Movie Review – Rough Night

TL;DR – It’s not the best film I have seen, while it has some laughs, it is let down by its highly predictable storyline.

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

P.S. – There is a Mid & End credit sequence

Rough Night

Review

It is the year 2009, those heady days when Balloon Boy was a thing, remember that, oh and Kanye West was an ass at the VMA, wow how times have changed. It was during this year that The Hangover a relatively small budget (35mill) R-rated comedy came out in cinemas and made a metric-ass-ton of cash at the box-office. Since that time there have been a string of R-rated ensemble comedy films that have tried to capture that same draw with 2011’s Bridesmaids being the closest contender. So why do companies keep making them, well they’re cheap, low risk, and a chance at a very big potential reward, but because of this combination the films tend not to be that good most of the time. So today we are going to be looking at the next challenger into this realm with Rough Night which while not being anything revolutionary does have its moments of interest.

Now before we go one I do need to point out that because of its mature content there is probably a very easy litmus test as to whether or not you think you’d want to go see Rough Night. So let’s highlight just a couple of things from the movie, there are male strippers, cocaine, neighbours that are in a very open marriage, and they end up stashing the dead body in a room with adult accessories. As I said at this point I have probably polarised the opinion of the people reading the review, but then that is the nature of these films. Also don’t take your eight-year-old to go see this, come on I didn’t think it needed to be said but apparently not.

The cast has a great rapport with each other

The cast has a great rapport with each other

So to set the scene in college four girls become fast friends and promise to always be there for each other. Fast forward ten years and Jess (Scarlett Johansson) is engaged to Peter (Paul W. Downs) and is running for political office, Alice (Jillian Bell) is a teacher but never really moved on from her college years, Frankie (Ilana Glazer) is an ‘activist’ but it is more for show than anything else, and Blair (Zoë Kravitz) is a successful business women that is going through a bad divorce. They along with Pippa (Kate McKinnon) a friend Jess made whilst studying abroad in Australia have come together in Florida to celebrate Jess’ bachelorette weekend. Jess is just looking for a quiet weekend with friends and is desperately avoiding anything that could damage her election campaign, but of course, the complete opposite happens when the group hires a stripper (Ryan Cooper) and then accidentally kills him. Look as crass as it is, it is still a good setup for a film, you have a dead body, you have everyone having a motive to try and hide the body because there are drugs everywhere, and you even have a question over who some people are. However, while the setup is good, the story does not really take it and run with it as we will see later.

Now it will probably become clear that I am quite mixed on Rough Night, mostly because of its story but one area I do have to give full props to is the cast, who is giving it their all and are really game for anything. For me the stand out was Kate McKinnon and not just because she really rocked that Australian accent which is not the easiest thing to do, but because she was game for anything they throw at her. I look forward to curious Americans trying Vegemite cold turkey, and the hilarity that follows, for our international followers, Vegemite should be consumed on toast with butter and you should build up the doses until you are comfortable with them. Also, I have to give credit to Paul W. Downs who spends most of the film pulling of a rendition of the sad astronaut, I really hope they paid you well. As well as the standouts I have to say the one thing that stood out for me was the rapport of the main cast. They actually feel like they are friends that have known each other for a long time it comes across in their performance. It was interesting to see Demi Moore and Ty Burrell play so off the norm with their swinger couple team and thankfully they are not around too long that the bit gets old and Dean Winters is always a good addition. As well as this, there were some good ideas here, like the TV in the background that gives you hints of what is going in the town.

Rough Night 1

Unfortunately it does not capitalise on its setup

Now while the film has a good set up, and the cast is up for anything, what stops the film from excelling is the story. Now there are some really funny moments in Rough Night, but for me, there were also far too many completely predictable plot points. [SPOILERS] At times it felt like we hit every trope in the genre that you see in film after film. Now while you kind of expect the standard Chekhov’s Gun, though it was interesting to see it in the form of a code word, there were also so many others that are just grating. For example, the story was fine but there was for some reason this really unnecessary conflict about Alice being too possessive over Jess, that either could have been handled better or removed. Sure yes, it inevitably leads to a big blow up and the inevitable catharsis, but this in itself is something you can see coming a mile away. Also, there were a lot of missed opportunities, like we don’t find out the first stripper is dodgy until almost the end when stripper Number 2 (Colton Haynes) appears but this could have added much earlier to the freak out the characters and provide a better source of conflict. Honestly, at times it kind of felt like there was a checklist that the movie had to reach before it could finish. [End of SPOILERS]

Look at the end can I recommend Rough Night, well yes, but only if your other choice is seeing Baywatch which is also out at the moment and has a similar tone. Other than that, well, of course, I have seen worse films, but I have also seen films in this genre that have been much better. It has a strong cast but there are just too many missed opportunities for me to fully recommend it.

 

Directed by – Lucia Aniello
Written By – Lucia Aniello & Paul W. Downs
Music by – Dominic Lewis
Cinematography by – Sean Porter
Edited by – Craig Alpert
Starring
– Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, Zoë Kravitz, Kate McKinnon, Paul W. Downs, Ryan Cooper, Demi Moore, Ty Burrell, Colton Haynes, Dean Winters & Enrique Murciano
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; Germany: na; New Zealand: R; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R

 

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Movie Review – Ghost in the Shell (2017)

TL;DR – This is a difficult film to review as it excels in so many different ways, the music, visuals, and it really nails the aesthetics, but something is missing and it just felt more ‘safe’ than anything else.

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Ghost in the Shell

Review

So it’s the future and the world has moved towards merging the biological and the machine with people adapting themselves with cybernetic implants. However, this is only augmentation, but now the supposed next step in human development is here, with a human brain inserted into a robot body, a ghost within the shell. Is this the next stage in human existence or simply a weapon being released into the world, a saviour or a curse? This is the set up for Ghost in the Shell a movie adaption of the original manga series of the same name. Well it has been a rocky launch for Ghost in the Shell, and we’ll get to that issue in a moment, but first I need to take a moment to explain my relationship with Ghost in the Shell before talking about its positives, and then we’ll get into what didn’t work.

The city is such a contrast between old and new

The city is such a contrast between old and new

Now before we start I need to explain where I am coming from with regards to Ghost in the Shell, because I’m not coming into this blind as I would for most films, but more so I think this past experience has impacted on how I view the film. Growing up I never read the manga, nor watched the original anime film, however, what I did watch was the anime television series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. I bring this up because SAC gave us a much deeper insight into the world of Ghost in the Shell and the themes at play, indeed I would consider it my second favourite anime series of all time. So I’m more of an Inner Universe than Making of Cyborg guy, but more than that I was enthralled with the ethical issues around Transhumanism that the television series really explores in depth, what does it mean to be human, when are you not human, when is someone alive, is there morality? I bring this up because for me Ghost in the Shell is more than just an interesting setting, and people shooting at each other with CGI in the background, it is this exploration of themes which are becoming more important questions to ask today with the rise of drone warfare.

So let’s talk about what I really liked about Ghost in the Shell because there are so many things that it does get right. I really loved the music, they got the tone just right with a blend of classical instruments, vocals and electronic sounds that feel both familiar but also slightly off, like there is a discord in the music and in the film. The visuals of the city are simply stunning, it feels like a real place in our future, because you know if they got 3D projections the first thing they would be used for is advertisements everywhere, go big or go home. More than that is the little details that you can see everywhere, that shows the filmmakers put a lot of effort into getting the details right. This is also helped by getting Weta Workshops to design for your movie, they are experts in their field and it shows here. You know, I have to reiterate how good the visuals are, sure there are one or two odd CGI moments, but the use of colour to accent in a world of darkness really works, and aesthetically they have nailed that cyberpunk feel. There is a good arc to the story, and the world is filled with interesting characters. While the action is not quite up to the Dredd or John Wick standard, it is all well executed, as well as this, the action is easy to follow, except for those times where it is clear that the film is deliberately making it difficult to see what is happening because it is there to be deliberately confusing, rather than the actually confusing in movies like Taken 3.

Weta Studios production design is simply phenomenal

Weta Studios production design is simply phenomenal

Now talking about the cast before we discuss the contentious part I have to say that on the whole I actually liked the casting in the film. They film goes out of the way to show a generally quite diverse cosmopolitan city and you can see that in most of the casting. I did quite like Pilou Asbæk who played Batou, and Takeshi Kitano who played the chief. Now this being said we then come to Scarlett Johansson who is not Japanese who played Major who is Japanese in the original film and manga. Now I can actually see why they did that, as there are no other big name actors in the film, and to get funding I would suggest that it was probably a condition that there was a big name as the lead. Now this, of course, puts it squarely in the same camp as films like Gods of Egypt or Pan, and other films which have had similar problems. However, the issue is the body is just a shell, and the original director of the films Mamoru Oshii has gone on record and stated that “The Major is a cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one. The name ‘Motoko Kusanagi’ and her current body are not her original name and body, so there is no basis for saying that an Asian actress must portray her. Even if her original body (presuming such a thing existed) were a Japanese one, that would still apply”. This all being said I didn’t really gel with Scarlett Johansson’s performance because it felt more of a riff of her character from Lucy than a portrayal of Major. Also [MAJOR SPOILERS] it is revealed that she was Japanese and her brain was planted in her current body by an evil corporation to hide where they got the brain from, which I don’t know if that makes it better or worse, but it does feel like the kind of thing an awful corporation would do, and of course it is not helped by the diverse cast of the squad getting very little on-screen time. [End of Spoilers].

This aside just, in general, I found myself not gelling with the movie as much as I would have liked, and I think it was a combination of factors, some of which I have already touched on, that created some distance between me and the film. Firstly, I think it was a mistake to tone down the film to secure the American PG-13 rating. This is not because I particularly like R-rated films over PG-13, it is because contextually it would have fit the tone of the manga and original film, but more importantly it would better fit the themes at play. Now of course they went for a PG-13 rating because it is a safer bet, but for example in a film about what is it to be a human or a machine it was a mistake to have that clinical PG-13 action film where people are getting shot/stabbed but there is no blood anywhere, because one universal thing about humans is that we bleed, and thus immediately you have lost an important juxtaposition. Now films like Logan and Deadpool and many others have proved this notion wrong, but as always they went for the safe option. Indeed being too safe may be my biggest issue with Ghost in the Shell because we see it in the themes of the film, or the lack of it. As I said at the start the themes at play here are about what is it to be human in a digital/cybernetic world, this is an important area to explore because we may be living it sooner rather than later. However, Ghost in the Shell might dip its toes into these ‘what does it mean to be a human’ debates, but it is content just to tell a story about corporations and technology, a story lost of meaning and one we have seen play out time and time again. Another area where it fails is in the relationships, for most of the squad we get a single line of dialogue, oh I’m the ‘don’t like enhancements’ guy and that’s it, we don’t see them as a team.

It missed the opportunity to really delve into these issues

It missed the opportunity to really delve into these issues

In the end, I think somewhere during the production the film lost a lot of its spirit in an endeavour to be safe forgetting that everything about the original was meant to be provocative or indeed challenging. So while Ghost in the Shell still has a lot to recommend, and indeed the things problems that I had with the movie may just be subjective issues. However this being said, overall I felt Ghost in the Shell was on ok film but not a great film, and given its legacy that’s honestly a bit disappointing.

Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Directed by
– Rupert Sanders
Screenplay by – Jamie Moss, William Wheeler & Ehren Kruger
Based onGhost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow
Music by –  Clint Mansell & Lorne Balfe
Cinematography by – Jess Hall
Edited by – Neil Smith & Billy Rich
Starring
– Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han, Juliette Binoche, Lasarus Ratuere, Danusia Samal, Yutaka Izumihara & Peter Ferdinando
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; NZ: M; UK: 12A; USA: PG-13

Movie Review – Captain America: Civil War

TL;DR – This is without a doubt the Marvel film so far, it gets the action right, the story right, the characters right, it is a fantastic film that I highly recommend.

Score – 5 out of 5 stars

P.S. There is a mid and end credits sequence

Review

Ok wow, what a film and so far the best film for 2016 and indeed the only one so far to get a 5/5 score. After the recent poor outing of Batman v Superman, I was wondering if Marvel could actually pull this off. Can they contrive a plausible reason these characters would be fighting, actually manage all the characters in a movie that is totally not Avengers 3, but let’s be honest, this is totally Avengers 3. However, I needn’t have been concerned, the Russo Brothers are masters of their craft and they show it here in spades. Ok to lay out how this review will go, the first part will just give a general spoiler-free analysis, and then in the second part we will be going full spoilers, there will be a warning so you can skip it if you have not seen the film.

The first thing that just works for Civil War is the story, it is a bit hard to analysis the story without getting into spoilers, but we will stick to only things that happen at the start of the film and more broad generalisations. So Captain America opens in 1991 where Bucky Barnes (Sabastian Stan) then the mind washed Winter Solder is woken up and reprogrammed again and sent on a kill and retrieve order to obtains some blue liquidy medicalish containers from a car travelling down a quiet country road. We then jump to the present day when Captain America (Chris Evans), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) are preparing to take out Rumlow (Frank Grillo) the last Hydra henchmen left from the last film, before he steals a biological weapon from the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control. It’s in this first fight that we see the tone of the film, actions have consequences, the past will come to haunt people, the world is kind of getting sick of the Avengers trashing the place, and in probably the first time since Iron Man 2 Black Widow is kicking ass. It is a great opening because it reminds the audience of all the big players, what their skill sets are, where they sit in the world and their relationships with each other. While not getting into specifics, the issue that starts to drive the Avengers apart (ok that’s not a spoiler, it is literally mentioned in the title of the film) is an organic issue, one that feels plausible in this situation, and it is an issue that it would be easy to have two sides. Overall the story has a strong narrative structure and plays out a bit better that the Avengers: Age of Ultron, as it avoids an awkward second act. Given everything this movie has to do, it is remarkable that it actually works as well as it does, it has to get the ball rolling on Phase 3, it has to introduce new characters, continue the story of old characters, and feel like a well-contained story in its own right, and it does all of those things.

ca-cw-1

For some the danger hits closer to home

Well talking about characters, one of the strengths of this film is the characters. For many of the cast, this is their 5th (or more) film, so they have a familiarity of their roles that lends confidence to their performances. You can feel the anguish of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) with the direction of his life and you sympathise with the emotional place he finds himself in. Indeed we care about these characters (because we have such a long history), so has much more impact when they do fight because we know them. Not to consistently compare this to the recent Batman v Superman, but this is where DC’s film fell flat, as it did not take the time to build the characters and relationships, and that is why Civil War has much more substance to the conflict. But enough about the old characters, how did the new ones go?, really great, and I will talk about that more in the spoilers section.

Now of course so far you might be thinking ‘well mate this film is sounding awful dreary’ and let me stop you there because it is anything but. Firstly, this is a really funny film at times, as in the entire audience of the cinema laughing at a joke funny, no polite chuckles here. As well as this, the action is top notch, this has some of the best-set piece moments in any Marvel film, and I must say someone must have had a bad time with a motorbike, they do not last in this film. I got concerned at the start that there was going to be a lot of bad shaky cam fights, but thankfully it was just a momentary problem. The CGI is all pretty much top notch, bar a couple of small things, a couple of aerial shots are clearly a bit fake, and there is also a very big uncanny valley moment in the film, but then I am not sure if that last one was meant to be intentional. So right now you might be asking with a title ‘Civil War’ does the action live up to the title, and my answer is yes, yes it does, much more than the 5-minute smash around some buildings, then bro out because our mothers have the same name rubbish we saw elsewhere.

If you just want to see the Avengers fight each other in interesting ways well you're covered here

If you just want to see the Avengers fight each other in interesting ways well you’re covered here

Ok now it is time to get into Full Spoiler Mode, you have been warned, skip over to the next paragraph if you have not seen the film. Ok so the only people reading at this point have seen the film.. ok let’s chat, and by a chat I mean I will spew forth thoughts about the movie. Tom Holland is hands down my favourite Spiderman on film, his energy is infectious and he has some of the best lines in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for the first time in a long time I am looking forward to a Spiderman film. Chadwick Boseman was fantastic as Black Panther, I was not sure if he had the presence to play the role after his mostly boring performance in Gods of Egypt, but he nails the mysterious T’Challa, and acts as a great ball of chaos for the plans for both Cap and Stark. The film gives every character their moment to shine, from Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) to Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to Vision (Paul Bettany) to War Machine (Don Cheadle) everyone feels like an integral part of the film. All of this would have led to Civil War being a good film but what elevated it to being a great film is the emotional heart of the centre of the film. You understand why everyone ended up on different sides of the fight, you understand why the rest of the world want to put controls on them, you understand why Cap would risk it all for Bucky, you understand why the Black Panther will risk it all to kill Bucky, you understand why the relationship between Cap and Stark becomes irreparably damaged for now, and most importantly you completely understand and can indeed sympathise with the main villain Zemo (Daniel Brühl). Zemo is probably one of the best bad guys that have graced the MCU, and most of all he feels real and he is someone you can sympathise with. A couple of small things, the giant Ant-Man was cool, but how do they put that genie back in the box for his next standalone film? Also, I have no idea what accent Martin Freeman was using as Everett Ross but it was off-putting. Finally, the one character that did feel a bit underused was Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp).  Ok now most of what we have been chatting about is not super spoiling but now I will be discussing the big reveal at the end of the film so Last Spoiler Warning if you have not seen the film progress no further. The third act of the film (post airport showdown) is what makes this film a classic, Cap and Stark are back on the same side, Zemo is surrounded, and in that moment you start to prep for the big battle sequence that the movie has been setting up since those blue medical vials were stolen and injected into those mercs. But then it hits you why did Zemo let slip his murder? that just worked against him, indeed all it did was bring everyone together, and then the penny drops, the super soldiers are a ruse, why they are all here is so Stark can watch a tape, a tape of his parent murder, who his parent that were murdered by, well if you have seen the film you know and then it all falls apart. This gives the last fight so much raw emotion, and it is everyone’s best performances, and it is such a risk, can you actually go back from that.

ca-cw-3

Tom Holland is a delight as the new Spiderman

So here we are and once again the Russo Brothers have outdone themselves, Captain America Civil War is a great action film, it is a great ensemble film, it is a great Marvel film and most importantly it is a great Captain America film. I highly enjoyed it and I can highly recommend it.

Directed by – Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Screenplay by – Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Based on – Captain America by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
Starring – Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sabastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Chadwick Boseman, Don Cheadle, Jermey Renner, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Martin Freeman, Frank Grillo, William Hurt & Daniel Brühl
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Ireland: 12A; NZ: M; UK: 12A, USA: PG-13

Movie Review – The Jungle Book

TL;DR – While not a flawless movie, it is beautifully crafted and a great follow-up to the Disney classic.

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Review

The Jungle Book continues Disney’s campaign to recreate its classic animated films in live action remakes or hybrid live action. So far we have had the quite bold Maleficent, the serviceable Cinderella, and now it is time to take on Rudyard Kipling’s masterpiece ‘The Jungle Book’. The choice to do The Jungle Book is an interesting one because it is not without its problems, the original cartoon while still a classic in every right, does have some very problematic depictions. As well as this, the author of the original work is Rudyard Kipling and whether Mr Kipling intended to or not his poem “The White Man’s Burden” became a literary justification for a new wave (or at least an intensification) of colonialism and imperialism throughout the world. So while none of this would have been problematic in the 1960s, it is today, and it is clear Disney or at least the director and writer had these issues on the radar when filming. So within this potentially problematic environment, it is really quite interesting to see Disney take quite a risk here, and it is a risk I do believe that has paid off for them.

So for those who have never seen the classic film, or read the books (and at this point you should seriously consider doing both of those, if you have not already) The Jungle Book tells the story of Mowgli (Neel Sethi) a human child ‘man-cub’ that is raised by wolves Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) and Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o) as another member of the pack in the Indian jungle. Then on comes Shere Khan (Idris Elba) to simply mess absolutely everything up, and to propel young Mowgli on a journey to find his destiny. It may indeed be a classic formula for a story, but hey they don’t call it a classic for no reason.

It is simply stunning at times

It is simply stunning at times

So, ok I am going to do something a bit different here than usual and start with the problems with the film and then move on to the positives. Firstly while the animation is absolutely gorgeous, you do have the problem of almost photorealistic animals talking English (or any language) and as such on occasions you really hit the ‘uncanny valley’. Neel Sethi is a really accomplished actor for someone his age and does the role of Mowgli justice, but he does not quite have the range that was needed to hit every emotional beat in the film. Finally, while I think Christopher Walken was a truly interesting choice for King Louie, and he got the menacing aspect of the character down pat, he just did not work when it can to the character’s iconic song.

However, none of that matters when you watch Mowgli intact with Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) or Baloo (Bill Murray). It might not be lions and tigers and bears oh my, but Mowgli does have a very interesting bunch of parents, taking the notion of ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ in a very interesting direction. Or when you watch Shere Khan own every scene he is in, the combination of the animation and Idris Elba’s impeccable performance really brings the character to life in a truly menacing way. Or the simply gorgeous scenery, seriously I can’t mention enough just how pretty this film is. Or when those songs of the past come back with a vengeance, I was in a room full of old people and when they started you could feel the energy in the audience. Or all the little animals that are hilarious which provide a little bit of needed joviality it what can be quite a dark story. Or simply watching a classic story reinterpreted for a new age, and the director and writer and actors, just getting it right.

You can't help but sing along

You can’t help but sing along

I can highly recommend The Jungle Book, though I would say that you might want to be careful with quite young children as there are some scenes that would be quite scary for them. It’s a solid film with a great cast, great visuals and a strong story, a great family film, indeed a great anyone film.

 

Directed by – Jon Favreau
Screenplay by – Justin Marks
Based onThe Jungle Book and other works by Rudyard Kipling
Starring – Neel Sethi, Bill Murry, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Giancarlo Esposito, Scarlett Johansson & Christopher Walken
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: PG; Ireland: 12A; NZ: PG; UK: 12A, USA: PG

Movie Review – Hail Caesar

TL;DR – Hail Caesar is an interesting film, with a lot going on, but that is much of the problem, its scattershot nature means the film lacks real substance, but it still has a lot of spectacle to make up for it.

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Review

This is an interesting film, but it is also a very flawed film and that makes it quite difficult to review, or at least score. There are some really interesting ideas at play here, and there are also some amazingly wonderful set pieces throughout which are a joy to watch. However, it is trying to do so much, that it just can’t do any of the ideas justice, so it just feels like a scattershot of a film, which is a bit a disappointment.

I should admit at the start that I tend to have a hit and miss experience with Coen Brother films, I have found films like True Grit and O Brother, Where Art Thou? amazing, however, some of their seminal works I have found really quite boring, yes sorry, I know, I know but yes I am talking about The Big Lebowski. So I come to this film not really sold on the Coen Brothers filmmaking style, and I left Hail Caesar not really changed on that front.

Amongst everything that is happening in Hail Caesar, the main story is about a day in the life of Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) who is a ‘fixer’ for the Hollywood studio Capitol Pictures. This means that his job is to keep the actors out of trouble (or conforming to their contracts), the keep films staying on track, and making sure the films don’t get slammed by the public or the media. Of course, the film does not actually tell you that is what the core of the film is, as Hail Caesar intercuts it at the start with films within films. This is one of Hail Caesar problems, the plot kind of nonsensical at times

It is a wonderful love letter to that golden era of Hollywood

It is a wonderful love letter to that golden era of Hollywood

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The film, while fictional, is actually set during a very interesting transition time for Hollywood, and it does indeed play on the themes of Hollywood studios losing their monopoly on star and cinemas, the rise of the ‘Red Menace’ fears, also the rise of TV. To the film’s credit, it touches on all of these, as well as some of the things that bring into question the ‘rose tinted glasses’ view many have for this time in cinema. However, because it tries to cover so much in the film, that quite often it just feels disjointed.

However, while there are some problems there are also some truly wonderful moments in Hail Caesar. Some of the musical numbers are simply amazing, the choreography harkens back to those large movies in a way I have not seen in a while. As well as this, I have to say that Channing Tatum was really impressive here, and his musical number is one of, if not the highlight of the movie. It was also a little fun to see the unpacking of Marxist ideology even if they lay it on a bit strong, I mean the first time you saw them I was like “they are so secret communists” and I was right.

Hail Caesar 1

It has some fantastic musical moments

So in the end, if you don’t mind sitting back and watching a bunch of sometimes interconnected events happen interspaced with some amazing musical number and George Clooney looking confused all the time, then you will probably going to enjoy Hail Caesar. If you need a weightier plot then probably not as much, but hey, those musical number, they are top class.

Directed by – Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Written by – Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Starring – Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Frances McDormand, Alison Pill, Veronica Osorio, Emily Beecham, Wayne Knight, Jonah Hill, Christopher Lambert, David Krumholtz, Robert Picardo & Dolph Lundgren
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: PG; Ireland: 12A; NZ: PG; UK: 12A, USA: PG-13

Movie Review – The Avengers: Age of Ultron

TL;DR – Not as good as the first Avengers, but still a great movie and a great addition to this whole experiment

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Review

Well phase 2 is almost over (still have Ant Man to go) and the culmination of the last few years has to lead us to this, and you know what, it was bloody good.

So we start with the whole gang back together Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Bruce Banner/ The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Steve Rodgers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff/ Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/ Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) fighting a battle in Sokovia.  The film then takes off from there, and I would say more about the plot but spoilers.

As far as the movie fits in with Marvel’s plan it needed to tie together Phase 2 and propel Phase 3 in motion, and that it accomplishes and more so is a really entertaining movie in its own right.

The gang is back

The gang is back

So the things that worked, Casting. I doubt anyone knew what a good choice it was to cast Paul Bettany as J.A.R.V.I.S. back in Iron Man 1 but it really paid off here. Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Pietro Maximoff/ Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/ Scarlet Witch work really well together and come off as compelling characters given how much progression they got through in such a short space of time. Andy Serkis’ sort of cameo (I’m not sure what the time cutoff is for a cameo) has me really intrigued for what they have planned for Black Panther. Of course, I must mention James Spader as Ultron, who is simply amazing. Now at this point, my brother is writing some sassy comment about I only like James Spader because of Boston Legal. 1) before we go on Boston Legal was amazing and 2)  watch the movie yourself and tell me he was not amazing in the role. Of course, we still have all the others, Don Cheadle, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård and of course Samuel L. Jackson. This movie is bursting with characters and they all get their moment to shine (or like not to shine, but then they shine in there not shining moment).

Locations were all really good, Sokovia felt like a real place with real people, which is quite good for one of these Marvel fake countries. Also, it was nice to see Seoul and not like yes this is Seoul, but we filmed it in Milwaukee but it actually felt like Seoul. Also if you designed the sets for this film bravo.

Ultron is close to being Marvel's first really good villain

Ultron is close to being Marvel’s first really good villain

The movie is not without its flaws, there is a lull between act 2 and 3 that feels a little disjointed and could have been problematic if not for act 3 kicking it into high gear. There is a romance subplot in the film which I know some people didn’t like, and I can see why, but I didn’t mind it. And I didn’t think I would miss Loki but I miss Loki, damn you Tom Hiddleston and your British charm. Also after the big build up, the Hydra bosses really feel a bit meh in this film.

As I said I really liked this film, and I can’t wait for phase 3, can highly recommend and not even an emergency evacuation of the cinema could take away from my enjoyment.

Directed By – Joss Whedon
Written By – Joss Whedon
Starring – Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, James Spader & Samuel L. Jackson
Rating – Australia M; Canada: PG; Ireland: 12A; NZ: M; UK: 12A; USA; PG-13