Thursday, 30 July 2015

July film releases

I have been away for a month so I have not posted reviews in a while. Here are some brief reviews of films released over the past month.

FILM: Terminator Genisys
WRITTEN BY: Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier
DIRECTED BY: Alan Taylor
STARRING: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney
RATING: 3 stars

I am a little bit obsessed with the first two Terminator films and prefer to ignore the other two, which should never have been made. It is pleasing to see that the fifth instalment works much better, and while it is not on par with the original two films, it still holds up quite well. Time travel is always confusing but Terminator Genisys explains most of the plot points well enough so that audiences are not scratching their heads too much. The story ties in important aspects of the first two films while propelling a new angle into the tale. It is a delight to see Arnold Schwarzenegger back in the role and he has some funny moments, as well as one especially thrilling confrontation (you will know it when you see it). Jai Courtney and Emilia Clarke have great chemistry and do their respective roles as Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor justice, while Jason Clarke provides a very different John Connor. The action is suspenseful and will keep you on the edge of your seat. It seems we will get a sixth film in the franchise and I am curious enough to see what happens next.

FILM: Ant-Man 
WRITTEN BY: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd
DIRECTED BY: Peyton Reed
STARRING: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena
RATING: 3.5 stars

This film proves to wider audiences what comic book fans have always known – a superhero who can shrink to the size of an ant is very entertaining. Ant-Man has plenty of fun action, a fantastic cameo from an Avenger, references to the Marvel universe that tie in nicely with the other films and also a lot of heart. The super likeable Paul Rudd has always had perfect comedic timing and in Ant-Man, he also gets to show a more serious side. Michel Pena also provides a lot of laughs, while Michael Douglas adds gravitas and Corey Stoll is a great villain, while Evangeline Lilly's character is the glue tying the main cast together and gets to portray a realistic woman who is both strong and vulnerable. Ant-Man is totally self-aware and a joy to watch. The post-credit scene is a wonderful tease for the next Marvel film too.

FILM: Magic Mike XXL 
WRITTEN BY: Reid Carolin
DIRECTED BY: Gregory Jacobs
STARRING: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez
RATING: 4 stars

While the original film was a drama set in the world of strippers, the sequel gives fans what they really want – more sexy dancing and a lot more laughs. It is not that this film is better than the first, they are just different types of films. In fact, people who loved the depth of the original film may actually be disappointed that this one is nothing at all like that – but it is a riotous road trip. The most important aspect of Magic Mike XXL is that it unashamedly celebrates the desires of women of all shapes, sizes, ages and ethnicities. Channing Tatum may be the star but, this is definitely an ensemble piece. Most of the principal cast from the first film make a return and each one gives a great performance, especially Joe Manganiello who provides a lot of laughs and has some memorable dance scenes, and Matt Bomer who gets a chance to show off his singing as well as his sexy moves. The new additions are also fantastic including Stephen “Twitch” Boss who is easily the best dancer, Donald Glover who offers plenty of charm and Jada Pinkett Smith who adds some raunchiness. Amber Heard was perhaps the weakest link while Elizabeth Banks needed more screen time. The soundtrack is also certain to get you in a dancing mood. Magic Mike XXL is definitely a fun night out whether it is ladies night or date night. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

WRITTEN BY: Christopher McQuarrie,
DIRECTED BY: Christopher McQuarrie
STARRING: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Sean Harris
RATING: 3 stars

IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team take on the Syndicate – an elusive international rogue organisation committed to causing worldwide chaos. Ethan teams up with possible double agent Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) to bring down the skilled villains.

Fans of the Mission Impossible franchise should be pleased with this instalment. There are several suspenseful action sequences including a motorcycle chase and a thrilling plane scene. The character development is also solid. It is good to see that it is not just the “Tom Cruise show” – the supporting cast have their moments too, especially Simon Pegg as his main sidekick. Ferguson was also fantastic and believable as a tough and independent female spy. Ilsa defeats a lot of men and saves Ethan's life a few times. Unfortunately, while Jeremy Renner has some funny lines, he does not get to see much action. He works well with Alec Baldwin though, whose character represents the CIA. The biggest problem with Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation was that it was far too long. There were a few times when the plot could have been tied up but writer/director Christopher McQuarrie threw another thread into the mix and it dragged the film out unnecessarily. Nonetheless, action fans will be more than happy to go along for the ride.