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 157 – Wonder Woman – 2017

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Diana Prince has had an arduous time coming to the big screen. Back in the 70s Lynda Carter donned the infamous outfit and took on villains. Then the show was forgotten about thanks to the heightened popularity of The Incredible Hulk which was a success also. Fast forward to 2016 and we have the holy trinity fighting together. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman all on the big screen. DC Comics have now gone and created an origins story for the leading lady. Directed by Patty Jenkins, and starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston, Robin Wright Penn, Connie Nielsen and David Thewlis.

Diana of Themyscira is the princess of the island. She was brought up to defend the island of which has been hidden from the land of men for thousands of years. They have been watching humanity, in the case of a new threat in this case the god Ares. One day a fighting plane lands on the waters of Themyscira, Diana watching saves US pilot Steve Trevor. He is the first man on the island in millennia. He asks the Amazons for help to save the world from the Great War (World War 1) and give a notepad that Steve stole from a scientist to wade the war in favour of the British. They decline, luckily thanks to the innocence of Diana they leave the island to reach London and the front line of the war. To the surprise of Diana, she saves a lot of the men, in her war to rid the world of Ares and his plan.

Wonder Woman is amazing. I said it. Patty Jenkins has directed a fantastic script that fleshes out the backstory of Diana and her people The Amazons with rich locations and actors. She came up with the idea of Themyscira a place where a woman would want to live, and it is precisely that. The casting of Gal Gadot, an Isreali model and actress as Diana is praiseworthy. She really does embody the spirit of a warrior princess who wants to rid the world of evil. Gal Gadot is incredible as Wonder Woman thanks to her character going to the real world for the first time. Her characters eyes are compelled to try new things (such as beer and holding an infant for the first time). Chris Pine as the US pilot Steve Trevor also embodies the spy spirit, popularised thanks to serial comics common in the age. Pine’s as an actor knows he is the second character, and he doesn’t take the limelight from Gal Gadot’s Diana and this is respectable.

Another character which I personally thought was fantastic was Robin Wright Penn as the warrior Hippolyta. She is incredible as the ultimate Amazon warrior. I had a lot of respect for her character, and also the morals she chose for Diana. Wright Penn is the undercover star of the motion picture, embodying the strength the Amazonian woman have. Incredible. Also, a fantastic performance from the sub characters that Diana and Steve meet. Ewen Bremner plays the Scot Sir Patrick who has PTSD throughout the film. Saïd Taghmaoui who you may remember from the GI Joe movie plays the actor Sameer, a Morrocan who brings warmth to the group with his comedic take on life. Finally, there is The Chief, a Native American played by Eugene Brave Rock who is the group’s smuggler. Lucy Davis plays Etta, Steves secretary who is always bubbly and full of chatter. Something Diana warms to as she meets her. The characters make the story more realistic and fun, making the odds of the mission more critical.

Patty Jenkins has made the cinematic debut of Wonder Woman: Wonderful. Showcasing her origin as the naive newcomer to the strong Amazon warrior. A fantastic first outing (minus Batman Vs Superman) for Diana Prince, I hope that DC Comics and Warner Brothers can learn from the mistakes of BvS and create a great film that merges the Justice League together in a way that Joss Whedon did with the Avengers.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 151 – Life – 2017

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Now, this film came out of nowhere. 6 astronauts are onboard the International Space Station in the near future and are awaiting a pod which contains contents from the surface of Mars. It’s actually pretty good considering the trailer made it look like a remake of the original Alien. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds in 2017, it came out to good reviews all around.

As I said before this film came out of nowhere, and to be honest I really enjoyed it. It was a masterclass of horror would be like onboard a station that instant escape is impossible. 6 Astronauts are aboard the International Space Station, Dr David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal) the ISS’s senior medical officer, Dr Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson), the quarantine officer, Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds) the systems engineer, Sho Murakami (Hiroyuki Sanada) the Pilot of the ISS, Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) the onboard biologist and finally Katerina Golovkina (Olga Dihovichnaya) the commander of ISS. They are on a 9 month mission to extract the probe from the surface of Mars that has captured contents for scientific research. On the mission they successfully catch the probe thanks to Rory’s skilful execution and realise they have a first dormant proof of life from Mars. They bring it to life, only to realise its sentient and attacks the ship and crew looking to infect all around it.

This film was a masterful execution of how a biological alien threat can threaten the existence of the crew and what lengths they would go to stopping it from reaching Earth and infecting the human race. It’s a scary thought brought to realisation from David Espinosa who also directed Safe House starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. Trapped in Space are the feeling that he wants you to feel, the claustrophobia of being along and the threat of something trying to hunt and kill you without the use of unreal science fiction. An ingenious way of creating a threat that logically could happen to out astronauts in space at anytime.

The fear factor is something that hasn’t really been done well in recent times with weak horror films such as Paranormal Activity, The Conjuring and Insidious have counted on the jump scares which work well in theatres gaining nonentity for it. In Life we have the build up scare, you know it’s coming and Daniel Espinosa has drafted a fantastic script into this build up of suspence not knowing when the scare is going to occur. Mix this up with the likes of Gyllenhaal and Ferguson and you have yourself a fantastic movie of astronauts stuck in space thanks to a feral alien.

Science can’t always help you, and for the astronauts, they find out first hand. It is a masterful execution on how to generate fear and build up without the jump scares with some fantastic acting in zero G thanks to Gyllenhaal, Ferguson, Reynolds.

Overall a film that will be overlooked in the years to come, but a welcome addition to the space horrors. Alien eat your eat out.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 134 – Alien: Covenant – 2017

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Alien: Covenant is the sequel to the 2012 film Prometheus that chronicled the crew of the ship that finds a planet with a dark past. This time around its set 10 years after the events of the last film and finds the colonisation ship Covenant crossing the galaxy to find a new settlement for humanity. Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Katherine Waterstone, Billy Crudup and Michael Fassbender as Walter and David the androids.

The ship Covenant is crossing the galaxy to reach new settlement Origae-6. Along the way the ship is breached by a neutrino shockwave (space anomaly) and wakes up the skeleton crew. During the wake-up process, Captain Jacob Branson (James Franco in a blink and you will miss it cameo) is killed, and so Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup) assumes command. The ship locates a closer settlement for the crew and the 2000 colonists onboard to live on. The entire crew agrees to visit the planet in hope to create a human base away from Earth, except for Daniels (Katherine Waterstone) who is sceptical. They land on the planet and locate the ship that Elizabeth Shaw and David left the planet in Prometheus. Two of the crew becoming infected by an airborne pathogen and rapidly incubate a new type of Alien. They burst out of the crew members and start to kill the rest of the crew until a masked figure comes to save them. This is where things take a turn for the worst for the crew, and specifically Daniels.

Prometheus was sold to the audience as the birth of the Xenomorph, and unfortunately, it was sold short to the audience as it actually didn’t contain any physical Aliens that we are used to. Luckily this time around Ridley Scott listened and brought back the big, bad and ugly Xenomorphs we are used to. They are physically strong and move incredibly quickly. It’s scary like the original film Alien and it is sequel Aliens which up to the ante to 11 thanks to its introduction of the Colonial Marines. The close quarter’s combat of the Xenomorphs also introduces more fear inducing terror into the slightly watered down world that Prometheus introduced us.

Personally, the best parts of Alien: Covenant is where Ridley Scott shows us the crew interacting with each other on a personal level. Adding a sense of emotion to the characters we become slightly attached to them, then as the film moves along they are taken away in gross and gruesome scenes that showcase the violence of both the airborne pathogen and the Alien.

The best thing about Alien: Covenant is the Android David and his successor Walter. Fassbender plays each one with different personalities. Davis the original Android and can bypass certain restrictions that Walter possesses such as killing someone that poses a danger to the mission whereas Walter would help everyone survive even sacrificing himself.

Overall it’s great to see Ridley Scott going back to his roots with Alien: Covenant. A return for the creatures we haven’t officially seen on the screen since 2007. A truly terrifying film that will make you really think at the end where they will continue the Alien journey and how it connects to the original.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 125 – xXx: The Return of Xander Cage – 2017

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At the beginning of the second xXx film, Xander Cage was apparently killed by an explosion. Somehow he survived to return in the third film. I don’t know why D.J Caruso brought him back because to be completely honest it was a waste of time. Vin Diesel has tried to bring the Dominic Torreto to the extreme sports side of the world, and it doesn’t pan out very well. It was also shot in 3D for some unknown reason as the special effects look horrible. The other stunts aren’t too bad, but the plot lets the film down. Why has xXx returned?

xXx is alive and well, living in the Dominican Republic and is asked to return to help the NSA when his mentor and friend Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson) is apparently killed when a satellite crashes into the safe he was sat in. xXx is asked to take down the team that crashed the satellite, and have “Pandoras Box”. A device capable of dropping said satellites out of the sky. The team is led by Xiang (Donnie Yen), Serena (Deepika Padukone in her first America feature film), Talon (Tony Jaa), and Hawk (Michael Bisping). They are very similar to the terrorists in Fast and Furious 6, and this isn’t the only similarity the film has with it. xXx is tasked by CIA head Jane Marke (Toni Collette) to assemble his own team to counteract the other team who were also created by Gibbons to take down others but went rogue. Now, this is where the film gets silly because xXx recruits some stupid people on his team. Kris Wu plays Nicks the DJ, Rory McCann is The Torch who likes to crash things into other things and Ruby Rose is Adele the sniper. She is the only one on the team who is worth something. The others are wasted. Essentially they fight off and try to rescue Pandoras Box. It’s absurd that a production company paid money to make this rubbish.

The plot was a waste of time and didn’t make sense half of the time. The only good parts of the film were the stunts. The motorbikes on the water sequence were impressive with Xiang being chased on the waves of the sea on a motorbike with skis, being chased by xXx. The other sequence which looked terrible but I thought was cool was when xXx run and jumped out of an exploding plane with no parachute and then catching a cargo hold. It was most impressive, but not good enough for me to recommend the film for you to watch.

Don’t waste your hard earned cash on this rubbish. Vin Diesel is trying to make more money from you by essentially reskinning  Fast and Furious 6. What a cash scam. The only (none) redeeming factor is that it has Donnie Yen in it. He is a legend.

Should you watch it: HELL NO

Day 122 – Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 – 2017

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The first Guardians film was a refresher course in how to make a comic book great again. Fun unique characters, large amazing worlds and something that comic book films don’t usually have enough off: Humour. The amount of jokes in the first made many cry with laughter, and the overall story didn’t have bad either mixed with probably the greatest music soundtrack ever committed to vinyl. Directed by James Gunn, Did Marvel strike gold again with Vol 2? Let us find out.

Guardians 2 starts with the ragtag team helping the Sovereign Race protect their batteries from a large space octopus. Ayesha the leader of the race thanks them for their help, all while Rocket steals some of the batteries to sell on the black market. They are chased off the planet and hunted by the Sovereign. As they rush through space, an entity is seen rushing opposite of them and obliterates the entire Sovereign fleet in an instance. The Guardians ship was damaged and they crash into a planet’s forest, and our met by Ego, the living planet who is also Peter Quill’s father. He asks for them to join him, so Drax Gamora and Peter go, leaving Rocket and Groot to fix the ship. The only problem is that Ayesha, the leader of the Sovereign has asked Yondu to find Starlord and his crew, so Rocket is attacked and captured.

It is a fun story once again centred on Peter Quill whose parentage is finally discovered. It’s beautiful to see the team meeting with another family member, with some liking the situation and others despising the reprisal of Quill’s father. Now Peters father Ego is an interesting character. He is a living planet, a cosmic anomaly who of which can extend his consciousness across the galaxy. He is celestial which essentially means he is a god, creating life and taking it away. It’s a double-edged sword thanks to Kurt Russell being so lovable as a hero, and heartbreaking when he is a villain. I love the juxtaposition he brings to the team of characters as it almost tears the team apart. He is the reason why the team almost break.

The best thing about Guardians 2 is the characters, and James Gunn has brought them together again in a beautiful way. Merging family and friendship with loyalty, he has generated another stellar story which brings the team together to fight another evil of which is close to the team’s heart. The fact that Gunn has merged another fantastic soundtrack into the heart of the film is a statement about him as a director, with scenes, in particular, taking cues from the Vol 2 of the Awesome mix (given to Quill at the end of the first film). It is fantastic to see the amount of commitment he has placed into the story. Bringing back Drax (Dave Bautista) as the comic relief is also another high point in the film with him becoming a duo with new character Mantis who is also emotionally crippled thanks to her singular upbringing on Egos planet. The chemistry between both is, without a doubt, the funniest thing I have seen this year on screen, and is going to be hard to top it. The scene where he is imagining her kiss him is hilarious. I actually cried it was that funny. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) takes a back seat in this adventure becoming more a love interest for Peter and sister to Nebula. She actually brings the family together with Rocket. The Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) is back with his off the tongue comedic moments taking the highlights from the scenes he is in. I love Rocket, and Baby Groot who is adorable at the beginning dancing to Electric Light Orchestra while the team are trying to humorously take down a giant flying space squid.

Overall many people thought that too much of the same would be a bad thing, good thing that they were wrong. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 builds on the theme from the first film about family and builds bridges for the characters to develop upon making the film even more fun. I would love to see how the Russo Brothers are going to use the Guardians in the next Avengers movie, can’t wait to find out. Come on Marvel.

Should you watch it: YES

 

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

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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