting soon leads to Jyn being part of a rebel outfit that also includes a blind Jedi named Chirrut (Donnie Yen – Ip Man), the rugged Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang – Devils On The Doorstep) and a former Imperial cargo pilot, Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed – Nightcrawler).
To be honest director Gareth Edwards’ (Monsters) handprint on Rogue One does take a little while to kick in but when it does it does it sensationally well. The opening sequences of Rogue One feel very similar to what we had already seen in The Force Awakens, but Edwards well and truly puts his stamp on the film when he has his characters escaping exploding planets and really comes to the fore when he teams up so well with cinematographer Greig Fraser (Foxcatcher) and delivers some truly memorable shots, mostly in the latter stages of the film where an epic battle takes place in a Pearl Harbour inspired location. With Rogue One Edwards goes back to that grittiness that he created with Monsters, that same grittiness that was sadly missing from Godzilla. What Edwards does here is actually a breath of fresh-air as he brings an alternative style of filmmaking to Star Wars… something I don’t believe that George Lucas would ever have been capable of doing.
That alternative style of filmmaking is also present in the film’s screenplay. While like many of the Star Wars films from the past that characters at hand are very one dimensional, and most have virtually no backstories explored at all, this is one film in the franchise that is not afraid to take risks. While some characters of old mix with the newly developed characters, a move that may turn some Star Wars’ fans offside, the film’s finale is something that turns this film on its head and separates the film from the others in the series in a brilliant way.
Together with his screenwriting team, Edwards knows how to keep an audience in the cusp of his hand throughout the film. There is rarely a let up with the suspense throughout the film, and once it is established that the filmmakers at hand are not afraid to kill any character (with some key characters dying very early on) as that suspense level is ramped right up to 11. It is things like this that make this a film that hardcore Star Wars fans are going to warm to.
The lack of characterisation doesn’t seem to hold back any of the actor’s performances in the film, though. While Felicity Jones just seems to breeze her way through her role in auto-pilot other actors step up to the fore. Diego Luna and Riz Ahmed seize their opportunities and while Mads Mikkelsen and Forest Whitaker are both under-used Ben Mendelsohn does what he does best and becomes one of the most menacing characters to grace the Star Wars universe. Of course though ever Mr Mendelsohn is out-menaced by Darth Vader when he makes his grand appearance. One actor here though does steal the show, and that is Donnie Yen as Chirrut – one of the most interesting characters to have surfaced in the modern day Star Wars films. It’s sad that Yen didn’t have more characterisation to work with because this is one character whose backstory really does deserve a film of its own.
Gareth Edwards really has delivered a worthy Star Warsfilm. Most people reading this will want me to compare the film to The Force Awakens but aside from their openings the two films are like chalk and cheese. The Force Awakens is a throwback to the Star Wars films of the old while Gareth Edwards brings the franchise into the 21st-century style of filmmaking with epic battle sequences in Rogue One. The film even distances itself from the movies of the past with no rolling credits at the opening and no John Williams score, which I admit I did really miss. Rogue One is one of the better films in the series, though, and we can only hope that Edwards does more in the series soon… and yes the film has an ending you will not forget for a long, long time.
One of the most anticipated films of the year was Rogue One, the latest stand alone spin off in the Star Wars franchise. While it doesn’t quite live up to the hype it is still a solid film that delivers plenty of action that won’t disappoint the die hard fans of the series.
This “stand alone” Star Wars film attempts to further expand on the mythology of the galaxy far, far away created by George Lucas way back in 1977. But it comes across more like Episode 3.5, as it serves as a direct prequel to the events of the original Stars Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. This latest instalment in the Star Wars saga is set before the events of Star Wars, and it deals with a group of rebels stealing the plans of the Empire’s planet killing super weapon the Death Star.
When the film opens, young Jyn Eso watches as her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen, from the recent Doctor Strange, etc), a theoretician, is captured by Imperial storm troopers under the direction of the villainous Orson Krennic (Australian Ben Mendelsohn, from Animal Kingdom, etc), who is the architect responsible for the creation of the super weapon known as the Death Star. Years later, the adult Jyn (played by Felicity Jones, from The Theory Of Evrything, etc) gathers together a motley crew of mercenaries to mount a raid on the Empire’s headquarters and steal the plans for the Death Star. She is accompanied on the mission by Cassian Andor (Diego Luna, recently seen in Blood Father, etc), a captain with the rebel alliance with an agenda of his own; Chirrut Imwe (Hong Kong martial arts star Donnie Yen), a blind Jedi warrior; a fussy reprogrammed droid robot named K 2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk), who brings some comic relief to the material, but whose presence will remind audiences of C3PO.
There are numerous references and ideas lifted from previous Star Wars films that will come across as familiar to fans, and there are some exciting aerial dogfights. But a lot of the key ideas here will remind fans of both A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back in particular. Even a CGI-recreated Peter Cushing puts in a brief posthumous appearance as Grand Moff Tarkin. Somewhat disappointingly there are no light sabre duels! Also missing is John Williams’ usual iconic score, although composer Michael Giacchino’s score is bombastic and tries to replicate Williams’ theme, but he tends to overwhelm the material.
Jyn is a feisty, independent, confident and strong willed heroine in the mold as Ren, the heroine of the recent The Force Awakens, and Jones acquits herself well in the role. As Andro, Luna comes across as a pale imitation of a roguish Hans Solo-type character. Yen brings a more mystical quality to his role as the blind Jedi warrior. Mendelsohn chews the scenery here and he brings a nicely menacing quality to his role as the main villain, and he gets to go toe to toe with the series’ iconic villain Darth Vader (voiced once again by James Earl Jones) who puts in a brief appearance towards the end, which will excite the fan boys.
But much of the characterisation here is pretty slender and most of the characters are underdeveloped, and we don’t get to identify with them or feel for their fate. Forest Whitaker is wasted in a small role as rebel leader Saw Gerrera, who has practically raised Jyn since her father was taken by the Imperial forces, and Mikkelsen, who normally has a strong screen presence is likewise given little to do.
The director is Gareth Edwards, who previously gave us the low budget Monsters before being tapped to helm the big budget large scale remake/reboot of Godzilla. With this new film in the Star Wars universe he has tackled his biggest and most ambitious film to date, and he gives the material a darker feel and a grittier aesthetic. He gives the film a much darker tone, and this is not as much fun as the previous film and it moves away from the campy tone of The Force Awakens, which easily captured the spirit of the first Star Wars film. There are some superb special effects sequences, particularly with a couple of ripper outer space action scenes, and the production design in impressive.
But apparently this was also something of a troubled shoot, with veteran script writer and director Tony Gilroy (best known for writing the Bourne series of films) being brought in to reshoot some scenes and add a bit of flesh to the characters.
However, Edwards obviously loves his military hardware and he does know how to stage the big action scenes. With its epic fight between rebel forces and Imperial stormtroopers on a palm tree laden beach this has more of a feel of a war movie than other films in the franchise. The central battle sequence is reminiscent of films like Apocalypse Now and other Vietnam era films. The stormtroopers here move much more fluidly than they did in Lucas’ original film and they seem less like automatons. Cinematographer Greig Fraser (Foxcatcher, etc) does a great job of capturing the action, but he also provides some great images of the space bound action.
Overall, Rogue One is a satisfying continuation of the Star Wars universe. Although it didn’t need to be in 3D, as the process adds little.
Rogue One is an example of brilliant cinematography with an alluring dark tone, which grounds it in a more realistic way than other instalments in the Star Wars universe as created by George Lucas.
We’re in a galaxy ruled by the Galactic Empire, as set-up in the beginning of the original Star Wars movie (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope). The original story’s drama was lightened by the sense of hope and adventure, which made it lose a little of the darkness an menace of the evil horde lead by that movie’s antagonist. This element of threat has been reappraised in Rogue One and we are given a darker, sometimes feudal tale which really works for this story.
We are introduced to an array of new and exciting characters that really make this film appealing. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is our protagonist who we meet as a child in the story’s opening. She escapes when her father is taken to work on completing the Empire’s first Death Star. She is found by Saw Garrera (Forest Whitaker) and told they are about to go on a “long journey”. However, we suddenly jump ahead a decade or more and we don’t get much further development. It seems the journey was ‘long’ but we missed any special moments that may have occurred, leaving one feeling as if there might have been something we really missed out on.
Of all the amazing characters – Cassian Andor (Diego Luna); Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed); Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), an amazing and very appealing blind Jedi warrior; his companion Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) and a delightfully snippy droid named K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) – she has the most backstory, which amounts to almost nothing. Part of her journey is reconciling her father’s part in the creation of the massive device of death, but knowing full well that he is creating a deliberate weakness in the design. A hope of reunion with her captive father is something else to drive her on, but the eventual resolution to the situation doesn’t amount to much.
Alan Tudyk as K-2SO was a real stand-out, though. His droid character is almost a deux ex machina at times, but he gives such personality in such subtle ways and small moments that he quickly becomes one of the most successful elements of the film. Chirrut Imwe was also a great character idea and one of the coolest things in the movie. I would love a spin-off tale about him and the story behind how he got to be this way and his connection with Baze Malbus.
Ben Mendelsohn’s portrayal of Orson Krennic makes for a notable Star Wars villain who makes the most of his role. This is a character who could have been utilised elsewhere in the universe to great success. His character’s need to succeed is made interesting by the fact he really just believes in his cause, but may overreach in zeal.
For long-time fans there are lots of shout-outs and cameos of characters from the original Star Wars movie. This has been done far more successfully and sparingly than in the cluttered fan-wank of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. In fact, the saving grace is that we are not using existing characters, for the most part, but have a whole new set of people and places to learn about. Fans of the original trilogy will be excited to see a CGI inclusion of Grand Moff Tarkin, originally played by now-deceased cult legend Peter Cushing. Despite the initial thrill, I found the character had only one stance and limited facial movement which eventually left it jarring.
Despite the big draw-back of having such wonderful characters with little characterisation, the film is still appealing in the basic concept and the way it is cinematically executed. The beauty and majesty of the scenery around the planet where the final battle occurs is an amazing sight.
By the end, the majority of this film’s content seemed to be combat and space battle. The epic fight between the Empire’s star destroyers and the Rebel fleet was filmed so well it is worth a round of applause. But with scene-after-scene of gunfights, explosions and battles I would gladly have sacrificed some of this content for more character-driven content.
The eventual resolution is a dramatic and bold but a satisfying end except for the fact that building the characters further would have made the climax and triumph even more palpable.
Overall, Rogue One is a good production, which somewhat makes up for The Force Awakens, but could have been improved with more character and story elements to make it feel ‘whole’. I would happily watch this movie again.
You can hear Nick’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story directed by Gareth Edwards and including a star studded cast including Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Diego Luna (Captain Cassian), Donnie Yen (Chirrut Imwe) and Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera) just to name a few. The film takes place after the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope.
Going into this film I didn’t really have any expectation for the film to live up to. I knew that it wasn’t going to heavily involve the Jedi or the traditional path the Star Wars films normally take. The one thing I was looking forward to seeing in this film though was Darth Vader. Rogue One tells the story of the rebel alliance and there mission to recover the plans to the Death Star so that they can find a way of destroying it.
For me the first two acts of this film were very slow. It felt like it took a while for things to pick up and get interesting. The score to this film also felt a little rushed or almost incomplete. This was expected as the original composer had left production before finishing the score and the new composer had only 4 weeks to complete a fully flourished score for the finale cut of the film.
There were also a few scene in my opinion where the editing felt very poor too. There were just minor things that I had scene on screen that didn’t feel very right. Other than that I felt like all the characters were great. It was great to discover who Jyn was in the film and to see her character develop. The one thing I very much enjoyed in Rogue One was the visuals. Visually it looked incredible. While some people are complaining about certain CGI aspects when it comes to motion caption and recreating past characters, I think they did very well in what they intended to accomplish.
My favourite scenes in Rogue One were the two small scenes we had of Darth Vader. While I was very curious about his roll and execution in the film I came out very happy with how they have included him within the film. There’s a scene at the end of the film where we see a side of Darth Vader that we haven’t really seen before. It’s a very brutal side where he is just completely ruthless towards the rebels and for me that made the film.
So in conclusion I think Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a decent film. A little slow for me in the first two acts but overall it was satisfying non the less.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Reviews: Dave Griffiths also reviewed Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on 2UE on 15th December, 2017. You can also listen to our Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #206.
Summary: When Robert Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks, and together they must race across Europe against the clock to foil a deadly global plot.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 13th October 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: 18th January, 2017
Country: United States, Japan, Turkey, Hungry
Director: Ron Howard
Screenwriter: David Koepp, Dan Brown (novel)
Cast: Cesare Cremonini (Ignazio Busoni), Ida Darvish (Marta), Jon Donahue (Richard Savage), Mehmet Ergen (Mirsat), Ben Foster (Bertrand Zorbist), Tom Hanks (Robert Langdon), Felicity Jones (Dr. Sienna Brooks), Irrfan Khan (Harry Sims ‘The Provost’), Sidse Babett Knudsen (Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey), Xavier Laurent (Antoine), Fausto Maria Sciarappa (Parker), Paolo Antonio Simioni (Dr. Marconi), Omar Sy (Christoph Bruder), Ana Ularu (Vayentha)
Runtime: 121 mins
OUR INFERNO REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Inferno sees the arrival of yet another attempted franchise reboot in 2016. We’ve seen Ghostbusters and Bridget Jones’s Baby arrive with mixed success now we find Academy Award winning director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind) rebooting the Robert Langdon franchise some seven years after its last instalment.
Based on the novel by Dan BrownInferno begins with Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks – Forrest Gump) waking up in a hospital with no memory of how he got there and being hunted by a assassin (Ana Ularu – Serena). After managing to escape with Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones – The Amazing Spider-Man) Langdon starts putting together the pieces and realises that he must try and stop an apocalyptic event set by Bertrand Zorbist (Ben Foster – Warcraft: The Beginning) who believes his actions will actually save the world.
But as Langdon tries to overcome memory loss and put the pieces together to solve the mystery things are made even more difficult by him when he realises he doesn’t know which World Health Organisation agent he can trust, Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey (Sidse Babett Knudsen – Westworld) or Christoph Bruder (Omar Sy – Jurassic World). To add to their confusion the audience also learns there is a puppet-master in the wings in the form of Harry Sims (Irrfan Khan – Life Of Pi).
While watching Inferno you do start to realise that this is going to be a film that divides its audience. For the regular popcorn set this is going to be a film that delivers a fairly decent, if not at times confusing, crime thriller plot that shows you just as many European landmarks as a Bond film. For the more seasoned film goer though this is a film that reveals some of the laziest filmmaking Ron Howard will deliver during his career with a clichéd plot that just follows the same sequence over and over – Langdon arrives in a city, goes to find the puzzle piece, is chased by Police and uses an ancient tunnel to escape and then moves on to the next city. There is also a level of inconsistence around the character of Robert Langdon that surfaces right throughout this film and despite the work of screenwriter, David Koepp (Jurassic Park), to pass it off as part of Langdon’s amnesia it simply doesn’t work.
Rather than being a gritty thriller Inferno becomes more of a fun ride as the audience gets to see European city of European city while there is a mid-level of suspense and you try in your mind to put the pieces together at the same time as Langdon does… although that it made a hell of a lot easier if you are up to date on your Dante. The big tip for the audience is to not let to get too bogged down in the ‘historical’ parts of this film or you will be scratching your head and hurling popcorn as you struggle to work out what the hell is going on.
Likewise this is a movie that Tom Hanks just seems to breeze through. While Sully recent saw Hanks once again reveal his wonderful character acting skills here Hanks wears the character of Robert Langdon like an old slipper, it’s a role that he is obviously comfortable in but doesn’t deliver the acting heights that we know he is capable of. The same can be said for Felicity Jones who isn’t given a huge amount to work with and even disappears for a quarter of the film. The big winner in the acting stakes is Sidse Babett Knudsen who makes good use of the screen time she is given. Omar Sy and Irrfan Khan are also wasted in their roles, the latter being given a role very similar to a poor man’s Bond villain as he plays a character that leaves the audience asking… is that even a profession?
The best way to enjoy Inferno is to just go into the cinema expecting a fun film. While it isn’t exactly a borefest it certainly lacks the suspense of Angels & Demons and is a lot more clichéd than the Da Vinci Code. Did the Robert Langdon franchise need Inferno? Probably not!
Summary: A story set on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, which exploded during April 2010 and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 6th October 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Peter Berg
Screenwriter: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Matthew Sand
Cast: Joel Allen (Old Man Carl), Stella Allen (Sydney), Jonathan Angel (Gordon Jones), Peter Berg (Mr. Skip), Robert Walker Branchaud (Doug Brown), Anthony Centonze (Dan Barron/Roughneck #1), Joe Chrest (Sims), James DuMont (O’Bryan), J.D. Evermore (Dewey A. Revette), Henry Frost (Shane M. Roshto), Douglas M. Griffin (Landry), Garrett Hines (Wyman Wheeler), Michael Howell (Roy Wyatt Kemp), Kate Hudson (Felicia), Jason Kirkpatrick (Aaron Dale Burkeen), Garrett Kruithof (Karl Kleppinger Jnr.), Brad Leland (Kaluza), David Maldonado (Kuchta), John Malkovich (Vidrine), Terry Milam (Keith Blair Manuel), Dylan O’Brien (Caleb Holloway), Mayla Parker (Natlie (voice)), Jason Pine (Stephen Ray Curtis), Gina Rodriguez (Andrea Fleytas), Kurt Russell (Jimmy Harrell), Jeremy Sande (Adam Weise), Juston Street (Anthony Gervasio), Ethan Suplee (Jason Anderson), Deneen Tyler (Paula Walker), Mark Wahlberg (Mike Williams), Ronald Weaver (Donald Clark)
Runtime: 107 mins
OUR DEEPWATER HORIZON REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) has to be one of the most underrated film directors going around. Barring the ill-fated Battleship Berg has created always created films and television shows that felt as natural as can be. Lone Survivor made the audience feel that they were right there on the battlefield while many made the mistake of watching Friday Night Lights and thought they were watching a reality television show about a High School football team. Now Berg has taken that natural style of film-making and introduced it to the disaster film genre.
Deepwater Horizon tells the true story of electrician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg – Lone Survivor) who in 2010 left his wife, Felicia (Kate Hudson – Almost Famous), and once again went to work on the oil rig named ‘Deepwater Horizon’ in the Gulf Of Mexico. What he didn’t know was that on that fateful day due to poor work safety practices by BP an accident would occur that would cause the rig to erupt into flames. Suddenly Mike and his colleagues including his boss Mr. Jimmy (Kurt Russell – The Thing), radio operator Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez – Filly Brown), hard worker Caleb Holloway (Dylan O’Brien – The Maze Runner) and BP representative Vidrine (John Malkovich – Red 2) all find themselves fighting for their lives.
As a filmmaker Berg should be congratulated for his work with Deepwater Horizon. It was no secret that some of the survivors of the real Deepwater Horizon disaster were hesitant in wanting this film to be made, but they need not of worried. Berg certainly doesn’t ‘trivialize’ the memory of the men who died on that fateful day by making this a popcorn action film. Instead he makes this a character drama about not only the men who died on that day but also shows the world the valiant actions of people like Mike Williams whose brave acts saved many of the workers. To his credit Berg also doesn’t hide the facts of exactly what happened that day – no he points the finger firmly at BP without any hesitation even though he wouldn’t have known how the huge corporation would have reacted to it.
Many films these days claim to be suspenseful but few filmmakers have the skills to make the audience feel as part of the action and suspense as Berg does here. While with Lone Survivor the audience felt they were there on the side of the hill during the battle here Berg’s realistic style of directing makes the audience feel you are right there on the rig with Mike… you even at times feel like you can feel the heat of the flames against your skin.
Berg’s filmmaking is also well supported by his screen writers who don’t waste time making this film too scientific. The audience is given bite-sized pieces of information about what an oil rig does and what has gone wrong here but they never forget that at the heart of this film it is a character drama. So instead of focusing on the ins and outs of the rig they concentrate the suspense around a man trying to get home to his daughter and wife and a scared woman trying to survive in order to see her partner again. The fact that little things like a dinosaur tooth for show-and-tell and car problems back home are so seamlessly inserted into the script just go even further into humanizing this story. Having said that though it is also important to point out the Berg and his cinematographer, Enrique Chediak (The 5th Wave), also create some amazing action sequences as the rig burns against a night sky.
As a director Berg also brings the best out in his cast. Here Mark Wahlberg delivers the best of both worlds as he plays the action hero extremely well but also has the dramatic acting ability to pull off the character driven elements of the screenplay as well. Kurt Russell also benefits from one of the more meatier roles he has been given over the years and he is well matched by John Malkovich who is technically this film’s ‘bad guy.’ Despite her limited screen time Kate Hudson is also one of the standouts of the film.
Deepwater Horizon is proof that a modern day disaster film can actually find the right mix of action and character drama. Brilliant directing by Peter Berg makes this one of the must see films of 2016.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Deepwater Horizon Reviews: Nil
Summary: Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 29th September 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Screenwriter: Nic Pizzolatto, Richard Wenk, Akira Kurosawa (original script), Shinobu Hashimoto (original script), Hideo Oguni (original script)
Cast: Alix Angelis (Clara Wintrhop), Mark Ashworth (Preacher), Walker Babington (Dicky), Jackson Beals (One Eyed Lucas), Emil Beheshti (Maxwell), Haley Bennett (Emma Cullen), Thomas Blake Jr. (Earl), Matt Bomer (Matthew Cullen), Sean Boyd (Topper), Sean Bridgers (Fanning), Vic Browder (Arcade Jones), Ryan Brown (Ken Pigeon), Vincent D’Onofrio (Jack Horne), Griff Furst (Phillips), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (Vasquez), Cam Gigandet (McCann), Luke Grimes (Teddy Q), Ethan Hawke (Goodnight Robicheaux), Clint James (Fenton), Cedric D. Jones (Curtis), Vinnie Jones (uncredited), Jonathan Joss (Denali), David Kallaway (Turner/Blacksmith), Derek Lacasa (Len Pigion), Dylan Langlois (R.L. Garrett), Carrie Lazar (Leni Frankel), Byung-hun Lee (Billy Rocks), Heath Lemme (Heath), David Manzanares (Referee/Eddy), Rictchie Montgomery (Gavin David), Jody Mullins (Caleb Frankel), Matthew Posey (Hank Stoner), Chris Pratt (Josh Faraday), Dodge Prince (Anthony), Chad Randall (Bartender/Powder Dan), Dane Rhodes (Sheriff Harp), Peter Sarsgaard (Bartholomew Bogue), William Lee Scott (Moody), Martin Sensmeier (Red Harvest), Billy Slaughter (Josiah), Denzel Washington (Chisolm), Kevin Wayne (Monday Durant)
Runtime: 133 mins
OUR THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN REVIEWS & RATINGS:
One question always has to be asked when a remake of a film surfaces… why was the remake made? Was it because a director thought he had a more creative or ‘modern’ way to tell the original story? Was it because a team of filmmakers thought that current day technology could improve on what was made decades ago? Sadly, none of these questions seem to answer that question about the remake of the legendary western The Magnificent Seven (which itself was a remake of Seven Samurai).
Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) this remake sees honest lawman Chisolm (Denzel Washington – American Gangster) recruited by innocent widow Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett – The Equalizer) whose husband was murdered when he stood up against corrupt gold mining company owner Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard – Green Lantern) who has taken a town hostage as he takes land via violent means.
When Chisolm is convinced to take on Bogue and his men in a bid to rescue the town he puts together a group that includes gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt – Guardians Of The Galaxy), burnt out Civil War veteran Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke – Good Kill), tribe hunter Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio – Law & Order: Criminal Intent), knife expert Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee – Terminator Genisys), native warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeir – Lilin’s Brood) and the wanted outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo – Cake).
There are of course positives and negatives to this remake. One of the positives is getting to see Denzel Washington play yet another strong leading man, and I would be lying if I said it’s not great to see a big budget Western back on the big screen, hopefully this is a start of a lot more.
Sadly though the negatives outweigh the positives. While the film holds up its entertainment value and looks visually good the disappointing thing is that this is modern remake doesn’t offer the audience anything different to what we have been watching in this genre for the last fifty years. There’s no new tactical ways for a battle to be fought out or even any new creative ways to shoot the movie by Fuqua and his team.
The other big disappointment is the screenplay. While the film does at times raise the suspense and tension it misses other key moments that really could have made this a better film. It is really believable that a native American warrior would fight on the same team as a tribe hunter without any form of hostility or tension? Likewise there needed to be a better explanation to why Chisholm joins the fight in the first place… the explanation comes way too late in the film. Don’t even get me started on the weak CGI graves at the end of the film either.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment though is how the screenplay lets down the cast. Denzel Washington gets a chance to star in this film… the rest don’t. Chris Pratt is obviously there for comic relief (a hat that certainly doesn’t fit his character) and ends up just playing the same character he did in Guardians Of The Galaxy. The rest of the cast seem to end up playing clichés though with Manuel Garcia-Rulfo completely wasted in his role. The only other upside with the acting is with Emily Bennett who does more than enough to suggest that she can be a leading lady in the future.
The Magnificent Seven may be enough to entertain a modern audience and provide the odd bit of suspense throughout. But for seasoned fans of the Western genre the film offers nothing new and will easily be seen as a fair bit weaker than the original.
John Sturges’ classic 1960 western The Magnificent Seven made stars out of Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn (who all later appeared in Sturges’ epic WWII adventure The Great Escapein 1963). Sturges’ film was inspired by the Akira Kurosawa’s classic The Seven Samurai, regarded by some critics as the greatest action movie ever made. Kurosawa was inspired by the Hollywood westerns of the 50s, and, ironically, his film influenced many westerns that followed including the spaghetti westerns of the late great Sergio Leone. The 1960 film was a huge success and spawned a couple of sequels and even a short lived television series. And now we get this remake from director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen, etc) who knows his western tropes and has in turn borrowed heavily from some the great directors of the genre, from John Ford through to Eastwood, Peckinpah and Leone.
It’s 1879. The small but peaceful farming town of Rose Creek is under threat from ruthless and greedy mining magnate Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), a robber baron who is desperate to corner the market on all mining activities in the region. Anyone who opposes him is either viciously beaten or killed, and the megalomaniacal Bogue has assembled a veritable army of mercenaries and lawless types to enforce his will. But the newly widowed Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett, from The Equalizer, Hardcore Henry, etc) wants to stop Bogue. She approaches bounty hunter Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington) and pleads with him to help. Chisholm agrees and sets off to round up an assortment of gunslingers to make a stand in what could well be a suicide mission. (Sounds familiar? It was a key plot device of films like The Dirty Dozen and the recent Suicide Squad.)
This time around the seven he assembles are a much more racially diverse bunch. Apart from Chisholm himself there is Faraday (Chris Pratt, from Guardians Of The Galaxy and Jurassic World), a wise cracking card sharp and gunslinger; the boozy Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), a sharp shooter who is still damaged by his experiences of fighting in the Civil War; his knife wielding offsider Billy Rocks (Korean action star Byung-hun Lee); the hulking John Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio, from Full Metal Jacket, etc), a renowned and feared Indian hunter; the Texican gunman Vasquez (Mexican actor Manuel Garcia-Rulfo); and the comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), who has been cast out of his tribe. This motley crew have just seven days to train the frightened townsfolk in the skills necessary to fight back against Bogue and to defend their village.
The build up to the key siege of the town is a little slow. There are several scenes of the men sitting around in a saloon and drinking and talking, and these scenes slowly tease out character details and backstories, and show the slow camaraderie that develops between them before all hell breaks loose. There is fair amount of humour here to leaven the violence.
Unlike many recent remakes that have tarnished the memories of the original film (think Ben Hur, etc), this new take on the classic The Magnificent Seven is quite good. It exploits the tropes of a traditional western in its formula. Many of the classic westerns of yesteryear explored the myth of one good man standing up to evil on the wild frontier and dispensing justice. But writers Richard Wenk (The Equalizer, etc) and Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective, etc) also effectively use the formula to explore some more contemporary themes of corporate greed, courage, loyalty, heroism, sacrifice, and even a hint of feminism that will resonate strongly with modern audiences.
As he showed with Olympus Has Fallen, Fuqua knows how to stage some exciting and spectacularly visceral action sequences. There is an early gunfight in the dusty streets of Rose Creek that is tense and well-staged, and it sets the scene for the climactic attack on the town. This rousing 30 minutes action sequence is the highlight here, a gritty and violent and superbly choreographed set piece full of gun play, carnage and pyrotechnics that doesn’t disappoint. In the original, the villainous Calveros brought just thirty bandits to attack the village; here Bogue brings a veritable army of a hundred men, plus a deadly Gatling gun, to the fray. This version of The Magnificent Seven has the highest body count of any western since The Wild Bunch.
The film looks good thanks to the widescreen cinematography of Fuqua’s regular cinematographer Mauro Fiore that captures the harsh beauty of the epic landscapes. The film also features the last soundtrack composed by the late James Horner, and the music also pays homage to Elmer Bernstein’s memorable theme music for the 1960 original.
Performances are a bit of a mixed bag. This is Washington’s third collaboration with Fuqua (following his Oscar winning turn while cast against type in Training Day and The Equalizer) and the director seems to be able to tap into the meaner side of an actor known for playing essentially decent characters with strong moral fibre. Pratt brings a jocular and easy going charisma to his role and he provides most of the comic relief. Sarsgaard comes across as the cliched bad guy with no redeeming features whatsoever, and he does all but twirl his moustache with a cliched performance as Bogue, who is filled with contempt for the poor struggling and hardworking farmers. Hawke brings some pathos and nuances to his performance as the former soldier wrestling with a form of psychological disorder following his experiences, and he is the most complex character here. Bennett’s performance as the feisty Emma reminded me a little of Hailee Steinfeld in the recent remake of True Grit.
As a genre, the western has been dead for many years despite some attempts to bring it back to life on the big screen with films like Tarantino’s superb and violent Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight, and the visually stunning The Revenant, etc. This reimagining of the classic The Magnificent Seven is a solid western, full of action, gunplay, and featuring a strong ensemble cast that should appeal to audiences.
Summary: You remember nothing. Mainly because you’ve just been brought back from the dead by your wife who tells you that your name is Henry. Five minutes later, you are being shot at, your wife has been kidnapped, and you should probably go and get her back. You’re also in the unfamiliar city of Moscow, and everyone wants you dead. if you can survive the insanity and solve the mystery, you might just discover your purpose and the truth behind your identity.
Australian Cinema Release Date: N/A
Australian DVD Release Date: 3rd August, 2016
Country: USA, Russia
Director: Ilya Naishuller
Screenwriter: Ilya Naishuller
Cast: Haley Bennett (Estelle), Darya Charusga (Katya the Dominatrix), Martin Cooke (Marty), Sharlto Copley (Jimmy), Andrei Dementiev (Henry/Slick Dmitry), Danila Kozlovsky (Akan), Ilya Naishuller (Henry/Timothy/Higher-Self Merc), Aleksander Pal (Mr. Fahrenheit), Oleg Poddubnyy (Yuri), Tim Roth (Henry’s Father), Liya Sitdikova (Ella the Whore), Will Stewart (Robbie), Svetlana Ustinova (Olga the Dominatrix), Sergey Valyaev (Henry/Beaten Up Boyfriend)
Runtime: 96 mins
OUR HARDCORE HENRY REVIEWS & RATINGS:
You just know from the get go that Hardcore Henry is the type of film that is going to divide audiences. If you’re an audience member that doesn’t like graphic violence and has never played a first-person shooter video game then there is a high chance you aren’t going to like the film. If you’re an avid gamer or like your action films to try something a little different then you are going to be in your element with a film that gets two thumbs up from this reviewer.
Told from a POV perspective Hardcore Henry begins with Henry (Andrei Dementiev – Biting Elbows) waking up in a laboratory where he is being given robotic arms and legs by his scientist wife, Estelle (Haley Bennett – The Equalizer). The next thing he knows Estelle is being kidnapped by a criminal with telekinetic powers, Akan (Danila Kozlovsky – Vampire Academy), who also seems to want Henry dead as well.
The result is Henry lost in a city he doesn’t know, Moscow, and having to hunt down Akan in order to find Estelle. As he does so he learns more and more about his new robotic self while receiving orders and help from a man of many disguises, Jimmy (Sharlto Copeley – District 9).
Many cinema goers would dismiss Hardcore Henry as a cheap gimmick with very little artistic merit, but nothing could be further from the truth. Any person with any knowledge of filmmaking would know that what director Ilya Naishuller (Biting Elbows) does here is nothing short of cinematic brilliance. The thought of filming an action film from the POV of the hero sounds like an epic task that most filmmakers could only dream about, but the idea of doing it using Go Pro camera attached to an actor/stuntmen would send most directors to a rubber room where they would rock back and forth constantly.
Yet somehow Naishuller manages to pull all of this off. And we aren’t just talking about a hero that does a lot of running and shooting we are talking about a hero that takes plunges off bridges, jumps from trucks to motorbikes and likes blowing things up. Yes Naishuller doesn’t take the easy way out and the result is a sleek (didn’t think I would be saying that when I heard that this film was a POV film) action film with a lot of inventive shots and sequences.
To Naishuller’s credit his screenplay also holds up with the alternative filmmaking as well. Again the film’s storyline is not stereotypical and while most of the film is set in the action genre the telekinectic powers of the main ‘baddie’ sees it delve into the sci-fi realm as well. Yes it might be a bit of a surprise at first but once you are used to it it works just fine and even raises the suspense and you start to wonder just how Henry will every find a way to defeat Akan. The screenplay itself also provides enough twists and turns along the way to make sure you are constantly trying to guess just what will happen next.
Perhaps the most interesting side of Hardcore Henry though is the acting. There is a film where you only once get a glimpse of the leading man’s face yet you have to say that the array of stuntmen who play Henry do a magnificent job and you are there with them for the entire ride. The person who steals the limelight in most of the scenes he is in however is Sharlto Copley who gets to mix his action sequences with some well-timed comedy… something that he is very, very good at.
Hardcore Henry is a true action film with a difference. The POV style proves to be worthy and a lot more than just a gimmick while it also contains a killer soundtrack that matches the film to a tee. Write off this film at your own peril
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Hardcore Henry Reviews: Nil
Summary: Mortal hero Bek teams with the god Horus in an alliance against Set, the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt’s throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 25th February 2016
Australian DVD/Blu-Ray/On Demand Release Date: 15th August, 2016
Country: USA, Australia
Director: Alex Proyas
Screenwriter: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Cast: Rachael Blake (Isis), Emma Booth (Nephthys), Chadwick Boseman (Thoth), Bryan Brown (Osiris), Gerard Butler (Set), Nicolaj Coster-Waldau (Horus), Yaya Deng (Astarte), Courtney Eaton (Zaya), Alexander England (Mnevis), Lindsay Farris (Older Bek (voice)), Goran D. Kleut (Anubis), Abbey Lee (Anat), Robyn Nevin (Sharifa), Kenneth Ransom (Sphinx), Geoffrey Rush (Ra), Rufus Sewell (Urshu), Brenton Thwaites (Bek), Elodie Yung (Hathor)
Runtime: 126 mins
OUR GODS OF EGYPT REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Sometimes when a film comes out and meets negative press you have to wonder whether some of the critics were watching the same film you just did. While ‘Gods Of Egypt’ isn’t exactly an Oscar winning film it is a fun sci-fi film that really does show the creative mind of Alex Proyas (The Crow). If you’re a fan of films like The Scorpion King then you’re really going to want to give this one a look.
Set in ancient Egyptian mythology ‘Gods Of Egypt’ shows what happens after the throne is stolen from Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau – ‘Game Of Thrones’) by Set (Gerald Butler – ‘300’) whose plains will bring about the destruction of humanity. With Horus’ power gone he goes into hiding, but some like the innocent Zaya (Courtney Eaton – Mad Max: Fury Road) believe he can still save humanity. After her death the love of her life, Bek (Brenton Thwaites – Maleficent), goes in search of Horus in a bid to try and save the world.
Storywise ‘Gods Of Egypt’ works just like the sci-fi films that many of us grew up watching, films like ‘Never Ending Story.’ While it might just be a little too violent for kids, this is the kind of film that can be enjoyed by teens and adults alike as it is nowhere near as violent as a film like ‘300.’ The creativity is there throughout the film and Proyas is a gifted enough director to work with his screenwriters, Matt Sazama (‘Dracula Untold’) and Burk Sharpless (‘The Last Witch Hunter’), to create a film that not only creates suspense and action but also has a storyline that will allow the audience to actually care what happens to the characters at hand.
One of the biggest criticisms levelled at this film is that the CGI and special effects don’t look as good as they should but it is very obvious that what Proyas wanted with this film was for it to look and feel like a graphic novel or comic. It is impossible to fathom that a man who brought us a films like ‘The Crow’ and ‘Dark City’ would ever deliver a film that didn’t look the way he wanted it to – especially when he had the effects team who put together ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ working with him as well.
Perhaps one of the most fun parts of watching ‘Gods Of Egypt’ for an Australian audience is playing a simple game called ‘spot the Aussie.’ Aside from Brenton Thwaites in the lead role other Australian actors including Geoffrey Rush (‘Shine’) and Bryan Brown (‘Two Hands’) pop in roles and it is great to see them getting international expose like this. As far as the acting of the leads go Brenton Thwaites again shows that he has more than enough skill to be a leading man in an action film like this while audience members also get to see everybody’s favourite Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, flex his acting muscle and get to play the hero for once. Also announcing herself as a future star is Courtney Eaton, the young, inexperienced, Western Australian showing experience above her years and not being overwhelmed by appearing in a blockbuster like this.
The best way to approach ‘Gods Of Egypt’ is to just look at like you’re going to watch a fun movie. This is the kind of film that is going to be loved by anybody that has any interest in mythology while some of the epic battle scenes will do more than enough to keep the action junkies very happy. Don’t get put off by the negative press and make sure you check out ‘Gods Of Egypt’.
Summary: As Batman hunts for the escaped Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime attacks the Gordon family to prove a diabolical point mirroring his own fall into madness.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 23rd July 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: 3rd August 2016
Director: Sam Liu
Screenwriter: Brian Azzarello, Bob Kane (characters), Bill Finger (characters), Jerry Robinson (characters), Brian Bolland (graphic novel), Alan Moore (graphic novel)
Cast: Kevin Conroy (Batman/Bruce Wayne (voice)), John DiMaggio (Francesco (voice)), Robin Atkin Downes (Detective Bullock (voice)), Brian George (Alfred (voice)), Mark Hamill (The Joker (voice)), JP Karliak (Reese (voice)), Andrew Kishino (Murray (voice)), Nolan North (Mitch (voice)), Maury Sterling (Paris (voice)), Tara Strong (Batgirl/Barbara Gordon (voice)), Anna Vocino (Jeannie (voice)), Rick D. Wasserman (Maroni (voice)), Ray Wise (Commissioner Gordon (voice)),
Runtime: 76 mins
OUR BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Few movie/television franchises have evolved as much as Batman has over the years. For those of us older enough we grew up watching the campy Adam West led series that saw Batman’s violence limited to ‘POW’ and ‘KAPOW’ being placed on the screen as Batman almost playfully put down his enemies. For anyone that had never read the original Batman comics and graphic novels there was no hint at all at just how dark this series could be. Tim Burton touched on it with ‘Batman’ and ‘Batman Returns’ while Christopher Nolan fully embraced with his Batman trilogy. Now however comes what is possibly the darkest ‘Batman’ adaption to ever grace our screens – the animated cinematic event that is ‘Batman: The Killing Joke.’
Loosely based on the Brian Bolland/Alan Moore graphic novel of the same name ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ sees the successful duo of Batman/Bruce Wayne (voiced by Kevin Conroy – ‘The Office’) and Batgirl/Barbara Gordon (Tara Strong – ‘Ice Age’) pretty much keeping Gotham City crime free. But things sour when their relationship turns sexual and it seems to Barbara that Bruce still wants to treat her like a child. As she decides to quit the Batgirl role both her and her father, Commissioner Gordon (Ray Wise – ‘RoboCop’), are attacked by The Joker (Mark Hamill – ‘Star Wars’) who is determined to prove that anyone can break the way he did.
Anyone who is expecting that ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ is aimed at children because of the fact that it is animated is in for a very rude shock indeed. I say that because those have read the graphic novel know that the treatment that Barbara and Commissioner Gordon receives from The Joker is extremely violent and adult orientated and here director Sam Liu (‘Green Lantern: The Animated Series’) doesn’t hold back. And while Liu doesn’t tone things done ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ is far from the perfect film.
Liu and his screenwriter, Brian Azzarello (‘Batman: Gotham Knight’) actually do a pretty good job making this a Joker origins story and while they produce a great insight into how the Joker ended up the way he did and what he is capable of doing there are also weaknesses in the plot. The opening scenes which show Batgirl and Batman trying to bring down Paris Franz (Maury Sterling – ‘The A-Team’) are massively too long. As a film this should be a Joker origins story but having a whole early sub-plot of having Paris develop a crush on Batgirl before the Joker is even properly introduced makes the film feel clumsy and awkward as it suddenly switches from being a Batgirl movie to a Joker movie… not a great move when you know what the Joker does to her here. It’s also a weird thing to say about a film that only runs for 76 minutes but that added Batgirl story makes the film seem over-long.
Perhaps the worst crime though that ‘Batman: The Killing’ commits though is its rushed ending. Liu does a great job setting up what appears like it is going to be an epic battle between Batman and The Joker after Joker has tortured Commissioner Gordon in an old fairground. But alas the battle is never as epic as you expect it to be and the ending is just ever awkward as you see Batman and Joker laughing together… something you would never expect to see when you know what Joker has just done to Batgirl. Anyone that knows Batman would know that this would never be his response to such an act and it feels dangerously out of place here.
The darkness of ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ does ring out the best in its voice cast. Anyway who says that Mark Hamill has had a ‘nothing’ career since ‘Star Wars’ will be silenced by his eerie and manic portrayal of The Joker while Kevin Conroy is his typical smooth self voicing Batman. The other star here is Tara Strong who gets the benefit from the added Batgirl storyline and she reveals herself to be one voice artist who really knows how to get emotion out of her voice.
‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ does have its weaknesses but they are somewhat overcome by the fact that this is one of the darkest Batman stories that we have ever seen on the big screen. While it may be animated it certainly doesn’t lessen the impact of the darker scenes and the filmmakers behind it need to be congratulated for not toning it down. Well worth a look if you are a hardened Batman fan.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Batman: The Killing Joke reviews: Nil.
Summary: Jason Bourne, now remembering who he truly is, tries to uncover hidden truths about his past.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 28th July 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Paul Greengrass
Screenwriter: Paul Greengrass, Christopher Rouse, Robert Ludlam (characters)
Cast: Riz Ahmed (Aaron Kalloor), Bill Camp (Malcolm Smith), Vincent Cassel (Asset), Johnny Cicco (Bradley Samuels), Matt Damon (Jason Bourne), Ata Essandoh (Craig Jeffers), Ellie Fox (Officer Jones), Gregg Henry (Richard Webb), Tommy Lee Jones (CIA Director Robert Dewey), Vinzenz Kiefer (Christian Dassault), Stephen Kunken (Baumen), Scott Shepherd (Director NI Edwin Russell), Julia Stiles (Nicky Parsons), Alicia Vikander (Heather Lee)
Runtime: 123 mins
OUR JASON BOURNE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
It’s the film that hardcore Jason Bourne fans thought they would never see but yes Jason Bourne is back on the big screen. After ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ Matt Damon was quoted a number of times that he would never play the role again, even Universal seemed sure of it as they reworked the franchise with a new character that was given to Jeremy Renner to play. But it seems when you listen to a quote, listen to it properly because what Damon said was that he would never do another Bourne film unless Paul Greengrass (‘Captain Phillips’) was in the director’s chair. When Greengrass is back and so is Damon!!!
The film begins with Jason Bourne (Matt Damon – ‘Good Will Hunting’) staying out of sight in Europe and surviving on the money that he makes as he goes around competing in various underground fighting tournaments. He is forced out of hiding though when his former ally Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles – ‘Save The Last Dance’) hacks into the CIA’s computer network and makes some alarming discoveries about the real identity behind Jason Bourne and how his father was involved.
The hack alerts young CIA agent Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander – Ex-Machina) to what is happening and soon she finds herself working with CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones – ‘Men In Black’) to bring Bourne in. Together they bring in a brutal agent named only as Asset (Vincent Cassel – ‘Black Swan’) to put Bourne down while also trying to work out how to best deal with Social Media empire boss Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed – ‘Nightcrawler’) who is threatening to expose the relationship between his social media platform and the CIA.
There is little doubt that Paul Greengrass’ latest entry into the Bourne franchise is pretty sleek but how does it hold up in the modern film environment? To be brutally honest I’ve never really seen Bourne as an elite franchise. While yes the films always look and they have shown that Matt Damon is a more than capable action star, they just don’t do enough to make themselves ‘different’ enough to really impress me. While franchises like ‘Fast & The Furious’ do whatever they can to make each film bigger and better the ‘Bourne’ franchise seems to just chug along doing the same thing each time, without doing much to change the formula along the way.
One of my criticisms levelled at this franchise in the past has been the fact that these films ride a dangerous path. The plots are never intense enough to make you marvel at the screenwriting while the action sequences are normally nothing any different to what we have seen before. Here it is obvious that they have tried to overcome these issues as the screenplay does have a bit more ‘meat’ to it while the car chase through Las Vegas resembles something of a sequence that may stick in some cinema goers minds for at least a few weeks… even though it still isn’t something as spectacular as dropping a car from a plane or jumping cars between high rise in Dubai.
What truly is remarkable here though is Greengrass’ attempt to re-capture the riots that have plagued Greece over the past few years. These sequences are absolutely brilliant and work amazingly well as a back-drop as Asset works feverishly to hunt down Parsons and Bourne. It is with sequences like these that Greengrass comes to the fore, and here he recaptures the same type of suspense that he wowed audiences with throughout ‘Captain Phillips.’ In a lot of ways these scenes are a lot better than the clichéd car chase that serves as a finale here and it will be the main thing that sticks in mind for a while to come.
We do see a vast improvement in the screenplay here as well. While characters like Asset may still be a walking cliché the sub-plot that looks at the CIA being in bed with a social media platform does raise questions such as ‘should the Government spy on us in order to keep us safe?’ while the screenplay also paints a very murky picture to what the audience should expect from Heather Lee. So often action films like this feel the need to show the audience who is good and who is bad without any grey at all. But with Lee the audience is left constantly wondering where her alliance sits. Is the just another lapdog for Dewey or does she have a soft spot for Bourne? It’s actually a relief to find a character in this genre that has the audience constantly questioning their thoughts on said character… and Bourne’s reaction to her at the end is what makes this film’s finale work despite the disappointment of the car chase.
Being written that way makes Heather a dream for a young actress to play and here Alicia Vikander doesn’t disappoint. She really is one of those actresses that just seems to shine no matter what role is thrown at her. Her recent performances in ‘Testament Of Youth’ and ‘The Danish Girl’ show what she is capable of in brilliant films, while here she follows what is written for and plays Heather as a cold, almost emotionless agent who never lets her true feelings known to anyone. While she’s not exactly working with a great script she certainly makes something of it. To her credit she holds her own as she acts alongside Tommy Lee Jones who just breezes through as the ‘bad guy’ while Matt Damon once again shows that he can still hold his own with any action star going around.
While ‘Jason Bourne’ doesn’t exactly set the world on fire or bring anything new to the action genre it is a serviceable film that certainly won’t bore its audience. Greengrass manages to make the film visually attractive but you are left wanting a big action sequence that just never eventuates (‘Star Trek Beyond’ it ain’t), still the film does more than enough to be considered ‘a thinking person’s action film.’
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Jason Bourne reviews: Nil.
Has there ever been a film that you loved when you were younger that you have revisited as an adult and been bitterly disappointed? It happened to me recently with ‘Independence Day.’ As a kid this movie blew me away, the special effects, the idea that aliens could blow up the White House… and yes even Will Smith (I was addicted to the ‘Fresh Prince Of Air’). Going back to watch it last week though I realised that the film was not as great as I remembered, aside from the special effects it was actually a bit of a cheesy film and probably shouldn’t be considered a classic.
Still I didn’t let me truth defining moment about the original dampen my hopes for ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’, after all I kept telling myself it’s twenty years later, Roland Emmerich has grown as a director and I guiltily kind of enjoyed ‘White House Down.’ Well as it turns out I was horribly wrong, yes it may be twenty years on but Emmerich hasn’t learnt anything new and he is still making the same mistakes that made ‘Godzilla’ and ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ films that might have impressed the masses but had serious film lovers shaking their heads over what they have just seen.
Emmerich’s new storyline has been put together by a team of screenwriters that sees the world as a very different place to what it was 20 years earlier. Humans have embraced the alien technology that was used against them in the previous war giving a very new look to things even as basic as a helicopter. Our old heroes are also very different people as well. Former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman – ‘While You Were Sleeping’) is a depressed mess, his daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe – ‘It Follows’) works at the White House, Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner – Star Trek: Generations) has been a coma for 20 years, while David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum – ‘Jurassic Park’) travels the world and is considered an ‘alien expert.’ He now answers to the likes of President Lanford (Sela Ward – ‘Gone Girl’) and General Adams (William Fichtner – ‘The Dark Knight’) who have developed a pretty impressive defence system for Earth.
Then there are the newcomers – the likes of bored fighter pilot Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth – ‘The Hunger Games’) forced to live in the shadows of the likes of the famous Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher – ‘Teeange’),Charlie Miler (Tarvis Tope – ‘The Town That Dreaded Sundown’) and Dr. Catherine Marceaux (Charlotte Gainsbourg – ‘Antchrist’) a former rival of Levinson’s who now wants to help him. Somehow this mixture of people all have to bring it together and help fight when the aliens return, once again hellbent on destroying Earth.
Perhaps the scariest thing about ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ (is certainly not the aliens) is the fact that it becomes painfully obvious early on that despite it being twenty years later Emmerich seems to have learnt nothing as a filmmaker. Still there are the bad attempts of humor throughout the film, the awful over-writing of characters that makes them so clichéd and these repetitive tropes that keep turning up in Emmerich films (like a computer telling the characters of the impending danger).
Even worse this time around though are the facts though that Emmerich seems to have borrowed so much from other films, especially the ‘Star Wars’ franchise for this film, and just how unbelievable this film is to its audience. Yes, of course, a story about aliens attacking Earth is supposed to be a believable drama but can anyone buy the fact that two characters that are emotional and physical wrecks after the events of the first film are suddenly able to swing around and be battle ready this time around… one was even in a coma for 20 years but is suddenly able to do his work like nothing has happened.
The other area in which Emmerich manages to lose his audience with this film is the over saturation of characters and the even worse habit of introducing characters well into the film, far too late for you to ever care what happens to them. The result is a film where it is virtually impossible to connect with any of the characters, which in turn means the suspense that should be there in a movie like this is just non-existant. Add that to the fact that you find yourselves laughing at a lot of the dialogue littered throughout the film, or groan at ‘you have the heart of the warrior’ and this soon becomes a film that should be referred to as a let-down of a blockbuster.
The poor screenplay also lets down its cast badly. The likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lima Hemsworth are sadly given nothing to work with and it’s likely people will quickly forget that they even made this film pretty quickly. Likewise if Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman thought this was the film that would resurrect their careers then they are very sadly mistaken. And as for the newcomers… well they barely even create a blip on the screen.
With a dreadful screenplay and nothing new when it comes to special effects ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ ends up being one of the biggest disappointments of 2016. Even worse is the fact that we know another one is on the way… it’s like looking forward to a dentist’s appointment. One to avoid.
There’s a lot of reliance on nostalgia in making sequels or follow ups ten or twenty after the previous film in a franchise. Recent memory brings up hits like Star Wars episode 7 and Creed but also not so successful films like Zoolander 2. As always with sequels it can be difficult catching lightning in a bottle twice but with a decade or two in between films that can only make it more of a challenge.
Independence Day: Resurgence is a sequel to the 1996 science fiction alien invasion film Independence Day. It’s been 20 years since earthlings with the aid of 90s computer viruses and nuclear weapons fought back and defeated the hostile creatures intent on total genocide of the human race and harvesting of all our planet’s resources. In the aftermath the world’s superpowers have entered a time of general world peace (Adrian Veidt would be so proud) and great advances have been made in space flight with secrets learned from alien technology. Unknown to everyone however is that the aliens sent a distress signal all those years ago and reinforcements are about to arrive.
I look at the original Independence Day as being the Avatar of the mid 90s. It showed us things we had never before seen on such a grand scale in movies, showcased amazing miniature special effects, cemented Roland Emmerich as the king of disaster movies and along with the successes of Bad Boys the previous year and Men in Black the following spring boarded Will Smith to be one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.
So even if the 96 original wasn’t the biggest of critical successes it definitely had a massive impact. Independence Day Resurgence simply doesn’t live up to its predecessor. The film attempts to weave so many threads together in only 2 hours that not enough time is spent on any of them and you wonder why they bothered with half of them.
Even as a 10 year old something that bothered me in the original was how quickly Will Smith’s character got over the death of his wingman during a battle with alien spacecraft. However the gravity of a massive alien invasion, the destruction and devastation of several major cities worldwide was still expressed to the audience. When the use of a nuclear weapon on US soil to destroy an attacking space craft turns out to be fruitless David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) has a breakdown of sorts because it WAS a big deal. In this film the same character is watching London being destroyed and millions upon millions of people being massacred in front of his eyes yet he and the characters around him are making quips and generally playing for comedic relief. When David afterwards is consoling his new former girlfriend Catherine (Charlotte Gainsborough) as her parents are almost definitely dead it just feels forced.
This is a problem that comes up several times. It seems in an attempt to make the film fun they drove a steamroller through any possible drama the film has. Someone’s loved one is killed, they rage then in no time they’re back to making quips. If a film’s characters aren’t going to care about the end of the world then why should the audience?
After 20 years of disaster movies (seemingly half of which directed by Emmerich himself) audiences may not automatically find anything amazing about seeing the world destroyed anymore. This is made worse by the way in which the bland characters in the film itself don’t seem to care either. Ultimately what it means is a film about a fight for survival of the human race ends up being unreasonably boring.