Today the world of film has lost Tanya Roberts aged 65 : I will always remember Tanya for the beauty she gave us in two films that came out whilst I was in my early teens, 1982’s fantasy movie The Beastmaster where she played Kiri opposite Marc Singer and in 1985 she starred alongside Roger Moore in A View to a Kill playing Bond Woman Stacey Sutton : on the small screen Tanya starred in over a dozen episodes of the TV show Charlie’s Angels as Julie Rogers and in recent years playing Midge Pinciotti on That ’70s Show : she will be missed !!
A team of scientists led by John Goodman’s Bill Randa team up with a bunch of soldiers, a tracker and an anti-war photographer to explore an uncharted island in the Pacific. What starts off as a mission of discovery quickly becomes a mission of survival….
Kong: Skull Island is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) and stars Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, Shea Whigham and John C. Reilly
Jordan Vogt-Roberts ballsy entry into the world of Kong is unlike any previous picture featuring our giant monster ape – for starters Skull Island is set back in the 70’s not modern day mostly taking place on the island, there’s no climbing the Empire State Building, no naval war planes to swat or be shot at and certainly no love story to be emotionally attached to, this is one gutsy move and one that works so well for the film giving Skull Island it’s own originality and place in the genre. Unlike Peter Jackson’s 2005 entry that was over long and dragged at times Kong: Skull Island runs at a much quicker pace getting straight into the nitty grittty within the films opening 20 minutes, in previous movies the big reveal of Kong was left until the film’s latter half but in this version we dive straight in getting introduced to this big, scary and downright impressive beast from the get go….
With obvious nods to movies such as Jurassic Park & Apocalypse Now and similarities to films such as Predator the latest in the so called MonsterVerse Kong: Skull Island was everything I hoped for and more – yeah of course like any film it will have it’s minor criticism and maybe more could have been done with it’s character development & back story but when all is said & done this is a movie that’s about monsters, big nasty rip your arms from your socket type of monsters and at this level Kong: Skull Island succeeds – along with the almighty Kong you get to witness some real nasty mother huggers that include Skull Crushers, Giant Spiders, Stick Insects and Buffalo style dinos all wildly entertaining, visually stunning & barrels of fun….
Overall: Kong: Skull Island ENTERTAINS – it’s jam packed full of thrills spills and lots of kills, dramatic & vibrant photography, thunderous soundtrack and a movie that dazzles with it’s beautiful backdrops and CGI (Jordan Vogt-Roberts & Larry Fong shot loads of this movie in Vietnam and WOW what incredible, beautiful scenery) – Skull Island is now my 2nd favorite King Kong movie behind the 1933 original and one that I can highly recommend & look forward to revisiting very soon ★★★★
Hugh Jackman reunites with The Wolverine’s James Mangold in the final chapter of LOGAN – the movie also sees Patrick Stewart reprising his X-Men role as Charles Xavier, Narco’s Boyd Holbrook cast as a villain of sorts and an unusual (but it works) piece of casting with Stephen Merchant playing mutant tracker Caliben….
In the near future 2029 to be precise a battle worn Logan is a Limo Driver, trying to save some money whilst caring for an ailing Professor X who’s he hid somewhere on the Mexican border….
The single most devastating thing about watching LOGAN was that I knew (everybody new) that this would be Hugh Jackman’s final outing as The Wolverine and this was in my opinion a game changer – James Mangold uses this knowledge as his filmmaking tool, his simple yet striking tone, deliberately slow pace and painful to watch narrative all builds to an agonising crecendo, it’s certainly not upbeat and unlike any other Marvel movie before it LOGAN is stripped bare of the usual comicbook humor, kaleidoscope of colour and deluded fantasy instead it’s a picture that’s dripping with a dark, gritty no-nonsense underbelly, utterly gut wrenching and humanized like no other movie of it’s ilk – even the performances in the picture seem better, Jackman captures the ageing tired Logan with a comfortable ease, his maturity as an actor gives him the tools to pull this off, you can see the pain he’s going through as he limps and claws his way through the storyline and Stewart is equally as impressive as Charles Xavier who requires medical assistance to not only help with an illness but to keep his powers at bay, there’s also an impressive film debut by Dafne Keen who kills it (literally) playing Laura, her fight scene’s, mannerism’s and interaction with Charles and Logan are a joy to watch….
One of my favourite moments in the movie (and there are many) takes place at the Munson Home – Logan, Laura and Charles help the Munson’s with some runaway horses after which they get invited back to their home and enjoy a brief trip into yesteryear, spending time with a loving family over a hot meal with smiles, real laughter and a bed to sleep in (Eriq La Salle playing the father of the family is as good in these 20mins as he’s ever been) – sadly the groups happiness does not last long and their ugly, brutal past catches up with them….
James Mangold’s LOGAN is the perfect send off for one comics most iconic stars – the film’s raw and uncompromising style allows it to become a far superior comicbook adapation than what’s come before, it’s not only a thing of beauty to look at but it’s also one hell of an emotionally charged rollercoaster ride that doesn’t let up until the final credits rise & Johnny Cash’s vocals hit home…. ★★★★½
Two Mercenaries played by Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal get caught in the middle of an ancient war between Chinese Warrior’s guarding The Great Wall and an angry mob of Alien Monsters that appear to cause mayhem every 60yrs….
The Great Wall is the most expensive Chinese movie ever made, it stars Jing Tian, Andy Lau, Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal and is directed by the visual master Zhang Yimou known for his work on House of the Flying Daggers and Hero….
Before I get on with my thoughts on this movie I must address the fact that there is NO whitewashing in this movie AT ALL so any controversy regarding Matt Damon’s character that happens to be set in China is sadly an attempt for those with plenty of time on there hands to be negative towards a movie that they’ve probably not seen in the first place….
OK now on to the good stuff – If like me you enjoy the fix of a well paced, epic scale action movie that’s jam packed with dazzling effects & inventive, colorful battle scenes then Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall is just what your looking for – what the picture may lack in overall substance it certainly delivers in beauty & creativity – the film’s 3D adds a stunning depth and also gave me a sense of vertigo whist watching certain scenes, especially those where the Chinese Warriors would dive off the Great Wall attached to a rope (like a bungee) attempting to spear the attacking monsters, now that’s some crazy shit right there and was pulled off by Zhang in impressive style – when the hoards of these mean & nasty looking monsters start storming the Wall, snapping like crocodiles it reminded me so much of when the Orc Army attacked Minas Tirith in Peter Jackson’s epic Return of the King, the CGI in the movie is sensational & I felt submerged, part of the action whilst watching in IMAX – the screen is magnificent and it enhances everything in it’s path from the stunning effects, the beauty & tenacity of Jing Tian, Matt Damon’s archery & wild facial hair, the incredible battle scenes and it’s rousing atmospheric score….
From it’s lavish synchronized drummers, hair-raising action sequences and pulse-raising final quarter The Great Wall is a triumph in film entertainment – be honest with yourself if you pay to go and see this film then you must love your action right? and you know your not going to the cinema to watch Opera or Shakespeare right? HELL YEAH come on !! this is a Magnificent Monster Movie, one that’s loud, explosive and pretty awesome fun – so go on take a leap, immerse yourself & ENJOY…. ★★★★
The movie world will mourn this December when The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies the last in the series of six films based around Tolkien’s Middle Earth comes to a climax – to give Peter Jackson’s franchise the magical send of it deserves here’s Pippin from Lord of the Rings aka actor Billy Boyd singing The Last Goodbye – it’s truly beautiful….
Pompeii (2014) – Movie Review ★★★¾
Director: Paul W S Anderson – Cast: Kit Harington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jared Harris & Kiefer Sutherland – Synopsis: After his family and village are wiped out by the Roman’s, Milo (Kit Harington) is taken as a slave and turned into a gladiator and sent to Pompeii, where he fights, falls in love and comes face to face with Corvus (Sutherland) the evil Roman Senator who butchered his family – As Mount Vesuvius erupts, Milo joins forces with fellow gladiator Atticus (Akinnuoye-Agbaje) to fight his way out of the Gladiatorial Arena in order to save Cassia (Browning) his new found love whilst all around them Pompeii is under attack by smoking hot ash and blazing streams of red hot lava – Verdict: Having climbed Mount Vesuvius and being a fan of the Resident Evil movies from filmmaker Paul WS Anderson I was interested to see how he fared swapping zombies & kick ass ladies for the more brutal times of the Romans, Pompeii, Gladiators and a mountain that erupted causing death and destruction – Overall: if you know your history then you know what’s coming towards the final chapter of this movie and sure enough all hell rains down, but in between it’s actually a pretty solid action film that includes some descent CGI, a Titanic-esque love story, some rather fun cheesy characters and a somewhat mesmerizing soundtrack – of course any film directed by Anderson will have it’s fair share of critics and it’s certainly true to say Pompeii is no Gladiator but overall I was pleasantly surprised & found the film a pretty engaging affair that reminded me of a 70’s disaster flick that is entertaining and full of fluent, exciting action scenes – Don’t let people ever tell you it’s not OK to enjoy these style of movies, you know going into the film that historical accuracy goes out of the window, this is first and foremost an action film, a popcorn munching, adrenalin flowing thrill ride and does not pretend to be something it’s not – It’s certainly not a classic but Paul W S Anderson’s Pompeii is nevertheless a fun movie experience and one I would recommend for some Saturday night entertainment….
here’s two new photo’s of the superb actress Julianne Moore who plays President Alma Coin in “The Hunger Games : Mockingjay : Part 1” – In one of the two photo’s Moore shares a scene with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman who plays Plutarch Heavensby – what do you guys think of Moore’s transformation? her white streaky hair looks fantastic…. Enjoy!
Here’s a new movie poster, the latest trailer and some stills for THE MAZE RUNNER a post-apocalyptic adventure that is based around the 2009 novel by James Dashner – It’s the latest in the craze of possible young adults film franchises similar to those that have come before: The Mortal Instruments, The Hunger Games and this years Divergent and it’s full of familiar faces too: Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf), Will Poulter (We’re the Millers), Thomas Brodie Sangster (Game of Thrones) and Ki Hong Lee (The Nine Lives of Chole King) – judging by this early teaser the film’s got lot’s of promise, it has an interesting almost Cube like premise played out within a dark and futuristic setting – take a peek and then mark your calendar…. Enjoy!
The Maze Runner – US 19th September) – UK (24th October) – Australia (18th September)
Here’s some new character posters for Noam Murro’s 300 : Rise of an Empire that stars Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson & Rodrigo Santoro – the film follows the Greek general Themistocles as he battles an invading army of Persians under the mortal-turned-god Xerxes – the film will also give us more of insight into the backstory of Xerxes, and how he became “the God King”
300: Rise of an Empire – US (7th March) – UK (7th March) – Australia (6th March)
“After a stint in prison a street racer who was framed gets the chance to act revenge on the guy who sent him down” – Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul headlines Scott Waugh’s NEED FOR SPEED – from the writer and producer of Underworld comes the Stuart Beattie (Tomorrow, When the War Began) directed fantasy horror film I, FRANKENSTEIN that stars Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy and Yvonne Strahovski – here’s two new movie posters…. Enjoy!
THE HOBBIT : THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG – (2013) – Movie Review ★★★★½
Cast – Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Lee Pace, Evangeline Lilly and Orlando Bloom – from Peter Jackson the director of The Lord of the Rings comes the second part to his Hobbit trilogy – Bilbo, Thorin and company must first encounter the perils that lay in wait in the darkness of Mirkwood Forest and the human settlement of Lake-town, before continuing on their quest towards the Lonely Mountain that’s filled with Gold, Jewels and a sleeping Dragon VERDICT being a huge Tolkien fan and having read The Hobbit many times since childhood I must confess to originally being quite annoyed at Peter Jackson’s decision to not only incorporate a new character Tauriel (Lilly) into Tolkien’s world but also to include The Lord of the Rings veteran Legolas (Bloom) who never appeared in the novel – but why should I have doubted Peter Jackson & his writer Fran Walsh who have both proved themselves masters of Middle Earth? These inclusions not only allow the story to be fleshed out a little but their presence adds to some of the most breathtaking action scenes we have seen in Middle Earth, Tauriel and Legolas leading the charge against The Spiders of Mirkwood and the battles with their sworn enemies the Orcs is fantastic and so much fun to watch – also the unlikely and potentially frowned upon friendship between the Elf Tauriel and Kili the Dwarf is an engaging, quite touching at times sub plot, that adds to an already engrossing story – overall The Hobbit : The Desolation of Smaug is a truly amazing spectacle and one of the very best movies of 2013 – the scenes with Gandalf at the ruins of Dol Guldur, the capture by the Mirkwood Forest Spiders and of course the impressive Smaug (possibly the best movie Dragon ever) are hugely impressive, the film’s 3D adds so much depth to these scenes that you find yourself being submerged into that world as if you too are part of the action – there’s also some real convincing performances on show including Lee Pace’s Elven King Thranduil and Luke Evan’s Bard the Bowman both adding some steel and a great deal of quality to an already fabulous cast – the movie contains so many great scenes but my favorite has to be when the Dwarves escape the Elven kingdom in empty wine barrels, floating down the river whilst being attacked by rampaging Orcs – it’s just sublime! – The Hobbit : The Desolation of Smaug is another example of the greatness of Peter Jackson – not many living filmmakers have that cinematic wow factor but Jackson has it in spades, this film is an epic of our time and I’m already shaking with excitement counting down the days to The Hobbit: There and Back Again the final chapter that lands late next year….
Renny Harlin has his critics but I’m not one of them – with films such as Cliffhanger, Mindhunters, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Deep Blue Sea and of course Die Hard 2 Harlin specializes in making sure you have some fun whilst watching the big screen and I applaud that style of filmmaker. Early 2014 will see Renny Harlin take us on a journey to ancient Greece and the Legend of Hercules – the film stars Kellan Lutz (Twilight), Scott Adkins (The Expendables 2) and Liam McIntyre (Spartacus) – here’s the trailer and some new movie stills…. enjoy!
Hercules: The Legend Begins lands 2014 – in the US on January 10 and in the UK on August 8
THE HUNGER GAMES : CATCHING FIRE – (2013) – Movie Review ★★★★
Cast – Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Jena Malone, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman & Sam Claflin – Catching Fire starts with Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark preparing for their victory tour throughout the country – President Snow is growing suspicious of Katniss’s true feelings for Peeta and wants her eliminated, blaming her for the recent uprising in the districts and the announcement of Panem’s third Quarter Quell, a special version of the Games held every 25yrs throws Katniss & Peeta back in the arena where survival at all costs is top of the agenda VERDICT – with I Am Legend director Francis Lawrence on-board for the sequel to 2012’s The Hunger Games and a group of actors more familiar with their surroundings and current status amongst Hollywood’s elite, Catching Fire entered rare territory by becoming a movie sequel that’s far superior to it’s original – everything from the film’s sets, the film’s urgency and the exhilarating action were far superior to the first movie – especially the District 12 sets, the poison mist and the Monkey Mutts chase scene were breathtaking – hats off to some of the newcomers to the franchise, my favorites being Jena Malone’s Johanna, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Heavensbee & Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair all playing pivotal roles and shining when the spotlight was on – overall THE HUNGER GAMES : CATCHING FIRE does fine justice to the world created by Suzanne Collins and surpassed any expectations I had going into the theater – the third and final book is being adapted over two movies the first of which lands late 2014 and if Catching Fire hasn’t whet the appetite for what’s to come then the cannon must have sounded and your dead somewhere ready to be craned off to the Capitol….
PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS – (2013) – Movie Review ★★★
Cast – Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson, Leven Rambin & Nathan Fillion – Percy (Lerman) the son of Poseidon & his friends embark on a quest to the Sea of Monsters where he hopes to find the Golden Fleece that can restore the ailing magical tree that protects their home from evil foes VERDICT being a big fan of all things fantasy and enjoying Chris Columbus’s first movie Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief I was hoping for more of the same from Thor Freundenthal’s sequel – the real trouble with Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is that the whole film is too effects driven, I almost felt a CG overload and a lot of the effects were cheesy & made the production look cheap – I’m always one for effects as long as the storyline is good and that the characters in that particular world have some emotion, but to be honest I felt nothing for any of the characters in the movie, it appears that the team behind Sea of Monsters concentrated on the CG work rather that the story and characterization – the premise for the story centered around the mythical Golden Fleece was a promising but ultimately wasted one, even the villain Kronos was a huge let down – overall Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters gets the big thumbs down here, which is a shame as I loved the first film – my advice for the third outing would be to hire some director of note who can re-establish this franchise as worthwhile and get somebody better than Green Lantern’s Marc Guggenheim to write the script….