Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Review

In the three years since the events of Jurassic World and the fall of the theme park, Owen (Chris Pratt), has moved to a forest somewhere to build a cabin, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), has started up a Dinosaur Activist Group and oh, yeah, the Dinosaur island is about to blow up. A once thought dormant volcano becomes active again and all of the poor, helpless, man-eating dinosaurs are in trouble! And just like with every other film in this franchise, the dumbest line in the tv series LOST comes to mind again, “We have to go back”. Not only are we going back to Isla Nublar, oh no, we’re going to do something even dumber… remember how cool it was when we brought a Tyrannosaurus Rex to San Diego in 1997? Well, what if we brought more dinosaurs to the main land?

So yeah, that’s the premise for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. But is the film any good?

Yes and no.

The film is full of action, things blowing up, people getting ripped to shreds and, of course, the scary dinosaurs that we all line up to see. It’s a fun popcorn movie that isn’t and wont be the worst sequel to come out this year. The film isn’t as good as JurassicWorld, but they have improved the character dynamics between Owen and Claire, not by much, but it makes moments between them a little easier to watch. If you just want to watch people get ripped limb from limb by dinosaurs – have at it.

From a story point of view, how any one in the audience can relate to characters by this point, I have no idea. I’m sure, even the most reckless people in a cinema wont watch this movie thinking, “I would do the exact same thing”. And I think that’s a problem. Yes, people want to be entertained, and entertainment requires suspension of belief, but if you want me to believe for one second that people that are smart enough to create dinosaurs from fossils think bringing those dinosaurs (after everything going wrong so many times) to a populated landmass is a good idea, then you are asking way too much.

The writing is average and predictable. There was probably two-too-many uses of our favourite T-Rex, who seems to be a good guy by now – despite having a brain the size of a peanut and most likely no long-term memory, she likes to swoop in at the last minute, save everyone, pose and roar. We also get a similar treatment of Blue from the first Jurassic World film, if it’s not the T-Rex saving everyone, it’s Blue. There’s a little reveal in the film too that is signposted a little, revealed in the middle and then verbally spelled out at the end, which felt like a ‘just in case you didn’t get it’ sort of a scene. The editing in the film in some places felt a little off pace, certain things seem to come out of nowhere or happen a little too quickly. It all just felt a little lazy.

Chris Pratt plays the action hero well in this franchise but I wouldn’t be giving him any awards for acting or anything, there’s the occasional joke which pulled off fine, but that’s his wheel house. Bryce Dallas Howard confuses me a bit, I can never tell whether I like her or not. The only thing of note I can say about here in this film is, she has ditched the heels and they make sure you know, with many shots of her boots as she jumps out of trucks etc. Rafe Spall plays an ‘ambitious’ character (if you know what I mean) who is the right hand man to James Cromwell’s character, who used to be good friends with John Hammond (creator of Jurassic Park). Cromwell plays the sort of character who could have easily appeared in the original films (I found myself trying to remember if he was or not). There’s a little girl in the film, Maisie (played by Isabella Sermon) who wasn’t very good, this is her first role and I feel like it was more down to direction than it was her lack of talent. The two other ‘good’ characters (played by Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda) are your typical throw away ‘screaming all the time’ characters that you get in every movie like this, you know, first big break sort of roles.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom tries to further a story that really shouldn’t be furthered, at this point they are making these movies so people can see dinosaurs. That being said, this franchise is in no way as bad as Transformers for example. The story if just following characters that are choosing to make bad decisions that tend to lead to getting eaten. Unless there’s a whole meta-commentary here saying that humans really are that dumb, I just don’t buy it anymore, I stopped buying it a while ago. I’m never not going to see a Jurassic Park movie. I just feel we’re doomed to follow the same dumb storylines. Although, keep an eye out for Jurassic World 3, where the dinosaurs are no doubt going to attempt a casino heist.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a fun film that will hold you over until the next one in 2021. I’m not ever going to say don’t see a Jurassic Park/World movie. I’m probably not ever again going to say that it’s one of the best movies ever made (the first one is definitely up there). But what I am going to tell you is don’t expect too much. If you buy your ticket wanting to see people getting chased and eaten by dinosaurs then this movie is 100% for you! If you are looking for some detailed, methodical science triller/horror where characters understand that dinosaurs will kill people, be more like the first people.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Average

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The Emperor’s New Groove – Review

The Emperor’s New Groove was a switch to a new, modern direction when it was released in 2000. We have the film that we have, because a decision from the head of Disney at the time, Michael Eisner. Now I’m a little hot or cold on Eisner and I will probably go deeper in to why in a later post. But for now, a bit of history and a review of a much-loved Disney film.

The story that became The Emperor’s New Groove started out as ‘Kingdom of the Sun’ a ‘traditional’ Disney, Incan themed version of The Prince and the Pauper. It featured a greedy and selfish emperor (still voiced by David Spade), a peasant who looks just like the emperor (in this version, voiced by Owen Wilson) and an evil witch also named Yzma. The two main characters would switch places, so the emperor could escape his boring life. Yzma wanted to destroy the sun to regain her youth and wanted the emperor out of the way so she could achieve this goal. She discovers the switch and turns the real emperor in to a llama and threatens to reveal the peasant’s identity unless he obeys her. The real emperor learns humility as a llama and falls in love with a llama herder. He and the llama herder set out to stop the witch and undo her plans.

After the box office performances of Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame were underwhelming, Eisner gave the development team two-weeks to completely overhaul the film, adding more comedy and lightening up the overall feel of the movie. By reading the plot of the original story, its clear that much of the original content was kept, the main changes added modern references and changed the character of the peasant, aging him up and giving him a family. So there’s your quick history of ‘Kingdom of the Sun’ now let’s talk about The Emperor’s New Groove.

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Set in the Incan Kingdom the story revolves around Kuzco (David Spade), the egotistical emperor who is turned into a llama after he fires is adviser, Yzma (Eartha Kitt). Yzma, along with her (fan-favourite) henchman, Kronk (Patrick Warbuton), plans to take the throne for herself and attempts to kill the llama. Llama-Kuzco finds himself on a cart belonging to a peasant named Pacha (John Goodman) and after a series of events that teaches Kuzco humility and friendship, the two attempt to stop Yzma and return Kuzco to the throne.

The characters in the film are fantastic, despite Kuzco’s selfishness he is relatable to most of the audience. Yzma’s overacting and her reactions to Kronk are fantastic and one of Eartha Kitt’s best roles, she continued to receive praise for her performances of Yzma in the follow-up tv series, The Emperor’s New School. Kronk, as mentioned before, is a fan favourite with people falling in love with his simple mind and his kind demeanour. However, the internal debate with his conscious personified by angel and devil versions of himself is my favourite part of Kronk’s character and the film.

The Emperor’s New Groove is arguably one of the funniest films in Disney Animation Studio’s repertoire and is one of the better films to come out of the post-renaissance era. The script is tight and the performances of Spade, Warburton and Kitt add to the film’s greatness. A perfect example of this is Warburton’s Mission: Impossible-esque theme music for Kronk being ad-libbed. So yeah, I’m sure you’ve worked out who my favourite character of the film is. Wouldn’t it be great if Kronk had his own movie? Turns out no, the direct-to-video Kronk’s New Groove received nothing but negative reviews.

The Emperor’s New Groove did it’s best to change the direction of Disney Animation Studios away from the classic way of story telling and update it to make it more relevant to the audience. This helped pave the way for the rest of the post-renaissance era films for better or worse. The film was an attempt for Disney to show that they were in touch with modern audiences. But it failed. The Emperor’s New Groove was a Box Office disappointment, it performed worse than Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the films that caused the massive retooling of the script. Despite this the film has become a cult-classic and often features middle to high on many top Disney movie lists.

Personally, I think The Emperor’s New Groove is a good film, it’s very funny however the story is shallow. The characters are what makes the movie memorable. Could ‘Kingdom of the Sun’ have performed better at the Box Office and won over more people when it was released? Who knows. Can we say that The Emperor’s New Groove was ahead of its time due to the cult-following it has today? I think, no. The following around this film can be drummed up to two things, nostalgia and Kronk.

Rating: Average

Oliver and Company – Review

In the late 1980’s Disney was undergoing some changes Jeffery Katzenberg was now overseeing the animation studio and with the disappointing new direction attempt with The Black Cauldron, Disney knew they had to try something else. That something else was the same thing they were doing before The Black Cauldron… cute animals. And so work began on The Great Mouse Detective and Oliver and Company.

A light-hearted, New York City based version of Oliver Twist, Oliver and Company isn’t a bad film. Its animation style is pretty nice and it shows the direction Disney was starting to take shape with the soon to arrive ‘Renaissance’.

The film centres on a orphan kitten named Oliver that falls in with a group or dogs who scavenge and steal for their owner, Fagin who in turn, owes money to Sykes. Oliver eventually finds himself in the care of Jenny who adopts him, before he is flung back in to the lives of the dogs and Fagin.

The music in Oliver and Company is good but nothing to write home about, my favourite song is “Why Should I Worry?” performed by Billy Joel who voices Dodger. The film draws its musical style from New York City in the 1980’s and while shows a small array of styles, it doesn’t really show off what the city was about at the time. It feels like a more modern version of The Aristocats at some points. however the sound design of the cityscapes and outdoor scenes do give off the New York City vibe.

The film stars a twelve-year-old Joey Lawrence as Oliver as well as Billy Joel as Dodger, Cheech Marin as Tito, Richard Mulligan as Einstein, Roscoe Lee Brown as Francis Sheryl Lee Ralph as Rita (with Ruth Pointer providing singing voice), Bette Midler as Georgette and Taurean Blacque and Carl Weintraub as Roscoe and DeSorto. While on the human side of the cast we have Dom DeLuise as Fagin, Robert Loggia as Sykes, William Glover as Winston and Natalie Gregory as Jenny (with Myhanh Tran providing the singing voice).

All in all, Oliver and Company is an alright film. Nothing is great about it, the storyline is pretty straight forward and the music is good. But it is an important chapter in Disney Animated Studios as it signalled the beginning of something very special.

Rating: Average

The Greatest Showman – Review

Hugh Jackman returns to the musical genre in a modern, loose retelling of the story of P.T. Barnum in The Greatest Showman. The film is set in the late 1800s and follows a rags-to-riches storyline in the guise of a true story. The early life of Phineas Taylor Barnum in the film does not resemble that of the real-life counterpart, the timeline of events is also skewed to serve the story. The film, unfortunately, doesn’t reflect the arguably more interesting true story of P.T. Barnum, that being said, when you separate the ‘source material’ from what you see on the screen, it’s still a very enjoyable film.

The Greatest Showman stars Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum and Zac Efron as Phillip Carlyle, a fictional playwright and Barnum’s partner and protegé. The supporting cast is made up of Michelle Williams as P.T.’s wife, Charity, Rebecca Ferguson as Jenny Lind, Zendaya as Anne Wheeler and Keala Settle as Lettie Lutz, a bearded lady. The film sports a wide range of other actors portraying some real-life and some fictional wonders and oddities. The performances in the film are top quality, there was no one that I felt phoned it in and the singing was pretty good. Admittedly, we are in a day and age now where we are spoiled by Les Miserables where ADR song tracks don’t feel as real as singing live.

Hugh Jackman is fantastic and looks and moves like a much younger man. It’s in films like this he really strives and I would love to see more of this from him. Zac Efron is not the young man we saw in High School Musical, he has become a very good actor and singer in his own right and again, I would like to see him in a few more musical roles. Zendaya is great in this film. I liked her in Spider-Man: Homecoming but this is where she really shines. While I enjoyed Michelle Williams as Charity, I thought P.T.’s daughters stole her spotlight and they definitely deserved it.

The music in the film is for a modern audience. Many of the tracks could have an electronic backing track added to them and you could find them on a top 100 chart. A lot of them have an inspirational, Calvin Harris-y vibe with constant references to dreams and stars and stuff. While you can tell they tried to add complexity to the songs, a lot of them felt very generic and samey. The performances of the songs were also very modern with choreography that did not match the time or the period costume. The stand out performance for me was Zac Efron and Zendaya’s performance of ‘Rewrite the Stars’ that featured the two actors in an empty stage with rope work and it felt like it fit. It’s a stark contrast to the opening and the closing performances of ‘The Greatest Show’ (which is an ultra-contemporary number) where there are numerous examples of unreal CGI and a ridiculous amount of people doing everything littering the screen.

For all it’s problems, The Greatest Showman is an entertaining movie. It features a simple plot and modern music which should appeal to a wide audience. It’s far from the ‘greatest show’ it claims to be. It’s also not a very good story of P.T. Barnum, the film takes a lot of liberties and really just uses the elements of his story that serves the film’s story. It could be seen as the version P.T. Barnum would tell, a fantastic version of real-life events. But his life was much more interesting.

The Greatest Showman: Average

Better Watch Out – Review

This isn’t a very long film, so it doesn’t warrant a very long review. Better Watch Out is a Christmas psychological horror film that tells the story of one terrifying night. Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) is a 17-year-old babysitter who is taking care of 12-year-old Luke (Levi Miller) when strange things start happening around the house. Phone lines cut and doors being left open tell Ashley that something isn’t quite right. Luke, who has a crush on Ashley tries to act tough in order to make her like him. After a brave attempt to stop the bad guys it is revealed that the whole thing was a prank of Luke’s design aided by his friend Garrett (Ed Oxenbould). But after the prank is revealed, things take a turn for the worse.

While I don’t mind these sorts of films I thought that Better Watch Out was just one in a crowd. While the film has an interesting take, it’s not anything I haven’t seen before. The three leads are all young Australian actors and they all do a great job in their respective roles. Admittedly it is a horror film and it’s not crucial that they can all act but it is nice to see them stick to their character and keep the audience invested. Levi Miller captured the 12-year-old manipulative psychopath very well when the character screams or yells sometimes his voice cracks (not sure if it was real or purposefully done but), it gave a reality to the character. The Christmas setting doesn’t do all that much to the actual storyline but it adds some little touches to a story that could only happen at Christmas.

While not scary at all, I felt that the film was a bit sadistic in parts and very much played on a horny 12-year-old boy not getting what he wants and turning to terrible things to get it. This could rub people the wrong way because of the ages of the characters. I didn’t mind the film but I wasn’t on board with some of the choices the characters made. That, however, did help with the way I felt about all of the characters in the film – uncomfortable.

Better Watch Out is an Australian-American co-production that features a lot of Australian actors. The director, Chris Peckover is an Australia-Canadian dual citizen and wanted to make a film outside of LA after his last film, Undocumented. This resulted in a decent horror film that is fun to watch but won’t be topping any ‘best of’ or ‘worst of’ lists for 2017.

Better Watch Out: Average

Justice League – Review

The DC movie franchise returns to the cinemas after Wonder Woman dominated the Box Office with their second film for 2017, Justice League and it was pretty good.

Justice League is set some time after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman is dead and that starts to wake up three mysterious boxes. The boxes are ‘Mother Boxes’ powerful cubes from the planet Apokalips (but that isn’t really mentioned in the film). These boxes either called to or freed Steppenwolf, a New God (again not really mentioned in the film) who had tried to bring the boxes together before but failed. This time, he doesn’t plan on failing. This is where Batman realises he must bring together a team of superheroes to stop this alien threat.

While the ‘getting the team together’ scenes weren’t bad, they felt poorly paced. In usual DC Movie style they jump from scene to scene like a comic book rather than a film where usually some form of transition is required. And maybe that’s it, I’ve said in the past that these films have captured the comic book style more than other series has. So maybe these are the ‘real’ comic book adaptations? That aside, there were a few similarities to Marvel’s The Avengers but the Justice League coming together had a little more nostalgia for me (the Justice League animated series being one of my favourite cartoons as a kid) and it was good to see these characters come together on screen.

The team consists of Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg (plus – spoilers… eventually, Superman). The characters have a good dynamic with each other and it feels more like a team that actually likes each other more than a team that is forced together for a common goal. Batman (Ben Affleck) continues his gruff and grizzled persona but has lightened up a bit for this film (almost like Superman’s death actually made him happier) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is still the elegant bad-ass who appeared in the solo film earlier this year. Both of these characters are good but we know who they are, its time to meet the new guys.

Barry Allen aka ‘The Flash’ (Ezra Miller) is a socially awkward kid who after being struck by lighting can now move at incredible speeds. He is the comic relief of this film, very different to his television counterpart played by Grant Gustin, I didn’t hate him as much as I thought I would, he’s not a bad charater and Ezra Miller has done a decent job bringing him to the silver screen. Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is a man of two worlds that belongs in neither. He’s gruff and grizzled like Batman but doesn’t have the responsibility and tends to help only when he wants to. Jason Momoa does a great job cutting down the campy versions of Aquaman people are used to and I am very much looking forward to his first solo outing next year. Rounding out the team is Cyborg, after an accident that leaves Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) on death’s door, his father harnesses one of the Mother Boxes to bring him back to life. This results in the Mother Box grafting cybernetic limbs that end up taking over almost his whole body. He stays in control most of the time but on occasion the cybernetics take charge, this can put him in a little trouble. Cyborg has a good but rarely touched on character arc that I would have loved to see more on.

I wont touch on Superman but as many expected, he does return.

The villain Steppenwolf lacked a lot. I feel that he probably did have motive but it wasn’t confirmed by him, some of the characters assumed his motivations and that’s really all you have to go on. He didn’t pose much of a threat and his end goal was the same as Zod’s in Man of Steel – ‘turn Earth in to a planet like my planet’. I didn’t like him and he felt like a overcorrection to BvS where they went big with Doomsday and the Death of Superman story and the producers probably thought that using Darksied straight after might be overkill.

Like in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there was no coherent progression in the story. It was a collection of parts of the story. There’s definitely parts missing and again that comes down to Zack Snyder’s film making style. With that its time to talk production… and oh boy what a production this was. Many script revisions, two composers, two directors and one digitally removed moustache. With $25 Million worth of reshoots the story was likely changed significantly but you really can see what scenes are directed by Joss Whedon and what scenes are Snyder’s (Zack Snyder having to step down in Post Production after the death of his daughter). The reshoots coincided with Henry Cavill’s shooting schedule for Mission: Impossible 6, for which he had grown a moustache which he was contracted to keep while filming, so Justice League’s VFX team had to resort to using special effects to digitally remove the moustache in post.

Junkie XL was originally composing the score for Justice League after working on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice but was replaced by former Batman and Batman Returns composer, Danny Elfman. What an addition to the film it was, Elfman included his original Batman theme from 1989, worked in John William’s Superman theme from 1978 and kept Wonder Woman’s new bad ass theme. I love Danny Elman scores and I think they really belong in a comic book film. I hope Warner Bros. keeps Elfman around because he can add one thing to the DC films that Marvel is missing, good and memorable music.

With all the criticisms and all the praise I have with this film I find that there are parts that I loved and parts that I absolutely did not. It’s rare to have a movie this polarising. However I feel that the pros just narrowly outweigh the cons. It’s great to see this team together on screen finally and I would love to see more. Justice League is a step in the right direction and tonally the future of the franchise should exist somewhere between this film and Wonder Woman. I want to see Warner Bros. ramp up production in this area so we never have to wait more than a year (Justice League in November 2017 to Aquaman in December 2018) ever again.

Justice League: Average

The Fundamentals of Caring – Review

The Fundamentals of Caring is an indie comedy-drama that was distributed on Netflix. It’s one of those feel-good, feel-bad, feel-good-again movies, nice to just sit down and watch some time.

The film follows Ben (played by Paul Rudd), a retired writer who completes a course to become a caregiver. He gets a job looking after Trevor (Craig Roberts), and eighteen-year-old who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Ben and Trevor go on a road-trip to see the worlds deepest pit. During the road-trip they meet many people and learn about each other, you know the usual.

Rob Burnett, the writer and director of this film adapted his script from a novel by Jonathan Evison titled ‘The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving’ and he did a good job too. It’s a fun film, the dialogue is tight and everything plot point is tied up either in an emotional or humourous way.

Joining Paul Rudd and Craig Roberts in the film is Selena Gomez, Jennifer Ehle and Megan Ferguson. All of these actors do a decent job. Megan Feguson plays a slightly weird pregnant woman who has some funny lines but it’s Rudd and Roberts that breath the most life in to the film.

This film isn’t anything amazing but it short sweet and enjoyable. Its something you can chill out and watch on Netflix when ever, but it is worth a watch.

The Fundamentals of Caring: Average

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

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

This Is 40 – Review

A Judd Apatow movie that I actually liked.

This Is 40 claims to be a sort of sequel to Knocked Up. If it is a sequel it is definitely better than it predecessor.

The film follows husband an wife, Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) in the week that they both turn 40 (or 38 if you believe Debbie). They go through a lot of things you’d expect to happen over a few months rather than a week. Financial trouble, rebellious children, fights with each other, fights with parents at their children’s school (just one of the highlights in this film and a reason to stick around for the credits) and issues with their parents who both have second families.

Filled with heaps of pop-culture references including digs at John Goodman and J.J. Abrams, This Is 40 had me laughing for most of the film (and like I usually say, there is only one good rom-com a year… Shame this one was so early on).

Average