Prometheus : Review

 

 

The moment when Ridley Scott announced that he was returning to Sci-fi with a prequel to Alien, anticipations were high. Only to then escalate when late last year, the trailers started to sweep the internet. With the intent to explore more about the origin of the mysterious space jockey, could this be Ridley’s new science fiction masterpiece to sit along side Alien and Blade Runner? The answer, not quite. To compare Prometheus to Alien would be a mistake. Where Alien was a stark and eerie monster film, Prometheus is a different animal. Featuring a strong cast, a solid Idris Elba, a cold Charlize Theron and our scientist heroine with a belief in God played by Noomi Rapace spend there time having theological discussions on the creation of humankind. As apposed to Alien, and it’s working class, blue collar characters, sitting around talking about how much they’re getting paid.

As solid as the cast is, they all get over shadowed by Michael Fassbender, brilliant as always, he plays the ship’s android (a seres stable) David, who gives a performance that is creepy, disconnected and unworldly. David, although a secondary character, is an integral part of the story, being an organism created by humans, whilst they search for their own creators.

It’s stunning to look at thanks to the beautiful cinematography from Dariusz Wolski. From it’s grand spectacle accompanied by a stirring score by Marc Streitenfeld, it asks big questions such as “where did we come from,” and “why are we here?” Yet for the most part, that is what Prometheus does, ask the questions, rather than answer them. This element will divide frustrate or fascinate audiences, ether leaving them unsatisfied or hungry for a second helping. Prometheus leaves it to you to connect the dots for yourself. It’s not all talk, there is plenty of gore and death to keep the kids happy with a particular squeamish highlight reminiscent of the chest buster sequence from the original.

Prometheus is not perfect by any means, with plenty of disposable roles that serve little purpose, a few action beats feeling forced and some character traits that don’t make much sense. A geologist that gets lost using his own mapping system for instance and why doesn’t Rapace and Theron just run the side

 

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The Dictator : Review

It’s not often you come across a knock about comedy, were our hero is dictator of a North African country who wishes the destruction of the West. Sacha Baron Cohen stars as his new creation, Admiral General Aladeen, a dictator from the fictional oil rich country of the Republic of Wadiya, where he plans to create weapons of mass destruction. As Aladeen visits New York City to speak at the UN, his uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley, who else) plots to kill him and replace him with a doppelgänger to sell the countries oil. Naturally things don’t go to plan as Aladeen survives losing his beard and his identity in the process.  Lost in the streets of the big apple, he finds help from Zoey (Anna Faris), a charitable vegan who employes refugees to work in her grocery store.

 

Directed by Larry Charles, who has helmed both Borat and Bruno, follows a similar premise. A foreigner from his own world comes to America in a fish out of water scenario, but this time Aladeen is scripted, unlike his prevuois creations. Likely due to lack of public figures who would fall for his jokes. Not that Cohen is ever one to hold back from his humor and The Dictator is no exception. Whether it’s making fun of terrorism, sexism, or religion, the comedy dial is set firmly on offend whilst firing gags out at a rate of a machine gun. Some miss the mark while others hit it directly. Whether it’s slapstick, gross out, nob gags, the sight of an irritating child being kicked or satire, The Dictator play best when satirizing it’s subject, Aladeen is played as man child with no concept of what goes on outside his own palace. So when he loses his identity and has is eyes opened (but not quite), the tender moments are lost in the jokes. What you are left with is a modern cruder version of Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator with only one purpose, to make you wince while you laugh in your seat.

 

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The Raid: Review

What do you get when you cross Die Hard, Assault on Precinct 13, Hard Boiled and Enter the Dragon? The answer is the Indonesian action film The Raid. Written and directed by Welsh born Gareth Evans, the plot involves a SWAT team breaking into a block of flats filled with unsavory types, to take down the local drug kingpin. It’s not long before the excrement hits the fan, and our boys in blue are left fighting for there life’s.

This is the kind of movie that every action film wants to be. A non stop, pulse racing fight feast that leaves you breathless. Featuring Pencak Silat, a relatively new marshal art to film, scenes where men beat the living bejesus out of each other, never looked so elegant. It’s a testament to the choreographers Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian, who play hero (Rama) and crazy henchman (Mad Dog) respectively. These highly choreographed stunts are reminiscent of musical numbers, you know those ones with the guns, the machete’s and the head banging violence. The pace of The Raid is relentless but well placed. Giving you time to breath before the ballet of extreme fisticuffs. It’s refreshing to see these sequences done with long takes, rather than Hollywoods recent tricks of fast editing, as you can see the spectacle unfold in all it’s glory.

The score provided by Joseph Trapanese and Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, is affective also, it’s dark synths ringing out are reminiscent of a John Carpenter film. Just like the over the top violence, it is filled with gun shots to the head, throat getting slit and just about ever bone in the human body broken.

Any Good.

If you like action films, yes..

Avengers Assemble : Review


Marvel are the first studio to do this, to put together four different franchises that co exist in the same universe, only to unite the characters for what could possibly be the biggest movie of the summer, (That’s if The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t have anything to say about that) it is a big gamble.  Ever since Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury appeared at the post credits of Iron Man, comic book fans have been constantly teased of things to come. The idea is what most coincided as impossible one, with much of the Marvel universe owned by different studios (with X-Men and Fantastic Four owed by 20th century Fox and Spider-Man owned by Sony), nobody could imaged they would see old shell head joining forces with Captain America, Thor and The Hulk to fight the forces of evil.  To be more precise, Thor’s troublesome brother Loki (Hiddleston) who steals a cube of unlimited power, The Tesseract with witch to summon an alien army to enslave all of humankind. This is a different Loki to the one we’ve seen before.  A Loki that is more malevolent and that lives up to his moniker as the god of mischief. Hiddleston really lets rip in this role and is clearly having fun, so much so that he almost steals the film from The Avengers themselves.

 

Not that our crack team of superhero’s are to upstaged in there own movie.  It is impossible to see the role of Tony Stark be played by anyone other than Downey Jr. Both Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth play the roles of Captain American and Thor perfectly, and then there’s Mark Ruffalo as Dr Bruce Banner.  Ruffalo’s mild mannered portrayal works really well in a role that has been passed around in the previous two films, that works really well at this stage of the story. Also let’s not forget Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Sam Jackson’s Fury, Greg Clarks’s Agent Coulson and Jermeny Renner’s ace archer Hawkeye, who’s story ark take an unusual but wisely dark turn early on. Everyone gets there moment to shine, weather it’s Starks quips, Black widows’ integrations, Sam L. Jackson being (well) Sam L. Jackson or old caps getting to grips the present day. The real joy is watching these characters interact with one anther.  Director and co writer Joss Whedon was a bold, but a smart choice, as he has a passion for the comic book subject matter and can create great stories with an assomble cast with a witty script. He has clearly made this with the fans in mind. The story feels like it fell straight from a graphic novel, but while not forgetting what made the other films a success. It has tons of acton from the opening scene to the 20 minute plus finally involving the destruction of half of New York City. Even though this seemed too familiar with the climax of the recent Transformers film, it was coherent, exciting and most of all, fun. Michel Bay, take notes.

Any Good

The Avengers, (sorry….) Avengers Assemble is this is a massive event movie that lives up to the hype.  It’s perfect popcorn entreatment with more laughs than most comedies seen in recent memory.

Chris Byrne

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Damsels in Distress : Review

The new film from Whit Stillman, centers on four young girls at an East Coast college. The leader of the group Violet (Greta Gerwig), Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke), Heather (Carrie MacLemore) and new girl Lily (Analeigh Tipton) freshly taken under Violets wing, set out to help their fellow students from depression, armed with coffee, donuts and tap dancing in their suicide prevention centre. The story darts back and forth from Lily and her romances to Violet and heartbreak, mental issues and in the end, her own romance back and forth, leaving the the story feeling uneven and underdeveloped. Clearly Stillman is a fine film maker as the film filled with a dry humor, witch observed closely enough is a clever satire on college life.

However, as clever as the jokes maybe, they fall flat on the characters. Everyone plays their roles well, it’s just that the roles themselves are deeply irritating. So here lies main problem with Damsels in Distress, is that the main characters are just the most pretentious, self serving sobs I have seen on screen in a long time. The type that hold their noses consistently at fellow students because they consider them smelly, while offering the type of advice like dating someone who is not conventionally good looking (Evan though they do). Who think the key to depression is a cretin type of soap and inventing a new dance craze. If you can put up with that and Rose’s fake British accent (because she speaks with it through out the entirety), then you might find something in this whimsical tale of college, men and dancing. But right now, I really need some coffee and a donut.

Any Good

A required taste, if you can get behind the characters, you may find something to enjoy, if not, (gulp) good luck.

 

Chris Byrne.