Whale of a Tale Productions

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Swiss Army Man by Daniel Scheinert (2016)

I was excited for this as Daniel Radcliffe usually has good taste in his films, for example Horns is a great film. Unfortunately this film doesn’t hold up. It is weird for weird sake, and the ending makes een less sense than the film. Not worth seeing.

Paul Dano plays Hank Thompson a man marooned on an island, about to hang himself when a dead body named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) washes on the shore. The body has special powers that help Hank to survive.

 

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS… (more…)

Doctor Strange directed and co-written by Scott Derrickson (2016)

I have always been a Marvel Comics fan (and not much of a DC Fan) and so far have been a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I am happy to say that Doctor Strange did not disappoint me. It brings the mystical into the Marvel Universe with great aplomb, and easily the best 3D visuals of any film I have ever seen to date. Honestly it made me wish this had come out while I was in college, ha! Benedict Cumberback is great as the eponymous Doctor Steven Strange, and it makes for a great origin story not only for him, but for both the mystical parts of of the Marvel Universe, and well as it being a multi-verse. It has some great little funny moments, some great character moments, some good acting (I enjoyed the performances of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swanson, Benedict Wong, and Mads Mikkelsen), and oh those amazing visual effects. The Visual Effects are mindblowingly good! This movie is made for 3D, and takes full advantage of it with many amazing effects sequences with worlds and even time folding in on itself!

I really loved it and highly recommend it! I can only hope that Marvel keeps making such great films.

Luke Cage by Cheo Hodari Coker, 2016

Another enjoyable Netflix Marvel series, lifted by the fact that Mike Colter is awesome as Luke Cage, and Rosario Dawson is always great, though the 13 episodes do drag a bit, and then come to an abrupt ending. Still it is quite worth watching and looks great. Not as good as Daredevil or Jessica Jones, but so much better than Iron fist!

And with a great cast, Simone Missick as Misty Knight is great, as is Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard or Black Mariah as she is known in the comics. Still the worst part is the last minute addition of Erik LaRay Harvery as Willis “Diamonback” Stryker who seems like a late addition as he wasn’t even hinted at early in the series, and then ends up as the Villain in the end.

And I have to admit I got a thrill from the flashback where we basically see the comic book yellow outfit of Power Man (Luke Cage’s original name in the comic books) with his crown! Ha!

Another Marvel Netflix series that is well worth checking out.

Star Trek Beyond by Justin Lin, 2016

I am a huge Trekkie (never liked the term Trekker), and I love the original series, the features, the next generation and deep space 9, and to a lesser degree voyager and enterprise, but have never like the JJ or now called Kelvinverse. Sure the first film was novel, and the cast seemed great, but the fact that it didn’t pay attention to any star trek history, and just made the cerebral series into an action film had me worried. Then came Into Darnkess, an awful retread of the great Star Trek 2 The Wrath of Khan, which was not only a pale imitation with bad casting (I love Benedict Cumberbatch, but playing Khan as played by Ricardo Montalban is so insulting), but had such a bad plot that it introduced elements that ruined Star Trek. Like a duffel sized transporter that can transport you to your enemies homeworld, which would negate the need for Starships, but also magic blood that can reverse death! And this film, which was to finally get the going into the unknow on the Enterprise’s 5 year mission to boldy go where no man has gone before, makes it all seem boring to the characters, neglects Uhura, Sulu and Checkov (by the now late Anton Yelchin), falls back to old tropes on blowing up the Enterprise, the reveal of the villain (what a waste of Idris Elba) and even ship design with the most important part of a Starbase so hard to get to and working so badly, it reminds me of the Chompers from Galaxy Quest! Sure there are some good moments, and the spacebattle stuff looks great thanks to Justin Lin’s experience with action, and the new Character Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) is fun, but just too great at everything, from fighting and shooting to creating cloacking devices and holoprojects and motorcylces that can leave solid amber to capture enemies out of it’s exhaust, and even fix whole starships mostly by herself! Really a bit too much Rey from the Force Awakens for my taste. And then their is the defeat of the enemy fleet in the stupidest way of all time, with a lame throwback to the first reboot! Really? I mean could it be more dumb. Sure the film is better than Into Darkness, but at this point it is really too bad they green lit a fourth film as I just want the JJverse to go away!

The film starts 3 years into it’s five year mission, with Kirk (Chris Pine) helping deliver a piece of an ancient weapon as a peace envoy, but he badly screws up, and it turns into a comedy sketch as the aliens turn out to be tiny and attack him. He beams back to the ship and has Spock (Zachary Quinto) store the piece of weapon. Kirk is burnt out, and bored of his mission and has applied to Starfleet to be Vice Admiral (something the original Kirk never wanted, but just accepted when he was promoted). They take the ship to Starbase Yorktown, slarfleets biggest and most advanced starbase for a refuel and sone r and r (the ridiculous glass enclosed starbase looks like a ridiculous Christmas ornament, seems ridiculously designed with different parts literally pointing in every direction, and later is shown to have sone serious design flaws). Sulu (John Cho) meets up with his husband and daughter. We learn Spock has broken up with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and he learns from Vulcan’s that Ambassador Spock has died and is given a package of his things including his photos with his old crew. An escape pod comes out of a nearby uncharted nebula with a lone survivor named Kalara (Lydia Wilson but voiced by Sara Maria Forsberg). She tells them that he ship crashed and needs a rescue, and Commodore Paris (Shohreh Asdashloo) sends the Enterprise.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS… (more…)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens co-written and directed by J.J. Abrams 2015

OK, let me preface this by saying that I am a huge Star Wars fan. I went to film school because I dreamed of going to work for ILM and someday working on new Star Wars films. I have read almost every book in the Star Wars extended universe. When I got a bonus for my first editing gig, working on The Fellowship of the Ring DVD I bought myself a replica of Han Solo’s gun from the Empire Strikes back. I equally hate the prequels. They are crap, and ignore much of what the original trilogy did. I am also not much of a fan of J.J. Abrams. I thought the casting of his new Star Trek films was great, but the films themselves did not feel at all like Star Trek to me, and the second was utter nonsense that ruins Star Trek all together. I have always felt that J.J. Abrams is more into spectacle than a story that makes sense, and would rather rely on coincidence or magic as long as it gets him where he wants to go, and unfortunately for me this has carried over to Star Wars The Force Awakens. So while most people really seem to love this film, I can honestly say that I like it better than the prequels, and I do think that John Boyega and Daisy Ridley did good jobs with what they were given, but overall the film just isn’t good to me and that is after 2 viewings. Sure it looks great, but spectacle does not make a good film!

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

star_wars_episode_vii__the_force_awakens_ver3 My first and biggest problems is how much of a rehash this is. It is a retelling of A New Hope, with elements of Empire and Return of the Jedi. I mean a simple descriptions is that a droid with plans in it, ends up on a desert planet, and meets up with a young hotshot pilot who is also powerful in the force. That person meets an old man who takes that person under their wing. The person then meets a wise alien powerful in the force and goes on to help the destroy the evil dark side users planet destroying space weapon! Sounds like a mishmash of all the star wars plots, and that is what it is. Sure it has some interesting new elements, but overall it doesn’t feel at all new. And that is a problem. It is just too much what we have already seen.

Yes, the new character Finn played by John Boyega is fun and really enjoyable but his story has faults, and I think daisy Ridley does some great acting, but her character is too powerful with no flaws and is just badly written, but I will talk more about that later.

And then their is the problem of coincidence. Too much in this movie relies on coincidence. Sure there was always coincidence in Star Wars, but this film takes it to a whole new level. And it doesn’t explain anything. The prequels had way too much explanation in them, that was unnecessary and hurt the plot, but this film goes to the other extreme and explains nothing. BB-8 gets found by the force sensitive Rei, who runs into the escaped Storm Trooper Finn, and they accidently stumble into the Millenium falcon, and she can amazingly pilot the ship. As soon as they get off planet, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) finds them. He takes them to a space bar run by force user Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o) a powerful force user who has Luke Skywalker’s first light saber (which fell into the gas giant at Cloud City) and it just happens to give visions to Rey. Later on the Death Star, I mean Starkiller, Han and Finn just happen to run into Rei, so they can get her out. And after the Starkiller is destroyed (hasn’t the Empire, or as called here the New Order learned that Death Stars don’t work), R2-D2 who has been powered down, just powers back up and has the rest of the map to Luke Skywalker that BB-8 has the last part of. It is all coincidence, without any shown motivation in the story and it really weakens things! Lets lose some pace and have a little explanation!

And as for Finn, while I do really enjoy John Boyega’s portrayal, in the movie much of his character’s story has some serious faults. A kid stolen from his parents, and made a janitor on a space weapon, is later made a stormtrooper for an elite battalion led by the supposedly amazing Captain Phasma (Gwendolyn Christy with much hype, but an awful character), but won’t shoot who is ordered too, wouldn’t there have been some trsting for this? Then he so freaks out when a friend who is another stormtrooper dies, he helps an enemy escape, and ends up being ok with shooting and killing other stormtroopers who he could also know. And how is he so good with a lightsaber? In A New Hope these were obscure weapons not jany had seen! Sure maybe the New Order trained against them, but would you train a janitor with a lightsaber? And if you have a military stolen at birth, would you advertise he is a traitor? I wouldn’t cause it could give people ideas, amd yet he keeps running into New Order people who know he is a traitor! Otherwise is that stormtrooper who is such a bad ass against lightsabers his former friend then. And how is at that the creatures on Han’s ship kill everyone as soon as they get them, until they run get Finn and they just cary him till Rei can save him.

And speaking of the bad ass storm trooper who can take on Jedi. He rocks, but is only in the one scene! Wouldn’t it have been better if it had been Captain Phasma? She seems to be of high rank in the New Order, and leads her own troops, but when push comes to shove she folds. Han and Finn threaten and she drops the StarKiller’s shields essentially dooming her side. And though their are two dead Stormtrooper bodies on the ground behind them, they put her in a trash compactor to make a cheap joke that harkene back to A New Hope and ensures that she comes back, even though she really didn’t earn it.

And then their is the Dark Vader replacement here, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who of course turns out to be Han and Leia’s son Ben Solo. Instead of channeling the original trilogy, this Darth Vader obsessed Dark Force user, who defeated Luke and killed everyone in his new school of Jedi seems to act more like whiny emo Anakin Skywalker. He has temper tantrums and even Storm Troopers turn and walk away when he is throwing one. Nothing like the Dark presence of Darth Vader. And yet we see him as possibly the strongest force user we have seen, able to stop blaster bolts in the air (not deflect them like Vader or Yoda) and freeze people and force rape their minds! And he was trained by the last Jedi, Luke Skywalker! And yet he is so easy bested by a completely untrained force user, and is stupidly saved by the ground cracking open seperating him from Rei. I mean Stormtroopers showing up at least wouldn’t have felt like such a coincidence!

And then we have Rey played by Daisy Ridley. She is super cute, and acts very well, and is a total bad ass, but as a character she is just way too good. She was abandoned on a desert planet and works scavenging, but she can instantly pilot the Millenium Falcon better than Han Solo, and fix it better than him too. And he instantly likes her and wants her to join him, and he and Finn will risk everything to save her. She is a crack shot. After being overpowered and captured by Ren, she manages to overwhelm his mind and read him. And later defeat him with a lightsaber the first time she has ever used one, though he is well trained in using one, with him only being saved by the ground of the planet splitting open and saving him (seriously!!!!!!!). She is way too good at everything with no character faults or faults at all. She doesn’t even need to train or learn anything, she can just do it perfectly! I mean Luke had to struggle, and train, and he trained Kylo Renn before he was trained by Dark Force user Snoke (Andy Serkis), and this untrained girl can easily defeat him! Yes it is cool to see a girl kicking ass with the force and a lightsaber, but she doesn’t have to work for it, so it is meaningless! The original Star Wars trilogy was based on Jospeh Campbell and his Power of Myth, following a heroes journey and struggle, but Rei has no struggle, she is just too good for no reason.

And as I said, I know they don’t want to go into the political machinations of the galaxy, like Lucas did in the prequels, but some explanation would be good. Why is Leia the General of the Resistance, who the New Order says is being secretly funded by the restored Republic. A Resistance would be against the current government, not fighting the enemy. And was the whole Republic government really destroyed? If so it was such a throwaway!

And what about the New Order. It seems to be the Empire 2.0 with Hitler references amped up. No longer any thought to them being right though, just being evil and wanting order in the galaxy under their thumb, through destruction And is Snoke an alien or a really deformed human, cause the Empire has always been a human only club. There is just no depth here. Tarkin in a New Hope was evil, but there was something to him, but General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is just evil in this. And his troops are all stolen as children and mind controlled to obey, there is nothing good there at all, so why would anyone follow them? At least before they had the imperial academy that Han went to and Luke wanted to go to. Personally I would have found Stormtroopers indoctrinated to think they are on the side of right, and not just forced to believe that much scarier. And how bright can the New Order be to put their resources into building a third death star, after the first 2 were so easily dispatched. Why not try something new? How many ships could they have built instead of that one weapon?

And speaking of the Star Killer, it seems ridiculous. Easily destroyed by a small group of rebels bringing down the shield (can we say Return of the Jedi) and a few snub fighters! WTF! Where was the fleet? We saw one Star Destroyer in orbit after one shot of the StarKiller, but did they have no more ships to go against the resistance X-Wings? And did the Resistance really have no capital ships to throw at them, and only a few X-Wings? We hear of a New Republic fleet, but what is it doing while all this is going on? The only reason to show only a few X-wings is that they are trying to slavishly imitate A New Hope! And the StarKiller eats Stars to power itself and yet seems to be a planet with people on the exterior, even though it would have been a wasteland after the first star it ate to charge itself before we saw it. Not only that but in the New Hope the Death Star is built up and a big threat, but here we are searching for Luke for the whole film, then we stop the search, and have a new Death Star to deal with, but it has no dread to it, or consequences as we have no idea what it actually destroyed!

And more slavishly following the original trilogy we get Lupita Nyong’o’s Yoda, I mean Maz Kanata. Not only is her bar basically the Mos Eisley Cantina from A New Hope, but as a force sensative little Alien she literally seems to be Yoda. Maz seems here cause they wanted her here, and wanted her to give Rei Luke’s first lightsaber, previous Anakin Skywalkers, which she tells us how she got it is another story. Sure since it was lost along with Luke’s hand at Bespin, where it seemed to fall into the depths of the planet (and since it was a Tibana gas mining facility it seems it was likely a gas giant planet where the lightsaber would have fallen and been crushed and lost forver), but maybe was recovered from facility. She is just there for exposition. To get Han to Lei, and get the lightsaber to Rei.

And Han Solo, yes it was great to have him and Chewy back, but still so much was wrong! He lost the Millenium Falcon, and as soon as Rei and Finn fly it into space he stumbles upon it. And I know losing his son to the dark side and having him murder all the training Jedi would be a blow, but it puts him back right where he was before the original trilogy, but worse. He is back to being a smuggler, but no longer seems to be a good one! He has pissed off two groups not delivering often (after only losing his cargo once before the original trilogy), and has no defences on his new ship so they can easily dock and come in. He hasn’t grown at all, and is not even battling the New Order that his evil son is now a bad ass in. I thought he did what was right now? No lets let your son destroy the Republic you fought so hard for. And there is the matter of his death. It was obviously the big twist, I mean he wanted to die in Jedi and it had to have been what he agreed to before he would come back, but the circumstances are ridiculous. First off, we have a bridge across an endless pit, that only has rails for it’s first 20 feet. So are people expected to cross that? Or are there no rails so Han can fall after his son kills him once Lea tells him to save their son. So he is playing the old Man Obi-Wan and gas to die, and especially by the hamd of his son. Expedience, not sense! And then no funeral for Han? WTF?

And the End, WTF! Already BB-8 is the R2-D2 of this film, but then having R2 powered down for the whole film, and after the Death Star, uh I mean Star Killer is destroyed to have R2 wake up and just happen to have the rest of the ridiculous map to Luke Skywalker (about the dumbest Maguffin of all time, because how could it exist?), which he has just ben sitting on even though it at least showed an area where they know Luke is! And then Lei just sends this girl that she barely knows to find her brother, from the opening scroll, the only one who can save the galaxy! What? And it is so easy to just fly there? And then Luke is an Island with no habitation, just standing there, and seems pissed off, though he must have heard the Falcon and felt Rei coming! And with Han dead we never see the original trio back together! What a f***ing waste! Not only that, but the whole Luke scene where he doesn’t even speak, feels so tacked on, like it should have been in the next film, because it adds nothing but fan service, and makes the film seem incomplete, without an ending.

I can honestly say that I couldn’t believe that I was watching the same film that everyone else loved! It is just not a good film and scares me to see what else Disney will be doing with Star Wars. Honestly I would be much happier if this new film had not happened and the extended Universe of books gad just continued. Sure it gad some bad stories, but it also had some amazing ones! In fact many of those would have been so much better than what they actually did, and could have kept the extended universe going. I am so let down and depressed.

Steve Jobs by Danny Boyle, 2015

I was really looking forward to this as I loved Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network, and I am a huge Apple fan. Not only have I read every Steve Jobs biography, but I have been a lomg time Apple user. I first took computer lessons on Apple IIE’s then got my first computer at age 7, an Apple IIC. After that all my friends had Mac’s, and eventually I got a Mac Classic, though long after using many Mac Pluses at school. And I have stuck with Mac all the way through the dark years, to Steve Jobs return and his death, and Apple dropping of expandability in it’s pro machines. So even with the film doing awful, I was excited to see it, but all my hopes were horribly dashed by this awful film! And I think Michael Fassbender is a great actor, but not here. It makes me long for Ashton Kutcher, whose Jobs movie was mediocre, but he really seemed to capture Jobs, unlike Fassbender who seems nothing like him. And the script is just awful, playing fast and loose with the truth, to the point of absolute lies, saying the only plan for the NEXT computer was to sell it to Apple. This computer does not capture Jobs nor his relationships, and it’s concipt of taking place before each of his 3 biggest product launches also does not work. It is really too bad just how bad this film is as Jobs story is an interesting one, but this film is not his story, and should not have been made. A complete waste! Skip It!

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This purports to be the story of Steve Jobs just before each of his 3 biggest product launches, the Mac, the Next Cube and the iMac, all shot on different formats, and his interactions with his marketing exec, Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslett wose accent seems to grow as the film goes), the Pepsi CEO John Scully (Jeff Daniels) who he brought in to help him, but ousted him, and the was ousted, the man who created the Apple and Apple 2 Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogan) his ex wife Chrissan Brennan (Katherine Waterston) and the daughter he never wanted to admit to Lisa (Perla Haney-Jardine, Ripley Sobo, and Makenzie Moss). Of course most the events never happened and it never.

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The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Co-written and directed by Guy Ritchie

After how much I loved the Kingsman, I was hoping that this swinging sixties spy adventure would be right up my alley, but instead it is a total dud, with only one good laugh. Of course I really haven’t liked a Guy Ritchie film since Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barells and Snatch, so I don’t know why I expected more. Nothing works here, the action is lame, setup set pieces like a race track are never used, the characters don’t have enough charm to be likeable, and twists can be seen from a mile away. And they seem to be trying so hard to make a series that they don’t bother making this film any good.

Instead of straight remake, Ritchie decided on an origin story for the TV series. In it we have womanizing theif turned CIA operative Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) rescuing the beautiful mechanic Gabriella Teller (Alicia Vikander) from East Berlin, to get her to help find her missing Nuclear Scientist father. They are chased by the ridiculously superhuman Russian counterpart Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer). Solo escapes with Gabi, but is quickly teamed up sith Kuryakin to stop the nuclear threat from Nazi’s that could destroy the world.

Review Contains Some Spoilers…

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Mr Holmes by Bill Fondon (2015)

Ian McKellen is awesome in the titular rold of Sherlock Holmes. In this film Holmes exists and is retired, but his novels were fictional retellings by his partner Watson. The problem is in his old age and retirement his mind us begining to slip, and he can’t even rememeber why ge retired. It is only the son of his surley maid (Laura Liney) Roger (Milo Munro) who draws him out, and not the potions he travels as far as Japan to get to restore his faculties, so Mr. Holmes can write a true account if his final adventure.

A lovely, if slow (very much a British Masterpiece style piece) film that deals with the ravenges of age, losing ones memory, and how shere logic cannot help understand a person, emotion must ebe involved and even lies can be good things. McKellen is at his best and his age makeup is perfect. If you are a fan of masterpiece style stories, this is a great one and well worth seeing.

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Pride by Mathew Warchus (2014)

A lovely Historical dramedy about the British Miners strike in 1984 where a London based Lesbian and Gay group rallies in support of one town of miners when the police use illegal tactics to crack down on them. The miners don’t want the help of gays to start, but eventually cherish their help, and even bring all the miners to the next years Gay Pride parade. This is a lovely film with some great performances, that makes you love these characters from townies played by Paddy Considine, Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy, and London gays and Lesbians including Dominic West, Andrew Scott and Menna Trussler.

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Gone Girl by David Fincher (2014)

Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne a failed writer, whose wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing and quickly he is deemed the prime suspect.

There was a lot of hype for this dark psychological thriller from Fincher, and for me it didn’t pay off. I just didn’t like any of the characters, both Ben Affleck’s and Rosamund Pike’s characters are so unlikeable, that I wonder why anyone would care, and the big payoff just doesn’t work for me. Overall I was let down. I just didn’t feel this film, but I also didn’t like Fincher’s girl with the Dragon Tatoo, so Fincher has been more miss than hit for me of late. It looks great, but just didn’t work for me.

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Sabotage, co-written and directed by David Ayers (2014)

I have said I am a fan of Swarzenegger, and have been watching his post-Governator films on Netflix. And this is a decent action film. The story works, it has a decent cast with Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams,  Mireille Enos, Joe Manganiello and Terrence Howard,  and it is cool to see Swarzenegger so grizzled and doing a dark turn. A decent action drama overall.

Swarzenegger plays the leader of the elite DEA strikeforce, but after his wife and child are killed by a drug lord, he leads the team to steal the drug lords money, but it is stolen from them and the team is suspended.

Review contains some spoilers…

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A Walk Among The Tombstones written and directed by Scott Frank (2014)

Liam Neeson proves himself the king of the gritty crime thriller with this dark and enjoyable film. So it isn’t just Taken, Neeson is really good in these films, and this story of an ex cop working to recovery kidnapped wives of drug dealers really works. From Dan Stevens as a drug dealer post Downton Abbey to the father son relationship Neeson character has with the young Brian Bradley. This is a good dark thriller, and well worth checking out. Frank is a good screenwriter, and with this proves himself a very competent director. Well worth seeing.

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Kill Me Three Times by Kriv Stenders (2014)

Honestly I rented this film to see Simon Pegg as a hitman, but I wish I had not wasted my time. Even Sullivan Stapelton (who is so great in Strike Back) can’t help make this black comedy thriller any better! None of the characters are likeable as everyone is cheating on everyone else or trying to kill each other, and tellings parts of the film out of order doesn’t help make it any better either. Honestly it just doesn’t work ans ia not worth seeing.

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Horns by Alexandre Aja (2014)

A mediocre film with some moments of brilliance. Daniel Radcliff is fantastic as a man in a small town accused of killing his fiancee, who grows huge devil horns that force people to speak only truth to him, but the script lets him down. There are many too long flashbacks, that (especially the childhood ones) don’t hold up, and many parts that drag or don’t make much sense. Still the people’s reactions too the horns are hysterical and brilliant, and the thriller twist works, as with how crazy the film, I really didn’t know what happened. Still I bet the original book was a hell of a lot better!

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Maggie by Henry Hobson (2015)

I like Arnold Swarzennegger, i have fond memories of action films, and now that he is back from his stint as The Governator, I Netflix his films, even though most are pretty bad, but this is an exception. This is a very different Zombie film, about a father dealing his daughter (Abigail Breslin) who has been bit by a zombie, and will guaranteed turn, and go after her own family, and all the better for it. Swarzenegger is great here in a non action dramatic roll, as is the whole cast. And I think both Henry Hobson and screenwriter John Scott III will go far if this films is any indication of their skills.

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Ant Man by Peyton Reed (2015)

Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang, an engineer turned criminal straight out of prison. Scottwants to go straight and reconect with his daughter, but is recruited by scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Cassie (Evangeline Lilly) to use the Ant Man armor, and steal his former protege Darren Cross ( Corey Stoll) new Yellowjacket armor based on Pym’s shrinking technology which as military technology could plunge the world into chaos!

Another decent Marvel Comic Book movie, and this from a decidedly C list super hero. Sure the Villain, Darren Cross is ridiculous with no motivation, and seems to be affected by his brain damaging suit before he uses it. And there are some added characters who serve only as comic relief, and could have easily gone. Still the shrinking effects are great, and even better in 3D, and Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly are enjoyable. And the theme of parenthood and redemption do work. Plus it was nice to have a, no pun intended, smaller Marvel film, after Age of Ultron which was just too big for it’s britches! Still I do wish I could have seen Edgar Wright’s version which was in develoment for so long, as I think is by far the superior director, and much more stylish. And I can think of a lot of superheroes I would rather have seen films of, but I still enjoyed the film.

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No Escape, co-written and directed by John Erick Dowdle (2015)

This xenophobic 2015 thriller is a definite pass. The story is thin to non-existant, the setup drawn out and borring, and some characters make no sense whatsoever. Sure there are some good moments of parents doing anything to save their kids, but it doesn’t make up for the shoddy screenplay, xenophobic depictions of asians ( as either brutal killers or gun fodder), and mediocre direction. Not worth seeing at all!

Review Contains Some Spoilers…

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Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (2015)

Another mindless, over the top action film in the Mission Impossible franchise. Mostly fun enough while you are watching it to forget about how much you hate Tom Cruise. And the plane stunt is pretty cool, though the most impressive stunt, and it is over too quick right at the start. Of course it is ridiculous, and the plot has huge holes, but it is a fun summer action blockbuster with some cool stunt sequences. You won’t see it again, but some fun if you totally turn your brain off.

Tom Cruise returns as IMF agent Ethan Hunt (seemingly no longer married) is on the trail of anti IMF called the syndicate, and is captured by it’s leader (Sean Harris). Meanwhile the CIA director Alen Hunley (Alec Baldwin) jousts with IMF agent William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) at a congressional hearing, that defunds the IMF!

Review contains some spoilers…

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Going to try out Shorter Reviews

A quick update. I just haven’t had the time to do full reviews, so my reviews have slowed to a trickle (sorry about that). So I am going to do some shorter reviews with going over the plot of the film.

Furious 7 by James Wan (2015)

Now I have been a huge fan of the Fast & Furious films since the very beginning. They were stupid, but had heart and great racing, and really great characters that you really grow to love. Sure the second film was pretty stupid, but Justin Lin really turned the series around, and parts 5 and 6 were really excellent heist films. And I know the death of Paul Walker really hurt this production, and made them scramble to keep Walker’s last performance in the film, but with the finished product I think that maybe that was the wrong decision and they should have started over and not had his character Brian O’Conner in the film. Honestly despite all the great reviews of this film I feel like it really jumped the shark here, and lost it’s focus on driving. The end is just so stupid and ridiculous, and even steals one of the idiotic stunts from the Transporter series. This movie tries to be something that the series is not, and it does not pay off. I know they wanted to top the other films, but it should have been straight car stuff, and not the spy idiocy here. And the script is just laughably bad, and makes no sense whatsoever, and has moments that are just so stupid they hurt. Plus so many side characters just become caricatures, like Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) who is just a joke here. I did enjoy the little ode to Walker at the end, but what led up to it was just so dumb that I couldn’t stand it. What a huge letdown.

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is back in the US living with this family at his old house, with Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) chafing at his life as a father, driving a mini van and craving some action. Letti Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) still hasn’t recovered her memory and is pulling away from Dom. They get a package from Tokyo, which blows up their house. It is from Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) the brother of Deckard Shaw who they previously defeated, and who is comatose in a hospital. We see a ridiculous destruction scene, as Deckard leaves his brother at the hospital, which he has basically destroyed (showing what a bad ass he is supposed to be I guess), and he is the one who killed Han (Sung Kang) who was killed in the 3rd film, but the sequels have happened before then. Deckard found out about Dom by breaking into Hobbs (Dwaye “The Rock” Johnson) office and battling him, before destroying the office and putting Hobbs in the hospital.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Avengers: Age of Ultron, written and directed by Joss Whedon, 2015

I am a big Marvel fan, and see every one of their movies on opening weekend, and I am a huge Joss Whedon fan, and always will because of Firefly. So I wanted to see this opening weekend, and Kelly and I went to the TCL Chinese to see opening weekend in 3D Laser Projection IMAX. That was my first time there since the refit since TCL renamed it from Mann. I didn’t realize how much the theater has changed. It is now assigned stadium seating and we got really bad seats up to close. And a word of warning for anyone with lactose intolerance, it seems their popcorn has butter on it without your putting butter on it! The new projector was impressive though, not so much for Avengers, but a preview scene of Tomorrowland looked absolutely amazing. Like 70 millimeter or better! Wow! As for the movie. I enjoyed it. I didn’t love it like I loved the Avengers, but I enjoyed it. There might have been a bit too much going on, and some parts feel obviously cut down too much, like what happens to Thor. And the dream sequences that delve into each characters past are interesting, but do seem to not serve much of the storyline. It is big and exciting though, even if it is a little bit downbeat and depressing. Still it is winding down some of these characters story lines, and leading into the Marvel Civil War, so of course it will be a bit darker and more downbeat. And yes it does go very different from the comic in many ways, but this Marvel Universe is obviously not the comic universe at that point, and with the ongoing new Secret Wars, it seems the Marvel Universe is completely changing now anyway, so I am OK with that. Overall I did enjoy it, but not love it. Worth seeing, but not amazing, and maybe a little too big for it’s own britches.

The Avengers, Steve Rogers AKA Captain America (Chris Evans), Tony Stark AKA Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Bruce Banner AKA the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) attack a Hydra outpost let by Baron Wolfang von Strucker (Henry Goodman) to retrieve Loki’s scepter. They are intercepted by two enhanced humans that Strucker has created with the scepter, Wanda Maximoff aka the Scarlet Witch (Elixabeth Olsen) with telekinetic and hypnotic powers, and her twin brother Pietro Maximoff AKA Quicksilver the Speedster. The Avengers manage to capture Strucker and get the scepter.

Stark and Banner at Avengers tower start to study the Scepter before Thor returns it to his homeland of Asguard, and see that it seems to contain a power Artificial intelligence, and Stark wants to use it for his Ultron Global Defense Program, using Iron Man Armor robots to stop any big threat, and save humanity from a threat as big as the Schitari from the last film. They use Stark’s own AI J.A.R.V.I.S. (Paul Bettany) to work on the alien AI, but it defeats J.A.R.V.I.S., taking over, and Ultron (James Spader) is born. Utron decides that to stop war and violence it will eradicate the human race, and it will take over.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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American Sniper, by Clint Eastwood (2014)

Clint Eastwood has done it again. This is easily a best picture nominee, and Bradley Cooper has proved he can act. Not only is this a brutally violent and true war story, but it is an incredible and moving story. Easily one of the best films of the year, and an incredible story of family, and war, and how war can effect soldiers.

Bradekey Cooper plays Navy Seal Sniper Chris Kyle, the most effective US sniper in the history of the military. The film opens like the trailer, with Kyle in Iraq providing up high sniper cover for a US convoy. At the time, all men are considered enemy combatents, and he sees a man make a phone call, then step out of site. A woman and child then walk out of the building and towards the convoy, and Kyle sees a russian grenade, but no one else has eyes, so he must make a call.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS… (more…)

The Imitation Game by Morten Tyldum (2014)

I had wanted to see this film, as I have always been interested in the story of Alan Turing the original creator of a modern computer, and am a fan of both Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, but had heard bad things about this film. Luckily that bad word was all wrong and this is quite a well done and enjoyable film about this strange but brilliant man and what he did to end World War II. This film is quite enjoyable and well worth seeing!

The film starts in 1951, with a robbery at mathematician Alan Turing’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) house, for which he claims nothing was stolen. Detective Robert Nock (Rory Kinnear) is suspicious though and begins to look into Turing’s seemingly classified past from World War 2, suspecting Turing may be a spy. We then go back the beginning of the war, with Turing applying for a job at Bletchly Park, the secret codebreaking facility run by commander Alastair Denniston (Charles Dance) who takes an instant disliking to Turing. Major General Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) sees something different though, even when Turing wants to fire the rest of the department Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode) and John Cairncross (Allen Leech).

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…
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The Theory of Everything by James Marsh (2014)

I was excited for this film as soon as I heard about it, and the trailer even brought a tear to my eye. Stephen Hawkings story is just so sad and amazing, that I could not have been more excited to see this film, and it did not disappoint. While not the best film of the year, it is certainly one of the best, and Eddie Redmayne’s transformation into Stephan Hawkings is absolutely amazing. In fact it would a real crime if he doesn’t win best actor, because he does such a good job with physicality. This film is really worth seeing.

Based on the book Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawkings, this book stars Eddie Redmayne as a young Stephen Hawkings. Hawkings is a graduate student at Cambridge trying to figure out his subject for his doctorate when he meets the beautiful Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) a student studying romance languages, and they fall in love, but Stephen has a problem. His clumsiness and falling turns out to be Amotryophic Lateral Sclerosis also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and it fatal, and he is not given a year to live.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS… (more…)

Interstellar by Christopher Nolan (2014)

As a huge sci fi nut and  fan of Christopher Nolan I had been very excited for this film for some time, but was depressed when I heard the reviews, but still wanted to experience the film in IMAX and see the world that Nolan had created. We saw it in IMAX, and I was dismayed not only by the awful IMAX experience (yes the IMAX shots looked great, but the rest of the film had so many extreme close ups that just looked awful blown up huge on the screen), but also the awful story and bad execution of the film. The huge and interesting real sci fi elements become too grossly entangled in a the family story that I didn’t care about and which really didn’t make sense at the end. The plot just has too many ridiculous holes and idiotic elements that drag everything down so the visuals can’t help the awful story. And the film doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be, having a huge shift with the big twist in the middle, that does nothing but drag the film down. I was ultimately disappointed by this film, which tried way too hard and keeps shifting, with parts trying to be 2001 a Space Odyssey and different genres and never making a cohesive film that makes any sense.

In the future the Earth has regressed after a blight that has killed all crops except corn, and which will eventually kill the earth. All of mankind has reverted to farming, and even the militaries have disappeared (which makes no sense, as they would have taken over with Martial Law). A former NASA pilot named Cooper (Matthrew McConaughey) runs a farm with his father in law Donald (John Lithgow), farmer son Tom (Timothée Chalamet) [who Cooper ignores as he hates farming] and loved daughter Murphy “Murph” (Mackenzie Foy). Murph thinks  her room is haunted, with books moving to make messages, and the dust moving, but Cooper ignores her. While they are driving to school, they see a military drone, and chase it and Cooper hacks it and brings it down to steal the electronics. Murph then gets in trouble at school for claiming the moon landings were real, which they now teach were fake to make people only believe in farming. After a big dust storm Cooper sees strangeness in the dust in Murph’s room and realizes it is gravitational waves, and gets coordinates from it, which lead him and Murph to a hidden secret NASA facility.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS… (more…)

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