Tuesday, 28 February 2017
Old Man Jackman.
137 Mins. Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Eriq La Salle, Stephen Merchant & Richard E. Grant. Director: James Mangold.
SNIKT! Savour that sound. Because this is the last time you're going to hear from The Wolverine, Hugh Jackman. 17 years. The year 2000. Before the 'Origins' of the 'X-Men' trilogy came the original in these 'Days Of Future Past'. B.D.J. Before Downey Jr. Before Iron Man. Before the Marvel Studios cinematic universe. Fox had the wolf. It's been a long time. But this is it. Ever since Hugh Jackman teased his 'One Last Time' as 'Logan', The Wolverine with an Instagram photo of him holding up his middle claw, father time has been ticking its hands and delicate fingers. Two decades. Almost twenty years. How do you survive all the Professor Xavier's and Magneto's? From Stewart to McAvoy. Fassbender to McKellen. You have to have adamantium skin. And this Australian is indestructible as the Canadian lone wolf superhero. Going down and under, all the way up north and even further east. As after the terrific trilogy that climaxed in him burning with the Phoenix, Jackman was still jacked up and ready for his own fun and fancy 'Origins' film that introduced us to a certain way of Wade Wilson played by charismatic motormouth merc Ryan Reynolds. And after a cameo in the rebooted trilogy that was truly 'First Class', Hugh helped bring everything together, old and confusing timeline new for the best X film, 'Days Of Future Past'. The clawed Canuck-who we wish we could just see alongside the rest of Marvel's Avengers like Spider-Man's homecoming, rights be damned-also, with a cutting cameo saved last years X-Men trilogy conclusion mess that has now lead to a much smaller screen from truly being an 'Apocalypse'. But now in an apocalyptic New Mexico of 2029 there's only a few mutants left amongst the last of us. And this 'Leon' like story sees him playing protector and guardian come hell or high water to an X23 snikt replacement that's like him, very much like him. In this no country for old man Logan X-Men that is just as much a neo-western as it is a superhero movie. A neo-comic book classic that is just as much a 'Best Picture' candidate just days after all that Oscar confusion as it is a balls and blood out 'John Wick: Chapter 2' early blockbuster starter before the web crawler, norse God and 'Guardians' take over for Volume 2.
After making 'The Wolverine' big in Japan with the Logan in translation trip to the neon rain and Samurai slicing gore of Tokyo, Hugh Jackman reunites with 'Walk The Line' director James Mangold for some wild west 'Hurt' over Johnny Cash. Typography set to some white on black lettering akin to the Man In Black's coming around, late, great 'American Recordings' classic set. And complete with a Rick Rubin beard, Logan's last run borders on the brutal and beautiful with as much tears as blood shed and spilt. And yes Bub it's an R rated affair thanks to the X Force of the fourth wall and genre breaking 'Deadpool', who wants to go all 'Batman v Superman' in his own comic crossover with Logan's dog tags and villain beater, tank top. But alas there's probably more chance of seeing yellow spandex (if only) like a 'Wolverine' deleted scene. The People Magazine cut-out mask will have to suffice. But if this is Logan's last call is it the 'Death Of Wolverine'? As this movie adaptation of the 'Old Man Logan' graphic novels-that even breaks all walls with some real life X-Men comics-comes to a conclusion as emotional as it is epic. Either way it's going to be sad as Hugh Jackman was born to play Logan's Wolverine, like Chris Pratt's Star-Lord, Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark's Iron Man and no one before him. Or even after. No matter how good a choice Tom Hardy (who probably dropped out of Oscar Isaac's Apocalypse role for a slice of the claws) seems. Next to Hugh, Bane has no voice. And the gravelly voiced ageing Logan is still driven behind Jackman's raw, disgruntled passion to do good...even if it looks like he doesn't give a f###. Yeah there's more F-bombs here. What do you exepect when you're chasing a major case of arthritis in the knuckles with kissed whiskey? Or if you've gone from the Academy of Gifted Youngsters to driving school for limos. Chauffering round some entitled millennial brats on stag and hens in the lonesome state of Texas. Rolling up the privacy window divide to spend some alone time with Jack or Jim riding shotgun. From the El Paso desert to another across state and border control lines. And all the singing, all dancing, Jackman of all trades Broadway performer and Academy actor knows how to get to the bare bones of his comic book character, beyond the adamantium for his realest role and best howl at the wolf yet...no sheepish, suit clothing. If this really is the last cut...then it's his deepest yet.
Just look at the blades running through henchmens heads closer than a Mach 3 shave. As Mangold follows his Japanese red tide of the rising sun with real gold in the desert, he fan service gives us Wolverines just deserves for one of the best superhero movies of all-time, directed like an Oscar nominee. Top five with those 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' A-holes, 'The Avengers' in 'Captain America-Civil War', the even better 'Winter Soldier' and of course 'The Dark Knight'...because "Why So Serious" aside, we couldn't leave the dark and decadent D.C. out. No one is left out here though in this academy of gifted actors of Marvel. For this isn't just Hugh's swan song. It's Sir Pat Stew's last one too, as he revealed on an interview last week. As the classicaly trained Patrick Stewart who has made his Professor X character as legendary as his 'Star Trek' Captain Picard makes it so here. Permanently passing the torch and Charles Xavier pattened hereditary baldness onto the next generation of James McAvoy. But here he still energizes a 90 year old X, even if he is diminished by dementia. Stewart is still strong even with cerebral problems that turn his telekinesis into electromagnetic quakes. No wonder the wheelchair and now bed bound mutant resides in a toppled over and dried out water tower for something end of days evoking epic and now Marvel lore iconic. He's not the only British actor in a New Mexico flick that features few Americans over the wall...except one curiously called Donald. After being an accented addition to the Kennedy Administration in the Oscar nominated 'Jackie', Richard E. Grant is as delightfully devilish a villain as he was 'The Scarlet Pimpernel'. But the best bad guy is 'Narcos' and 'Gone Girl' star and Reaver leader, Boyd Holbrook, stealing the show with a cyborg, Terminator like forearm (one of many references to Arnie's strong armed cyborg classic, like Jackman's jacked-up entrance in 'Apocalypse') in this judgement day for mutants being hunted by sentinels of their own kind. It's a complex cast, featuring Ricky Gervais' right hand 'Ladies Man' Stephen Merchant as a western stetson hankerchief and poncho, goggle wearing, yet still instantly recognisable albino mutant who shines like the sun he can't bear to be in. And former 'E.R.' star and novel writer Eriq La Salle, superb as a friendly face and help along the way who makes for one moving dinner table catch up to all the offset, buckshot, fast paced action. Himself horse kicking ass on his ranch with the blunderbuss. Yet it's the introduction of the new Wolverine Dafne Keen that is inspired without the new child star even uttering a single word. The stirring staring eyes of the soul say it all. As this Pringles and blood vessel popping kid shows she's the can't stop, real deal, not to be messed with. Kind of remind you of someone? Lost in the scenic setting woods, the timberwolf and pup tag team is the perfect prequel to her own X23 sequel (that should star Dafne decades later if she's still keen) that could also run for decades in 'Logan's' wake like those new Avenger comics. But now the claws have been passed what of Hugh and all that his true grit ripped, age-defying body of work could still do? 'Logan'...we wish you still had more time. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'The Wolverine', 'No Country For Old Men', 'Hell Or High Water'.
Monday, 27 February 2017
146 Minutes. Starring: Dane DeHaan, Mia Goth & Jason Isaacs. Director: Gore Verbinski.
Well, well, well. What do we have here? A shockingly cinematic horror. Terrifyingly more psychological than physical. Something that messes with your mind like Leonardo DiCaprio's 'Shutter Island', but treats it's patients warm bodies more than their cold brains. What in turn makes for quite a trip to the beautiful Swiss Alps that will leave your ears ringing 'till an ugly din. Close your eyes and mouth, hold your nose and breathe out until they POP! Because your head just may explode. Now exhale...relax if you can. Because this health spa is anything but a light vacation break. This is one retreat you just want to get away from. But no one ever leaves here. Sound familiar? Horrible? Creeping under your skin like a crawling virus, internal like bleeding? 'A Cure For Wellness'. It almost sounds ironic. It is...and borderline iconic. Not to mention psychotic. As this modern horror classic has all the trappings of an enclosure of claustraphobia that will even haunt your nightmares. And don't daydream through this one that on the surface looks like a picture postcard before you descend to the dark depth steps. Because this one will play tricks on your cerebellum. If you were afraid of the docs than you really are going to be now. And as for dentists, here's one procedure that will make you want to cancel your next appointment...for the next ten years. You'll just have had to have you fill on candy. Because this nothing sweet in this sinister picture that bores into you like a slow burn, no itching boredom. What more could you expect from a film that stars the great Dane DeHaan? A renaissance young man that from 'The Place Beyond The Pines' stirring score to the lonely 'Life' of Hollywood icon James Dean has haunted us with no end. Not to mention making Spider-Man's 'Amazing' nemesis the Green Goblin actually scarily ghasty. All after showing us some enhanced individuals aren't really superheroes in his no capes, no responsibility 'Chronicle' of power. But this leech is the apex predator.
What more do you expect when this horror film features names like Gore and Goth? From visionary 'The Ring' director Verbinski who knows how to scare you with just a videotape and a well no one would wish for. And rising fatal femme Mia Goth who haunts every scene she steals away with. Well...there you have it. Or do you? As there's more to this 'Wellness' than meets the screen shielded, scared eye. Because this is no haunted house. This institution is an asylum. Switzerland has never looked this scenic...or scary. As DeHaan's character travels here from the cold, steel suicide structures of Wall Street, New York to bring a business partners signature back. But has the key board member to the deal of his young companies lives gone off the dotted line? Has anyone who finds themselves inked in this mansion in the mountains with it's own young princess Rapunzel high in the castle just wishing she could let her hair down? A sterile, surgically precise place that is as cool and clinical as the classic cinematogtaphy here that should have found itself in its own Academy this weekend off. A place as potent as the pippette's that everyone takes twice a day. A blue vial choice as hallmark influenced identifying as that barb wire scratch on the back of the neck of those old 'War Of The Worlds' alienated humans. This old medical centre looking sanitorium has bespoke shades of 'Shutter Island'. Setting like in story. But there's much more that roams these halls than delirious patients and men in white coats. Getting right down to the cold metal of the set of surgical tools and all the therapies implemented and medicines admitted, there is a purification procedure and process that will leave you submerged in all sorts of tanks here. From glass display fish ones to submarine wheel locked chambers that come with a Pavlov cruel electric shock to the system. And what's with all those slimy creatures? There's more eels here than that 90's band that went to 'Susan's House'...are you sure you want to be alone tonight?
Because 'In Treatment' breakout star Dane DeHaan doesn't...but it's not like he has a choice in the matter. Still against his will, making his way through all these corridors the man that stole the show from Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce and Jessica Chastain in 'Lawless' (not to mention Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in 'Pines') shows he can lead a big budget film all on his own. Who else but the man that played a real 'Rebel Without A Cause'? And we'd follow the next young, great actor anywhere. Even through those doors marked 'Keep Out' that we scream at him behind our proverbial couches not to take us through. Yet still we can't stop too. His curiosity of character kills it. As ones again he nails the anxious passion and aggravated isolation like a hammer to the head as the tension turns like a vice grip he holds. When we first meet this Dane he's on a train bound for a deadline. Riding passenger with the tray table down is an assortment of mini-bar bottles, bags of sweets and potato chips and a patchwork of nicotine gum all in a Friday night in on your own, mini-coffee table mess. But his company heres a laptop of work and an iPhone that seems like he's having Siri try to find him the most insulting curse word. And in his suit and unsmart, loosened tie don't ask him the obvious, "business or pleasure" small-talk. His teenage-angst exhale already told you it was enough to ask him for his ticket like any other passenger. The young mans a mess. No professional. At least he puts the phone down business slick, such is the nature of his work. But this cool acting pro has a way of setting scene and character. And you'll stay with his deplorable one all the way to you see the heart of the real man that sold his soul for Fortune 500. The real DeHaan that comes out of all his characters genuine streaks. And as he goes from boys blazer to what may aswell be a straight jacket issue this actor/character is so complex he could almost even do this all on his own. But like he has the chance to. Magazine cover facade charming Jason Isaac's is running this show and spa and the former 'Harry Potter' bread and butter actor who was a force in his fast 'Fury' cameo is even more ferociously coherent here with more spotlight shine. And how about Mia Goth? Haunting all of her moments in this gothic psycho-horror. The off-screen beau to LeBeouf, DeHaan's 'Lawless' co-star may just be the next Mia Wasikowska...another 'Lawless' LaBeouf love interest. And here the Amish princess dressed Goth eloquently engrosses everyone, with equal mystery and intrigue. This weird wonder like DeHaan is a star of the future. And makes this picture perfectly peculiar. Even if Verbinski's vision that sets sail with saavy Sparrow eyes for aesthetics aboard the 'Pirates Of The Carribean' is rated R for raw. This atmospheric disturbia of acclaim takes a final fall in the third acts deeply dark and disgusting finale that makes all the terror that came before look tame. And yet this ending seems a little tacked on too in order to leave it on an island all on its own away from 'Shutter'. That aforementioned aside we still have the makings of a cult classic from the makings of the next great actor doing very well indeed. But with all this sickness and disease screened, when it comes to your recovery, can you take the cure? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Shutter Island', 'Crimson Peak', 'Under The Skin'.
Sunday, 26 February 2017
8 Episodes. Starring: Tom Hardy, Oona Chaplin, David Hayman, Jessie Buckley, Stephen Graham, Tom Hollander, Michael Kelly & Jonathan Pryce. Director: Kristoffer Nyholm.
Gruelling menace runs ragged and red right through the BBC's gruesome, new 'Taboo' word like the strings of Max Richter's off the scale, underscoring soundtrack, until they are pulled taught tight. Thats the high tension in the networks latest serious serial of definitive drama with FX that could rival the ruthlessness of Idris Elba's 'Luther', complete with trappings of Benedict Cumberbatch's old 'Sherlock'...and an even bigger name like Baker Street too. As the Beeb manage to snare laconic, leading man extroadinaire Tom Hardy for more than a peak like his cameos in Cillian Murphy's 'Blinders' series. And the enigmatic actor of epic 'Dark Knight Rises', 'Bronson', 'Locke' and dual Kray twin legend plays a mysterious character making port and bringing big smoke and mirrors of magic to a foggy, forlorn, early 18th century old London town awash in darkness, debauchery and social scurvy. A corrupt capital from the crown to the company were you can't tell the difference between the aristocats and the whores. In this period piece they're ruffled and dressed as one and the same. But the solitary Hardy cuts a striking figure as James Delaney. With an all black top hat and cloaking top coat complete with a mead beard, jesters war paint and tribal tattoos to match, that hint at a life well travelled, offest by scars which show the service of slavery. But just what did the roots of this man see across continents in Africa? And what now, coming back in the wake of his fathers death does he want, if not the wealth he wades in? It's 'Taboo's secret subject that will torture you throughout like the iron and brimstone scenes of that very graphic nature in grotesque detail. But ask yourself, especially right now how will all this come together in this dis-United Kingdom?
Hardy hardly offers us any gems, not even a trinket until the finale jewel of the crown reveal that surprises you like sleight of hand. This man of few grunts groans through this lumbering narrative that ignites the slow burner genre like stirring gun powder with chlorate. In the mainstream, maverick 'Mad Max' reboot, his twin turn in 'Legend', his brute Bane in 'The Dark Knight Rises', the brutal 'Bronson', the wounded woe of 'Warrior', the solitary car set drive of the buckled up 'Locke', the brooding Brooklyn bartend of 'The Drop' and the raw 'Revenant' ravager against 'Inception' co-star Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar win, Tom has made the Marlon mumbling his brand. And business is good. Booming on fact. That's what happens when your character comes across a small fortune from the father, just like this actors filmography has afforded. Here however Hardy has rarely been better. Each one of his careers complex characters and their murmurs have their own utterances, inflections and nuances...no droning incoherence. It's an inwardly influential, character study look at the sole confiments of a man lost in as much lonely isolation as he is mesmerizing mystery. It's just what makes this character as compelling as the chapters of this eight wonder series disguised as a mini-movie and the depth each hour episode brings over most mainstream movies. In this age of HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' this BBC new classic holds the crown with enough gold pieces to make more than heads roll. And with keeping Hardy with a seat at the foot of the table, dark director Kristoffer Nyholm and filmmaking legend Ridley Scott in the producers chair alongside Tom makes sure this developing drama and descent into darkness eats at you like the hog roasts of the pig rich and fat and the churning empty stomachs of the poor and soot dirty downtrodden. And 'Taboo's' terrifying subject matter drowns you like the haunting title sequence brutally below sea level.
But there's more here to get the meat hooks into you, with this creepily unsettling thriller that you have been nursing throught the dog, doldrum days of January and the winters bone of February. There's the equally as enigmatic and evocative Oona Chaplin, veiled in mystery and shrouded subplot. Is she his sister? His mistress? Or our souls be damned both? Just like another mysterious woman who enters the fray in the form of Jessie Buckely. An actress who has transitioned from talent show stage to British Broadcasting screen. Whilst David Hayman is a man of great service. The Alfred to Hardy's Delaney's Dark Knight. Haymaker tough. Just like Stephen Graham playing a pitbull of a character, the only thing tougher is his tattoo's as the 'Pirates Of The Carribean' and 'Public Enemies' familiar face is just one you can't forget. Just like another recognisable 'Pirates' crew member Tom Hollander. No...not new Spider-Man Tom Holland, but the 'Rev' that starred alongside Loki's Tom Hiddleston in last years BBC best 'The Night Manager'. Even 'Pirates Of The Carribean' star and old 'Tomorrow Never Dies' Bond villain Jonathan Pryce is here as the right man to be villain. A formidable foe to Hardy's anti-hero. The legend completes a cast so vast it even has room for some Hollywood players for it's American influence. As 'House Of Cards', 'Changeling' and 'The Adjustment Bureau' standout Michael Kelly scrubs in as a doc as surgically strange as his characters teeth that need their own visit to a dentist. This and all the actors aesthetics are applied right in this atmospheric period piece that smothers you with the fog of the old Big Smoke. But that's nothing compared to the eerie tide that comes in from the dock here. Washed up and wrung out this series will leave you wrenched and drenched...and you'll love it. Lets just hope amongst all this magic and madness permitting that the BBC, Ridley Scott and the terrific Tom Hardy make 'Taboo' the subject of a second season all the more sweetly sinister. Let's hope it's not forbidden. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Peaky Blinders', 'Luther', 'Lawless'.
Saturday, 25 February 2017
133 Mins. Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan, Melissa Benoist, Michael Beach & John Goodman. Director: Peter Berg.
Boston's strength just keeps running through the hearts of every patriot of New England, each and every day. And now this 'Patriots Day' pays tribute to all the brave men and women who took their city back in the wake of the tragic bombing of the Boston Marathon back in 2013. All whilst giving all due respect to all who lost their lives or livelihoods on that fateful day in April. And with great honour Bostonian Mark Wahlberg reunites with 'Lone Survivor' director Peter Berg for the third time with his latest double act, right after they dealt with the B.P. oil spill and the survivors of that burning rig in the emotional and powerful 'Deepwater Horizon' drama. And this follow up hit to your gut has just as much emotive power, from the nerve shaking camerawork, to the realism shell shocked rocked to your core. With stirring scenes too close for cinema seat comfort. It's clear to see from these two that the 'Battleship' and 'Hancock' director and the 'Transformers' and 'Ted' star are getting far more serious. But this weekend are the Academy? As this Sunday the Oscars has passed by both men and both films when at least one of them should have got a nomination in each, even insofar as going against each other and film. From 'The Departed' to 'The Kingdom' this actor/director perfect partnership have shown individual inspiration worthy of an award all on their own. Wahlberg had Oscar gold shine on him amongst Scorsese's 'Departed' Boston brotherhood of Matt Damon and an accented Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson, but he's been snubbed before. Did you see 'The Fighter' with winner Melissa Leo and 'American Hustle's' Amy Adams and Christian Bale? Because apparantly the Academy did...but not the bits that Wahlberg's lead marked. And with the spotlight again on a real life account in Boston's history this year following Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber and Mark Ruffalo's time with Oscar last time round, this is a drama that actually rings truer than Casey Affleck's 'Manchester By The Sea' favourite. Touching and moving the rawest of nerves in unison, even outside the city limits. But even if the Hollywood Oscars that probably won't see past 'La La Land' to 'Moonlight' are playing games with these 'Patriots', even after February they will still have their day.
And here it is as the old Irish of this film show civic pride to this Beantown city like a Celtic. Wahlberg and Berg are really trying to say something...and especially here more than anything. Just like in honouring the purple heart of 'Lone Survivor' Marcus Luttrell and his awe inspiring, awesome autobiography after this individuals ordeal, surving a desert storm after losing his brave band of brothers in blood. Or every man, woman and crew hand on 'Deepwater Horizon' that strived to survived after the rig blew in powerful petroleum flames as the oil rich, fat cat B.P. bigwigs wanted to cut corners for their cash no matter what or who was the cost. Now in the ultimate survival of the fittest true story the actor of everyman character again plays a man of great service who goes above and beyond the call of duty for his city and country. In playing a cop with more courtesy, professionalism and respect...or "General Patton in a neon vest" as a Goodman says, Mark can't be beat. The die-hard New England Patriots fans shows he actually really is one down to his dedication and tried and testament tribute here. Phoning nothing in, but calling in every by the book and beyond notion of a lawman doing right amongst all the disorder, Wahlberg captured his real-life, blue-collar Boston character like New Jersey rocker Springsteen does in song across state lines. All to another stunning, sonic score from 'Gone Girl', Nine Inch Nails legends Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, recalling the string section of their bands best and strongest work in 'The Fragile' era. It's time to stop counting this Wahlberg out as a real actor as he helps shape the account of a city you can never put down. As aside Berg he brings the 'Boston Strong' book by 'The Finest Hours' (check out the movie adaptation with Casey Affleck) author Casey Sherman's story off the pages and right to the real people that define each word with everything they do. Directing with a diligence due, that is all Eastwood no b.s., subtle but strong sincerity and no Hollywood big-budget disaster flick crass gloss or uncooked corn. Berg even shows us the sick, disilusioned side of the terrorists and their day-to-day lives. Having them texting emoticons and 'LOL's about their manhunt wanted status to effectively show us just how absurd and disturbed they really were. But when it comes to the good guys, the heroes, Berg lets the real stars shine. The individual heroes that came together at a time terrorists tried to tear them...and us apart.
And there's more men who will honour these individuals here. Like Wahlberg's 'Gambler' co-star John Goodman who is more of a friendly face here to Mark in a commanding role of class and captaincy. He rounds out a big-three of screen greats here furthering their legend. As Kevin Bacon is back, going from being before every film to in all the ones that matter. And as a matter of fact this may be talked about as Kevin's best in years as a F.B.I. agent that takes charge of this situation. Just like ageing cop J.K. Simmons who just wants to get the job done and done right before coming home to his wife...inbetween some Dunkin' Donuts of course. A key Boston character that the town runs on...aint that right Casey?! The 'Whiplash' Oscar winning J.K. who rolling, recently fired Ryan Gosling in Damien Chazelle's 'La La Land' is symbol perfect here. Cop complete with a maverick moustache a la Kurt Russell in 'Deepwater'. Clearly going from 'Spider-Man' to 'The Batman' Mr. Jameson is getting his Commissioner Gordon training in early like his gym henched Instagrams whipped into sculpted shape. Speaking of 'Whiplash' and superheroes, 'Supergirl' Melissa Benoist is almost unrecognisable, but as an actor remarkable as a character on the other side of the hope and glee that she normally radiates. Yet she still shines as a star in something seriously sinister. Just like 'True Detective', 'Gone Baby Gone', 'Source Code' and 'Fort Bliss' standout star Michelle Monaghan who brings more depth to her already deep and diverse roles that the shallow waters of some of the Academy haven't tread. She shines yet again in a city of heroes and stars including 'Third Watch' T.V. star and 'E.R.' paramedic Michael Beach who is back on duty and mayor major here as governer. All the amazing actors who play the even realer Boston people here (from Jimmy O. Yang's carjacked civillian hero, to Jake Picking's heroic cop victim), tie everything together like the red, white and blue laces of the marathon men that make up the American flag tribute on this films poster. It may be a banner moment again for Berg and Wahlberg again but come this April, four years on when the starters pistol goes off and all those men and women running for Boston and the cheering crowd and servicemen in salute watching them complete this race and cross the line together, we all know who this is really for. The town and it's strong people of pride that will never stop running. No matter what stands in their way. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Lone Survivor', 'Deepwater Horizon', 'Spotlight'.
Monday, 20 February 2017
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Damon.
104 Minutes. Starring: Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Andy Lau & Willem Dafoe. Director: Zhang Yimou.
Wall to wall. Pillar to post, 'The Great Wall' of China is one of the wonders of the worlds most iconic landmarks, not just in the Far East. So it's about time this vision of the Peoples Republic was made the subject of a big budget Hollywood picture. Even if in the wake of a so white Oscars finally getting it right this year, the industry takes a step back again with another call to whitewashing in this oriental film lead by 'The Martian', Matt Damon of all people. See also 'The Last Samurai', Tom Cruise and/or '47 Ronin', Keanu Reeves for more information. Those which this film is the perfect mix of, going to war with Keanu's 'Chapter 2' of 'John Wick' this week. Bourne and his bow are no match for the arrow targetting of Wick's body clock, times up glock mind and this movie sees even the most marketable and likable actor in Hollywood getting more of a backlash than the 'Ghost In The Shell' magma hot manga anime reboot starring...erm Scarlett Johansson (which still looks lost in translation amazing by the way). Did we not learn from 'The Mexican' Brad Pitt? Or comedian Paul Mooney's idea for a Tom Hanks movie on 'Chappelles Show'. But before you start tearing this one down as the 'Not So Great Wall' stop swinging your wrecking balls. As legendary 'Hero' director Zhang Yimou of 'House Of Flying Daggers' infamy brings his traditional trademark art and design pastel colours to this supernatural set-piece of dragons, monsters and all the flying arrows inbetween in three dimensions. Hey! We've heard of worse ideas for walls!
You know what they say, "if you lift up a ponytail, you find an a##hole underneath". But Matt Damon is anything but. Even if he's looking more like Bon Jovi than 'Jason Bourne' here. Whatever the identity, Damon is in a field of this own. Even if this one is bordering, dusting the crops of ignorant disrespect. To Matt Damon's film credits he can play almost anything and anybody. Even a Bond better secret agent 'Bourne' and re-Bourne again. Not to forget a private in need of saving. A man lost in space ('Interstellar' spoiler alert...surely enough time has passed?!). A man living a life on mars ('The Martian'). Hey...wait a minute! This man has been rescued more times by America than Tom Hanks has saved these United States. Seriously though from 'The Informant' to Liberace's lover (credit to 'Oceans' of talent Steven Soderbergh for the aformentioned and this, the beautiful 'Behind The Candelabra'), 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' known for 'Good Will Hunting' has more big films than most care to remember. So sure he can play a foreign fighter with an accent shakier than the hands of those battle shy. And here leading a band of brothers into C.G.I battle with a braveheart, our hero somehow makes all this green screen as convincing as someone whose climbed this great monument itself and has the selfie stick sprained shoulder to prove it. Monumental this may not be, but there's still a lot of shock and awesome to get todays crowd out the Snapchat and Whatsapp new generation litmis test. Screening some HD worthy graphics that would be nothing without Damon's definitive acting. This film may not make it all the way over the wall, but it's leader pole vault clears and leaves no one behind...what more could you expect from an actor that defines lost and found more than describing the background on your iPhone to a cashier on a coffee shop counter?
Well we've gone off the boil (and looked down at our phone, the new nodding off)...but don't blame us, so does this film. This candy crayon, paint by animation numbers cult flick should have been a more straight forward and grounded meat and potatoes course of action. But there's more building blocks that cement this wall back together like Humpty. Forthcoming 'Kong: Skull Island' and 'Pacific Rim' sequel star Jing Tian continues her uprising, stealing away with every scene Damon dares to relinquish. Whilst Yimou's 'House Of Flying Daggers' star Andy Lau is back older and wiser with some sage scenes. But it's 'Narcos' and 'Game Of Thrones' small screen star Pedro Pascal who is the much needed humor here on the big one. Bantering and bouncing off Damon's Boston born bravado that makes it all the way from the Western world. And the always weird and wonderful Willem Dafoe is a little wasted hear no matter how much he plays it up with extra slices of ham..his lines are wafer thin. But alas what at the concept art stage looked like a battle royale of 'Lord Of The Rings' proportions is now Hobbit dwarfed by crowded C.G. in this Bay age of 'Transformers' disassembling graphics and explosive set-pieces that are as coherent as a nonsensical bumble bee that churns into a car and communicates via references to other movies. These iguanas meet dilophosarus, chameleon crossbreeds are just too much you spend too much time wondering if they look good or not, all whilst not quite getting a hold on them. And as they clutter claw up this wall at a 'World War Z' zombie speed sometimes you just have to hold back. It's the kind of movie that if you went to the toilet, came back and asked what you missed your friend would tell you, "I have no idea". But still there's some fight in this beast between stunning landscape visuals and the wars they wage across them. It's just some fantasies should not be made real. Sometimes reality sucks. And this is not epic escapism. This albeit exciting, messy movie that tries to entertain is a misfire, no Hawkeye. The kind of film that a decade back would have been the blockbuster of the Summer but is now buried in the post Oscar season of February blockbuster, live or die by the opening weekends numbers beginnings. Matt Damon may have not hit the wall. But this 'Great' film has. What has the promise of a bridge between worlds should now keep out! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'The Martian', 'The Last Samurai', '47 Ronin'.
Sunday, 19 February 2017
Houston, We Have A Solution.
127 Minutes. Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst, Glen Powell, Aldis Hodge, Marhershala Ali & Kevin Costner. Director: Theodore Melfi.
Go figure! You do the math. How do you put a man on the moon? Or even send him out this world with little more than an abacus to move your numbers and figures? That was the problem facing NASA in the age before Apollo, in their two horse space race with Russia after the Cold War. Their solution to this problem Houston? The digits of human calculators...no matter how divided. As reaching the stars showed the United States Of America and the watching world that exceeding expectations on this earth had no place for disgraceful discrimination. Whether racial or sexist. Sure it was a white male that was the first American to make a voyage into space after the Russians. But it was a black woman who helped get him there, calculating his trajectory down to the exact decimal point that the I.B.M. computer couldn't reach. Now that's not a win for Apple...or those waiting for a revolution to hit them on the head whilst idly sitting under a tree...no disrespect to you Newton...this would be nothing without you. But everyone who saw not creed, or gender in someone, but the person within. No matter if they wore a blouse, or drank from a different water fountain. These 'Hidden Figures' are finally being revealed to the world that they helped build from nothing, in a true tale about individuals who should not be paid any less or sit any other place but where they want on the bus. It's time the masses take note like the mainstream moved by these empowered brains behind the brawn sent into orbit. This, the awe-inspiring adaptation of the amazing 'Hidden Figures' record book by Virginian writer Margot Lee Shetterly, the daughter of a NASA research scientist. An Academy Award nominated movie that along with the perfect play to screens of Denzel Washington's formidable 'Fences' and Barry Jenkins magnificent three-acted 'Moonlight' (not to forget the equal rights brought to any hearts of 'Loving') is showing the so white, so long Oscars the only colour their award should see is gold. Setting a new standard these 'Hidden Figures' are the ones that have finally seen the light that is even outshining and outselling the runaway favourite 'La La Land'. Here's to your real stars that dream.
This is real. This is here. And right now these are histories figures. Time magazine's 100 of 2016 Taraji P. Henson has finally found her defining role as influential person of life and world changing power Katherine Goble. Sure her 'Baby Boy' breakthrough and 'Hustle and Flow' with Terrence Howard may have lead to her latest legacy making 'Empire' on television, channeled alongside her award winning 'Person Of Interest'. But motion pictures like this is how you truly become legendary. And that's just the way the cookie crumbles. Far more than her previous biggest movie to date, mothering Will Smith's ass-kicking son in the re-energised 'Karate Kid' reboot, Henson really rocket boosts her roles here. Taking this real life screen storytelling to new propelled heights with her trademark strength of character and unwavering soul. Taraji is terrific here in the leading role and almost rivals the 'Fences' destroying, Oscar winning (for sure), tear strained and soaked speech against inequality from Viola Davis. But where is her nomination? Looks like just as they were getting it right the Oscars got it wrong again. Although we can find solace in the place at the table of nominees afforded to the outstanding Octavia Spencer as the first African-American, female supervisior in NASA history, Dorothy Vaughn. Spencer has spent her career fighting the good fight, from her start in the racially ignited trial of 'A Time To Kill', amongst elite superstar company like Samuel L. Jackson at his best, alongside the same for Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock and Kevin Spacey. Now the beautiful actress is part of that A-list caliber community in Hollywood thanks to her parts in 'The Help', the modern day real-life tragedy of ignorance at 'Fruitvale Station' and now this. This that will rival her 'Help' Oscar win and any movie that serves her since this day. This time that is hers and all the people of history and today she respresents. Just like Janelle Monae as Mary Jackson. Walking by her side and Grammy nominated career with some Oscar company. 'The Electric Lady' singer who has been channeling the first sci-fi of movies with 1920's 'Metropolis' in her album artwork is really out of this world, figuratively and literally with her new stroke of art. As worthy as her side-by-side big three leads of Henson and Spencer, Janelle is the effervescent enthusiasm of this picture. Monae is on the money (in the big-three company of Oscar nominated movie doubled up actors Amy Adams ('Arrival and 'Nocturnal Animals') and Andrew Garfield ('Hacksaw Ridge' and 'Silence')) with this and 'Moonlight' all at the same time. One day she'll be in the Academy's fraternity.
Just like supporting sure-thing Marhershala Ali. Her co-star from 'Moonlight' who looks certain to have the spotlight of Oscar gold shining on him. But actually has more screen-time here in as almost a six-string supporting role. This time playing Henson's on screen love interest. Just like he did as the cinematic couple fathered Brad Pitt's backwardly ageing 'Curious Case Of Benjamin Button' left on his early career doorstep. And we thought the award winning actor had enough on his plate juggling the unbreakable 'Luke Cage' and politically topical toppling 'House Of Cards'. But just like this film Ali's charisma is irresistible here. Like a man in a uniform ladies how could you resist? Because this movie even attracts the likes of Jim Parson and Kirsten Dunst in supporting roles. As Sheldon from 'The Big Bang Theory' and 'Spider-Man's M.J. have no problem playing some pretty deplorable characters that are no cliche at all. All no holes barred, showing us how it really was back then again as a person of minority marganilised by the so-called superiority of whites. Thank goodness for support from 'Everybody Wants Some' and 'Dark Knight' actor Scott Glenn on Chris Evans duty as an amiable astronaut on Captain American detail. Or N.W.A's MC Ren, straight out the 'Straight Outta Compton' movie, Aldis Hodge as a loving and strong husband. But it's Superman's dad, the untouchable legend Kevin Costner who finally gives us another film to put next to his big, legacy making three of 'Field Of Dreams', 'Dances With Wolves' and 'JFK' in the Kennedy era space station. On Ed Harris 'Apollo 13' directing and Wrigley gum (or is it Orbit? Wink, wink!) chewing duty...seriously even Brad Pitt doens't go through this much spitting tobacco duty on 'Moneyball'. But 'Bull Durham' is the Houston rocket that helps uplift this groundbreaking story. Part by the book. Part deceny of humanity. But all absolutely no B.S. Even in a bathroom stall seperation stopping scene, split with more than a swinging wrench. Throwing a spanner into discriminations works. He's a facilitator. But no "great white hope" saviour. And in this power force film from Bill Murray's 'St Vincent' director Theodore Melfi, (set to a fluorescent 'Despicable Me', deliriously happy score from Pharrell Williams. Reuniting with classic cinematic composer Hans Zimmer after they made Andrew Garfield's 'Spider-Man' sequel amazing) we know who the real heores are here. And with all due respect, it's not the three honoured actresses that are all amazing in homage. But the real women they portray and play like the ones they are. Oscars have nothing on Medals of Freedom. And now set to this as this previously untold story tells to millions, these great figures of the revolutionary space race need no longer hide in the shadows of history. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Apollo 13', 'The Help', 'Moonlight'.
Saturday, 18 February 2017
111 Minutes. Starring: Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland, Naomie Harris, Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Jaden Piner, Janelle Monae & Marhershala Ali. Director: Barry Jenkins.
Growing up in a 1980's Miami riddled with vice makes for one hell of a heated, coming of age story. But by 'Moonlight' it will be clear to see in three traditionally classic cinematic acts (i. Little. ii. Chiron. iii. Black), that this blisteringly beautiful movie is 'Boyhood' all manned up in the hood. A story told over more than 12 years, this is accomplished art for the picture houses. Ali may be a straight K.O. for Oscars title this go round, but it's time to snap this Academy Award in three like Adele's Grammy for Beyonce. As Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes are the new acting big-three that play our central character from a shy, wounded boy to a sculpted soldier of a man. All tender to the touch of a movie set to move the mainstream. Aching in its vivid visuals (classic cinematography captured by James Laxton's lasting camerawork) and violin haunting, orchestral scoring (that Nicholas Britell haunts amongst hip-hop horns for a undercurrent of a score that gets under your skin more than 'Jackie'), 'Moonlight' mesmerizes your every sense. Not ignoring your one of being. Nuanced and note perfect as it rarely relents, this movie doesn't have to sell you like moonshine, because by midnight you'll see the light. Which hopefully everyone else will, come that one night in February. The evening in Hollywood's old Walk of Fame that seems to be dancing away with 'La La Land' and the somber symphony of 'Manchester By The Sea'. That is unless those 'Hidden Figures' and people behind the 'Fences' Broadway adaptation have anything to say. Speaking of plays this feature based on Terell Alvin McCraney's poignant play 'In The Moonlight Black Boys Turn Blue' is a sleeper awoken like the mutli-part, uncaged 'Lion' and the interacial 'Loving' that subtely shows true love knows no creed and orientation here. And visionary Barry Jenkins' visceral first film in almost a decade since 'Medicine For Melancholy' is purely poetic, powerful, but yet poised. All as an independent picture willing to stand up for itself, all on it's own two, no fronts. Now if you can't tell the real from the fake then who is you? Because this is a masterpiece.
Drugs and bullying may posion the veins of this narrative thread but it's necessary in showing the reality of how raw an upbringing lies between the off-white sand and the unforgiving Florida sun. And this movie that shows a young African-American man coming to terms with his sexuality and his place in the world is anything but the criminally cliched dramas swimming in stereotypes that clutter our culture. This is a genuinely affecting movie that shows how blind love really is, in all but good ways. But it's about all sorts of partnerships, from friendship to family. But the three tier team-up of actors that play Chiron from 'Little' to 'Black' really are revolutionary. How they don't even have a nomination from Globe to Oscar and all the Baftas inbetween is real criminality. Because they should all at least share an Oscar moment holding the trophy as they are all touching gold here. They all deserve their due, just like the young child star to be Sunny Pawar is just as much a 'Lion' and Best Actor as Dev Patel who has his nomination alone. Alex Hibbert who plays the youngest of our leads is extraordinary as a young boy falling for a young friend in the confident Jaden Piner. Saying little, but showing larger than life truth through the eyes of his soul. Even with a dome bowed in shimmering shyness this child actor can hold his head high for decades to come an everlong star is born into the light of the moon. Just like Ashton Sanders who tweens the teenage years with grown love interest Jharrel Jerome. Ten times as confident, character and actor. Sanders still reverberates the same soulfulness through piercing pupils that you can see once your fingers tip his head up. But growing to a gawky, small forward height this slender giant is finding it even harder to hide now. Especially with bullies making his life ignorantly intolerable with cruel, savage, physical and emotional bullying that scales between passive and passed on to the next intimidated ally and outwardly aggressive. All for nothing, until the tipping point is brutually broken right over our heads. Then a testament terrific former track and field athlete Trevante Rhodes goes the distance and changes the setting to the gold grills and American muscle drop top traps of Atlanta and the physicality of our now hench, but still meekly hunched character. All whilst keeping the white of his eyes of soul sorrow intact showing that all these defining individuals are one and the same man of great character...and to think the actors didn't even meet before this film wrapped, let alone get to know each other. The same kid might have done it over a decade and change filmtime for Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' as well, but these three young king linking up create an unbreakable bond that resonates with us, the audience.
Rhodes road warrior bond with brother and lover Andre Holland stays with us even more than the chain connection between the same three actors as the star of 'Selma', 42' and 'The Knick' plays the last part of Chiron's love interest perfectly to a tee served at his classic, atmospheric diner stop. Latching on to Laxton's personal, face to the audience capturing camera like no other, smoking and billowing with smouldering honesty and brooding broken out charisma. Honestly the only one who looks realer in the to-screen face of things is great Brit Naomie Harris, who greys and thins through all the three ageing acts. Showing us an absent mother who should have neglected the rocks instead of the diamonds and pearls she denied her son. Harris' performance bleeds wisdom of decades and to think she did all this in less than a week as she had three day to wrap up three acts, before bringing Miss Moneypenny back to the 'Spectre' of James Bond's latest 007 spectacle. Maverick musician Janelle Monae also exhibits her acting chops as 'The ArchAndroid' futurist shows she can fashion and take it back to the traditions of top notch acting. With this also alongside her 'Hidden Figure' three-way lead this week...that belongs to her. Give Janelle at least one nomination, like her 'Hidden' co-star and on-screen beau Marhershala Ali here. An Oscar shoe-in even on a Hopkins' Lecter 'Lambs' worth of screen time. Filming this between his Emmy Award winning, small-screen time on Kevin Spacey's presidential 'House Of Cards' team and the mobile Marvel one, screen scene-stealing on Netflix's 'Luke Cage' as the villanious Cottonmouth. Here he plays a drug dealer with a heart of Academy gold. One iconic scene were he teaches our young boy how to swim in the Atlantic is beautiful and more akin to a baptism, it's such a religious experience like his by the palms vigil. The man with the unmistakable, lovable laugh thay cackled so callously through Cage is more favourably received here. As this genuine gentleman with a criminal career is performed to perfection by an actor whose part is worth the weight of what lines the teeth of the bottom of his mouth. Coming just months after the former 'Place Beyond The Pines' and 'Hunger Games' breakout star tried to find Oscars gold with McConaughey in the 'Free State Of Jones'. Ali's inspiration like everything else here makes this jaw dropping, leaving every opponent with a heart of glass. That's how clear this ocean deep picture portrait is in an industry of relative transparency. Perhaps now the so white Oscars will finally see the light too. Because 'Moonlight's gleaming glow touches everyone. No matter how you look, or who you love. And that's how it should be, no matter who tries to change that and what their ignorance does in turn. Real power is turning the other cheek to the good side. And this one is the best look. Surprised? Enlightened? Well...what did you expect? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Fences', 'Lion', 'Boyhood'.
Friday, 17 February 2017
The Matrix: Reloaded.
122 Minutes. Starring: Keanu Reeves, Common, Ruby Rose, Riccardo Scamarcio, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick, Peter Serafinowicz, Peter Stormare, Ian McShane & Laurence Fishburne. Director: Chad Stahelski.
"F### Valentines Day!" That's what the posters for 'John Wick: Chapter 2' said as the love letter to 90's action previewed this February 14th. And forget death by chocolate or soft-core porn movies based on 'Twilight' fan-fiction. This Fifty Shades Of Wick had roses for everyone. F### a safe word! Whilst Christian Grey went down in the box office like...well, we'll leave it there, Wick's Ethan Hunt like fuse refused to run out like a candle with an eternal flame. Try and make a guns and roses action flick that Schwarzenegger and/or Stallone would have loved to have had in their artillery before they became expendable in a decade and change plus new milleniuum, where todays youth are more concerned with whats streaming on their phone than whats playing in cinemas. Try and get bums in seats and faces out of screens in an age where Tom Cruise is over a half century. Mission Impossible? Nah...accept this. Because your iPhone is about to self destruct in five seconds...and you thought it was just Samsung's that did that. Now 'John Wick' himself Keanu Reeves has put two in the head of 'Fifty Shades' and the countless 'Guiness Book Of World Records' villains he dispatches to the depths of death and driven a stake through the heart of those tied-up and twisted 'Twilight' tales, it's time to get down to 'Chapter 2'. Now hows that for a book? But boy like Edward Cullen is the forever young, 'Constantine' Keanu Reeves actually a vampire too? Or a figure of history if you've seen the memes. Forget 'Sad Keanu' how about Saint Reeves...because this guy must be some other sort of spirit or something. This is 'Bill and Ted's esquire people! The 'Man Of Tai Chi' has been doing this for 25 years. A quarter of a century dudes! From-until this-the career redefining 'Matrix' trilogy to '47 Ronin', that could give Matt Damon's Far East 'The Great Wall' a run for its supernatural money this week...if 'Chapter 2' doesn't already. To think a 52 year old man could be a bogeyman to Hollywood's youngest and best next generation seems bogus at best. But Reeves hasn't even reached his breaking point yet. No wonder Key and Peele named a cat and film after him. Still riding the surf it seems like the only thing that can stop the most laid back, likable star in Hollywood is two horror girls that come to his house when 'John Wick' goes knock, knock!
Do you know 'Gun-Fu'? Because if not where are you? Time to plug yourself in. And enjoy the ride too. Because this video game like motion picture has upgraded to car-fu too and that good old Kung inbetween. As the King of bringing American and Asian filmaking together like no one else, Keanu is going to spread a case of man-flu across continents as everyone will be falling sick this Friday to get out of work early to see this popcorn movie that will have kernels falling out of your mouth from the very first new milleniuum, neon cinematic opening scene just a few blocks from the electric billboards of earths entertainment core, New York's Times Square. You think in this advertising heavy, showtime world in multiplex theaters, todays Snapchat time-frames interest wanes just after the trailers when the popcorn and candy is finished, forget it! Because an all American, Mustang muscle 'Bullit' time car chase scene that drag-race challenges Cruise's 'Jack Reacher' and even runs the nitrus injection of the 'Fast and Furious' off the road, man-handles that steering wheel in a whole new tire-screeching direction round the streets of midtown Manhattan to start this Thunder Road production that runs like Springsteen since birth. Setting fireworks off like December 31st, Reeves' Wick starts the blockbuster season early before all those superhero movies from old man 'Logan' to the legend of 'Thor'. As this modern marvel and hero without a cape strikes gold beaming, just as all those dark and depressing, outstanding Oscar defining dramas were starting to leave us downtrodden...no matter how great they are. Sometimes you just need some mindless entertainment. Seriously stupid, but crazily out of the box. This B-movie unbelievably brings home another A star report, no matter if your parents want to see what will soon become everyones go to DVD for a film night in. And Reeves is perfect in being an everyman hero with a special set of skills we are all taken by. As we will follow wherever he leads us, all whilst playing unassuming background to the lights, camera and action of the special effects that are happening on our big, blockbuster screens like a Cruise contemporary in complete control of this gun opera conduction of sniper perfect execution. Even if we don't see, know or underratedly think it...now that's a skill. One that even if you don't find it...will kill you.
Spoiler Alert! Some sequels are just as good as the orignal...if not better. And you thought it was just a dog...or it'd at least had its day. Just look at 'Waynes World 2'. Or the original dudes lf the late 80's who had an 'Excellent Adventure' and then a 'Bogus Journey' that was anything but. And all these anti-aging decades later 'Bill and Ted' just may get their trilogy before this dear John. And who could forget the 'Dark Knight'? This street level caped crusader, who is Neo tailored in bulletproof breast pocket suits that fit a whole new range of bullet dodging doesn't. As he even ends the film running like the superhero who lived long enough to see himself become the villain in a Central Park clearing ending that could rival 'The Avenger' assembling finale. And this ensemble really has everything...and everyone. Take 'Be' and 'Black America Again' top rapper Common finding forever again in the movie industry. After taking on Liam Neeson as an assassin in New York's 'Run All Night', the Chicago M.C. who kills it here going toe-to-toe with Keanu more times than the countless guns for hire and body counts that all have a contract contact finds his best role to date in an ever expanding filmography you forget already has so much range and scope. That is until he looks for Oscar gold like music contemporary Janelle Monae of both 'Moonlight' and 'Hidden Figures, just like Marhershala Ali. Meanwhile a muted killer Ruby Rose is concrete tough, showing action really shouts louder than words. And if that was a cliche, fresh off taking the fumes out of Vin Diesel on the next level and chapter of Xander Cage's 'xXx' franchise, Ruby kisses goodbye to the small screen as she shows blockbusters are the new Netflix orange and black. Whilst another John...Leguizamo, the man we love from everything chops it up again as a everyones favourite car repair shop "I know a guy". We just wish he had more scenes like 'Oz', 'Lost' and 'The Wire' T.V. triple threat Lance Reddick's frank and friendly concierge. This time he's joined by British comedian genius and M to Wick's Bond in the making Peter Serafinowicz, who is on weapons detail after seeing some pretty big ones from a racoon with a rocket and the rest of those 'Guardains Of The Galaxy' a-holes. He joins new faces that rival the old tried and tested ones of legend (and voice the same baritone) Ian McShane as the highest power, like only a Brit in a suit in American blockbuster movies is. Including the "JUST KILL HIM" villain of this movie, played annoyingly perfect by Italian actor Riccardo Scamarcio and familiar face Peter Stormare of 'Prison Break', 'Bad Boys II' and everything else fame, who is no stranger to this dangerous game. But in this reloaded revolution were John Wick unscrews the silencer this time for some D-Box in your seat reverberations, nothing holds a candle to 'Wick's' reunion of Keanu Reeves and legend Laurence Fishburne. Who a far shave away from Morpheus plays pigeon (and dove of peace) cuckcoo crazy insanely good. As this time Neo offers him a red or blue choice to chew on. What more could you want from Reeves and returning director of new dynamite fuse Chad Stahelski? The former stunt man who stood in for Brandon Lee on the fateful 'Crow' and then learned his trade in the three digits of 'The Matrix', literally shadowing Keanu as his double. And now getting in on the act from N.Y.C. to Rome he knows how to lay a scene. Using the catacombs as a catalyst to a club shootout that almost out-guns Tom Cruise's 'Collateral' damage. To a classic N.Y. transit subway stop and go set-piece that leads to a pure white station splashed in Tarantino red that calls back to 'Revolutions'. Before a final 'Face/Off' in a hall of mirrors like Nicholas Cage and John Travolta takes this art gallery gone all Jackson Pollack finale from big to tall. One woah deserves another...Woah! This man, myth and legend can still shock and awe us even if we know he's really not very good at retiring. It would be so good to see him back again so soon...because 'John Wick' is still working, rendering critic ink squibs faux pass. Now can somone please get this man another gun? Because it looks like we're all locked and loaded for 'Chapter 3'. Excellent! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'John Wick', 'The Matrix', 'Taken'.
Friday, 10 February 2017
139 Minutes. Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson, Russell Hornsby, Jovan Adepo & Mykelti Williamson. Director: Denzel Washington.
"Hey Pop! Can I ask you a question? How come you never liked me"? "What law got to say I like you?" "What have you ever give me"? "Your feet. Them bones. That PUMPING heart"! "Everything that boy does he do for you". "It's not easy for me to admit that I've been standing in the same spot for 18 years". "WELL I'VE BEEN STANDING WITH YOU"! "Some people build fences to keep people out. And some people build fences to keep people in"! Every family forsaken word in 'Fences' hits you like a sledgehammer. Forget the baseball bat swinging for the bleach. Because after his directorial debut 'Antwone Fisher' and then 'The Great Debators' retort, Denzel Washington's amazing adaptation of August Wilson's powerful Pulitzer Prize winning 1985 play that he reunited with 'Fisher' co-star Viola Davis for doesn't just knock it out...it belongs in its own ballpark. As now off Broadway and on screens in theatres, Denzel and Davis-together again-who both won Tony's are pitching for Oscars. And who could blame them for trying? Because no matter how gorgeous Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are, everyone in 'La La Land' has to admit the beautiful truth. This is the best Oscar season picture right now (even if in a couple of weeks the shimmering 'Moonlight' and 'Hidden Figures' reveal may just change our minds...again). Not the similarly sobering 'Manchester By The Sea' or the flash-grenade wake up call to duty that is Mel Gibson's 'Hacksaw Ridge'. Revealing the best of 'Gone Baby Gone' and 'Silence' actors Casey Affleck and Andrew Garfield respectively. But with all due respect, striking new heights Washington should be nominated for both 'Best Actor' and 'Best Director'...because he could probably have a chance in doing the double. Thank goodness 'The Help' standout Viola Davis looks to be a shoe-in to win 'Best Actress'. Looks like the whitewashed Academy may be finally be getting it so right. Because this look of home life behind the pickets is more than just a triumph for black cinema. It's a landmark movie in any race period. Creed or competition. From the Hollywood sign to the watching world beyond the City of Stars.
Washington on August sure is something else this time of year. Denzel, was iconic in the biopic of 'Malcolm X' by Spike Lee. But he's even better here with those 'Mo Better Blues' and a son wanting to 'Cry Freedom' for some 'Glory' days like those Titans we Remember, before he enlists like 'Courage Under Fire'. Grounding his boys dreams like Tom Hanks' 'Sully' snub, the 'Philadelphia' freedom co-star was Academy Award nominated for 'Flight' but won the Oscar for his 'Training Day', beating Ethan Hawke's rookie cop. But this 'Bone Collector' has barely been more fleshed out with his body of work than this. This being the great 'Equalizer' franchise makers best in years. And he's just come off reuniting with Hawke and remaking 'The Magnificent Seven' classic. Safe to say this 'Unstoppable', 'American Gangster' legend is a 'Man On Fire' like he has been since before 2004. Blazing hot with this incendiary, by the fire family story for every household and name. Racheting up the tension like sawing the wood that makes said fence. Just like rubbing two sticks for those who greet great drama with hands together. It almost sounds like something out of a horror, but it's for sure thrilling too. And it doesn't get much scarier than Denzel's dad with his back broken against the brick wall. Fenced in by his big league dreams gone minor, he's now majoring in the bottle. Drunk off false pride. Hungover by the truth of shame. Strike one...bitterness. Strike two...resentment. Strike three...RAGE! And he's out of there. Now not only does he not want his son to walk down to the same plate as him (or gridiron in this case), he's hell for a life bent on making sure he follows his path. Not preordained, but the house rules one. From the gaslighting of using his mother as manipulation, to straight up blind intimidation. This is abuse that doesn't show up purple and blue, but scars on a much deeper, a more emotionally trembling level. The kind that stays with you and in turn dictates all you do and don't (out of fear) do in this life. And in this theme and message of dreams and hopes made null and void from generation to generation. But in indulging in the sins of the father, Denzel gives an inferno of a performance. One matched only by his husband preaching so much overbearing respect from his son he's benign to his own neglect to his have and to hold in sickness and in health. It doesn't get much more complex than that for a man and film that throws you one hell of a curveball. And Washington is one of the only men who can alternate like he does actor and director between those states like D.C.
Denzel had been this bad before. Remember Alonzo? But to be real he's not really bad here. More fallen. Like the parts of this man who can move you in so many ways out of nowhere. From what you've come to know, to what you'd never expect. Or that single tear, lump choked up breakdown in 'The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3', to moving us to some Al Green's 'How Can You Mend A Broken Heart' in 'The Book Of Eli'. Here he unbelievably makes us hate him but then love him all over again. Mastering this four walls isolation play like he does the stage to screen transition of minimal sets, but maximum impact. But those who feel it the most are the people around his character, including us the audience. Viola Davis who told Los Angeles Lakers and NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (who has also wrote a 'Moriarty Holmes' Sherlock spin-off that Conan Doyle would be proud of amongst other novels) for The Hollywood Reporter that in all her roles (from the James Brown biopic 'Get On Up' to the D.C. 'Suicide Squad' mash-up assemble) she has to find her characters need to matter. And boy does she. Character and actor. Right here and right now Viola is just as good an actor as Denzel...if not even better in this movie. Forget gender...didn't you learn from what those 'Hidden Figures' did for the man on the moon? But still you best believe the 'Best Actress' honor will be hers. Because she belongs with them all. No white male can leave her out. She's been walking this tall since the credits rolled on 'The Help'. Even Emma Stone knows...the award is hers. And don't you worry about another stirring speech that will rock you to your core...she's already delivered it here. Who else can stand up, with and against it all? All the disgrace...yet being the embodiment of nothing but the second syllable of that word. Proving a womans place is in the heart of a family, against any attack...and definitly no sexist stereotype. Her Rose character blooms from the concrete encasing of her husbands dream struck-drunk poverty that's taking him out like the garbage that makes his bread and butter. Davis and Washington aren't the only Broadway players back on the Playbill of the adapted playwright. If you're a stranger to spotlights and stages you may have seen Stephen Henderson on Ben Stiller's 'Tower Heist', or much more recently even the Oscar competition 'Manchester By The Sea'. But here he plays and personifies the greatest best friend anyone could ask for in this post war neighbourhood for the B.F.F. B.S today that's hardly the greatest generation. Genuine affection also comes from 'Lincoln Heights' and 'Get Rich Or Die Trying' player Russell Hornsby and his great range playing a musician with as much style as his slick dress, but substance as deep as he wishes his pockets were. Whereas relative newcomer Jovan Adepo floors you as the central character in this father son dynamite dynamic that rounds all the bases until gravel and dust is kicked in your eyes. Adepo in this film is on the brink of maturing right into his own leading man. And an utterly moving and magnificent Mykelti Williamson, who is wonderful as Washington's brother completes this family tie. Aching with a humanity those ignorant to illness think alien and something to avoid. 'Forrest Gumps' Bubba is back! Real but raw. Brutal but beautiful. This desperation defining drama needs a back on-Broadway run for Viola and Washington after this cinematic revival. Because nothings peering over this one and all it's built. August and everything after. In an eclectic time for the Academy, the electric 'Fences' looks to keep anyone else trying to bring Oscar home...out. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Antwone Fisher', 'Manchester By The Sea', 'Moonlight'.
Monday, 6 February 2017
Gold Bullion Club.
121 Mins. Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Tony Kebbell, Craig T. Nelson, Rachael Taylor, Stacy Keach & Bruce Greenwood. Director: Stephen Gaghan.
Buying into Dallas' club like the Texan Maverick that he is, Matthew McConaughey has struck Oscar gold before. But despite this bullion dollar picture, the Academy is coming up with dust for his actual 'Gold' movie right now. Is the McConaissance that his 'Killer Joe', 'The Lincoln Lawyer' and the 'Mud' of 'Loving' director Jeff Nichols started scuffing? After his best 'Dallas Buyers Club', 'Best Actor' year that also saw his classic cameo in DiCaprio's 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' and small screen silver in his shining 'True Detective' dark drama, his career truly went 'Interstellar'. But between this and last years 'Free State Of Jones' Oscar bait, it looks like McConaughey hasn't been cutting the same type of Oscar mustard despite physically dedicating himself to his roles as much as he does physcologically. The man who starved himself gaunt to play an AIDS sufferer in 'Dallas Buyers' here fattens up like a 'Raging Bull'. All balding flat-top, paunch pouch and snaggle tooth. But is this great prospect that McConaughey mines merely 'Fools Gold' like the time he took his shirt off for a couple of hours on the beach with Kate Hudson for the ghost of your girlfriends favourite romantic comedies past? Should he now stick to making movies for his kid like 'Kubo and the Two Strings' and his 'Sing' Koala that is beating him to the gold right now? The McConaughey juniors nicknamed "Captain Fun" for all the second helpings of pizza slices and breakfast ice cream to get into shape for this movie is no Viggo Mortensen 'Captain Fantastic'. Whilst Gosling's 'La La Land', Washington's 'Fences', Garfield's 'Hacksaw Ridge' and the younger Affleck's 'Manchester By The Sea' are all too good even if this role lead isn't a 'Sully' snub like what this Academy seem to be doing to Captain Hanks. Still even if this movie doesn't shine like it's namesake during awards season it's still worth its weight and wait like his forthcoming Stephen King 'Dark Tower' adaptation with Idris Elba. Just you see. As Matthew McConaughey plays Kenny Wells, a man who could sell water to a well. Or gold to a mine.
McConaughey is 24 carat slick, no leaf as Wells who wants to bank on his investment, return or bail out like Fargo. From the beautiful, perfect plains of Indoneisa to the ugly undercurrent of the bull tactics of the New York, money monster stock exchange and the ringing of the bell from the Wall St. wolves. Matthew hasn't been this well received cradling a phone on his shoulder and a ball point pen writing down a number we can all agree on since he told Leonardo DiCaprio his three times a day secret to success, after Martin Scorsese set a lunch date for him and Jordan Belfort. Kenny Wells is a different type of animal. One that can play with a tiger, no 'Hangover'. No matter how many scotch he downs off the rocks in this film. The only time he's not holding a tumbler is when he's nursing a pack of Marlbro lights. Still this guys stock tip rises the more his hairline receeds as his pockets and his bursting shirt buttons get bigger. It's glutoney and greed all rolled into a wardrobe of sweated through Sipowicz shirts and Florida retired mobster polo tops. But boy does McConaughey look good and the part in this go for broke American Dream story that takes one hell of a back door. Opened for him by drilling director Stephen Gaghan who went from the screenplay of 'Traffic' to the direction of 'Syriana' and here polishes these gold blocks perfectly to a stunning shine. Letting McConaughey by McConaughey as Matthew is his physical best (ish) since 'Dallas' and at his most charismatic since he waded through 'Mud'. And the leading man-who just like 'A Free State Of Jones' shows he doesn't need the attention of the Academy to make great movies that further his filmography's legacy-will crawl through more dirt and rain with his fathers hands to get hold of what he is scraping and clawing to. No matter what he has to bury on the way. Now that's the gold.
And far more than just the Hollywood brought in trophy wife on his side. Ron Howard's daughter Bryce Dallas Howard joins the 'Dallas Buyers Club' as more than just help but the heart of McConaughey and this picture of a portrait of a success story that may have left his soul in the footnotes. Many were quick to critic Dallas Howard for running from a T-Rex and more 'Jurassic World' dinos in heels alongside Chris Pratt, but that was just in the script. And here Bryce shows she is much more than a mix of a cocktail dress, hairspray and pearls in this movie as 80's as those pull cord phones in 'Wall Street'. The industry and audiences have been confusing this great actress with her co-star from 'The Help' Jessica Chastain ever since they wrapped that picture with fellow red head Emma Stone. And even though Bryce won't be joining 'La La Land' at the Oscars this star in her own right that has a look of both Chastain and Amy Adams is making her own arrival, name and look. As is Edgar Ramirez the rising actor of the last couple of years who has gone from his own 'Point Break' lead remake, to starring supports in the likes of Jennifer Lawrence's 'Joy' to Emily Blunt's by the book 'Girl On A Train'. But the 'Hands Of Stones' actor who started his sparring in 'Zero Dark Thirty' really hits here with his best bout yet. He's making his own legend too. Whilst others pop up in this Wells bloated but bravado cast. From Craig T. Nelson's fatherly advice to an amazingly accented Bruce Greenwood. And speaking of great voices, what's a good film these days without the unmistakable voice of Stacy Keach? He rounds out a class cast that includes the Doom of the new 'Fantastic Four' Tony Kebbell as a real detective and 'Jessica Jones'' Rachael Taylor as somone who wants to Killgrave McConaughey's mind and married life. Hey, even the guy that threatened to reveal Batman's real identity in 'The Dark Knight' is here. But he knows better to blackmail this person. The only one who looks to kill Kenny's dream with any success just south of knocking it out the park is 'Ant-Man's Yellowjacket Corey Stoll, who has been on an incredible run as late with things like this and his shorter but longer reaching roles behing big actors like this one or the 'Black Mass' of Johnny Depp. All in all there's a lot of golden nuggets and sub-plots to sieve and sift through here. But it's McConaughey and his pot of make your own luck here that bands and chains it all together. It sure looks like gold to me. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Dallas Buyers Club', 'The Wolf Of Wall Street', 'Mud'.
Sunday, 5 February 2017
A United Kinship.
123 Mins. Starring: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll & Michael Shannon. Director: Jeff Nichols.
What the world needs now is 'Loving'. And sweet love so does the Academy. As last year the Oscars were so wrong and this time they are trying to get it so right. 'Loving' is the heart of all of this in its performances of deep soul. No matter how many 'Fences' are put up by 'Moonlight'. Or how many 'Hidden Figures' make their 'Arrival' in 'La La Land' via 'Manchester By The Sea' or 'Hacksaw Ridge'. Because following his 'Midnight Special', Matthew McConaissance 'Mud' director Jeff Nichols-who is the next generation of filmaking greats like a Villeneuve or Chazelle-brings us his best yet with a couple forced to 'Take Shelter' like Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. 'Loving' concerns the surnames of Richard and Mildred. A couple who fell in love and married like any of us do or look to in life if we choose. But in the 1958 state of Virgina where to some in the South it was a problem that they were interracial. How big a problem? One year in prison big. Unless they left the state to not come back for 25 years. A quarter of a century. The prime of their married and family making life. Now that doesn't sound like love. But that cruelly and tragically was life in the South back in the 50's before Kings and Kennedys tried to do something about it. Something that showed that love is colorblind and character is based on its content, not it's creed. Something that was just somebodies dream until it came true. All until the harsh realities of what we still see today and the racial divide that is coming apart at the political seams (no) thanks to particular people in power. Therefore in all this gaslit war we could all use something with a little more heart right now. And 'Loving' is exactly that.
'Loving' is a subject-like it's director, his story and the figures of history that he is talking about-of mastered restrained passion. Showing todays world of pomp and circumstance by the timelines that real life changers belong inbetween the lines, just like real love plays behind the heart strings and not out in public. Just like 'A United Kingdom' with 'Selma's David Oyelowo and 'Gone Girl' Rosamund Pike, without any Hollywood gloss this movie set in Washington has the solitary stand and the feet to march up to the steps of D.C.'s Capitol with Abraham Lincoln watching over there freeedom. And this is what mines true talking pictures gold that make motions and moves just left of the Walk Of Fame in this month and cinematic infamy. In a blockbuster world where heroes are seen wearing capes this may sound a little underrated. And it's leading man personifies this notion perfectly with real heroic power. This true 'Warrior' who has played 'Gods and Kings' in 'Exodus' is no other but Australian actor Joel Edgerton. Ready to battle a 'Lion' from his home country with his own related family matters, Edgerton is eager to continue his impressive filmography that includes the likes of 'Star Wars' and 'The Great Gatsby', that looks to rise in this industry in time with his once overlooked stature here. The man who played the background in James Dean's 'Life' as an editor is the cover star of his own one here as he reunites with 'Midnight Special's' Michael Shannon, who plays a photographer for that very iconic magazine in their latest Jeff Nichols feature. How last years 'Black Mass' Depp deep scene stealer didn't edge out the competition here for a nomination is as amazing as Edgerton's performance that is worth it's emotional weight in Academy gold. Sure it's as shy a characterization as it is a conflicted one, but this is a portrait of a blue collar, working family man under so much duress and pressure that there's only one thing to do...the right thing and the work towards it like everything else in life you take care of the same way. A mild mannered man with moving mannerisms. Check the real portrait and just see how much Joel captures this Loving with all his fibre of being. Or just what Richard told the Supreme Court when asked if he wanted to send them a message. "I love my wife". It doesn't get much more straight forward than that. That's as simple and as beautiful as it is.
And that's just how it is when your wife is the ruthlessly sincere Ruth Negga. The eyes and bared soul of this movie that is it's nomination to Oscar legend and her own lasting legacy. The former recurring 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Inhuman shows real humanity in the face of monstrous oppositon that battles her every day at her front door. But best believe she'll win the war. And maybe even the trophy as shes more of a rock than Emma Stone. Her portraying a powerful figure of history just as important as Natalie Portman's 'Jackie'. Even if she is as 'Hidden' as Octavia Spencer. But no more. 'World War Z' and 'Warcraft' are just stories of her past. This is the fight that will stand the test to last. And a story she's willing to tell just like it's supporting players all to the subtle but right there forefront from unassuming but undeniable amassing, critical, integral director Jeff Nichols. There's 'The Equalizer' 'xXx', 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' and 'Abraham Lincoln-Vampire Hunter' big bad Martin Csokas who shows evern more abhorrent behaviour so bad you'll see just how great an actor he is. Even if when his cop character says "there's no good here" after being the one to give the Loving's a rude mid-nite hour awakwning, he should really be talking about himself. Or the showmanship of Nick Kroll who really lends a hand even after stealing the show as a stereotypical and literal Douche in Seth Rogen's Summer 'Sausage Party'. And of course what would a Jeff Nichols feature be without a third helping of Michael Shannon? The versatile 'Man Of Steel', 'Iceman' who is up for his own Oscar this year for his hell or high water sheriff support that kept Tom Ford's 'Nocturnal Animals' up, gives us his greatest cameo to a couple since he invaded DiCaprio and Winslet's home off 'Revolutionary Road'. But this story of love trying to find its home really hits you where you claim residence. Knocking like heaven shutting the door on a hell of a life guilted by other peoples sin claiming and blaming it as yours. Whether the Oscars claim it like the latest trend to avoid a Twitter backlash or ignore it like yesteryears news and the ignorant that make it, it will still remain revelant. Just like the great filmakers and actors that make it for an honor that's more than an award or theirs. History doesn't merely belong in a winners envelope. It resides in chapters of books and chambers of heart. This genuine story is as beautiful as true love itself. And how fittingly meant to be that in real life, history was made and this awful law changed for good...all in the name of Loving. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Midnight Special', 'A United Kingdom', 'Hidden Figures'.
Saturday, 4 February 2017
The Block Knight.
104 Minutes. Starring: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson & Ralph Fiennes. Director: Chris McKay.
Riddle me this. Riddle me that. Whose afraid of the big, block Bat? Why so serious? Now if you liked Emmet before he was cool then you'll know that the master builders of Danish toy company LEGO have been putting everything together, brick by brick, long before Hollywood made 'The LEGO Movie fit' two years back. In fact there's so much LEGO out there that your foot hasn't stood on for the worlds greatest pain yet that there's actually more LEGO people than there are actual human beings in the worlds unfathomable population. Now we know if man is ever taken over on planet earth it won't be by aliens, or machines but and even more micro set of little yellow men. Still for all the LEGO people around there has probably been more incarnations of Batman over the last couple of years. Especially with recent rumors that 'Justice League' Dark Knight, Ben Affleck might follow his directorial departure of 2018's(?) 'The Batman' with an eventual hanging up of the cowl...no matter how well it fits. Last year he was the standout in the 'Batman v Superman-Dawn Of Justice' mash-up that went to critical battle in the dawn of 'Civil War'. But that wasn't the only time we visited Wayne Manor, from the 'Suicide Squad' role call to countless episodes of 'Gotham' in a dark 2016. We finally got a full length animated movie of the graphic classic 'The Killing Joke' comic book. And even Adam West and Burt Ward reunited to sock us with the light, bright knight for the 'Return Of The Caped Crusaders'. Albeit also in cartoon form as there's only so much C.G.I can do...just ask those rogue 'Star Wars' generals for one. And now before 'Justice League Dark'...not to mention the Bats, Supes, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg and Green Lantern(?) live action ensemble of 2017 it's only right we really go C.G. for D.C. and the greatest hero of them all.
'The LEGO Batman Movie'. Starring the blocked crusader who stole the show in 'The LEGO Movie' like no other LEGO or real world figure from Abraham Lincoln to Duplo could. Because you know what they say, 'always be yourself, unless you can be...' And this Batman starts the superhero ball rolling in a completely differently assembled way. As with 'Logan', 'Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2.' the 'Homecoming' of 'Spider-Man' and 'Thor's' 'Ragnarok' there's a lot of cape to go round. Not to mention the small screen battle of 'Legion', the 'Defenders' ensemble...oh and 'The Punisher'. And that's just D.C.'s rival schedule before they hit infinity. But marvel at 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' star and 'Arrested Development' cult favourite Will Arnett and his mock superhero schtick gruff voice after his growling show snatch on the complete LEGO film set. He has you from the opening credits...and his love of romantic comedies. Will has his way with the suit and gadgets, proving Arnett is just as worthy as the cowl as Affleck, Christian Bale, George Clooney(?), Val Kilmer, Michael Keaton and even the original, 60's legend Adam West...not to mention Kevin Conroy. Because he's Batman too. As he brings just as much fun as the man who knew the 'Bat Touche'. What more do you want from a man that raps his own songs too? No one has rocked, back in black this much since the late, great, purple one Prince was given a whole 'Batman' album to soundtrack like his name was Hans Zimmer. In a film that could even make Matthew McConaughey's almost unrecognisable Koala clear his throat this really can sing. The sarcastic knight may be the most entertaining Bats yet for revolutionary 'Robot Chicken' classic director Chris McKay who knows the caped crusader as well as Kevin Smith. Sup!
But in this assembling animation that joins both Batman and LEGO in-references, combined with Easter Egg jokes from Bane's voice to head shots that are cracking with nerd yoke, this film is suitable for all Batmans and Robins alike. And has everyone in it too. From Mariah Carey to Eddie Izzard. Kids waiting for 'Despicable Me 17' or whatever Minion pushing number their on will love the eye sugar popping visuals that transform across your eyes quicker than a Michael Bay sunset to explosion. Whilst parents in every seat will love all the nods to their Batmans, todays detective equivalent to who was your James Bond growing up. But every 007 needs his Goldfinger...or clown. And the jokes not even on Mark Hamill this time. As the Jedi Skywalker who has voiced the Clown Prince of Crime in practically every Batman animation and 'Arkham' video game with his unrecognisable but unmistakable vocal for once doesn't have the last laugh despite his great Trump cackle. 'The Hangover's' Lone Wolf, Zach Galifianakis makes it his round now as he wakes up a force of a Joker. A character that despite being friend zoned hilariously and ironically by Batman has just as many iconic names and classic parts behind it from Cesar Romero to Jared Leto to Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. And if every hero needs his villain than he definitly needs his sidekick. Yes...even you Batman. And from Burt Ward to Joseph Gordon-Levitt's beat cop beginnings could you think of a more 'Superbad' Robin than Michael Cera stealing the show here without pants like Alan in 'The Hangover'? Showing that even in animated form he's still so sweetly geeky. Bi-focally so. But in a classic cast that features 'Jump Street' pros Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill returning as the Justice League's Superman and Green Lantern. And even the Night Nurse that is the four degrees of seperation that joins every Marvel member of Hells Kitchen together before 'The Defenders', Rosario Dawson on real crossover, rebellious form like 'Daredevil' Affleck. We even have an Alfred as Pennywise as Michael Caine or Jeremy Irons. Not to mention 'Gotham's' Sean Pertwee. As the silver service of James Bond's new M, Ralph Fiennes is gold as this Great Brit makes an even better Butler. But in a cast that features everyone from Zoe Kravitz to Conan O'Brien (as Catwoman and the Riddler...guess whose who) you know who this movie is really all about. And in a Denmark landmark franchise that has even more spin-off and character potential than Disney and all the umbrella franchises under it from 'Star Wars' (Billy Dee Williams who played his Lando in 'The LEGO Movie' in cameo, reprises his Two-Face side of the coin here) to NBA All-Stars like Shaq ('Kazam 2' anyone...hey if they can do another 'Space Jam'?!), we may see another Batman movie in blocks before a tentpole LEGO sequel. At least definitly before another live action movie for the Dark Knight that's for sure. Why? Because he's... TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'The LEGO Movie', 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice', 'Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders'.