In 1943 during World War II, a mysterious lady Maude Garrett climbs aboard a B-17 Bomber called The Fool’s Errand, during the flight the Errand is attacked by a Japanese War Plane and then suddenly Maude spots something lurking in the clouds…. as she’s travelling with with top-secret documents and a mostly male chauvinistic crew, Maude finds herself alone and it’s upto her to save the day : SHADOW IN THE CLOUD has a familiar tone reminding me a little of that episode of the Twilight Zone titled “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “The Mission” episode in Amazing Stories, I never give too much away with my reviews but there’s no doubt that these episodes were an inspiration to Liang’s strangely bizzare, spooky and tension ridden picture : I loved it’s animated private snafu intro, it’s atmospheric synth score, the snappy runtime and even it’s bizzare plot that’s fractured, ridiculous and a tad crazy in a decent sort of way : maybe Roseanne Liang’s re-writes of Max Landis original script had a lot to do with the way the movie feels slightly disjointed, as the film ends up becoming this insanely cross-genre of World War II mystery and scifi creature flick that works on some level but also feels rather confusing if not wildly entertaining : is the movie worth watching? the answer is most certainly yes !! the early parts are gripping as we follow Maude and that mysterious box she carries onto the bomber (what’s in the box?), I love the locker posters at the beginning (keep your eyes peeled) and when the film switches tact and it’s direction goes one way and another it’s action is sublime and effects tremendous with Chloë Grace Moretz and a rather wildly out of place yet scintillating score giving Shadow in the Cloud this watchable vibe and allowing us to see the promise in Roseanne Liang as an action helmer for bigger and better things to come ★★★½
“First there was an opportunity……then there was a betrayal – 20 Years later Mark Renton returns to Edinburgh to find a lot of change but also somethings that never change….”
From his gritty, raw beginnings with the uncompromising Shallow Grave to the exciting drug fueled Trainspotting, the quirky colorful A Life Less Ordinary, the post-apocalyptic horror 28 Days Later to his much acclaimed Slumdog Millionaire and Steve Jobs film maker Danny Boyle has been excelling & exciting movie goers for over 20yrs….
But for me, and some may disagree his early films are still his best work, small low budget, well acted, well written black humored slices of magic….
What an incredible, nostalgic, hilarious and momentous sequel TRAINSPOTTING 2 is – from it’s punchy soundtrack, quick snappy dialogue to the brilliance of Carlyle and it’s crack-a-jack visuals this is Danny Boyle direction at his best – yes it’s taken 20yrs to see this bunch of talent back on the big screen but can you just imagine just for one moment if this movie never happened? and the much publicized spat between McGregor & Boyle was never reconciled HOLY SHIT we would have missed out on so so much – like laughing in hysterics whilst watching Renton & Franco in the toilet cubical next to each other their faces a peach as the penny drops, or being stuffed up with emotion when Spud played by the amazing Ewan Bremner tried to kill himself and then being stunned with a mix of hilarity when he threw up in the bag that was suffocating him or watching once best friends Renton & Sickboy kick the crap out of each other in the pub and then you find yourself smiling like you were interacting with a puppy whilst watching them reconnect watching Georgie Best these moments make you feel alive as a film fan, pure cinematic indulgence….
TRAINSPOTTING 2 is everything I wished for and more, truly one helluva movie sequel that’s not only nostalgic but is equally as fun as it’s predecessor – from Danny Boyle’s vision, McGregor & Lee Miller’s chemistry to Ewen Bremner‘s sublimity and Carlyle‘s crazy this was a great night a the cinema and guys please don’t leave it another 20yrs to complete the trilogy ★★★★½
If you take D’J Caruso’s latest movie with a pinch of salt (remember when 80s action was cool?) then I guarantee two things you will have shit loads of fun & you will leave the cinema with a nice big smile…
This is the third movie in the spy franchise xXx: Return of Xander Cage “After returning from a self-imposed exile, Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) must recover an evil known only as Pandora’s Box before the bad guys uses this weapon for mass destruction “ – Alongside action star Vin Diesel the films mind blowingly awesome cast also includes Donnie Yen, Nina Dobrev, Toni Collette, Ruby Rose, Deppika Padukone and Samuel L Jackson….
You know what I really dug about this movie?…. the insane amount of action, high octane totally bonkers fight scenes and the films ability not to take itself too serious – it’s all about entertainment and from that stance it most certainly succeeds – I mean come on how on earth can you not enjoy watching Xander Cage ski down a hillside weaving through trees and shit followed by some incredible skate boarding whilst shooting bad guys? that incredible moment when Xander faces off against Donnie Yen’s Xiang in a “holy shit that just happened” wave tunnel? the many hand to hand combat scenes mostly too epic to discuss? the return of an old friend in a great warehouse shootout and so many more delicious, breathless, relentless moments that fulfill the movies ultimate quest in giving it’s audience such an unbelievable cinematic buzz….
OK so listen up – xXx: Return of Xander Cage is not going to sweep the Oscars anytime soon, it’s not even gonna reinvent the genre, and it’s script won’t be compared to Schindler’s List or the like so if that’s what your expecting when buying a ticket at the box office then please be warned this slice of action pie is not for you – going to see this movie is like attending a party you will be expected to have fun right, enjoy oneself and remember regardless of what Bond style shit goes down this is only a movie – along with it’s crazy action madness watching Vampire Diaries’s Nina Dobrev playing a ditzy “Q” type character with a sense of humor and that damn fine Aussie Ruby Rose hanging from a tree shooting bad guys didn’t half raise the pulse, two ladies having so much fun & both so bloody good in their respective roles….
xXx: Return of Xander Cage is movie escapism at it’s finest, a COOL as f@ck action movie that made me smile from the opening 5 minutes to it’s end credits – D’J Caruso should sign up for a fourth movie so let’s make it happen and the sooner the better…. ★★★★
I must admit I was not a fan of Jean-François Richet‘s miserable remake of Carpenter’s moody, epic Assault on Precinct 13 but that I can now forgive after watching his latest thriller Blood Father that stars Mel Gibson playing an ex-con who reconnects with his estranged daughter and kicks some ass in the process – Gibson looks great, he has obviously bulked up, his skin looks weather beaten looking every bit the menacing no-nonsense ex-con the role required, nobody plays mean, angry, gun tooting, revenge shooting better than this snarly Aussie, like most great film stars you can’t help but admire his work and in Blood Father this is Gibson firing at his absolute best – but this is not a one man show, on screen Gibson’s backed up nicely by Erin Moriarty an exciting young actress who plays his daughter in the film & the talented William H Macy who delivers a sound performance playing his sponsor & friend – so whether your a fan of Mel Gibson or not (and I most certainly am) Blood Father is one helluva movie, it’s fast paced action, sumptuous cinematography and it’s 80s style one liners has already catapulted this thrill ride into one of my favorite movies of the year….
Back in the late 90’s Ritchie was one of the most exciting new filmmaker’s to hit our screens, from his witty, violent debut Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels followed by the equally brilliant Snatch these film’s were packed with his trademark visual stamp of quick, witty storytelling with a side helping of brutality and colorful if not likeable characters, he was a filmmaker on top of his game but then things got complicated, Ritchie met and married Madonna and in my opinion his focus went, 2002’s Swept Away was a shocker and in 2005 and 2008 respectively came two average and somewhat lackluster efforts in Revolver and Rock’n’Rolla both movies written & directed by Ritchie with both failing to ignite the passion of old – then in 2009 after his marriage to Madonna was over the unthinkable happened, Hollywood came calling and Ritchie sold his soul to the devil, churning out two big screen, big budget Sherlock Holmes movies that sadly added nothing new to the genre and did very little to bring Ritchie out of his career spiraling doldrums – yes OK the movies did good business at the box office but in fairness these two films that starred Robert Downey Jr could have been directed by any action movie director, it seemed that Ritchie’s originality had vanished and was replaced by an imposter….
Four Years later…. and Guy Ritchie brings us yet another big budget, Hollywood action movie but before you * sigh and say really? * this one unlike the Holmes movies has a special ingredient, from start to finish Guy was totally involved in the writing process – so here’s what I thought….
MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E is super stylish, quick witted and contains some of the slickest action scenes I’ve seen in the cinema this year – keeping the setting of the movie in the 60s was a master stroke, the magic of the music, the gorgeous locations & dare I say it the striking beauty of its cast enhanced my overall enjoyment of the film – the relationship between Cavill’s Napoleon Solo and Hammer’s Illya Kuryakin is the real gut of the movie, as actors they oozed chemistry both delivering their finest screen work to date, Cavill looking more at ease playing a super spy rather than Superman and showing me that he is easily the front runner to replace Craig as the next Bond, it’s easily his best screen role to date – Ritchie’s witty screenplay allows each of their characters to come to the fore, Solo’s wisecracking and Kuryakin’s anger issues make for a delicious cocktail of respect & bad ass rivalry allowing us the viewer to have so much fun watching it all play out !! ★★★★½
Transformers : Age of Extinction (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★
Director: Michael Bay – Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Titus Welliver, T.J. Miller & Sophia Myles – Synopsis: After the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons that caused chaos and pretty much destroyed Chicago, the human race think that all aliens (autobots included) are a threat. So taking matters into his own hands Harold Atinger (Grammer), a CIA agent establishes a unit who track down these threats and eliminate them. Meanwhile a local robot expert Cade Yeager (Wahlberg) discovers an old truck abandoned at a local run down cinema and upon examining it, he discovers it’s a Transformer and none other than the big dude himself Optimus Prime. This discovery puts Yeager and his daughter at risk when Atinger’s death squad find out Prime’s whereabouts – Verdict: Regardless of what you may think of the guy’s movies (and we all have our opinions) Michael Bay knows how to put bums on seats, his style of direction at times is chaotic but in a good way, he entertains us, fills the screen with huge visuals that not even your dreams can conjure up, his movies are always barrels of fun, full of great looking characters and always set to fabulous music that sets the scene beautifully giving you goosebumps & standing the hairs on the back of your neck vertical – his latest Age of Extinction is no exception, it’s the best in the Transformers franchise and delivers a thrill ride from start to finish – the casting of Mark Wahlberg was a masterstroke, it’s his energy, undoubted action chops and screen presence that gives Age of Extinction the edge over the first 3 in the series, with the right material Wahlberg is one of the screens action giants, his experience also allowed the youngsters Peltz and Reynor to knit well into the film giving great chemistry, both I’m sure will be future stars – Grammer & Welliver are reliable villains and Tucci like he does in every movie steals all the scenes he’s part of – it was also exciting to see the leader of the Dinobots the gigantic Grimlock brought to life, his design simply awesome, the film in 3D was spectacular at times even jaw dropping and unlike many in the last few years it was controlled and not over used – Bay’s use of the low camera shot makes everything onscreen look larger than life, the gorgeous sunsets, the pretty girls with low cut skirts and the robots or aliens he projects all look delicious to the eye – Overall: anyone who don’t enjoy this style of escapism at the cinema obviously don’t enjoy action movies – Age of Extinction is one hell of a ride, it’s what the big screen was made for and thankfully filmmakers like Michael Bay don’t listen to those who slam his every move, he just goes about his business making blockbusters that make dollars for the studio and more importantly making film fans like me excited for his next venture – in my view along with Stephen Spielberg and James Cameron he’s one of the most important directors working in the blockbuster arena today….
The Raid 2 (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★½
Director: Gareth Evans – Cast: Iko Uwais, Donny Alamsyah, Arifin Putra, Julie Estelle, Alex Abbad, Yayan Ruhian & Oka Antara – Synopsis: Picking right up from the end of the first raid, Rama is forced to go undercover with the thugs of Jakarta to protect his family and bring down the corruption within his police force – Verdict: Filmmaker Gareth Evans and his muse Iko Uwais reunite to bring us another slice of exciting, heart thumping Indonesian action that not only contains some of the most delicious, badass fight scenes ever brought to the screen but is also a rarity in being an action sequel that’s better than it’s original – Evans unique blend of bone crunching, blood splattering action, colorful visuals, fast flowing seamless cinematography along with a well written script that’s more involved, more character driven than the first and all beautifully played out is a just a delight to watch – The Raid 2 is full of grandeur action scenes all of which are pure loco and will blow your mind, from the mud-filled prison fight scenes that’s brutal, breathtaking and epic to watch, to some jaw-dropping set-pieces that include some of the explosive characters in the movie such as the carriage train scene with the delightful hammer girl taking on an army of henchman, Prakoso’s amazing fight in the restaurant and Rama’s duel with The Assassin in the kitchen are exciting, blood soaked and definitely not for the squeamish – Overall: if Gareth Evans The Raid got your attention then this sequel will blow you away – The Raid 2 is a masterpiece of an action film that’s astonishing to watch and unflinching in it’s execution – Evan’s has no equal when it comes to the action arena, his film making style is raw, relentless and incredibly entertaining – I for one can’t wait for the third outing but until then I will dose myself up with my Evans fueled addiction and re-watch both The Raid’s until the day comes when Rama hits our screens once more….
Godzilla (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★
Director: Gareth Edwards – Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn and Bryan Cranston – Synopsis: the movie starts deep in the Phillippines where archeological work uncovers some sort of gigantic skeleton and two egg-shaped pods – two scientists who work for a company called Monarch are called in to investigate, they realize upon inspection that one of the pods have hatched and whatever was inside have crawled out and made it’s way to the ocean – the action then turns to a Nuclear Plant near Tokyo, Japan where some rather unusual activity is being felt – minutes later an explosion occurs followed by a radiation leak that wipes out a crew of scientists and then suddenly the plant begins it’s collapse into ruin – the powers at be are calling this disaster a deadly earthquake but the plant’s supervisor Brody (Cranston) who lost his wife inside the plant is convinced otherwise – Verdict: Having watched Gareth Edwards showcase his directing skills on the small budget yet effective MONSTERS I was fascinated to see what he could do with a Hollywood blockbuster and a remake of the classic Japanese monster movie GODZILLA – I remember as a young boy watching them monsters (in rubber suits) battling it out in the original films and screaming at the TV in amazement and total wonder Godzilla was scary as hell, a destructive force but also hero and one you could root for – and then all grown up I set eyes on Roland Emmerich’s picture, a typical 90’s Hollywood Blockbuster that stomped and screamed all over my childhood memories, part of my dislike for the flick was Matthew Broderick who was awful and the film’s plot can only be described as hilarious, sure it did pretty well at the box office but as a screen spectacle it was pure garbage – so now in 2014 it’s the turn of British filmmaker Gareth Edwards to hopefully reignite GODZILLA in all it’s glory & on the biggest screen’s in 3D – hopefully this movie will be the start of a new chapter in the world of the King of Monsters – Overall: although at first the hiring of relative newcomer Gareth Edwards to helm this possible huge franchise may have been thought a brave and daring choice by the movie studio’s it could have also turned out to be the movie’s master stroke – Edwards obvious admiration towards the likes of Steven Spielberg is evident, the monster’s are slowly introduced to it’s audience teasing you, gripping you and allowing you to sweat a little whilst the action unfolds, the film’s buildup & tension is very reminiscent of Spielberg’s classic JAWS and is beautifully filmed, carrying some great nod’s to the monster movies of yesteryear and complimented by a heart thumping soundtrack – the film’s main trio of cast members do a great job too, first up you have the reliable star of TV’s Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston who comes across as this family guy, totally committed to his job & who’s eventually turned into this guy who looks to have some serious paranoia issues, secondly there’s the soldier come action hero Taylor-Johnson who many know from his role in action flick Kick-Ass and Oliver Stone’s superb Savages who has not only matured as actor but seems to exude lot’s of screen presence and looks every bit a Hollywood leading man and last but not least there’s the underused & super talented Elizabeth Olsen who plays a wife and mum, who shows great emotion and steals pretty much every scene she’s part of – GODZILLA is in an exciting, bold and refreshing monster movie that can be enjoyed by all – it’s certainly no masterpiece and it won’t win any movie awards but one thing for sure is that when you take your seat at your local cinema Gareth Edwards vision will entertain, surprise and make you smile like a school kid once more….
LONE SURVIVOR (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★½
Lone Survivor stars Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana & Emile Hirsch – Based around the true story of “Operation Red Wings” a failed mission in 2005 – Four Seal members enter enemy territory to capture or kill Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd but find themselves fighting for their lives when their mission goes wrong – VERDICT Since watching 1998’s Very Bad Things I have been a big fan of actor/director Peter Berg, even the critically panned Hancock and Battleship both got favorable reviews from myself, he’s a talented filmmaker that presents the viewer with a visual, exciting experience and his latest LONE SURVIVOR is no different – Berg spent over five years trying to make this film a reality, armed with a $40 million dollar budget and a bunch of actors working at a discounted rate the outcome of the picture is immense – Peter Berg nails the brutality of war-fare, his authenticity and touching account of these four guys fighting for their lives after making a questionable decision by allowing a couple of farm hands to live is explosive and at times an extremely hard watch – I love also the fact that during the first twenty minutes or so of the picture you get introduced to the SEALS, not just as fighting warriors but as real people, guys with families who fight to keep our country safe – overall LONE SURVIVOR is a movie packed with realistic and relentless action scenes, top notch acting by all on-board and to the Armed Forces a show of the utmost respect by Peter Berg and his crew – superb!….
KICK-ASS 2 stars Chloë Moretz, Jim Carrey & Aaron Taylor Johnson – “Kick Ass” and a group of amateur Superheroes go into battle against the “Red Mist” aka: The Mother Fucker VERDICT this was a delight from start to finish, the introduction of new characters such as : Colonel Stars & Stripes & Mother Russia added some deliciously over the top fun to proceedings – in the directors chair sat Jeff Wadlow who’s last film was the impressive 2008 martial arts romp “Never Back Down” and boy does he do a good job – the action scenes are fast & furious and the outrageous blend of black humor & graphic violence are superbly executed – the film’s young cast lead by the deadly charm of Chloe Grace Moretz as “Hit Girl” look more experienced on screen making this overall a fun night at the flicks – KICK-ASS 2 is a movie sequel that in my opinion is better than its predecessor – role on number 3! ★★★★