Day 172 – The Age of Adaline – 2015

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The Age of Adaline is more a study of a person who doesn’t age rather than a time travel film where you have to figure out how old she is. Adaline is a woman who becomes ageless and after many decades of being alone, she meets a man who changes the course of her history forever. Starring Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Michiel Huisman and Ellen Burstyn the film was stuck in development hell after many directors joined and left the project until Lee Toland Krieger was brought on board. Released in the summer of 2015 Blake Lively and Harrison Ford were praised for their fantastic portrayals of both Adaline and William Jones.

Adaline Bowman is a woman living in San Francisco. We learn when she was 29 having brought life to a girl to her loving husband, she was driving her car and a freak snowstorm made her crash her car into the nearby ravine killing her. The next moment a bolt of lightning hits the water bringing her back to life after being dead for 2 minutes – and renders her ageless for the rest of her life. Back in the present, she cares for her dog and daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn) who is now an approaching 70. One day she meets a man named Ellis (Michiel Huisman) and falls in love with him. She goes to his parents 40th wedding anniversary celebrations only to find out his father William (Harrison Ford) was a former lover of Adaline and brings back memories.

Age of Adaline was a mixture of time travel escapades from the 50s and mixed with a concoction of fairy tales. Blake Lively plays Adaline as both a well-lived woman who doesn’t fear the world thanks to her age but also plays her a young unapproachable lady who fears the bigger world. It’s difficult to comprehend how she feels, and Blake Lively completely gets the attention of the audience with her looks and attitude of which is both posh but timely.

The narration throughout the film quantifies the belief that the film was a work of truth rather than fiction with realistic representations of the world when we see her in the 50s and 60s. The film goes even further with the camera work. The removal of steady cams and anamorphic lenses adds to the realism that the film shows to the audience for a sense of authenticity like the use of Levi’s in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button from 2008. The addition of Ellen Burstyn as the daughter who is physically older than her mother has connotations to her acting in Interstellar where she meets her younger father after 100 years in space.

The film reminds of The Time Traveller’s Wife which shows the story from the wife perspective which was unique when released. The film is a great accomplishment with fantastic acting from both Blake Lively and Harrison Ford who brings his sweet love for Adaline in front and centre after figuring out who she really was. Overall a great film.

This is the fairy tale for adults.

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 146 – The Wedding Ringer – 2015

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Why does the world seem to love Kevin Hart? Is it because he is a great comedian? Is it because he is small? I think it is because of all these videos we see on Facebook of his comedy shows, with that face he always makes. Don’t get me wrong, he is a funny individual and so is his counterpart Josh Gadd. They are both funny guys, but can they save this disaster? Let’s find out.

The easy answer is no. The film is bad. It tries to copy tropes from films such as The Wedding Crashers, The 40 Year Old Virgin and Old School. It’s more a mashup of them films, and somehow they came out with the plot of this disaster.

Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart) is a best man for hire. He can provide best man services for a fee and makes a lot of money from it. Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is getting married to the love of his life Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco). As they are preparing the wedding Doug tries to ring up all his old school friends to come to the conclusion he has none. He gets in contact with Jimmy and concocts the plan make a fake best man and friends for Doug. He assembles the most random team of men to be Doug’s entourage and creates his own character called Bic Mitchem. It is tasteless.

The only redeeming factor of the film is the comedic delights that Kevin Hart brings to the screen. Some of the little quips he comes out with are genuinely funny, and the same goes for Josh Gad’s character. He is unintentionally funny, thanks to his character being a man of business. He tries to do the right thing, but things always go wrong for him.

The Wedding Ringer is a cash grab by studios to cash in on the fame that Kevin Hart has amassed in recent times. Josh Gad is a casualty of this film, and unfortunately, he is thrown to the side with the focus going directly on Hart. Don’t get me wrong, they are both fantastic actors but Gad is clearly behind Hart in this picture. The background characters in this film are wasted thanks to their role. To be honest they should have been cut entirely. The only saving grace is the bromance between Kevin Hart and Josh Gad.

Wasted film premise, with a terrible plot, used to cash in on Kevin Hart. It tries too many things and fails on them all. BTW the music selection is unorganised and used in a terrible way to transition scenes. Come on Hollywood.

Should you watch it: NO

Day 136 – Daddy’s Home – 2015

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Daddy’s Home is a comedy film directed by Sean Anders and stars Will Ferrell and Mark Walhberg. It’s the second time that Ferrell and Wahlberg have starred together since the 2010’s The Other Guys which played the duo as detectives in the NYPD become the joke of the precinct. This time around they play Brad and Dusty, a newly appointed stepfather looking to connect with his new adopted kids, while trying to stop Dusty the ex-husband who is trying to sneak his way into the family. Released in 2015 on Christmas day, it was universally panned by critics. Let’s find out why.

So essentially the plot of the film is about Brad (played by Will Ferrell) who is trying to connect to his new step kids who of which rarely acknowledge him. One day the family is visited by Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), the ex-husband to Brads wife Sara (Linda Cardellini). The kids are ecstatic and Dusty slowly created trouble for Brad, and so Brad slowly retaliates with sub-par hilarity across the course of the film.

What I felt that Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg wanted to create with this film was the same feeling they created with The Other Guys. They tried to copy the jokes and even some of the dialogue, but unfortunately for Sean Anders, it fails miserably. The comedy is just lame, the jokes are very tame and are aimed at a younger audience than The Other Guys. When I watched this the first time I did find it funny, but on this second viewing all the magic was lost thanks to the terrible direction. Will Ferrell plays a mild-mannered man who loves his family a lot. You can feel the love thanks to his acting of which is not bad but the problem rears its ugly head when he goes to the extreme. It’s weird to go from one extreme to another and this is where I completely gave up hope. It’s unnatural for his character, and the progression is staggered. Mark Wahlberg’s character is a generic bully who finds himself, with some comedic delights of which are genuinely funny. The bit with the motorcycle in the house is funny.

The film tries to overcompensate comedy with drama, and unfortunately, it falls completely flat. The banter between Ferrell and Wahlberg is genuinely funny but doesn’t work enough to save the film from a lame ending. The only saving grace is the legend himself: John Cena.

Should you watch it: NO

Day 129 – No Escape – 2015

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In 2015 I visited Thailand with some friends for a holiday. It was great. In 2017 I watched No Escape, a film that was set in an unidentifiable country close to the border of Vietnam. Starring Owen Wilson, Lake Bell and James Bond himself: Pierce Brosnan.No Escape tells the story of the Dwyer family who moves to the

No Escape tells the story of the Dwyer family who move to the Asian country to start a new life, unfortunately for them, a coup d’etat has occurred in the countries prime minister has been murdered by the rebel faction. Owen Wilson plays Jack Dwyer, an engineer who sold his patent to a company, so fly him and his family to the orient to start a new life. He meets Hammond (Pierce Brosnan) on the flight and they hit it off as friends. He warns of the local people scamming non-locals and takes them to their hotels. One day Jack is looking for the local newspaper as the internet is out at the hotel him and his family are staying at, so goes to the nearby shop. There he sees the local militia taking on the rebel faction. Everyone is being slaughtered so he runs to the hotel to save his family and flee the country. It’s a ride through the language barrier being the biggest hurdle for the family. Lake Bell’s Annie has a terrible time looking out for her husband’s life and looking after her kids Beeze and Lucy.

No Escape is an interesting story, thanks to it being set in an unidentifiable country which looks like Thailand, I can imagine what it would have been like. Mainly thanks to being in a country where the majority of people don’t speak English and that can be very scary. Writer/director John Erick Dowdle has managed to generate a story that really does make you feel like you’re alone with no one coming to save you, and to be honest that is a deep human fear we all can relate to. It is uncomfortable to look at it from the countries views because we don’t actually know which countries eyes we are looking from. Another view we could look at the film

Another view we could look at the film from is the survival genre. Comparing it to a zombie film they both have striking similarities such as the rebel faction for the terror, the world being barren thanks to the apocalypse and everyone is on high alert shooting to kill whenever they see another survivor. I like that director John Erick Dowdle has played on this genre, after coming from another sleeper high As Above, So Below commenting on the horror survival genre with a supernatural twist.

Overall the film is a generic family survival thriller. The basic premise is unique but thanks to one-dimensional characters and boring set pieces (they are intense, but not intense enough). Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan are respectively acting thanks to the paycheck and not the physical plot which is a shame.

Should you watch it: NO

Day 123 – Kingsman: The Secret Service – 2015

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This film actually a surprise because it came out of nowhere. A spy film with characters similar to the James Bond franchise of the early Connery days but with the sophistication and technological elegance of the 21st century? Sign me up. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the story of Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a council estate hoodlum who lives with his sister, his mum and her abusive boyfriend. His father was once a Kingsman agent killed on the job and is recruited by Harry Hat to join years later. Hat and Eggsy have been tasked by Kingmans to take down Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) and his associates before he kills the population thanks to his state of the art sim card and the influence it has on the brains of billions.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn who brought audiences Layer Cake, Stardust and more recently the rebooted X-Men: First Class. Vaughn is from what I have seen on the behind the scenes footage: an angry director. Always swearing and cursing similar to how we originally saw cook Jamie Oliver. It is weird because he seems like a prick, but the films he makes are wonderfully crafted and fun to watch. Kingsman, in particular, has the typical British vibe about it, being set in central London, the authentic British pubs and the British thugs you get around them. All authentic and that’s what makes his films realistic yet entertaining.

Taron Egerton plays the main character Eggsy who is the one recruited by Kingsman to take down Valentine with Harry Hat (Colin Firth). The beauty of the agents is they are incredibly similar to James Bond. The gadgets, the suits and suave sophistication they embody when talking to others oozes British. Vaughn has captured what we all love the spy genre and brings the action of the 60s into the new age. The acting is all great with Firth and Egerton taking centre stage as mentor and student, but also we have Mark Strong as Merlin, the Scottish mentor of the trainees and a surprise guest Mr Mark Hamill as the doomed scientist who is captured by Valentine.

The film is both an homage and a spoof thanks to the context. The villain Valentine played by Samuel L Jackson with a lisp is the spoof thanks to him essentially being a joke the entire way through. The homage is shown with the sophistication the Kingsman agents have on the job, with Harry Hat being so darn polite. Another great addition that writers Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman (wife of Jonathan Ross) have added to the cast is the addition of Sophia Boutella as Valentines assistant/henchman Gazelle who has blades for her legs which could be used to kill. It’s a clever idea both to have her walk and kill when needed.

Kingsman came out of nowhere and I loved it. Matthew Vaughn has captured the spy genre with a new comedic yet humble twist which plays homage to the James Bond films of past. A great cast, bundled with a fantastic, frenetic and fun plot create a fresh new franchise for more to come.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 115 – The Last Witch Hunter – 2015

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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