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 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 169 – Iron Man 2 – 2010

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How do you create a sequel that contained everything that a superhero film should have? You do the same thing, this time bigger. That is what Jon Favreau has done with the sequel to Iron Man with Tony Stark taking on even bigger problems with Pepper Potts, Happy Hogan and long time friend Colonel James Rhodes. This time around he has fix his declining health and take on a vengeful being that has links to his mysterious father. Directed by Jon Favreau and starring Robert Downey Jr, Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell, this is the third film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe which received universal praise from both critics and long-time fans of the character.

At the end of the first film, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) revealed to the world he was the Iron Man thanks to his life-saving Arc reactor in his chest powering the suit. This time around the world knows his identity and the US Government want the technology that powers his chest and the suit for military purposes and so does his old business adversary Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) What they don’t know are that the thing keeping him alive is also killing him slowly from the inside thanks to Palladium poisoning his blood. At the same time in Russia Ivan Vanko (Mickey Roarke) watches his father die in his hand’s thanks to radiation poisoning from working on the original Arc Reactor at Stark Enterprises. He then turns his attention on killing Tony Stark to avenge his father’s stolen legacy.

The great thing about this film is the faint world building that they did in the first film comes full circle with the full introduction of SHIELD. Both Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) appear in the film aiding Tony Stark. The film goes even further telling the audience when Agent Coulson has to leave to attend an event in New Mexico which many fans know he will be at the introduction of Thor into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I love that Kevin Feige had done this, instead of going in cold on the film like they would have done back in the 90s. Also, the introduction of Tony Stark into the bigger world has an effect on him with some demons even coming out of the closet (alcoholism). RDJ injects an energetic second round into his foray of Tony Stark with Favreau even showing us his dark side (only temporary) when he is drunk and fighting Colonel Rhodes in the Iron Man Armor. Also, we meet Natasha Romanoff played by an incredible sexual Scarlett Johansen who kills with both her looks and skill.

 

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Wasted Opportunity Roarke.

 

Don Cheadle plays James Rhodey in this film after Terrance Howard wasn’t asked to come back thanks to problems on set with director Jon Favreau. He brings the full sense of the airforce with him when on screen and also shows a great friendship with Star when together on screen. Mickey Rourke is completely forgettable as the villain Ivan Vanko thanks to his boring Russian identity and his inner demons fueling the demise of Tony Stark. Mixing both Whiplash and Crimson Dynamo didn’t seem to fit the context of the film and ultimately wasted the villain in the film. The sexual tension between Tony and Pepper is also expanded on and is ultimately tested by the end of the film. Gwenyth Paltrow brings her

Ultimately the film is good, but the motivations behind the villain let it down. Also, the script which was written by Justin Theroux (Jennifer Aniston’s husband FYI) was rushed thanks to the studio wanting to further expand on the shared universe with the inclusion of SHIELD. It was a wise decision by Kevin Feige and was pulled off successfully thanks to great performances from the entire cast. The music was also tasteful thanks to it being entirely created from the back catalogue of AC/DC.

Overall a mixed return for Tony Stark with him slightly taking a back seat thanks to the world building the plot tries to further expand on. RDJ brings the charm and charisma we now expect from Tony Stark and the supporting cast does their best to help or create chaos for him. The best thing about this film was Gary Shandling and his great cameo as Senator Stern. Whoever asked him to star in this film needs a promotion.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 168 – Super Troopers – 2001

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Super Troopers comes from the mind of comedy group Broken Lizard who play a bunch of highway patrolmen creating chaos at their precinct and the inhabitants that they service. Starring Jay Chandrasekhar, Steve Lemm, Kevin Heffernan, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske as the trooper and Brian Cox as their superior, the men go through a random adventure of which the viewer has no idea where it will end. Released in 2001 is was dubbed wackier than silly aiming more for the audience of their type of comedy.

The Vermont State Trooper are the first line of defence on the highway in the fictional town of Spurbury on the US-Canada border. They seem to play more pranks on the inhabitants of Spurbury than actual police work. They also have an ongoing rivalry with the Spurbury Police Department who say they are not real cops. One day the Super Troopers come to across a murder scene and fight the Police to who has jurisdiction on drugs bust. Essentially there is the little plot and a more comedic take on the world the film has made. The officers played by the comedic group are all insane and that what makes the film hilarious.

Shenanigans is the word used for the film, as the officers get up to some stupid stuff. An example would be becoming a robber and be chased by the Super Troopers across the country all whilst being drunk. It is stupidity at its finest, unfortunately, it doesn’t sit well with the rest of the film. The reason you watch a film is for the story, and this film barely has one. It delves into the world of sketch comedy because every scene is made up to become a joke. A prime example would be Kevin Heffernan’s Officer Rodney Farva. Every single scene he is mocked for being the joke of the station and the boy’s always pick on him. It’s funny only in the scenes where the joke is played on but in other scenes, it’s unexplained and the viewer is supposed to understand.

The film is essentially an extended version of a tv show where the cops are idiots. The joke is funny in the right context but unfortunately for Super Troopers is kind of gets wasted. I personally thought the film was funny, about 25 minutes of the 100-minute runtime but we can’t all be comedic geniuses.

Super Troopers can be watched when you are drunk and almost passed out on the sofa on a Saturday night. It is funny to a degree, but Broken Lizards newer films are way funnier. The Slammin Salmon is hilarious.

Should you watch it: YES

 

Day 167 – Employee of the Month – 2006

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Dane Cook vs Dax Shepard to win the employee of the month and win the love and affection of the new girl at work. It’s actually quite a funny film, considering it has both Dane and Dax in the title roles. Released in 2006 with fun reviews, it was quite successful and had a small cult following thanks to the jokes in the film.

Zack Bradley is the resident slacker at the local Super Club as a box packer. Vince Downey (Dax Shepard) is the store’s number one employee at the store thanks to his way with the woman and his skill on the checkout (him being the fastest). One day they both meet new girl Amy (Jessica Simpson) who’s both funny and beautiful. Zack learns she has high opinions of the employee of the month and makes it his mission to become just that with some hilarious consequences for the entire cast.

The film came out of nowhere back in 2006 and was a success across the cinematic world thanks to its down to earth approach on how a shop operates. The zany workers of the store and how they work against each other was a refreshing take on the supermarket comedy and also showcased the comedy delights of Dane Cook and Dax Shepard. Jessica Simpson also showed us she wasn’t just a singer and reality tv sucker with a fun self-comedy take on Amy and how she wasn’t just eye candy like her role in The Dukes of Hazzard.

Personally, this is Dane Cooks best work since he moved from comedy clubs to the big screen. I don’t count the cameo he had in the hilarious Waiting from 2005 starring Ryan Reynolds. The best thing about the entire film is how fluid the cast interact with each other. All three leads Cook, Shepard and Simpson work fantastically together and bring charm to their respective roles. The rest of the cast are also quite funny such as Tim Bageley as the store manager who is afraid of his older brother (dwarf Danny Woodburn) and Jorge (played by an unrecognisable Efren Ramirez who played Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite).

Overall the film is full of laughs, with some great comedic performances from both Dane Cook and Dax Shepard who actually is funny in this film. The plot is quite unique, being the employee of the month wins you the girl.

Should you watch it: YES

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