Category Archives: Film Reviews

Hurricane Season (2009)

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I came across Hurricane Season by chance looking for some fresh basketball themed material. A solid cast headed by Forest Whitaker in the lead and with a unique premise; High school coach refuses to give up on his team after Hurricane Katrina decimates his community, uses the sport to unify it – it looked worth a shot. Of course, this is based on a true story and even though I’m sure some of the “facts” are tinkered slightly, it’s heart is certainly in the right place – some brief footage of the real coach and team before the closing credits is a nice touch too. The choice to show the characters significantly before the disaster (but not the hurricane itself) helps build a solid foundation that keeps you watching. That and Forest Whitaker.

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Chappie (2015)

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Unfortunately, Chappie will never earn a decent amount of supporters. It is far from a disaster, but it drops the ball too often with brushed over techie plot holes, failed tonal shifts, being too light handed with its social commentary and most unfortunate of all, it kind of fails at moving us and at the end of the day, this is what it wants to achieve the most. It is not totally devoid of emotion or message, but for “serious” film watchers, it will never be embraced because of these short comings. Short comings that seem to plague director Neil Blomkamp with each film. Chappie is simply another version of Robocop, Short Circuit or District 9. It has humour, violence, a trainload of f-bombs and some nice ideas about artificial intelligence, but ultimately it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table besides its superb computer animation.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

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I’ll just get it out of the way and say that if you grew up as a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you probably should indulge this film at least once. If you’re a film fan who didn’t, it is pretty average to poor and offers little, even for a summer blockbuster. This has Michael Bay-isms all through it (banal scripting, video-game sheen, blatant sexism and product placement – the movie is basically a Pizza Hut ad at times) and even if he didn’t direct it, he might as well have. And, if you’re a kid (specifically a boy aged 10-15), you should definitely lap this cgi-fest up just as Bay planned. If you fall into neither of those categories, there is no reason what so ever to watch this movie even in the context of a kids/family action film.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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Captain America: The First Avenger was pretty low key. A little bit twee and humorous as well as largely harmless. At least Chris Evans (as with Rob Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth), proved a great casting choice for Marvel Studio’s juggernaut of heroes brought to life on the big screen. The thing was though, compared to the booming Iron Man films, the mega-popular Thor and the super hero blockbuster to end all blockbusters; The Avengers, Captain America’s origin movie was mainly uneventful, even for a “Phase 1” flick. But you can’t exactly make such a character that glamorous anyway can you? I enjoyed it and while it was admirable in forging its own vibe (that of a glossy WW2 matinee), it ultimately seemed plodding and lacking purpose. Ironic, considering it sets up a lot of the ground floor elements for the entire Avengers universe.

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X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

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With X3 being a total missed opportunity and First Class an ok to mediocre prequel/reboot effort, Days of Future Past is a vast improvement over the last two instalments, but then when Marvel reinstated director Bryan Singer – the man whom instigated quality and respect for the franchise in the first place, that was always going to be the case. It’s not a total celebration though of course.

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Man of Steel (2013)

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In 2006, director Bryan Singer was given the reigns to reboot the DC Comics Superman franchise which, at the time, seemed long overdue. A new Clark Kent was found to replace the iconic Christopher Reeve interpretation from Richard Donner’s original film (and its woeful sequels) and a fresh vision of probably the most well-known comic book character ever was on its way. Singer was a big fan of Superman – a very big fan. His approach was to not make a new origin story and ended up producing what felt like a follow on from the 1978 film. Such was his love and respect for Donner’s movie, everything about Superman Returns felt like homage, right down to the title cards and the original score left untouched. A new love-triangle story was evolved but ultimately it felt like a re-tread. Many didn’t find much to like in Singer’s film, but I actually quite enjoyed it. I felt it had a classic feel, an old-fashioned approach to its direction and a subtle, story-driven plot. Not to mention a great lead in Brandon Routh.

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Django Unchained (2012)

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This is an extra long review than usual, so thanks for your patience if you get through it! Ultimate thanks go to MissNJ! for the edit.

Quentin Tarantino has never been shy about his love for the Spaghetti Western, nor his being influenced by the likes of Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone. A lot of that influence has crept into his previous films, including Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds. The director has also demonstrated his love for Blaxploitation-era cinema in the past with the likes of Jackie Brown. All these elements and genre styles make their way into his latest epic, Django Unchained. For all its expected whimsical dialogue, quirky visual nuances and clever edits, the film eventually becomes the closest thing to Tarantino (finally) producing his very own literal meld of Blaxploitation and Spaghetti Western; and to view it in any other way would be a mistake, doing one of the most recognizable and popular American directors a disservice. There is no need to be confused, take overly seriously or, god forbid, be offended by Django. A film of two distinct halves, if you do make it through the often brisk but occasionally gruelling 165 minutes to the post credits visual quip, the main thing you should be, is entertained.

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