Pain and Gain: Review

2013, sees a film based on the life of Daniel Lugo, a bodybuilder who seems to lack intelligence yet offers everything a comedy film could want.

It’s dark humour, and the first time you watch it you might not realise that something is meant to be funny until the second time round. It’s good fun, a crime comedy essentially and based in Miami.

They’re sick of being at the bottom, so 3 bodybuilders, hilariously kidnap and force a wealthy man to sign over everything he owns. It’s going well until they have to kill off a few people and evade the cops. Ultimately for a Michael Bay film this is good, the story and the acting, the action, the grizzly yet funny murders and sense of accomplishment make this a must see film.

If you thought the people you knew were stupid then watch this and think again.

Great film full of dark laughs: 4/5

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The LadyKillers: Review

A quirky comedy about a group of men, led by southerner posing professor Tom Hanks, pretending to be a band, who are planning to rob a casino from the basement of their landlady’s house.

She is rich, they are thieves. It’s all about fun with this film, the acting from Hanks is super and everyone else, they all make it unbelievably funny and a mixture of awkward moments and pure joy are hand in hand.

Throughout, we get to see how the landlady, Marva Munson lives. She’s a do gooder, and regularly has tea ladies round. Hanks as the professor plays a sly game where he attempts to charm her throughout, distracting her hilariously from the robbery taking place within the basement.

As a crime film it fairs well, the plot is okay and the characters tend to have traits and conflicts that make them half believable. All seems well, perhaps the film does start off slow and takes a while to grasp the style in which it is made.

It isn’t until the last 40 minutes though, that the comedy and drama really come into play, the hapless gang are determined to wipe out the landlady who has found out about the robbery. This leads to a faster paced ending which felt satisfactory but not overwhelming with surprise. The attempts to get rid of her are among the most humorous.

I say it’s worth a check but not something I would be in a hurry to watch again, it is a very slow paced film.

Overall: 3/5

Con Air: Review

The 90’s, a decade of great film making. Con Air, a classic action film about a man, Cameron Poe, who is just trying to get home to his family after serving a sentence for manslaughter.

Seemingly innocent and the good guy, Nicolas Cage does a brilliant job of portraying a hard as nails military trained individual. His fighting skills throughout are superb and coupled with the convicts varying levels of insanity, it makes for rather a fun ride. Heavily focused on the air plane journey, the convicts are led by John Malkovich, also an excellent actor, who plays Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom, a crazed criminal looking for freedom. It’s tense, it is close quarters and once the pilot is killed, you know it’s all downhill from there.

Again another good actor is John Cusack, hot on the tail of Grissom, uses all his power to try and establish Poe’s allegiance and do everything he can to bring them down safely. It isn’t stopping there though, once landed at their destination airfield an insane action scene follows, the battle between the feds and convicts and subsequent task of digging and escaping on their hijacked plane ensues. The film doesn’t rely heavily on guns, but it certainly uses them and other more creative ways to kill off the characters. Throw in the mad Steve Buscemi, and it becomes surreal.

The ending sequel, a hair raising crash landing over Las Vegas and vehicle chase between Poe and Grissom makes for an awesome ending, a very satisfactory way of keeping the audience on edge. You think it’s over after they crash and then it carries on another 10 minutes!

One man, Cage, trying to get home on a plane hijacked full of criminals and feds trying to shoot them down anyway they can. What more can you want from an action thriller? It satisfies good characterisation, each individual with a goal and clear path, each with their own secrets. Complimented by a stunning cast and fantastic acting and heavy on suspense and violence.

The film is a must see and is on the list of my personal greatest movies of all time.

It deserves: 5/5

American Made: Review

Tom Cruise is back, and in American Made, a tale supposedly based on the real life story of pilot Barry Seal, who worked as a smuggler for the CIA and Cartel.

I went into the movie with an open mind and a rather optimistic mind set, because to me a Tom Cruise film is bound to be good, isn’t it? I have to say for the quality of the story and the overall acting and character depth, the film falls flat.

At no point in the movie did I feel like the characters cared or had struggles, I didn’t even feel like Barry Seal cared when he was threatened with prison and by the drug lords he double crosses. There just wasn’t enough private time and character building to make them believable. The acting was decent itself, but had the actors been directed a little better or at least tried to portray their roles more realistically, then the film could have made a empathetic impression.

The story, as interesting as the premise is, also hits the mark of boring. It is a pilot, who spends his time flying, things happen for no reason, such as the recruiting of other pilots whom just turn up, and quick shots of situations that could have been slowed down. Comedy is there but not strong enough to bring the movie out of the documentary style film that this is. There was one scene, where Barry Seal is flying and is intercepted by the authorities, he makes an emergency landing on a road and crashes into a house. Appearing from the crash covered in cocaine, he tosses a wad of cash at the child whom stands in shock. This scene, although brief, actually brought some tension to the character and showed how this man was really a ‘fugitive’ and that his decision to break the law was perhaps the wrong one.

There is the wife, the children of Barry, who are neglected throughout and her brother, who ends up bringing more trouble. It feels like a documentary bordering on a reality show.

I want to praise it because there are good mixes of comedy and drama, good acting and a strong potential for an awesome film. I can’t though, because I felt like the film was a brief and not very memorable flashback of someone who ends up dead anyway.

I’m crediting the strengths generously:

Action: 2/5

Drama: 2.5/5

Acting: 4/5

Overall 2.5/5

Kong: Skull Island: Review

A tale told numerous times and portrayed through movies for decades. Kong: Skull Island, brings a newer more dark approach to the king that is Kong.

After trying to watch the movie a few times and turning it off at 20 minutes, I was finally compelled by someone that we should watch it. So, after remembering my failed attempts previously, and assuming it was boring, I finally watched.

The movie starts off during the second world war, with two enemies winding up on an island after crashing. The characters, unaware, are encountered by Kong, and so the movie fast forwarded a few years and more people are on the way to the island. The cast is brilliant, and anyone a fan of Samuel L. Jackson will be impressed by his acting within, which was rather exaggerated. Also starring are the likes of John Goodman and Tom Hiddleston, backed by a great support cast. They are convinced upon arrival that Kong is some evil force to be destroyed, since he brought down their choppers. But as the movie progresses, some of them come to realise that Kong is just trying to survive, like they are.

The island itself is huge, and the scenery and atmosphere is creepy throughout, but the film has its strength in the ancient monsters that inhabit the land. This is what makes this film different, it isn’t just Kong that is the ‘monster’, but rather, the entire island. They come across as more evolved and smarter than most animals, and you would hope so otherwise it would quickly become a one way fight. There are giant squids, huge reptilian monsters, buffalo, 100ft spiders, flocks of bat like vultures and well disguised giant mantis! As a fan of the unusual monsters I enjoyed the fear and battles with each, and just how dangerous the island actually is.

Acting could be stronger and the film could have stayed away from having Kong battle a giant ancient reptile stuff, after all, Kong did battle with dinosaurs in the 2005 Jack Black version, which is also brilliant and a must watch. When comparing the two, Kong: Skull Island fails to explore the life of king Kong and the characters and focuses heavily on action and violence. King Kong (2005) instead uses both, and very well, it brings audience closer to caring about them rather than hoping for their deaths, which is what I did when I watched Skull Island.

I can’t really get over the monsters and exploration of Skull Island, but I can get over the cliche characters and typical story line. The film is worth watching if you enjoy a fantasy type action war movie.

This movie is worth:

Overall: 3/5

The Ridiculous 6

Released in 2015, this Adam Sandler film has received poor reviews and criticism. However, I am hoping to bring it into a new light, as the film is rather fun and enjoyable, and is probably best enjoyed with others.

I give credit to Adam Sandler, whose movies over the years have been consistent in both comedy and drama, and in fact have taken on more serious issues over time. The Ridiculous 6 is no exception when it comes to comedy, it has some extremely humorous moments, but the style could be construed as childish and ‘bad’.

The story itself is solid, having 6 brothers, who set out to rescue their father, who they have not met. Already this throws up humorous images. It is set in the wild west which allows for more realistic action compared to the modern day. The film is a good wild west film even if they hadn’t set off on the mission to find their father. There are good gunfights, women, and disease and death which make is plausible.

The shots our well done, it always feels like you are experiencing the best in camera angles, getting the most out of the scenes. Acting is first class and a bonus, along with the tremendously bizarre situations the brothers find themselves in. This adds to the ‘can’t believe that’ mindset that I frequently had throughout, which also happens to be triggered by incredibly messed up dark comedy.

It’s an adventure, an action, a drama and comedy and it thrives well in each area. It’s best to enjoy it with others, and look at the silly jokes and acting as just that, silly. The characters have unique abilities and further make it ‘unbelievable’ to the close minded. I say give it a viewing, especially if you are in your teens or are a young adult.

Overall: 4/5

Z Nation: Review

Z nation, the only real competitor in the zombie genre that competes well with the now infamous The walking Dead and its spin off, Fear The Walking Dead. Is it that good though? Many might be surprised at the constant humour and yet tight take on the zombie apocalypse. It covers a wide array of situations, most of which are believable and has some great cinematography and artistic direction.

So, firstly for those who might be interested in watching it, I personally recommend this fantastic series, if not just for the quirky humour but also the brilliant acting and ambitious direction the series has taken.

It centers initially around a small group of survivors whom are tasked with escorting ‘Murphy’, someone immune to the virus, all the way across the US from New York to California. This is their goal, this is the story. The characters from the beginning, in particular ‘Doc’, ‘Murphy’ and the lonely ‘Citizen Z’ are what make this series particularly enjoyable. Most TV series lack a character who is believable, but with Z nation they do a damn good job of portraying the different personality types and intertwining them to create just enough tension and drama.

The episodes really vary dramatically from series to series, and easily rival and beat The Walking Dead, which quickly becomes boring and zombie less. I have never seen such creative ways to kill or bring zombies into a story, from hurricanes hurtling the dead hundreds of feet, radioactive zombies, zombie weed, lobotomy zombies, zombie museums and not to mention ‘Murphy’ can control zombies because he has that immune power…and he certainly likes to use it, and many more situations! Every episode feels like a real struggle for survival and never really fails to deliver, each character has motivation and even though there have been many deaths it seems the remaining people are more determined than ever to bring the zombies down.

The series does reach a point where the mission may appear to be over, they reach the destination of California, and things take a turn for the worse. But that would be spoiling it to tell you, so you will have to watch it for yourself. Aside from the acting and brilliant zombies make up and story telling, the series does have many moments of fantasy type behaviour and things that are literally out of this word. Anyone who may be put off by this should rest assured that is only adds to the surreal and fun nature of the series, another plus side. Never take it too seriously otherwise it won’t be enjoyable.

Overall, fantastic and I am personally glad to have taken a chance on this by watching it.

 

Acting: 5/5

Drama 3/5

Comedy:4/5

Horror: 4.5/5

 

Cell : Review

Cell is an apocalyptic horror novel published by American author Stephen King in 2006. The story follows a New England artist struggling to reunite with his young son after a mysterious signal broadcast over the global cell phone network turns the majority of his fellow humans into mindless vicious animals.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_(novel))

Based on the novel of the same name, the director takes on an ambitious project with the help of Stephen King himself. The star studded cast, with John Cusack and Samuel L Jackson is sure to make a haunting and memorable movie, right?

Not this time, nowhere in this film did I personally have my mind blown. The film starts off with a heart racing scene in the airport, something that you would be quite frightened to witness, but John Cusack just doesn’t deliver in his acting – I’m not personally a fan because he doesn’t seem to show any emotions in any film. The story is not explained properly and we are dropped into the action straight away, as if we are all meant to have read the book. The special effects were not great for a blockbuster either, the plane crashing through the terminal was extremely laughable. Soon though the story sees Samuel Jackson introduced, whom is a great actor, but doesn’t come close to showing it sadly. Yet again, we are supposed to understand things that are just introduced with no explanation. The characters also seem flat and are seriously underdeveloped.

Along the way to find his son, the pair are frequently met with strangers along their road trip. These appearances actually seemed to show an improvement in the story, especially the scene where they burn the people in the stadium. But still, more questions are asked and little is answered. So up to now, we have the entire population of people turned into mad killers, and no explanation as to why, and a group with no character.

It soon gets even more tense though as they battle their way closer to a mysterious signal tower, where the killer people are apparently being controlled from. The appearance of the the man in the red hoodie is good, but doesn’t – yet again – explain anything. He appears multiple times until the end where there is some kind of stand off. The climax is not very good, and the ‘zombie’ like people can be seen moving in a clearly computer animated way (CGI), which is so poor I wanted to cry. It then sees the father and son united, and seem to walk off after destroying the tower, only for a cut scene of Cusack walking among the crowds of zombies to show. It is all very confusing.

I want to write about the film in a good light, so will give credit to the road trip style throughout, and the sudden moments of terror, and perhaps to the opening scene and subsequent stadium scene. Other than that most of the film is forgettable, sadly. The story was poorly explained for an adaption, the acting wasn’t great – even from so-called expert actors – and the action and CGI were very limited. Considering King himself worked on this project, I cannot understand why he didn’t have the characters lives explained, or their background.

Therefore I award the film :

2.5/5

John Wick 2: Review

Legendary hitman John Wick is forced back out of retirement by a former associate plotting to seize control of a shadowy international assassins’ guild. Bound by a blood oath to help him, John travels to Rome where he squares off against some of the world’s deadliest killers.

Rotten tomatoes – ‘Average Rating: 7.2/10′ (https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/john_wick_chapter_2/

Imbd – ‘8.2/10′ (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4425200/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1)

Keanu Reeves is back, and bolder than the first as he takes to the streets and underground of Rome. The film certainly delivers on the action and stunt front, but leaves a lot to be asked about the character development and story line itself, which seem hollow and lacking in depth. It’s hardly a masterpiece to use the theme of revenge in a movie as the main drive for the protagonist, which has been done countless times. It exercises no part of the actor’s ability, nor does it show any real skill from the director. Although the reviews have been largely positive, I can’t help but feel it’s due to the degrading of the film industry standard, which is now nothing but violence and bad acting.

At first, John Wick seems to be enjoying his retirement, much the same as the first movie, so already there is the same story arc and boring predictable outcome. But only after an explosive opening sequence do we get to the main story line.

Wick soon bolts into action in one of the most intense car crash derby’s I have personally seen in an opening to any movie. It was however, hard to determine the relevance of this, as it does not in anyway relate to the rest of the film. The directors may have wanted to show of Wicks skills, but after the first movie, fans should be pretty aware of this, making the initial action practically pointless in terms of plot. It also threw John Wicks love for his car out the window, and had some close combat, but in terms of quality, it was something I’ve seen ten thousand times before.

After a slow start to the movie, taking something like 30 minutes to actually introduce the main mission, Wick is visited by his gangster type boss, whom blows Wicks house up because Wick refuses to be bound by a blood oath, something that is half crucial to the film. Unfortunately, the acting by Keanu Reeves was poor,and ultimately made it seem like a cheap b movie. The dialogue was mundane and the was Reeves pronounced it just sounded god awful, as if he was trying too hard. Thankfully, he wasn’t talking much and most of the movie was centered on shooting, with impressive accuracy, and some good fight scenes, showing the strength of the film – the choreography.

As Wick battles through the first half of the movie – to assassinate the sister of his boss – the film soon leaps into another explosive action sequence set in the underbelly of Rome. It was an intense and a somewhat unrealistic set. Wick appears to take multiple hits to the chest from hand guns and machine guns alike, and although the jacket is bulletproof, it takes absolutely damage, having no basis in reality. He is the equivalent of superman, and that in turn makes it impossible to die, and also makes his enemies redundant. This sort of thing is constant throughout the movie, so prepare for the most outright ridiculous survival situations. He can shoot enemies in the head with 100% accuracy, which makes you wonder why he shoots the torso first, why not just shoot them in the head first?

Soon he is escaping the underground, and finds himself in a long and drawn out fight against an equally skilled opponent. The fight itself is good, with good choreography and talent by the men involved. However, when they are fighting in close quarters on the train, the director must have fell asleep because the extras sitting on the train simply looked on, as a bloody fist fight broke out followed by a knife fight. That was not realistic, for one, they would have been cowering for life and phoning police. Instead, the train arrives at the station an it is empty. For a moment, you get the feeling he is human when fighting. The fight comes to a cease in the most politically correct manner and deters from the killer instinct of John Wick. Wick and his opponent casually have drinks in a bar, really bringing the mood of the fight to a sad  close.

Wick soon finds himself in the second part of the movie: the survival from the 7 million hit for which it seems 90% of the population can take part.

I won’t go into detail on the entire movie, but it concludes with Reeves battling it out in a very creepy all mirror reflection chamber. It has tension, it has reason, it does not though seem likely that Wick will survive the multiple assassins set on him. But Wick prevails and trails back to the hotel, where all the hit men women seem to congress throughout the film making it seem too administrative. It ends just as suddenly as it started. But sadly, his unrealistic skills and accuracy of shooting make the idea of a third film ridiculous, as no doubt he will kill everyone AGAIN.

The strong points in the acting were the appearances of Ian Mcshane and Laurence Fishburne, who acted very well but were let down by Keanu Reeves lack of emotion and character.

Overall the film delivers on only mindless violence and action, so absurd it is laughable. Couple that with Keanu Reeves terrible acting and lack of character development, and you have a one off film, never to be indulged again, unless you like to live in fantasy land and watch delusional directors direct garbage.

Action/fighting – 3.5/5

Acting – 2.5/5

Story – 2/5

Overall – 3/5