For those of you who follow me on social media or read this movie blog you will know by now that I adore Ridley Scott, his movies and all things Alien but in recent years I have been quite vocal on this legendary directors fall from the dizzy heights of yesteryear to churning out such ordinary movies, average affairs such as Robin Hood, The Counselor, Exodus: Gods and Kings and the pretty dismal Prometheus – I am so conflicted, the one side of me is so grateful to this legendary filmmaker for giving us so many iconic movies but the other side keeps asking the question “why does Ridley Scott continue to direct such sub par movies? take a leaf out of Tarantino and Cameron’s book, maybe direct a film every few years instead of every year?” it’s my opinion that these films will only tarnish his brilliant reputation – I really had hoped that Ridley had turned the corner back in 2015, I absolutley loved The Martian with Matt Damon this was a real return to form from a director in need of some resurection so when it was announced that a new Alien movie was in production a sequel to the dreadful Prometheus nevertheless I was pumped, excited and looking forward to maybe a new chapter in this great series of scifi indulgence…..
Sadly for me though Alien Covenant was not what I hope it would be, yes it was better than Prometheus (well that wasn’t hard now was it) and yes maybe over the last 10yrs The Martian aside it’s one of his better efforts but overall it was a big screen blockbuster that left me feeling flat, it was way too predictable, contained some shitty CGI that made the overall production feel shoddy and unpolished and although Covenant had it’s moments it’s narrative tried to over complicate things so the reasons why we loved the original movies were lost in this world, a franchise that was slowly becoming more about the androids than anything else – Ridley also thought it was a good idea to go all mystical on our asses so inserted some really strange Obi Wan moments featuring David from Prometheus, living like an old wise hermit in a cave, listening to wind chimes and blowing his flute delivering lines such as “you blow and I will do the fingering” I just found all this mumble jumble embarrassing, out of place and lacking any sort of vision, suspense and was almost laughable at times….
I am not saying that Alien Covenant as a movie is a complete disaster, for me it’s not got that Ridley Scott stamp on it – McBride and Fassbender are both terrific in their respective roles and some of the nice homages to previous movies were great to see but overall Covenant felt like a bad dream a two a penny slasher that felt like a rehash of the original movie that is desperately trying to emulate all the things that worked such as (face huggers, chest bursters, acid for blood and so on) yet delivering it all with no panach and most importantly zero tension, yeah it’s a shit load more violent than it’s predecessors but that’s nothing to be proud about, what made 1979’s Alien so damn good was it’s slow burning tension that’s gnaws away at you but with Covenant you feel nothing – most of the films undoing in my opinion is it’s lack of humanity I felt so disconnected to the crew of the ship, the characters in the movie were not developed enough so when they slowly start getting picked off I actually felt very little for them, I was numb and that overall summed up my experience with this movie at it’s finale – I just hope Ridley doesn’t out stay his welcome and he lets go of the Alien reigns and allows a new filmmaker to bring some fresh ideas to this much loved franchise ……★★★½
With films in the Mid 80s through to the 90s such as Romancing the Stone, The Back to the Future Trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump and Contact filmmaker Robert Zemeckis was pretty untouchable, a master visionary with the Midas touch, a director who defined those times with exciting, bold film-making, great storytelling and colorful characters that we all love so well….
His latest ALLIED a WWII movie that’s more keeping with Casablanca rather than the violent brutal Tarantino pic Inglorious Basterds is an absolute treat – Zemeckis delivers on every detail, from the character’s costumes down to the general atmosphere of the times, whether it be the sand dune Nazi occupied Casablanca to the devastation of war torn London, as a filmmaker he keeps his sets simple yet pleasing on the eye making each scenario in the movie more believable – along for the ride are two accomplished actors Brad Pitt who plays intelligence officer Max Vatan and Marion Cotillard a French Resistance fighter named Marianne Beausejour, both finding themselves in Morocco paired up with one assignment to kill a German Ambassador who is stationed there and that’s where the fun and games really start – Brad Pitt is terrific, he absorbs his character that goes from a confident spy to slightly unhinged and carrying self doubt as the story slowly unfolds, the is the Pitt of old he’s in fine form, not only bringing the best out of himself but managing as he always seems to do by getting the best out of his co-star and in Allied Marion Cotillard is the perfect foil, she’s the glue that binds the movie together, there’s something exciting about a movie star on top of their game and this French actress is certainly that, she carries the elegance of an 1940’s movie siren, dazzling the screen with a comfortable ease, her acting in the film’s finale is both haunting and powerful and throughout the film she gives a performance that’s worth the ticket fee in itself – Overall: Robert Zemeckis Allied is an attention-driven, old school romantic thriller with plenty of twists and turns, some gorgeous photography and a dark finale that in my opinion was required and executed superbly – let’s hope it’s not too long before we see the brilliance that is Robert Zemeckis behind the camera once more….
There’s always been great movies that have come out of Australia : Walkabout, Picnic at hanging Rock, Mad Max, Gallipoli, Crocodile Dundee, Dead Calm, Romper Stomper, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Tomorrow When the War Began, Animal Kingdom, Wolf Creek, Snowtown & many many more… And in 2014 Australian Cinema has continued its fine tradition of bringing us yet more fresh, well acted, gritty & excitingly told new movies – of course there are so many quality films out there but here’s my 5 must see Aussie flicks of 2014
here’s a new limited edition GODZILLA poster and two newbies from Disney’s MALEFICENT
HER (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★½
Director: Spike Jonze – Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt & Scarlett Johansson – Synopsis: The latest directorial feature from the mind of Spike Jonze tells the story of Theodore Twombly (Phoenix) a complex and somewhat lonely individual who makes his living writing personal letters for other people. After Theodore’s marriage comes to and end he becomes intrigued with a new operating system, and a voice within that system called Samantha, a bright, female voice, who is insightful, sensitive and surprisingly funny. The two of them strike up an unusual friendship and slowly but surely Theodore falls deeply in love – Verdict: Spike Jonze’s HER has joined Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Where the Wild Things Are amongst the strangest, yet wonderful, original achievements I have witnessed on a cinema screen in over twenty years – and like it’s predecessors HER is a thought provoking, visually stunning and emotionally haunting movie, Phoenix gives yet another acting masterclass playing the sensitive, almost huggable Theodore and he is well supported by the delightful Amy Adams who plays his best friend and Scarlett Johannson who lends her seductive, husky vocals for Samantha – One thing I always like about a Spike Jonze feature is his camera work and the beautiful images he manages to capture and HER is full of them, one of my favorite moments in the movie is when Theodore lets Samantha guide him through a small fair, with his eyes closed Theodore follows Samantha’s instructions, spinning, sneezing and eventually ordering some food, it’s gorgeous to watch – overall HER is a worthy addition to any movie collection – it’s sad, funny and somewhat scary but one that will have you talking about it’s content for many years to come….superb!
ALL IS LOST (2013/4) – Movie Review ★★★★
All is Lost stars Robert Redford – After a collision with a shipping container at sea, a resourceful sailor finds himself, despite all efforts to the contrary, staring his mortality in the face VERDICT after watching & enjoying 2013’s Wall Street movie Margin Call with it’s hugely impressive ensemble cast I was interested to see how filmmaker J.C. Chandor would handle the complete opposite – one actor (Robert Redford), buckets & buckets of water, a sailing boat and the modern technology that is the the green screen – well I can tell you this much J.C. Chandor not only handled these scenario’s but he captured the struggle of a sailor stranded at sea incredibly, the filmmaker allows it’s star Robert Redford the freedom to show off his underrated acting talents, it’s a picture from a director who has some serious future behind the camera – in All Is Lost Robert Redford commands the screen giving one his finest onscreen performances for many a year, it’s not only his acting but his physicality that impresses, he’s totally convincing as this sailor all alone at sea fighting against mother nature demonstrating great determination and barrels of courage to survive – All Is Lost is one of them pictures that doesn’t have much in the way of dialog but is delivered in a manner that actions speak louder than words – it’s so refreshing to see an original indie drama that contains no sex, no excessive language and hardly any violence BRAVO to Chandor and Redford for this engrossing and emotional journey, one that I would highly recommend….
From filmmaker Jonathan Glazer comes UNDER THE SKIN a haunting tale of an Alien preying on Hitchhikers in Scotland – the film stars Scarlett Johansson and Paul Brannigan and is based around Michel Faber’s novel of the same name – Glazer also brought us the delicious Sexy Beast and the strange yet somewhat wonderful Birth so teaming up with one of my favorite actresses Johansson and with a backdrop that is Glasgow and the Scottish Highlands my anticipation for the movie couldn’t be any higher – here’s the official poster (that is visually stunning), some movie stills and the latest official trailer…. Enjoy!
Under the Skin – US (4th April) – UK (14th March) – Australia (N/A)
GRUDGE MATCH (2014) – Movie Review ★★★½
“I’ll be a fighter. I was born to be a fighter.”
Grudge Match stars Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kim Basinger, Alan Arkin, Kevin Hart & Jon Bernthal – From Peter Segal the director of 50 First Dates & Get Smart comes a sports comedy following a pair of aging & bitter Boxing rivals that are coaxed out of retirement for one final dance around the ring 30 years after their last match ended in controversy and resentment VERDICT I grew up watching these two acting heavy weight’s in the likes of Rocky and Raging Bull and was captivated by their performance in Copland so when it was announced that Stallone and De Niro would return to the ring and reunite for this movie I was quite excited – I wish I could be as enthusiastic about this review as I was taking my seat at the films recent screening – the film wasn’t as good as I had hoped for, the best bits seemed to have been shown in the trailer and although the onscreen sparring of two of my favorite actors was deliciously fun at times, a mediocre Rothman & Kelleher’s script, the annoying Kevin Hart who’s rubbish in pretty much everything I have seen and a pretty lack luster performance from Kim Basinger only helped the picture in becoming a lightweight affair – Grudge Match is not a bad movie but one that I had high hopes for and although I found myself enjoying certain aspects of the film like the movies many homages to Stallone’s Rocky I still left the theater feeling slightly disappointed – overall if your after a break from the glut of serious & dramatic themed movies of late then Peter Segal’s Grudge Match may be what your after – it’s a far cry from being a knockout but I’m pretty sure you will be entertained and even leave the cinema with a little smile – stay after the credits for a couple of superb outtakes….
ALAN PARTRIDGE (2013) – Movie Review ★★★¾
Cast – Steve Coogan, Anna Maxwell Martin, Sean Pertwee & Colm Meaney – When DJ Alan Partridge’s radio station is taken over and it’s name is changed, it’s everyman for himself as the threat of job loss looms and one of the DJ’s decides to take matters into his own hands by taking the station hostage VERDICT Alan Partridge is a character portrayed & created by British comedian Steve Coogan and although I have not seen much of the TV show I found myself enjoying Partridge’s big screen outing – yes the script is wafer thin and at times some of the jokes fell flat but more often than not I found myself giggling and squirming at the antics of the staff at Partridge’s Radio Station – some of the best scenes in the movie include moments when our DJ finds himself naked and locked out of the hostage taken Radio Station, the board meeting when Partridge meets the new owners and tries to impress upon them his worth to the company by sacking another staff member and the delightfully funny finale with Coogan and Meaney on the tour bus – overall Alan Partridge is one of the better comedies of 2013 – it’s a character I may consider watching more of in the future and a movie that I would highly recommend….
Peter O’Toole the BAFTA winning actor of 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia has died aged 81 – in his long career O’Toole received 8 Academy Award nominations and starred in countless movies such as The Night of the Generals, Murphy’s War, Under Milk Wood, Man of La Mancha, Becket, Goodbye Mr Chips and The Lion in Winter – he also starred in 1984’s Supergirl and voiced the character Anton Ego in Pixar’s Ratatouille – I’m sure alongside his friends Richard Harris & Richard Burton the pearly gates of Heaven will be entertained this evening and the first drink will be raised in honor of a stage & movie legend….
HOW I LIVE NOW – (2013) – Movie Review ★★★¾
Cast – Saoirse Ronan, Tom Holland, George MacKay and Harley Bird – Based on the award winning novel by Meg Rosoff – Daisy (Ronan) an American is sent to the English countryside to stay with family when a terrorist attack strikes, leaving her and her cousins fighting for survival VERDICT since watching Saoirse Ronan in 2007’s Atonement I have been a big fan, it’s amazing to think she’s only 19yrs of age and has already giving us some pretty impressive performances in films such as The Lovely Bones, Hanna, Violet & Daisy, Byzantium and her latest Kevin Mcdonald’s How I Live Now – a nuclear terrorist attack is hopefully something we never have to go through – the film’s big moment is when the cousins are out swimming and enjoying the countryside, there’s a deathly silence, almost a tremor and then that’s when the ash starts descending down upon them like flurries of snow – they make it back to their cottage and within minutes the electric goes off, their world is about to be turned upside down – Mcdonald captures all of this on film with a certain beauty but still manages to be aggressive with the narrative, the realism and brutality of what’s happened is there for you to see – Saoirse Ronan and young Harley Bird are both superb, the scenes of them on the run, being chased in the woods and that haunting moment at the boys camp are film highlights – overall How I Live Now is a heart wrenching tale of love and war, that’s engrossing, has a superb soundtrack and some young talent that I’m sure will be see in movies for years to come….