January film preview

2016 is a year I think we’d much rather all forget and as we look towards the next 365 days to come, here are a few prominent films coming out in January in what will hopefully be a great year for film, let’s see what January has in store! (US release dates by default). Happy new year guys! See you all in 2017.

Underworld: Blood Wars – released on the 8th of January

Directed by Anna Foerster

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Tobias Menzies, Laura Pulver, Peter Anderson

The final film in the Underworld series sees a return to Selenes’ (Beckinsales’) world as vampires they continue to wage war against lycans, a few individuals seek to use her and her daughter with the aim of ending the war between the two sides for good.

 

Split – released on the 20th of January

Directed by M. Night shyamalan

Starring: James Mcavoy, Anna Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley.

Drama and thriller by Shyamalan, centred on three teenage girls who are kidnapped and held captive by a man with a split personality disorder.

 

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage – released on the 20th of January

Directed by D.J. Caurso

Starring: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Samuel L Jackson, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev.

Government agent Xander Cage returns in this…. awaited sequel, as Xander comes out of exile to face down a tyrant and recover a powerful weapon before it gets into the wrong hands, he finds himself teaming up with unlikely allies.

 

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter – released on the 27th of January

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Ruby Rose, Iain Glen, William Levy.

The final film in the Resident Evil franchise (maybe) sees us return to a world overrun with zombies as Alice returns to the source of the zombie outbreak in Raccoon city, teaming up with an unlikely ally to take the evil Umbrella corporation one last time.

The Magnificent seven review

The Magnificent Seven is a western directed by  Antoine Fuqua and a modern re-make of the classic film of the same name, itself based on the idea of the Seven Samurai film, as a group of seven gunman/mercenaries get together to help an impoverished town against a tyrant and his gang, the film stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Vinent D’Onofrio, Byung-Hun Lee, Manuel Garcia Rulfo, Haley Benett, Peter Sarsgaard, Matt Bomer.

The story is a familiar, literally as this is a remake and you might have watched the original but in short, a small town is set upon by a gang of ruffians and a group of outlaws band together to save it and thus the plot follows that set up, there really isn’t that much else to the film to be honest but to be fair, it doesn’t really try to be anything else or falsely market it self to be. What’s good about The Magnificent Seven is that it’s a mostly faithful remake and doesn’t take the story in weird directions just for the sake of different, which is an interesting positive, as re-makes are often criticised for being shot for shot the same as the original and bringing nothing new to the table. Though in the case of this re-make, we do get some modern updates with a multi-racial and diverse main cast which makes for a more representative Western and for an interesting group of characters, all quite well cast and distinct from each other.

From the serious and excellent shot Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), utterly convincing as a bad ass to the wise cracking, good time Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), you even get good humour from none other than Vincent D’Onofrio as Jack Horne, overall the cast is good, as are the performances. Levity is important to a story like this, to balance the somewhat serious tone and it makes for a good overall balance in what is a fairly engaging plot as we see the magnificent seven come together somewhat predictably. That being said, they make a good team and seeing them in action is fun, with a few well done action sequences. Chris Pratt in particular seems like a natural in a Western and it was about time for him to get prominent role in one, I feel.

Where the film falls short is in atmosphere, though some scenes are tense, particularly involving Denzel Washingtons’ Chisolm and Peter Sarsgaard as the villainous Bartholomew Bogue, there isn’t much else to most other scenes and they sort of just plod along, with you knowing how things will more or less go and then it all ends, if I had to raise one big criticism of the film, it’s that it’s just okay, a serviceable reboot that’s well acted but a bit lifeless otherwise. There’s not much to the film in terms of a great story (it’s pretty basic storytelling) or vibrancy even with the likes of Pratt and Washington which is a shame, the result is a passable Western/drama but not much else.

6/10

. Strong, diverse cast

. Well shot film

. Characters a re a bit one dimensional

. Story is lacking, fairly bare bones

Merry Christmas!

It’s been a funny old year hasn’t it…. a year of ups and downs… and downs, quite a lot of downs but we put it all behind us as we look forward to a new year and spend Christmas with our family/loved ones close to us, merry Christmas to all my followers, to everyone who reads this and to everyone celebrating it today and I hope you’re all having a great, joy filled day whether that be with Christmas films, mulled wine, other types of wine, christmas crackers and of course, pigs in blankets.

Have a great one guys.

From the Doc

My top 5 most anticipated 2017 films

So as 2016 winds down to an end with just over a week left in the year, what better time to look ahead to the films to come for the next year and at a glance, I think 2017 has a few potential gems in store, here is my top 5 and you know what, it was actually kinda difficult to pick a top 5 with some great films vying for my top spots but here they are:

1. Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2 – released in May 2017

My number one choice sort of goes without saying if you’ve followed my blog for a decent amount of time and know I’m a big comic book film and MCU fan but yeah we’ve seen a recent full teaser trailer and Guardians Vol 2 looks like a lot of fun, in a similar vein to the first film but with more characters, great visuals and well, the Guardians we now all know and love. Guardians snuck up on audiences from obscurity and took them on a great, thrill ride with arguably hard sell characters that worked like a charm, especially Groot – who is quite literally a talking tree, a tree that everyone loves of course, Marvel knows how to take far out ideas and sell them to audiences and the sequel should be no different, I’m expecting great things from Vol 2.

 

2. Alien: Covenant  – released on the 19th of May 2017

I am so looking forward to this film, with not that much publicity or promotion for it to be honest apart from stories here and there and a poster (I guess we’ll get a trailer in the coming weeks) but even with next to nothing but speculation, I can’t wait for the sequel to Prometheus, to see how that story gets followed up on and how it all links to the beloved albeit horrifying Alien, sci-fi horror is touched on here and there but never really to any good quality and I feel Alien has an iconic position in that sub-genre. I love mysteries in film, I always get kicks out of trying to figure them out along with others and it’s always a joy to see a director return to their first love (Ridley Scott back to Alien) in this case, a world very uniquely his and pretty fascinating in my opinion, so seeing David and Elizabeth Shaw again should be interesting, with added Xenomorphs perhaps?

 

3. Star Wars Episode 8 (VIII) – released in December 2017

Star Wars, seriously, enough said… but of course no top 5 list for 2017 can be complete without the upcoming episode 8 as we all wait for the next film in the new trilogy and as we wait for answers to the big question, why has Luke been on a random island in the middle of nowhere for so long? I’m curious to see where the story goes and what becomes of Finn and the scarred but hardened Kylo Ren, in what’s been said to be a darker sequel, the Empire Strikes Back of the new films perhaps, though I’d like to see some deviation from the original trilogy in terms of story, plus the Knights of Ren, the revelation of supreme leader Snoke and what Luke had to say to just as he sees Rey and about everything that’s happened in the past 20 years or so, can’t wait to see it!

 

4. Kingsman: The Golden Circle – released on 6th of October 2017

I adore Kingsman: Secret Service, with great action and an irreverent sense of humour to itself, it’s just a pretty fantastic spy/action film and I’m expecting bigger and better things for the sequel and if that’s managed, it will be one hell of a film. After watching Kingsman I left clamoring for more and with an expanded and actually pretty great cast, with some hopefully good execution and the returning Taron Egerton, Mark Strong and apparently Colin Firth as well… we should be in for a treat.

 

5. Justice League – released in December 2017

I almost felt compelled to put Justice League on my list, the superhero team up film that fans have been wanting for years, decades even is almost here, I grew up watching the cartoons on Cartoon network, I’m familiar with the characters so I’m so in, we’ll see if DC can pull it off but I have pretty high hopes with the direction it seems to be going in and this could well be the turning point for DC one way or the other, then again it’s only been bad for them so far (reviews wise at least) so I’m hoping it’s good.

As I said before, tough list to narrow down with some pretty great looking films being left off and just not quite making it into my top 5 which include, Kong Skull IslandLoganSpiderman: HomecomingBladerunner 2049Ghost In The Shell, to name a few but overall 2017 is shaping up really nicely, have any thoughts, opinions? What would be in your top 5? Feel free to comment.

Rogue One: A Star Wars story review

We’re not calling them anthology films any more but hey, it was cool

Star Wars gets its latest overall entry with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, directed by Gareth Edwards and focused on the first paragraph in the crawl for A New Hope, showing how a group of tenacious rebels stole crucial plans to the Death Star and got them to the rebel alliance, the film stars Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Alan Tudyk, Wen Jiang, Jimmy Smits.

Rogue One is very different right from the off, this being a story that’s an off shoot from the main episodic series but still connected to them, there is one Sith in the film as you already know but the Jedi/Sith and direct influences of them is practically non-existent, which makes for an interesting change in pace and even combat, though the force is often mentioned – mostly thanks to Chirut Imwe played by the brilliant Donnie Yen. The diverse, multi-cultural cast makes for a great statement and contrast to the Empires uniformity and everyone is on point, Alan Tudyk makes for great comic relief as K-2SO, a re-programmed imperial droid who works for the rebels and has many a good one liner in him, making for some interesting inter play. Especially with Jyn – played by Felicity Jones, who really surprised me as I initially thought she came across as flat in the trailers, Jones is expressive, emotive a believable driving force of Rogue One, as is the conflicted Cassian Andor, played by Diego Luna, who brings depth to the idea of a rebel soldier. There’s also a great emotional core to the story with Jyn and her father Galen and without getting into spoilers, we see how there are good people in places you’d least expect.

As always the rebels contrast the empire and their troops who dogmatically follow orders but we get an interesting and not before seen look at war in the Star Wars universe, something touched on in the Force Awakens but further explored, we see the dirty side of the rebellion in the work of spies and assassins and the fact that people are often conflicted by their orders – on both sides, makes things really interesting.

And generally speaking, director Gareth Edwards brings home the gritty reality of war in this universe, ground and space battles feel vast and epic with some great visuals and brilliant set pieces that hammer home the notion that the Empire and Rebellion have been at war for a while and a lot of people have felt direct loss or have lost something – which drives a lot of the rebels, fairly unsurprisingly. We also see the fact of friendly fire touched on, which is something new for Star Wars and also, a fact of war.

To touch on the visuals – they’re great, there are some pretty spectacular although spoiler-ific scenes, involving the Death Star and its power but generally, there’s a lot of action, the set pieces look great and there’s a climactic third act that’s a particular stand out.

And yeah, this is a war film so you can expect some loss and the tone is decidedly pretty dark, though there is slight comic relief, the weight of death in the film is certainly there – as it is in most Star Wars films but more so here I feel, seeing boots on the ground on both sides, up close and personal for a change, far removed from Jedi and Sith duelling with powers that can be viewed as magic from the outside looking in. Though that being said, Darth Vaders’ cameos are possible highlights and definitely showcase his power and dark reputation. Rogue One is a really solid entry into the franchise, bringing the reality of war and a fascinating look at the over-arching war between the Rebels and Empire itself and the intricacies of it. The cast does a great job with a few stand outs in Jones, Luna and Tudyk, with an engaging and well contained story, even for a plot we already know the outcome to and the result is something Star Wars needed, something different but impactful nonetheless.

7.5/10

. Has some great set pieces, action sequences

. Characters are all pretty engaging, some are multi-dimensional

. Introduces an interesting, gritty side to the conflict in Star wars