A little less conversation…

Heya!

I don’t know if people actually pay attention to my blog that much but for those that do, let me apologise for my complete lack of posts this summer. Truth is that I still work part time this summer, so that I have little time to go to the cinema and even less to actually write about it. It sucks, I don’t mean to do it, but here we are. 

Instead of stressing each week I’ve decided to put my blog on hold for a little bit, to allow my self some time to catch up on my responsibilities and eventually build up a new list of blogposts so that soon I can start blogging the night away as I did before. It shouldn’t take very long, but I still wanted to make that public. Hopefully soon I can start bantering very soon again, so thanks already for the patience!

Yours truly 

(No, I have not seen Suicide Squad yet, but god, what the hell is that going to be)

The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

 

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Unleash your primal calls: we’ve got another Tarzan swinging around. In the decennium where almost all Disney films get a real life remake, we could have seen this one coming. Or not. Instead of the usual “let’s see how Tarzan and Jane fall in love in a mild form of beastiality” we get a whole new Tarzan story, one so deeply sought and thought about that we don’t even know if it can really classify as Tarzan. Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) has turned back into John Clayton and now lives in 19th century London, but for the sake of the British Empire and Congo he travels back to Africa with his wife Jane (Margot Robbie) and, weirdly enough, Samuel L. Jackson (okay, his name is George Williams, but as always that’s just Sam Jackson). Turns out it was a trap set by Belgium baddie Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) who wants to trade Tarzan to vindictive tribe lord Mbonga for some ugly looking diamonds that could lead him into good spirits with the Belgian king. When Rom _L3A3723.dngalso steals away Jane, you know it’s game on.

This odd continuation of the Tarzan story we all know really takes time to get used to. Even when we do get used to it, it does not feel like a Tarzan story at all. Except for some diabolical flashbacks, we don’t get to see Tarzan all that much, just John Clayton showing off to his old and new friends. Skarsgard’s whole version of Tarzan just doesn’t have any charm to him. His shirt comes off way too often (I cannot believe I’m actually typing this), he stands up like an abused Ken doll and his eyes constantly look like he’s at the opticians trying to see whether the C in the green square or in the red square is the clearest. Basically, he’s that annoying all-good-doer protagonist that has gone super cliché. Samuel L. Jackson is, as said, somewhat of a strange addition to the cast, especially considering the fact that his character doesn’t do shit. While his amount of lines  and screen time could be the same as the Jungle dude himself (how can you not with Sam Jackson), his character really just runs after the others. That’s it. Talk about side characters, jeez. Even Christoph Waltz, who has proven to be a 10/10 villain in many films, lacks pretty much all of his personality as Rom. Is he mean? Sure. Scary or interesting? Not at all.

legendoftarzan3For once the only well written character seems to be the only woman: Jane. She’s shown to be kind and loving, especially towards the people in their old African village, but stands her ground many times alongside the African warriors and against Rom and his minions. Whether she and Skarsgard really have a good chemistry, I cannot say. It might be because Skarsgard seems to be lacking chemistry with everyone in the film. The CGI in The Legend of Tarzan is decent at times, but far too often it’s clear that Tarzan isn’t actually roaming the jungles of Africa but instead frolics around in a studio in Hertfordshire, England. There is a lot of spectacle in the film, as if they tried to compensate with grotesque battles and settings for the lack of everything else. It sure is spectacular, but that does not make it good. But yeah, what else is new in Hollywood.

If I had to pick my favourite real life Tarzan film, it would probably be George of the Jungle. At least Brendon Fraser had a lot more charm and honestly even more good Tarzan vibes to him than Alex Skarsgard does in The Legend of Tarzan. Although I’m pleasantly surprised the woman for once is well written, they could have tried harder and made the other people more interesting, especially since they’re being played by such prominent actors. When also the visuals fail more than succeed and the entire colour spectrum is just boring grey, you can hardly expect it to be a great film. I’m sorry Disney fans, looks like we’ll have to count on Beauty and the Beast to be good then. Or, if you prefer, listen to that one song from Toy-Box. Even that one has a better Tarzan scream in it than The Legend of Tarzan.

Ghostbusters (2016)

Rating: ★★★★☆

You’d think people would find worse things to classify as controversial than a gender bent Ghostbusters remake. While many dudebros on the internet tried to ruin young girls experiences by for some reason making it their life mission to badmouth the film, it didn’t stop Ghostbusters from getting around good reviews and creating cool role models for the new generation. Fair enough, I was one of the chicks passionately promoting the remake for obvious reasons but even I took into account that it probably wasn’t a perfect film. And sure, it wasn’t a perfect film, but Ghostbusters comes a very long way and provides us with another kickass action film that shares its enthusiasm and passion with us. Isn’t that exactly what we liked about the old one? The new origin story works just as well, as we watch physics professor Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) teams up again with her old school pal Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) to investigate some paranormal sightings around town. With the help of nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), street smart Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) and gorgeous but dumb as fuck receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) they set up the Ghostbusters. When a weird little creep wants to bring the undead back to the world in revenge for his sad childhood, the Ghostbusters must show the world that ghosts ARE a thing and save the city before humanity gets tortured by its previous owners.ghostbusters1

The last thing I want to do is keep comparing this remake to the old one, so I simply won’t. Ghostbusters is just great fun. Plotwise it’s pretty simple: a baddie wants to unleash hell and the new heroes have to save it, we don’t find anything special there. Most of the script is clearly made to be a comedy, of which not all jokes always pass but many will still leave you smiling. I suppose a simple plot is better choice so we can get extra friendly with the characters. Four awesome ladies that get shit done, it might be the internet’s worst nightmare but it’s something we all need nowadays and after seeing Ghostbusters it’s definitely something we cannot get enough of. Since the four ladies all have a wildly different personality, you can all pick your favourite. While Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy’s roles are pretty cool, more underground actresses Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones really add most of the charm. McKinnon’s Holtzmann is quite crazy and extravagant but not in the annoying way (plus I have a big time crush on her). Same thing goes for Leslie Jones; while normally it would have been easy for a Patty to just be a sassy black woman with no deeper personality, Jones’ Patty is also visibly very intelligent and caring towards her friends. The bunch represent an actual, realistic friendship between women which, no dudes, might not be the same as a bromance but it was about time we saw something new. That’s also why Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin is such a joy. Playing the architype hot dumb blonde receptionist, it’s very refreshing to see him in such a ridiculous role, one that Hemsworth plays with so much visible joy it’s hard to be mad at the reduction of his importance (although some people still manage). If you still weren’t convinced of the wonderfully chosen cast, let the cameos convinced you. Here’s a cameo! There’s a cameo! There are more cameos than appearances of the theme tune, which is saying A LOT.

Melissa McCarthy;Kristen Wiig;Kate McKinnon;Leslie Jones;Chris HemsworthDespite the plot being quite common and some of the humour not up to perfection, Ghostbusters oozes fun and enthusiasm (coming in the form of green slime sometimes). Even in the visuals this is a big thing. True, not all CGI is that great and realistic, but the imperfectness of it adds to the charm as a whole. The ghosts might not all be that scary, except for those damn balloon ghosts (scary motherfuckers), and a ghost like Slimer could never really pass in contemporary Hollywood anymore, but the attempt to make it feel more like the old Ghostbusters films gets accomplished because of this. Besides, that tall ghost dude with the top hat was super badass, fight me for it.

I’ve always fully supported this new remake, but never expected it to be a flawless film. And it isn’t. In terms of plot, visuals and sometimes humour a higher bar could have been met, but the refreshing new ensemble and everyone’s enthusiasm to make a fun film will distract you from all of it. We get to enjoy a good adventure film whose heroes will be role models to ourselves and our daughters, just like the original Ghostbusters did to young boys in the eighties. Don’t listen to angry meninists on the interwebs, I ain’t afraid of no bros.

 

Race (2016)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Race. Pretty funny how that one word can completely describe an entire film, in both understandings of the word. The person who thought of it must have gotten some serious high fives from around the office. No, but seriously, the last couple of years we have gotten a lot of biopics of influential historical characters, and especially now that the whole world is going through some race issues, it seemed to be the good time to release a film about Jesse Owens: the legendary athlete. Played by fairly newcomer Stephan James, we follow Owens’ story as he heads to college and from that moment on trains with athlete gone alcoholic Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis) to become one of the greatest track and field athletes in the world. Set in the swinging thirties, Owens must not only battle for a place among the best, he also has to battle against racial prejudices from his fellow students, fellow athletes and eventually against the will of the most discriminating bunch of them all: Nazi Germany.race2

Nothing quite wakes you up about how social situations from the past were like the bluntless of racial slurs. Race has a point that has to be made, so prepare for a lot of those direct confrontations. People saying “did that n***er just touch me?” on the buses, Owens and his friends being shunned away from the dressing rooms by the all-white football team, countless of references to monkeys… unfortunately it captures the essence of the thirties mentality. Some of the troubles that Owens has to face in the film feel a little too set up and convenient for the story, but given the fact that I am a white teenage girl I have very little to say about that area. Although we cannot deny the fact that the things Owens and his peers had to go through are horrible, in Race it is never really taken too far over the edge. If anything, it even seems like the makers chose to stop at quite the distance in front of the edge. There are hardly any gut wrenching or mind blowing scenes in the film, at most you’ll think “ah man, that’s pretty horrible.” Even in the last part of the film at the 1936 Olympics you’d think that the confrontation with Nazi Germany and its treatment of anyone that wasn’t blonde and blue eyed would be quite difficult to watch. Even there we never really get to the point of ultimate emotional involvement, not even when coach Snyder ends up lost in a dodgy alley in Berlin and half witnesses some people being dragged away by soldiers. It’s not a necessarily a bad thing that we don’t feel ugly feelings throughout the film, it can be a plus if you want to just watch a lighter film, but given the topics Race addresses that seems a little unlikely. It’s not very obvious whether the makers wanted to focus on Owens’ athletic career or social structures. It does both, but neither too detailed to really make it obvious.

Owens’ portrayal by Stephen James is quite great, not to mention his athletic talents are quite visible on screen, even for a sports noob like me. His easygoing and neutral good personality come across race4very well so no matter what happens, you will find yourself rooting for the man. Jason Sudeikis plays his first dramatic role in Race, but it seems Snyder is not very different from all the other things he’s played (no, not even from David Clarke in We’re the Millers). He doesn’t do all too bad, this role certainly fits him, but we’ll need a bit more time to adjust to his genre change. All of the supporting actors are quite great, including Jeremy Irons and Carice van Houten, and the aesthetic of the thirties is very visible throughout, which gives it that extra little charm (minus the ruthless racism, of course). Plus, big bonus, even though the races were all about 80 years ago so there shouldn’t be a spoiler alert, the races and competitions Owens participates in still make you feel very pumped, which in true feel good fashion makes you almost forget he was a medalist winner.

So yes, Race has plenty of race and also plenty of race. Both versions are shown quite lightly and although they have obviously tried,  neither really hit the emotional mark. There are plenty of almost feel good moments to be found, which makes Race an entertaining watch, even though ‘feel good’ might not really be the emotion the makers were going for. Basically if you want to feel historically involved but not with too much drama, Race is a great film for you. And don’t we all just feel like that sometimes.

 

 

 

 

 

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

 

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

With half of the world  bitching about how the new Ghostbusters is the most unnecessary, horrible and pointless sequel/remake ever, I feel like they are all looking in the wrong direction. The direction they should be looking at is the new Independence Day movie. With the original 1996 version being a true Hollywood classic, we could have seen it coming, but the producers were apparently keen on beating a dead horse. A horse that could only spill out crap, so it seems.  Okay so speaking of the ‘sequels must be bigger’ situation, planet Earth has been rebuilt after the last attack and even has bases on the moon. Because, you know, we’re suddenly advanced like that. However, the aliens were not finished destroying everything so they’re back with a vengeance. But BIGGER. And BETTER. As new generations prepare for battle, the old characters must find a way to destroy the mothership for good.  independenceday4

I thought after all these years that Hollywood would know better than to spout out films whose predictability levels are through the roof; although it’s still a pretty big thing, I didn’t think I’d encounter a film as stereotypical and predictable as Independence Day 2. From the plot to the characters to the landmarks, there isn’t a single creative idea to be found. The ‘bigger and better’ sequel trope is put in to the max quite literally, with a single UFO covering about ¾ of the earth and destroying everything on its way down; ESPECIALLY cities like London and Tokyo, because no other places on earth are interesting enough to see destroyed and those haven’t suffered enough already. Bigger and better also means more extreme sci-fi on earth. Where in the original we still counted on some rather realistic weapons and ships from Earth, so we could imagine what it REALLY would be like, we now see hyper-futuristic spacecrafts, buildings and technology. Very cute, but it’s only distancing us from the story. They wanted to put so much spectacle in the film that we shoot through the plot like a rocket, so we never get to connect to any of the actions and characters. A fatal mistake.

independenceday3We get a fair amount of characters back from the original, but now added with a whole new generation, which gets very confusing. There’s about 8 storylines running at the same time, all either too small, too boring or too unnecessary to really be adding much to the enjoyment. We don’t have the fun of Will Smith to guide us through, so instead we have to deal with his kinda boring son. There’s also the most typical young white guy ever in the shape of Liam Hemsworth, who plays Jake Morrison (come on Hollywood, that name alone), a talented young pilot who has a problem with authority (ugh) and who is only good at doing risky things while making dumb sassy remarks. Doctor Okun is also back but it’s clear he only just woke up from a 20 year coma; his weird scientist trope is not something we still want to see in 2016. Even David Levinson, played by our beloved Jeff Goldblum  and frankly the only character I was looking forward to seeing, has lost a lot of his magic and cannot help save this film. And you know that if even Jeff Goldblum can’t fix it, you’re really nowhere.

Sure, fair enough, the visuals of the film are pretty great. The big spaceship landing on earth is pretty epic and the mater familias of the aliens is a pretty terrifying sight. It’s plain obvious that all of the studio’s budget went into the visuals, it is the only reason why the rest of the film is so bad. This sequel is one that will (hopefully) be forgotten very soon, as it does the original absolutely no justice at all. You want to be angry at Hollywood in 2016? Leave Ghostbusters alone and turn your anger towards Independence Day: Resurgence.  As even aliens would stay home from this film, this is one resurgence that we did not ask for and especially did not need.

Finding Dory (2016)

 

Rating: ★★★★☆

Wednesday afternoon, June 29. I was prepping myself to go watch Finding Dory in the cinema, knowing that on Wednesdays kids have the afternoon off school which could very much disturb my Pixar experience. Little did I expect, although not even that surprisingly, that the entire room was filled with adults. With a little more hope for humanity, we all settled for the long awaited sequel of one of our favourite childhood films, a sequel that as expected could not top the near perfect original but fulfilled our hearts with enough idiotic sea creatures to entertain us.

findingdory3In Finding Dory we are, surprise surprise, not finding Dory but instead Dory’s parents. When Dory starts getting flashbacks from her childhood, she goes on a quest with Marlin and Nemo to find her parents, whom she lost when she was just a little guppy. They end up at the Marine Life Institute, introduced by Sigourney Weaver, where Dory was once held in captivity. Together with her old friends and new friends, Dory attempts to find her family and fix her broken memories.

In Finding Dory we find ourselves on another colourful journey, not one in the giant mass of the ocean but a much smaller location: a marine institution. The wandering sense of the great big blue is defeated a little because of this; there is just few animation of the ocean but we get more views of the human world, which is fun if that’s more your thing. Also, the glass walls of the aquariums make the search a little less exciting. That doesn’t mean that we cannot enjoy the story; the writers did what they do best and made sure we can give all our love and attention to the cool characters. Dory, most people’s hero from Finding Nemo, gets all the attention she deserves and her background story gives us what’s probably the most loved character of 2016: baby Dory. With eyes bigger than her body and a tiny, shy voice calling for her parents we collectively started suffocating the person next to us out of cuteness. Marlin and Nemo, truthfully the kind of less exciting characters from Finding Nemo, have a much smaller part which no one will particularly mind. To make everyone’s fave character the new hero is a bold move. For me it’s usually not a good move, because it puts too much pressure on Dory to be funny again. FOR REAL this time, cause… you know, she’s the lead now. Although the fun of Dory is now a little bit diminished into the background, we can still enjoy everything else.

The best part of Finding Dory is also what made Finding Nemo the legend it is now: the side characters. We get a shit ton of new, hilarious animals that have already been made into memes, which in this day and age is the ultimate compliment to receive. An octopus (or septipus, rather) who doubles as a chameleon, Dory’s old pipe pal Destiny, a whale with terrible eyesight, Bailey, a ~OOOO~ beluga whale who ~OOOO~ uses his sonar to findingdory1~OOOO~ be the all seeing eye, some sea lions with personal space issues and very importantly: Becky with the good eye, a hot mess of a bird whose reference is the ultimate millennial deal. The character who is most worthy of a shout out is Gerald, basically mister Bean in sea lion shape, as he parades around with a small bucket.  They all grasp the wonderful Pixar idea of fun.

With the new characters and new locations, Finding Dory could have turned out to be many different things, positive or negative. Finding Nemo was impossible to top, so we’re not even going to pretend that was ever achievable, but Finding Dory comes quite close to it. The title could be a double title, since we could actually be finding a new Dory, aka a new awesome side character that sticks with us for a long time. There definitely are a lot of entertaining options. Especially for the true Pixar fans, Finding Dory is a heartfelt and funny picture; and if you haven’t let capitalism gotten you sick from all the advertising yet, be sure to catch this one for a nice piece of animation.

Me Before You (2016)

 

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Nicholas Sparks,  move over. There’s a new ultra dramatic guy girl romantic comedy in town and its name is Me Before You. However, while I tend to avoid Nicholas Sparks films at all costs, Me Before You intrigued me for two reasons: number one is the setting of a cute British village, number two is the sheer cuteness of Emilia Clarke squealing over bumblebee tights in the trailer. I gave it a chance, packed with tissues, and got an expected emotional film whose best feature is definitely the Queen of Dragons.

Based on a cheesy novel, Me Before You tells the story of 26 year old Louisa (Emilia Clarke). After being fired from her tearoom job, she is hired by the super rich, castle owning family of the village as a caretaker for their paralyzed 31 year old son, Will (Sam Claflin). Will has gone bitter after his accident and initially ignores and teases Louisa, who grows more weary over her job. When the two finally starting bonding, Louisa finds out mebeforeyou4Will is preparing for euthanasia and starts working harder to help him see the beauty of life. When the two even fall in love, the subject of death gets more difficult to deal with for the both of them.

What more can you expect from a film like this than tears? Two lovers made for each other but death gets in the way, it’s a tragic thing to begin with. It’s not a surprise in that case that the plot goes exactly the way you think it’s going to go. First they don’t like each other but then she snaps and he’s impressed and suddenly all goes well, everybody happy until that one pivotal moment… yeah don’t watch Me Before You for some surprising material.   The whole subject of euthanasia is a pretty serious one so in a way it’s pretty good to see it represented in a film. There is at least a little inside on what a serious situation could be like. However, I don’t know if it was the smartest move to see it all through the eyes of Louisa, so that no one can really identify with the problems of Will, which puts a little crack in the representation of euthanasia. Still, all the drama that comes with it is present, if not exaggerated with a 1:50 scale.

If the story is not that special and overall it is more your average love story, why do I give it 3 stars? One thing only: Emilia Clarke. Sure, I have a thing for her because she’s really badass as Daenarys, so you can call me biased, but she’s truly the star of this romcom as bubbly Louisa. Louise is a really adorable, happy, a little awkward and enthusiastic girl with whom you will fall in love much faster than Will does. Clarke plays her wonderfully and makes you forget she plays a fearless ruler in that one other show, and not just because she doesn’t have a blonde wig and three dragons flying around (I guess we would mebeforeyou3have noticed those if they were around). Her big smiles, quirky attitudes and especially all of the crazy outfits she manages to wear every scene makes one of the coolest leading ladies in a romcom in a long time. Besides Clarke there’s a whole parade of actors in Me Before You deprived from the most prominent British shows and films; there’s fellow Game of Thronie Charles Dance as Stephen Traynor, Jenna Louise Coleman from Doctor Who as Treena Clarke, Brendan Coyle from Downton Abbey as Bernard Clarke and even Harry Potter’s Matthew Lewis as Patrick, Louisa’s boyfriend. A lot of them don’t get to shine as much as Emilia but it’s nice to see some familiar faces to give a nice feel to the film. Besides the nice British faces the setting of a quaint British village adds a little more to the feel good mood of the film. There’s some pretty sweet overviews of the castle and the small English streets which is nice for once. We got a little tired of the American countryside ranches.

Add Me Before You to the list of emotional, cheesy sleepover-worthy romcoms, because it is a nice watch for a rainy day. The majority of elements in it are not necessarily special, but the presence of Emilia Clarke overshadows a lot of the negatives. Prepare for some laughter, some crying, some face spotting and some typical British accents. And isn’t that really all you need for a nice evening of entertainment.

 

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016)

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

I’m one of those youths that’s all for the importance of new generations, new opportunities for those to come and all that loving stuff, but even for me there are things that are better left in the great past where they belong. Prime example of this age: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. With an astonishingly terrible remake two years ago, many childhood hearts have been disappointed. Now TMNT was never my childhood love so I’m not really feeling the sadness here but I know a bad film when I see one and unfortunately, the rampage continues with this new sequel.

The second adventure of the Turtles sort of continues where the first one left off. The group spends most of its time defeating petty evil and staying invisible for big events like basketball games and Halloween parties. While they are out (sort of) having fun, April (Megan Fox) discovers that well-known scientist Baxter Stockman is working tmnt26with old foe Shredder on a secret weapon. Turns out those two are working together with alien meanie Krang, who plans to take over the world. While the Turtles battle against these evil forces from both of and outside of this world, they clash over their exposure to the world and the lack of credit they get from the city for saving its ass constantly, which causes great friction between the four brothers.

If the first movie wasn’t already trying hard enough to be funny and cool, the second one sure tops the forced feeling you will experience throughout. The return of Shredder as a villain was already a bit cheap, as if they couldn’t get any proper villains for the sequel, but the sudden jump to ‘oh hey by the way he’s now working together with Krang who wants to take over the world just because’ makes it even weirder. Maybe it’s just me who doesn’t like villains that are just evil without a good reason, just because they couldn’t be bothered to write a better background story, but Krang didn’t do anything for me. Maybe because his total screen time is like 4 minutes, he hardly ever gets mentioned and above all he is some looks like the literal depiction of brain damage. The breaking the brotherly bond storyline isn’t all too bad, but the ‘love yourself, there is only one of you’ moral that lingers behind it feels, like everything, too forced.

Michael Bay tried to put in some lighter tones to make it more (ahem) enjoyable, also known as jokes. “Jokes”. They mainly consist of the youngest Turtle, Mikey, making some 80’s slang pop culture references and newcomer Casey Jones being confused by what’s going on. Even Will Arnett, who is almost a personal hero of mine when playing Gob Bluth in Arrested Development, couldn’t do the trick as Vernon Fenwick who’s ego has blown up after movie one (not even if they played The Final Countdown in the back). The only thing that made me laugh was the awkward laughter of mad scientist Stockman, which (unintentionally or not) felt incredibly out of place. That’s a C- for comedy talent, Bay.

With the Turtles being the title characters and the big heroes, we could almost forgive the writers for not making any of the side characters interesting, newcomers and old friends. tmnt25Nice to see Megan Fox being reduced to ‘hot stuff’ again with the token sexy scene in which she gets dressed up as a porno school girl while the slowmotion cam captures every inch of her body.  Shrudder was just as boring as last time, Splinter got a whole 4 lines to remind everyone he’s only really good at spouting fortune cookie phrases, Will Arnett didn’t do his chicken dance, so many missed chances. Newcomer Casey Jones could have been cool since the Green Arrow himself, Stephen Amell, plays him but he reminds us more of an overexcited, confused puppy dog than an actual part of the team, let alone his suddenly convenient hockey skills and his no-chemistry fling with April. Two more comic reliefs were added to the cast in the shape of villain minions Bebop and Rocksteady, but their complete incapableness is more obnoxious than actually funny. Do we like funny minions? We do, but when my four year old kid next door has more sense of responsibility than they do, it’s almost painful to look at.

Maybe I’m just looking at it the wrong way. Maybe Bay aimed the film at 11 year old kids who freaking LOVE TMNT, in which case it might be a good film for that kind of audience (including Megan Fox’s scene to prepare them for the birds and the bees). It’s got many elements that kids will like. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 is too childish, sloppy and stereotypical to be truly enjoyable for adults. You’d think Bay had figured that out after he made the first one but he had to be persistent. If you love the old TMNT stuff, I advise you to stuck to that stuff, because the new generation is not going to make it any better. In Gob Bluth’s legendary words, aimed at Bay: I’ve made a huge mistake.
~

 

 

Warcraft (2016)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Firstly I want to apologise for seemingly having abandoned my blog. I have not. I am not a wuss. I can do this shit. It’s just that work and events have enabled me from both watching films and writing about them so it’s been kind of slow. Luckily, with one massive solo marathon in the cinema and tiring its employees with the ‘oh god she still hasn’t left’ I am almost caught up with recent cinema events and I can give my blog a fresh new start.

So yes. World of Warcraft. warcraft4The big gamerverse film that had the possibility of breaking the barriers between videogames and cinema and make something that is actually worth watching. Since my entire knowledge of World of Warcraft is based on that one episode from South Park, I am not one of the enthusiasts that left the cinema with a hard on and I can only speak from film experience and truthfully, Warcraft had a lot to work on. Sorry, warriors.

So Warcraft starts from the very beginning, when humans and orcs were still living peacefully apart from each other in other worlds. The orcs are not in a great position since pretty much all good stuff has been drained from their world, so the oldest and ugliest of them all, Gul’dan, works his magic with a power called the Fel and leads them through a portal to the human worlds where they could all live happily again.  The humans, of course, aren’t very fond of the idea and start prepping for battle with special forces Lothar, your average sassy hero, Khadgar, a mage-in-puberty and Medivh, the protector who does a great job at it by hiding far away. While they gather to fight, things in the Orcs camp are also not easy, where clan leader Durotan starts to question the intentions of Gul’dan and tries to find his own path.

Again, I should state that I know pretty much nothing about the actual game World of Warcraft. It’s one of the biggest games in the world and it has thousands of fans, who all could not wait for a film version of their fave pastime activity. It’s a pretty obvious move of the makers to put in all these little references and things that make the fans feel exciting feels. It’s just a big shame that these things do not really get across to the general cinema audience. Probably about 75 percent of the fun in the film is related to actual game stuff, making it pretty hard for nongamers to be in on the gags. If you then look at the things in cinema perspective, you will honestly not find that much special. Cliché is the word you’re looking for. Nine and a half out of ten things are predictable, there’s a brooding but still lively enough to be sassy hero with a sad background story (his wife died, what a shocker), a son who’s just trying to make daddy proud, the ambitious but inexperienced teen whose silly little mistakes are (questionable) comedy gold… let’s not even begin about the whopping number of 3 whole women in the entire film (4 if you count that one chick that carries a chest with Lothar who is obviously there to increase the female quota), of which the most important one walks around in a skin tight bikini and who out of the human/orc mix is just enough woman to be true fap-material. We’ve seen it all; it’s not surprising anymore, just a little irritating. A big hit like this could have met its expectations a little better on the cinematic front.

warcraft5Animation and action wise, Warcraft is pretty great. The big rough landscapes look amazing and, admirably,  not even fake. Even the city of Stormwind, which contains impossible towers and almost cutesie medieval houses, looks pretty great from the overview perspectives. The CGI in the characters is pretty epic too, the orcs look scary as shit and although Gul’dan still
has a huge videogame-look to him he is a cool sight to behold. The battles are grotesque and spectacular and I haven’t felt that much love for a griffin since Harry Potter. I’m not that big on fighter games but scenes like that could possibly persuade me to start liking them anyway.  Now if the rest would have matched the quality of the visuals, it might have gotten more of my stars.

I get it, guys. I’d also be hella excited if they made a film of Animal Crossing or the first Harry Potter pc game (wait.) so I’m not here to diminish the flames in your hearts. The truth is that looking solely from a cinematic perspective, Warcraft isn’t very special. There’s clichés after clichés after clichés, which gets a little tiring after a while and is something that even great visuals can’t fix. Making a film for the fans is a good idea, no doubt about that, but you’d think they’d try to make it a little more accessible for the general audience like they’ve been promoting. For me, the videogame curse hasn’t been broken, but with the increasing love for videogames in the world it is only a matter of time before a true hero comes along and sweeps us all off our gamer-feet.

Now You See Me 2 (2016)

 

Rating: ★★★☆☆

A good magician never reveals his secrets. So what do we do? Make a film about revealing magicians secrets! Fair enough, the performances in Now You See Me are spectacular and don’t have the average ‘is this your card?’ level, but the sequel does not quite own up to the original. Is it the tricks? Is it the showmanship? Or is it Daniel Radcliffe playing a mean Harry Potter? Let’s find out. Now You See Me 2 will make you feel amazed by illusionists, but has a few less surprises than intended.

Now You See Me 2 picks up a year and a half later after the first one. The Horsemen went into hiding, girl Horseman Henley left the group and gets replaced by gory illusionist Lula and the group, including plot twist leader Dylan Rhodes,  is practicing for the big plan of
nowyouseeme2 the Eye. Their big comeback gets ruined when they get kidnapped by Walter Mabry, a snobby billionaire who’s trying to stay off the grid. He tasks them with a near impossible heist for his big plan, which could lead to the exposure of the entire world’s private information. It is up to the Horsemen and their illusionist skills to get free from Mabry’s grip and expose and frame him for the entire world to see.

I’m just going to say it: Now You See Me (the original) was brilliant. Seeing these really cool tricks being done and then shown even more amazingly how they worked was pretty new to me but pretty goddamn awesome. The sequel is a bit more of the same thing. There are some big tricks and some small tricks, ones that all leave you pretty confused but get explained just as quickly so you can snap you’re fingers and be like ‘riiiiight good job on that one’. The little problem with the sequel is that we know what exactly to expect from the techniques of the film, so that there are less surprises for us on how the trick was set up. We almost start looking for things that could be part of it (and finding them, pretty easily) because that’s what we’ve learned from the first one, which is a bit of a shame. It mainly happens during the final trick, which is supposed to be the climax, but it was pretty easy to figure out and in the end not even that spectacularly clever. On the other hand, the scenes where we are already in on the illusion and see them working their magic live are amazing. The build up to their comeback show is truly wonderful (shoutout to the banana) and the heist itself with the playing card throwing is very magical (ha). These scenes kind of balance out what we miss in the other tricks, so we never get too annoyed or bored with the film.

Since the tricks are the biggest part of the film, the plot seems to be kind of written around it. The story gets a little confusing at times, especially regarding Thaddeus Bradley and Dylan Rhodes, and the cooperation with the Eye. We’re obviously supposed to look at
the special moments more than the overall things. The addition of Lizzy Caplan to the cast was a good choice. She has a lot of personality, more than the average token girl of the group, and seems to be a genuine part of the group; although it would have been better if they left out the forced romantic interest between her and Jack. Woody Harrelson plays a double role nowyouseeme22this time, once again as Merritt McKinney and also his twin brother Chase. Merritt is not more spectacular than before but Chase is a very extravagant character and quite a delight to watch. Finally there’s Daniel Radcliffe, who is not super convincing as the villain and acts more like a Harry Potter gone Draco Malfoy, but he tries and it’s quite fun to see him in another major role besides the boy who lived.

Now You See Me 2 sure has its flaws, but the cool magic tricks and executions of it make up for them. The Horsemen that we all loved from the original are back and smart as hell, while we get the joy from a fresh new group member that is fortunately (and almost surprisingly) just as fun as her predecessor. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine may have been a little unnecessary and just there for namedropping, but the storylines of the others are more fun anyway. Fans of the first will surely like this one too, and the general cinema audience themselves will have another good popcorn film for the Saturday night.