Day 165 – ChiPS – 2017

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Dax Shepard decides to remake a classic 70’s show and turn it into a comedy reboot starring himself in the lead. Mixing Michael Pena, Kristin Bell and Vincent D’Onofrio into the cast it was released in March 2017 to terrible reviews. Throwing out the highway drama for terrible gags and tame jokes the film flopped (for good reason).

Dax Shepard was fantastic in Employee of the Month with Dane Cook. Then he made this, tainting his comedic talents in a big way. Written and Directed by Shepard he plays former motocross champion Jon, who loses his sponsors to get a job with the California Highway Patrol. At the same time, Ponch (Michael Pena) is working undercover for the FBI and is tasked to find out the corruption of the California Highway Patrol. He meets the overenthusiastic Jon and they both go to find the problems as the CHiPS.

Usually, films containing Dax Shepard and Michael Pena are hilarious. This one was not. Mixing gross-out comedy with unsuitable gags and we have a recipe for disaster compared the fantastic trailer that the studio made. The film completely sucked. I went into this film thinking it was going to make me chuckle, however it did not. Unfortunately, the humour is timed to a degree where it tries to be overly funny but always falls flat. The other problem is the plot.

The main characters seem to fall into situations of where they come out on top, but in harsh reality, they would have been killed or severely injured. The risks that Dax Shepard puts them through it terrible. He tried to run off the steam gained from the other TV show remakes such as 21 Jump Street and Starsky and Hutch and create his own adaptation. Unfortunately, he sucks at it, like his last film endeavour 2012’s Hit and Run also starring his wife Kristin Bell. Like that film, his character was a former extreme sports star on the run. I think he has tried to create fun and caused chaos with it. Poor Warner Brothers.

The film clearly has identity issues. One minute it is a comedy, the next it’s an action film. The film is not good at all and to be honest I am ashamed to have watched it in its entirety.

Should you watch it: NO

Day 164 – The Last Starfighter – 1984

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The Last Starfighter is the 1984 cult classic that tells the story of Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) who live in a trailer park with his mum and brother. One day he is approached to join the Ryland Star League and become a Starfighter. The film also stars Robert Preston who plays Centauri, the renegade agent of the Star League tasked to find the greatest fighters. Directed by Nick Castle it was too many reviewers comparing it to Star Wars but praised the cast for their energetic performances.

Alex Rogan lives in a trailer park with his mum and brother. The inhabitants always go to Alex to fix various things. One day his girlfriend Maggie Gordon (Catherine Mary Stewart) wants to visit the beach, and as Alex is about to enter the car his mother calls to help fix the electricity generator. Annoyed yet loyal he agrees to help. After he finishes he plays on the local arcade game ‘The Frontier’. He reaches the highest score anyone has ever seen. Proud of his accomplishments, he finishes the day turning off the trailer park neon sign only to be approached by a futuristic car. A man named Centauri asks him to join him in the car and he is whisked off to the Ryland Star League as a top starfighter. It’s up to Alex, Centauri and new friend Grig (Dan O’Herlihy) to stop the threat of Xur and his fighters.

The film has a similar premise to the classic Star Wars films thanks to its similarities with space battles and a lone male sent to save the galaxy. The film also contains all the classic 80’s charm with a clone character also played by Guest who actually has all the laughs. The comedic charm of which Beta Alex is deadpan because he doesn’t know what is right or wrong, and its funny to see him in situations. Alex, on the other hand, is more down to earth, thinking that he could be killed at any time. The cheese factor is also deep when we meet Grig. His head looks awfully like male genitalia but that doesn’t take away from his humorous persona. He brings the honour to the role with charm and charisma. What I believe that Nick Castle has done here is that he has tried to merge the characters from E.T and put them into the world of Star Wars. It kind of works, but thanks to the inclusion of a terrible villain Xur, it kind of plays as a campy fun.

The film was moderately successful in 1984, but as the years passed many fans looked back and loved it essentially giving it cult classic status. The film was also known as the first to fully incorporate computer graphics for the space sequences which was unheard of in the 80s. Every single scene that takes place in space was generated on a Cray X-MP machine which was incredible. 27 minutes of screentime, 300 shots on screen. Incredible work for something ahead of its time.

Overall the film was amazing, a concoction of Star Wars and E.T. fighting in space. Fantastic special effects for the time and some fun writing for the characters. Lance Guest and Dan O’Herlihy are fantastic as the dynamic duo with Robert Preston as the crazy yet infectious Centauri. Catherine Mary Stewart plays the girlfriend Maggie to Alex and she is perfect. Beautiful, funny and smart she was ideal for the role. The film is a hidden gem, and a sequel should be greenlit asap.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 163 – Jadoo: Kings of Curry – 2013

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Jadoo comes from Leicester writer and director Amit Gupta who tells the story of two brothers who are chefs. Starring Amara Karan, Harish Patel and Kulvinder Ghir it was shot in the great city of Leicester, on the golden mile where the two brothers restaurants are. Released in 2013 to a limited release, it was praised for its content but not its execution.

Raja (Harish Patel) and Jagi (Kulvinder Ghir) are brothers who cook from a book written by their mother. One day they fall out, and both rip the book in half looking to start their own restaurants. Raja takes the front of the book which contains the starters and Jagi takes the other half which contains the mains. Their restaurants are successful to a certain degree, but as the brothers require the other half of the book the restaurants level out. 20 years pass and Raja’s daughter Shalini (Amara Karan) is getting married to an English doctor. She comes to Leicester to ask her family to attend the wedding, only to find out her old friend is going to launch a restaurant to take out both her fathers and uncles restaurants. It is up to her to get the brothers to join forces and take out the opposition after 20 years of not talking.

Funnily enough, the film was shot on Belgrave Road in Leicester where I am from. The landmark locations, the restaurants and the physical embodiment of the city are felt from Amit Gupta’s tale of the brotherhood and rivalry. As he was born and raised in Leicester, you can see the director wanting to showcase what it has to offer. Unfortunately, as the cityscapes are shot with glare and wonder, the story of the film falls flat. The rivalry between the brothers is not strong enough for the audience to feel any angst against and the outcome between the two was predictable from the outset. The characters, however, are fantastic with Amara Karan taking the mainstage to get her characters father and uncle to come together for a physical purpose.

The physical purpose of the film was to bring people together with food and I believe Amit Gupta (who actually lived on the road depicted) shows it off beautifully. A swan song to his hometown, and the people that embody. The story is ok, and the inclusion of Keith Vaz in the film is a no go zone, but overall the film showcases the greatness that is Leicester.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 162 – Unfinished Business – 2015

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Unfinished Business is an Unfinished film starring Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson and Dave Franco. Mixing business with slapstick comedy it was directed by Ken Scott to the terrible audience and critic reviews stating the film should have stayed on the shelf.

Dan Truckman is an excess metal salesman who is sick and tired of his boss Chuck (Sienna Miller). He quits and leaves in a blaze of glory asking other staff members to join his new business. Outside he meets Tim McWinters (Tom Wilkinson) who has also been fired thanks to him being too old. Also outside is Mike Pancake (Dave Franco) who doesn’t work for the company and is only standing outside after hearing Dan’s speech. They create Apex Select and go off on their adventure. A year later their business is grinding to a halt. One day Dan gets a message from Bill Whilmsley (Nick Frost) who is heading to Portland with his boss Jim Spinch (James Marsden) who will be offering a bid on excess metal to the lowest bidder. It is up to Dan, Tim and Mike to get to Jim first and win that bid.

The film is awful. The pacing is off, the acting is subpar and the overall look is dire. It is like the screenwriter had an idea, and wrote an interesting first half of the film but gave up in the second half, so the director made his own ending up with dire consequences. It just straight up sucks. I wasn’t involved in the characters, Dan especially was a wasted character, because Vince Vaughn is a great actor with comedic timing and charm. The film downsized him to become a bad father, and leader of a terrible company. Tom Wilkinsons character was a sex-crazed pervert, and Dave Franco’s Mike Pancake was a mentally challenged individual who goes on this crazy adventure with those two. Poor Dave Franco, I think he signed up for the paycheck rather than read the content of the script.

How did the producers think mixing the antics of a European trip with business would be a good idea. This film sucked.

Don’t watch it. It is unfinished. Literally.

Should you watch it: HELL NO

Day 161 – The Incredible Hulk – 2008

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The producers of this film dubbed it a “requel” because they felt it was a reboot and sequel to Ang Lee’s cerebral Hulk from 2003. This time around director Louis Leterrier brings in a new cast and a new origin story for Bruce Banner played by Edward Norton who brings the same vibe that Bill Bixby did the original show in the 70s.

This is the official second film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after the debut of Iron Man. This time around they retcon the original Hulk film from 2003 with a different take on the origin going down the same path as the original TV show from 1978. Bruce is on the run in Rio De Janiero working at the local drinks plant. General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hunt) hear of radiation poisoning from a drink that plant is made and locates Bruce. On the run, he meets up with his ex-girlfriend and daughter of General Ross – Betty (Liv Tyler). Together they try to figure out what went wrong in the experiment that gave Bruce is the uncontrollable rage. At the same time, General Ross brings in special forces agent Emile Blonsky who injects himself with a type of super serum and tries to take on the Hulk one on one.

Louis Leterrier has managed to create a wholesome story of which is self-contained and has compelling ideologies for the main characters. From a script from Zak Penn (who also wrote the incredible X-Men 2), together they create a great story for Banner who tries to control the rage in time to save his loved ones. Changing up Eric Bana for Edward Norton was an interesting decision, but looking back at the original TV show the choice was justified. They both bring a sense of wonder to the character. With Eric Bana looking to find out who he really was, Norton’s take on Banner is more an explanation of becoming the Hulk and finding the cure to save himself. William Hunt portrays General Ross as the conniving man who is trying to weaponize the Hulk for military purposes, and his intentions are clear from the beginning. Hunt portrays him as a man you wouldn’t want to cross. Also, we have Tim Roth who plays Emile Blonsky, the Russian-born UK trained SAS soldier sent to help Ross take down the Hulk. It’s interesting, as Roth is a smaller man compared to the Abomination he becomes – polar opposites.

The Incredible Hulk is a worthy addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Louis Leterrier has created a fantastic world which spans 3 continents for Bruce Banner to find himself. With some fantastic locations, special effects and some great acting from Edward Norton, Tim Roth and William Hunt (who reprises his role in Captain America: Civil War). Overall its more fun then is predecessor and brings the Avengers closer for Bruce Banner.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 160 – The Mummy – 2017

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Disney has the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Warner Brothers have the DC Cinematic Universe. Univeral decided to make the Dark Universe with their back catalogue of Monsters. The problem is that they have had some fantastic films over the years, but decided to reboot once again a classic. The Mummy is a complete retelling of the origins story brought to the 21st century and was directed by the writer of the Transformers films: Alex Kurtzman. Starring Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis and Sofia Boutella as the title character.

Honestly, this film was destined to fail. Remember when you first saw Iron Man. It was a film that had its own story and was self-contained. At the end, after the credits, it introduced another character to essentially create a shared universe. Same with The Incredible Hulk another self-contained story where at the end they introduce something to join a shared universe. The problem with The Mummy is that it shoves the characters and exposition of the “Dark Universe” down your throat as soon as the film starts. I miss the days when Brendan Fraiser took on the titular villain with the classic motifs and action of past. Shame.

Dr Jekyll (Russell Crowe), of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, has an organisation called Prodigium (terrible name) that contains and studies supernatural threats. His team locate a tomb in the underbelly of 21st century London and finds a knight who is holding a red jewel. Apparently, in Ancient Egypt, there was a princess who turned evil and conjured the dark side of the Egyptian god – Set. He gave her supernatural powers to take down her enemies and bring himself to life with the red jewel and a dagger. Luckily she was captured and sent to a tomb encrusted in mercury (apparently it stops evil from spreading). Millions of years later Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his sidekick Chris Vail (Jake Johnston) find the tomb, awaken the princess and all hell breaks lose.

The film had the unique opportunity to make the Mummy a genuine threat for the onscreen heroes including Nick Morton and his love interest Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis). The problem is that the script was written for the characters to rush into the threat, and then meet the team tasked to take it down with no explanation of how and why they are helping them. World building is a concrete way of making a franchise, but flashing it front and centre is just desperate. Its embarrassing to see Universal throw money at the screen by casting Tom Cruise to take on their new take of the Mummy.

The plot was rushed, no clear character development. No physical love interest for the hero, and personally no threat for him to take on. Sofia Boutella was superb as the feminine version of the classic Mummy, but her time on screen was wasted thanks to an arbitrary look on how to take on the world. The only interesting thing about her Mummy is the eyes. They split, and that’s pretty cool. Also, the makers tried to over sexualize her, and that’s not good at all. The action in the film is tasteful, to say the least, with the sequence taking place in the cemetery clearly taking on the vibe of the horror pictures of past in Universal’s monster catalogue. The film also has various humourous parts, which completely take you out of the scary moment the director has tried to create. The tone is lost, and so is your attention.

Overall a completely wasted approach to The Mummy, rather than tell a self-contained story Univeral try the hard sell with their new Dark Universe and waste the talents of Tom Cruise from hero to a selfish art thief who looks out for himself. The only good thing to come from this film is the artistry of Sofia Boutella who’s career will flourish further thanks to her portrayal of The Mummy. This film is a disgrace, and more importantly, we need Brendan Fraiser back.

Should you watch it: NO

Day 159 – The Belko Experiment – 2016

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What happens when you have 90 people trapped in a building, and they have to kill each other to survive. Chaos. This film brings us the chaotic look of how to survive against all the odds. Starring no one important minus John C McGinley who played Dr Cox on Scrubs, it was written by the legend himself – James “Guardian of the Galaxy” Gunn, and with no imagination directed by Greg McLean and released in 2016.

The premise of This film sounded quite interesting, unfortunately, the direction of the plot and play loses its flair literally 10 minutes into it. There is no backstory of why the building is on lockdown, and why the employees of The Belko Company are killing each other except for a tannoy telling them they have to. Ohh and also they have an explosive in the back of their heads in case they don’t comply. The film was poorly paced, and the acting sub-par. It was destined to be in the bargain bin at the supermarket and on the lists of “great horror” films on Netflix.

I respect James Gunn for all his work on Slither, Guardians of the Galaxy and Dawn of the Dead. They all have interesting genres, with Dawn of the Dead being likened to this film. The horror aspect is lost once the employees start killing each other for survival, and the film moves rapidly from horror to straight-up gore. It is not even good gore, just splashes of red on the walls and the camera moving off the action the moment the hit occurs.

The main character Mike Milch (played by an uncharismatic John Gallagher Jr) is the office everyman. He has the girl, and the respect of all the office, unfortunately, its not enough to stop the mayhem. He just is a boring protagonist for the audience as he has nothing to save (minus his girlfriend). There is also the James Gunn special, his brother Sean Gunn and Michael Rooker who star in most of Gunns motion pictures. The film is just straight up boring.

Overall a weak film from the mind of James Gunn (he’s lucky he didn’t direct it). An office of people get trapped inside a building and have to kill each other to be the victor and survive. Plagued with terrible performances and a weak plot the film was destined to fail.

Should you watch it: NO