Friday, 24 March 2017
Life Off Mars.
103 Minutes. Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare & Hiroyuki Sanada. Director: Daniel Espinosa.
This 'Life' as we know it finds a way to confuse us. Are we all in agreement that this is just another 'Alien' in the year of 'Covenant'? Or is this a 2015 James Dean magazine biopic starring Dane DeHaan and Robert Pattinson back issue repeat? An early millennium prison break comedy with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence breaking out the 'Shawshank' spoons? And people, why does Ryan Reynolds look so pissed in this above photo? Is it because someones shoved him in a washing machine at a laundrette? I know staring at a washing machine as a kid is fun, but being stuck in one is a different matter. No! No! And...well, perhaps. Like 'Prometheus' this is alien to Ridley Scott's infamous franchise. Apart of it, not a part of it. Even if the trailer for 'Covenant' coming before it will have all late comers in the dark spilling their corn and soda as they rush to their seats thinking the movies already started...not to mention escalated quickly. And this isn't the same 'Life' form of Dane playing Dean or Murphy getting 25 years too. There's so many reboots and remakes about these days it's a wonder there aren't more movie duplicates out now. Remember the 'Fast and Furious' confusion? Well before the 'F8' of that next Diesel power franchise lane and all the Marvel and monsters entering the Summer blockbuster race, 'Life' joins 'Logan's' last breath, the 'Skull Island' of 'Kong' and of course the man, the myth and the legend 'John Wick' to spring-step that season early. All with their own out of this world horror that will make the earthbound nature of Sandra Bullock's 'Gravity' and the literal life on Mars of Matt Damon's 'Martian' look like a moonwalk in the park on an interstellar level. Right before little green men start bursting out of everyones chests with all due respect and honour to the late, great John Hurt and Bill Paxton. Now in a space station odyssey turned into a tumble dryer, here's your latest close encounter.
Unlocking this pressure contained airlock of sci-fi horror is 'Safe House' director Daniel Espinosa who lets former Washington guard Ryan Reynolds back in. And from the opening eclipsing scene of the satellite station blinding like the sun behind it you know this is going to be as visual an experience as a visceral one. And this holds us even futher in this notion in the opening one shot camera grip that maps the entirety of this ship and introduces you to all the hard at working crew as they float around you and upside down in zero gravity. Impressive isn't the word. When it comes to these solar system crowded lost in space films, it's inspired. Much has been observed over the new creative trends of outstanding one shots. From Matthew McConaughey's undercover escape from a neighbourhood rife with racial raw tension and firearms in the first series of 'True Detective', to 'Daredevil's' double season namesake hallway hit 'em ups. And let's not forget the entire, epic, brilliant 'Birdman' movie that flew away with the Oscar. But this perfect pan has you floating and flying like Peter in perfect, synchronised time. But when it comes to the vice-like grip, face-hugger handshake introduction with this thing itself in Espinosa's alien picture that has influences from John Carpenter's Kurt Russell movie not set in China, New York or L.A. amongst other cult creature horrors and "nerd" references (even borrowing the 'Spirit In The Sky' volume off fellow spacemen the 'Guardians Of The Galaxy's' tape deck), this lotus flower come squid like creature is like no other. A far cry from those humanoid 'Star Trek' aliens that merely manifest a few bones in their cranium to convince us their other worldly. But with all due respect to the pointed ears this astronaut predator takes our eyes more. And anything else it gets its nerve pinching tentacles around.
Because when it comes to the man vs species they can't begin to understand, human nature of this survival in space story there is an international cast list on the menu in the form of this crew. Of course there is 'Deadpool' himself Reynolds. And the merc still has his trademark mouth that has got himself into all sorts of trouble. But how can you even be, let alone stay mad at this man and his quintessential quips when his light relief is exactly what you'd need in the solitary zero G's of space? Especially when he's on the traditional rocket boosted form of his life. But when the washing machine...or airlock door is closed on him in an iconic making moment, dates everywhere will get a treat as his Hollywood heartthrob, pin-up eyes are met by more in the two for the price of one leading man Jake Gyllenhaal. And the 'Nocturnal Animals' and 'Everest' star, clean-cut, shaven and looking like his wind the clock back, 'Day After Tomorrow' days traps us in the tortured loneliness of his characters just like he does in the arresting 'Prisoners', crumbling 'Demolition' or the skin of 'Nightcrawler'. Yet here isolated, even amongst others, looking out to the most beautiful view of planet earth and another world now so close, but a million miles and a record amount of 700 plus days away he's finally home. But even with this leading two dynamic duo, this is really Rebecca Ferguson's movie. And after stealing the show in the 'Rogue Nation' of Tom Cruise's 'Mission Impossible 5' and the gone girl of Emily Blunt's 'Girl On The Train' this is her moment...and boy does she own it in a commanding performance with the role as captain. Fellow great Brit Ariyon Bakare also graduates from the BBC T.V. series' of 'Spooks', the U.K. version of 'Law and Order' and a rogue cameo in last December's 'Star Wars' story with gripping first contact here. Whilst Russian actress Olga Dihovichnaya with her hair cut down to a Bullock bob, strapping herself into a spacesuit like a Sandra hero brings more grounding 'Gravity' to this film. As Japanese legend and '47 Ronin' star Hiroyuki Sanada completes this crew with heart of new family and so much soul, inspiring him to survive against any odds for what waits for him back on the blue planet. The man who from 'The Last Samurai' to 'The Wolverine' and 'The Railway Man' to 'Rush Hour 3' has always impressed brings so much more inspiration home here. There's so much life here in Espinosa's epic, breeding a new extraterrestrial one. And when it comes to the martian's, this is how Mars really attacks. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Alien', 'Event Horizon', 'The Last Days On Mars'.
Monday, 20 March 2017
Iron Man 2.
13 Episodes. Starring: Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick, Tom Pelphrey, Jessica Stroup, Ramon Rodriguez, Rosario Dawson, Carrie-Anne Moss & David Wenham. Created By: Scott Buck.
K.O.! Fists of fury fly as Marvel's one punch man finally claims his golden ticket a few courses away from the hand of the devils kitchen. All striking for his defence and fight for NYC. It's time. The back four of 'The Defenders' is complete before the eighth wonder of their Summer season plays the Ripley games of 'Alien' legend Sigourney Weaver. Still despite the assembling success of Marvel and Netflix's street-level superhero team-up, critics don't want to hand it to the last Defender. Instead they are throwing jabs at the 'Iron Fist' and Danny Rand is finding it hard to bob and weave. Lucky 'Game Of Thrones' star Finn Jones remembers his training. And that the legend of Marvel's Iron Fist began back in the seventies...no modern day appropriation. Even if critics are calling whitewashing like fellow Marvel Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson's 'Ghost In The Shell' manga anime live action remake. Sure there is definitly some ground for at the very passive racial discrimination. But in defence of these Defenders look what Marvel did with the unbreakable 'Luke Cage', the 'Jessica Jones' P.I. reveal and of course the blind ambition of 'Daredevil' (another martial arts expert like his energetic partner Elektra). But any critic calling this actually compelling set of (unlucky for some) 13 episodes bland don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to Rand's enterprise. And those white boy billionaire Trump comparisons? We won't go as far as to label it fake news. But what about that other billionaire, playboy superhero with a Stark Tower in New York? This glowing 'Iron Fist' pulls no punches even if critics are packing a wallop.
Good job Finn Jones knows Kung-Fu. And how to rock the Justin Timberlake N*Sync days blonde noodle curls. He really is taking it back to the days of 'The Matrix' (even 'Jessica Jones'' Carrie-Anne Moss is back, never one to dodge legal proceedings). Moving like Keanu in bullet time. From the first shot of the iconic 'Game Of Thrones' dark world style, meets martial arts ballet in a Turner painting over the skyline of New York theme, to all the fight scenes straight out of the hand-to-hand consoles of a video game. From hallway hatchets that rachet up the action ante, to unlimited cage fighting and iron link champion boss levels directed by 'The Man With The Iron Fists' himself. None other but the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA, straight outta Shaolin. Finn is emotionally engaged as well even if some times he comes across complaining like a spoilt brat with his new toy like he was holding Thanos' infinity gauntlet...hey he is a boy born into being a billionaire after all. More Iron Man than Ip Man, yet this "child touched by fire" sets alight this graphic, comic-book world that's not suitable for bed wetters. In each fighting style named episode, from Chinese New Year carnival chase clashes in Chinatown, to Samurai swords fights in the night rain of Central Park as atmospherically dramatic as the time 'The Wolverine' did this big in the temples of Tokyo, Japan. Baring it's knuckles this Iron Fist clenched by creator Scott Buck has a lot behind it. Espeically in the year that began with one last time for Hugh Jackman's 'Logan' and will soon dominate the seasons from volume two of the 'Guardians Of The Galaxy', to Thor's 'Ragnarok' team-up with the Hulk and Doctor Strange. Not to mention the long-awaited Marvel 'Homecoming' for Spider-Man. And that's just the blockbusting big screen. On the crisp smart-phone level this Defender starts the year of their Avenger like assembling, before Jon Bernthal's Frank Castle brings more binge watching punishment until your skull can't take the heat anymore. And you thought the 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.' had it good, rolling shotgun with the Ghost Rider. Well Netflix's Marvels are igniting too...and it's all in the palm of their hands.
Helping hands come in many 'guises for the Fist however. Especially in the form of a familiar foe from another show (no, no not The Punisher...don't let your gun go off). It's a relief Rosario Dawson's Rachel McAdams rivalling Night Nurse is back to patch and link-up all the Defenders before she joins them again in being the only character to appear in all six series'. Just imagine how the beds in her apartment will look like when her guerilla surgery skills have to tend to all the Defenders all at the same time. She isn't the only heroine helping the cause however. More aid comes from the Jessica's. Henwick and Stroup. Finn Jones' 'Thrones' co-star Jessica Henwick peaks Black Widow's a## kicking and even quivers Chloe Bennett's Quake. The X-Wing pilot from 'Star Wars' really is an awakening force at Kiefer Sutherland 24 years of age, giving a hand to Rand...and some love interest too. You could cut the sexual tension between these warriors spirits with a Katana. '90210' and 'The Following's Jessica Stroup is more of a boardroom brawler mind and the emotional family catalyst of this drama that actually aside from what they say is one of Marvel/Netflix's best, brilliant backstories yet. Alongside her on-screen brother, the instantly recognisable and vocal Tom Pelphrey who now will be so for this. A scene stealing enigmatic favourite who we are with no matter how many times he slips between the dark side and redemeption as many times as his slicked back, GQ suit matching, tailored business cut ends up looking like the hair of Percy Wetmore in 'The Green Mile'. But boy if you thought he was sort of bad in a series of uncivil good versus evil war were you can't make rolling heads or twisted tails of which side you're on, then just wait until you see the sins of the father. As '300' and Oscar nominated movie 'Lion' dad David Wenham is rip-roaring as a beast of a bad man just waiting to be let out of his Gatsby lonely, art deco penthouse cage. Even 'Transformers' and 'The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3' support star Ramon Rodriguez's mysterious character has nothing on the meat and potato straight-forward hands of Welham who ham-fists one hell of death-defying human villain. Smack-dab in the middle of a Norman Osborne like characterization and a dark tower for a business as powerful and absolutely corrupting as Oscorp down the road. All in all these hands rock the critics cradle and anyone who finds this show boring may actually in turn need to wake up to this slap and high kick across the face. Because Marvel's Iron Fist hits you in ways no other Netflix show has concluding this solo legion of a group of avenging outsiders. Trumping any notion that this sky-scraping name is a Donald, Finn Jones' Danny Rand strives to be more than just his name, or the Iron Fist. No matter how many zeroes come after his name or the weight of gold light on his wrist. Perhaps it's not appropriate that this hero that honors martial arts and doesn't take from it is not Asian. But in origin sticking to the roots of character Marvel still pays homage to where martial arts comes from. And coming from within too it balances it all out like Chi, showing that anyone can be learn this art form as long as they pay their due respect. And that respect is measured in dedication without distinction. But remember no matter how strong the Iron Fist is. No student is a master quite like their sensei. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Daredevil', 'Jessica Jones', 'Luke Cage'.
Sunday, 19 March 2017
129 Minutes. Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen & Emma Thompson. Director: Bill Condon.
Beauty begins again as Disney go into live action beast mode with their Belle of the ball. And you're their guest Princess Hermione. 10 points to Emma Watson. She may not be the face of the 'Harry Potter' saga anymore, but she is the yellow dress of this fantastic 'Beauty and the Beast' thread of a classic coming into her own weaving and waltzing light. Shining in this Spring post Summer blockbuster that will last in theatres into the Winters beyond June. In a story as old as time. Or the original animated classic from 1991 itself. A roaring success from Disney that became the first animation in movie history to be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award. This Oscar darling almost had it if it wasn't for those lambs that like to keep quiet and Hopkins' Hannibal beast with even more of an appetite. This monster almost even beat Schwarzenegger's 'Terminator' box-office machine. Fast forward to the Cybernet future of 2017 and on this judgement day this rebooted remake may just go down as the greatest Disney live-action film yet, again years before 'The Lion King' is set to make us proud. No matter how good fellow princess 'Cinderella', last years 'Jungle Book', or even Angelina Jolie's 'Maleficent' is. Certainly this film is on record to be the most successful live cinematic take yet...and you can expect it to flood the next Academy with awards that gleam like that iconic dress as well as the ticket gates. You really can't lock this beast away. Think you can? Be our guest!
Beautiful in her grace and humility, 'Harry Potter' megastar Emma Watson has just found a new franchise for her face as she really is the Belle for this ball. And oh how she is having one too. Singing and dancing like clockwork with candlesticks. No wonder she and the work and rug cut out for her passed on Emma Stone's 'La La Land' Oscar winning role alongside Ryan Gosling. In love with more than just an ugly duckling, this Emma has never had this much fun. And she's the effervescent energy and luminous light in potentially one of Disney's darkest sagas of their storied history made even more live action real and raw. If you thought 'Snow White' brought it to your castle door with the soldiers of 'The Huntsman', then just wait until this princess with a palace as iconic as the one on the Walt Disney introduction I.D. with a ring of roses around it. And we'll all fall down and in love with this. And it's not a case of Stockholm Syndrome. More a dream, in vision made up once upon a time by 'Dreamgirls' director Bill Condon, who also shone a light on the nightwalkers of the first two 'Twilight' epics...arguably the best ones. What? You going to go with the last ones epic end that was just a dream? This films finale is much more fitting. You've never seen last waltz's so wonderful without a glass slipper. Your eyes have never been glazed this much since Simba clawed on for dear life like Bambi's mum. You've never sung along this much since 'Frozen'...and yes, we're sure that remake is coming but for now it has to wait in line...let it go! Right now live action Disney films have never looked so real...or genuinely magical.
Beastly as he may seem, 'The Guest' star Dan Stevens really is the prince host of this picture that would be king. The 'Downton Abbey' star currently moonlighting for FX as a legacy made Marvel mutant in 'Legion' really is effecting something much more special here. The Great Brit knows how to play it up to the ham, like his Knight exhibition in 'Night Of The Museum-Secret Of The Tomb'. But here this hairy man in the mirror with horns knows how to reflect the deeper, realer anguish of a man made monster by a curse kissed from the thorns of a rose. Wilting before our eyes his motion capture goes from white dots and green screen to weeping and seeing to be believed in all it's beauty of each and every emotion. This man truly is a beast in more ways than one. Showing not only the tortured soul of torment behind the fur, but the warmth too. Watson may be the star power, but Stevens has the strength to shoot for more. And there's plenty more room on the table for a growing guestlist. Like the ever-glad Josh Gad. Already a Disney legend for his iconic Olaf snowman built of 'Frozen's' mass merchandised, powerhouse popularity, he now makes an even greater legacy of change, playing Disney's first openly gay character. Perfect alongside a man who is in real-life, Luke Evans. Here 'Dracula' plays the villain Gaston with untold brilliance, something like a 'Baston'. With the cocksure, 'Captain Morgan' fuelled arrogance of a man who thinks he really did slay a dragon like in 'The Hobbit's' 'Desolation Of Smaug'. No wonder Belle's father Kevin Kline is in and out with his blessings. But you have to hand it to all Kline does do that to here. Because we haven't loved this man this much since 'Last Vegas'. There's more chips off the old block, or clock as Sir Ian McKellen plays Cogsworth, moving hands like Magneto aswell as hearts. Whilst Ewan McGregor makes a French candlestick funny, scene stealing favourite and as much fun as the time he spent a night in the 'Moulin Rogue'. As the one for Ewan is a feather duster who goes by the name of the great Gugu Mbatha-Raw. An actress who made her name in no other but a film called 'Belle'. There's even enough notes for a stunning Stanley Tucci to get his teeth into the keys of a piano man with a Beethoven wig that would make his 'Hunger Games' host jealous. But it's Emma Watson's old 'Harry Potter' alumni Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts that really is just the cup of tea. As 'Nanny McPhee' is fantastic in singing the Celine Dion 'Beauty and the Beast' theme song as old as rhyme. Forget John Legend and Arian Grande. I'd know who I'd more like to have a brew with. This beast really is a chip off the old block. As tested as time itself. Because some love stories happy endings we're made to last no matter how they look. And there's nothing more beautiful than that. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Harry Potter', 'Maleficent', 'Cinderella (2015)'.
Friday, 17 March 2017
103 Minutes. Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, Milton Howrey, LaKeith Stanfield & Catherine Keener. Director: Jordan Peele.
Peel back the layers of Jordan Peele's scary comedy 'Get Out' and it's onion crying horror hypnosis and you'll see the key to this trumped up satire that breaks down all sorts of walls and boundaries and holds a black mirror up to 'The Donald', or as some people call him; The President Of The (United) States. White privilege can go f### itself! It just got revoked! 'Guess Who'! No we're not asking you that exactly, more if you remember the early 2000's 'Meet The Parents' esque, coming to dinner comedy starring the late, great king of comedy Bernie Mac? The one where Zoe Saldana invites boyfriend Ashton Kutcher for a weekend away to introduce him to her folks and he asks the immortal question..."did you tell them I was white"!? Well Peele flips that as Daniel Kaluuya (who partnered up with Emily Blunt in 'Sicario' and will probably receive more face time in the sequel now) does the family thing with his 'Girl' Allison Williams. Heading to a white picket fence hiding suburbia that may aswell come with a burning cross on the lawn. Because it's not just institutionalised ignorance that lives here when there are servants on the property owned by a father who thinks it's no "thang" (and I'm quoting here). In this haunted house of passive racism, one half of 'Key and Peele' sketch show genius Jordan aggressively attacks this and any tired, discriminating notion that still exists in an abusive, not so free world today lead by a p### grabbing bully of a president who can't even be real about his own haircare. Out with combing over the bull####! Get into this!
Unconventional as it is this is still a horror movie in all it's string twitch, jump moments and hallmark genre tricks and tropes. From people at the window to down the hall. No stone or dark corner unturned. And a horrendously good horror movie it is at that too. Killing it on the usual movie hype attacking Rotten Tomatoes at 99% after days of keeping it at 100. Want to put that into perspective? Have you heard of that other film out this week? Something called 'Beauty and the Beast' by some folks called Disney? Starring young actress Emma Watson who was apparantly in this thing about wizards? Well that currently lies at 69 percentile. SPLAT! 'Get Out' is a roaring success, screaming like bringing home a boyfriend to your parents whose hair is longer than yours and says he's between jobs, but he really means bands as he greets your dads introducing handshake with a slap of five. Feel the unclenching of the binge watching, whitewashed 'Iron Fist'? Then chill with Netflix and marvel at this. As Jordan Peele goes from televison sketch show success as a double act to first full feature film direct all by himself, just like it was all meant to be. The comic gives us something genius after moving on from big screen team-ups for fans of films and felines named after their favourite 'John Wick' and 'Matrix' actors, with one hell of a first impression in the directors chair. From now on the man who wants to make more scary movies (un)like a Wayans' trailers could come with one of those pretentious "from visionary' director intro-tags that usually come along with alt-horror creep show masterminds like Guillermo Del Toro ('Crimson Peak') and Gore Verbinski ('A Cure For Wellness' (cue more deer in the most eye widening headlights here)). And it wouldn't be a joke. Peele belongs with the greatest when it comes to making modern horrors that don't fall into the 'Saw' and 'Ring', can't tell one sequel from another cliche that does the originators like 'The Shining', 'Carrie' and 'The Thing' et al anything but proud. This is the best horror with more to it since the late Anton Yelchin in one of his last films tried to escape fellow Starfleet Academy member Patrick Stewart's 'Green Room'. But in another four walls of horror that will leave you cowering and doubting the chance of escape as much as your armchair crawling hoping for it, this film keeps you guessing as much as it does cheering for it's horror hallmark homages that are given a whole new dedication and distinction from Peele. Jordan rules as he knows how to bring the true shock and awe nature of horror movies in so many ways. You just don't know how and when you'll scream...but oh how you will. It's coming.
And what a cast to hold you to this like a broken leg in a home life that is straight polished wood and picture frame misery by the brimstone fireplace, even more psycho than Bates. Matter of fact there's more to this cast than meets the eye for a role call of actors so recognisable and real you could have swore you had seen them before in more. Take the lead Daniel Kaluuya of British 'Black Mirror' and 'Skins' fame (see also, Nicholas Hoult). He's been working on his American accent from 'Sicario' to the attention of Samuel L. Jackson, but that aside Kaluuya makes this movie his own and is brilliant in a breakout that's just as much his as Jordan's. One scene tea stirred to a chair truly has you in its hypnosis until your eyes water. He makes us really see and look for Peele's unfolding vision in this instant, iconic classic for the modern mainstream. Whilst 'Girls' star and NBC anchor Brian Williams' daughter Allison Williams holds her own, setting a course for her future leading lady lights in movies. One particular scene involving 80's music on the iPod, hair tied back for bed, cross-legged, sweatpant comfy, scrolling through her laptop speaks on so many satirical levels in a film choked full of inspired and incendiary imagery that we can't reveal to spoil but shows you so much more. Here however Allison's father isn't political reporter Williams, but Whitford. Bradley Whitford. The man you know as Josh from President Sheen's 'West Wing'. And should have know from Aaron Sorkin's underrated and unfairly canned Hollywood follow up 'Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip', alongside the Bing of Matthew Perry. This performance like that reminds you why we should see more of Bradley like his second name was Cooper, before his receeding hair and beard get anymore Kenny Rogers. He's a revelation here alongside an equally suburban sinister Catherine Keener. The 'Into The Wild' actress who played Robert Downeg Jr.'s (ex) wife in 'The Soloist' helps sway us towards this narrative as compelling as her soothing cadence. Speaking of voices, 'X-Men's Banshee; Caleb Landry Jones is first class as a bothersome brother who will leave you screaming. Whilst classic character actor Stephen Root drives this extended family tree deeper underground. But it's Donald Glover's 'Atlanta' co-star LaKeith Stanfield-who was so convincing as Snoop Dogg in the N.W.A. 'Straight Outta Compton' movie-who really draws your gaze for his look and true to formidable form act. That is until comedian 'Lil Rel' Milton Howrey steals the show with some howling moments and even more comic relief as anything but the streotypical best friend. Because Jordan's film is all about slamming stereotypes...not reinforcing them. And by the time he's done so everyone else who thought they could get away with backwards discrimination and racism will be. They'll be the one that will really be told to 'Get Out' from this statement of filmmaking. How about it? Here's to a horror movie that shows you just how horrible and terrifying everything really is. No behind the couch bull####. Do you get this? It's like nothing else out there. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Keanu', 'Guess Who', 'Knock, Knock'.
Thursday, 9 March 2017
Planet Of The Ape.
118 Mins. Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Tony Kebbell, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Wigham, Jing Tian, John Ortiz, Richard Jenkins & John C. Reilly. Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts.
'King Kong' 'aint got s### on this! Hollywood will always love monkeying around. From 'Lord Of The Rings' director Peter Jackson's epic 2005 adaptation to all those damned, dirty apes warring with this planet. But now after climbing the biplane circling Empire State, this beast has a whole 'Skull Island' of his own. The return of the King see's Kong chest thumping mighty enough to grapple with a 'Godzilla' resurgence (there's even a direct copy of the nuclear testing reference and line about that actually being an attempt to kill the beast (is there something going on here?), albeit delivered just as good by Goodman) or 'Pacific Rim' uprising...if only we could ever get the cinematic crossover we really want. Instead back in Vietnam, Captain Marvel, Brie Larson and Loki, Tom Hiddleston face an apocalypse right now (you've seen the incredible homaged posters as wall worthy as the Japanese manga ones) with Nick Fury, AKA Samuel L. Jackson. A year before their avenging 'Infintiy War' with Marvel. But as of right now in this dawn of the 'War Of The Planet Of The Apes' it looks like Hollywood's la la land is taking it back to the classic mainstream, monster, blockbuster disaster movies from the past. With this, those other chimps and Hollywood's most famous franchise face across the generations, Tom Cruise unwrapping a new 'Mummy' movie this Summer. But this...this is the daddy. The father of big budget, thrills and spills, popcorn popping movie invention. A motion picture icon as big in American entertainment culture as Babe Ruth, Frank Sinatra or Cary Grant...no stranger to evading planes himself. From 1933 to now 84 years later...Kong the once and future king. All hail.
"GET TO THE PART WERE HE CHOPS DOWN HELICOPTERS:! We hear you cry! The palm tree, 'in your face' javelin. The Federer back-hand. The two fisted childs tantrum slam down. The Chicago Cub swing strike right out of Wrigley Field. And let's not even talk about inking octopus predators fates and making a meal out of them like spaghetti. This monkey business is no shrieking cheap toy with symbols...and all the Hollywood stars vying for top banana with the king know this. Like low key action hero Tom Hiddleston. The Loki star of the Marvel Avenger Universe going from a 'I Love Taylor Swift' t-shirt to muscling out of one. In this movieworld's park his wardrobe is Alan Grant minus the canvas stetson. 'The Night Manager' has just found himself a new day job with something even scarier than 'Crimson Peak'. But make 'Room' for Oscar winner Brie Larson, almost in a Laura Dern 'Jurassic Park' role complete with blue vest and red room ready camera. Loki and your new Captain Marvel would never get this close in the 'Avengers-Infintiy War', but here Larson and Hiddleston raise more 'will they/wont they' questions than which of the many A-list actors here are on the menu. O.K Kong for starters we have John Goodman. Fresh off his 'Patriots Day' call to honor turn and on fine form still, reuniting with his and Mark Wahlberg's 'Gambler' co-star Brie Larson. Sending her and Tom on this wild ape chase expedition through the helicopter descending jungles like...well John Hammond. And if you haven't had your fill of 'Jurassic Park' references. The man who is in everything Samuel L. Jackson gives us his best in years. Even offering you some easter egg chocolate in the form of bringing back his fond, favourite "hold onto your butts line". It's not like he gets to drop two many F-bombs here with all those munitions. But madder than the time his inflight movie was cancelled, Jackson wants to get this mother###### ape off this mother####### island like those snakes. Not to mention tree tall spiders, more prehistoric looking birds and some skull crawling monsters that make those 'Godzilla' moth things look like they could be taken out by a light bulb. Any ideas?
Here's a few more. Tony Kebbell who was a devestatingly good Doom in the 'Fantastic Four' flop reboot affects more heads by soldiering up as a character with more heart. Whilst Asian actress of the moment Jing Tian continues her Hollywood takeover with this, her 'Great Wall' with Matt Damon building now and of course the forthcoming 'Pacific Rim: Uprising' sequel as she stands tall next to Chrysler covering central characters. This movie even picks up a few actors with attitude, straight out of the breakout N.W.A. movie. As 'Straight Outta Comptons' Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins) and Eazy E (Jason Mitchell) bring some science and silly respectively to this seriously good blockbuster that never takes itself far too seriously. That is until 'Boardwalk Empire' star Shea Whigham goes all Stephen Merchant in 'Logan'. No spoilers but the fact that you see both these things in the trailer is as amazing as the scene itself, as Shea is his best since his support in 'The Lincoln Lawyer' and 'Silver Lingings Playbook'. Speaking of which, regular character actor John Ortiz shows up for a bit as set piece bait as this film brings everyone on board. Even the ever-good Richard Jenkins gets some senator lines in before they set sail. But its 'Step Brothers' and 'The Lobster' star John C. Reilly, gone Dennis Hopper hell for leather crazy in the jungle like his beard that steals the show. And every scene he brings his trademark nuanced and underrated helpings of humor and heart to. This film packs a wallop in all corners. And in dropping napalm and "scientific instruments" back in the jungles of Vietnam, it has a lot to say and scathe about not only that war, but the one today between animal and man that goes beyond territorial claims, or the cinematic shades and sunsets of 'Apocalypse Now' references that will resonate long after their first impression. This monkey leaves one hell of a footprint. 'The Kings Of Summer' dynamite director Jordan Vogt-Roberts may have just found his one with the crown of this seasons blockbuster bunch that has already come early, in the Spring we wish we could only see outside with the in cinemas now releases of 'Logan' and 'John Wick: Chapter 2'. But this is the real myth. The real legend. No man can render this epic creature fear extinct. We're going to need a bigger monster. Now what does that sound like? Chest thumping fun?! Kong is king...hear him ROAR! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'King Kong', 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes', 'Godzilla'.
Wednesday, 1 March 2017
Black History Must.
4 Episodes. Starring: Malachi Kirby, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Anika Noni Rose, Rege-Jean Page, Matthew Goode, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anna Paquin, Tony Curran, Cliff 'T.I.' Harris, Derek Luke, Mekhi Phifer, Mandela Van Peebles, Sedale Threatt Jr., Forest Whitaker & Laurence Fishburne (Narrator). Executive Producer: LeVar Burton.
Like the rose that grew from concrete, the 'Roots' of this History Channel revival of the 1977 groundbreaking miniseries is beauty and strength bore from the hardest of trapped times. Making this all too real account a must this Black History Month. Now it's almost bordering on ignorant disrespect to say, "if you liked '12 Years A Slave' then you'll like this". These type of historical dramas from small to big screen aren't exactly what you could call, or term "enjoyable". Yet just like 'Schindlers List' account of the absolutely evil persecution of Jews in the second World War, it's necessary viewing. Essential in terms of education and learning, from young to old. So we can all be taught how to treat people better. Whether in regards to our blind ignorance or blatant rage. From people of different races and religions, to men and women, whatever the age. This is more than being rawly reminded that the n-word is a abhorrent and horrible as the people that use it as a weapon, no matter how many times you hear it in a rap record, or mainstream movie. This is a wake up call in the terrible Trump-era that all men...and women are created equal...and will always remain so under the eyes of God, the highest power. It's getting deep and heavy now, but time and tide such is life at the moment. We need these 'Roots' of historical storytelling more than ever right now. Especially as the Sundance runaway hard-hitting hit 'Birth Of A Nation' (which took it's title from an old, outright disgusting Klan movie and flipped it with a middle finger) has been cut down from everyone from critic to Oscar (even in the year the Academy finally got it right (aside from the envelope) and honored movies like 'Moonlight', 'Fences' and 'Hidden Figures') due to the controversial past of actor/writer/director Nate Parker who was accussed of rape and later acquited, though his accuser commited suicide recently. Whatever the opinion or truth, 'Nation' is also critical viewing that now remains unseen. Yet the story of the slave rebellion lead by Nat Turner is here in part in this four episode miniseries which takes us back to the story of the man that will always be known as Kunta Kinte.
Never Toby! Now today you may know the genuinely affecting actor LeVar Burton from being the iconic visor wearing Geordi LaForge in 'The Next Generation' of 'Star Trek'. But his roots belong to the indelible image of his hands bound together on the front cover/poster for the original 1977 series. For he played the young lead of 'Roots', Kunta Kinte. And play it did he with pure passion and personification. Now a remarkable 40 years later he starts the revolution again, serving as executive producer. Outstanding in his overseeing of a series that features different, dynamic directors like the maverick actor turned behind the scenes Mario Van Peebles. Now Burton plays the background too it's up to young actor Malachi Kirby to trace the roots of Kinte. The London kid who made his bones in British shows like 'Eastenders' and 'Doctor Who' matures massively over just a few episodes, albeit hour and a half ones that serve as mini-movies all in themselves. Malachi is a revolution as Kunta. Even owning the incendiary "tell me your name" scene with harrowing haunts of the old, yet now with a brutal new level of hard hitting, graphic violence that is just too much to take. Alex Haley's novelized, storied saga focusses on family and this acclaimed adaptation features such. Emayatzy Corinealdi is brilliant as Kinte's beautiful bride Belle. Whilst 'A Raisin In The Sun' play and 'Dreamgirls' star Anika Noni Rose stirs the soul and every emotion as their daughter Kizzy sold to a different plantation and sicker than sick slave owner. Her son 'Chicken George', played excellently by young Maxwell lookalike Rege-Jean Page fights with effervescent charisma and his story cooped into the world on cock-fighting is one of frustrating clipped wings spread as far as they can go. That's quite a lot to take and this explicit 'Roots' weeds out everything at a relentless pace. To show both all the story compressed in six hours worth of screen-time and just how bad it all was, every little bit. No holes barred so we can really see.
Meanwhile on the utterly wrong side of history 'Watchmen' Matthew Goode is just so good at showing us just how bad it really was. Just like Tony Curran's vile character, an actor who has already shown us in just one episode of 'Daredevil' how close he can get to Satan himself, torturing The Punisher of all people. But he's nothing compared to Jonathan Rhys-Meyers' slave owner of pure, purile evil. It takes an awful lot for Rhys-Meyers to be this horrible. He literally treats even the slaves he likes like collateral...to hell with the damage. Thank goodness for 'X-Men' star Anna Paquin gone rogue...igniting everything she touches. Or the length and breadth of a great cast who portray just a footnote fraction of all the boldy brave men and women who endured and then overcame slavery. From rapper T.I., government actor name Clifford Harris-currently starring alongside singer/actor Jamie Foxx in the cop/crime drama 'Sleepless'-who has been doing this since his impressive turn in Denzel Washington's 'American Gangster'. To even a sensational, strong in the face of tyranny Sedale Threatt Jr. the son of a former Los Angeles Lakers swingman from the NBA of around '96. Even director Peebles' children get a look in with the mesmerizing Mandela Van Peebles playing the type of people that would make Nelson proud. There's even more big names of recognition thanks to 'Antwone Fisher' star Derek Luke who displays a sincerity of strength, despite being shackled and drawn to a slave ship. Whilst former 'E.R.' lead and '8 Mile' and 'Clockers' star Mekhi Phifer clocks his best screen time in years, reminding us all just how underrated an actor he is regardless of race or status in the industry. The legends are here too however, as Forest Whitaker-who from 'Arrival' to 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' has been racking up some of the best pictures of last year-plays Fiddler, a violinist with beautiful changing tunes of passion and restraint. Forest's gumption here is undeniable. Whitaker in this multi-character piece akin to his Lee Daniels 'Butler' lead, performs like he's conducting this whole thing, but pays respect to his audience and orchestra of fellow players. And it all comes note right together under both the moving melody of music from Amir 'Questlove' Thompson, the drummer of no other but, The Roots and the spine-tingling narration of 'Blackish' sitcom star and storyteller Laurence Fishburne, currently in cinemas reunited with 'Matrix'- co-star Keanu Reeves for 'John Wick: Chapter Two'. A broad baritone to make both James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman proud. These 'Roots' are stories that need to be retold and told again. Even if the force of which hits you more like a blunt instrument than a wake up call. Sometimes only the truest take proves a worthy testament and this revival recognises it's perfect predecessor with homaged honor. Now hopefully this almost 50 year story of centuries gone will grown and grow until all the ignorance wilts. And the roots of something much more beautiful can bloom. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Birth Of A Nation', '12 Years A Slave', 'The Butler'.