Day 120 – A Walk Among The Tombstones – 2014

poster_awalkamongthetombstones

Liam Neeson has recently been typecast as the former secret agent turned Father. And something usually happens to someone close to him sending him on a journey of redemption, involving guns, drugs and money usually. It’s been a boring concoction of generic films for Qui-Gon Jinn, but luckily he decided to star in this 90s thriller entitled A Walk Among the Tombstones.

It tells the story of former cop turned private detective Matthew Scudder who is hired by a drug lord to find out who kidnapped and murdered his wife. He meets a variety of characters along the way, including TJ the young man who decides to help Scudder locate the killers. During the film, Scudder realises that the murders are connected, and research the methods they are using. As its set in the late 90s, he uses the library and news articles to find clues to connect the murders. A film that keeps you thinking until the last scene, with a more relaxed vibe compared to the Taken franchise, A Walk Amoung the Tombstones is a neo-noir thriller that engages the audience’s perception of what is wrong and right.

Thanks to the success of the Taken franchise Liam Neeson is known as the man who will find you. Matthew Scudder is a thinker rather than shoot first think later. Neeson’s performance is more thoughtful and it is shown when he is interacting with TJ in the library and while on the street. The film is set majority in the day, which is unique considering its genre is noir. The detective is always in a state of tension, with Matthew Scudder now a private investigator thanks to previous trauma in his career. He is sympathetic to the other characters in the film, thanks to their loss.

The beauty of the film is that it’s set to a time before 9/11 which now seems dated. 1999 was an exciting time, thanks to advances in cellular technology, and the threat of the millennium bug. It’s wise that the characters are trying to reveal a threat that they cannot stop. Money, persuasion and trafficking cannot be traded for life, and this is what makes the film unique. The murderers are not like everyone else, only targeting the powerful and then asking for ransom. They then kill them with no warning.

It is an ok film, which uses the same characteristics as the Taken franchise but then flips it on its side and uses neo-noir for the basis. A detective on the search for the killers.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 119 – Saturday Night Fever – 1977

SNF-emailable

This was John Travolta technical debut into Hollywood, after starring in TV show Welcome Back, Kotter in 1975. It blasted him into stardom, making him a celebrity overnight thanks to his dance moves as the enigmatic yet flawed Tony Manero. Add that to one of the greatest soundtracks to a film ever, brought together by The Beegees the film was a raging success in 1977 before Star Wars IV: A New Hope was released in May of the same year.

Tony Manero works a dead-end job in Brooklyn, New York. His family are supported by welfare as his father has recently been out of work for some time. He has to help the family out and is usually classed as the black sheep of the family. One day his brother Frank Jr the Minister arrives home, disclosing that he has left the Church thanks to differences in belief. The thing that Frank Jr doesn’t know is that during the weekend Tony is the king of the dancefloor at the local discotheque. This film some people believed defined the 70s thanks to the disco music, the lifestyle and the way Tony and his friends were on screen personified everyone in America at the time.

The beauty of the film comes from John Travolta. His charisma and charm beam through the screen, strutting his way down the street with The BeeGees soundtrack blasting though to our seats. His friends and himself don’t hold back on the mannerism of the 70s including drugs and a lot of foul language. There is even some sex involved near the end which isn’t consensual, and this is what makes it realistic. Things like this really did happen back in the day, and this film is a reminder for all of that.

Now the main reason this film did incredibly well at the cinema (until Star Wars came along) was the incredible soundtrack from The Beegees. Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb created a soundtrack for a generation with some of the best disco music ever created. Night Fever, Stayin Alive and If I can’t have you have all resonated through the past 40 years and have been classic songs that everybody could enjoy. Mix this with some great dance moves from Travolta and cast and we have a winner.

The beauty of Saturday Night Fever is the realism that John Badham has captured is the essence of the 70s and sent disco across the world in an instant. John Travolta was catapulted into stardom overnight and made The Beegees one of the biggest bands in the world thanks to the disco music there songwriting had captured.

Saturday Night Fever is a fantastic throwback, and I thoroughly recommend it.

Should you watch it: YES

 

Day 118 – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers – 1995

maxresdefault (4)

The Power Rangers were the biggest thing back in the early nineties thanks to them being young, cool and relatable. Many of us when we were younger wanted to be like the rangers, taking up karate lessons, learning gymnastics and for some unlucky kids, going to science lessons. This film was the epitome of my childhood, and I loved it. It had the rangers fighting an evil that they hadn’t faced before, and it was on the big screen. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was directed by Bryan Spicer and released worldwide to cinemas in 1995 to every parent’s opposition.

The rangers are taking part in a charity skydive, along with Bulk and Skull and land on their designated location while Bulk and Skull land at a building site somewhere in Angel Grove. At this building site, the workers dig up a giant purple egg. The same night Rita Repulsa, Lord Zedd and Goldar go to the site, and Zedd awakens the egg to be greeted by 65 million-year-old Ivan Ooze who shares a hatred of the Power Rangers and Zordon. He then goes after Zordon at the Power Ranger command centre, whilst the Rangers fight off his Ooze minions. As they fight, they lose the ability to morph into their suits, and Zordon is mortally wounded. So Alpha 5 sends them to a remote planet to locate the Ninja power coins so they can defeat Ooze.

It’s a generic story, with nothing major to remove you from the plot. As the film was made for kids, it has its lame tricks such as the rangers coming up with lame jokes and crude actions. The worst part of the film which I had completely forgotten about was what the rangers do in their suits. As you can’t see there faces the producers came up with an idea to showcase emotion and realisation. As the Power Rangers move, they say something and then do a random arm/hand movement to show they have said it. Back in 1995, this would have been normal, but in 2017 this is absurd. It boggles the mind why they did this. Also, the Zords in the film look absolutely terrible, and the acting is sub-par with Jason David Frank taking the forefront of lame saying throughout. I loved the Power Rangers, but looking back I wonder why.

There are some great bits in the film, with Ivan Ooze taking the majority of the scenes for himself. Paul Freeman steals every scene as Ooze thanks to his hilarious persona and random remarks about the situation. Because his character has been locked in the egg for 65 million years, it was hilarious when he escapes and comes out with remarks such as he missed the Brady Bunch Reunion. There is no connection to him and that remark, which makes it humorous to the audience back in 1995 and possibly today. Another good part of the film was when Dulcea appears, in her tight amazon clothing (bra and panties). Gabrielle Fitzpatrick steals every scene from Amy Jo Johnson thanks to her womanly persona and strength the character has. Also, she doesn’t look half bad in the film.

Overall the film hasn’t aged well. 20 years later the Rangers are fighting again on the big screen with a decent remake, leaving the cheese of the past on the cutting room floor. If you had a decent childhood, you would have seen this at least once. And that would have been enough. Shame the CGI hasn’t aged well because the Zords were once the coolest thing. Now they look terrible. The only redeeming factor is the suits still look slick to this day.

Should you watch it: NO

Day 117 – King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – 2017

maxresdefault (3)

There have been various iterations about the legend of King Arthur and his legendary sword Excalibur. This time around it’s Guy Ritchie’s turn to show us his iteration of the legend. Charlie Hunnam plays the title role who has been brought up in the backstreets of Londinium not knowing his true lineage thanks to his uncle Vortigern (Jude Law) taking the throne by force and mystical means. Because of its a Guy Ritchie film, it contains all the stylistic tones his films bring with the edit changed when the character talks about situations jumping forwards and backwards in time and the narration which in this case work in favour for Arthur.

Uther Pendragon is the King of England, his wife Elsa and young son Arthur by his side. He wields the mighty sword Excaliber, making his enemies tremble in fear, and so does his brother Vortigern. Vortigern then takes the throne by murdering Uther and Elsa and Excaliber is lost to the sea. Luckily Elsa sends her son downstream to Londinium who is picked up by the local working woman. He grows up not knowing his true parentage and learning the hard way through life. One day the shore becomes visible and Excaliber is found. It’s stuck in the stone, and no one can pull it out, only the true lineage of Uther Pendragon can. What happens next is an adventure for Arthur, of which he finds out who he really is and what the sword of Excaliber can do.

During the film, we are introduced to his band of friends, of which make up the Knights of the Roundtable. We are also introduced to The Mage played by French actress Astrid Berges-Frisbey, who has the ability to wield magic, for Charlie Hunnam’s Arthur when he is in trouble. A humorous part is when poor Arthur is captured by the forces of Vortigern, and The Mage sends in a Falcon to help Arthur, while Arthur is perplexed at the situation causing some laughs across the audience in the screening I was in. Also starring is Djimon Hounsou as Sir Bedivere playing a knight that formerly served under Eric Bana’s Uther Pendragon with Goosefat Bill (Aidan Gillen).

It’s a muddled story thanks to the fact that Guy Ritchie has tried to mix his British gangster style quick cuts and merge it into the medieval story of King Arthur. Add the magic to the barrel and we have a mess of a film. The only redeeming factor is that the action sequences are fantastic. Two scenes, in particular, were impressive with the opening sequence of Uther Pendragon taking down the huge Elephant controlled by the Witches and the middle sequence when Arthur wields Excaliber and decimates the entire army in the Georges training camp with a white flash of excellent choreography, and beautiful visual effects.

Another thing to add is the film does look very pretty, with some of the budgets actually spent on lavish interiors and set extensions. I love the look of Londinium and the world of which King Arthur is set. It brings an authentic taste to the cinemagoer, but unfortunately, the weak plot lets the film down completely. You can usually tell when Jude Law stars in a film that it will be great, but Guy Ritchie has blown that out of the window with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

Should you watch it: NO

Day 116 – Power Rangers – 2017

Power-Rangers-2017-after-credits-hq

There was a lot of scepticism before this film was released. The producer of the show Haim Saban wanted to recreate the magic of the original television series with a reboot of the franchise with a new backstory, new style of threat and new Rangers of which are not connected to the show. Directed by Dean Israelite, Power Rangers was written by John Gatins and released in cinemas 24th March 2017 to modest reviews.

Power Rangers has always had a special place in my heart. When I was younger I used to wake up early on Saturday mornings to watch them fight Rita Repulsor and Lord Zedd in the Zords with Zordon and Alpha 5 leading them. It was incredible, and every so often a new threat emerged for the team. For this reboot, they have cleared the history and started again.

65 Million years ago Zordon was the last ranger, fighting for his life against the now rogue green ranger Rita who wants the Zeo crystal to take over the world. Luckily he subdues her but sacrifices his life with the 5 other power crystals. In the present day Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) is the star of the school American football team. He gets into trouble and ends up in detention on Saturday. There he meets Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler) who has autism. Also in detention is Kimberly Hart, who is in detention for crimes against her friends from her cheerleading days. Billy has been researching around the mining site on the outskirts of Angel Grove, and ask Jason to come with him. They meet Zack (Ludi Lin) who lives on the edge of the mine, looking after his sick mother. Also, there is Trini (Becky G), who has recently transferred to Angel Grove. Billy blows the side of the mine, and the group discover the power crystals. Red, Blue, Pink, Black and Yellow. The group then flee with the respective crystals and then go on a journey of discovery meeting Zordon, Alpha 5 and the threat Rita Repulsar.

The film is great, it has everything. The nostalgic feel of the original, and losing the campiness of the show has helped it bring the Rangers into the 21st century with thunderous applause. The fact they didn’t bring back Bulk and Skully and the sidekicks of Rita is a shame. The beauty of the film is the core characters and how the become the ranger we all love. The complexities of the characters such as Billy and autism, Kimberly and bullying, and Trini and her sexual preferences which her family do not approve of. It is situations like these that connect with the audience and that’s where Haim Saban has hit the nail on the head.

The only problem the film has is the Zord situation and the suits. The Zords are no explained at all and appear at the end with no training being shown. Also, the suits appear at the end, which to be fair the characters have been training for throughout the film. I wished they were in it more. The best part of the film is when the classic theme song is played, bringing millions of fans rejoice.

It’s a fun adventure for our team. Both Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks are fantastic as Zordon and Rita Repulsar bringing the heroism and carnage.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 115 – The Last Witch Hunter – 2015

Meg_Review_WitchHunterPoster

There something enchanting watching Vin Diesel fighting mystical creatures, witches and demons. It is relaxing to see him do this because we usually see him driving fast cars, shooting terrorists or even babysitting kids. Taking him out of character into the magical world of The Last Witch Hunter is satisfying. The film was classed as a box office bomb when it was released in 2015, but I personally think its create. Directed by Break Eisner and starring Vin Diesel as Kaulder the 800-year-old witch hunter who works for the ancient sect aptly named the Axe and Cross, which is the policing force that separates mortals from the magical threats on earth.

The Last Witch Hunter is a great film. It has some incredible special effects, some wonderful characters and an interesting story that really keeps you entertained for the 1-hour 46-minute runtime. Kaulder cannot die, and his presence makes every witch squirm when they see him. In present day Kaulder is working in New York for the Axe and Cross, and his 36th protector named Dolan (Michael Caine) is retiring, and being replaced by the 37th Dolan (Elijah Wood). One day 36th Dolan is murdered, and 37 takes over his responsibilities and first on the agenda is to locate who killed 36th Dolan. Kaulder and Dolan sweep NYC to find his killer and unravel a conspiracy to reincarnate the witch queen. The one that gave Kaulder his eternal life. It’s a race against time to stop the killer and raise the witch queen from the dead once again.

The film was based on Vin Diesels younger days when he used to play Dungeons and Dragons. Writer Corey Goodman used Vin’s character and merged it with his ideas and The Last Witch Hunter was born. It was an interesting idea for Vin to take on, and it was mainly due to the fact his brother and friend were killed in November 2013: Paul Walker. He wanted something to get his mind off the fact his friend was killed in a road traffic accident, and to be fair he did well with this and Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014.

The best parts of the film are the action. Kaulder is a fighter and it is shown when he is fighting the magical opponents in this film. Fighting the enemy witches and demons showcase some incredible visual effects, of which add to the realism that the film tries to generate. The fact that Breck Eisner has tried to emulate a realistic situation that could technically happen in this day and then apply it to the mystical world that Kaulder works in is incredible. The CGI is great, and I really enjoyed the sequences where it is used effectively. The lame part is when he fights the witch queen because it is overloaded CG rather the physical effects which in recent years has taken prominence over CGI to show authenticity. A step back in my book.

Overall the world of The Last Witch Hunter is full of magic and mayhem. Vin Diesel showcases his magic wielding skills in a stylistic yet realistic fashion which CGI trumps special effects. An interesting take on magic, which is fun and a rollercoaster of action.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 114 – The Alamo – 2004

The Alamo 1

The Alamo is a history film based on the famous standoff in 1836 between the Texans and the Mexican army led by the famous Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. Starring Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Patric and Patrick Wilson it was met wit critical failure thanks to a weak screenplay by John Lee Hancock, muddled dialogue and a dull atmosphere it was a film destined for failure despite the historic nature the film was based on.

Il keep is short. In 1836 the Mexican army is going to invade the Alamo where 183 Texans are anticipating their arrival. Davy Crockett and William Travis are helming the Alamo, while General Santa Anna is planning to invade San Antonio and take over the land. It chronicled the story of Sam Houston and him rallying the US government to send troops to San Antonio and help William Travis defend the Alamo. During the film Davy Crockett (of

This is a true story, based on historical diaries and pictures painted after the defeat of the Alamo. Billy Bob Thornton plays Davy Crockett, the man who was ace with the rifle. He is from Tennessee and had a thick accent which showed he was a travelled man. Many people in the film looked up to him thanks to his status across the American politics circle. It also stars Patrick Wilson as William Travis who was the colonel sent to aid the men at the Alamo. He wasn’t respected, and many ridiculed him for his age but stood tall and for 13 days stood ground at The Alamo before being killed by the Mexicans.

The film itself is an interesting because there are not many films depicting the Texan Revolution and it showed in detail what actually occurred in 1836. The Mexican army is clad in uniform working in unison to take down The Alamo, whilst the Americans are scarce in number but filled with honour to uphold The Alamo.

The actual events are historically accurate and this is what set it apart from other historical films. I like the authenticity of the action, and the acting is ok. Dennis Quaid is not on screen much until the end at the Battle of San Jacinto and his presence is felt in spades at that point. Billy Bob Thornton is fun as Davy Crockett, with many asking him to lead. Patrick Wilson is older than the 26 years William Travis and is shown to be a military man but flawed thanks to his divorced which is shown on screen. Jason Patric is ruthless as the drunk James Bowie, but his large knife which adds the humour makes up for the antics.

Overall a flawed and dull film based on the Texan Revolution. Some great battle sequences take the film to a high point, but thanks to the boring dialogue it completely lets the film down.

Should you watch it: NO