Tagged: Sam Gironda

Rogue One

Summary: The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.

Year: 2016

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

Classification: M

OUR ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

 

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 Wars film. 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.

Stars(4)

 

 

Adam Ross:

Stars(3)

 

 

Greg King:

 

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.

Stars(3.5)

 

 

Harley Woods:

 

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.

Stars(3.5)

 

 

Nick Gardener:

 

You can hear Nick’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show

 

Stars(3.5)

 

 

Sam Gironda:

 

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.

 

 

Stars(3.5)

 

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(3.5)

 

IMDB Rating:  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) on IMDb

 

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.

Trailer:

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Summary: The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

Year: 2016

Australian Cinema Release Date: 17th November 2016

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: USA, UK

Director: David Yates

Screenwriter: J.K. Rowling

Cast: Peter Braitmayer (Mr. Bingley), Gemma Chan (Madam Ya Zhou), Josh Cowdery (Henry Shaw Jnr/Senator Shaw), Johnny Depp (Grindelwald), Rudi Dharmalingham (Ranjit), Christian Dixon (Momolou Wotorson), Henry Douthwaite (Skender), Carmen Ejogo (Seraphina Picquery), Colin Farrell (Graves), Dan Fogler (Kowalski), Kevin Guthrie (Mr. Abernathy), Ellie Haddington (Mrs. Esposito), Dan Hedaya (Red), Tom Hodgkins (Barker), Denis Khoroshko (Banker Smirnoff), Zoe Kravitz (Lestrange), Alan Mandel (Mr. Goldstein), Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone), Samantha Morton (Mark Lou), Wunmi Mosaku (Beryl), Jenn Murray (Chastity Barebone), Martin Oelbermann (Heinreich Eberstadt), Ron Perlman (Gnarlack), Ronan Raferty (Langdon Shaw), Eddie Redmayne (Newt), Alison Sudol (Queenie), Jon Voight (Shaw Senior), Katherine Waterson (Tina), Matthew Wilson (Sam The Obliviator), Faith Wood-Blagrove (Modesty Barebone)

Runtime: 133 mins

Classification: M

OUR FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

Welcome back to the Harry Potter universe. Over the years many franchises have tried to tap into the young adult mark. Twilight, The Hunger Games, Divergent etc have come and gone, and yes they have all done well at the box office… but none quite as well as the behemoth known as the Harry Potter franchise. See where Potter could gloat over the others was the fact that its films were not only embraced by fans but also received critical acclaim as well. Yes there was more than just a few of us that were drawn into a world consisting of Hogwarts, muggles and spells a plenty.

Now J.K. Rowling takes us back into the Harry Potter with Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, this time there is even a more literal sense to that statement because for the first time in the franchise’s history Rowling puts on the hat of screenwriter… something it seems she should have done a long time ago.

While Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is set in the Potter universe don’t be expecting the re-appearance of Harry, Ron and Hermoine. No this is set 70 years prior to the trio’s arrival at Hogwarts and centres on another of Dumbeldore’s students – the young wizard Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl) who travels to New York on the simple mission of returning one of the magical creatures that he has rescued back to its rightful home.

After an innocent mix-up with a baker who has dreams of setting up his own shop, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogel – Kung Fu Panda), some more of his menagerie escape into the Big Apple. There escape catches the eye of a recently demoted Ministry of Magic Detective, Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston – Steve Jobs) who immediately reports Scamander to her bosses Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo – Selma) and Percival Graves (Colin Farrell – Total Recall). They immediately believe that he is responsible for a spate of recent attacks that have put the magic world on the brink of war with the non-magics (America’s answer to muggles) and Scamander finds himself in a battle to not only protect his creatures but also find the real culprit for the attacks.

Many fans of the original Potter franchise are going to find themselves in for a journey of differences this time around. While Rowling allows the story to share some familiarities with the original series, things such as those practicing magic not being understood or accepted by those who view them as different, an awkward young wizard out of his depth and the basic battle of good versus evil she also takes some bold steps this time around. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them sees her tackle stories as wide as police corruption and child abuse. Perhaps the biggest surprise this time around though is the scale of the events that Rowling has dreamed up. Alongside her director David Yates (The Legend Of Tarzan) Rowling has conjured up events and a plot that at times rivals the action and scale of a film like X-Men or Man Of Steel. She also allows the film to capture the class and style of 1930’s New York remarkably well too. To her credit she pulls it off so well we can only hope that we see her take on the role of screenwriter many more times in the future.

The other big surprise with this film is that despite its big scale action sequences and heavily slanted fantasy theme the film also allows for a great deal of characterisation. Without spending too much time on a tiresome ‘set-up’ of characters Rowling throws her audience in at the deep end with amazing results. You are quickly won of by the awkward Scamander while the comedic character traits of Jacob and Queenie (Allison Sudol – The Lucky One) quickly make them fan favourites. Romantic interests developing between Jacob Queenie as well as Scamander and Goldstein move the story along with the odd light moments sprinkled between the suspense around characters like Credence (Ezra Miller – The Perks Of Being A Wallflower) and Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp – Pirates Of The Caribbean) keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

This characterisation also allows some actors to step up in ways you wouldn’t expect to them in a film like this. Colin Farrell relishes being in a film of this scale again and manages to steal many of the scenes he appears in. It’s like he knows that roles such as this are rare for him these days and he excels whether he is called upon to deliver an action sequence or a more dramatic emotional scene. Eddie Redmayne also makes the role of Scamander his own but the real surprises here at the performances of Katherine Waterson, Dan Fogler and Allison Sudol who step-up onto the big stage in a huge way and really show their talents. Sons Of Anarchy fans should also look out for Ron Pearlman in a memorable cameo as well.

While I’ll admit that I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of Fantastic Beats I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did. The fact that Rowling can deliver a film with this much action is a real surprise while it seems she has created more characters that are likable enough to become household names. With the other announcement that there will be four more films in this franchise all I can say is bring them on… I can’t wait.

Stars(3.5)

 

 

 

Greg King:

With the lucrative Harry Potter franchise done and dusted, author J K Rowling has expanded on her Potterverse with this stand alone tale set some seven decades before the adventures of the boy wizard. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them serves as the launching pad for a new post-Potter franchise set against the world of magic and sorcery, and somewhat ambitiously another four films have been planned for the series so far.

The film follows the misadventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander (played by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne) who has just completed a global excursion for the Ministry of Magic to document the varied and amazing array of magical creatures in the world. He will go on to write the fictional text book that became mandatory reading at Hogwarts.

But the time is now 1926 and the setting a pre-Depression era New York. It is also a time of heightened tensions between humans and the magical community, and suspicion, paranoia and intolerance that has driven most of the wizards underground. The magical community that keeps a low profile after the actions of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (a cameo from Johnny Depp). There is a secret society known as the Second Salemers that are leading a campaign to identify witches within the community.

Scamander has stepped off the boat for a short stop over in New York. He carries with him a battered leather suitcase that contains some samples of strange creatures great and small. He accidentally bumps into klutzy wannabe baker and no-maj (the American term for a muggle) Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), who is also carrying a battered suitcase containing samples of his pastries. They somehow manage to switch suitcases, and Kowalski accidentally unleashes some fantastic beasts onto the unsuspecting city. The release of the creatures attracts the attention of the Magical Congress of The United States of America, a sort of magic police force.
Porpentina Goldstein (played by Katherine Waterston) is an auror, a dark wizard catcher, who has fallen out of favour with MCUSA and she sets out to redeem herself by catching Scamander and his creatures before they can bring harm to the city. She teems up with her mind reading sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), Scamander and Kowalski. But there is a mysterious threat to the city from some elusive and dangerous force that is also wreaking havoc. And the uncompromising Percival Graves (a sullen, sinister Colin Farrell), the director of Magical Security with MCUSA, also has his own agenda and is involved in some shady dealing with the troubled teen and ostracised wizard pupil Credence (Ezra Miller).

Rowling has written the screenplay herself which is based on the short story she wrote in 2011 and published under the pseudonym of Newt Scamander. But it is a little convoluted and very busy with several subplots. There are a lot of ideas at play here but not all of it works. As usual Rowling has created a world that operates within its own set of sometimes flexible rules, and she has created a unique language. Fantastic Beasts has a dark and whimsical tone that is far removed from the lighter tone of the early Potter movies.

The director is David Yates, who helmed the final four films of the Potter series, so he is familiar with the demands of the material. The action is dominated and overwhelmed  by the impressive array of CGI effects in an effort to distract from the lack of cohesive narrative and well defined characters. Unlike the Potter series here we don’t get as emotionally involved with the characters. There are indeed some fabulous creations here, including a kleptomaniac platypus; but there is one creature that looks suspiciously like a deflated rubber toy! And the over the top finale almost destroys as much of New York as the Marvel characters.

There are some nice performances though. Redmayne brings a boyish quality to his reading of Scamander, and he brings plenty of nervous energy, nervous tics and mannerisms to the character that are somewhat endearing. Farrell is gruff and taciturn as the sinister Graves but he also appears bored at stages. Fogler provides plenty of comic relief. Waterston brings strength and a feisty quality to her Porpentina, while singer turned actress Subol brings a perky energy to her role. Jon Voight is wasted in a small and thankless role as Henry Shaw, a powerful newspaper magnate leading a crusade against magic and wizardry.

The film offers up a visually impressive environment, and it has been superbly shot by Philippe Rousselot, whose use of sepia tones imbues the material with a strong touch of nostalgia. The authentic period detail brings 1920s New York to life. Colleen Atwood’s costumes also add to the stylish and strong visual look of the film.

The film’s themes of intolerance, paranoia, bigotry and suspicion will resonate strongly with audiences, especially given recent political events in America. But this is a flawed film, and whether Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them has the legs to support another four films in the series remains to be seen.

Stars(2.5)

 

 

 

Nick Gardner:

You can listen to Nick Gardener’s Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them review from The Wednesday Motley Crew right here.

Stars(2.5)

 

 

 

 

Sam Gironda:

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, directed by David Yates and starring Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Fine Frenzy and Eddie Redmayne, being with it the return of the Wizarding world we have all grown fond of from the Harry Potter series.
I loved that this film, even while being part of the Harry Potter franchise, gave its own reputation. It didn’t rely too much on the success of Harry Potter to make this film successful. The characters were all cast perfectly, the film had some genuinely funny moments and the action, drama and of course the magic were all balanced out really well in my opinion.
It was fantastic to see magic from the Wizarding world back on screen once again and at the same time bring concepts of the Wizarding world that were never discussed in Harry Potter. I loved that they kept this fresh and interesting with a whole new story line and broad range of new characters.
In some movies I find myself getting bored towards the middle of the film but in Fantastic Beasts there was nothing that allowed me to be bored because there was constantly something interesting happening on screen. The scenery, special effects and all over direction of the film was done really well and I highly recommend going and seeing the film if you are a Harry Potter fan.

Stars(4)

 

 

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(3)

 

IMDB Rating:  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Reviews: You can also listen to our Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them reviews on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #202You can listen to Dave’s Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them review on the 10/11/2016 episode of That’s Entertainment.

Trailer:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out Of The Shadows

Summary: As Shredder joins forces with mad scientist Baxter Stockman and henchmen Bebop and Rocksteady to take over the world, the Turtles must confront an even greater nemesis: the notorious Krang.

Year: 2016

Australian Cinema Release Date: 9th June 2016

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: United States

Director: Dave Green

Screenwriter: Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, Peter Laird (characters), Kevin Eastman (characters)

Cast: Quincy Acy (himself), Alessandro Ambrosio (herself), Stephen Amell (Casey Jones), Lou Amundson (himself), Carmelo Anthony (himself), Will Arnett (Vernon Fenwick), Andrea Bargnani (herself), Derek Binsack (Adam), Joslyn Brewster (Bumblebee), Peter Donald Badalamenti II (Splinter), Matt Barnes (himself), Phil Cappadora (Sailor Sam), Mike Catapan (Officer Grillo), Robert Clohessy (Deputy Warden Hamlett), Stephen Farrelly (Rocksteady), Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Connor Fox (Trevor), Megan Fox (April O’Neil), Langston Arnold Galloway (himself), Brad Garrett (Krang (voice)), Matt Gorsky (Davy Lowry), Jeremy Howard (Donatello), Brittany Ishibashi (Karai), DeAndrew Jordan (himself), Shane Larkin (himself), Laura Linney (Chief Vincent), Jill Martin (herself), Tyler Perry (Baxter Stockman), Pete Ploszek (Leonardo), Jonathan Redick (himself), Alan Ritchson (Raphael), Austin Rivers (himself), Tony Shalhoub (Splinter (voice)), Brian Tee (Shredder), Gary Anthony Williams (Bebop), Jane Wu (Jade)

Runtime: 112 mins

Classification: M

 

OUR TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

It seems like there are always going to be people that enjoy jumping over a film like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows. See this franchise finds itself in a strange predicament. The first film was pretty much considered ‘average’ by critics (not this one… I loved it) but seemed to be well received by fans of the turtles themselves.  Having grown up not only watching the turtles religiously but also being surrounded by a tonne of turtle merchandise I was one of those that adored Jonathan Liebesman’s fresh new take on the classic… and now I’m here to say that the new film is better than the first.

This time around we find the turtles, Michelangelo (Noel Fisher – ‘Red’), Donatello (Jeremy Howard – ‘Men In Black II’), Leonardo (Pete Ploszek – ‘Teen Wolf’) and Raphael (Alan Ritchson – ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’) still living in the shadows. They hide from New Yorkers and instead allow former cameraman Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett – ‘Despicable Me’) take all the credit for saving the city.

The turtles are soon forced from their life of eating pizza and watching the Knicks though when intrepid reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox – ‘Transformers’) discovers that respected scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry – ‘A Madea Christmas’) has hatched a plan to not only free the evil Shredder (Brian Tee – ‘Jurassic World’) but will once again give him enough power to take over the world. That plan soon leads to Shredder teeing up with cruel alien Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett – ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’) and taking control of two very tough, if not very dumb, henchmen (or should that be henchanimals) Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams – ‘The Internship’) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly – ‘The Escapist’).

Not to be out-numbered the turtles find a new allie (and April a love interest) in the form of determined prison guard Casey Jones (Stephen Amell – ‘Arrow’) who plans on putting Bebop and Rocksteady behind bars and in turn show Police Chief Vincent (Laura Linney – ‘Mystic River’) that he is more than capable of becoming a Police Detective.

Director Dave Green (‘Earth To Echo’) hasn’t just made ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows’ bigger and better than the original film he has also done something much more special and that is capture the magic of the original television series that made fans of the turtles fall in love with these tough mutants in the first place. Sure the fact that the screenwriters have introduced old favourites like Krang, Casey Jones, Bebop and Rocksteady into the franchise goes some of the way to re-create that magic but a lot of the credit must also be paid to Green who is in the difficult position of having to make this film appeal to people of all ages.

While some directors have to make a film appeal to both children and their parents Green is faced with the even harder task of having to make this film likable to two generations of turtles’ fans. Like The Simpsons the turtles have been long enough to be loved by people in their mid-30s and then right down to young children. Hence, a real problem for any filmmaker brave enough to take on directing in this franchise. While critics may want this film to be as dark as Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy realistically that is never going to work. You can’t have an actor playing a Heath Ledger Joker like bad guy when you’ve got small children involved. No instead Green does the right thing and has Tyler Perry over-act his role of Baxter Stockman and making it a little ‘lighter’ for younger eyes. The fact that the film works on all of these levels just shows that Green is an director to watch in the future.

Green and his screenwriters are also smart enough to know not to change too much in the Turtles universe as well. The newbies here, Casey Jones, Rocksteady, Krang and Bebop are pretty much the same as they were in the original series… with a very modern tweaks. Then there is the action, again Green goes back to what fans of the series know and love, there is a huge element of danger to New York but the fight scenes never last too long and unlike so many films these days aren’t just a flurry of movement. Even the trademark Turtle moral is there as the film reminds kids that just because they are different to everybody else they are still important.

Acting wise you got what you would expect from a film like this. Megan Fox does her usual ‘pretty girl’ thing while Tyler Perry, Will Arnett, Stephen Farrelly and Gary Anthony Williams provide enough comedic relief to keep everybody happy. And while Laura Linney does look a little lost at what she is doing in an action blockbuster like this Stephen Amell does provide a real breath of fresh air into the genre. Amell looks like he was born to play Casey Jones and seems to love being given the opportunity to play one of the turtles’ universes’ most popular characters. He has shown in TV’s ‘Arrow’ that he is a decent actor and once again Amell impresses.

Once again I suspect some critics won’t be as impressed with this film as much as I am but I like to give credit where credit is due. As a massive fan of the turtles I give ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows’ a huge thumbs up.

Stars(3.5)

 

 

Adam Ross:

You can hear Adam Ross’s full Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #180.

Stars(2.5)

 

 

Kyle McGrath:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows is the sequel to the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This film finds the turtles hiding in the shadows allowing Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) to take all the credit for defeating the evil Shredder a year ago and saving the city. But all is not well, Shredder escapes captivity with the help of Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) and to their surprise get roped into assisting inter-dimensional villain Krang (voiced by Brad Garett) open a portal which will allow him and his battleship The Technodrome to enter and destroy our world. It’s up to the turtles and their friends to save us all again.

This movie for all its grandeur is primarily a kids film, it’s not attempting to be anything other than a fun adventure movie for the family and unlike the recent Michael Bay directed Transformers movies I didn’t find myself rolling my eyes at the stupidity or vulgarity of the humor. The characters of the turtles are presented perfectly and the messages of friendship and teamwork are simple but important.

A definite strength of this film would be it’s fan-service to the audience who enjoyed the 80s-90’s cartoon series all those years ago. While there have been many other animated and live action TMNT films and tv shows since then none have left that same impact and the filmmakers know it. A major issue the previous film had was its misguided attempts early in production to stray away from what people expected of a TMNT movie, this I believe led to some hasty re-shoots in order to fix things that fans had expressed concern over. With this film however from the beginning it’s clear the intention was to appeal to those fans expectations. This reminded me of the approach Star Wars Episode 7 took which clearly worked wonders for that movie after the much derided prequel trilogy. This was a nice touch I thought and as a fan who grew up with the cartoon series it was endearing to see villains like Krang, Bebop & Rocksteady again.

Ultimately I think people’s opinions on this film will reflect their opinions on the last. Personally I thought this was an improvement overall. It’s the kind of film that’s easy to nitpick but when you see a giant mutant rhino trying to kill 4 mutant ninja turtles with a tank it feels somewhat misguided to complain of plot holes that the target audience couldn’t care less about.

Stars(3.5)

 

 

Nick Gardener:

You can hear Nick Gardener’s full Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #180. You can also his review from The Wednesday Motley Crew.

Stars(1.5)

 

Sam Gironda:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, directed by Dave Green and starring Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnet with Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Pete Ploszek and Jeremy Howard as the turtles. The film continues on from the first film and shows the audience the outcome of the turtles taking down the villain, Shredder.

As a kid I was never a truly big fan of the Ninja Turtles but I knew of them and did see some of the old TV shows.
The one thing that really stood out for me is the fact that the film really made you root for the turtles. For me anyway, I felt like the camera angles, the score to the film and the acting from the actors within the film, really made this a film that was highly enjoyable and fun to watch.

The newest addition to the Ninja Turtle team is Casey Jones played by Arrows, Stephen Amell. Seeing Stephen Amell as Casey Jones on screen was fantastic. I felt as though he portrayed the character perfectly and was very interesting to see him act in something other than the hit show Arrow.
The humour that was portrayed in the film was humour that was very enjoyable. It never felt forced, it always felt right to have in certain moments and reminded me of the kind of humour you would experience just by hanging out with your friends.

The storyline for the movie was a very enjoyable storyline. I felt like the movie was paced extremely well. I was never bored, I was never confused and I was never lost within the film. It all ran really smoothly in my opinion. The CG (computer graphics) used to create the turtles was amazing. For the film they used motion capture suits with the actors and you can tell in the film that using that technology really payed off in creating very realistic movements when the turtles were on screen.

Fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will very much enjoy the next installment in the franchise.

 

Stars(4)

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(3)

 

IMDB Rating: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows reviews: You can also listen to our full Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #180.

Trailer:

 

Triple 9

Summary: When young Detective Chris Allen (Casey Affleck) is moved into a tough squad of the Atlanta Police Department he is unaware that his new partner, Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie), is corrupt and working with a group of criminals including Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul), Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Russell Welch (Norman Reedus) and another corrupt officer, Franco Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jnr.).

With the group running a series of robberies for Russian Mafia boss Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet) they find themselves stretched to the limit and it is decided that the only way to pull off the hardest of the robberies is to have Triple 9 (Police officer down) call put across the airwaves. Their chosen target is Chris because they know his uncle, respected Detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson) will pull every officer onto the case.

Year: 2016

Australian Cinema Release Date: 3rd March 2016

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: USA

Director: John Hillcoat

Screenwriter: Matt Cook

Cast: Terri Abney (Leah Green), Casey Affleck (Chris Allen), Armando Alonzo (Emilio), Michelle Ang (Trina Ling), Carlos Aviles (Fernando Rivera), Alexander Babara (Ben Feldman), Anthony Belevstov (Yussel Gotlib), Ian Casselberry (Gomez), Clifton Collins Jnr. (Franco Rodriguez), Luis Da Silva Jnr. (Luis Pinto), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Michael Atwood), Gal Gadot (Elena Vlaslov), Michael Harding (Walter Sims), Woody Harrelson (Jeffrey Allen), Karen Kaia Livers (Shanice), Anthony Mackie (Marcus Belmont), Blake McLennan (Felix), Valiant Michael (Sergio), E. Roger Mitchell (Smith), Teresa Palmer (Michelle Allen), Aaron Paul (Gabe Welch), Norman Reedus (Russell Welch), Terence Rosemore (Joshua Parks), Labrandon Shead (Sgt. Pete Nelson), Christiana Simonds (Christina), Michael Kenneth Williams (Sweet Pea), Kate Winslet (Irina Vlaslov)

Runtime: 115 mins

Classification: MA15+

 

OUR TRIPLE 9 REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

Yes it might be a year when we are getting films like Batman vs Superman and of course another Captain America film but one of the films I was most excited to see this year was Triple 9. Triple 9 looked like it would be interesting watch, not only did it have a stellar cast involved including two of my favourites Woody Harrelson and Kate Winslet (who never normally chooses a bad script) but was also directed by John Hillcoat whose filmography contains films like The Proposition, The Road and Lawless all films that have revealed that he is gritty director certainly worth watching the work of. Throw in a healthy dose of Police corruption and this was well and truly on the road to becoming one of my fave films of the year. That was until I sat down and watched it.

To be honest Triple 9 isn’t a bad film, in fact many elements of the film do in fact work. Hillcoat is at his normal gritty best with some realistic action sequences in which a normal cops and robbers chase across Atlanta becomes something of violent beauty, while some of the urban shoot-outs will have the audience on the edge of their seat. The problem with Triple 9 though is that it tries to do too much and is sadly let down by a script that needed just a few more re-writes.

It’s not surprising to learn that Triple 9’s screenwriter Matt Cook is a first time feature writer. The idea behind Triple 9 is sound but still the screenplay itself has some very big holes. First of all there is way too much happening and too many of the characters are too similar, so similar in fact that some of the critics at the Melbourne media screening were turning to each other and asking ‘who the hell was?’ after the screening… never a good sign.

As a screenwriter Cook seems to created quite a good world with a massive amount of back story that just doesn’t come through during the film. Just how did Michael start having a relationship with Elena, what ended etc are just never fully explained. Then there are huge plotholes like if all the team need is for a Triple 9 call to go over the airwaves do they really need to shoot a cop or can they just ‘pretend’ a cop has been shot? A seasoned screenwriter would have known to have ironed out things like that during the writing process but sadly that is something that Cook has overlooked. Hillcoat does all he can to make the screenplay watchable but just falls short of making this a decent film.

Likewise the weak screenplay also leaves some of the cast floundering as well. Luckily Casey Affleck and Kate Winslet are there to save things. Affleck does a more than admirable job playing the fresh faced Chris, but it is Winslet that really excels herself. Casting Winslet as a Russian Mafia boss was a risky pick. A pick so risky that if she had failed she could have been looking at finding herself in Golden Razzie territory, luckily though she is up to the task and Winslet delivers another fine performance… this time showing that she can pretty much handle anything that is thrown at her.

Also up to the task is Harrelson who seems to borrow a little bit from his role that he had in Rampart. Those suffering though are the likes of Antony Mackie, Aaron Paul and Chiwetel Ejiofor who in roles where they are severely hampered by the fact that their characters are dangerously clichéd. Then there are poor Gal Gadot, Teresa Palmer and Michelle Ang whose characters just seem to go missing for huge chunks of the film.

There is no doubt that with a little bit more work on the screenplay Triple 9 could have been a brilliant film. The poor screenplay unfortunately though leaves the audience asking too many questions and dumps this film right in the middle of a heap of other average films. While it may appeal to fans of The Shield don’t expect the writing of Triple 9 to ever lift it to anything near as brilliant.

Stars(3)

 

 

Adam Ross:

You can listen to Adam’s Triple 9 review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #168

Stars(3)

 

 

Greg King:

Australian director John Hillcoat makes visceral, violent, dark and aggressively masculine thrillers, ranging from the bleak prison drama Ghosts… Of The Civil Dead through to the gritty outback western The Proposition, the apocalyptic journey into a heart of darkness with The Road or the prohibition era crime drama Lawless. And he seems to be able to attract A-list actors to work with him. Hillcoat’s latest film is another gritty and morally murky crime drama that is not for the squeamish or faint hearted. Triple 9 features a strong cast, some strong action sequences and a high body count. But it is also something of a disappointment given his body of work.

Written by first time writer Matt Cook, Triple 9 is set on the mean streets of Atlanta, Georgia, a lawless city full of crime and corruption where the gang and gun culture seems out of control. But the script itself raises too many questions and there are some gaping holes in the plot. Some of the dialogue is cliched, and the characterisation underdone.

When the film opens a carefully planned bank robbery is in progress. The thieves rob some money but their prime interest lies with a safety deposit box that holds some important documents vital to a Russian gangster incarcerated in a Siberian gulag. The thieves turn out to be a couple of former special forces operatives and a couple of corrupt cops. They have been blackmailed by the powerful Irina Vaslov (Kate Winslet, cast against type), the wife of the Russian gangster, into working for the Kosher Nostra, a criminal gang of Russian Jews. But Irina welshes on paying them, instead she forces them to break into a Homeland Security safe house, an even more secure location, to steal further incriminating evidence. The thieves plan to distract the police by killing honest cop Chris Allen (Casey Affleck).

On the trail of the daring brazen thieves is veteran detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson), who happens to be Chris’s cousin.

The title comes from the police code for “Officer Down,” a code that sees police officers everywhere stop what they are doing and respond immediately to the distress signal. The film itself is full of some violent action, double crosses and revenge. But this contemporary heist thriller is also a morally empty film, and its seedy air of corruption and desperation reminds audiences of Training Day and the films of Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, etc).

Hillcoat certainly directs with energy and he maintains a fast pace throughout. He effectively ramps up the action with a superb urban shootout that imitates Michael Mann’s superb Heat, and an exciting adrenaline charged car chase on the city’s freeway.

Belgian cinematographer Nicholas Karakatsanis (the moody crime drama The Drop, etc) gives the film a grimy authenticity as he has shot the film largely using a restless handheld cameras to take us into the action. This is particularly effective in a couple of tense scenes. He has also shot in muted colours, lots of reds and blacks that is meant to intensify the mood, but the colour scheme also sometimes renders it hard to discern what is happening. The film has also been edited in that rapid, kinetic style by Dylan Tichenor (who has worked with the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson and Wes Anderson) which sometimes renders the action incomprehensible. And too many of the characters seems too similar and we never really get a handle on them and what makes them tick.

Strong performances from Affleck, Winslet and Harrelson bolster the film. Winslet steps into a role originally intended for Cate Blanchett (who wisely said “nyet”), but she adopts a convincing Russian accent and a cool icy demeanour. Affleck delivers one of his best perfomances yet as the fresh faced cop unaware of the corruption surrounding him. Harrelson is also good as the seedy and jaded veteran cop with an addiction problem, a role that has some similarities to his recent work in True Detective and the gritty drama Rampart.

Unfortunately, talented players like Anthony Mackie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Clifton Collins jr, Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul and The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus find themselves stuck with cliched, one-dimensional characters ands do not leave much of an impression.

With its convoluted plotting and cliched characters, Triple 9 is unfortunately just another police action thriller that doesn’t really offer anything particualrly new or surprising.

Stars(3)

 

 

John Noonan:

John Hillcoat has an impressive back catalogue to show off. All of them tapping into a vein of masculinity being tested. Whether it be Ray Winstone saving face in The Proposition, Viggo Mortensen going above and beyond fatherly duties in The Road, or literally every cell mate in Ghosts… Of the Civil Dead. Based on a screenplay by Matt Cook, Triple 9 lets Hillcoat return to these themes and, well, triple them. Not always to great effect.

In Atlanta, Georgia, three professional criminals (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Norman Reedus and Aaron Paul)  join up with two corrupt lawmen (Anthony Mackie and Clifton Collins Jnr) to rob a bank at the behest of a Russian mob wife (Kate Winslet). She stiffs the group on their reward, politely and violently asking them do one last robbery for the sake of her incarnated husband.

Each of the man has a lot to lose, financially and personally, if they don’t steam ahead. Ejiofor, for example, will lose custody rights to the kid he’s fathered with Winslet’s sister. So, realizing that the robbery is impossible unless they come up with a big enough distraction, the decision is made to kill a cop on the day. With Atlanta’s police searching for a cop killer, they should have plenty of time to get in and out unnoticed. Enter Casey Affleck as Mackie’s new partner, who he clearly doesn’t care for.

Triple 9 is bolshy, angry and suffers from excess in all departments. With such a pedigree of cast on display, I haven’t even mentioned Woody Harrelson yet, it’s understandable the film wants to get plenty of bang for its buck.

This should be an ensemble piece, but it feels like Triple 9 can’t decide who its focus is. Is it Affleck stumbling around naively? Is it Mackie wrestling with his subconscious? Perhaps it’s Ejiofor battling to see his son. Triple 9 wants it to be all of them. And that’s fine, but it doesn’t achieve its goals.

Meanwhile, Hillcoat’s direction paints a suitably sweaty, gritty world lit in blue and red. At it’s best, it’s a reminder of Ghosts… of the Civil Dead. At it’s worst it’s Heat as directed by Michael Bay, where men are real chest beating men and women have minimal dialogue or clothing. That’s not an exaggeration as Triple 9 ensures that anyone remotely female is saved for background or wifely duties. It’s only really Winslet that manages to rise above the heap and she does so with an outrageous accent.

There is still a lot to enjoy here, with some breathtaking set pieces that suggest Hillcoat could be eyeing up an action movies as his next gig. But  this is then clouded by overripe dialogue, undercooked characterisation and so much backstabbing it makes Wild Things blush. Please understand, this isn’t a bad film. It’s perfectly serviceable, but it is not what we expect from Hillcoat, who has proven in the past he can play with restraint. Enjoyable, but a bit of a misstep.

Stars(3)

 

 

Nick Gardener:

You can listen to Nick’s Triple 9 review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #168

Stars(2.5)

 

 

Sam Gironda:

Triple 9, directed by John Hillcoat and containing a decent cast consisting of Kate Winslet, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson and many more. Personally I am not one who is into all the Police and crime films but after seeing Triple 9 I must say that is a film that is definitely worth watching. The film opens with a bang consisting of a bank robbery and from that point on the film is non-stop action. There aren’t any big defying scenes of the film that consist of car chases and explosions but the film is very confronting when it comes to the criminal side of things. The film has a lot of graphic scenes which really gives the film a very dark feel to it. Some of the things I liked about the film was the story and the acting. The story itself had many twists and turns that you don’t see coming and it adds so much to the film when you see something you don’t believe would happen. The acting in the film from all the actors was incredible. The pure emotion that was seen on screen was great to me.
If your a fan of the Police and crime films this is a film that you really should go see.

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(3)

 

IMDB Rating: Triple 9 (2016) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Triple 9 reviews: You can listen to our full Triple 9  review on a The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #168.

Trailer:

SAM GIRONDA

Sam Gironda

 

 

Sam is the youngest member of our team but still a very gifted cinemaphile. Hailing from Sydney Sam has had a passion for watching films ever since he was a kid… he also loves talking about what he has watched with others. He has decided to take a career path in Film and TV production and one day dreams of becoming a film producer or director.

 

Currently Sam Gironda has 5 reviews on Subculture Entertainment.

 

The 5th Wave

Summary: Based on the hit novel by Rick Yancey The 5th Wave sees teenager Cassie Sullivan’s (Chloe Grace Moretz) world get turned upside overnight. One moment she is your typical partying High School student who has a crush on classmate Ben Parish (Nick Robinson) and the next moment everything changes as an alien race known as The Others begin four waves of attack on Earth.

Soon Cassie finds herself in a desperate bid to survive while trying to find her brother, Sam (Zackary Arthur) who has become separated from her and is now in the so-called safe hands of the military. But Cassie knows that nobody or nowhere is safe anymore and she will do anything to get back to her brother.

Year: 2016

Australian Cinema Release Date: 14th January 2016

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: USA

Director: J Blakeson

Screenwriter: Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Rick Yancey (novel)

Cast: Zackary Arthur (Sam Sullivan), Cade Conan Ball (Oompa), Talitha Bateman (Teacup), Michael Beasley (Major Bob), Maria Bello (Sergeant Reznik), Bailey Ann Borders (Julia), Faneal Godbold (Trooper Fay), Nadji Jeter (Poundcake), Adam C. Johnson (Sergeant Webb), Scott Ledbetter (Officer Henry), Charman Lee (Ms. Paulson), Ron Livingston (Oliver Sullivan), Gabriela Lopez (Lizbeth), Alex MacNicoll (Flintstone), Flynn McHugh (Tank), Maika Monroe (Ringer), Chloe Grace Moretz (Cassie Sullivan), Johnny Otto (Dr. Osborne), Tony Revolori (Dumbo), Derek Roberts (Private Barker), Alex Roe (Evan Walker), Nick Robinson (Ben Parish/Zombie), Liev Schreiber (Colonel Vosch), Terry Serpico (Hutchfield), Maggie Siff (Lisa Sullivan), Parker Wierling (Jeremy)

Runtime: 112 mins

Classification: M

 

OUR THE 5th WAVE REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner – there’s been no shortage of teen utopian flicks coming out the last few years and now there is a new kid in the playground – The 5th Wave, and boy does this kid have some bite. The 5th Wave doesn’t mess around, as some unsuspecting parents discovered in the screening I was in when they had to rush their kids from the cinemas after Chloe Grace Moretz gets shotgun friendly within the opening moments of the film. Yes this film’s a winner, but I just wish I’d had a better and longer time to get to know the characters.

Don’t get me wrong The 5th Wave delivers on all cylinders, in fact it has everything that a movie like this needs. The problem is that the story and the characters are so interesting I wanted to spend longer in their world. Instead of a two hour movie I would much rather have seen Cassie and her family put through trials for a longer period of time and had this become a television series that I could enjoy alongside The Walking Dead and Under The Dome. The first four waves of the attack happen so quickly in the film it seems the only way to do it true justice would be to have it happen over two or three seasons of a show.

Still credit needs to be paid to The 5th Wave as a film. Director J. Blakeson knows how to deliver suspense, he did it by the bucket loads in the haunting The Disappearance Of Alice Creed and here he teams up with a talented screenwriting team that among others features the talented Akiva Goldsman (yes the genius that brought us I Am Legend). Together these two set about making this film enjoyable for the same reason we loved Maze Runner… because they don’t hold back and as a result the story is more believable. Believability was really on their side as Cassie isn’t based in some far off world, her world is our world just with some alien attackers added. Blakeson and co then brilliantly have her face decisions that many of us would struggle to comprehend and the result is a film that has you on the edge of your seat throughout. Once the twists and turns start occurring in the plot you never know what is going to happen next.

The other thing that makes The 5th Wave work so well is that all the characters are relatable. Cassie isn’t your superhero archetype, instead she is the girl next door who suddenly finds herself having to fight for survival. Her instinct of wanting to protect her family is something that we all identify with and the audience very quickly finds themself ‘barracking’ for her. Sadly that same feeling takes a bit longer to generate with Ben as he missing for a huge part of the middle area of the film… still he is likable enough for it to come back and it would have been nice to have been able to spend more time getting to know him as a character.

The well written script and good direction from Blakeson also allows the young stars to shine. Chloe Grace Moretz is her usual stand-out best but unlike her role in Kick-Ass we do get to see a much softer side to her this time around as well. She is well supported by Nick Robinson and also Alex Roe who both announce themselves as stars of the future. A gruff performance by Liev Schreiber is also worth mentioning as he is at his menacing best.

One of the saddest things about writing this review is that I can’t tell you the real reason for why I loved The 5th Wave so much and that is for the twisted elements that exist due to the film’s plot turns and revelations. The 5th Wave is a good action sci-fi that has a little more bite than some would predict. Easy-to-warm-to-characters and an interesting storyline means the audience quickly feels part of this new world… so now we can only hope that this spins off into franchise so we can spend a little more time watching Cassie and co go up against The Others. Bring on number 2 please.
Stars(3.5)

 

 

Greg King:

You can listen to Greg’s The 5th Wave review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #161

Stars(3)

 

 

Nick Gardener:

You can listen to Nick’s The 5th Wave review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #161

Stars(2.5)

 

 

Sam Gironda:

The 5th Wave, Directed by J Blakeson is a film adaptation from the popular novel written by Rick Yancey.

Chloë Grace Moretez (Cassie Sullivan) is the star of the film accompanied by a variety of young actors. Nick Robinson (Ben Parish), Alex Roe (Evan Walker), Zackary Arthur (Sam Sullivan) and Maika Monroe (Ringer) all play leading roles in the film.

The 5th Wave is the story of an alien race, known as The Others, coming to Earth and trying to claim the planet as their own. The Others attack Earth in a series of waves. The 1st Wave, lights out. All electrical appliances and vehicles are terminated from being able to be used by mankind. The 2nd Wave, Surfs Up. This wave involved tsunamis and flooding to occur all over the world and killing millions. The 3rd Wave, Pestilence. The Others increased the effects of the bird flu and infected the whole planet ridding Earth of those who were left, those who caught it at least. The 4th Wave, They Arrive. In this wave The Others come to Earth in human form and try to gather up the last remaking human’s by impersonating the Army. The 5th Wave… This is what the whole film is based around. Trying to stop the 5th wave from happening.

During the film I loved the acting by some of the cast members and I loved the aspect that Humans are so delicate and vulnerable to so many things and how the aliens used our vulnerabilities to kill us. The story itself was a good story. I felt as though it was dragging on a little bit towards the middle of the film but that’s just my personal opinion. Once a few plot twists were presented to the audience things really picked up in my opinion. Being the School holidays this is a great film to take the whole family to. Action, drama and romance are all included writhing the film so I think there should be an aspect of the film that everyone will enjoy.

Stars(2)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(3)

 

IMDB Rating: The 5th Wave (2016) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment The 5th Wave reviews: You can listen to our full The 5th Wave  review on a The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #161. You can also read our The 5th Wave review on The Book The Film The T-Shirt.

Trailer:

Daddy's Home

Summary: Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell) has always wanted to be a Dad but an unfortunate accident in a dental chair has left that dream in tatters. However, now he is married to ready-made Mum, Sara (Linda Cardellini), but is finding winning over her children Dylan (Owen Vaccaro) and Megan (Scarlett Estevez) a lot harder than he thought it would be.

Hard work pays off though but just as the two kids are starting to warm to him Sara’s ex, the children’s father, the ever-ready, man-of-the-year-material Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg) shows up and he has just one plan in mind – to make Brad look incompetent and to win back Sara and the kids.

Year: 2015

Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th December 2015

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: USA

Director: Sean Anders

Screenwriter: Sean Anders, Brian Burns, John Morris

Cast: Alessandra Ambrosio (Karen), Joel K. Berger (Corey from Red Bull), Kobe Bryant (himself), Hannibal Buress (Griff), Bill Burr (Jerry), Bobby Cannavale (Dr. Francisco), Jeff Caperton (Tom), Linda Cardellini (Sara), John Cena (Real Dad), Thomas Haden Church (Leo Holt), Troy Compas (Jim),  (Jamie Denbo (Doris), Scarlett Estevez (Megan), Will Ferrell (Brad Whitaker), LaMonica Garrett (Marco), Sadarias Harrell (Silverberg), Chris Henchy (Panda DJ/Jason Sinclair), Matthew Paul Martinez (Pete), Hector Presedo (Pepe), Owen Vaccaro (Dylan), Mark Wahlberg (Dusty Mayron), Brady Yarborough (Marty)

Runtime: 96 mins

Classification: PG

 

OUR DADDY’S HOME REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

This year hasn’t been a great year for comedy. A lot have been released and lot have sucked. Well now comes Daddy’s Home which decides to do something a little different, and that is sit right in the middle of the road.

Actually to be honest Daddy’s Home is a bit of a strange watch. It is one of those movies that is completely ruined by the trailer. As a result of seeing most of the gags in the trailer you can pretty much watch this film with just a chuckle here and there. A shame because at times such as Brad skateboarding off a half-pipe into a power-line I found myself thinking ‘I probably would been laughing right now if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve already seen in the trailer in cinemas ten times.’ The sad thing is that happens for most of the laughs throughout the film which must be pretty disappointing for screenwriter/director Sean Anders.

Like Anders’ career itself (this is the man that brought us highs like We’re The Millers but also films like Dumb And Dumber To) a lot of the laughs in Daddy’s Home are all over the place. Yes a lot of the slapstick is ruined by the trailer but then some of the other comedy throughout the film seems to come from a weird place. While the ‘stories’ from Brad’s boss Leo (Thomas Haden Church) are often the funniest part of the film, there are other times when Anders’ humor feels mistimed or misplaced. Two examples are when Leo has a deeply personal conversation with Brad and then the camera pans back to reveal it is in the middle of a meeting with other people (feels forced) or when Leo and Brad are trying to convince Griff (Hannibal Buress) to aid Brad in a clichéd movie run-down-the-hall… that scene just goes on for far too long.

The other abnormality with the humor of Daddy’s Home is that it feels like Mark Wahlberg is a lot funnier in the film that what Will Ferrell is. It is obvious that even Anders knew the role of Dusty provided much of the laughs because at one point Ferrell was supposed to be Dusty before obviously someone realised that there is no way in hell he could pull off being an aloof tough Special Ops member. It what would have been an even bigger disaster Vince Vaughn was also considered for the role so we should be thankful that Wahlberg ends up playing Dusty because he is the highlight of the film… often stealing the limelight from Ferrell mid-scene.

Being out-acted this time round seems to be part of the landscape for Ferrell. His character is ‘boring’ which in fairness may have been Anders’ intention, but the flare shown by Wahlberg makes Dusty a much more impressive character while Ferrell also has a lot of his thunder stolen by Thomas Haden Church whose comedic timing and droll delivery works an absolute treat and he provides many of the laughs throughout the film.

Sure Anders certainly didn’t deliver a comedic masterpiece with Daddy’s Home but any filmmaker deserves not to have their ‘surprises’ or ‘laughs’ intended to impress the audience ruined by the trailer that is supposed to promote the film. With that putting the film behind the eight ball already Daddy’s Home is an up-and-down the film. The film seems to work best when it forgets about trying to be funny and instead goes for more touching scenes, like a step-Dad trying his best with his kids, but also falls on its face when it tries to ‘show-up’ other films’ stupidity like with dance-offs etc.  Daddy’s Home is a middle of the road comedy that doesn’t provide anywhere near as many laughs as it should.

 

Stars(2.5)

 

Sam Gironda:

Daddy’s Home directed by Sean Anders sees the story of a Dad and a Step Dad dealing with the facts of having two Dads in the one household. Brad (Will Ferrell) is a man who has always wanted to be a Dad and his life as a Step Dad to two kids and husband to his wife Sarah (Linda Cardellini) is going well until his wife’s ex-husband shows up. Dusty (Mark Wahlberg is a man who is tough and competitive which certainly is shown throughout the film.

 

Throughout the film Dusty and Brad go head to head and compete to prove to the kids and Sarah, who can be the better parent. What I loved about the film was the constant humour. In most comedy movies sometimes the humour seems almost like it is forced on you and almost makes you feel like they are trying so hard to make you laugh with scenes and jokes that aren’t very funny at all. In Daddy’s Home the humour was great. It was humour that was very quick in some cases and that’s what I loved. It was humour that we would all experience and things that we would laugh at in everyday life.

 

The one thing I thought of during this movie is that Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell were great together on screen. To me they were a comedy duo that I never expected and it would be great to see them do more films together in the future. Even though the film is a comedy there was some drama and emotional events which really portrayed what it is like for families where there are more than two parents. Daddy’s Home, I think, is a great movie for the whole family and is definitely worth seeing if you have the option of going to the cinema.

It was funny, enjoyable, had a good story line, great cast and was just an all over good film to watch. Daddy’s Home staring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg is in cinemas now! Check it out!

 

Stars(3.5)

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(3)

 

IMDB Rating: Daddy's Home (2015) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Daddy’s Home reviews: You can listen to our full Daddy’s Home  review on a future episode of  The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show. You can also read our Daddy’s Home review on The Book The Film The T-Shirt.

Trailer:

Star Wars The Force Awakens

Summary: Set thirty years after the events of Return Of The Jedi the universe is once again facing upheaval.  Rising from the ashes of Darth Vader before him Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) leads the First Order as they strive to conquer (and in some cases) destroy the galaxy. In order to do so they know they must kill every remaining Jedi which means they need to hunt down Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who has been missing for years.

Leading the resistance against the First Order is Leia (Carrie Fisher) who despite the good intentions of her fighters, like Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), is losing the battle against the First Order. The Resistance gets a much needed boost when a map that may show the whereabouts of Luke is found. But in order to have any affect a young scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley), a reformed Storm Trooper named Finn (John Boyega), the legendary Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and everybody’s favourite Wookie (Peter Mayhew) must get the map (which is hidden to a droid) to the Resistance.

Year: 2015

Australian Cinema Release Date: 18th December 2015

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: USA

Director: J.J. Abrams

Screenwriter: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt, George Lucas (characters)

Cast: Gerry Abrams (Captain Cypress), Sebastian Amresto (Lieutenant Mitaka), Erik Bauersfeld (Admiral Ackbar), Leanne Best (Min Sakul), Jason Boyega (Finn), Anna Brewster (Bazine Netal), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Crystal Clarke (Ensign Goode), Tosin Cole (Lietenant Bastian), Morgan Dameron (Commodore Meta), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Warwick Davis (Wollivan), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Emun Elliott (Brance), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Cailey Fleming (Young Rey), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Michael Giacchino (FN-3181), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Nigel Godrich (FN-9330), Stefan Grube (Yolo Ziff), Greg Gunberg (Snap Wexley), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Jessica Henwick (Jess Testor), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Andrew Jack (Major Ematt), Jeffrey Kissoon (Rear Admiral Guich), Ken Leung (Admiral Statura), Billie Lourd (Lieutenant Connix), Rocky Marshall (Colonel Datoo), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), James McArdle (Niv Lek), Jim McGrath (Vice Admiral Resdox), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Simon Pegg (Unkar Plutt), Mike Quinn (Nien Nunb), Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Korr Sella), Daisy Ridley (Rey), Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar), Kipsang Rotich (Nien Nunb), Yayan Ruhian (Tasu Leech), Philicia Saunders (Tabala Zo), Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke), Claudia Sermbezis (Lema Eelyak), Kiran Shah (Teedo), Mark Stanley (Knight Of Ren), Pip Torrens (Colonel Kaplan), Iko Uwais (Razoo Quin-Fee), Brian Vernel (Bala-Tik), Max von Sydow (Lor San Tekka), Harriet Walter (Dr. Kalonia)

Runtime: 135 mins

Classification: M

 

OUR STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

It might be a brutal thing to say but Star Wars: The Force Awakens is perhaps George Lucas’ worst nightmare. For years now we’ve heard people worldwide speculating at how Disney and J.J. Abrams were going to destroy the Star Wars universe. Well now after viewing Star Wars: The Force Awakens I can say that it seems that Abrams actually has a better understanding of that universe than what Lucas himself has had over the past few years. Episode 1 and the rest of the new trilogy made me lose my childhood love of everything Star Wars but last night The Force Awakens just awakened it inside me.

There is little wonder that true Star Wars fans at the Melbourne premiere last night clapped their hands off as the final credits rolled last night because Abrams has obviously created this film from his Star Wars fanboy point-of-view. In fact in light of day this script could have easily been lifted from any short novella on a Star Wars fan-fiction site… that’s how true to the original trilogy it was. The original Star Wars feel to the film can also be credited to Abrams’ right hand man – legendary screenwriter who has brought us gems like The Empire Strikes Back, Return Of The Jedi and Raiders Of The Lost Ark… yes the man knows how to write what audiences love.

In some ways Abrams plays the safe-card with The Force Awakens. He sticks to the tried and true tropes of the original Star Wars films even using similar storylines such as a very important map hidden inside of a droid. Instead of feeling like a blatant rip-off though it instead feels like Abrams paying homage to something that he has loved over the years. Having said that though Abrams does put his own stamp on the franchise very well. His new characters, such as Finn and Rey, are likable and unlike Lucas’ attempt with the ill-fated Jar Jar Abrams shows that his new characters don’t need gimmicks to try and win over their audience. Sure you have to wonder how much political correctness was in mind when characters like Rey, Finn and Poe were created but that doesn’t stop them from being the kind of characters that fans of the series are very quickly going to warm to. The idea of Finn being a reformed Storm Trooper is a stroke of genius from the Abrams camp, while Rey and Poe seem to have some pretty interesting back stories that need to be explored in future Star Wars film… and yes it is very obvious that Finn and Rey have some sexual tension that is guaranteed to surface in the future as well.

Perhaps the biggest stamp that Abrams puts on the Star Wars franchise is his visual style. Teaming up with cinematographer Daniel Mindel (who Abrams has also worked with on the Star Trek franchise) Abrams here has created a film that doesn’t need CGI to enhance its environment. Whether it be a great light sabre in a forest, a Millennium Falcon led dog fight or a group of Tie fighters flying out of a sunset Abrams put a visual stamp on the film that George Lucas always seemed to fail at doing throughout his time in the Star Wars world. As The Force Awakens plays out you realise that Abrams’ main focus here wasn’t CGI creatures but instead developing a film that not only had a decent plot but looked damn fine as well.

The big plus for this film though is the inclusion of old favourites. Giving Han and Chewie such a big role in this film is another stroke of genius from the Abrams’ camp. It gives the film some familiarity and the fact that Han is so accepting of Rey and Finn gives them a huge ‘in’ with the film, plus the Abrams’ screenplay provides Han and Chewie with some truly great moments as well. The comedic dialogue works well between the two and once again Harrison Ford shows that even at his age he can be a believable action hero who is more than capable of carrying a film like this… plus the time on set with such a legendary actor will surely put the young stars of this film in great steed for the future.

After the disappointment of the previous three Star Wars films J.J. Abrams touch on the franchise is a welcome relief. Finally there is another Star Wars film to be proud of and yes this is one former lover of the franchise that has had his flame rekindled.

 

Stars(4)

Adam Ross:

You can hear Adam’s full Star Wars: The Force Awakens review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #157

Stars(4)

 

Greg King:

You can hear Greg’s full Star Wars: The Force Awakens review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #157

Stars(4)

 

Harley Woods:

Big Star Wars fan, here. As a child I wanted to hire the original trilogy videos every week. I wanted to be Luke; loved the tale, mythology and symbolism littered throughout. I loved the prequels, despite them generally getting a bad rap these days.

Then it was finally announced – episode 7! We’d see what really happened after Return Of The Jedi. And then I saw it…

And I was sad. A brilliant opening set the scene well – I was hooked. But it falls apart more and more as we progress. The film had a habit (even before release) of building expectations, then dashing them. Even from the opening ‘story crawl’ – “…Leia has sent her most daring pilot on a secret mission to Jakku, where an old ally has discovered a clue to Luke’s whereabouts…” Most daring pilot – is it Han Solo?! No. It’s newcomer Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). That’s OK, I want to get to know him (but barely do). And the old ally… who could it be?! No-one we’ve ever met before. Played by a very famous actor, Max von Sydow, ‘old ally’ Lor San Tekka is killed-off in about 5 minutes, as just a plot device. Even Poe Dameron is seemingly killed-off within the first half hour, only to suddenly reappear later in a cheap way. It was hollow, like something wasn’t right so I kept looking for some big surprise around the corner. Nothing.

Everything builds-up to go nowhere. The opening line of the film is “Luke Skywalker has vanished” – so the story is about finding him, right? No, it’s the main crux of the story but forgotten about and sidetracked with nonsense until the last few minutes.

The new characters of Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisey Ridley) were great and the performers did well. All the impetus was put on them by Disney as what they wanted to sell. The fans wanted to see more of the classic characters along with the new generation, but the classic cast was left underdeveloped or written sometimes out-of-character. I remember when you could half understand the Droids’ bleeping, but now it’s like random sounds.

Daisey and John, at least, are great at bringing their characters to life and we enjoy following them, but there’s too much time spent sidelining the plot. It sets up questions (which kind of look like they have predictable answers – we’ll see in episode 8, probably) that don’t pay-off. You need to give the audience some pay-off, even if this is part of a trilogy. Both characters get invested in their journey then alternatingly both want to leave, then just-as-suddenly change their mind again.

So, then they look for Luke Skywalker, right? No, there are more distractions as the First Order (just a condensed copy of the Galactic Empire from the original trilogy) come to find the map to Luke Skywalker as this is also their plan… or is their plan to blow-up planets with yet another Death Star – oh, sorry: “Star Killer”? While I like the ‘Star-Killer’ nod to George Lucas’ original Star Wars script where the Skywalker clan was named Starkiller, that would have been more than enough of an in-joke. But everything else in the film is a nod to something, a re-make of an old scene, an in-joke for fans, etc… We get two hours of fan-service and maybe 30 minutes of it is story-related. Instead of finding Luke we deal with the unoriginal ‘planet-killing’ device – something we’ve seen fail TWICE already – then clumsily get to a plot point of killing-off a character.

We see what was probably an important planet destroyed by the Starkiller (actually, the home of the New Republic; an element totally lost as the First Order seems to have such power that it seems NOTHING has changed since episode 6) but we don’t care because we never saw the planet. We see some people about to die in horror (including great actress, Freema Agyeman, who’s little more than an uncredited extra after deleting an important scene earlier in the film) but we don’t get invested in their deaths as it becomes such a non-point with little gravitas or repercussion.

Abrahams and Disney cut so much of what was filmed after already diluting so much of what George Lucas had written for them that the current universe isn’t properly established, so have little grounding. But then Abrahams goes all-out on padding the movie with stuff we’ve seen before but has little reward. We get a couple of important plot-points, but mostly this movie is just played out as an small opening act for an actual story which leaves the experience very hollow.

Gone, also, are the layers of myths and symbology that Lucas created in his original films, which I still enjoy discovering to this day, leaving with us something quite superficial.

Technically, the film is well-achieved, and if you want mindless spectacle over an adventure you’ll enjoy this film. I think Disney have been too keen to cash in on this (you can see them whoring the franchise out to anyone who will pay to have a Star Wars image on their product – including Gillette razors) and wanted to hurriedly establish their characters to use as they wish with little continuity constraints (and probably because they’ll be cheaper than the existing heroes). And a new Star Wars-related film will be out every year! Great, so long as they have actually gone to the lengths to make it GOOD.

I, of course, can’t wait for Episode 8 and have hope (A New Hope?) that it will make-up for TFA’s shortcomings and actually develop the plot and story properly. We want more than a money-making romp from Disney, and sadly that is all this film feels like in the end.

Stars(3)

 

Nick Gardener:

You can hear Nick’s full Star Wars: The Force Awakens review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #157

Stars(3.5)

 

Sam Gironda:

Star Wars ‘The Force Awakens’ (Directed by J.J. Abrams) is a sequel, continuing on from the original Star Wars trilogy.

The Force Awakens is said to be the biggest film release in history. But does the film live up to all the hype?

Star Wars ‘The Force Awakens’ introduces us to a new range of characters when at the same time bringing back ones from the past. At the beginning of the film we are introduced to Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and a brand new droid, BB-8. Poe is an X-Wing pilot and is on a mission to protect classified information from the hands of the First Order.

The audience is then introduced to Finn (John Boyega). Finn is a Stormtrooper who disagrees with the ways of the First Order and decides to run away. Finn escapes to the planet of Jakku where we meet Rey (Daisy Ridley). Rey is a scavenger living a life where she needs to recover any junk metal or spare parts that are good enough to be traded for food.

Any Star Wars film wouldn’t be complete without a major threat and villain fighting to make that threat a reality. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is the leader of the First Order and is accompanied by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie).

We are of course greeted with some old faces as Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher and of course Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). It was amazing to see the characters we know and love return to the big screen and to see how they have changed after all these years. C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) also return to join the returning cast.

The one thing that stood out to me in this film was the acting. J.J Abrams chose actors who were not well known to a large audience and they have definitely shown their potential when it comes to acting.

Throughout the movie there is so much going on that it’s hard to determine your thoughts about it and what you think. After seeing the movie and taking a moment to breath I can honestly say that it was a triumphant return for the Star Wars franchise. The movie was non-stop action and intensity and it was amazing to see that J.J. Abrams kept to the old films and didn’t change anything that would leave fans disappointed. Star Wars ‘The Force Awakens’ is an amazing film for Star Wars fans and the ending has been left wide open for future stories and films to connect with.

The one thing I loved most about this film is that the only CG (Computer Graphics) used was for when they are in space or in battle, flying through the air. There was a physicality to it that made the Star Wars universe feels so real. All the character, droids, aliens, sets and locations were all real and done brilliantly.

My finale thoughts of the film are that it was a great comeback for the Star Was franchise and it’s great to see this universe be introduced to a whole new generation of fans. I would definitely see it again!

Star Wars ‘The Force Awakens’ is in Cinemas now!

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(4)

 

IMDB Rating: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviews: You can listen to our full Star Wars: The Force Awakens  review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #157.

Trailer: