Money Monster (2016)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Murica. Where people with guns can walk into buildings and hold an entire studio hostage to violently discuss the American Dream. It’s not your average situation but frankly we’ve seen weirder things in real life. Jodie Foster’s big official directing debut managed to strike up some impressive names and honestly we all love the thrill of a good hostage story. Is it really that thrilling? Sorry Jodie, you made it work better in Silence of the Lambs. Still, despite going a little softcore on the kidnapping thing, Money Monster is a pretty good film with some good acting and our nice yearly dose of Clooney.

It’s a fine morning in New York City when Lee Gates (George Clooney) and Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts), the host and the director of the extravagant Wall Street tv show Moneymoneymonster6 Monster get really for another exciting tv show. The show seems to go well when suddenly an armed man walks onto the set and takes Lee hostage, putting a bomb vest on him and holding him at gun point. The man, Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), lost all his money because of the show’s promotion of big company IBIS which suddenly collapsed afterwards, losing about 800 million dollars. He demands some serious answers from the big rich people. Patty and Lee then have to work together to get to the core of what happened at IBIS to save their own lives and those of the crew, while being live in front of a million people audience.

While Money Monster has constantly been promoted as a thrilling hostage film, this is actually only a little part of it. In the first 20 minutes we get a little anxious about whether anyone is going to get shot by the overemotional Budwell, but soon we notice it’s more about catching the baddie who’s responsible for the IBIS crash. That’s why Money Monster turns out to be a little less thrilling than it was advertised or than it could have been. The whole hostage situation just loses its excitement over time until it’s not even a hostage anymore. That doesn’t mean the film isn’t watchable; as we get more pieces of information about the bad guy, our hatred towards them grows and our sympathy for Budwell grows along with it, until he’s really nothing more than a sad puppy who deserved more than he got (yes, you’ll even root for him in the end). Whether the message of the film really comes through is a little unclear. It’s more about throwing the rich people off their pedestal and give the poorer people an equal chance, but the baddie is such a stereotypical asshole that it doesn’t feel all that real anymore.

Thankfully, while having a just okay plot, the film is saved mostly by the dream team moneymonster1cast, mainly by the chemistry between Clooney and Roberts. They work together very well, but that’s mostly because of Clooney’s undeniable charm. It’s a role he’s played many many times (is he even playing a role at this point or does he just show up on set and reads lines with his own personality?) but he plays it so wonderfully again that it’s not even a bad thing. O’Connell does well as the chaotic neutral Budwell, it’s just a shame that two minutes after the introduction of his character we can already guess he’s just a scared little kid who wouldn’t actually do much harm. It doesn’t really do justice to O’Connell’s acting. There’s a bunch of other cool names in Money Monster, like Dominic West and Caitriona Balfe. Even Giancarlo Esposito shows up for a bit, now searching for meth instead of selling it, but a big name like that could have deserved a little more screentime and lines, instead of yelling a bunch of police orders which even get ignored by everyone. You’re better off in Los Pollos Hermanos, Esposito. Also a +1 to the hot editing guy with the glasses, who was a nice pleasure of the eye in between all the shooting and bomb threats.

Money Monster is not what they made it out to be, which is a little bit of a shame, but it does not disregard many of the other good things it bring forth. It’s a bit all over the place sometimes, but we get some nice characters to hold on to in this wild ride. If you hate Wall Street and economics it is also a good films to watch because Money Monster is probably as anti-stock market as it can get. Power to the real people, isn’t that the American Dream? It might be. All we know is that is it always a good dream if it involves George Clooney.
~

 

 

Bad Neighbours 2 (2016)

 

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Now in cinemas: The sequel we never really asked for. Starring that one comedy dude whose laugh makes me want to punch a baby, an Australian woman who makes you cringe every time she speaks up and the token hot guy that takes off his shirt for non-existing aesthetic reasons.  Welcome to Bad Neighbours 2 everyone, you’ve seen it already but Hollywood said fuck it, we’ll make the exact same film again. Enjoy.

Okay so copy and paste the plot of the first Bad Neighbours and voila, you’re ready. For those who didn’t see the first one (lucky you), here’s the plot anyway:  Mac and badneighbours24Kelly Radner are on the verge of selling their house and moving to the suburbs with now toddler Stella and another baby on the way. Before the house is actually sold for sure, they get put in a trial month, where the buyers can back out of the deal if they find anything wrong with the house. It is of course during that period that a popular upcoming sorority moves in next door, putting Mac and Kelly’s deal in danger. With the help of their old enemy, Teddy Sanders, who is trying to find his purpose in life, they set up a war against the college girls so they can secure their deal.

If you really liked the original Bad Neighbours and were like ‘dude I need like at least 2 more hours of this’ then Bad Neighbours 2 will leave you satisfied. Because that’s what it is. Two more hours of the exact same thing. Two more hours of jokes ‘that only millennials will get’. Two more hours of jokes that will only really make an impression if you’re stoned as hell. And yeah, since most cinemas have a no drugs-policy it’s getting progressively harder to reach that laughing zone during Seth Rogen films.  After years and years we should really start asking ourselves whether weed jokes are still a comedy highlight. I personally have stopped laughing at the majority of them since about the moment I got to know what weed was. Seth Rogen has made it pretty clear over the years he has smoked a joint or two in his life and no one is shocked by the concept anymore, so one of the last things we’re waiting for is the Hollywood comedy trope of ‘haha omg look at me I smoke weed 420 lmao’. Hiding 30 bongs from your house buyers is not funny, neither is spraying whipped cream onto a big clump of weed and selling it on paper plates. It’s just tiring man, grow up. Nobody likes a bragger.

The big change from the original is that the crazy college kids are now female instead of male, so it’s pretty obvious that they tried to go feministic in this one. Sure, it works sometimes. There’s this whole deal about frat parties being all about creepy, boner-enraged dudes, girls who just want to party whether they like wearing sweatpants or high heels, a party theme being empowering women, a room of weeping girls when they play badneighbours22The Fault In Our Stars on film night… it’s all a bit over the top but hey, they tried and it’s not something to complain about (truthfully it’s one of the better things about this sequel). Frankly they could have cut out the feministic rants from asshole things so they wouldn’t have to apologise for being feministic (I don’t think Maya Angelou would like to be associated with throwing used tampons into open windows) but hey, it’s a start. We can almost appreciate Chloë Grace Moretz and her girl gang.

The increasing problem in Seth Rogen films is that it tries to take us to the edge on the moral compass, but since Hollywood’s ideas of what is shocking and what not are bigger than that those things actually are, we’re kind of stuck in this weird state of limbo of like ‘Am I supposed to find this shocking or are my boundaries just gone’. Anyway, if you’re still into a big deal of 420 blaze it/sexy time humour along with a dash of slapstick (apparently it’s still SUPER hilarious to have people fall from heights on top of something) then you might want to go ahead and give it a try. Also if you’re really into Zac Efron’s sixpack then you won’t be disappointed because we haven’t been looking at it enough apparently. It’s the only thing he was good for in the film anyway, since his villain role is taken over by the chicks he is mostly there for some eye candy (cheers, ladies).  I wonder what Rogen will come up next. I bet it’s something with someone getting high in a nonconventional situation. Maybe with an unexplained llama in a room.

Amazing.
~

 

 

 

♛ Liebster Awards! ♛

I thought the days of chain mail were over (I’m finally rid of that girl with no eyes at the end of my bed), but I’m happily surprised to be part of a new, special one that’s currently going on in the WordPress cinephile community. Thank you so much to LazySundayMovies, GhezalMoviePlus and FilmMusicCentral for thinking of me when doing this thing. I feel very special and honoured I even appeared in your minds when you did this thing. Now away with the cheesiness and let’s continue to my moment to shine.

DA RULEZ

  • thank the person (or people) that nominated you
  • answer their questions
  • spread the love to 11 other bloggers that you think are awesome in the form of 11 new questions
  • let them know they have been tagged so they can spread some love themselves.

Diego’s lovely questions:

  1. If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Probably Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I’ve already seen it more than I can count and I even still adored it after writing an essay about it for university, which is probably the #1 indication it can never get ruined for me. Plus, the soundtrack is a+.

2. If a film was made about your life story, who would you cast to play yourself?

If Hayley Atwell was to ever sign on to my biopic, I can die a happy girl.

3. First movie you remember watching?

I think Beauty and the Beast is one of the first films I remember seeing. We had it on VHS and I probably watched it at least once a week.

4. Favourite movie genre and favourite movie quote?

Hard. I can say comedy but I’m referring to that 5% of comedies that is actually good. I also really love historical dramas.

5. I normally hate watching movies before 2000’s (except some classics). Recommend a movie that might change my mind.

If you want to laugh: Robin Hood – Men in Tights (1993). Made by the almighty Mel Brooks and one of my favourite films to this date. So insanely stupid and self aware that you can’t help but laugh. Some Like It Hot (1959) is also a good watch, as it is the original White Chicks. If you don’t want to laugh: 12 Angry Men (1957) is really brilliant. I didn’t think a film from the fifties could be as good as that one honestly is.

6. Favourite TV show at the moment?

I’m liking a lot of shows because I watch literally everything. Game of Thrones is great, just like Outlander and Daredevil. Still I think The Office and Parks & Rec are my faves of all time.

7. Go-to weapon in a zombie apocalypse?

I’ve always wanted to be awesome at archery but I think when it comes to zombies I’d better be off with a katana.

8. Would you rather lose both arms or both legs?

Both legs. Don’t think I’ve ran in 4 years.

9. If you could have one power, what would it be?

I’m a shapeshifter type of gal. Or time manipulation, unlimited naps would be cool.

10. When did you start blogging and why?

I started about 2 months ago, so I’m a newbie. I started this whole thing because I love film, I love writing articles and I most of all love complaining. I’ve been wanting to do something with film reviews for quite some time, but I never really got round to really focus on making a blog. UNTIL NOW.

11. What do you do when you’re not in front of a keyboard?

I work part time in a shop that sells books, magazines, greeting cards, cigarettes, lottery tickets and all that stuff. I also volunteer at the local music venue and a local theater several times a month. Finally, I go to the cinema like at least twice a week. The rest of my free time is, yes, in front of a keyboard.

 

Ghezal’s dope questions:

  1. Have you ever snuck into a movie at the theatres and if so, how many is your record?

I honestly have never, because 1. I’m too much of a pissbaby to dare something like that and 2. I have an unlimited cinema card so I can go see films for free anyway.

2. If you could have dinner with any movie character, who would you pick and why?

I feel like Monsieur Gustave H. from The Grand Budapest Hotel would have a great taste in dinner and have a lot of nice stories to tell. Besides, I might learn a bit of proper etiquette from him.

Then again if I wanted to just casually hang with some crappy junk food then I’d probably pick Sam Wilson aka Falcon from the MCU. He’s a bro.

3. If you could be a character in any movie universe, who would you pick and why?

I have a really really really big place in my heart for Peggy Carter from the MCU. I think I’d have a good life if I got to feel as empowered as she does every day.

4. What are your Top 5 favourite TV shows of all-time?

  • The Office
  • Pushing Daisies
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Friends
  • Band of Brothers (the odd one out, but yeah)

5. Are there any actors/actresses you strive to watch, no matter what the movie/project?

I used to but I kind of stopped doing that after my obsession with Lee Pace made me watch Marmaduke and Twlight – Breaking Dawn.

6. Who is your dream James Bond?

I think Idris Elba would be so perfect. He’s a charming gentleman with the right amount of badass to make it amazing.

7. If you could turn any movie into a TV series, which movie would you pick?

A 40 minute episode each week of Deadpool’s mischief would be a wonderful thing.

8. What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

Okay so fast food really isn’t that big of a thing in the Netherlands, so none really? There is a nice pizzeria in town that we go to where we can’t decide where to go to or a nice coffee place when we want to grab a drink but I don’t think that comes very close.

9. Do you have an all-time favourite Romantic Comedy or Drama couple?

Jim and Pam from The Office are relationship goals forever.

10. Chris Evans, Hemsworth or Pine?

Can I go for option 4: Pratt?

(if not then Evans)

11. If you could make your own college course and teach it, what would the title of your course be?

I’d really like to teach a course about films recycling and referencing older or other films. I’d call it “The Deadpool Effect: How To Recycle Hollywood Without Really Trying.”

Bex’s cool questions:

  1. Favorite Star Wars film?

I’ve never been a Star Wars fan to be honest, but I loooooved The Force Awakens so I’m going to have to go for that one.

2. What is your favorite film soundtrack?

The Grand Budapest Hotel is deserving of the Oscar it got. Another stunning piece from Alexander Desplat and my number 1 since I heard it for the first time.

3. What is your favorite Disney film?

I can never choose between Beauty and the Beast and Tangled. BatB is my childhood classic favourite and Tangled still makes me weep manly tears at the age of 21 so it’s a dilemma.

4. What is the most recent film you saw in theaters?

I saw Bad Neighbours 2 last Friday but after seeing it I wish it wasn’t my most recently watched film.

5. What is the worst film you ever saw?

Usually I’m a strong woman who finishes every film but I could not make it through more than 10 minutes of The Last Airbender. An atrocity to the concept of film.

6. Who is your favorite actor/actress?

I don’t have an ultimate favourite but my list includes Hayley Atwell, Ryan Reynolds, Tom Hanks, Tom Hardy and Chris Pratt.

7. Could Tom Hiddleston pull off being James Bond? If not, who?

I love Tom but he wouldn’t be right for the Bond. He’s too sweet for it. He’s very sexy but not the kind of broody, womanizing sexy that James Bond is supposed to be. Idris Elba, he is your man.

8. What’s that one movie you could not live without?

The Grand Budapest Hotel always makes me laugh and cry and it made me appreciate cinematography like no other film ever has. It’s simply a completion to my life.

9. Favorite (and least favorite) movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

My favourite is currently tied between Captain America: Civil War and Guardians of the Galaxy. I haven’t seen Civil War enough yet to really make a decision. My least favourite is probably Age of Ultron. Whedon ruined many characters and relationships that were so wonderfully built up in the films before.

10. By the same token, favorite and least favorite movie set in the DC Universe?

My favourite is The Dark Knight (I don’t care guys it’s just so good)  and my least favourite is Green Lantern. I love you Ryan, but no.

11. Batman meets Iron Man in a fair fight: who wins?

If it was a battle over who had the most parental issues then it’d be a tie, but Iron Man could kick Batman’s ass every day.

And now I’m spreading my legacy to these peeps:

  1. Oh! ThatFilmBlog
  2. Keith and the Movies
  3. 1001 Film Reviews
  4. Cinetactic
  5. ESRAGURCU
  6. Slate The Silverscreen
  7. Gareth Rhodes Film Reviews
  8. The Aspiring Film Critic
  9. Moviewise
  10. B+ Movie Blog
  11. Trash Film Guru

I’m curious what you have to say about these things:

  1. Who is your favourite director and what is your favourite film from him/her?
  2. Who is your favourite Disney princess?
  3. Imagine the world is going to end next month. Which movie apocalypse would you prefer to happen?
  4. If you could choose two films to do a crossover, which ones would you choose and why?
  5. Upcoming film you’re looking forward the most? (doesn’t have to be 2016, can be from any year in the future)
  6. Best soundtrack of all time?
  7. Favourite historical time period?
  8. Link the most favourite post you’ve ever written
  9. If you won an Oscar, who would you thank in your speech?
  10. What is the worst film you have ever seen?

Right. Well. There go my questions. Into the wild world. Hopefully spreading some cheer across the globe. Thank you people for reading everything (if you haven’t skipped all of it just to read this), now let’s go watch some more films!

 

Bastille Day (2016)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

When the world is going through a lot of issues, we as humans love to create stuff to help us keep our minds from the bad things and to help us revise what the hell is actually happening. That’s why we have been seeing a lot of terrorist related films lately: either to lift our spirits or to make us think things. Not all of them are great (especially when the US dares to be so smug about it) but with Bastille day we’ve found a rather normal, enjoyable and subtle action film to help us just get away from it all for two hours.

Set in Paris, as we know a risky choice, we follow the case of Sean Briar (Idris Elba), a skilled but irresponsible CIA agent who is tasked with stopping the terrorist attacks thatBastille Day movie. have been plaguing the city. He gets help from a petty thief, Michael Mason (Richard Madden), who unknowingly pickpocketed a backpack containing one of the bombs. As they get closer to those responsible (and they get closer to them), they find that there is a much larger conspiracy going on and they have to rush to save the city before all hell breaks loose on the national holiday of Bastille Day.

Despite the subject being a little more dark than the usual action films, especially since none of it is very far from the truth, Bastille Day feels a lot lighter that it would appear. It may be because the bad dudes and whatever they are up to are shown continuously throughout the film, so we are all pretty clear on how they work and how not really scary we should find it all. That does not mean we’re in on the complete plan from the beginning. We get little bits each time so that we’re left out just enough to make us curious. There are a lot of aspects of the attacks that can be considered very serious, mainly when it comes to setting two sides up against each other, which is why the final objective of the bad guys could be a bit disappointing and unrealistic. It’s a shame to see them building up the plot with so much effort only to have its credibility drop in the last part of the film. I suppose they wanted to let us know it’s still Hollywood giving us these films.

Credit does go to Idris Elba, for playing his part as the gritty CIA agent wonderfully. It’s not a very deep role, above all it’s pretty stereotypical: the badass but irresponsible CIA agent with no regards for authority. Elba has played this exact role before anyway. Still, he’s a great fit for Briar. Briar’s chemistry with the low key criminal Michael Mason is very good. Richard Madden also plays his part very well and together they make a nice (although again, pretty stereotypical) ‘unconventional’ cop duo. The rest of the acting is, like pretty much everything else in the film, pretty decent. Not spectacularly great. Not bastilleday1going for the extra mile. Just very normally good. None of the other characters are big or interesting enough to get more depth so the focus remains at Briar and Mason and how they magically complement each other on every single thing. It’s not a bad thing, it’s pretty enjoyable to watch. It just makes it pretty clear that Bastille Day is an action film like to many others. This is also clear from the action scenes. There’s action, there’s pretty cool fights, there’s car chases and running chases (on Parisian rooftops, for the extra touch), there’s tense gun fights… all of the stereotypical kinds of action scenes are present. And again, they’re pretty good and they keep you well into the story. There’s just nothing new about it.

Bastille Day is a great film to watch on a rainy Sunday or a boring evening during the week. It’s fun, it has action and it even manages to have a few small twists in there to make the whole film interesting enough. On a spectrum it would fall exactly in the middle; not bad and not 10/10, just common and normal enough to be enjoyable. Can we really blame Hollywood for making such a common film? We all run out of ideas eventually. And hey, before they finally come up with some new ideas we can just simply a joy a bit of cheesy entertainment. After all, who on earth would mind watching Idris Elba being awesome?
~

 

 

The Boss (2016)

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

I am a big fan of strong, female leads. What can I say, as a lady myself I hate my fellow gender-sharers being reduced to just some boner-inducing background material or a soppy love interest. That’s the mentality that I had when I heard of The Boss. Melissa McCarthy, who is growing on me, in a comedy with 90% females. Good! But surprise surprise, I could have known. Cool female representation does not equal a cool movie. While the Boss could have been a nice girlpower kind of comedy, it only gives a platform to one McCarthy’s more annoying characters to date.

Constantly wearing a hideous turtleneck sweater and a haircut that screams “can I speak to the manager?!” McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, a woman who grew from a foster theboss1home child to being a successful, millionaire businesswoman. After she gets jailed for six months for insider trading, Darnell is shunned from the business world and hits rock bottom. She is taken in by her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell), a kind but slightly boring single mom. After taking Claire’s daughter Rachel to a Girl Scouts’ meeting, Darnell gets a new idea to take her to the top again: selling Claire’s family brownies from door to door, an idea that causes some trouble with the other Girl Scouts and Darnell’s rival Renault.

I was just starting to get used to Melissa McCarthy. She had some annoying parts in the past, Tammy and Diana in Identity Thief for example, but then slowly with her parts in The Heat, Spy and now her upcoming role in Ghostbusters I had some hope for female comedy talents in Hollywood. In that spectrum, The Boss is a definite setback for her. Darnell is plainly an annoying bitch, whose repertoire only consists of insults and ‘classic’ jokes that we have seen a thousand times before. She’s a big anti-hero, so soon enough you will find yourself feeling very sorry for all the people that have to deal with her. Yes, she may have a sad background story, but in this film it is obviously not an excuse for 95% of the things she does. Since Darnell is the prominent shining star (or rather burning space debris) none of the other characters are very interesting. Claire is pretty adorable but does not get the praise she deserves, especially when it comes to her romantic subplot with her co-worker Mike. Another disappointing character is Darnell’s rival Renault, who is surprisingly played by Peter Dinklage. While he’s amazing in Game of Thrones, he does not seem to choose wisely regarding his film career (I’m still trying to get over Pixels). Renault’s entire personality is plotting revenge on Darnell for fun and a weird, almost racist, love for Japan. Both Renault and Darnell are already hard to look at, but frankly the last thing we need is to see the two of them dry humping each other from time to time. It makes the whole film just a bit more tasteless than it already is.

It’s a bit sad that McCarthy felt the need to resort to cheap, violent slapstick comedy again. Her big strength in both The Heat and Spy was her sharp wit and amazing dialogue, with oneliners I still laughed at days after I’d seen them. The comedy highlights in The theboss2Boss are Darnell wearing cleaning braces so her mouth is wide open, Darnell falling down the stairs and Darnell being launched against a wall by a broken bed. Not really memorable or original comedy. Making up for these sad excuses of jokes with continuous comments about blowjobs or sticking things up asses also does not really improve the overall bar of the film. Everything about The Boss just seems cheap and not at all well thought of.

Out of all these things, we can however say that Melissa McCarthy does act pretty well. I mean, I wouldn’t hate a character with so much passion if it wasn’t well played by the actor. It’s just that the character herself is rude, annoying and not funny at all. I’m gonna try to cut McCarthy some slack and say that we’re all allowed to make mistakes, especially in between a bunch of amazing movies. Let’s collectively cross our fingers that she’ll do great in Ghostbusters, because The Boss has had me looking further for a nice, strong female character to look up to.
~

Hardcore Henry (2016)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

With the ever growing technology we get closer to being our own action hero every day. Wouldn’t it be cool to kick some bad dudes’ asses without actually hurting someone? Until we actually get to the point where we can all live in our fantasy world, Ilya Naishuller decided to quench our thirst by making Hardcore Henry, a first person action film that supposedly makes all of our action dreams come true. Unfortunately, it seems that living the life of a manbot is a lot more confusing and blurry than we think, so maybe we should rethink our dreams of being the next Terminator.

On a peaceful day, Henry (or rather, you) wakes up bound to a table in a lab with  pretty scientist Estelle next to him. Turns out you’ve been dead, she brought you backhardcorehenry5 and turned you into a manbot so you could survive. The peace does not last long, because within minutes some weird dude with telekinetic powers, called Akan, chases you with his army and kidnaps your newly discovered wife. Also he plans to dominate the world for no reason. With the help of British dude Jimmy, who seems to appear literally everywhere, you roam the streets of Moscow trying to stop Akan and his army of other manbots and trying to get back to your wife. Easy peasy.

Now sure, the concept of Hardcore Henry is pretty unique. Everybody is literally looking at you, out of the sides appear two arms (that are mostly holding guns or choking people) and sometimes you get a glimpse of two legs running either away from or after a bad guy. The camera even shakes along when you run, wow! It’s the cool thing about Hardcore Henry, but simultaneously it is also the negative thing about the film. I cannot count the amount of times where I struggled to figure out what exactly was going on or what I was looking at, because the action was too fast or too complex to see. You know that secondary motion sickness thing? Yeah, it’s real in Hardcore Henry. Take the chasing scene of a bad guy over the steel arch of a bridge. As you’re running after the baddie, the camera just wobbles from side to side and while this is of course necessary for the immersion, it is also fucking annoying to look at. At many other moments Henry turns around too quickly or bad guys appear too fast so that you won’t even have noticed what happened until after it is done; that is if you even figure it out because some shots are too blurry to notice anything. The action is not bad. There’s plenty of explosions and gory kills to satisfy your aggressive needs. It just feels a bit awkward sometimes from the you-perspective, as if some kills don’t get the attention they actually deserve.

Plotwise, Hardcore Henry is pretty simple. There’s a bad guy who kidnaps your wife, hardcorehenry1you defeat his army (with no moral standards) and get to him in the end. There’s nothing wrong with a simple plot line, it can work sometimes. Unfortunately sometimes the simplicity seems to get the best of the film, because there are many things left unanswered. Especially villain Akan is a mystery. He just appears out of nowhere, destroying everything and being mean, but we never really find out what his deal is or what his motivations are. Sure, that’s not always important, but the thing is that Akan is just really fucking weird. He is such a weird dude that you can’t help but feel there must be something more to him; something that never gets answered. He also reveals sort of a plot twist in the end, but frankly that twist comes too late for it to have any real impact. Then there’s the enigma of Jimmy, the all-round sidekick. Although the riddle of his existence gets solved later on, especially in the beginning his personas and constant resurrections are just really weird. Luckily you get used to him after a while and his final persona, the tally-ho British soldier who could have appeared in ‘Allo ‘Allo, is the most likeable of them all.

There have been worse action films than Hardcore Henry, and they were all films that follow standard films procedures, so Naishuller does deserve a bit of praise for making something unique that is still a pretty decent watch. Regardless, there are things that could have been a bit more viewer friendly, especially regarding the movement. After a while you get used to the whole perspective thing so that you actually start paying attention to the simple plot, where you will also find several flaws. If you just want to be a hero for an evening without the emotional, moral or intelligent load of it, then enjoy Hardcore Henry. Hope you’re not easily sick from roaming through a dude’s ribcage.

~

 

 

 

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Rating:  ★★★★★

I have to admit: when writing my review about Batman vs. Superman I had a hard time explaining why it was not really as bad as everybody said. I wanted to give DC some credit for their efforts to make a cool blockbuster, especially because in many people’s eyes MARVEL can so much as pick their nose and they will say that the booger is a better superhero than Ben Affleck’s Batman. It’s also why I went to see Civil War with a bit of a critical eye (along with war flashbacks of Age of Ultron). But god, Civil War just undoubtedly seems to prove why MARVEL is always on top. Instead of having two bickering boys, Civil War is a complex, exciting, emotional and extraordinary film that could very well be MARVEL’s best film so far.

After many world-saving but nonetheless destructive missions the United Nations are fedcivilwar1 up with the Avengers  endangering so many innocent lives, so they set up a Registration Act, which would have the Avengers fall under direct orders of the UN instead of taking matters into their own hands. The act causes great friction between the superheroes, especially Captain America and Iron Man. Things get more complicated when the Winter Soldier shows up again and the personal feud between the two superheroes reaches its peak.

The wonderful thing about Civil War is that it is a perfect follow up of the previous films (Bats vs Supes only had Man of Steel to squeeze some feuds out of). The consequences of all of the previous battles get incorporated so there isn’t just a sudden bias in the group. We see the characters take sides according to their own beliefs, which adds a little more depth to their personalities overall. The first half of the film is pretty political, which may seem a little boring to those who are not fully incorporated in the MCU, but for the fans it’s a very deep and interesting look into the other side of being a superhero. After that first part we start building up to the big airport battle, a 20 minute superhero extravaganza that might just be one of the best superhero battles in film history, filled with action and very importantly humour. After the battle we continue with a spectacular ‘villain search’ that feels like the good old MARVEL films we love and cherish. The only difference is that there is no true villain to be fought except themselves, which finally overpowers the whole ‘we have to make an even bigger and better villain to make it spectacular’ mentality (because let’s be honest, Ultron was not even PG-13 scary). It’s like they say in the film itself: a destruction from the inside out is far worse than a destruction from the outside.

One of the things that makes Civil War so spectacular is the amount of superheroes coming together (which is why it might as well could be called Avengers 3). It’s very difficult to give all of these characters the shining moment they deserve, especially when they have such different powers, but Civil War makes it look very easy. We gradually get to meet new characters, like Black Panther and Spider-Man, each with an equally fitting introduction and brilliant portrayals by Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland (Spider-Man is finally a real teenager, yay!). Recurring characters get more depth to their personality, like Scarlet Witch who deals with the world responding to her powers and Vision, who tries channelling his inner human. civilwar4Even Ant-Man, who could very easily just have a ‘hello yes I am also here just checking in’ cameo has a pretty big (no, VERY big), role in the battle and even though he is not a real Avenger he fits in very well with the rest of the team. The Winter Soldier, now actually more Bucky Barnes, is a lot more human in Civil War so he actually gets to connect with the other heroes, which makes for a great interrelation with both Cap and Iron Man, but truthfully even more a really cool bromance with Falcon. Finally, since we’re all very familiar with the original Avengers’ powers, their roles get really personal, especially now that they seem to clash. Or not clash, like Black Widow who is kind of caught in the middle and who ends up sort of fake fighting with Hawkeye because their friendship goes first. The fight between Cap and Iron Man is the ultimate emotional climax and will make you feel things, especially because Robert Downey Jr.’s acting work is phenomenal. Their dynamic is the main point of the film and will be surely be very influential of the next MARVEL phase. But basically, fans of any of the characters will not be disappointed.

Honestly, the whole Team Cap/Team Iron Man promotion MARVEL has been doing does not do Civil War justice. We see that both ‘teams’ have their good and bad sides, so we should focus more on the awesome depiction of the relationships instead of picking a team. Civil War is a great set up for the upcoming MARVEL film but on its own it is a near perfect superhero film: tons of action, adventure and humour but not at the cost of characters. It’s going to be hard to top this in the future, but we said the same thing about The Avengers so there might still be hope. Team Cap? Team Iron Man? No thank you, I’m Team Why Can’t They All Just Get Along Like They Used To.
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Triple 9 (2016)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Sometimes you just happen to watch a film that is so feminine you begin to wonder if you spontaneously start growing a second uterus. They’re the horror of many men. Then again, there’s also the complete opposite of this: a film that is so testosterone filled you almost start growing testicles. Triple 9 just so happens to be one of those films. There’s a lot of action, cool criminals, cool cops and man pain flying around. Unfortunately, there’s something more that a film needs to be successful: a little something called interestingness.

Triple 9 follows the story of a group of criminals, including several corrupt cops, that pulls triple92of heists under the pressure of a Russian mob gang, lead by Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet). For the grand finale of the scheme, the team is asked to do the impossible, and they decide the only way to be able to make it work is to pull a 999: the police code for ‘officer down’, meaning they plan to kill a cop for distraction. With their help on the inside of the police force, their choice goes to newbie cop Chris Allen (Casey Affleck), but as soon as he starts to uncover what might be going on, things get very complicated for the gang.

Triple 9 tries to tell the story from different perspectives, which means that there are a lot of characters we’re being introduced to. It could be a good set up, but it seems that they forgot to make any of them interesting. There’s the gang leader Michael (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who has a son with Irina’s sister which makes things a bit awkward. There’s Russell Welch, played by Norman Reedus and nothing more than a non-apocalyptic Daryl Dixon, and his brother Gabe, played by Aaron Paul who is admittedly pretty decent but fairly overemotional inbetween the stoic characters. There’s rogue cops Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie) and Franco Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jr.)  that seem to have no emotional spectrum at all. Finally we have chief of police Jeffrey Allan, played by an angry Woody Harrelson. The film attempts to give all of these characters background stories in the hope that that’s enough to bring some emotion into the whole thing, but instead they just don’t seem to add anything special to the film. How do you expect these characters to be explored when 90% of them are just stoic and overly manly assholes? Besides, characters are either grunting broodingly or shouting angrily, which are the two core emotions felt in the whole story.

FILM Triple 9 093431The big amount of characters does not seem to not work for the individual characters only, but also for the plot as a whole. There are many unnecessary scenes that distract from the main plot, which makes the film pretty messy. There are better things that could have been answered instead. For example; what is the heist even about? What is the objective of the Russian mob besides being mean? What the hell is the whole deal with the Mexican gangs? Why aren’t there more than 5 women living in this city? Why is everybody in this film tired of living?  So many questions, so few answers. The ultimate heist that is supposed to be the finale is pretty anti-climatic and leaves you wondering if that was really all they have been worrying about this whole time, there is hardly any humour to be found… sure, the action is pretty cool and not all characters are douchebags, but the other 80% of Triple 9 is just too dull to really be enjoyed.

In the true spirit of men, Triple 9 has a lot of action and characters that could be pretty cool if explored properly, but it also lacks emotion, it’s  messy and it’s confusing. You can drink a lot of beer, buy some Southern BBQ crisps and you can fully get into the mood for this film. However, do you not want to waste two hours on man pain and pokerfaces then you might want to go see another film. Try Kung Fu Panda 3, I hear that also has action in it.

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The Jungle Book (2016)

Rating: ★★★★★

A new generation is growing up, which means that we take many of our childhood favourites with us into adulthood. In the last couple of years we have been flooded with Disney remakes, probably to have us feel a little bit of joy before we fall into the deep, dark pits of being responsible adults. Sometimes we get the perfect throwback (Cinderella and Maleficent were beauties), sometimes not so much (looking at you, Huntsman). Luckily we get a little bit of hope again from director Jon Favreau’s new project. The Jungle Book is a bit darker than its original Disney version, but offers its audience a delightful, charming and stunning old school feeling.

Human boy Mowgli is raised in the jungle by his wolf family, where he lives peacefully andTHE JUNGLE BOOK playfully among the animals of the society. However, one animal is not very happy with Mowgli’s presence: the powerful tiger Shere Khan. His grudge against humans and their Red Flower (fire) sends him on a personal mission to kill the ‘man cub’ Mowgli. For safety, Mowgli is forced to leave the jungle and return to the human camp, but after many encounters with interesting jungle animals he starts to wonder whether leaving the jungle to Shere Khan really is the best choice.

Usually I write my reviews by starting with the best and most interesting points of a film, which I couldn’t do with Jungle Book because the whole film is one amazing point. Alright, fine. We’ll do the look of it first. With human boy Mowgli being the only ‘real’ filmed thing, literally everything else is CGI. That could go very wrong, which we’ve seen before, but it doesn’t. At all. Favreau created a jungle that is so stunning that is looks equally realistic and fantastical. The nature is gorgeous and matches the moods of the scenes and its featured animals. The animals are also a whole new level of amazing. Where a few years ago we all marvelled at the realism of the tiger in Life of Pi, we now have countless of animals made of the same quality (like of course tiger Shere Khan). The fact that the animals talk luckily does not interfere with their credibility. If there was a way to bring the Disney version to real life, this would be the one.

THE JUNGLE BOOKThat goes for the acting as well. Favreau managed to call on a great ensemble of actors with a great fit for the characters. Bill Murray is basically a real life Baloo, so that is 10/10 casting and Idris Elba’s bassy, dark voice is perfect for Shere Khan. Christopher Walken is a noticeable choice for King Louis, but his soft and wobbly voice surprisingly fits the gigantopithecus quite well. Out of them all, only one animal feels a bit odd; Kaa, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. I love Scarlett, but her voice is feels just a tiny bit off and not snake-like enough for the gigantic reptile (but on the other hand, her rendition of Trust in Me is marvelous). Neel Sethi deserves most of the praise for wonderfully portraying young Mowgli, behaving like a true child of the jungle and simply matching the other star actors in their acting quality. Besides, he had to do all his acting by himself and sometimes talking to hand puppets with eyes glued on them for the CGI, which is praiseworthy alone for a child his age.

Although The Jungle Book gets the age restriction of 12 and is somewhat darker than the original, the film never gets too dark or too scary: it maintains a light tone throughout. We find ourselves giggling at many adorable animals, like the wolf puppies, a porcupine and a tiny wild boar. Favreau kept in the original songs, so we can all sing along to The Bare Necessities and I Wan’na Be Like You. Besides, at many times we have Baloo for the comic relief. The film does leave out some aspects of the original film, like Mowgli’s encounter with the little girl, but the big, amazing focus on the jungle animals overshadows the loss of these scenes. All of these things together show that The Jungle Book is not just a visually stunning motion picture with a great story, but it also gives us the perfect nostalgia for our old Disney days. And if you’d like to excuse me now, I will be singing The Bare Necessities for the remainder of this month.

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