Spiderhead – Movie Review

TL;DR – A bunch of ideas that never coalesced into a whole     

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix account that viewed this film

Miles Teller rides on a boat blindfolded while two goons sit on either side.

Spiderhead Review

Finding the tone is one of the most challenging parts of making a film, from the script to the filming to the edit. It is said a movie is made three times, and in that creation, a feeling can be discovered or a story lost. This week we look at a film that is trying to do many things, but in the mix, it never finds itself.

So to set the scene, in a remote location, accessible only but seaplane is the Spiderhead Penitentiary and Research Centre. Inside, the man in charge of the facility, Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth), runs experiments on the inmates [with their sort of consent], and if they commit, they will get time off their sentences. One of the inmates, Jeff (Miles Teller), gets to go on field trips to test the compounds but coming off the high can impact his speech and cognition, impacting his attempts to flirt with Lizzy (Jurnee Smollett). But you can’t help but ask: the question in the background: Is everything what it seems?

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Top Gun: Maverick – Movie Review

TL;DR – A glorious sequel from start to finish, filled with heart-pounding adrenalin and a boost to the more dramatic parts of the script.    

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

A Jet over the desert.

Top Gun: Maverick Review

Two different reactions can happen when you try a sequel decades after the first film. The first is that you are trying to capture something whose time has passed, and you can’t walk back into that world. The second is that they tap into a nostalgia that is there and use it to propel them forward. Today we look at a film that lands with the latter as it soars across the screen. Because Top Gun: Maverick fixes those elements that did not work in the first film and then takes what did work and amps it up to 11.                           

So to set the scene, it has been decades since the first Top Gun, and after flying planes in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and both Iraq’s Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) now works as a test pilot for experimental jets in the Mojave Desert. When told that his unit is about to be shut down because Rear Admiral Chester “Hammer” Cain (Ed Harris) thinks that drones are the future. Well, one illicit test later and intervention of Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), Maverick is not grounded, but instead, he is sent back to Top Gun to be a teacher. Because they need to undertake a perilous mission, and only Maverick can teach them. The only issue is that one of the possible recruits for this potential suicide mission is Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s late radar co-pilot.   

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Movie Review – War Dogs

TL;DR – It’s an interesting film, well-acted, and produced, but if you have seen any of the recent films in this genre, or on the same themes, namely greed, then you will probably guess how this one plays out.

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

War Dogs. Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Review

War Dogs is many things, it’s a subversive film underscoring the incompetence of the Bush/Cheney government in both starting and managing the Iraq War, it’s a modern interpretation of the classic morality tale, it’s the proving ground for one of the most weirdly obnoxious laughs in movie history, and it’s the personification of the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition in movie form.

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Movie Review – Fantastic Four

TL;DR – This movie is a train wreck that will make you look back fondly on the camp amusement that was 2005’s Fantastic Four.

Score – 2 out of 5 stars

Fantastic Four. Image Credit: Fox.

Review

Fantastic Four has not had the easiest life in development, it is a film that only exists to fulfil a contract and avoid movie rights reverting back to Marvel. Now interestingly, this is not the first time this has happened with the Fantastic Four, also this is not necessarily a bad thing. X-Men First Class was in the exact same situation, but while that was an exercise in innovative storytelling, this is an overly protracted and ultimately boring film.

"We gave you six years, and millions of dollars, and you gave us nothing" strangely prophetic words given how the film turned out.
“We gave you six years, and millions of dollars, and you gave us nothing” strangely prophetic words given how the film turned out. Image Credit: Fox

As with most reboots, Fantastic Four is an origin film, we see how all the main players get their powers and how it changes their lives. One should point out, no one asked for these powers, like Spider-man this is caused by an accident. This is a really interesting set up because you didn’t get to choose, the powers get thrust upon you and you have to decide how to react. But here we come across the first stumbling block of the film, lazy writing. This film is full of clichés, (Spoilers Ahead: Jump To The Next Paragraph If You Wish To Avoid), like how one character constantly argues with their father only to regret it later, seriously, if you have to declare “I’m an adult now” during a middle of a temper tantrum, you’re not an adult. Then we also we have the two characters are presented to be best friends, then enemies, then best friends again … because of the story. Also, good writers can foreshadow future events or give little winks to the audience who know what’s coming (see King Joffery’s Crossbow), bad writers literally go in the first 5 minutes of a character’s introduction “wow you’re like Dr Doom”. Also, while I am always ok with an adaption changing something from its source material to make it work, if it improves the adaption, or makes it work in a new medium, some of the changes (which come down to the core of the relationship between the FF and the world) feel forced and unnecessary, bar for the need to add tension for no suitable reason.

What is this mess
What is this mess. Image Credit: Fox

The casting also is a bit of a problem, they cast the film way too young, Julian McMahon may have been overly theatrical with his performance of Dr Doom in the 2005 film, but at least he had some gravitas behind his performance rather than whiny angst.  Now, in this case, I don’t blame the actors because you can see some of them are really trying, but whether through the script, or the directing or the editing it just falls flat. Out of all the cast Miles Teller (Reed Richards/ Mr Fantastic) and Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm/ The Thing) work the best, however, the way they frame Kate Mara’s (Sue Storm/ The Invisible Women) performance makes it almost feels like an afterthought that they added in, and Michael B. Jordan has all the bluster of the Human Torch, but with none of his charm.

This film is so bad that the trailers for the film are edited in a way that gives the impression that the film is going to be a much more action focused global film when nothing could be further than the truth. At best it is misleading and worst it is simply lying to a potential audience. There is a simple reason for that, the films pacing is really slow at the start and never really ramps up until it hits a sudden unsatisfactory climax, and then just kind of ends with this sort of staging for the sequel, which I doubt is a done deal atm and also reinforces how uneventful the rest of the film has been.

What a waste of a good cast
What a waste of a good cast. Image Credit: Fox

Now it is not all bad, some of the effect are really amazing and given you have Weta Digital on the payroll that should come to no surprise, it is just a pity that you don’t see more of it.

There is much more I could say but I think at this point you can get the general feeling I have for this film, in the end, Fantastic Four, I’m not really upset with you, I’m just disappointed.

(warning: the trailer is edited in such a way to give an impression that this is a action film, nothing could be further from the truth)

Directed by – Josh Trank
Screenplay by – Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg & Josh Trank
Based on – ‘Fantastic Four’ by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Starring – Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey & Tim Blake Nelson
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Ireland: 12A; NZ: M; UK: 12A; USA: PG-13