Early Reviews for Wonder Woman are wonderfully positive!

The embargo has lifted and the reviews are in. Wonder Woman has got the internet in a whirl.

Rotten Tomatoes has the current rating at 97% with 64 out of 66 positive reviews and the 2 ‘rotten’ reviews still talk about the many upsides of the film giving a 2/5 and a 2.5/5 each.

Naturally, with more screenings still to come and more reviews coming out the score will go down a little. But I’m looking forward to see this film so much. I plan to see it on Thursday night and will have a review up on Friday.

The excitement will continue to build over the next few days. Without seeing this film yet, I encourage everyone to go out and support this movie. Show Warner Bros. that this is the kind of superhero movie we want.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Review

I hadn’t seen this Pirates of the Caribbean movie until last week, the day before I saw Dead Men Tell No Tales.

Please note, this review was written before seeing the fifth film, due to other reviews I already had scheduled, this is being released afterwards.

To preface, I’ve only really liked the first Pirates film, The Curse of the Black Pearl. The other two were good from a production value point of view, but story line wise they go off in all sorts of directions and the overacting became a staple of the franchise. That being said, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides also features the overacting. When I think about it though, what I really want from a blockbuster pirate movie, is actors acting like pirates. I want the ‘argh me-hearty’s’, swash-buckling, stereotype of pirates that I’ve grown up with. That is what I’ve come to expect when I hear Hans Zimmer’s epic theme, and that’s what I buy a ticket for.

On Stranger Tides, seemed to have a more streamlined story, while there are three ‘teams’ all racing to one goal, as well as a shopping list for ‘the ritual’. The important thing is that the protagonists and antagonists are all heading following a simple story and not all heading off on convoluted journeys for complicated reasons.

As usual, the film looks pretty good, pretty blockbuster-y but again, that’s the point right? The scenes on the water, at night especially, look like they’re shot on a sound stage but some of the location shots were pretty so you forgive it. While there wasn’t much in the line of CGI on characters, mostly enchanted ropes, water and backgrounds, there is a CGI frog that I wasn’t a huge fan of, a far cry from Davy Jones. On the plus side though, the mermaid effects weren’t too bad. I’m just about to get to the acting in this film, but I’m going to mention this now, there’s a clergyman and a mermaid who fall in love or what ever, it was a story tread to get the mermaid to cry because a mermaid’s tear was needed for the ritual – other than that, reasonably unnecessary.

Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) returns along with the first trilogy’s Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin McNally) in a one-shot of sorts having very little (if nothing) to do with the films that came before. Barbossa and Gibbs’ style of pirate-y-ness is what I was talking about earlier on. It’s nothing too amazing, but in this film, its fun, it fits the theme. It reminds me of what I liked about The Curse of the Black Pearl. Straight up pirates followin’ maps and findin’ treasure. Depp’s Jack Sparrow felt a little toned down in this film. Not to say he wasn’t overtly Sparrow, but it didnt feel as overdone as it did in Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End.

Penelope Cruz plays Angelica, a former flame of Jack’s whose motives and intentions are all over the place. I get the feeling that Cruz was performing each line at a time, because her character tells a lot of ‘lies’ that are actually ‘truths’, ‘truths’ that are ‘lies’, and ‘lies’ that are actually ‘lies’. In a blockbuster like this, a film for the masses, surely there should be a small tell or a subtlety or something that gets you thinking about what she is saying, questioning it’s validity. Either that or she would be killer at ‘two truths and a lie’.

Now we get to Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard. While McNally and Rush play your typical pirates who’s allegiances can change with the wind, Ian McShane plays straight up bad pirate with Blackbeard. He’s on a mission to live forever but despite coming up against the film’s ticking clock, a foretelling of his death, he seems to have all the time in the world to kill crew members, threaten Sparrow and even play Russian roulette with his daughter’s life. That minor motive issue aside, the character was great and I would say is the reason I continued to have interest in the movie til the end.

Speaking of the end, its time to wrap this up. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a fun popcorn flick. It isn’t bogged down by the narrative of Will Turner like the first three films were, which gives it a lighter tone. It’s a modern version of the classic pirate films, stereotypes and over-acting a plenty. Still though – enjoyable.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Average

The Man from U.N.C.L.E – Review

A film that was greatly under appreciated during its release.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E is a re-telling of the 1960s television show that puts American and Russian spies, Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin together to stop evil organisations.

The film version is directed by Guy Ritchie and as with many other Ritchie films, features his distinctive style. Particularly the use of split screen and revealing plot details by showing you footage you’ve already seen in a different context.

Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin are played by Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (the Superman and Batman that could have been). This team is rounded out by East German Gabby Teller (played by Alicia Vikander) the estranged daughter of a former Nazi scientist who is being co-opted by Alexander and Victoria Vinciguerra (Luca Calvani and Elizabeth Debicki), a wealthy Nazi sympathising couple into developing a nuclear weapon for them.

What proceeds is a series of espionage between our protagonists and antagonists as well as the odd double crossing within the protagonists team itself. There’s some light hearted quips and some fun visual comedy sprinkled through the film.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E is such a fun film that it needs to be seen. While the film leaves the door open for a sequel it’s not all that likely, given that the box office results were not quite what Warner Bros. we’re hoping for and that Henry will most likely be tied up with his role as Superman (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice spoiler there). This film is an absolute gem.

Man from U.N.C.L.E: Above Average

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – Review

The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise returns to the story of the Turners’ in an epic, yet average film.

I look around the Internet and I see how many people actually enjoyed this film, more so than some of the other sequels. I did not think this film was better than On Stranger Tides (a film I watched for the first time just the other day and actually enjoyed, a review is written and will be coming out next week).

This film returns to the main story line of the franchise, that being the saga of the Turners and Davy Jones, almost 20 years after At World’s End (and yet some how no one looks 20 years older). Our new main character is Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the 19-year-old son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. Henry’s life long mission is to break his father’s curse and free him from the Flying Dutchman, he has studied every curse and fable of the Sea and he knows that there is one last legend that can free his father… The Trident of Poseidon.

Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) is the ‘I can’t believe its not Elizabeth Swann’ character, visually, she simply fits that mould, but her character is so much more. Shes an Astronomer, a Horologist and always the smartest person in the room/on deck. She isn’t as interested in the Trident as she is in reading ‘the Map that no man can read’ that leads to it.

Jack Sparrow (over-acted again by Johnny Depp) is also looking for the Trident to save his own life. Basically, he drunkenly made a mistake which released his greatest nemesis, cursed ghost, pirate killer, “El Matador Del Mar” Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem).

Visually, the film is great, the visual effects of the ghost crew are fantastic. The costumes as always are spot on and the sets look well put together. I didn’t enjoy the music as much as in the fourth film, but the soundtrack still worked well for a the action scenes. Watching a ship obliterate another ship with cannon fire is awesome already, add a crescendo in an orchestral piece of music and its amazing. Say what you want about the Pirates of the Caribbean films, but they always look and sound good.

Kaya Scodelario is fantastic in this film playing the intelligent Carina, often mistaken for a witch, she is a woman of science. Naturally, her beliefs are challenged coming up against the ghost sailors, curses, myths and legends that frequent the franchise. Kaya probably had the most to go on with this script, and she made it work. She was definitely the standout in this film.

Brenton Thwaites performed well, but he is unfortunately limited by his character. He’s a great talent but frequently in the movies he appears in this tends to be a problem. Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow was, again the awful comic relief, similar to Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End. Unfortunately, Jack Sparrow was not the most over-acted character in this film – there is an awful cameo. Things just tend to conveniently fall in to place for Jack and the opening set piece in this film is a perfect example. I’m just not a fan of his character any more.

I’ll tell you who I did like though, Javier Bardem. The ghostly and murderous Captain Salazar was a great character. Even through the heavy CGI on his character, you can see Bardem was having a ball playing the pirate hunter. His energy made Salazar a villain worth watching.

Rounding out the main cast, two of my favourites from all the Pirates movies, Geoffrey Rush and Kevin McNally as Hector Barbossa and Joshamee Gibbs. These guys are textbook Pirates, Johnny Depp should learn from these two. A little bit of over-acting and some gusto in the ‘Arghs’ is what a pirate should be. They always turn up in these films and Dead Men Tell No Tales is no exception.

The script was average at best, constantly bringing up new rules and exceptions to those rules within legends that were established in the previous film and even contradicting plot points within the film itself. Directing wise, the action was great, better than the other films, and the actors that probably needed some guidance, Thwaites and Scodelario benefited from Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg work.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is an average film, visually great, but the story is where it falls and that’s unfortunate. I wanted to like this film after actually enjoying On Stranger Tides but it slots in at around 3rd or 4th spot on the Pirates franchise ranking – I havn’t decided yet. This film could have worked without Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: Below Average

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 – Review

The galaxy’s favourite A-holes return.

It’s been a few months since the Guardians of the Galaxy defeated Ronan the Accuser. Since then, they have been picking up jobs around the galaxy due to their notoriety from this feat. While the film opens with a flashback to 1980 where Ego (Kurt Russell) and Peter Quill’s mother, Meredith (Laura Haddock) are young and in love the main story kicks in with a fight between the Guardians against an inter-dimensional monster, the Abilisk for a client, known as the Sovereign.

During the fight Rocket Raccoon steals some important batteries which pisses of the Sovereign in the team being chased down. After a series of events resulting in the Milano being damaged, and then Peter meets his Dad – lovely.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 continues the colourful style of outer-space in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while making more of a point to develop each character and fostering some new relationships. While there is a lot of action akin to the first film, there does feel like there was more exposition in this film, which while important to the character progression, did slow down the story in some places. The visual effects tough, were again top notch.

Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill is so Chris Pratt-y that I don’t consider the role as acting all that much, but he brings it again and I can’t fault him on it. Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan’s performances as Gamora and Nebula played off each other quite well in the few scenes they had together, most of it was exposition, Nebula explaining to Gamora why she hates her and what happened to her etc. Look, it was good and effective and you really get why Nebula is so damaged but I couldn’t help but think, “How has this not come up before?”

Dave Bautista, now there’s a man that knows (and has admitted to) knowing very little about acting, but boy can James Gunn get it out of him. Some of Drax’s jokes were a little forced yes, but all in all he continued to be a good character. Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) had some beautiful moments showing his softer side, and of course, everybody loves Baby Groot, who brought a lot of lighthearted comic relief to the already comedic film.

Other characters included; Mantis (Pom Klementieff), who had her own comedic parts, particularly with Drax. Yondu’s faithful First Mate, Kraglin played by James’s brother, Sean Gunn. As well as Taserface (Chris Sullivan), Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone) and Sovereign leader, Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) who all served their purposes as side-antagonists well.

Wow! Holy ensemble cast! To round it off; Michael Rooker, oh man. He’s just so cool as Yondu Udonta. We get more into his character in this one as the role he played of side antagonist in the first movie was taken by the Sovereign in this film. I wont go too much in to it but he was fantastic. Kurt Russell also did pretty well as Ego, Peter’s Father and living planet, but to be fair it was Kurt Russell playing Kurt Russell.

The soundtrack was good and fit in with the scenes well, most of the soundtrack finds it way in to the movie as diegetic sound, played from sources actually in the film, headphones, car speakers etc. The songs were good, maybe not quite as memorable as the original soundtrack but still good quality.

James Gunn shows his love of these characters in this film, it’s hard to imagine what the Guardians of the Galaxy would be like with out his loving hand. Whether good or bad, just before the film came out he announced that we would be returning to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 sometime after Avengers: Infinity War and the currently untitled, fourth Avengers film.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2‘s main short fall was the unexpected hit Guardians of the Galaxy was. I think a lot of people have gone in wanting it to be better than the first film was. While I would say that it might not quite beat it predecessor, the important thing is that it’s different, it develops the characters we have grown to love and it furthers their story.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2: Above Average

Roger Moore dies at age 89

The family of Sir Roger Moore, 7 time James Bond, announced his death yesterday. Moore was 89 and had a short but brave battle with cancer. Roger Moore’s Bond is one of my favourites, his films like the Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker are some fantastic James Bond stories.

Do yourself a favour and watch some of Roger Moore’s films, he will be sorely missed.

Airplane! – Review

They don’t make them like they used to.

Airplane! Is one of those movies I’ve seen bits and pieces of but I’ve never sat down to watch the whole thing. Boy am I glad I did! There are very few jokes in this movie that don’t hit. It’s a simple but enjoyable story filled with slapstick humour that would probably not go down too well in this day and age.

The film spoofs other movies like Zero Hour (mostly), Jaws and Saturday Night Fever. Written and Directed by the Zucker Brothers (known for other comedies like The Naked Gun and Top Secret) as well as Jim Abrahams.

The comedic timing is the star in this film. Majority of the time, comedies don’t tend to go to heavily on the visuals, its the script and the actors delivering the lines.

I feel that the comedy in this movie stands the test of time while a lot of the visual comedy serves as a bit of a time capsule for things that were pretty standard in those days – you have to understand, this film is almost 40 years old.

There’s not much else I can say about this movie other than praise it. It’s a simple irreverent comedy that is great when you want to watch something without thinking too much. If you haven’t seen this 1980 film, I suggest you give this a go (in Australia and New Zealand, the film was released as ‘Flying High!’).

Airplane: Well Above Average

Alien: Covenant – Review

A solid return to the Alien franchise.

I enjoyed Alien Covenant. The film bridged some story elements between Prometheus and Alien, it answered some questions and asked a few more. Just when you thought you had the story worked out, some subtleties in the film made me doubt that I knew what was going to happen (a trait in a movie that I absolutely love).

The film brought some surprises from the first scene. I would recommend watching the two Prelude videos you can find on the Fox YouTube Channel. It sets up the film nicely. Visually, Alien Covenant has the tone and visual style of Alien and Aliens, mixed with the visual effects and cinematography of Prometheus.

The acting in Alien Covenant was solid. Katherine Waterston served well as Daniels, the protagonist, again, like the movie itself, a bridge between Dr Elizabeth Shaw and Ellen Ripley. Danny McBride worked well, despite my fears that he would add unnecessary comedic elements. The absolute stand out for me was Michael Fassbender as both David, the synthetic android from Prometheus, and Walter, a newer version of android, based on the David model. His performance as both these characters was incredible, his robotic movements are realised in different ways for each character, based on individual programming.

The different forms of Xenomorph we see are as usual, scary, deadly and familiar with just a slight twist – something I come to expect from the Alien franchise. While the action scenes with the various Xenomorph forms seem a little re-used, it feels that Ridley Scott wanted to establish more of the backstory in this film. Don’t get me wrong, some of the deaths are pretty wicked and violent, but in my opinion, nothing we haven’t seen already in Prometheus or the earlier Alien films.

All-in-all Alien Covenant is a good film that fits nicely in to the Alien universe. It gives more validation to Prometheus as an instalment in the franchise and sparks more interest in Ridley Scott’s plan for the future Alien films.

Alien Covenant: Average

Yeah, I’m thinking I’m Back

Hello Movie Fans!
I’m back. After almost four year’s I’ve decided to come back to the film blog I enjoyed working on so much. I don’t remember why I stopped writing film reviews way back then (the last thing I wrote about was Ben Affleck signing on to be Batman and before that it was some time in May, 2013). What is important that I’m back now!

This is probably a silly time for me to start writing again as I’m heading overseas to an international Rover Scout Moot – for more information, you can check out one thing I have been up to in the last few years here: https://www.youtube.com/user/QueenslandRovers.

On the plus side though, it is a great time for movies. As well as reviewing movies that are coming out, I’ll be going back over the movies that have come out over the last few years and try to fill in the gap that this blog has.

I’m looking forward to bringing you all the reviews, news and editorials I can in the near future.