Day 171 – Street Kings – 2008

 

street-kings-505094823113aAnother fantastic film starring my favourite actor – Keanu Reeves. This time around he plays an undercover cop, whose recently murdered wife is impairing his vision to ensure justice. At the same time, he has been implicated in the murder of his ex-partner and must find a way to clear his name. Directed by David Ayer and also starring Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie and Chris Evans – originally named The Nightwatch Man the film was dubbed by critics “formulaic violence bu no shred of intelligence.

Tom Ludlow is an undercover cop in the LAPD. His wife was recently murdered and the department decided on not enough evidence to find the murderer placing Tom’s trust in law on a thread. He saved a group of girls from online Korean sex website owners and becomes the hero of the department yet his ex-partner disapproves of his methods and his formerly corrupt ways that Tom brushes off as jealousy. As the tension builds up he goes after his ex-partner Terrence Washington (Terry Crews) but ends up in the shootout in the store they are both in. Terrance is killed and the department wants to blame Tom. It’s up to him and Detective Paul Diskant to find out who the killers were and find the cause of the corruption in the department.

Keanu Reeves is a fantastic actor. Any role he takes on, he literally becomes that character. As Tom Ludlow, you can sense his loss of faith in the police judiciary system as he drinks on the job trying to bury his demons. His department Captain Jack Wander is played by a skilful Forest Whitaker and plays Tom’s character as the tool. Mr Whitaker is the enemy in this film, and you can sense his corrupt ways when he is on screen. I wish he played the character of Captain Wander more deceitfully rather than as a friend to Tom because the end was a little weak with the confrontation. The inclusion of Hugh Laurie as Captain James Biggs aka the cop who burns cops from internal affairs was a wasted affair. He had no point being in the script, mainly to include his name on the film’s poster. The original title would ‘The Nightwatch Man’ was much better than ‘Street Kings’.

A positive note about the film was the inclusion of Common. He played Cassian in John Wick Chapter 2 of which also starred Keanu Reeves as the titular character. The fact they are enemies in both films bares a striking similarity between both films and intentions of both characters. They both want to kill each other. With the inclusion of Chris Evans, the film keeps both legs on the ground thanks to his Paul Diskant trying to do the right thing. He ain’t no Captain America yet but clearly, the studios saw this in him and made him great.

David Ayer-directed the film and usually creates a mood of which the mystery is revealed at the end. Unfortunately, he didn’t write this film and the script was a mess. The good thing about it, however, was the action. Violence, blood and old fashioned bravery fill the screen. It’s well-choreographed action with some great camera work of which doesn’t skimp out on the gore. It’s slightly sickening but then again it would be boring without.

A good cop drama centralised on Keanu Reeves’s Tom Ludlow who tries to do the right thing with the wrong people. A John Wick prequel perhaps with the inclusion of Common? Great gunplay with some fantastic actions sequences. What else can you wish for?

Should you watch it: YES

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 155 – Iron Man – 2008

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Robert Downey Jr entire career was on the line when they cast him as Tony Stark. Marvel gambled their entire movie franchise on the back of this film, and it did incredibly at the box office and respected the comic book lore that originally laid the foundation for what we saw on screen. Directed by Jon Favreau, and starring alongside Downey Jr was Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrance Howard and Jeff Bridges. This was the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe which has garnered a variety of heroes in a variety of different worlds.

Tony Stark is the billionaire playboy behind Stark Industries. He creates weapons for the highest bidder and creates some incredible technology behind it all. He himself is a genius and has an incredible intellect. One day he is showcasing his new Jericho missile in Afghanistan, and unfortunately, his captured by the Ten Rings – a terrorist organisation. He is caught up in the explosion, and has shrapnel in near his heart, so a local doctor (and hostage) saves his life using an electromagnet. Together they create a miniature arc reactor that can run for 15 lifetimes. Tony escapes captivity and returns to the real world contemplating getting out of the arms race. His business partner Obadiah Stane opposes Stark, and rebels against him. Stark at the same time has created a suit of armour which is powered by his arc reactor and takes on Stane on the west side of America.

This film started it all, culminating in Captain America, Thor, and the Incredible Hulk in the first film titled The Avengers. Essentially it also restarted the career of Robert Downey Jr after his fiasco with drugs in the 90s and his bad boy persona the media had given him. Jon Favreau also brought the comic book flick into the real world with actual science that could theoretically occur today. It was a smart move by Marvel to make this grounded approach to superheroes similar in vein to what Christopher Nolan did with the Batman franchise. This time around Downey Jr brought the laughs and Favreau brought the real world threats. Merging them together created a great story that applied not only to non-comic book fans but to a wider audience. Mix that with the wonderful special effects by Stan Winston Studios and the visual effects by ILM and we have an incredible style and look the film gives us.

Iron Man started the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the billion dollars franchise it is today. It also helped the sale of Marvel to Disney back in 2009 for $4 billion similar to the Star Wars sale in 2012. Praised for the portrayal of Tony Stark, and director Jon Favreau takes on the superhero genre it made a star once again out of Robert Downey Jr once again.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 139 – Pineapple Express – 2008

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Weed. Pot. Mary Jane. These are names for the drug Marijuana that is smoked across the world for recreation and fun. Used to relax the body to a point of euphoria to aid in a variety of uses. Pineapple Express comes from the mind of Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg with Rogan starring alongside James Franco and Danny McBride. The film is a bromance story, where the two main characters become best friends with comedic consequences. Believe me, some of the scenarios the boys get into are hilarious.

Dale Denton (Seth Rogan) is a process server. His girlfriend Angie (Amber Heard) is in her final year of High School and her parents despise Dale thanks to his lack of career progression. He purchased weed from his local dealer Saul (James Franco), who is a free spirit. They relax and partake in a variety of activities. One day he is serving a person and watches a shooting across the street by a police officer while smoking a blunt that Saul gave to him. He flees the scene but Ted, the shooter (played by a charismatic Gary Cole) tracks the weed down to Saul, where Dale has retreated to. He attacks Saul and Dale and they again flee into the woods and fall asleep. They awaken to sell some Pineapple Express (the infamous weed that got them into trouble) on the streets and are arrested by a cop. They escape the cop and drive (with a foot in the front window) and go to Red’s house (played by a beaten up Danny McBride). He tries to capture them, but in a twist of fate becomes best friends with the duo. They hatch a plan to take down Ted and his corrupt cop/lover Carol. It’s a race against time and weed to stop them.

The film is a paradise of weed jokes. They are scattered across the script with some of best gag jokes coming from Rogan and Franco thanks to their hilarious on screen chemistry. Weed brings everyone together and in this film, it truly does bring the audience closer to Dale and Saul. The goofs are so bad they are good, and the banter between the characters are hilarious. The conversations are just random, and at the time have a large significance to the plot. It’s beautiful.

The action is also hilarious. The jump by Rogan in the weed farm is laugh out loud thanks to it being completely out of character. How did he do that, and make it look so cool without it being silly.

This is a stoner comedy, and truly encapsulates the embodiment of how stoners work. There lifestyle, the jokes and even the banter between them. This is a life of fun and fortitude.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 93 – The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor – 2008

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The original Mummy was released in 1932 and was played by the legendary Boris Karloff, in 1999 it was rebooted by Stephen Sommers and starred Brendan Fraiser and Rachel Weisz. It was a huge success, and in 2001 they released the sequel which saw the cast take on Mummy again. This time around Brendan is back, but with a new agenda.  His wife has morphed into Maria Bello who in the film is now a writer and is asked if her life has impacted her characters, with her replying “Honestly, I can say she’s a completely different person”, of which was an inside joke alluding to the change of actor regarding the Evelyn O’Connell. Directed by The Fast and The Furious’s Rob Cohen, he tries to capture the originality and serial style action of the former films and direct it into a third. Unfortunately, it falls flat.

This time around, Alex their son from the second film is in China excavating an old warlords tomb. Both Rick and Evelyn come to visit, and somehow the released the Emperor, a warlord who was banished to eternity as a statue only to be awoken once again. His mission is to raise his undead army and make it past the great wall of china and take over the world. Jet Li plays the Emperor, for only a short amount of time, thanks to his character being made of stone throughout the story. Michelle Yeow also stars as Zi Yuan, the sorceress to banished him, and she brings her daughter Lin along for the ride.

It’s a completely stupid concept, that is lost thanks to the terrible story. The biggest problem that the first 2 films had a large amout of was fun. The film didn’t have the same quality or effect of which the characters had some kind of humour. Luke Ford who played Alex O’Connell is, without doubt, one of the most boring actors in the film. He is supposed to be playing the British son of the O’Connells and yet he has an Australian accent and looks closer to his father’s age than a 220-year-old

The casting is all wrong as well, Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li are wasted as the oriental threat and peacemaker thanks to their generic roles and mundane dialogue. They have a couple of fight sequences, and its good see them bring some action to the other boring fights in the film. We get it, Rob Cohen, they are very old, wise and dangerous. The problem is that the content is old and that you have tried to revive a dead mummy after 7 years of being destroyed (at the box office).

The score of the film is also lacking. It is not as epic as the first 2 iterations of the franchise, aiming its sights on a more generic feel. The rhythm is lost to the oriental theme, and with that, it loses the fun in the score. The original score had a grand in scale approach, that made you feel like something big was along the way. This version of the score didn’t bring that flare with it. It’s a shame because the score of the film can sometimes save it from the plot. The visual effects, however, are pretty good, thanks to the fantastic use of colour. This time around the colour palette is richer in red than the yellow it had before, and it shows with the set extensions and the beautifully curated CGI Yeti sequence in the snowy mountains. At least Rob Cohen didn’t skimp on the good stuff.

Overall this film tried to bring life back to something that had died many years ago (7 to be precise). The excitement and humour of the original are lost to the terrible story of the oriental mummy and the fact they recast one of the main stars (Maria Bello, you are still awesome). Maybe it was the studio who were trying to cash in on the last Indiana Jones movie? Save yourself, and forget this film exists.

#SaveBrendan

Should you watch it: NO