Showing posts from September 3, 2017

Review: Finding Dory

A year after the events of “Finding Nemo”, and Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) starts to have memories of her childhood and her parents (voiced by Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton). She remembers that they were separated years ago at the Marine Life Institute, and so she, Nemo (voiced by Hayden Rolence), and Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) go off to try and locate them. Unfortunately, being that this is a Pixar movie, circumstances see Dory getting separated from Nemo and Marlin and having to go it alone with her terrible short-term memory issues.

I came late to the party on “Finding Nemo” (about 10 years late) but really loved it. Everything except for…Dory. Dory I felt was a one-joke idea that quickly got annoying. This 2016 Disney/Pixar sequel from directors Andrew Stanton (“Toy Story”, “Finding Nemo”) and Angus MacLane (an animator with his first feature-length co-directorial credit) is all about the absent-minded little Pacific Regal Blue Tang, and so I had the feeling this one was…

Review: Hardcore Henry

Henry is brought back to life by his wife (Haley Bennett) and fitted with cyborg parts, whilst wiping his memory. When the lab he wakes up in is under attack by a telekinetic villain, Henry escapes but pursued by nondescript Russian goons. Sharlto Copley turns up from time to time as Jimmy, who appears to be helping Henry evade his would-be killers, but has a habit of getting himself killed in the process. Several times. Yep, this one’s weird.

Although it’s not as headache-inducing and irritating as I expected, this 2015 first-person sci-fi flick from debut writer-director Ilya Naishuller (a musician and music video director, to little surprise) outstays its welcome fairly quickly. Shot in first-person fashion by cinematographers Pasha Kapinos, Vsevolod Kaptur & Feodor Lyass, it’s almost like a drug-addled “RoboCop” with a touch of “Chappie”, but shot entirely from the title character’s point-of-view. It didn’t give me a headache, but it’s also neither necessary nor an especially …

Review: Now You See Me 2: The Second Act

Set some time after the events of the first film, the magician troupe The Four Horsemen are now just three (Jesse Eisenberg, pickpocket Dave Franco, and mesmerist Woody Harrelson) after Isla Fisher and her character declined to return. They have pretty much kept a very low-profile, but when a return performance (designed to expose a tech magnate for the personal data thief he really is) goes awry and the Horsemen’s handler (FBI agent Mark Ruffalo) is exposed instead, they are forced to go on the run. Their escape doesn’t go according to plan- at least not their own plan, as they somehow emerge in Macau, sans Ruffalo, who has his own shit to deal with among his clearly pissed colleagues (including Sanaa Lathan and David Warshofsky). The Horsemen confronted by Harrelson’s shonky, estranged twin brother. Said twin brother and his goons take the Horsemen (and spunky new recruit Lizzy Caplan) to reclusive tech tycoon Daniel Radcliffe, who has a score to settle with the tech magnate (his fo…

Review: The BFG

Young Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) becomes friends with the title giant (A CG-enhanced Mark Rylance), who unlike his brethren is friendly and doesn’t eat children. Well gee, that’s nice of him isn’t it?

I loved Roald Dahl books when I was a kid, especially Matilda, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, and The Twits. I do know I read and liked The BFG when I was a young ‘un, but along with Fantastic Mr. Fox, it was my first exposure to Dahl, and my memory of it has faded a whole helluva lot in the last 30 years or so. This 2016 film adaptation by the highly respected Steven Spielberg (“Jaws”, “ET: The Extra Terrestrial”, “War of the Worlds”, “Minority Report”) and late screenwriter Melissa Mathison (“ET”) makes me want to revisit the book, as I’m pretty sure it was a lot better than what the normally reliable filmmaker presents to us here.

The early scenes are a bit too reminiscent of “ET” for my liking, and after a while you realise that there’s just not all that much story h…

Review: Ray

The story of Ray Charles Robinson (Jamie Foxx- doing some but not most of the singing, though he does play the piano himself), who overcame blindness, childhood trauma and guilt, and drug addiction to become a musical legend. Kerry Washington, Aunjanue Ellis, and Regina King (the latter with her usual ‘Oh no you didn’t!’ facial expression constantly on show) play his wife, mistress, and more bitter mistress respectively. Clifton Powell plays his well-intentioned manager, Curtis Armstrong (yes, Booger playing an Arab!) and Richard Schiff play generally supportive execs at Atlantic Records, C.J. Sanders plays the young Ray (and does very well), Warwick Davis is a dwarf emcee who treats Ray well but also starts him on drugs, Bokeem Woodbine is the initially hostile but loyal band member who also gets Ray hooked on the harder stuff, and Larenz Tate has a role as acquaintance Quincy Jones, that seems to belong in a different, cheerier movie.

Merely OK Taylor Hackford (“Proof of Life”) biop…

Review: Yojimbo

Set in Japan in 1860, Toshiro Mifune is Sanjuro, a wandering samurai who finds himself playing both sides involved in a turf war. There’s the nasty silk merchant/brothel owner, and the nasty sake merchant, respectively (the former played by Seizaburo Kawazu, the latter by Kyu Sazanka), and both try to gain Sanjuro’s services as a bodyguard (or Yojimbo), whilst he sits back and watches them destroy one another. Or at least, that’s the plan. Things become complicated when Sazanka kidnaps a woman and Sanjuro develops a conscience. Tatsuya Nakadai plays Sazanka’s ruthless, dangerous, and pistol-packing brother, who proves a most formidable opponent for Sanjuro. 
Although not as good as his “Throne of Blood”, this 1961 film from Akira Kurosawa (“The Seven Samurai”, “The Hidden Fortress”) is certainly his most influential film, and one of his best. It has been ripped off countless times (once really well by Sergio Leone with “A Fistful of Dollars”), but accept no substitutes. It’s got a very…