Friday, 26 August 2016

REVIEW: WAR DOGS

4/5

The Dogs Of War Street.

114 Minutes. Starring: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Anna de Armas & Bradley Cooper. Director: Todd Phillips.

Who let the douche out?! Sorry..."dogs". Excuse me. "Dogs"! This is national canine day after all and every pup has their afternoon. And just like Pacino robbing banks this 'Scarface' is out to take your money with all his little friends. When there's a will, there's a Carlito's way and in playing a South Beach boy from Miami trying to sell heat like he did stock with DiCaprio off Scorsese's 'Wall Street', this wolf is out for blood money. War is never pretty. But Jonah Hill's 'War Dogs' character shows us the real ugly side of it, which actually give us one of the realest and best pictures of the year. Sliding between the Summer blockbuster season and a fall Oscar one like another round in the chamber. The Academy pup, stock student of Leo's 'Wolf Of Wall Street' has now become the howling, leading man master, mentoring or maybe even manipulating a whip-smart 'Whiplash' student Miles Teller whose definitly had enough of experts trying to bang his drum. Symbol please! What started out with the big swing of Brad Pitt's 'Moneyball' now lands Jonah Hill right at the mound from the dugout, with all bleachers on him. Now forget making money, this dog is exchanging stock for balling. Forget selling you a pen. He could sell anything. Water, well. Ice to and Eskimo. Arms to the U.S. military.

From the acting masters of "why the hell do we even like these Stratton Oak wolves", comes a performance so great from Jonah you can't hate what he brings to the table. Even if he gets so bad even his eight by ten of 'Scarface' on his wall looks down on all he's laying down and racking up with a disapproving eye. Yep Hill wants to be the next Tony Montana. And this movies Miami neon artwork certainly does a good, homaged job of that. But this King of Comedy kid whose faced franchises like 'Superbad' and the twentysomething 'Jump Street's' really knows how to reload himself as a dramtic actor. Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio knows this, but now Jonah Hill is showing you he's the A lister. With more buck for his bang and armed with a "that's not a gun" Crocodile Dundee moment and attitude and a Vince Vaughn laugh he redefines as his classic own (Am I right? Am I right?! Look at this guy!), this self made rich-kid in a fat cat suit plays this role to a golf tee. But it's targets he's hitting not balls, aiming for a different type of green. In the same vein as live fast millenials becoming dumb rich quick like those 'Wall Street' inspired 'Boiler Room' boys there's even a moment were he kicks a guy out of a en-masse job interview come board meeting in the same cappilary as Ben Affleck. Matter of fact this whole film rolls off the same money machine as 'Anchorman' director Adam McKay's 'Big Short' ensemble last fall/this new year. No, not an 'Ant-Man/Giant-Man' sequel, but another applied adaptation based off a classic book by original 'Moneyball' writer Michael Lewis. As 'Hangover' director Todd Phillips expands on a real Rolling Stone article about two guys under 30 who struck a $300 mill weapons deal with the Pentagon and shows us the morning after headache that comes with drinking with the devil in war profiteering and money mongering. In the same slick satirical directing way that McKay did with classic comedy actor turned 'Foxcatcher' serious Steve Carell. And you don't even need the six degrees of Tatum seperation to link him to Jonah.

And in rolling the dice for six figures again where else for Phillips to go and cash in than Sin City? As Todd hits Las Vegas with producer and co-star Bradley Cooper again. One Alan lookalike short of another 'Hangover' when they promised they'd never drink again. Trying to take the house from the craps table, decked out in Burgundy scotch. And Cooper is on formidable form once again, even if his supporting role time is more like a choice cameo somewhere between a Jared Leto Joker and a "you see all his scenes in the trailer look". But this is far from career suicide for Bradley as he throws a spanner in this squads production line. It'll actually go down somewhere between a classic playing of the background and a hidden gem for the Academy Actor that knows Oscar when he knows a David O. Russell. The silver lining to this American Hustle, with his trademark slicked back hair looking a little more slimy, Cooper takes it back to the origins of his 'Wedding Crashers' sleaze. But this time the Hollywood hearthrob is still likable too, despite being fitted with a cross-eyed prescription of a pair of spectacles you wouldn't want to see anywhere near a family member and classic lines like "I'm not a bad man. But in certain situations I think to myself, what would a bad man do". A line you know is only uttered by...you guessed it, bad men. The worst of the worst. But this cast is the best of the best all the way down to rising supporting actress Anna de Armas of Keanu Reeves 'Exposed' fame, 'Knock, Knock' knocking on Hollywood's door. Here she offers more fight to a usually typecast long disgruntled girlfriend role. Standing behind a genuinely great Miles Teller who still can't seem to tell the truth in this movie. Miles ahead of his contempories however, Teller really is Mr. Fantastic, even if Fox's 'Fantastic Four' franchise failed to live up to it's promising potential they should still stretch it out for this face. The 'Whiplash' student the Academy should not have passed, now whipping massage towls at baby oil rich Florida gator skinned lizards. When it comes to Oscars, Miles is about to 'Bleed For This' in this years boxing drama that looks to have more creed and fight to it, hitting the 'Rocky' franchise with a southpaw that only Ali could see. But this is more than his ringside warm up. In the green corner and serving Morgan Freeman duty as narrator of this money morality tale that shows us that if you're making yours off mortality than you really are on the darkside of the American nightmare. Trumping Bush and Cheney's America that the devil cursed this film may look like fun and war games, but it actually takes a shot at all the bullets that should be accounted for in more ways than one. Yeah this film is slick, but it doesn't hide the grease either. Don't slip or you'll fall for anything. War is anything but civil this age and these dogs will show you today. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

JONAH HILL Feature-KING OF THE COMEDY HILL

His Name Is Jonah.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Hollywood hills there's a new King Of Comedy in movies right now...and his name is Jonah. Straight out the Weezer, millennial generation of the American Dream deferred, this Supergood actor flipped jump streets and showed he can make the Academy sit up and take notice. Even when they've stopped laughing. All the way to a pushed envelope. No wonder 'The Revenant' Leonardo DiCaprio is stopping his fellow wolf in the street like a crazed fan. Everyone wants a selfie with one of the biggest stars in pictures today. He is the portrait of the next generation of multi-talented actors applying themselves to multiple crafts whilst everyone else in his peer group are too busy swiping through endless iPhone apps. So the next time you try and Snapchat a crown on to yourself, know that this guy has been watching the throne for years. This Cavalier talent sitting on it for as long as LeBron. At 32 he's around the same age too. King for King. From the court to the royal one of jesters.

It's time the movie world finally gave this kid his due. After scoring bit parts in top comedies 'The 40 Year Old Virgin' and 'Click', Hill finally changed the channel and got lucky when it came to the big time. First being 'Accepted' in a Justin Long college dorm comedy, before leading his own one for the behind the bike-sheds stoner generation for 'Superbad' in 2007. One of the best comedies of the past decade (can you believe it's that old) and 'The Hangover' for the teenage dirtbag generation (not so young now are you kids...I mean how dated is that reference? Yep I'm almost 32 too!). The film stands the test of time, a Summer smash which you have to open that season with every year you open it up out your DVD shelf. You know every household has a copy...even if most parents try to hide it. They, like any critic of what was a millennial 'Waynes World' on something a little stronger than 80's metal hair spray are left on their own now. Maybe they could have dessert with Michael Glansberg?! Because 'Superbad' was oh too good and super. Dynamite like Napoleon. Forget voting for Pedro! McLovin became the new locker room icon in bifocals. And it was all lead by Jonah, starring alongside Seth Rogen with his fellow curly haired 'fro and Johnny Cash shirt. Racking up the big numbers in '07, in a year that also saw him cash in on some appearances in 'Knocked Up' and 'Walk Hard: The Dewy Cox Story'. The kid came out of nowhere...and it was clear he was going nowhere.

And everywhere at the same time. Because this guy was in everything. The following year heard his voice hearing a who with 'Horton', before he helped that guy that met your mother forget 'Sarah Marshall'. Comedy greats began to notice and pick up on his talent like Rogen in 'Knocked Up' or John C. Reilly working with him again for the darkly funny 'Cyrus'. Or Ben Stiller nightwatching him for a cameo in the 'Battle Of The Smithsonian', 'Night At The Museum' sequel and co-star Ricky Gervais giving this genuine talent a significant spot on 'The Invention Of Lying', whilst Jonah was still inventing himself. But then between funnier 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' spin-offs with Russell Brand (the breakout star-power confirmed 'Get Him To The Greek') and feature vocals on franchise 'How To Train Your Dragon' and Pixar generation stand-alone, 'Megamind' (finding another new niche), Jonah re-invented himself past the young-adult critical age of 25. Just when everyone thought he only belonged to the 'Funny People' world of co-stars and contemporaries like Rogen and Adam Sandler. Hill swung big and knocked it out the park for his biggest hit to that date 'Moneyball'. As Brad Pitt's Billy Beane charcater plucked him out of obscurity like the over-looked statistically proven talents of the baseball players in this true life story that saw the basement Oakland Athletics almost make it to the ceiling of big league teams like the New York Yankees. 'Moneyball' was an inspired underdog story that proved it wasn't all about money before Jonah starred in more dramas that showed just how dark the American Dream gets when it turns all on a dollar and a dime. Sure Hill was characteristically funny in this movie...but he was something else too. That's when guys with names like Oscar started to look his way. Or Hancock's associated with that gold like Scorsese and Leo. Sure Jonah would play 'The Sitter' on classic comedies like the out of this Costco, small-town world 'The Watch' (back on night-shift duty with Stiller) and new Frat Pack ensembles like 'This Is The End' (yes being Jonah Hill..."from 'Moneyball'" didn't make him too big to still work with Seth and play himself in more ways than one), but this big hitter, still seeming only a balls throw away from his rookie year had more than one strike to his name and drama game.

That's when Marty came calling. 'Moneyball' may just be that movie that makes overlooked talent the stars they deserve (See Also: Pratt, Chris; Lord, Star). Because between forging a new force of a retro flipped, modern mainstream comedy franchise with opposite dramatic, turned comedic all-round talent, Channing Tatum in '21 Jump Street' (and it's no sophomore slump sequel '22' that may rack up the numbers and crazily cross-over with the 'Men In Black' team...hey if anyone can make that neuralyzing crazy shtick work it's those two. They may just even make a Superman and Green Lantern spin-off off their 'LEGO Movie' cameo like Will Arnett's Batman. That will make Tatum forget all this 'X-Men', 'Gambit' card flushing) and a 'go to the restroom' and you'll miss it cameo in Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained', Hill finally starred alongside hero DiCaprio on-screen, instead of just the same credits, roll billing. And Scorsese's fake-cocaine snorting crazy 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' was real money for Hill. Howling all the way through, with equal parts comedy and tragedy for a man that was all-in this time. Save the classic cameos for McConaughey in the 'True Detective', Matthew's 'Dallas Buyers Club' Oscar winning year with the Joker in the fall that Aussie Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie broke out. Because 'Supporting Actor' Jonah got an Academy nomination too in what should have been this years finally Oscar winning Leo's one. And face it every time you see a shoe by Steve Madden now who do you think of?  It won't be long before Jonah get's his name on one too. And we aren't talking about no stiletto statue. Because in all these money movies it's more than balling. It's real, dramatic acting with a satirical slice of humor for that comic relief in a world that really needs it. Now after cameo calling with Channing again, stamping his mark on the latest Cohen, ensemble classic, 'Hail Caesar' and attending another Seth Rogen 'Sausage Party', it's clear Jonah Hill is only in competition with himself...or Miles Teller. Going to war with the fellow dog-who has been racking up the big hits and numbers like a bank teller, from 'Whiplash' to 'Bleed For This'-for their latest big hit 'War Dogs' from 'The Hangover' direction/production team of Todd Phillips and co-star Bradley Cooper for the 'Superbad' star. And in what looks to be the big-third of Jonah's dramatic trilogy delivery, after what he learnt about money and balls on 'Wall Street', it's clear this dogs had more than his day. He's the wolf now! Ooooow!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

#ComicalColumn 'CIVIL WAR'...ULTIMATES EDITION

To Infinity and Beyond...

(WARNING: Includes Spoilers For 'Captain America-Civil War')

From the trenches of the 'Captain America-Civil War' cutting room floor we are beginning to learn even more about just what the Russo Brothers had in store for their sequel to 'The Winter Soldier'.

And it goes beyond the concepts of original Marvel art.

Sure, earlier on this year when we saw sketches of ideas like Hawkeye's original, purple hooded suit and the iconic Giant-Man airport battle scene (that looked this week to take even more wing if Ant-Man had chose to sign up with Stark's Iron legion), we caught glimpses of something as visionary as Paul Bettany's android application. But the more that we're hearing now just makes us wish we actually saw it for big-budget real.

Prepping for the release of Marvel's biggest Avenger movie on DVD and getting ready to direct the Thanos titan 'Infinity War' part of the teams trilogy, the Russo's were open to discussion about what they closed off pre-production. First off was a scripted idea of Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow character revealing more of her "blood on her ledger", dripping in darkness backstory that we saw flashbacks of in the hallucinogenic, witches nightmare, cutaway scene of the 'Age Of Ultron' and surely will learn more about in the on the cards Phase 4 solo movie that we can't wait for. The dialogue between her and Cap would reference her training as a child and reveal in a raw fashion how she and her classmates who became fast friends where left in the freezing Tundra with supplies for only one to survive. "Don't let them push us into the cold" she tells Steve as can be read in the novelization of 'Civil War' (who said blockbuster novelizations where tame type by types?). Chilling...and classic!

This may be dark, but it should have has some light shed on it for this war torn family feud. It had just the right context. As did that of Sebastian Stan's holding of Cap's shield (that happened a couple of homage times in his 'Winter Soldier' movie). The literal passing of the shield between Bucky and Rogers (Buck Rodgers anyone? We just got it whilst writing) as they lay the beat-down on Iron Man was symbolic of the comics where Steve Rogers' Captain America dies and his sidekick Bucky Barnes takes his shield and mantle. Before the most anticipated Marvel movie and blockbuster of the year (sorry Wade) came out many speculated that movie-life would imitate comic-book art. Especially with the number differential in picture deals between stars Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan and the appearance of Frank Grillo's Crossbones in 'Civil War'. But rumours of the Punisher-esque character dead-shotting Cap from afar like in the comics were killed when the Scarlet Witch turned him into a flying fireball. It still could happen though...because in the latest Marvel comics The Falcon takes over from Cap and you just know Anthony Mackie is ready. Even if there is a sibling like rivalry between the Avenger leaders two sidekicks. Still a deleted airport scene hanging on the special features section of the DVD that features Bucky using Cap's shield whilst saying "I got to get me one of these" (you sure could Buck) would have made for a nice, symbolic addition. Even if it was a little too on the nose...or shield.

Even yesterday, even more was revealed by Los Angeles based cinema reporters Movie Web on what could have gone down in 'Civil War'. Not that aside from, Thor and the Hulk being M.I.A. we had so much going on already. When Marvel Studios first got the rights to Spidey back, sharing with Sony many wondered how the spandex slinky superhero would fit into 'Civil War'. It was thought that he would join Iron Man like the classic comic. That was true. Then with the additional information that Tony Stark would be designing a hi-tech suit for Peter Parker it was believed that it could be the classic Iron Spider look (see above). That was unfortunately false...or was it?! Although Joe and Anthony Russo caught their own iconic shot of Parker webbing Captain America's shield, they had designs on bolting up Spider-Man's Iron Suit and bringing it too the party. But instead we ended up with some Under Armour looking 80's homage with a curious tint in the eyes. But still Iron Man looks to make an appearance in Spider-Man's 'Homecoming' next year before their next war...so it looks like the metal Spider may crawl its way onto screens too between classes and Flash's.

One more genius idea that the Russo's had was to bring William Hurt's General Thunderbolt Ross from the first Edward Norton 'Incredible Hulk' movie back to 'Civil War' to shine some political light on the registering of the accords. And although their less is more approach-even in this umbrella to tent-pole flick-was as genius as their suit stripping down of  Captain America in their politically charged, old school thriller feel of 'The Winter Soldier' (their best movie and move yet), the idea of us seeing the Red Hulk had us charging to cinemas like bulls. Even if we would be denied a Red Hulk/Green Hulk fight (like seemingly we always will be of a fling with the 'Fantastic Four's' Thing) like the Abomination of the last 'Incredible' movie, having another monster that you actually would like when they were angry was about to have the die-hards falling for this 'Civil War' like those performing re-enactments in the South. Still alas the Thunderbolt of General Ross obviously settled for jazz and bongos and we were left with as yearning for 'Planet Hulk' in the next 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' movie that ended up having the 'Ragnarok' of 'Thor' 3 seeing green. Even though an early comic-con trailed video-cam leaked on YouTube hinted at Iron Man bringing out the Hulk Buster once again for another royal rumble like Anthony Mackie accidentally name dropping Mark Ruffalo on a 'Civil War' press tour.

This reminded us of our slight disappointment in the clunky 'Age Of Ultron' movie, were the iconic showdown between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner both at full growth was originally meant to be shaded in grey. Giving the Hulk his first look in the comics before it ended up being cheaper and even more classic looking for legendary creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to go green in their cells. This homage Grey Hulk never happened in the end out of fears that fans wouldn't realise that this grey giant running down the streets after Iron Man's significant upgrade like a rhino was actually the Hulk. Are you kidding me? Who else it this pants only gnarly goliath meant to be!? The BFG?! And for that stupid marketing reason, that's why he ended up in Snozecumber green throughout. Gobblefunk! Still, it looks like Marvel are learning from their not so much mistakes, but maybe mis-steps. From the bold and beautiful casting that's happening in 'Homecoming' to all that's in store for Brie Larson's 'Captain Marvel' and the forthcoming 'Black Panther' movie...oh if they bring the cape back! It's time for the successful studio to get more risky as they hit phase infinity in these 'Dr. Strange' days. Besides they pulled off the impossible twice with 'Guardians' and 'Ant-Man'. How about making it three times for the charm? Perhaps we'll see more of these characters in the 67 strong 'Infinity War' that may finally see some love for the small screen 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.' and Netflix 'Defenders' team lead by the re-defined, fearless 'Daredevil' (that was hinted at with a 'Luke Cage' character cameo tie-in in 'Civil War') and maybe even a similar Spider deal worked with Fox for an 'X-Men' mutant mash-up after they faced the critical 'Apocalypse' this Summer. Or so us geeks can only hope. Or perhaps it's time for Marvel to actually follow D.C. for a change and their knockout battle with 'Batman V Superman-Dawn Of Justice' (that was actually better than most people thought. Even if 'Civil War' was the victor, it's margin wasn't as big as everyone made out...and that's no insult to either party!) and give us an 'Ultimate Edition' of these Ultimates on DVD. Either way it's time for them to reveal more of their conceptual ideas beyond the amazing artwork. Otherwise what's the use of an Easter Egg hunt if you can't eat the chocolate? When the Russo brothers and their infinite Avengers make it to 'Infinity' it's time for Marvel to really suit up! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

CHRIS PINE Feature-THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINE'S

The Finest Years.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Think you can't go 'Beyond' 'Star Trek' for Chris Pine's biggest film this year? Come 'Hell Or High Water' you aint seen nothing yet.

Drawling Southern accented tones that suggest a residence where there's 'No Country For Old Men'. A Texan on his two Clyde, bank robbing trail with real 'True Grit' in the form of Jeff Bridges. A 'Crazy Heart' and soul to think you can find justice as an outlaw in this neo-Western of today's anxiety and anger aggravated America, ruled by the gun and the twitchy tips of a finger that triggers it. All for at no so almighty dollar. This isn't a recession...it's a not so great depression. And come 'Hell Or High Water' you've never seen Hollywood hearthrob Chris Pine quite like this. Looking somewhat like Colin Farrell is Season 2 of 'True Detective', with the dirty blonde, long hair and the Magnum moustache to match. The pretty boy turned good is about to follow all the DiCaprio's, Gyllenhaal's and Gosling's, swanning in his mid-thirties to become the actor he was always meant to be. Pine is about to find his place and prove it all career like when Bradley Cooper became more than just that handsome Dan from 'The Hangover' in 'The Place Beyond The Pines' (see!). A blockbuster boy who can match the big action with big acting, the scorching Summer cinema staple is about to fall in with the Oscar party season. You can see it in the wisdom that lies behind the weary eyes of his weathered look in 'H.O.H.W'. How he looks when a trailing finger on his leg picks him up at a seedy, all too local casino bar. Or how he tries to avert his gaze, but can't, confessing all to his son in an all too real moment where he's teaching his young'un about the lessons of life like he was a pupil. Mixed with the understanding of poverty-physically or psychologically as he describes how he's been poor his whole life and how he'll do anything to ensure his kids don't inherit that "disease". And how he loses it in the face of his sibling (played by the always as brilliant as he is Academy underrated, Ben Foster) almost getting them killed. All between the brief brotherly respite of the joy on his face that care-free play-fighting brings. 'Hell or High Water' wrote by the Cormac/Cohen inspired scribe Taylor Sheridan (not to be confused with the next, youngest best actor of 'Joe', 'Mud' and 'X-Men: Apocalypse', Tye Sheridan) who penned last years best 'Sicario' could give us this years one and an award nomination worthy classic. Come the devil or what Noah built his ark for.

Versatility, Chris has it like his superhero Hemsworth and Evans contemporaries all reaching for that higher acting plane (see 'Captain America' in 'Snowpiercer' or Kirk's dad (ready for '4') 'Thor' in 'In The Heart Of The Sea'). What more could you expect from a man that has played both 'Captain Kirk' and 'Wonder Woman's' boyfriend? Coming from a family tree of acting Pine's, Chris found his place between romantic comedies and big budget blockbusters. After he started out in matrimony with Anne Hathaway for 'The Princess Diaries 2-The Royal Engagement', more big breaks came with the classic body-swap esque premise of 'Just My Luck' with Lindsay Lohan and a mad-cap, crazy cameo in the all-star studded and bulleted 'Smokin' Aces'. After that though his luck changed and he caught lightening in the bottle with his ace in the hole steal of a hand, flipping the card on the table...and the house. With a reboot of Gene Roddenberry's iconic 'Star Trek' in 2009 he was the cocksure charming charisma that captained and piloted this picture and the cast and crew introductions from the moment he entered the bar...and passed it, with flying colours, no red-shirt. We all know the rest, a force of a franchise moving at warp speed, so much made so that director J.J. Abrams was given the Jedi power to re-awaken the only cult, out of this world sc-fi series bigger in 'Star Wars' last year. Giving the warp core to 'Fast and Furious' director Justin Lin and his nitrous like injection to this speed. Pine has been a runaway talent since. From his 'Unstoppable' train thriller with Denzel Washington and his late, great 'Taking Of Pelham 123' director Tony Scott, playing with their trains again. To the comedy charm of killing it in 'Horrible Bosses 2'. Owning it alongside comedy greats like the big-three of Jason Bateman, Sudekis and Charlie Day. Not to mention supporting couple Jennifer Aniston and that "mother######" Jamie Foxx. 'Into Darkness' was a superb sequel too that saw Chris sit in is Captain's chair firmly, inheriting the Kirk Starship throne from William Shatner and honouring him even more by acting like him. Then after the passing of the original Kirk's Spock, Leonard Nimoy, tragedy struck 'Star Trek' twice as all-too young and soulful actor Anton Yelchin died in a freak accident with his automobile just weeks before the third part of the 'Star Trek' trilogy was set to be released this Summer.

'Beyond' paid tribute to him and the great one however in a whole new galaxy. And alongside a scene stealing Yelchin who had even more lines than the previous two films, showcasing the talent he had before he died and always will have in memory and movie legacy, Chris Pine developed a great buddy-movie (with plenty of comedy) dynamic with Anton that could have ran and ran for even more episodes in this next generations series run, instead of an all too tragic, acting lap of honour for Anton. Pine was perfect in 'Beyond' as the Captain with a new coat of arms, growing out his James T. hair and growing into that role even more, making it his. And we can only hope now the trilogy is done 'Star Trek' goes beyond 'Beyond' for another five year mission. Because you just know Chris Pine will boldly go where only one man called Bill has gone before so long as there are more voyages of the Final Frontier by the Starship Enterprise to seek out new life and new civilizations. Because even though Pine-whose had his finest year already with the real-life, one manned boat, incredible, sea rescue of 'The Finest Hours' that already showcases his Academy acting acclaim before February forgets-looks to get his Oscar speech ready (along with the tears he shed for Common and John Legend's 'Glory' from last years 'Selma'), this guy is the captain of franchises. He's about to stand by 'Fast' franchise friend Gal Gadot's 'Wonder Woman' for the latest 'Justice League' instalment as DC Comics go to war with Marvel...and this one looks like it has the vintage vibe and texture and tone of the war torn 'First Avenger' of Captain America with D.C.'s first lady Diana Prince. After the 'Dawn Of Justice' of 'Batman v Superman' failed to take off, this one needs to as much as it needs to be seen with a fresh pair of eyes. Just like the slick spy thriller of 'Shadow Recruit', as Chris Pine took over from 'Batman' Ben Affleck to become the new 'Jack Ryan' in an underrated film that deserves it's own franchise series like Harrison Ford and Alec Baldwin's 'Red October'. Pine's 'Ryan' instalment showed he was the Jack of all franchise trades and spied more secret service ops in a Bond, Bourne and Bauer, 'U.N.C.L.E.' time that also saw some fun and spy games with Tom Hardy in the underrated comedy capers of 'This Means War'. Aside from battling for Resse Witherspoon's heart with Bane, Chris knows how to go to that, whether it's for the federation or 'Justice', with the banks or with the stars. And if you thought his biggest weapon was his charisma, then think again, it's his genuine ability to be able to wear more than one mask in this acting game of more than two faces. "I was made to be charming, not sincere", Chris said as Pine went 'Into The Woods' for Disney's Streep sing-a-long. But that acted statement couldn't be further from the truth when it comes to the man himself. Which is why the man who they cast to play Prince Charming (I mean really who else?) can also be called up by acting legend Barbra Streisand to sing a duet on her new cinematic collabo album that features everyone from 'Bosses' co-star Jamie Foxx (who like Streisand is the only Oscar/Grammy winner to have a number one album and movie at the same time) to 'Ghostbuster' Melissa McCarthy. Now how's that for a Royal Engagement? Mark it in your diary, before you get ready for the wonder that is next years princess. But before all that elegance, when it comes to the ever eloquent interviewee (just check recent Kimmel, or your latest 'Entertainment Weekly') Pine, you might want to mark an envelope or two too. Because between all the blockbusters to come, Chris will one day wear an award the same colour as his captains uniform. Come high water or...you know the rest. Expect Pine to tread it all. You thought his acting belonged in the shallows? You're about so see something heaven sent. And for those that can't see that depth, for their doubt there'll be hell to pay. We hope the devil deals in dollars. Maybe it's time to rob a bank!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

REVIEW: THE SHALLOWS

3.5/5

Deep Blake Sea.

86 Mins. Starring: Blake Lively. Director: Jaume Collet-Serra.

Finding Lively. This Valentines Day it was easier to locate Dory or Nemo than Blake. As this February 14th you couldn't find the former 'Gossip Girl' actress in a cinema anywhere....not even on date night. Not even when her other half had the biggest movie in the world out, with the comic-book formula breaking 'Deadpool'. Why do you ask? Well would you like to watch Ryan Reynolds have mashed potato eaten out of his...well we'll leave it to your imagination, this is a family friendly site!? Wait...hang on stupid question! But what if Ryan Reynolds was your husband (I know, I know! Settle down, settle down)?! And the woman eating the mashed potato was model actress Morenna Baccarin of 'Gotham'? And what if you couldn't even catch a red eye without it being on every in-flight movie? Changes a few things doesn't it? Happy Thanksgiving indeed! Well now Blake's back, set to liven up a turkey of a Summer season of blockbusters that saw a dry spell until it went under the sea for 'Finding Dory'. Now the heavy hitters have struck out and in looking to beat the August rush before the miserable weather hits, Blake Lively brings a California surf (actually Texas) to a tropical paradise of a mysterious island. Running abyss deep with what she does in 'The Shallows', this leading lady in the water is a winner like Michael Phelps. Striking gold in a film that's all 'Jaws' killer no filling.

Excruciatingly good, Blake is brilliant as one woman against a killer white shark in full attacking beast mode, more annoying than that one guy that just has to like all your photos on Instagram. Reaching new depth in what on the surface looks like the shallow end, every make-up and perfume brands favourite face is at her best yet. Even besting her scene stealing, war paint unrecognisable Boston broad in 'The Town' that Ben Affleck built. Far from just another fetish flick masquerading as another shark tale, Lively steps out of the speedos and more than dips her toe into something that isn't merely a bikini broadcast for your next swimsuit issue. This film doesn't bite to that, it needs a bigger beat. In Reef gear the sheer tension of this film cuts through you like coral massacres your leg as Lively's life is on the rocks with more than just one twist...forget a good line. Who would have thought that swimming from a Killer Whale carcaas to a rock and then a buoy with all about half a swimming pools length between them, under an hour and a half of movie time would make for exciting cinema? Well you didn't factor the greatest white that rules the ocean like a lion rules the jungle or a T-Rex the Jurassic. Making this film more terrifying than the 'Blair Witch' and 'Lights Out' purge of horror movie trailers that proceeds it. And it's all thanks to Lively's legitamate acting smarts. Proving she can carry a big picture all on her own (with her own company being the nicest tour guide ever, player perfectly by 'Pirates Of The Carribean' actor Oscar Jaenada, a couple of bodies and a curiously, classically named Seagull that deserved the 'Best Supporting Actor' Oscar), life or death, just like when husband Reynolds was 'Buried' alive for one of the best 90 minutes of Hardy 'Locke' like singular acting of all ranges of emotion in the claustraphobic confides of a coffin. Guess he really shouldn't have had bangers and mash then?

No wonder Lively's all in, all on her own. She apparantly passed on the squad. Turning down the pudding chance to play Harley Quinn (like Ryan Gosling did Leto's Joker) before the role went to Aussie ruler Margot Robbie who redefined her. But if you think that was career suicide-especially in the year of mercs with mouths-than just wait until you see her wade into these infested waters. Trading a Harley for a Hurley, Blake does more than catch a surf, she masters them. Waxing the lyrical motions of the offbeat poetry of the sea. Waves...made. Bringing ever emotion out of her strive to survive self like only the deep blue sea can do to you this is an all-encompassing, compelling career characterisation. Just watch her react to someone being dragged to the depths by death. You don't need to gratiously watch it yourself...her face says it all. Just like her body language speaks to us in a way a thousand words couldn't do. And not in a sleazy way...remember this is no boys beach film. From clinging to life on the foulest smelling, biggest rotting corpse you've ever seen, to suturing herself, Blake Lively does it all. A live wire igniting everything like a flare...or can we say a 'Green Lantern'? Illuminating the sea like the other strands of plot and threat to life, six feet below that animate like neon. It's clear Liam Neeson 'Taken' aficinado director Jaume Collet-Serra has moved on from the 'Non Stop', 'Run All Night', 'Unknown' features that are a little too Neeson familiar, albeit entertaining to something far more exciting. And vividly visual. From the depths to the shallows. The beautiful sea scaped spectacles and some of technically the best surfing scenes you've ever seen coming for you in a film ready to ride IMAX. GoPro go figure! Some of the crest of the wave scenes shot sensationally are as thrilling and nerve wracking as the shark attacks that this film gets its chomp into. There's nothing shallow about this picture. A brilliant B-movie roll with a mainstream jagged edge. Dive, dive, dive in! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Friday, 5 August 2016

REVIEW: SUICIDE SQUAD

3.5/5

Suicidal Tendencies.

123 Minutes. Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Karen Fukuhara, Adam Beach, Scott Eastwood, Common & Ben Affleck. Director: David Ayer.

Time for the Summer blockbuster season to commit 'Suicide'. Some may say it's only right it gets put out of its misery. Believing it's been a dark and depressing time in cinemas of late when it was supposed to be hotter than Stevie singing in July. Signs of the 'Apocalypse' came when there was a 'Resurgence' of franchises like 'Independence Day' that-no matter how many explosions-couldn't save the world like the latest 'X-Men'. At least we can thank the popcorn Gods for the forgetful fish and the spy who can't remember his name. And then again this was the year of 'Civil War'. Superheroes at battle with themselves. Captain America vs Iron Man and every Avenger they can possibly recruit and recreate aside from the 'Ragnarok' of Thor and Banner. All this superhero debate and Marvel versus D.C. corraling kicked off when Martha's boys 'Batman v Superman' faced off for their 'Dawn Of Justice' that split everyone like the worlds two most famous superheroes. From the die-hards to those who would have rather...well died. And now after a year plus of promotion (the comic-con debuted, wonderful looking 'Wonder Woman' and Gods among us 'Justice League' films take heed) and more trailers than the all-star cast had on the lot, critics are putting a gun to the heads of the mercs with mouths that hoped to do blockbuster battle with 'Deadpool' too. The 'Suicide Squad' is looking at deaths door (despite the unfair hounding of the black dog days of 'BvS' leading to some candy crush reshoots...that doesn't bode well for the 'Star Wars' story 'Rogue One') before you could even hope for a sequel. But should they pull the trigger?

"F### Marvel"! 'Fury' director David Ayer is...well furious after critics were fast to sabotage his squad like his Schwarzenegger picture. Making him this years not so fantastic four, Josh Trank dart for their targets. The experimental camera man behind the 'Blair Witch' for the boys in blue, inspired 'End Of Watch', wrote the book on bad cops with the Washington Oscar winning 'Training Day' and is known to bring out the worst of the worst despite the mess. His madness has method too...a punishing one like Jon Bernthal in the so good they're unlikable 'Fury' of claustraphobic tin tank confides in Nazi Germany, going to war with Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena, Logan Lerman and even squad affiliate Scott Eastwood. The terrifyingly tense and fraught tone showing exactly what war is, especially when you're part of the machine. And just like he did with his Beastie Boys homage with Arnie, on his latest trek this star director shows just how mad-cap messy it gets when you try to get a band of bad guys to save the world (they were always going to be anti-heroes) from what looks like Groots family tree on fertilizer, lead by a suicide girl with a baseball bat giving it what for like she's trying to decide the cliffhanger finale of last seasons 'The Walking Dead' all by herself. All to the ball and blitz tune of a Bohemian Rhapsody of everyone from Rick Ross to Panic At The Disco for these 30 Seconds To Mars and Willeniuum stars fight music in one sweet Spotify stream of a soundtrack playlist. And that's before David throws a real Bat into the mix for these goliaths. Now there's a subplot man! A one even fit for Supes or another classic cameo for someone else faster than a speeding bullet that try to yawn and put your arm around your date and you'll miss it. You see Batfleck's return after his Batman beginnings versus Superman is worthy of admission as Ben Affleck's Dark Knight is more like the cape fear striking villain here in this bad guy flick that manages to do what Sony's 'Amazing Spider-Man' wanted to do with Green Goblin Dane DeHaan's 'Sinister Six'. And he really is on a crusade as the suited up Wayne (why? Because he's...ahh you know how this ends) in a cast so A-list even the B boys are stars. From Clint Eastwood's son Scott knowing how to ride-like he's about to in 'F8'-with a raw dirty dozen and even Oscar winning rapper Common returning to the other glory part of his double act. But no matter how Oscar and selfie worthy this cast is, it's time to get the picture and the goals of what really matters...the inmates running this Toronto filmed town to the 6. A looney tunes asylum of Arkham's finest. The squad.

Focus! Because a pair of confidence tricksters reunite to fool you twice just when you George Bush thought you couldn't get fooled again. Well trumping all that like truly the worst of the worst our leading man and woman are ready to take your wallet they're that bad. Or should we say good? And that's no con. Blockbuster big hitter and straight shooter Will Smith returns from his Oscar hit 'Concussion', shaves his dome, grows a Rozay beard, moonlights as a Walt Frazier stetson and leather pimp and really takes the ball like a Knick legend..."triangle b####"! A bullseye as Deadshot, Wills ways here are in a whole other universe than 'Independence Day' or 'Men In Black'. Mr. Smith-whose wife Jada-Pinkett is in this T.V. series wider D.C. Universe as 'Gotham' mob-queen Fish Mooney (we smell a comic crossover)-is the real scum of the universe. Did you forget he was a Bad Boy too? He may say "lets go save the world" like his sci-fi legend, but it's almost sarcastic as later on he retorts over scotch; "remember we're the bad guys"! What is he appealing to? 12 year olds?! No the kid from Bel-Air is the raw prince now, parents just won't understand. Riding blunderbuss to this ammo and the cereal matchbox Jokermobile is a Harley. A Dr. Quinn, medicine woman. It's clear the thief of 'Tarzan's' heart has rubbed off on our Dead-eye Will whilst trying to get his watch, as Leo's little monster, raised by Wall Street wolves, Margot Robbie is perfect as the squad scene stealing Harley Quinn puddings. What's wrong Daddy? Mad this suicide blonde has got another boyfriend? Or that she's not in her signature, original jester costume? Well just like a fellow Aussie playing in clown make-up this bubble gum popping, cherry bomb princess is about to make this incarnation iconic. And we aren't talking about Jai Courtney, although the regular team player returns all sorts of stereotypes as Boomerang. Just like an unrecognisably inked Jay Hernandez ignites his Human Torch, flame throwing, iconic Diablo character. Or like how Smith's 'Concussion' teammate Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje snaps up his Killer Croc role. With Karen Fukuhara sharp as Katana and the underrated actor of character Adam Beach tieing it all up as Slipnot like it was all heavy metal. And lets not forget model actress Cara Delevingne. The worlds most famous face almost unrecognisable as the enchanting Enchantress and a new trick for the next time the paparazzi come calling. It's all lead perfectly by the hoorah, left, right military grade Rick Flagg flying Joel Kinnaman, but Godfather puppet orchestrated by a politically violent Viola Davis. Devastatingly great as always, but this time in bringing a house of cards down. But with all these punchlines how can we forget the Joker of this pack? Looking half a minute from one of his own concerts, 'Dallas Buyers Club' Oscar winner Jared Leto is hard to pin down and recognise for any of the previous things he was most famous for as he transforms his body of work and inked repuation into another classic character that was worth all the rats and condoms he sent to his co-stars. Not together mind you...THAT would have been too weird. Even if he is as rare in this picture like his calling card is in a pack of smoking aces. He's in a damn Rick Ross and Skrillex video as The Joker more than he is in this. With a homaged voice, but a laugh like no other Leto with a sadistic streak pays tribute to all the Clown Princes before him. From Cesar Romero and the voice of Mark Hamill (who-despite critics jokes-has been killing it recently in an adaptation of the purple princes greatest graphic novel) to Jack Nicholson and the late great Heath Ledger who redefined what it meant to wear the iconic Joker make-up, all whilst making this classic character his own inspired incarnation. Ledger's legend may always have the last laugh, but in making his own legacy this is Leto's one and chance for a crack at the classic cackle. We can't wait for you to be shown all his toys...oh wait they cut that classic line and five fingers to the face out. Like numerous other jokes from the man from Mars in this overproduced messy montage that needed more attention paid to the dues of the details. We'd love to see a gag reel of deleted scenes from the cutting room floor. Just like we can't wait to see Jared's Joker face off properly and perfectly with Ben's Batman like he teams up with Robbie's Harley like Sid and Nancy, all for the better and worse, Sex and Pistols. Worst of the worst? Nope! This bad meets evil makes the best of a bad situation. Squad up! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

REVIEW: FINDING DORY

3.5/5

A Fish Goes Wander.

97 Mins. Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Ty Burrell, Ed O'Neill, Albert Brooks, Kaitlin Olson, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy & Idris Elba. Director: Andrew Stanton.

Finding...erm...who?! You can be forgiven for having the memory of a goldfish...or a blue one at that. It's almost been a decade and a half since we were 'Finding Nemo'. Kids that grew up loving the orange and white fish with a funny fin now have kids themselves and what a series and sequel to introduce them too. Handing it all down so poignantly and perfectly. Nemo may now almost be as old (so much so they had to get a new ten year old in to stand in as replacement for his voice...hoping no one would notice) as that iconic lamp that stamps on the 'I' of Pixar from the start of the cars, toys and all the monsters inbetween and inside out, but this computer generated animation is still illuminating in a world taken over by incomprehensible Minions. But don't be all yellow, mellow. It's time for Dory's story. We hope you're sitting comfortably with your feet paddling in the water like the perfect 'Piper' signature short to begin that may just be the cutest and best yet.

The portrait of Dory blue and how she came to bump into Marlin too is the perfect school holidays kid distractor, but parents look up from your not so smartphones...this one and it's enduring message that you possibly couldn't forget is for you too. You don't need to talk about it on tomorrows daytime 'Ellen' show...she's here to tell you like it is now. DeGeneres reprising her iconic role and the part she's most synomnous with in Hollywood outside hosting the Oscars has the deep blue sea all to herself now. This is the woman whose had every celebrity on every side of entertainment on her shows time and movie moment. It's her picture and she C.G.I paints it perfectly. Giving Dory and the anxious, amnesic characterization of her underwater muse the sympathetic understanding and loving respect she deserves. The couch is turned on her now. Never mind Oprah ("You get an ocean! You get an ocean"!). Even Tom Cruise couldn't jump on this quite like this. Ellen DeGeneres is more than just another host. She's a star as this fish!

But there's a new school here going to great lengths in this ocean drive. And like the guestlist of one of Ellen's chats it looks like a 'Modern Family' affair. Legend Ed O'Neill is married with tentacles as an Octopus that doesn't like to be touched, inking his grumpy but fond repuation. One petting zoo with a paddle scene drives the horror of it to you like Matt Damon with a 'Talented Mr. Ripley' oar. Puncuating the message to what this film has to say about the cruelty of places like Sea World in many metaphors like all those all too real documentaries you should really stream and share on social media more than you Snapchat yourself as pixilated Pixar person. Ty Burrell is also perfect as a sonically challenged whale (having that time of his life) alongside his Destiny wife Kaitlin Olson for some hilariously delivered ooohing and ahhs which we can't tell if they were more funny being wrote or delivered off script. There's even more legends on deck with the return of Albert Brooks and the sometimes signature villains warm and friendly voice as unmistakable and recognsiable these days as a Bridges brother. And who better to play Dory's lost parents than greats like leading queen Diane Keaton and Mr. American Pie himself, Eugene Levy? And that's just the crust. They've even got Idris Elba (inbetween fighting with the federation in 'Star Trek: Beyond') sitting on a rock with a catchy catchphrase he owns like those seagulls...who yes are back like a turtle shell Easter Egg dude. Animated director Andrew Stanton gives us everything we've been waiting calenders for in a sequel 'Finding' fans have been searching for longer than the weeks craze of Pokemon Go (yes I've made a reference to this new craze...I have officially sold out people). Now she may not be Pikachu but how many points do you reckon you'll get for a big blue fish with a forgetful heart...but a heart all the soul same? While this more British Summer than South Beach scorching blockbuster season has looked to the 'Toy Story' influenced 'The Secret Life Of Pets' for inspiration, it's time to look to the fish-tank for more between the coral and deep sea diver. Because did you forget about our finned friends? No matter what though, through it all and throughout the years Dory and the 'Finding' franchise has just kept going. And you know like it's journey of hope against any odd, it's just going to keep swimming. TIM DAVID HARVEY.