Saturday, 27 May 2017

REVIEW: WAR MACHINE

3.5/5

Allied Basterd.

122 Mins. Starring: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hayes, John Magaro, Emory Cohen, Anthony Michael Hall, Topher Grace, Will Poulter, Lakeith Stanfield, Scoot McNairy, Tilda Swinton & Ben Kingsley. Director: David Michod.

Colonel James Rhodes reporting for duty...wait! Wrong 'War Machine' movie! Although we'd be down to binge if Netflix and Marvel gave us a series about Don Cheadle's Iron Man sidekick to go with their Defender series'. Hey if Jeremy Renner can campaign for a Hawkeye show than so can Don. This for 'The Hurt Locker' crowd is actually a modern warfare film from the call of duty of war machine himself Brad Pitt. Over the last few years he's taken us to World War II, back and forth and then beyond all that with Quentin Tarantino's history changing by blood 'Inglorious Basterds', the tank claustraphobic suicide squad carnage of 'Fury' and last years 'Allied' old-Hollywood, Casablanca romance with Marion Cotillard. But despite this big-three, this fourth tour is more like Chastain's 'Zero Dark Thirty' meets Clooney's 'Three Kings' for you jarheads. But can you guess the accent? I'll give you a clue...it wants its scalps! And to the inspired inflections of his voice Pitt is war ready again. This time for your go-to streaming and app-age romancing movie site Netflix. The big business 'House Of Cards' that have struck deals with the mighty Marvel like 'Orange Is The New Black' and way to watch T.V. Despite the booing for it's movies at THE film festival of Cannes, Netflix actually has no chill. Scoring big-budget exclusive picture deals like they did with Idris Elba ('Beasts Of No Nation') with Will Smith (this Winters 'Bright' L.A. cult gangland fantasty thriller) and a forthcoming Martin Scorsese gangster project with Pacino and Pesci and of course the one and only 'Goodfellas' and 'Godfather' reunion king De Niro. All this and 'Stranger Things' is still happening. Now you have to give it up for this streaming sevice like it's new four year comedy president Adam Sandler racking up 500 mill views and a standing-o at the very same Cannes that would usually can him and his new small-screen/big-picture partner. Some machines just won't stop. Let the war games begin.

Raging against the war machine. Or even the Rolling Stone magazine when Lady Gaga covered it with Madonna bra bazooka's instead of their biggest story. Pitt's Plan B production looks at the fall of General Stanley McChrystal. And the hatchet help that the National Magazine Award for excellence finalist piece 'The Runaway General' by Michael Hastings offered. One that grew into bookshelves with Hastings' 'The Operators' which exposed more of the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan's decline. The late Hastings is narrated with nostalgia and later played here by B.F.F-Leck Scoot McNairy ('Argo', 'Batman v Superman-Dawn Of Justice' and more recently Jamie Foxx's 'Sleepers') to some over-exposition, but overall a focussed finesse. The same vision Australian 'Animal Kingdom' (bringing along fellow favourite actor Anthony Hayes) and 'The Rover' director David Michod works in this self-aware satire that is at times confused (Like the real life warring nature of this true story. As Pitt's General clearly and somewhat poignantly states, "we can't help them and kill them at the same time. It's just not humanly possible"), but always compelling like the Nick Cave unleashed score that the Stones wouldn't be to cool for. Publication or Jagger. But it's Brad whose the most rad here. Pitted against it all as a warring commander whose even snubbed by the Commander in Chief himself, POTUS Barack Obama (and kudos to the off-screen actor whose nailed his jog up the steps of Air Force One even more than his voice). Pitt's voice on the other hand is that of a trademark 'Basterd' with a glorious exaggerated cariacture of his 'Inglorious' expression to go with those "motivating" speeches. Complete with 'Three Kings' camo-fatigues and a Clooney grey wig. Not to mention a clawed hand to enunciate that would make Jim Carrey's 'Liar, Liar' proud...and that's the truth. With ignited 'Fury' and 'Allied' forces God's got to love this 'Bastered'. Pitt may be playing this all up, but he's playing it up perfectly to a white-tee. And just wait until he sweats through one as you see him jog on.

Troops are deployed and sent here from all sorts of places from a casting call list that says Netflix has a lot of subscribers. 'Soprano' and 'Carol' actor John Magaro really sings. Whilst John Hughes alumni man-child Anthony Michael-Hall shouts. Think Jordan Belfort's kids and dad for this 'Wolf Of Wall Street off the concrete walls and jungle of an Afghan one. Speaking of DiCaprio, 'The Revenant' star Will Poulter of 'Maze Runner' continues his raw breakout breakthrough. Whilst the former Venom of 'Spider-Man' Topher Grace shows no humility but a lot of hilarity. It's an emotive Emory Cohen who really matures however from his 'The Place Beyond The Pines' appropriation with Dane DeHaan. Whilst 'Get Out' supporting, switching, body snatched star and 'Straight Outta Compton's' Snoop Dogg (keep a lookout for Tupac's 'All Eyez On Me') Lakeith Stanfield is stunning as a anxiety health-shocked soldier with the right to ask why like us all in todays war of the world. There's plenty of veteran legends here too that give their one in a million two-cents. Fresh off mentoring Benedict Cumberbatch's 'Doctor Strange' in the Marvels of dark arts magic, Tilda Swinton impresses as a German journalist with more than a few curveballs for our 'Moneyball' star. Whilst 'Gandhi' himself Sir Ben Kingsley is offbeat outstanding as a man whose as much as a world leader as his Trevor Slattery character was the Mandarin in 'Iron Man 3'. His introduction were you think he's kneeling down to pray is inspired. No it's not what you think...it's a lot funnier. There's even some other guy in a real nice cameo. But by the end of battle it's Brad Pitt who keeps this 'War Machine' rolling like a furious tank. This sniping American lone survivor generally speaking is in full command. A storm in this desert. Like Pacino in 'Scent Of A Woman' can I get a "oorah"!? TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See This If You Liked: 'Inglorious Basterds', 'Fury', 'Allied'.

Friday, 26 May 2017

REVIEW: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN-DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES

3/5

Depp Blue Sea.

129 Mins. Starring: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, David Wenham, Paul McCartney & Geoffrey Rush. Directors: Joachin Ronning & Espen Sandberg.

Uncork the rum diary again as Johnny Depp is living the pirates life once more in 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' 55, 'Dead Men Tell No Tales' (or 'Salzar's Revenge'...depending on which side of the equator you lie). Continuing to set a franchise course like the unravelling 'Mummy' series it will rival, between all the 'Planet Of The Apes' and Rock chiseled lifeguards they hope to sink, Johnny Depp and classic villain co-star Javier Bardem have just been named to Tom Cruise's 'Dark Universe' like Russell Crowe's Dr. Jekyll. To welcome us to a new world of Hollywoodland legendary Gods and monsters from Universal. No country for Bardem Bond villain Javier will perfectly bolt up to play Frankenstein's monster Igor. Whereas inbetween replacing Colin Farrell in 'Fantastic Beasts', sharing character like 'Doctor Parnassus', Depp will mummy bandage up for 'The Invisible Man'. In what could be 'Edward Scissorhands' most iconic role...but then again how would you know? Before we see how he fares in that Depp takes you deeper into his most famous franchise face, Jack Sparrow. CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow! And Johnny Jack is still as savvy as a Point Guard the way he handles this boat that rocks. Even if sometimes he looks too hammered to tell. Why are the rest of the cast members gone? Oh...that's why. But, wait...are they? Because just when you thought you were at your worlds end, this 'Pirates' takes it back to the skull and cross bones origins of the first 'Curse Of The Black Pearl' Sparrow Oscar nominated film for your 'Dead Mans Chest'. Back when this Disney ride inspired theme first turned into a runaway franchise train. There have amazingly been five 'P.O.T.C.' films now, but even more unbelievably the last one was over a half decade ago when tides were stranger. Now are we to walk the plank or parley?

Even when they face the gallows these seaman of the Caribbean still go out in a pirates jig. Just like they were dancing to that iconic Hans Zimmer theme song that everyone's first iPod shuffled between Kanye West and Lady Gaga back in the early 2000's day. Even when he looks out his depth, Depp's eyes are still on the Sparrow. And as his classical creation he still brings as much fond fun as the countless times he surprises schoolkids that write him letters in class for treasure hunt help, or families at Disneyworld by appearing as the real Captain Jack Sparrow in character and full regalia to regale everyone with stories of the seas. Mincing around with his arms in a constant state of blissful ignorant, innocent surrender as he circles his fingers like the guy who perfectly played Trump before Alec Baldwin on SNL has his speech technique down to a T. His Rolling Stone Richards rum dance can still entrance and entertain audiences as acting like a message that you can't quite prize out the bottle has never swayed so much in sync. If this is the Pirates life then his is the one of Riley from the get-up to the broken compass that will always point him in the right direction, no matter how staggering. As this time he faces his most formidable foe yet in the form of Javier Bardem's vengeful Salzaar. And picking up where his wife Penelope Cruz left off in the last Jack lookalike movie, the best Bond villain bar-non, Bardem goes from looking like the coiffured captain of the Spanish Armada to the lovechild of the undead pirates movie and his forthcoming Frankenstein monster. All complete with a zombie pet Jaws. Looking incredible and creepily almost stop-motion in his C.G.I. and prosthesis, Javier is still somewhat a little underused like the legendary Christophe Waltz when he replaced his run in 007's 'Spectre'. Still every bad guys dream Bardem makes the most of his time at sea. And brings a new slimy, sneering barnacle buster to his one-of-a-kind villains rogue gallery.

Awash in a little too much drowning, choppy C.G. in a climatic tidal wave of Moses like sea-parting that reaches for the stars, this film looks incredible but is sometimes just one dimension too much for our two eyes. Yet still with a strong heading this rip-roaring, sword-swinging yarn still spins a great tale. Even if we aren't as swashbuckled to our seats like a captain going down with his ship as previous sword draws. There are still plenty of hands on deck here like the ever dependable first mate, sidekick Kevin McNally and of course that pesky monkey friend like Marcel. There's even some fresh faces about starboard like 'Gods Of Egypt' star Brenton Thwaites who plays a familiar face of a son with the freshness of a new day. And 'Skins' and 'Clash Of The Titans' star Kaya Scodelario who tightens her range and not another corset cliche as a woman of science that everyone is convinced is a witch. But what a spell of magic she really casts as an actress. 'Lion' roaring iconic 'Iron Fist' David Wenham is also on hand as a British Navy officer as the '300' soldier arms up in wig and tails. Getting even more dressed up and replacing Rolling Stone Keith Richards's absent Sparrow father (the sea turtles must have taken him away), is uncle Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, having as much surreal but nice fun as the time we saw him in a Rihanna video playing with Kanye. Even if some may say the band on the run leads acting bends it like 'King Arthur's' Beckham, just like David, Paul brings high praise and high-seas good times. And what would the life of a 'Pirates' movie be without Academy actor Geoffrey Rush? Between 'The Kings Speech' and the 'Genius' of Einstein living the life of a pirate that's cheated death by booty blinging out his false foot. And there's much more treasure that lies beneath all that veneer too for a film that blooms with hallmark call-backs to the original film, that are just so pleasant, spoiler or surprise not. Norwegian 'Marco Polo' directors Joachin Ronning and Espen Sandberg really have both cannons loaded. Lighting the action fuse as this 'Fast and Furious' number crunching, chasing franchise pulls a safe...and a house around town with even more horse power. There's plenty to plunder here. This old sea dog still has legs...even if they are pegs. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See This If You Liked: 'Pirates Of The Caribbean 6: Dead Men Still Tell Tales'. 'Pirates Of The Caribbean 7: On Tides Even Stranger'. 'Pirates Of The Caribbean Infinity: When Will The World End.'

Saturday, 20 May 2017

REVIEW: KING ARTHUR-LEGEND OF THE SWORD

3/5

Game Of Stones.

126 Mins. Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, David Beckham, Eric Bana & Jude Law. Director: Guy Ritchie.

Swords up guys! Great British legend Ritchie switches his dearstalker for a hat of thorns and Baker Street's pipe and magnify glass for Camelot's sword and stone, as he follows his 'Sherlock Holmes' change of investigation direction with a game of crowns. But down by Law is it Watson who would be King? Or a 'Son Of Anarchy' raised under lock, stock and one smokin' brothel? The legend of Arthur is as sage olde as thyme itself and this theme of taking sword from stone is not for the feint of heart like pulling teeth, lifting the hammer or Avenging Norse God Thor, or a mere mortal of a man picking up the hoover on a lazy Sunday afternoon. And in the Summertime of Marvel, monsters, monkeys and even mummy's, Arthur looks to make heads roll through the castle walls. As like a King James in a different game, Cavalier talent Charlie Hunnam mans up to the rock like Nic Cage taking on Connery. But forget James Bond, or even Sherlock as the British Intelligence of former Miss American Pie, Mr. Madonna, Guy Ritchie brings us another national treasure coming home like the World Cup...and boy does he know how to bend it. But more on that later as the meat and mead of this Cockney, cock-eyed wide boy tale adds some big 'Lock Stock' smoke to the forlorn fog of old London town. Jesters beware! This ace in the hole, king of hearts is a diamond geezer. The only thing that's missing is Ray Winstone. 'Av at it my son!

Because 'Robin Hood', 'Men In Tights', or even 'Prince Of Thieves' this is not! This is a moat watery, muddy mess of a rugby scrum of bruised and bloodied action which begins with the stone and ends with a graver one. This is more like the George R.R. Martin legend of 'Game Of Thrones'...just with less t###. Unless you count the ones who think they're worthy of Exaclibur. As only the excellent and charismatic Charlie Hunnam is worthy of Caliburn. After showing he can take on Godzilla like Kaiju's on the 'Pacific Rim', this hells leather motorcyclist rips back across the coast to chop anyone down in his path. The versatile 'Crimson Peak' talent hits a new high in this bloodshed soaked story of dagger and boulder. As the throne fits for him like a glass slipper from a Prince, or his coat of arms and new/old world style clothes he's draped in that would even make an emperor red with jealousy. Even if the Law and ordained King is the devilish, ungodly 'Young Pope' himself, Jude Law. Reuniting with Guy after playing Dr. John partner to Mr. Holmes to show he is the one, true evil in this empire of God aspiring men who look more like monsters. Law's breaking talent for the wrong side of the hero/villain coin is so affordable in the second wind of his career, this season of character arc changing is arresting. Developing deeper traits under lock and key, the former baby-faced, sweet smile of 'Mr. Napkin Head' sneers with no more veneers looking like he could choke you with that very same cloth. 'The Holiday' and the honeymoon is over. Jude hasn't been this rude since he was tracking down Tom Hanks' 'Road To Perdition' gangster with a Tommy Gun and a camera. This 'Fantastic Beast' to be in full animalistic mode finds himself in some changing times and tides. And he plays it as well as 'The Talented Mr. Ripley'. Evil has never been so devilishly tempting. This lawless talent playing hatred for all it's scorned is the thing you'll love most about this realm.

Drawbridges are lowered for even more Kingsmen and Spanish 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' mermaid Astrid Berges-Frisbey on fine form with Merlin magic. Making a splash here in this mud and blood carnage for the crown. And how could you not watch this throne without a 'G.O.T.' cast member? As Aidan Gillen continues his ruthless streak with a bow and dragon fire arrow in this meat and potatoes story that also finds supernatural sorcery. There's enough to go to war with here as 'Amistad' and 'Blood Diamond' legend Djimon Hounsou moves away from filling 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' and 'Fast and Furious' franchises like Diesel and back to the shield and sword days of a 'Gladiator'. You thought he was done...but not yet. Even hulking 'Star Trek' villain Eric Bana returns like the time travelling husband of Rachel McAdams he was, keeping his 'Troy' toga on and showing worn wisdom and epic emotional character catalyst as this films father figure. But completing this round table comes a cameo from a man who could bend a football round the widest one from a standing free kick position. As England and Manchester United sports soccer legend David Beckham shows up as a party favour for his guy Ritchie. With scarface scarred Bradley Cooper Hollywood looks and an Eastenders accent this game midfielder is the right fit in winging it for a couple of minutes of time off the bench. Sure this destined world famous footballer hasn't attended an acting academy in his life, but you only have to watch a Marvel movie to know that cameos are just for fun and this guy brings a Stan Lee smile of surprise and recognition either way. And he actually acts funny to boot. It's another tried technique from screen tested 'Sherlock' director Guy Ritchie who brings more of that trademark slow-motion, stop-and-go stuttering action to the stylized set-pieces in some need of something more substantial. And knuckles bared sometimes balls to the wall, we just want to see people get on with getting it on. Pulling some punches and knocking out others though Ritchie's rich direction pays off mostly, even if some of the time it's giving to the poor. Some of this cult classic turned sci-fi geek crowd friendly film makes for quite a muddy, muddled mess. But what a mess it is! Because when it hits it strikes like a sword aglow worthy of the only man who can pull it from stone. Match the rugged Hunnam hero with Law's vile villain revolt and you have that iconic good vs bad dynamic looking to rule no matter how ugly it gets. This Guy of thrones lets this kings legend reign on with explosive fire. All hail! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See This If You Liked: 'Sherlock Holmes-A Game Of Shadows', 'Exodus: Gods & Kings', 'The Huntsmen-Winters War'.

Friday, 12 May 2017

REVIEW: MISS SLOANE

4/5

Sloane Ranger.

132 Mins. Starring: Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alison Pill, Jake Lacy, Sam Waterston & John Lithgow. Director: John Madden.

Miss Chastain. One woman. Millions of guns. In 'Miss Sloane', arguably the current best actor of our time Jessica Chastain plays Elizabeth Sloane. A D.C. lobbyist looking to oppose a bill in Washington relating to the rights and regulations of firearms. Yep, it's political. And hell yeah it's prevelant right now, as the double Oscar nominated Academy actress (how about another couple with her latest two?), who is standing up for womens rights and equal pay in a less than fair Hollywood stuck in the forties looks to take the fight all the way to the White House. With words, not weapons. And facts and figures, not what some would term, "fake news". Chastain's 'Sloane' looks to make N.R.A. gun nuts fold and fall like a house of cards. Even if those behind a desk in a suit and tie, armed to the blazer are packing more than a punch. As they more than passively aggressively threaten, "there's 5 million of us...and we're all armed". Red hot on the heels of standing on her own two up and against the Nazis in the true story of 'The Zookeepers Wife' and the incredible and inspired Mrs. Zabinski who hid 300 jews in her zoo during Hitler's occupation of Poland, the 'A Most Violent Year' actress goes against anything remotely of that nature and gives us one of her most powerful performances to date. In her 'Most' Lady Macbeth-esque, Machivellian machinations. More 'Zero Dark Thirty' than 'The Help', the influential 'Interstellar' and the out of this world 'The Martian' scene-stealer is giving us more and more of herself and films gravel grounded in the raw realities effecting us right now. Whether via a history lesson or a political one. Going all alone as Sloane, Jessica goes beyond tired gender stereotypes in this industry to show just what one person can do in the face of pure pressure. Whether political or by the pistol. But even under the gun, Chastain and 'Miss Sloane' are under compelling control.

Spotlight's shine on star and screen here in this desk debate heavy narrative like the time Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams et al took on the Catholic church in Boston last year and won. And just like that talk of the talk definitive drama, this gun issue still thrills and spills without a single trigger being pulled. As the central Sloane character and all the people in power she takes aim at really rings out. With this this just may be 'The Zookeepers Wife's' day, week, month and even year friends. As Jessica is about to play 'Molly's Game' and fans are also lobbying for this lobbiest to make for the perfect Poison Ivy in the forthcoming 'Gotham City Sirens' female-centric villain film from 'Suicide Squad' assembler David Ayer. The 'Huntsmen-Winters War' sequel actress is ice cold perfect and calculated in her reduction of arms. Prepared to be viewed as wrong all with the formidable forsight and fortitude to do the right thing, no matter the counter measure. After taking us to two 'Best Exotic Marigold Hotels' with retiring legends, 90's sweet love story signatures 'Shakespeare In Love' and 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' director John Madden (no, not the EA Sports guy) scores a touchdown with this one. As Q.B. for a very different and dynamic shift of tone in this political pounding that has so much to say from the hip. It's the type of D.C. drama in almost docu or T.V. series form that 'The West Wing's' Aaron Sorkin would be proud of. And something that in history and acting legacy will go down as something as important as Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman's typewriter Watergate journalists in the acclaimed 'All The Presidents Men', based on actual events or a true story we wish it was. Madden brings a measure of brilliance to this backroom white collar madness. Whilst an engaged Chastain behind the power suit shows the law a whole new order we wish we could all abide by. All to make the world a safer place beyond how the cliched saying goes. Gun lovers will hate it. And in America money wise it took just over half the figure of the population who carry firearms. But that's no reason to holster a clear critical classic. As movie fanatics will know it's not about money or those in "power" that try to oppose the meaning and message of this moving movie (see Chastain's 'Most Violent' co-star, the award worthy Oscar Isaac in his powerful 'Promise' of love in the face of war). There's so much more to the force of this film than bullets or dollars. And that's how you really effect global scale change for the better.

'The Zookeepers Wife' showed us what they did then. 'Miss Sloane' shows us what we can all do now. As with 'Zero Dark Thirty' ferocity Chastain hunts down this notion and anyone with a gun like she did Bin Laden. And joined by the strength of her. 00.30 co-star Mark Strong she has a lot behind her unwavering spine. No matter who looks to stab her in the back...or worse. The Great Brit Strong powers many pictures these days, from the Turing classic 'The Imitation Game' to the new Avenger Bonds of the 'Kingsmen'. But here he really leaves a mark. Just like stellar supporting actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw whose gone from 'Belle' to 'Beauty and the Beast' and beyond the wifely support of leading men like Matthew McConaughey and Will Smith in the revealing 'Free State Of Jones' and critical 'Concussion' respectively. Filmography versatile character actor Michael Stuhlbarg is also here on the reliable form of his life. Showing he's his own actor and more than someone that looks like Joaquin Phoenix's younger brother. Chris Evans' 'Snowpiercer' and 'Jessica Jones' Marvel P.I. actress Alison Pill also brings a dose of icy reality in this winter war over weapons in Washington. Whilst 'Law and Order' legend Sam Waterston with almost Watergate corrupt conflicted conviction believes he is going by the book (more old testament in his bedside table draw next to his sidearm and glass of water and false teeth), until Chastain's revelation turns the page. There's so much more to Sloane, from 'Carol' actress Jake Lacy lacing some love for sale implication subplot that screams for a deeper connection a cheque can't cut. To '3rd Rock' great John Lithgow's sly Senator, serving as judge, jury and gavel in this executioner debate. Reuniting with his 'Interstellar' grandaughter all grown up, Lithgow hasn't shone this much in cinemas since his 'Planet Of The Apes' rise. But from the frank face to facetime video screen opening to the brutal honesty and policy she emits throughout, no one chastises all the wrong today more than Chastain. But the wonder woman with the Black Widow do is doing more than just mouthing off on Capitol Hill. She's really saying something in a trumped up town and capital city that's forgot how to walk up the Lincoln steps of the mall and sit with honest Abe without looking like a Spacey-ed out caricature of presidency. This should grab their attention by the balls. Tell the leader of the not-so free world that ladies like this demand to come first. Even if they are in the line of all sorts of fire. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See This If You Liked: 'Zero Dark Thirty', 'The Zookeepers Wife', 'Spotlight'.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

REVIEW: ALIEN-COVENANT

3.5/5

Android: Covenant.

123 Mins. Starring: Katherine Waterson, Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, James Franco, Guy Pearce & Noomi Rapace. Director: Ridley Scott.

Are we all in agreement that 'Alien: Covenant' has our faces hugging cinema screens in blockbuster anticipation this summer? This is the real close encounter bursting through your chest like the great John Hurt (Rest Peacefully. From the original to 'Spaceballs' no one will ever do it like you). E.T...run home! Because here comes the Xenomorph. Snarling and slobbering all over 'Covenant' like Beethoven...and we aren't talking about the classical musician. Director Ridley Scott composes another spaceship, thrilling horror classic as claustraphobic as those air ducts. As the alien with two heads, one lurking beneath jaws butts the glass windows of our craft like it was at a Metallica gig. In a Marvel sequel reboot age of mummies, monsters and planets of apes this old girl still rocks too. Just like the bald ambition of franchise legend Sigourney Weaver's Ripley, who is still inspiring bob-cut, muscle vest, beautiful heroines to this day and film. Nothing can stop this beast. Not even the new 'Life' given to this space-station, sci-fi gore genre by the Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal homaged horror blockbuster of just a month or so back that some may see as plagirism, but others maybe view even better than this. And when it comes to the legendary great Scott coming off his life on Mars with 'The Martian' Matt Damon and right before the '2049' sequel redux of his other signature science-fiction cult, classic like his star Harrison Ford, 'Blade Runner', nothing can survive this. He may have given the replicant plans to 'Arrival's' Denis Villeneuve, but when it comes to fellow, new sci-fi pioneering director Neil Blomkamp (of 'District 9' and 'Elysium' modern Phillip K. Dick future forefather fable fame), this chappie will have to be patient for his 'Alien' sequel still lying in wait behind the rib-cages. Still just like the only out of this world franchise to top this intelligent life and force it to the side of the solar system, 'Star Wars', there will be an 'Awakening'. But before you feel it, make sure you get too close to this creature for cinema comfort. As Scott resurrects his iconic 'Alien' predator, setting it free for something that his halfway between a 'Prometheus 2' and Ripley's game. Looks like the beast that Ridley said was "done and cooked" is back to eat.

And boy is she hungry! It's a good job Scott is serving up a bloody laundry list of colonizing couples boarding this Noah's Ark two-by-two on the menu. For starters Katherine Waterson is locked and mother expletive loaded on this mothership against the alien queen. She wowed us in 'Inherent Vice' and recently put as spell on us in 'Fantastic Beasts' but this actress of the moment really finds herself and leads here. No matter how many there are of 'Steve Jobs' co-star, Michael Fassbender. Weaving between some Sigourney, Rapace pacing and her own breakout character arc. Machine-gunning and switch-blading between tearing tear ducts of raw emotion and the ability to defiantly demand to know where this astronauts worst nightmare is out of an out for blood desire. Still despite the bones of Katherine's bold and brutual performance, humans aside this is Michael Fassbender's androids movie. Restarting his career life after the 'Assassins Creed' mis-cut fatality, one of the best actors of our time still moves metal like Magneto and minds like 'Macbeth'. And this time replicating his David to a whole other Mr. Robot, Michael is mesmerizing as a machine looking to make mans emotions and world his own. Fassbender fascinates going blonde on brown and switching between the two units, cohesively and effectively in their shared circuits and different strokes of the engineers cursor. When it comes to Ridley Scott's cinematic creations it looks like humanoids dream of electric sheep too. But is Fassbender's familiar face wearing wolf's clothing? And isn't this meant to be an extra-terrestrial film? Not a man-made cyborg one? As much of an upgrade as Fassbender is this is more of an android movie than an alien one. Perhaps it is more 'Prometheus 2' but not sold the same or as seen for that blockbuster popcorn money. And therein lies the problem of duality. Sure more than merely tingling the spine, there is enough Alien scenes that scare and aren't scarce to bring the "oohs" and "aahhs", then followed by the running and screaming. But we are still just a few air lock restricting scenes-as tense as the vents-away from Jeff Goldblum tapping on the glass and asking if there plans to be any aliens in our...erm 'Alien' movie. Are you in covenant?

Monster meals come in all sorts of shapes and sizes however. Some cooked and some microwaved. Some even fun-sized too. As did you ever think you'd see 'Pineapple Express' bros Danny McBride and James Franco in something quite like this? If we told you these boys were bound for a fantasy horror you'd probably think a 'Your Highness' sequel was on the way. But fear not, these guys are actually the captain and the pilot of this ship. And they're official too. We always knew a fleeting Franco here could play frank and to be fair although he brings the lions share of the comic relief, 'Eastbound and Down's' McBride in Idris Elba's cockpit with a stetson shy of a few corks is seriously good at going straight. Like all the A grade talent here on the kill or be killed list. Like fellow skipper Billy Crudup as 'Watchmen's' Manhattan looks green in the face of a hugger. Or 'The Hateful Eight's' Demian Bichir still slinging artillery like it was the spaghetti west. Just like 'Selma' and Waterston's 'Beasts' co-star Carmen Ejogo too. Bringing pure, blood slipping terror on the form of her career that started with Eddie Murphy's 'Metro' express. Even T.V. singing 'Empire' superstar Jussie Smollett is here and hits all the right notes. Just like an unforgettable scene with a flute that plays like the most tense scene recorded. All singing from the same 'Prometheus' hymn sheet for a who's who, roll call that even in the footnotes features cameos from 'Prometheus' prequel favourites Guy Pearce and a Leia like Noomi Rapace like in this films prologue. Youtube debuted like the first five minutes and everything else in the name of immersed hype, In Utero. All told Scott's shot in the franchise arm merges the beauty of 'Prometheus' with the brawn of the original trilogy to give us an advanced 'Alien' movie with more brains. It may take things a little too self serious at time but 'Covenant' brings together closet hidden messages of our creation mixed with the behind the door reveal of mans destruction in this red shirt porn that flirts between soft and hardcore. 'Covenant' covets more even if all some want to see is gore and the morph. Or to have Blomkamp's idea taken out of cryosleep. These horrors were always able to make us do more than jump. And this requiem plays almost like what fanboys and girls dreams are made of. But in this paranoid androids dream of Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence like, new life colony passengers, perhaps before the next 'Alien' it was time we were all awoken. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See This If You Liked: 'Alien', 'Prometheus', 'Life'.

#TapeDeckShuffle GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY-AWESOME MIX Specia

Crossing over with our sister blog AMPs & 808s for a mix of movies and music. It's time to plug in your amps and Walkman headphone jacks and get your tape deck's and Zune shuffles ready, as after 5 years our #TapeDeckShuffle series is back. And this week it's a special dedicated to the cosmic-book, space-age Marvel franchise 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' and it's new sequel, 'Vol. 2'. With our playlist picks selecting the best from each 'Awesome Mix' soundtracks volumes to get your Groot scootin' on to. Showtime A-Holes!

Side A-Vol 1.

Blue Swede-Hooked On A Feeling: "Ooh-ga chaka. Ooh-ga, ooh-ga". I can't stop this feeling. Deep inside of me. Just like G.O.T.G's themes song. The Guardians just don't know what they do to me. Ahh-ahh, ahh! You know the rest.

Norman Greenbaum-Spirit In The Sky: Last used on the 'Alien' like 'Life' spaceship with Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal. This decades gone, timeless classic set off the first full trailer for the first 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' film perfectly. If anyone teased that Marvel's movie about a talking tree and racoon was going to be a scud missile than they had no bark or bite after this laid everything to rest as they took us to the place that's the best.

Elvin Bishop-Fooled Around & Fell In Love: Getting 'Footloose' like his great hero Kevin Bacon. What better a song for Chris Pratt's Star-Lord to roll with than the one in which he and stick-up-the-butt, barge-pole love interest and green beauty Gamora shared their first dance to?

10CC-I'm Not In Love: You want an absolute 80's classic that fits the tone and texture of this throwback film? Than how about this then futuristic, atmospheric gem that hadn't been used this well since New York's finest the Fun Lovin' Criminals covered it so smoothly?

The Runaways-Cherry Bomb: No Jackson 5? Not Marvin's mountain (technically that was 'Awesome Mix Vol. 2'...just sayin')? Not even the 'Ooh Child' dance-off with the Five Stairsteps bro? Not one this 'Cherry Bomb' explodes the pre-finale fights, locked and loaded suit-up montage. Hello daddy! Hello mum!

Side B-Vol 2.

Electric Light Orchestra-Mr. Blue Sky: Annoyingly catchy. If you hate this song. You won't be able to help but loving it after you watch 'Vol. 2's' opening sequence as Baby Groot plugs this tune and dances around whilst his fellow Guardians protect the galaxy from what looks like the love child of Krang from the Turtles and the Kraken. This is not your average space Octopus or chip off the old Groot. But an oblivious baby Groot still cuts a rug...unless Drax is watching.

Fleetwood Mac-The Chain: Nothing speaks to the theme of this movie more than this absolute belter from the Mac that links all these sisterly and fatherly family ties together. The now signature Formula One theme sets off this sequels second trailer like Greenbaum with even more spirit in the sky.

Sam Cooke-Bring It On Home: Shall we dance again? The 'will they won't they' Fitz/Simmons of the Galaxy, Star-Lord and Gamora waltz to this love gospel that the live opening of Will Smith's 'Ali' used to knockout effect like Ego's living planet was a ballroom.

George Harrison-My Sweet Lord: A long haired, bearded Beatle over Ravi Shankar sitar is as trippy as it gets to continue this out of this universe experience so electric and eclectically.

Cat Stevens-Father & Son: There's no better way to conclude an epic, emotional end to a superhero film all about family than with 'Father and Son'. As the now Yusuf Islam sings "I know, I have to go" to the end credits if there's a dry eye in the house than I am Groot. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Friday, 5 May 2017

REVIEW: SLEEPLESS

3/5

Sleepless In Collateral.

95 Mins. Starring: Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, T.I., David Harbour, Gabrielle Union, Dermot Mulroney, Octavious J. Johnson & Scoot McNairy. Director: Baran bo Odar.

Sleep isn't the only thing lost here in the new Jamie Foxx cop/crime thriller based on the French film 'Sleepless Night'. In this 'Sleepless' a million miles from Tom Hanks' Seattle, Foxx's son is literally being used as collateral. So expect some damage like the time he took Tom Cruise's awesome Mann made assassin for a taxi ride in downtown L.A. But this time it's the debauched city of sin Las Vegas that lays our action scenes like his digital era 'Miami Vice' days. And man how they unfold like a deck of cards across the electro neon strip which now seems to have added London's Eye to it's collector like site exhibits of the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty. Try your hand because this is an explosive killer like heartland rocker Brandon Flowers singing about girls like they were atomic bomb tests in the desert from the back of his Mustang. And as soon as Jamie Foxx's stops at a red light in his G.T.O. he just wishes Ansel Elgort was driving. But fear not! With this and Edgar Wright's forthcoming 'Baby Driver' this double-act looks sets to be Foxx's biggest Summer yet and the actor/singer/comedian triple threats biggest year since he almost did the Oscar double for 'Ray' and 'Collateral' in the same calender the 'Unpredictable' singer pulled a Streisand and won both an Oscar and Grammy. No wonder ATL, King of the South rapper Cliff "T.I.P." Harris-who Foxx collaborated with on 'Live In The Sky' is riding and rolling shotgun as our lead detectives partner in fighting crime the right way...even if a few pages of the book they go by is a little dogeared with some slight foxing on the edges. Don't worry! Try not to lose any sleep over it.

'Django' really is off the chain here too. Running up the hood of cars in a parking lot with a blunderbuss and giving gas mask villains what for (But wait a minute! That stellar scene from the thrilling trailer of our D.I. is M.I.A. presumed D.O.A. in a spate of lost and found footage for films these days). All whilst wearing his necklace chain badge across his chest like a pair of dog tags. In this revenge soaked thriller Foxx puts everyone in the hole, but you can't snare or trap him. His Vincent Downs cop character vehicle is putting anyone in his way down and in the sand as "the baddest finest" ladies and gentlemen drives his enemies in his trunk to the dessert with Drake's 'Energy' on repeat. All in the name of this fathers son and whether he'll see another one. It's pretty serious for some brilliant B-movie material in this genre ignited 'John Wick' age. But as Jamie says "you hurt my son...I'm killing all of y'all" much in the same vein as his "touch your guns, you die" 'Django Unchained' quote you know he aint playing. And just like Tarantino you're gonna love the way he shoots boy. Or just like 'Just Like Me' returning collaborator T.I. says, "yo man that was some 'Reservoir Dogs' s### back there man", as Foxx replies that "it's been a long day"-but not in those words-looking like he's just taken someones ear off (well he is about to play Mike Tyson). And the 'American Gangster' and 'Ant-Man' rapper/actor T.I. who really grew in the aforementioned and the remake of the T.V. adaptation of 'Roots' plants himself next to Foxx perfectly. As Foxx is on a one man manhunt he still needs back up and you can for sure call on Tip in the Vegas air tonight. These two might be another 48 hours away from being at the level of a Beverly Hills Cop but they make for a pretty jam-packed Rush Hour with less jokes but more human traffic.

'True Detective' Michelle Monaghan is the the real draw here too, no stay at home character b.s. assignment. This is the 'Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang' and 'Gone Baby Gone' stars moment to represent like when she took complete character command at 'Fort Bliss'. The 'Mission Impossible III' and 'Source Code' standout knows how to make her own name next to the biggest leading men in the world (Tom Cruise, Jake Gyllenhaal etc). And this leading lady whose character in her 'Due Date' reunion with Robert Downey Jr. was rumoured to be running away with Foxx's part really has something here with Jamie in their own little reunion. You can cut the good cop/bad cop tension with the corners of the book they throw at you. Meanwhile 1980's Hawkins, Indiana Sheriff David Harbour is harbouring more 'Stranger Things' than looking for justice for Barb'. As the character actor of 'Black Mass' and 'The Equalizer furthers his formidable filmography favourbly, despite now-thanks to last year-being most recognisable for being made household face-to-a-name famous in a binge watching minute of an evening. The A-list cast of multiple grades all step up their A-game though. Just like Gabrielle Union bringing it all together. An actress more than merely being Miss Dwyane Wade or another member of the Basketball Wives club. One who brings the most heat since she was in Miami with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence for 'Bad Boys II'. Meanwhile 'August and Osage County' actor Dermot Mulroney who seemingly appears in more films than we realise, recognise or remember plays so much Pesci meets De Niro 'Casino' grease that he should stay in the kitchen with the rest of the condiments bagged up to look like coke. And in this drug run turned cat and mouse Casino chase that races through 95 minutes of run-time like eyes on the ball of a roulette wheel there's even more players. Like 'Killing Them Softly' pain strummer Scoot McNairy who fingers the trigger on his own moment here after being like one of Ben Affleck's best friends that appear in all his films like Sandler's ones ('Argo', 'Gone Girl' and 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice'). Playing a vile villain with such inked and scarred conviction, Scoot is ready for his 'War Machine' with Pitt and the 'Aftermath' with Arnie himself. But lets hear it for and hand it to relative 'Coldwater' newcomer Octavious J. Johnson. Coming of age as our lead cops son. Swiss director Baran bo Odar who made his name with 'Who Am I? No System Is Safe' times all of this with precision perfection. Even if this scatter-gun movie moves at an abrupt pace it still keeps you guessing and wondering as to how they will get out of this jam at a shade over an hour and a half before they take the casino. From the sparkler fireworks of bottle service club carnage that could stick it to 'Collateral', to car chases of vehicular manslaughter like when Foxx flipped the very same cab on its top. Or the shootouts in this new Vegas similair to the Wild West. All set to a hauntingly tense score. And let's not forget the flour and cleaver, hells kitchen nightmares of what looks like a fight with Gordon Ramsey...perhaps they didn't like today's special. But here's something else too for your dessert out in the desert. Don't doze because this eye-opener 'Sleepless' is so slick there might just be a sequel in there. What happens in Vegas just stays going apparantly. Time for the next movie franchise to wake up. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See This If You Liked: 'Collateral', 'Baby Driver', 'Triple 9'.