Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

The Magnificent Seven (2016) is a remake of The Magnificent Seven (1960), which is a remake of Seven Samurai by Akira Kurisawa, which is in turn heavily inspired by the Wild West genre.

As such, it is perfectly understandable if the viewer feels that The Magnificent Seven (2016) feels that the story beats are familiar, or even generic.

The premise of the film is that there is a particular town which is almost under siege by the owner of a mining company. His cronies are sheriff deputies, they are apparently poisoning the water supply, gunning down people in the street, and intimidating the residents into selling their land for far less than appropriate market value.

As such, one of the residents seeks help and a group of seven characters, starting with Denzel Washington, get recruited into trying to save the town.

The acting can only be described as top-tier, the action scenes are fantastically entertaining, and the special effects are so convincing you'd swear they're injuring real horses.

Unfortunately there are some reveals that seem to come out of nowhere. For example, Ethan Hawke plays an obviously troubled ex-gunslinger. Towards the end of the film, he mentions to his friend about an ominous owl. It's a bit of a throwaway line, almost inaudible, but the owl is obviously meant to be some paranoid hallucination that has been haunting him for a long time.
Such things really needed a bit more foreshadowing.

Some of the deaths were very "Hollywood" - i.e. characters taking far too many bullets, and being far too mobile afterwards. This only serves to inflate the actor's ego and break my suspension of disbelief.

Also the ending seems bizarre in terms of tone.

Despite some flaws, I thought that it was an extremely entertaining and very well made film. Definitely worth a watch.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Infiltrator

The Infiltrator stars Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo  and Amy Ryan as undercover CIA agents trying to take down Pablo Escabar's drug operation in the 1980s.

The film is gripping from start to finish, a fascinating "true" story with completely believable characters. Bryan Cranston channels a little but of 'Walter "the best acting I've ever seen, signed Sir Anthony Hopkins" White', but most definitely more on the side of "good" (whilst also being a flawed human being trying to balance his work with his personal life)

Honestly, all of the acting in the film was top notch. The soundtrack was incredible, and the sound design particularly stood out in how masterful it was.

It's difficult to describe without spoiling what happens in the film, but it is really an example of brilliant film-making. Every single element is near flawless.

Do yourself a favour and watch it.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

War Dogs

War Dogs is based upon an interview in Rolling Stone magazine and stars Jonah Hill and Miles Teller (Mr Fantastic from Fanborestic) as Ephraim and David respectively.

David works in Malibu as a masseuse around the time of the second gulf war, but meets up with his old friend from high school (Ephraim) and joins him in his small weapons contracting business called AEY.
In the past most of the military contracts were given to companies associated with Dick Cheney, but since the corruption became public knowledge all of the contracts were put up for auction. While there is still insider trading with the biggest contracts, a lot of the smaller stuff gets ignored, which is where AEY comes in. Such small companies are considered to be feeding off the scraps of the war industry, they are called "War Dogs", hence the name of the film.

The film is extremely funny, fascinating, and incredibly convincing as a true story. The actors all put in fantastic performances, and special mention has to go to Jonah Hill for having the second most annoying laugh in the Universe.

I highly recommend this film.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Sausage Party

Sausage Party is an animated film written by Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill, and is about talking food. The premise and sense of humour is set up very efficiently, opening with a song about how they want to be taken by the Gods (human beings) to the Great Beyond (outside of the shop) where "We cannot possibly overstate how certain we are that nothing bad happens to us in the Great Beyond!"

It's a difficult film to review, as I don't want to spoil any more jokes than I have - part of the hilarity coming from the punchlines being unexpected.

It can be said to be a film about atheism, blaming pretty much all of the ills of the world on it. While I disagree (i.e. without religion, we'd still find whatever differences there are between people and use it as an excuse to fight) I do think it has a good message about blind faith versus evidence.

In short, it's a thoughtful, foul-mouthed, raunchy-as-hell, hilarious comedy, and I enjoyed every single minute. If that sounds up your street, go and watch it.

Sunday, 11 September 2016


The BFG is a story written by Roald Dahl, which was adapted into an animated film in 1989, which I loved as a child. I think that my dad must have been a fan of the book, as it most definitely informed his patois as I was growing up.

The story is about a young orphan named Sophie, who one night discovers a giant, who kidnaps her and takes her to the "Giant Country". While other giants want to eat humans, this giant is a perpetually disappointed vegetarian who gives people dreams.

If you are unfamiliar with the story I don't want to spoil too much for you, but it's one that can be enjoyed by adults and kids of all ages.

The new film, directed by Steven Spielberg seems to be a very faithful adaptation, much like the 1989 cartoon. The main differences being that it's live action, blatantly directed by Spielberg (though I can't put my finger on why), and does not feature a musical interlude about farting.

If that sounds good to you, then I suggest you watch it. If you really want the farting song, perhaps you should stick to the 1989 version.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Suicide Squad

I haven't yet seen Batman vs Superman, but I have heard that the dour atmosphere didn't resonate with viewers, prompting a massive re-write of Suicide Squad.

It shows.

The first part of the film is spent setting up the characters, and it takes quite a while.
The next part of the film is spent setting up the characters. Again. It, too, takes a while.

Generally, the first act of the film is terrible. It has awful editing, largely noticeable by the very jarring changes in the soundtrack. It was also very evident that a large chunk of the soundtrack is made up of old songs, forcing them to the forefront. It is almost as if the film is simply an excuse to renew the licences on the songs.

The main chunk of the film is actually quite solid and very enjoyable. Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) are the main heart of the film, putting in genuinely good performances. Harley's relationship with the Joker (Jared Leto) is quite like what I remember from the Batman cartoon and the games. It's somewhat sweet, but it also feels like Harley is paradoxically disposable to the Joker (which is the closest the film comes to touching on the abusiveness of the relationship)

That's not to say that the main chunk is without it's flaws - it also has plot-holes, with characters suddenly being idiotic, and things happening for the sake of plot convenience.

Overall, it's a fairly good film, but you'll have to shit through 20 minutes of utter dross before it gets any good.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Star Trek Beyond

This is going to be difficult to pick apart, as it's a really solid and entertaining film. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Star Trek Beyond is the best live action Macross film I've ever seen.

Seriously, they are incredibly similar:

The protagonists are drawn into a fight with creatures that are somehow connected to humanity.
Said creatures are focused entirely on conflict.
Thus the film focuses about the question of whether peace or violence is better for the progress of the species.
Of course, it is optimistic, saying that while violence is inevitable, peace is better and should be striven towards.
Music is used as a weapon.
People die, and it is genuinely touching.

It is quite obvious that Simon Pegg wrote it, with a greater than usual emphasis on Scotty, and a joke which seems very reminiscent of Dr Who (when The Beatles were referred to as classical musicians)

The film is not perfect, but I find it very difficult to think of any particular criticisms. It's funny, thoughtful and entertaining, with very good special effects.

I'd recommend watching it.