Sunday, 25 August 2013

278, 2 Guns

Any movie starring Denzel and 'Marky' Mark Wahlberg for me has to be a winner.  The sheer on-screen presence of Washington, paired with the humorous quips expected from Wahlberg make 2 Guns an exiting and action packed thrill ride that everyone will enjoy.

The movie opens almost immediately prior to the Bank Robbery the plot is focused around, only then jumping back a week for a back story to bring you up to speed.  Initially, both look like hardened Bank Robbers but slowly as the story unfolds you find out that one is DEA, the other Naval Intelligence and unbeknown to each other - believe the other to be an actual criminal.

When it turns out that the expected $3m haul is nearer to $40m, suspicions between the two grow as to they have ripped off and why and when each of their own sides turns on them - they only have each other to fall back on and find out who the money belongs too and why they are being framed.

The double act of Washington and Wahlberg is fantastic.  There plenty of one-liners as well as edge of the seat action scenes and the pair just bounce off each other brilliantly.  Denzel is by far the more aware, sincere of the two allowing for Wahlberg to play the more jovial of the pair and over the course of the movie you can see a real bond grown between the two that just wasn't there in the early stages. 

I thought the remainder of the cast was also fab.  Bill Paxton's over the top ruthless as CIA agent Earl and Bobby Trench's (Washington) girlfriend / colleague Deb (Paula Patton) play great supporting roles and you'll see X-Man Cyclops (James Marsden) play a but of a baddie too which was a nice change to his normal clean cut image.

But if I was to sum this movie up, in my mind this ones all about Wahlberg.  He will have you in fits of giggles and does the best in mixing comedy with fast paced action.  From placing a fart in a car boot to the cheeky winks bestowed upon all the pretty ladies he comes across, This for me adds another great movie to his CV and makes me want to see Pain & Gain even more than I already do!

The action is slick, car chases are brutal and Denzel shows off a bit of that hard man image seen in Training Day and Safe House which he plays on so well.  Both brilliant in their own roles but if you want to see a little piece of movie magic - then make sure 2 Guns is on your watch list.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

277, Grown Ups 2

I have to admit that looking back - Grown Ups (Part 1) did have me in momentary fits of giggles and I suppose with the sequel I was hoping for more of the same.  Unfortunately - in this it seems they've tried too hard to cram as many one liners as they can into the early scenes and as such - I just felt the first 20 minutes was entirely cringe worthy.

The story basically kicks off about a year after the first movie - Lenny Feder (Sandler) and his family have moved back to his home town to raise his kids the old fashioned American way.  Sadly, there is no real point to this film other than our 4 Grown Ups (Rob Schneider is absent) acting up again and after a run in with a College Frat pack end up having to prove their 'machoism' to them as well as face off with their own childhood bullies, resulting in an 80's party at the Faders that ends up in a Grown up vs. College brawl in the back yard.

There are few sub plots along the way, the arrival of Higgins (David Spade) unknown and wayward son, Faders & Mckenzies (Chris Rock) own brood experimenting with 'College girls' and Lamonsoff's (Kevin James) continued 'mummy's boy' lifestyle he cant yet walk away from.

All the wife's are back as is the regular 'Sandler' movie appearance for Allen Covert but the best two additions to the cast are Faders own old school bully, Cavanaugh (Played by WWE star 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin) and older brother to Fugly Mob member Malcolm, Officer Fluzoo, played by the enormous NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal.  In my mind - the best two parts in the whole movie.

The third notable addition is frat leader Andy, played by Taylor Lautner who's only redeeming feature in this movie is his impressive arsenal of martial arts roundhouse kicks and his side kick - TV 'Heroes' star Milo Ventimiglia is even worse.

Unbeknown to me at the time - the whole Sandler brood (wife & kids Jackie, Sadie & Sunny) appear as the Tardio family and the original 'opposition' team are all back too - with the brilliant Steve Buscemi reprising his role as the over nerdy but totally awesome Wiley.

I'm focusing so much on the cast here as the movie is totally shocking.  There are a few visual gags that may make some of you chuckle but on the whole - it appeared over stereotyped, badly scripted and pointless.

The 'wife's' do make up for it however to an extent with Salma Hayek dazzling on screen as she always does and with specific focus in this on her ample talent(s) I am sure that most of the bored male audience will have at least two things they can focus on. 

The highlight in this for me was guessing all of the 80's party costumes - everyone is accounted for from Hulk Hogan to Debbie Gibson and with Sandler's under whelming jeans and t-shirt (Springsteen style) its again the ladies (and Kevin James's Meatloaf) that get the 80's nods from me. 

Other than that - the stand out costumes sit with both token black guys coming in the same purple velvet 'Prince' outfits, Steve Austin as the Terminator (with Robert Palmer girlfriend in tow) and Lamonsoff's 'Bean' as one of ZZ-Top that get the most giggles.

To sum up - if slap-stick visual gags are your thing and you think Sandler should be awarded for an Oscar every year for best performance in a comedy role then this is definitely a movie for you.  Sadly, As I don't fit into that category I will make it my aim not to spend time at the cinema again watching a Sandler flick - the stereotypical character niche he has carved for himself is old and tired and I've lost interest - if you haven't - knock yourself out.

276, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is the 2nd outing for our likable Demi-God who along with his band of intrepid forest dwelling heroes have to once again fight evil forces to ensure the safety of the earth - all without any mortals knowing what's actually going on.

This is the 2nd book in a series of 5? and as you'd expect by now - I haven't read any of them but as movies - I think they work really well.  As with my write up of Red 2, being the sequel means you don't need any time at all explaining who everyone is - allowing for a far quicker take up with the plot and as before - I would highly recommend seeing the Lightening Thief before siting down to this one as not only are the heroes explained in full - but so are the baddies and although there is no inclusion of Hades in this outing - Luke (Jake Abel) is back to his evil best and a key adversary for our intrepid band of warriors.

The original cast are all back with the exception of Pierce Brosnan but his role as leader of the forest sanctuary is replaced by Stanley Tucci and Anthony Head and there are a few new demi-gods along the way, most notable is Clarisse, daughter of Ares (God of War) as a contender to Jackson's throne as Camp Hero and the brilliant Tyson - half brother to Jackson as the son of Poseidon and a Nymph! which results in Tyson being a Cyclops and initially loathed by many of his Camp mates due to history between the Cyclops race and some of the original residence of Camp Half Blood - don't panic - all will be explained.

This movie focuses around the location and capture of the fabled Golden Fleece needed to save the life of Talia's Tree that protects the Camps residence.  Meanwhile - Luke is trying to capture it for his own gain, to use it to resurrect Kronos - Father of the Gods and wreak havoc on the world as we know it.  Easy!

Although these are initially books for teens - the stories and characters are captivating and the ending of this is fantastic (***small spoiler alert***) opening up easily onto the potential 3rd instalment that sees Percy no longer as the only direct descendant of the famous three (Zeus, Poseidon & Hades) which puts into question a prophecy hanging over his own head.

The special effects for Tyson and the other Cyclops are great and seeing as no real introductions are needed for the existing cast, it gets straight into the action and the reprised roles for Percy, Annabeth & Grover are all brilliantly portrayed - moving on seamlessly from where they left off after the first instalment.

I couldn't really fault this movie at all - Sadly, I cant compare it to the original novels but as stand alone films, the first two have been well cast, well acted with captivating story lines and totally enjoyable so if you want something that will be enjoyed by parents and kids alike, you cant go far wrong with this one.

275, Red 2

Back in October 2010 (Blog 68, RED) I raved about the prequel to this instalment, stating it was a bit slow to get going but once the story actually picked up a bit of pace it was one hell of a movie  well, for RED 2 they listened to me!

John Malkovich was by far the turning point of the first movie, hilarious on screen and was a well need injection of comedy from the quite mundane Willis and in this new offering - Malkovich is back to his witty best from the opening scene meaning that his movie doesn't need anytime at all to get up to speed - it starts well and truly in 6th gear!

Willis is still with his call centre girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) and although he is yearning after the simple retired life, Parker now has a taste from the action, far removed from her 'old' boring life and Malkovich's arrival prompts her to immediately air on the side of adventure and she laps up the new threat that sees Willis and Malkovich framed for an old undercover Op gone bad.

Now hunted by MI6 and most prominently, assassin sniper Helen Mirren (back in her original role) who of course - calls ahead to warn her old comrades of her new assignment and new super assassin Han Cho Bai (Byung-Hun Lee from G.I Joe fame) you have the recipe for a great action spy movie with laughs to boot.

For me - the best thing about sequels is you don't need to take any time introducing the audience to the original characters, allowing for a far quicker lead into the movie - of course there will be new faces, but they can be seamlessly fed in as required.

In this, Brian Cox is back albeit with the absence of Morgan Freeman but a great addition is the apparently senile, aged Professor Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) who is responsible for the original Op / weapons design and holed up in a mental ward, Willis and his band of merry men have to bust him out to get to the bottom of what they are accused of but things don't go entirely to plan!

The other nice extra is the role of Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who plays the Russian spy and an ex girlfriend of Willis which goes down great with current squeeze Parker when it appears after all these years - Katja is still Frank's 'Kryptonite' and the banter between the two ladies is brilliant in its awkwardness.

No plot spoilers from me on this one.  There are plenty of twists and turns that should keep you guessing and as with the first movie, everyone plays their parts to a tee - Mirren & Malkovich especially but as before - Willis just seemed to hold up me being to state that everyone was fantastic.

My recommendation - you will enjoy this movie far more if you've seen the first, purely because it explains how everyone came to be 'Retired - Extremely Dangerous' and also the meeting of Willis & Parker is key to understanding their relationship in the 2nd movie.  If you manage to stay wake for the first 45 minutes of the first movie you will enjoy the rest and most importantly, Red 2 will be far more enjoyable for you.

Lots of Malkovich laughs, Willis Action and Mirren as the adorable Assassin - what could be better?

Saturday, 3 August 2013

274, The Heat

The Heat is a movie about a straight laced albeit un-liked FBI Agent Ashburn (Bullock) who ends up on a drugs case that takes her to Boston to meet the fiery & feisty Mullins (McCarthy) and from bitter beginnings these two have to forge a buddy buddy relationship to help each other through personal and family issues and come out the other side smiling. 

As with most cop comedies like this there has to be a fall guy and McCarthy plays her role like an absolute dream.  For most, her performance in Bridesmaids is the recognisable part that puts her top of the current funny female category and why not?  It was an amazing role and this is a far meaner and grittier performance as the foul mouthed, fists first Mullins that will have all of you in fits of giggles at her dry and witty approach to bad-guys. 

Bullock is the far more sincere FBI agent who although impressive with her arrest record is arrogant with it hence her lack of friends and McCarthy picks up on this and takes it upon her self to educate her in the street, as well as comedically in her love life too.

The two bounce off each other brilliantly and its not long before there getting along which is great considering that there is already The Heat 2 rumoured and I cant wait!

I loved this - the addition of wimpy Boston Chief of Police Woods, brilliantly cast as Thomas Wilson who everyone will recognise as Biff Tannen from Back to the Future is amazing and McCarthy's belittling of him at every turn heralds some of the movies funniest moments. 

Then there is the surprisingly cast Marlon Wayans as Boston FBI Agent Levy who for once doesn't act the joker and actually stands up as a pretty decent actor in this considering his sketchy Scary Movie past.

There are sub-plots upon sub-plots with a dodgy family relationship for McCarthy and also the recluse lifestyle of Bullock which just adds depth and backbone to the plot and makes it more than just a comedy cop movie.

To be honest - a majority of the laughs all come from McCarthy and this in part is down to the language used, lets just say its not one for the kids but as in Bridesmaids, its McCarthy's delivery of fantastic lines that make this movie and the funny trailers are just the beginning - there is plenty more where they come from.

From the hilarious bar binge scene to the search for Wood's tiny girly balls, this movie ticks a whole load of boxes that should please action and comedy junkies alike and I cant remember a movie that had the cinema in fits of laugh out loud hysterics in a long time.

When all is said and done - I doubt there is anyone out there who wont find some form of enjoyment with this movie.  Its well written, brilliantly cast and with Bullock's character taking a new post at the Boston FBI at the end of the movie, opens up brilliantly for a second outing.

Friday, 2 August 2013

273, The Wolverine

If you include the un-credited 6 second cameo in X-Men: First Class then this is the 6th appearance from Hugh Jackman as Marvel's Wolverine in the past 13 years and he's not stopping yet as he's back again in 2014 in X-Men: Days of future Past (effectively Last Stand 2).

To get you quickly up to speed, this movie is a sequel to X-Men: Last Stand where after the death of Jean Grey, (Famke Janssen) Logan goes rogue and hides away from the world until he is tracked down by a man he helped survive Hiroshima in 1945 with the wish of setting him free from his curse and giving him back mortality.

However never with things as they seem, it turns out his old acquaintance has more than rekindling old friendships on his mind as new mutant 'Viper' ensures that The Wolverine becomes far more beatable than we've seen before and Logan has to face his own demons as well as initially unwillingly team up with mutant psychic Yukio to overcome this new adversary as well as retain his own powers.

Firstly - in my eyes, 6 outings is already 3 too many for a decent movie hero in these times and although we've seen a few characters make a 6th+ outing I just felt this movie was a bit overworked. 

With Wolverines regeneration capabilities it was clear there would be endless open ended stories in his past to revisit and in its favour - the Samurai contingent and Asian connections do add another element to the movies we've not yet seen and I'm sure that die hard Marvel / Wolverine fans will love it regardless.

Jackman is as usual, on form and his visions of the now departed Jean Grey still haunt him with her wishing him to join him in the afterlife but its his relationship with Yukio that tugs on the heart strings, not romantically I may add as that's falls to another love interest but as a parental kinship its quite endearing to watch as it unravels on screen.

The fights are well choreographed but sadly, the 3D was a waste of time as I didn't actually notice anything over and above the ordinary so if you don't get 3D for free, don't bother however in comparison - the fight scene on the roof of the speeding bullet train is a movie highlight and had me on the edge of my seat.  finally - how can I wrap this up without a mention to the star of the whole cast, the Audi R8 V10 Spider.  Beautiful.
 
The next instalment mentioned above in 2014 being a sequel to First Class will again take us back in time rather than forward so Yukio will be missing but if Jackman gets a third solo outing I'm hoping she will be back and by his side. 

Its a busy week at the cinema with The Heat, The Conjuring, Red 2, Smurfs 2, Only God Forgives, Percy Jackson & Alpha Papa all making appearances over the next 10 days so you've got plenty to choose from but if you like your Marvel action movies and have followed this since 2000 then its going to be a tough one to pass on so enjoy!