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Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
2015 | Action, Sci-Fi
Awesome
When an artificial intelligence outthinks its creator and forms itself into dozens of destructive robots, Earth's mightiest heroes come together once again to put a stop to the threat.

Acting: 10

Beginning: 10
As most MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) films tend to do, Avengers: Age of Ultron gets off to a really quick start wasting no time with action. Everyone gets a piece in the first ten minutes and they're working even better together than they did in the first film. While Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) flex their muscle and rip tanks in half, Hawkeye Jeremy Renner) pierces through dudes like the modern-day Legolas.

Characters: 10
A part of what works so well for these characters is how grossly different their backstories and personalities are. Hawkeye is a family man that uses humor to mask his annoyance in certain situations. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is constantly pushing the boundary envelope and acts superior to the ideas and thoughts of the rest of the group. Normally you hate a guy like this but he wears the hat so well. Throw in Vision, a benevolent AI with a sense of purpose, and the rest of the crew and you have a pretty solid character-base.

AI of the hour Ultron (James Spader) is a villain with a surprising amount of depth. He fights for his own cause which, in his mind, is the only necessary option for balance and preservation. His smooth, even-keeled voice can be chilling at times making for some pretty solid scenes.

Cinematography/Visuals: 10

Conflict: 10
There is enough action in the film for two films. The plot steamrolls into new scenes of combat, one after the next. Dull moments are nonexistent. There is something about having all of these characters on the screen at the same time that keeps the film exciting and fresh. Teamups are especially cool, watching pairs like Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor perform unique combo moves. You want eye candy? The film delivers.

Genre: 8
Not the best superhero film I've seen, although I believe that says more about the emergence of the genre than the film itself. This century has ushered in some phenomenal superhero movies that do the genre proud, including ones that set themselves apart by having enriched characters and deeper meaning. Age of Ultron is solid, but falls just slightly out of the Cream of the Crop territory.

Memorability: 9
The action sequences alone played throughout my mind well after having watched the film. Among other things, Age of Ultron gives you a falling city along with a classic matchup between Hulk and Stark in the Hulkbuster suit. Perhaps the most memorable part came at the very end when Ultron and Vision are having a conversation about the fate of humanity. Part foreshadowing, part introspection, it was a very fitting way to bring the curtain down on the action.

Pace: 10

Plot: 9

Resolution: 8

Overall: 94
No, it's not the best MCU film made to date, but it's still a high-quality film with a solid story and memorable sequences that keep you glued to your seat. Thankful for the rewatch as I enjoyed it even more the second time around.
  
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
2015 | Action, Sci-Fi
Hulk Continues to Smash...and I'm Here For All of it
When an artificial intelligence outthinks its creator and forms itself into dozens of destructive robots, Earth's mightiest heroes come together once again to put a stop to the threat.

Acting: 10

Beginning: 10
As most MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) films tend to do, Avengers: Age of Ultron gets off to a really quick start wasting no time with action. Everyone gets a piece in the first ten minutes and they're working even better together than they did in the first film. While Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) flex their muscle and rip tanks in half, Hawkeye Jeremy Renner) pierces through dudes like the modern-day Legolas.

Characters: 10
A part of what works so well for these characters is how grossly different their backstories and personalities are. Hawkeye is a family man that uses humor to mask his annoyance in certain situations. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is constantly pushing the boundary envelope and acts superior to the ideas and thoughts of the rest of the group. Normally you hate a guy like this but he wears the hat so well. Throw in Vision, a benevolent AI with a sense of purpose, and the rest of the crew and you have a pretty solid character-base.

AI of the hour Ultron (James Spader) is a villain with a surprising amount of depth. He fights for his own cause which, in his mind, is the only necessary option for balance and preservation. His smooth, even-keeled voice can be chilling at times making for some pretty solid scenes.

Cinematography/Visuals: 10

Conflict: 10
There is enough action in the film for two films. The plot steamrolls into new scenes of combat, one after the next. Dull moments are nonexistent. There is something about having all of these characters on the screen at the same time that keeps the film exciting and fresh. Teamups are especially cool, watching pairs like Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor perform unique combo moves. You want eye candy? The film delivers.

Genre: 8
Not the best superhero film I've seen, although I believe that says more about the emergence of the genre than the film itself. This century has ushered in some phenomenal superhero movies that do the genre proud, including ones that set themselves apart by having enriched characters and deeper meaning. Age of Ultron is solid, but falls just slightly out of the Cream of the Crop territory.

Memorability: 9
The action sequences alone played throughout my mind well after having watched the film. Among other things, Age of Ultron gives you a falling city along with a classic matchup between Hulk and Stark in the Hulkbuster suit. Perhaps the most memorable part came at the very end when Ultron and Vision are having a conversation about the fate of humanity. Part foreshadowing, part introspection, it was a very fitting way to bring the curtain down on the action.

Pace: 10

Plot: 9

Resolution: 8

Overall: 94
No, it's not the best MCU film made to date, but it's still a high-quality film with a solid story and memorable sequences that keep you glued to your seat. Thankful for the rewatch as I enjoyed it even more the second time around.
  
Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
2019 | Action, Sci-Fi
I think I was one of the few people that was ultimately disappointed by Spider-Man: Homecoming. After Spider-Man's impressive and thrilling introduction to the Marvel universe during Captain America: Civil War, I felt Homecoming to be somewhat lacking - set pieces that had already been shown in the trailer, bigger set pieces that were difficult to follow on screen and, to quote my review, "too much awkward teen, not enough action hero". I even used the phrase "superhero fatigue", which funnily enough is a phrase currently being bandied around by some for this next Spider-Man venture, Far From Home, particularly in the wake of the intense Avengers: Endgame earlier this year. So, let's just say I was cautiously optimistic heading in to see this movie.

We kick off with a brief introduction to what will dominate the rest of the movie - Nick Fury and Maria Hill arrive in Mexico, where "a cyclone with a face" has completely destroyed a small town. As this new threat returns to wreak even more havoc, a mysterious new hero arrives to face it square on in battle, dramatically declaring to the startled S.H.I.E.L.D agents, "you don't want any part of this". From there, we switch to a lighthearted wrap up of the devastating events surrounding Infinity War/Endgame, in the form of an amateur high school news report. Mourning the loss of fallen heroes (accompanied by Whitney Houston singing 'I Will Always Love You'!), the report goes on to explain how "The Blip" - the term many are using to describe the effects of the 5 year period where half of the population were wiped from existence. Having the population age 5 years while the returning half haven't aged at all naturally has humorous consequences when it comes to students and their school life, but essentially humanity has managed to move on and has learnt to deal with it. Someone who is struggling to move on though, particularly from the loss of mentor/surrogate father, Tony Stark, is young Peter Parker. Desperately in need of a summer vacation, and a break from being Spider-Man, Parker cannot wait to join the rest of his friends, and crucially MJ (Zendaya), on an upcoming school trip which will take them to various European destinations.

But there's no chance of any kind of break for Spider-Man just yet, as Nick Fury has other plans for him. Peter does the unthinkable though and ignores the many phone calls from Fury, until he eventually tracks him down for a face to face meeting in his Venice hotel room. Since the incident in Mexico, S.H.I.E.L.D have been working with the mysterious new hero, Quentin Beck, or 'Mysterio' as he has now been dubbed, and Peter (along with us) are now brought up to speed on the origins of Quentin and these new global threats. Quentin actually comes from an alternate Earth where these creatures, known as The Elementals (monstrous versions of wind, fire, water and air), were responsible for the destruction of not only his world but his entire family too. The most powerful Elemental, fire, is yet to appear on our Earth and Mysterio, along with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D and Spider-Man, need to locate and stop it before it becomes too powerful for them to defeat.

Peter isn't initially interested though, being more concerned about jeopardising his school trip and exposing his identity, not to mention ruining his chances of finally hooking up with MJ. So, the rest of the movie nicely splits itself between teen high school banter/comedy drama and international superhero action. Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) features prominently throughout the movie, helping to guide and mentor Peter in the absence of his old boss Tony Stark, and providing plenty of comic relief along the way too. He also passes onto Peter, a gift from Tony Stark - a pair of Jarvis-like talking shades called EDITH (Even Dead I'm The Hero!) - which initially act as a funny and poignant accessory for Peter, but proves to be a hugely important part of how the rest of the movie plays out.

Beyond that, I'm struggling to avoid spoilers. And there are a lot of them. If you're familiar with the comics though (and despite having some vague familiarity with them, I'd completely forgotten everything!), you'll be able to predict a lot of what comes next anyway. But, once again, I have to say how amazed I am that Marvel managed to produce trailers for this movie which not only mislead you into believing that you know exactly which direction this movie is heading in, but also feature scenes which aren't in the final movie! As a result, I found Far From Home to be a truly wonderful surprise, and even if you know how it's all going to play out, you should still manage to get a huge amount of enjoyment from seeing the masters of storytelling at work yet again. This movie gave me Endgame-level thrills and goose-bump moments, over and over again throughout. Visually, it's outstanding - with impressive action scenes and trippy sequences the likes of which we haven't seen since Doctor Strange. Jake Gyllenhaal is perfect as Mysterio too, really bringing the character to life, and by the end of it all I was just completely blown away. So when the mid credit sequence hit, opening up some shocking possibilities for future movies, I was almost hyperventilating with excitement!
  
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Nicholaus Prescott (129 KP) Jul 6, 2019

Homecoming is a terrible movie. I hate all the characters and none of them can act. I was done with marvel after the last movie, same goes for star wars. After this trilogy is through I'm over it. No more of my money is going to Disney or any of their properties.

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Emma @ The Movies (564 KP) rated Life Itself (2018) in Movies

Jun 22, 2019 (Updated Sep 25, 2019)  
Life Itself (2018)
Life Itself (2018)
2018 | Drama, Romance
This film is hard to watch, not because it's not good but because there's a lot of chaos to the story at the beginning. We're then treated to a portion that's entirely in Spanish which kicks off an emotional rollercoaster that brings us into the end.

One of the things we see near the beginning of this story almost instantly made me dislike the film, the story line exposes the fact that what we're hearing might not be what actually happened. It plays on the point that one person's view of something isn't the same as another person's. This will sound silly when I say it but I was annoyed that it had pointed out that the film might be lying to me. The reason it's particularly silly is that this same scenario happens a lot in all sorts of films. I know films lie to me but I don't want to know it.

I'm sitting here tapping my pen as I try and write this review, the film left me perplexed in so many ways. I went into the film prepared for what I thought I was going to see and yet it opened with Samuel L. Jackson. You read that right, I haven't lost the plot, Samuel L. "MFing" Jackson. Admittedly he was there doing what I love best about him but he only added to my confusion. The sort of film this is, opening with him, even with the context it makes no sense.

We're treated to lots of great actors in this one but I have to say that I was most happy to see Annette Bening pop up. (The American President used to be one of my go to films. I've also just noticed Captain Marvel in her filmography... *wheezes into a paper bag*) Her part may have been fleeting but in the chaotic part of the film she was the only grounded point. From my high to my low point... Oscar Isaac. It actually upsets me to put him in this position as I've enjoyed him in most of his recent films but I wasn't feeling the love for his character Will. In nearly every scene I could see a style I associate with Jake Johnson and honestly I'd much rather have seen him trying that role.

If you can make it to the mid-way point of the movie then you do get a much more palatable film, and a predictable one. There is a point where you absolutely know what is going to happen at the end of the film and from thereon in you look for the connections before they happen. Despite that point it's a satisfactory ending to a rather mixed bag.

We were also treated to a Q&A after the film featuring Dan Fogelman (writer and director) and actress Olivia Cooke. Sadly it was a bit of an anti-climax, I often find that these featurettes can offer some fascinating insights into the goings on but this seemed more like an after thought for this preview.

What you should do

As if to add insult to injury you don't need to leave the house to see this film as it is made by Sky (although I'm also seeing Amazon Studios coming up in places, but I'm sure the film actually said Sky) and premieres on Sky Cinema at the same time as being released at cinemas. If you can see it on there then go for it, I'm not sure it's cinema worthy.

Movie thing you wish you could take home

A life picking olives in the Spanish countryside?
  
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
2019 | Sci-Fi, Thriller
Robert Downey JR, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner....some to think of it, everything (0 more)
I'll let you know! (0 more)
Ending The Game
Contains spoilers, click to show
Avengers: Endgame - the concluding installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's 'Infinity Saga', has made box office history, breaking a number of records on its' journey (thus far) of becoming the second highest grossing movie ever in a short period of time. Bringing together the story threads of 21 films before it 'Endgame' had a number of hurdles to overcome - not only did the Russo Brothers have to find a satisfying way to reverse the effects of 'The Decimation' (if you have to ask then you're probably reading the wrong review!) but they had to do so in a way that did not lessen the impact of 'Infinity War', whilst bringing to a close a number of character arcs for many well respected and founding members of Marvel's flagship superhero team and setting the course and direction for whatever comes next.

The question is, did it succeed?

At the time of writing 'Endgame' has been in cinemas for over two weeks and all embargoes pertaining to spoilers have since been rescinded. It is on that note that I will make the following SPOILER ALERT and advise anyone yet to see the movie (is there actually anyone out there daring to call themselves a fan who hasn't seen it?!) to leave now.....

Endgame picks up a few short weeks after the events of 'Infinity War' and depicts the surviving heroes of Thanos's snap coming up again him once again. The encounter is very short lived but doesn't go as planned/hoped effectively destroying all hope for returning the vanished. Que a five year time-jump..

Steve Rogers heads up a support group for the survivors, Natasha Romanoff directs the remaining Avengers refusing to move on, Tony Stark and Pepper Potts are living a quiet life raising their daughter, Thor has spiraled into despair at New Asgard effectively leaving Valkyrie in charge, Clint Barton has become the blood-thirsty vigilante Ronin - tracking down and eliminating those criminals who escaped the decimation when his family didn't, and Bruce Banner has found a way to merge personalities with the Hulk allowing both to co-exist as one (Professor Hulk).

Things look pretty grim until AntMan (Scott Lang) returns - quite accidentally, from the Quantum Realm bringing with him the key to bringing everyone back and reversing Thanos's decimation. And that's where time travel appears...

The Avengers must travel back to key moments in their history to remove the Infinity Stones and bring them to the present where Stark and Banner create their own Gauntlet to house them. This involves the second act of the movie displaying some time travel shenanigans as our heroes interact with events - and themselves, of previously seen movies. Such encounters include revisiting the events of Avengers Assemble, Thor:The Dark World, and Guardians Of The Galaxy. Don't expect a retread of the 'Back To The Future' franchise however, as Avengers: Endgame creates its' own rules for time travel. Basically, going back in time and interfering with established events does not alter the future - instead it creates a branched reality (think parallel timeline), however traversing the Quantum Realm will still return you to the original timeline you came from. In other words, go back in time kill Thanos, return to the future and you've changed nothing.... Simple, right?!

That's the basic gist, and all I'll give you for now.

Whilst this does follow on from 'Infinity War', 'Endgame' is stylistically and tonally a different movie. Whereas the former threw us straight into the thick of the action and never let up until the devastating conclusion, throwing a cavalcade of heroes at us in a relentless fashion, 'Endgame' scales it all back (for two thirds of the running time at least) focusing on the original six core Avengers (with strong support from Don Cheadle's War Machine, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Paul Rudd (returning as AntMan), and of course, Rocket Raccoon! With the preceding movie been Captain Marvel you would be forgiven for thinking Brie Larson would play a strong role in this movie, however - with a throwaway line earlier on justifying her absence, Carol Danvers features for all of around fifteen minutes! That's not to say she doesn't make an impact when she does I might add! Given the downbeat tone to 'Endgame' there is a lot of humour from start to finish - Chris Hemsworth, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, I'm looking at you most here!, which in no way detracts from the weight of what's at sake here.

Josh Brolin is back as Thanos, and Thanos...that's right, two versions of the mad Titan appear. The one whom our heroes go up against during the final third act is a past version who travels forward in time to present after seeing into his own future and witnessing the efforts of Earth's Mightiest Heroes and the lengths they are prepared to go to in order to 'decimate' his plans. This is a Thanos whom I would deem more ruthless that 'Infinity War's' protagonist, a Thanos now determined to erase ALL life in the Universe.

I imagine the biggest question - well, one biggie amongst many, fans going into this movie blind had concerned who would return after the shocking climax to 'Infinity War' (along with whether those who died in that movie stayed that way). There was never any doubt - was there, that the vanished would return? It isn't that much of a spoiler then to reveal that the final thirty minutes or so of 'Endgame' features every MCU hero on screen together embroiled in the biggest fight of their lives. And what a visual delight it is. The visuals in this film are fantastic and the final battle rivals anything Peter Jackson gave us.

I was fortunate enough to see 'Endgame' at the first screening (pre-midnight) at a local cinema and what an experience it was - a mini comic con. The atmosphere was electric and it was a highly memorable experience.

Everyone involved in this movie deserves kudos, for this lifelong superhero fanboy Avengers: Endgame is the best movie....ever.

If I may digress somewhat, there has been much confusion reported concerning the movie's ending, namely the resolution to Steve Rogers' story. Having returned the Infinity Stones to their rightful place in the MCU timeline Cap chooses to remain in the past (circa 1940-ish) and to live out his life with Peggy Carter (the final shot shows the two having that well overdue dance). Whilst the perfect sendoff this has left many conflicted as to the implications with some reviewers claiming this goes against the rules established earlier in the movie relating to the use of time travel. It really isn't that complicated. Essentially there are two theories at play that can explain the climax.
The first is that Steve simply lived out a life in secrecy within the established continuity, choosing not to involve himself in major events. This does not contradict what we've seen so far - back in 'The Winter Soldier' we see archive footage of Peggy from the nineteen fifties in which she talks about Captain America saving her (un-named) husband during the war. It isn't really a reach of the imagination to suspect that Cap and this man are one and the same. In the same movie, present day Steve visits a dying Peggy - clearly suffering the effects of dementia, who apologises to him for the life he didn't have. Could this be a reference to the man she married having to live a life of secrecy, choosing to stay out of the fight for fear of creating a divergent reality? Given that the movie establishes that actions in the past will not change the future (within the main timeline) Steve's interference would not change anything in 'our' reality anyhow.
The second theory is that Steve created a branched reality by reuniting with Peggy and lived a fulfilling life in that alternate timeline, only returning to the main timeline an old man when the time was right to handover the shield to Sam Wilson/Falcon (as seen at the end of the movie). Sure, this raises questions as to how Steve was able to cross realities but to be honest - that's a story for another time and the answer isn't important (for now).
Further confusing things is the fact that the Writers and Directors cannot seemingly agree, with Marcus and McFeely disputing the alternate reality theory that the Russo brothers subscribe to. You could argue that surely it is the Writer's view that counts, as..after all, they wrote it! Well, yes and no. The directors translate their understanding of the written word onto the screen and it has been reported that additional material was filmed after test audiences struggled with the time travel aspects of the film. Therefore it's not that hard to believe that the film - and that ending, were shot in a way that supported the film-makers understanding. I subscribe to the former - the romantic in me and all that, with Steve's story coming full circle with the revelation that he was always there with Peggy. Either way, both theories work and preserve the integrity of what has come before.
In any regard it's the perfect ending for Captain America!

So, to conclude....did it succeed? OH YES!!
  
Wonder Woman (2017)
Wonder Woman (2017)
2017 | Action, Fantasy, War
Gal Gadot Rocks! (0 more)
Villains are underdeveloped, and a bit rubbish (0 more)
After a pretty lengthy drought, we finally get another decent DC movie
As the DC TV universe continues to go from strength to strength, the DC movie universe is gradually going downhill. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Man of Steel, despite the overloaded CGI destruction at the end. I didn’t mind Batman Vs Superman either, even with Jesse Eisenberg doing his very best to try and ruin it. But, despite successfully introducing two other major DC heavyweight characters (and not so successfully introducing a few others) and picking up steam in the final act, the movie struggled. Suicide Squad then managed to take bad to a completely new level, and was just a complete train-wreck.

Batman Vs Superman was our first introduction to Wonder Woman in the DC movie universe, and she was the most entertaining and promising aspect of the whole movie. As a child of the 70s, I grew up watching and enjoying the Wonder Woman TV show, along with re-runs of the Batman 60s show and of course the Christopher Reeve Superman movies. After all these years of countless Batman and Superman movies, it was great to not only see Wonder Woman finally on the big screen, but also to see her being portrayed so well. Now, with her standalone movie coming out a few months before the mediocre looking Justice League movie, this is not only an important movie for DC but also an important first step in finally bringing strong female superheroes to the big screen. Paving the way for Captain Marvel, a Black Widow standalone movie, and more. This had to be good.

Thankfully, it is. Although there’s still a long way to go in order to reach the level that Marvel already managed to achieve many movies ago, this is indeed a serious step up for DC. Opening with a brief scene set in present day, Wonder Woman then takes us back to Themyscira. A paradise island, hidden from view from the rest of the world, where a young Diana lives peacefully among her Amazon tribe. Despite their peaceful existence though, the Amazons are constantly preparing themselves for the return of Ares, God of War. Archery and combat training is undertaken daily on the island, under the guidance of Dianas aunt, General Antiope (Robin Wright). Diana is keen to train too and her reluctant mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), eventually agrees, requesting that General Antiope train her hard and make her the best. As Diana grows into a woman, training has clearly gone well and she’s even managing to give her aunt a good run for her money! Just in time too as World War 1 pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes through the invisible barrier cloaking the island and crash lands into the sea, closely followed by a bunch of Germans who are on his tail. Time for the Amazon women to put their training to good use, but not without some casualties…

Steve tells Diana of the great war that’s raging throughout the world and Diana believes this to be the return of Ares. She decides to leave her home and travel with Steve to put an end to Ares once and for all. So, she grabs her shield and lasso of truth and ‘borrows’ the sacred ‘God Killer’ sword from the tower it rests in and off they go. Leaving behind the bright, vibrant island of Themyscira and returning to the traditional, dark grey pallet of colours that we’re used to seeing in our DC movies as they head to war-torn London.

Steve takes over as charming tour guide as Diana enters the human world for the first time. Her innocence and curiosity of the modern world are played beautifully by Gadot, with plenty of fish-out-of-water style humour too. But she’s also never afraid to question and stand up for what she believes in and tackle those who try and oppose her, giving an interesting perspective on aspects of humanity which deserve to be questioned. Her drive to get to the front-line of war, to seek out Ares and supposedly end all war by defeating him, constantly driving her forward. Romance eventually blossoms between Diana and Steve, but it feels natural and believable and helps to hold the movie together during some of its slower moments.

When Wonder Woman manages to get to the front line and steps out into no-mans land, ignoring the advice of Steve and those around her, it’s magnificent. It heralds the first in a series of magnificent action sequences involving German soldiers as she puts her training to good use. Initially shielding herself from the onslaught of bullets before moving onto the offensive with some bad-ass combat moves, slo-mo back-flips, jumps, whip action and displays of pure power and strength. Everything we got a glimpse of in Batman Vs Superman, ramped up to the max, perfectly executed and accompanied by a rocking soundtrack!

Where Wonder Woman doesn’t work so well is in the handling of its villains. Whenever we switch to General Ludendorff and Doctor Poison, busily developing deadly gases to unleash, momentum seems to be lost. And as for Ares, when we do finally meet him he’s pretty laughable, with no clearly defined motivation or character. Following a bit of villain monologue, we get the general gist of what his beef is and then the last 20 minutes or so descend into the over the top CG destruction that we’re so used to seeing now in these movies. It’s a minor gripe, and not handled as badly as some previous movies, but along with the pacing issues it does affect the overall enjoyment of the movie somewhat.

None of this detracts from Wonder Woman herself though. Gal Gadot has truly made this role her own and displays the perfect mix of strength, beauty, brains, confidence, determination and general all-round girl power. She can more than hold her own in the DC universe and should hopefully be a prominent force in the upcoming Justice League movie and beyond.
  
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
2019 | Action, Adventure
A surprisingly pleasant thrill-ride!
The Fast & The Furious franchise paused to allow two of it's most memorable, larger-than-life characters to branch out on their own with this action-packed offering of explosions and humour.

I have to admit, I had my reservations about this one. Firstly, it's basically a F&F movie... we all know what they are and what to expect, which is why we love them. Except it's not a proper F&F movie, and I was worried labelling it as part of that story universe would burden it with unrealistic expectations. Secondly, I've spent the last few months trying to avoid trailers for it, when I realised they were basically showing the entire film in them. After the first three or four, I was left genuinely concerned they had nothing left to show me. I thought there was no way they could have any eye candy that I hadn't at least seen a snapshot of.

So, I entered the cinema expecting very little. Which is probably why I left the cinema feeling very happy and satisfied.

Saying this is a F&F movie is like saying Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy are Marvel movies. Yes, they technically are, but they are two hugely different types of movie. The similarities are obviously more prevalent here, along with the formulaic and predictable buddy-cop routine, but this film manages to confidently and successfully stand on its own two feet, and not in the shadow of Vin Diesel as I first feared.

And yes, the trailers showed snippets of pretty much every major action sequence, but weirdly, they didn't give away as much you would think. There are also some nice surprises in there. I won't spoil them, but let's just say I'm very impressed at how they managed to keep the cameos under wraps!

Okay, let's get into it. The plot (such as it is) revolves around a mysterious tech firm trying to get a hold of a deadly virus, using Idris Elba's enjoyable villain, Brixton to track it down. It takes all of five minutes for things to go sideways, leaving Hattie Shaw on the run from the bad guys. The Powers That Be (the CIA and MI6) decide they need the best bad guy trackers in the business to hunt down Brixton and retrieve this virus, and the girl... thus saving the world. The former recruits Mr. Johnson; the latter, Mr. Statham. As we know from the trailers, Vanessa Kirby portrays Shaw's sister - it becomes a family affair and we're off to the races.

The on-screen chemistry between Statham and Johnson is clear to see. The comedic dialogue they have lands a lot more than it misses. There's perhaps a bit too much gung-ho stereotyping and fan-service catchphrases, but again, you have to expect that kind of thing from a film like this.

What I liked about it was that whilst they didn't re-invent the wheel, it didn't feel like a carbon-copy of every other action film, like so many others do. It had heart. It had character. Yes, some of the stunts were silly. Yes, the bad guy being genetically-enhanced was a bit weird - blending sci-fi with real-world action whilst never actually acknowledging it took some getting used to. But the film just kinda worked. It was very good without being great. It was predictable but still managed to be enjoyable. It's a good two-hour investment of your time for an afternoon/evening out with the family.

Hobbs and Shaw is proof that whatever your criticisms, whatever your reservations, anything Dwayne Johnson touches turns to gold right now. It's also what a potential future Expendables reboot will probably look like.

Meanwhile F&F9 is now filming (sans Statham and Johnson, apparently) and with an inevitable H&S sequel surely not too far away, you can't help but wonder if they're gearing this all up to be a super-charged, car-based competitor to the MCU. The ending, two mid-credits and one post-credits scene in this film clearly set up another outing and tease a sinister, overarching enemy with ties to the character's pasts... could this be a way to link it all back to Vin Diesel and Co? Could a crossover Summer blockbuster be the only way to tell this story? If early box office figures are anything to go by here, the smart money would say yes.

Go, enjoy, eat popcorn and leave your brain and the real world in the car.
  
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Ryan Hill (128 KP) rated Suicide Squad (2016) in Movies

May 9, 2019 (Updated May 26, 2019)  
Suicide Squad (2016)
Suicide Squad (2016)
2016 | Action
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn Will Smith as Deadshot Jai Courtney as Captain boomerang Viola Davis as Amanda waller The actual suicide squad team The soundtrack (0 more)
Lack of Joker scenes Messy plot Enchantress was an awful villain Belly dancing Lackluster action scenes Third act was forgettable (0 more)
"Oh, I'm not gonna kill you... I'm just gonna hurt you really, really bad."
Suicide Squad, aka Suicide Squandered, was one of my most anticipated movies of 2016. It would bring back to the big screen one of the most iconic comic book characters, Mr. J, and Harley Quinn would make her long awaited movie debut. It also promised to offer a different approach on the superhero genre, as it would star the villains instead of the good guys.

However, the movie delivers much less than what it teases. It begins on a high note, by introducing some characters in a fun, energetic and fast-paced way, in spite of the messy editing that makes these segments look like mini trailers. It goes downhill from there, showing only a couple of scenes more that could justify all the love these superhero movies get. Ultimately, what distinguishes these sequences from the mediocre ones are the characters in them and whether the audience cares for them or not.

Displaying some information on the screen about certain characters or telling their backstory doesn't necessarily contribute to their development, nor to the knowledge the viewer has about them. Therefore, it's impossible to care about all the characters and only those who are played by the (more) famous actors have any meaning to the audience.

Will Smith's Deadshot is the best of the bunch. Smith has this unique ability to deliver comedic lines that many comedians wish they had. His charisma drives most of the movie and so does his character's motivation. Right now, he could be the only character capable of leading a franchise of his own. Deadshot ended up establishing a mildly interesting dynamic with Joel Kinnaman's forgettable Rick Flag.

Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn is the other character we end up caring about. Robbie provides a fantastic performance and hits all the right notes. Her amazing backstory is only slightly explored and it has potential for a future psychological thriller movie. With the right script and direction, it could be an incredible film. People have already talked about her body and I can only add that she could possibly be right below Kate Hudson's Penny Lane on the sexiest female movie characters. She could.

I love all sorts of crazy and psychotic performances on screen. In fact, one of my favourites is Gary Oldman's in Leon. Jared Leto delivers another one of those performances. It's truly stellar, I loved his interpretation of the Joker and I believe Leto can still receive high praise for his extraordinary efforts. It could happen in the form of that Batman movie, by Matt Reeves.

Just to conclude my thought on the performances, I would like to add that Viola Davis is an excellent Amanda Waller, even more menacing that Cara Delevingne's witch, more on that later. Jai Courtney was great , he got all the best jokes. Jay Hernandez sounds a lot like Jon Bernthal's Frank Castle, doesn't he? His Diablo is the best character, out of the less interesting ones. I love Katana from CW's Arrow and it was disappointing to see that the screenwriters didn't care about her, even more so because Karen Fukuhara seems perfect for the role. Killer Croc has the best entrance on water ever.

A movie is as good as its villain, right? Indeed. Cara Delevingne's Enchantress could very well be the worst movie villain ever. Malekith is relegated to second place. Honestly, I don't know who's to blame. Sure, Delevingne's acting isn't top-notch, but the screenwriters made her dance (?) in a weird way and her voice is laughable. The final result is ridiculous and by far the worst aspect of the movie.

While Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a dark film and proud to 'own that shit', Suicide Squad is ashamed to exhibit that dark side, which results in confusing tone shifts. One moment, it's clearly a DC movie, and another, it is a Marvel family friendly one. Therefore, the comedy sometimes doesn't land, at all. Besides, I also didn't find anything special about the way the action was shot. It was generic stuff, mostly.

Suicide Squad is a huge waste of potential, that could have benefited from some character development and sharp editing. Its greatest strenght is undoubtedly the work done by the talented cast. Could a different cut fix some of these issues? Probably, yes. I was going to attribute 6 stars to this, but a second watch didn't help, either. By the way, what was your favourite sequence? Spoiler alert: mine was the one in which Joker jumps into the acid to Harley.
  
Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
2019 | Action, Sci-Fi
Director: Jon Watts
Writer: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers (Screenplay) Steve Ditko, Stan Lee (Comic Book)
Starring: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya, Samuel L Jackson, Jon Favreau, Angourie Rice, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori
 
Plot: Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.
 
Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes
 
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
 
Verdict: An Entertaining Jumble
 
Story: Spider-Man Far from Home starts when Peter Parker (Holland) and his classmates MJ (Zendaya), Ned (Batalon), Flash (Revolori) and others head off to Europe for a scientific school trip, Peter’s plan is to finally tell MJ how he feels, but things don’t go to plan.
Peter finds himself recruited by Nick Fury (Jackson) to help new superhero Quentin Beck known as Mysterio (Gyllenhaal) fight a new threat that is attacking cities in Europe, trying to decide if he is ready to tackle the added responsibility of being a superhero.
 
Thoughts on Spider-Man Far from Home
 
Characters – Peter Parker has two main storylines going on in this film, one side of him is the high school student that wants to tell the girl he likes his feeling, nervous and social awkward. The second one sees him facing the reality that he was hand picked to step up and help save the world, a decision which sees him wanting to just take a break from. Watching Peter balance the two is interesting because the high school one was the weaker side, the superhero side is very interesting to follow. Nick Fury is also adapting to life after the snap, where he isn’t in the same level of control on everything going on in the world, he wants Peter to come and work for him and doesn’t like being told no. They did try to recapture certain elements of the chemistry he had with Captain Marvel too. Quentin Beck is the new superhero dubbed Mysterio because of his powers and ability to defeat the elementals that have started attacking the major cities, he offers Peter a chance to discuss his position with having powers like nobody else has since Tony’s death. MJ is the girl of Peter’s dreams, she is very different to both versions of MJ we have seen before, being very distant to the rest of the class, but always manages to capture Peter watching her.
Performances – Tom Holland does do a very good job in the leading role, if it was just the high school side of the film, he does struggle at times, but it is the human effect of being a superhero that completely makes you believe what he is going through. Samuel L Jackson does what we expect from him in a supporting role, as does Zendaya who does everything without standing out. Jake Gyllenhaal though, he was a joy to watch especially in the second half of the film, he just takes his role and runs with it.
Story – The story here follows Peter Parker on his high school trip that gets interrupted to help try and save the world from a new threat, testing him to see if he is ready to replace Iron-Man. This like the character of Peter Parker can be broken down into two simple positives and negatives, the high school trip stuff, is there, most of it gets pretty boring quickly, it is here to help show a human life that he could have though. The superhero side of the story is the highlight because it does get to show how the once confident Peter is starting to question if he is ready to step up after seeing the consequences to what has happened to people in their lives. The villain is a surprise and while I won’t get into details, it is very entertaining to watch and could be one of the best they have bought to a stand alone film.
Action/Sci-Fi – The action in this film is brilliant to watch, it blends with the special effects and doesn’t turn into anything as ridiculous as it could be when you see the fights. The sci-fi element of the film does address the dangers of technology being in the wrong hands once again, but it all works for the story being shown here.
Settings – The film gives us the basic European settings, we have Venice, Prague, Berlin and London, you know well know locations that have large populations which could get destroyed.
Special Effects – The effects in the film did seem flawless, we do have large scale, dust, water and fire monsters used for battles which all look like they could be real along with certain twists in the story which only add to the effects.

Scene of the Movie – What is real?
That Moment That Annoyed Me – Most of the high school stuff.
Final Thoughts – This is a real mixed bag of a superhero movie, it could have been fantastic, only it gets too carried away dealing with the high school world which does drag things down.
 
Overall: Entertaining enough.
Rating
  
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
2019 | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
There are automatically problems with concluding films in a series, a definite set of things need to be achieved and that doesn't always mean the film can have the same impact as its predecessors. I don't know if this is quite where my struggles with the film came from but it probably didn't help.

I enjoy Star Wars but I wouldn't classify myself as a fan, I like the originals, I've really enjoyed the latest instalments, but I'd happily never watch the prequels again. Rewatching The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi was a joy, I don't remember them being that good, so it was sad to get yet another conclusion this year that didn't leave me with good feelings.

We obviously get the same set of actors doing the usual thing, I wasn't particularly wowed by any of the performances. Adam Driver certainly came across better to me, partly because I finally saw a film of his this year where I felt like he could act, and also because he genuinely had a sound performance through the film.

What appears to be the main theme for our cast is that a lot of them get screwed over. Rose in particular, someone online did the maths, 1 minute and 16 seconds of screen time in a 2 hour and 22-minute film. Her first appearance is so dismissive that it was very clear we weren't going to be seeing her. I'd have felt much better if they hologrammed her from somewhere else in the galaxy being hero own hero and left it at that, or then brought her in at the last minute to Captain Marvel that shit. It felt like a fear of offending the trolls, which is a little redundant considering they were going to go off regardless about something.

Finn and Poe, the ultimate bromance. Every time they appeared onscreen there was the rom-com moment where they'd run into each other's arms and kiss... we were robbed each and every time. With news going around about LGBT representation in RoS we could hope though... but what we got was a token kiss from two extras that didn't feel like it was anything more than ticking the box. R2D2 and C3P0 had a better gay storyline than that kiss did.

Finn didn't exactly get a great life in Rise Of Skywalker, as I sit here thinking about his role the only bit I can recall off the top of my head is that he spent a lot of time trying to tell Rey something yet never managed it. Every time it happened I had an uncomfortable feeling and really didn't want it to be what I thought it was. There are other things that Finn did that I can remember, but for the main thing to be this completely irrelevant piece of story to be number one is a complete joke.

Trying to decipher what happened with the Leia footage has my mind-boggling. They used unused footage from the previous movies and shoe-horned it into the story depending on what they had and could make out of it. With all the technology we have I'm honestly surprised how bad it looked. There's always something slightly off about footage that's doctored like this, Leia didn't look like she was in the same colour palette as the rest of the film in several scenes, and you get back of the headshots to fill the interactions with Rey. I dislike that in most films because actual actor or not it always looks like it's something they've had to re-shoot without the original actor. There's also one scene where we see a young Leia and Luke training, Luke looks quite convincing but Leia's recreation is terrible. Being that there's no dialogue in this bit I'm not sure why they couldn't dig into the archives for something more suitable.

When it comes to effects in the rest of the film it's obviously the usual quality you'd expect, I did suffer a couple of times where scenes were very busy with movement and it set off my motion sickness, those bits might have been dubious but I'd honestly not be able to tell you!

Rise Of Skywalker might have been more aptly named Rise Of The Machines (to steal from another franchise). BB-8 is always adorable, and D-0 was a fun little addition. C3P0 really had some great airtime though, some moments made me laugh, some made me cry, along with Kylo he probably faired the best overall.

As the beginning of the film started so slowly I was concerned about what was in store. Trundling along with nothing seemingly happening I was bored and desperate for something to perk up the pace. Those moments did happen, but with no real flow. It was very much start and stop for a lot of the time, no build-up to the action, no real anticipation so the satisfaction of the scenes were very short-lived.

This year has been the culmination to a lot of movie history and yet again I'm not a fan of it. I don't think that Rise Of Skywalker lived up to The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, even having watched them all in the same week I wasn't engaged by the final instalment because of the slow beginning.

I can forgive films a lot of things if I enjoy them but the list here was far too extensive to be able to do that. With pacing problems, the box-ticking, and so many characters being let down I've finally come down off the fence and sadly I'm on the disappointed side of it.

Originally posted on: https://emmaatthemovies.blogspot.com/2019/12/star-wars-rise-of-skywalker-movie-review.html