June film preview

So June is right around the corner and as we reach the mid point of the year, here’s a look at some upcoming films for the next 30 days as summer film season really gets into gear. US release dates by default.

Wonder Woman – released on the 2nd of June

Directed by Patty Jenkins

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston.

Origin story and the latest film in the DCEU sees Diana Princess of of Themyscira (home of the Amazonian warriors) discover herself as a person, accidentally coming into contact with American pilot Steve Trevor during WWI, shes goes with him to London to try and end the war, with her having a bit of a culture shock along the way.

 

The Mummy – released on the 9th of June

Directed by Alex Kurtzman

Starring: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B Vance, Russel Crowe.

Reboot of the horror franchise of the same name, set in London as the ancient force of Princess Ahmanet is unleashed by archaeologists accidentally, including Nick Morton who seems to be being targeted by her personally as she tries to take over the world, Nick seeks the help of organization ‘Predigium’ in order to fight off Ahmanet and save the world.

 

It Comes At Night – released on the 9th of June

Directed by Trey Edward Shults

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbot, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough, Kelvin Harrison Jr.

Psychological thriller set in a cabin in the woods, a families meticulous home balance is off set by a young man looking for refuge, all the while everyone is paranoid about something potentially outside and the dangers it may bring.

 

Cars 3 – released on the 16th of June

Directed by Brian Fee

Starring: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Armie Hammer, Larrie the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, John Ratzenberger, Tony Shalhoub.

Third film in the Cars series sees Lightning McQueen struck by tragedy after an accident in a race, he strives to race in the Florida 500, training and rehabilitating with Cruz Ramirez, while facing off against a generation of newer, faster cars.

 

Transformers: The Last Knight – released on the 21st of June

Directed by Michael Bay

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Stanley Tucci, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Hopkins, Isabel Moner, Santiago Cabrera, Jerrod Carmichael.

The latest film in the Transformers series sees war ensuing between humans and Transformers, following Optimus Primes’ long absence from earth, Cade Yeager teams up with an English lord and university professor to find out why the Transformers keep coming to earth, while an arising evil forces threaten to take over the planet.

 

Baby Driver – released on the 28th of June

Directed by Edgar Wright

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal, Eiza Gonzalez, Sky Ferreria.

Crime thriller centred around exceptionally talented get away driver Baby who suffers from Tinnitus but drowns it out with music, he works for the mysterious criminal ‘Doc’ but after meeting a certain girl, he strives to get away from his life of crime and run away with her, though this escape from his lifestyle may be harder than he thinks.

 

Despicable Me 3– released on the 30th of June

Directed by Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda.

Starring: Steve Carrel, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Steve Coogan, Julie Andrews.

Animated comedy set around the formerly evil Gru, who re-unites with his long lost and more successful twin brother, Dru who wants Gru to suit up for one last heist for the two of them.

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Pirates of the Carribean: Salazars’ Revenge – review

Salazars’ revenge or Dead Men Tell No Tales depending on where you live, is the latest entry in the now 5 film spanning Pirates franchise, we see Captain Jack Sparrow return to his swaggering intoxicated escapades, now working with Henry Turner, son of Will Turner in order to survive, they need to find a mythical, powerful artifact as they are pursued by Captain Salazars ghostly crew, who are out for revenge against Jack. The film stars Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario.

Ah May and a new Pirates film, it’s sort of a common association in recent years and the newest instalment has some of the old musings and tropes of Pirates films gone by but with new characters that definitely inject some more enthusiasm and life into proceedings, namely in Henry (Brenton Thwaites) and Carina (Kaya Scodelario), the two are generally pretty good in their roles and have good chemistry, also playing well off of Johnny Depp. Though I’m sure Depp makes it quite easy to be played off of with his years of experience as a character actor and it is fun to see Jack Sparrow make his return, despite it being for a film that no one really wanted to be honest, Jack is once again endearingly naive, humorously all over the place and still fun to watch, even 14 years after first seeing him on screen. And interestingly, you get a little back story with Sparrow as well, which was a surprise.

Other long standing characters also make their returns including some of Sparrows original crew, Captain Barbossa played excellently by Geoffrey Rush and even with Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley reprising their roles, although not in a substantial way and do not see the film just for them because you will be disappointed. Javier Bardem takes centre stage as Captain Salazar, a very CG heavy villain with pretty stereotypical vengeance on his mind against Sparrow and with an actually believable slant for his story, his tale of revenge just feels played out and a bit generic, as the whole plot does in general with characters needing Jack Sparrow to find a magical Maguffin item to do X, Y or Z.

I mean, not every Pirates film has followed that plot structure but most of them them have and seeing that trope now feels way too familiar, along with betrayals, double crossing, the evil British trying to capture Jack and so on, you’ve seen it all before. That being said, seeing some old things return makes for some fun viewing, the set pieces are actually kinda entertaining and inventive for what they’re worth, with passable action but nothing as memorable as sequences from the initial trilogy. And at 129 minutes, this is somehow both the shortest film in the series but also the longest feeling, in my opinion anyway, due to some some poor pacing and an initial first third that really takes a while to get going, with stretches of nothing really happening strewn in the plot.

Anyway I personally love sea fairing films and the romanticism of piracy on film, with some great visuals in the film just simply of the horizon from the view of ships and so on but that’s not quite enough to get me to really be into Salazars Revenge, a pretty generic entry into the series, practically using plots, introducing new characters but not quite capturing the excitement or freshness from some of the previous films. It does sort of feel like Disney has run out of ideas with the films and that’s okay, the franchise doesn’t have to go on forever guys…. guys… oh damn they’re already making Pirates 6 aren’t they.

6/10

. Plot is very by the numbers, re-uses tropes, plot structure

. Certain ‘surprises’ feel forced, predictable

. Some set pieces are fun, inventive. Film retains the series sense of humour

. Poor pacing, film feels like a slog in parts

Fast and Furious 6 – review

Dom Toretto and La Familia are back in Fast 6 as the franchise takes its next step into a more conventional action direction, the action this time takes place in London with the team working together to take down a group of ruthless mercenaries led by Shaw (Luke Evans). The main cast from the last 2 Fast and Furious film returns and it is an ensemble action thriller for all intents and purposes, the plot takes a different route to Fast 5 but is still good, with some of Doms’ team having to take part in actual shootouts and physical fights.

And there is a lot more emphasis on action this time around as the series as a whole progresses in a good way, this new element to the Fast and Furious franchise is a mostly good touch and the action is done convincingly well, carried heavily by the out and out action star Vin Diesel and the presence of Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). Who is a great addition to the franchise, Shaw is a menacing and formidable foe for the team

Also back in the film in part was actual street racing, a nice throwback to the franchises roots and foundations and while there were elements of it used in Fast Five to service the plot, it feels a bit more natural and is cool to see again. The racing coupled with the at times tense action made for some good set pieces and raised the stakes with some of the team being in serious danger with guns, a lot of guns being used throughout the film. At points in the plot you wonder just how Dom and co are going to get past certain obstacles that just seem unbeatable like you know, a tank vs some fast cars but the crew does what they do best, they improvise. And seeing the good guys work their way around seemingly impossible situations and get through them is great viewing, the set pieces in Fast 6 are bigger in scope, some of the biggest in the franchise while also being some of the most unbelievable, including the longest runway of all time.

The film also hits with its’ emotional moments in what happens to Gisele, something I definitely didn’t see coming. And another big part of the film is Lettys’ re-introduction to the story, with the big surprise being that she’s still alive (of course) but has memory loss and has been brainwashed… okay the explanation around her apparent demise and story up to now is a tad convoluted but it was good seeing her back in the story.

The film has a satisfying enough conclusion however, providing the thrills, twists and turns we’ve come to expect in a Fast and Furious film and while it’s not the best individual story from the franchise, the action is fenetic and the set pieces crank the tension up a few notches, keeping your attention and engagement in what’s going on but that being said, on the whole the film just isn’t that memorable and doesn’t quite stand out among most recent Fast films.

6.5/10

. Set pieces are big, good spectacle

. Nice to see the return of actual street racing in the films

. Films’ plot isn’t quite as memorable or interesting as Fast 5, Fast 7

Happy 40 years of Star Wars!

So yeah this is a bit of an off the cuff post and it may have flown under the radar but a little known indie franchise called Star Wars is actually 40 years old today in fact, opening on May 25 1977, busting blocks and setting alight the imaginations for many filmmakers and directors. Oh and it’s also my favourite franchise, a series that has gone on to monumental heights, permeating and reaching every aspect of popular culture, from TV, to merchandise, to cosplay to comics and the list goes on. So, hat do we have from the series, oh just Luke Skywalker, Han, Chewie and Leia, one of the most iconic film villains of all time in Darth Vader, not to mention some of the most recognizable and iconic space ships in sci-fi. Whether you’re a fan or not, Star Wars has had a lasting impact, effectively helping to invent the blockbuster and change the way Hollywood used special effects and defined the concept of a summer film or ‘blockbuster’, the series has been a real trailblazer.

There’s just something special about Star Wars in the way it drums up both nostalgia and genuine excitement in fans around the globe, it’s so visceral and real, coming from a place of true fandom appreciation and you see it pretty much every time something new is announced – and to still get that sort of reaction after the prequels and 40 years after the films debut is quite something, something a lot of franchises out there would love to have I imagine.

And with The Last Jedi just 6 months away give or take, it’s a great way to cap off the anniversary of a great, iconic franchise. And sure, it’s had its ups and downs, its high points in well, the original trilogy, The Clone Wars series, but more recently in The Force Awakens and Rogue One and its notable low points in the prequels (though Revenge of the Sith wasn’t that bad and Phantom Menace is watchable), it’s an overall beloved series and deservedly so.

Seriously, where would the genre and many, many filmmakers even be without Star Wars? Who knows… but we know what the film industry is like with and here’s a sincere thank you to George Lucas’ mind and imagination for creating the whole thing, people may have their beef and what not with you George but I salute you.

To wrap things up, my favourite film in the series is the best one of course, that being A New Hope. But anyway, here’s to 40 years of Star Wars and many more years to come!

Ghost In The Shell – review

Ghost In The Shell, directed by Rupert sanders is a live action adaptation of the manga and series of films of the same name, set in a futuristic Tokyo in which a lot of people live with cybernetic implants or wholly robotic bodies, being able to plug into electronics, we follow the Major, an anti-hacker operative as she comes to question her own existence while taking on a sinister presence, the film stars Scarlett Johansson,

GITS  was actually one of my more anticipated films of 2017, a live action anime adaptation from Hollywood, what?! I asked myself last year, while looking forward to its release, with Scarlett Johansson being cast, I had my hopes up, then I watched the film…. and admittedly the film is a bit of a weird viewing, just because it’s a live action version of an anime I’ve known about for ages. But also because of the direction of the film, being ironically very flat, lifeless and dull, much like the Ghost shells that people live in in the world of the film, the aesthetics are great and seeing a futuristic Tokyo is cool and all, but there’s a distinct lack of atmosphere in a lot of scenes, even in some of the action scenes.

This is in part due to the rather dull colour palette of the film and because of any real atmosphere in scenes, which makes some dramatic moments and action sequences feel a bit flat but that being said, certain set pieces you’ve probably seen in the trailers are done decently. In terms of acting, the cast is passable, Scar-Jo does her thing and fits the role of Major quite well, being driven and motivated to achieve her goals, whilst also being a bit emotionless and flat and while this does play well for the character somewhat, it makes her hard to empathise or engage with. It’s a shame because the film looks great and it’s definitely an ambitious effort for it to even exist but the plot simply fails to be engaging enough to really get you invested, due in part to poor story telling that just doesn’t quite endear you enough to Major. There really is a lot of story to tell with Major and I feel that a single live action film just doesn’t quite do her story justice, though you could look at this film as just one adaptation of a story, certain things feel a but rushed.

I won’t fault Ghost In The Shell for a lack of ambition or direction but I will fault it for poor execution, seemingly failing to capitalize on an interestingly thematic anime series, sure the futuristic elements are cool and all but that’s not all GITS is and while mostly faithfully portraying elements of the series, the film feels a bit flat, lifeless and uninspired.

6/10

. Has some good visuals

. Plot is quite dull, not as engaging as it could have been

. Acting is ok, nothing special