Friday, 25 May 2018

Mission: Impossible- Fallout | International Trailer

Mission: Impossible- Fallout | International Trailer

The newly launched International Trailer for Mission: Impossible- Fallout is here ahead of its release on August 2, 2018.

Tom Cruise is at it again, reprising his role as super-spy Ethan Hunt with a star studded cast of faces both familiar and new. 

Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie marks the first director in the franchise to repeat, reprising his duties from Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

McQuarrie assembled an all-star ensemble for this sequel, which not only brings back franchise favourites like Michelle Monaghan and Simon Pegg, but also introduces new characters played by Henry Cavill and Angela Bassett along with returning Rogue Nation breakout Rebecca Ferguson

The story of this new film finds Ethan Hunt on the ropes, as the IMF’s past good deeds come back to haunt them in the worst way.

Life Of The Party: Film Review

Life Of The Party: Film Review

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Gillian Jacobs, Julie Bowen, Debby Ryan
Director: Ben Falcone
Life Of The Party: Film Review

Melissa McCarthy's Life of the Party feels tame, uninspired and in some parts, stretched as long as a college lecture fronted by a droning professor.

McCarthy plays Deanna, a mom who starts the film dropping her daughter off for college and ends up moments later on the cusp of divorce and homeless.

Deciding to go back to college (where her daughter is) to finish the year she never completed, Deanna embraces college life - and the books - like before.

Turning into a mother for some of the sorority's lost, and dating a younger man, Deanna finds her place - before facing the obvious third act obstacles.

Despite some touches - a great double act with Maya Rudolph as Deanna's friend being the highlight- Life of the Party tries to mix awkward banter with McCarthy's knack for trademark pratfalls and physical humiliation.

Life Of The Party Film Review
It works in parts, but for large swathes of the film, the bumpy to ally mixed film hits too many lulls and cliches on the way to prove a winning formula.

It helps less that the rating tones the film down, making it hit more of a TV movie special than a riotous romp fest. But in some ways that's perhaps where the truisms of McCarthy's continued success reaches - her endless relatability to sections of the cinema going audience proving to be fertile ground for those looking to spend a dollar on women-led films, or searching for girls night out fare.

Life Of The Party: Film Review

The problem with Life Of The Party is that it's never quite as strong enough as it needs to be; it fails to hit some of the highs, while eschewing the typical teenager embarrassed by my parents trope and narrative. It also never quite hits the empowerment high it's aiming for either, preferring to be a muted call, rather than a rallying fanfare.

It strives to be different, but ultimately, Life Of The Party is a party few will fully want to attend til the end - much like any party eventually does, it rather outstays its welcome.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story: Film Review

Solo: A Star Wars Story: Film Review

Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Paul Bettany, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, Donald Glover, Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Director: Ron Howard

Solo: A Star Wars Story: Film Review
Enigma, mystery, the eternal riddle of how an iconic character came to be.

These are the things of which nightmares are made for writers tasked with origin stories.

Whether it's an infamous line, or an oblique cool-sounding reference tossed into a script as a throwaway line, it's a conundrum.

Han Solo.

The name is evocative - he's the guy who shot first, the guy who made the Kessel run in 12 parsecs, the guy who was cool and detached in those original films back in the 1970s.

But scratch beneath the surface and peer into the veneer to explore his origins and that's where the mystery starts to fade.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Lucasfilm set the directors of The LEGO Movie, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller to work. And then they were removed due to "creative differences" - causing the sound of a million geeks to cry out in existential terror at what lay ahead for their beloved smuggler.

Solo: A Star Wars Story: Film Review

In came Ron Howard to try and rescue what was there from the clutches of the Empire's vaults.

So, what we're left with with Solo: A Star Wars Story is an origin tale no one really wanted (because Han's backstory is best left to tantalising lines and imaginations), questions answered no one really asked and a story in the Star Wars universe that suggests the Empire isn't involved in everything.

Displaying some, but nowhere near enough, of the charisma that Harrison Ford delivered in the series, Hail Caesar!'s Alden Ehrenreich is Han, a scumrat who's trying to break away from his home planet of Corellia with his girlf Qi'ra (Game of Thrones Emilia Clarke) thanks to a theft of the film's MacGuffin, Hyperfuel.

Separated when their heist goes wrong, Han signs up with the baddies to become a pilot, and ends up in the trenches (the closest Star Wars has ever got to showing the gritty World War I edges of warfare) before falling in with Woody Harrelson's Beckett and his band of merry mercenaries.

Teaming up to pull a job on a flying train (one of the film's stand-out action sequences, that packs Western vibes into a snowy landscape and never loses the thread in among the pace), Han does all he can to get back to Qi'Ra and the life he used to know.
Solo: A Star Wars Story: Film Review

It's fair to say that Solo: A Star Wars Story doesn't really feel like a Star Wars film.

In fact, for the most part of it, the sparkle you'd feel and giddy high you'd encounter for being part of this world feels absent, with those in charge hoping the thrills would come from the fact a line was referenced, or you see how Chewbacca and Han actually met - it's a perfunctory take on the legend, and one can't help but feel shortchanged in some of the execution.

It's to be commended for trying to widen the universe without always having to tie back into it (something the countless novels and stories have always done) and the how-he-became-a-smuggler isn't quite told in the way you'd expect.

Glover manages a perfect Billy Dee Williams impression, but his Lando isn't quite the high-stakes scoundrel we'd expect, and most of the performance feels bathed in the "cool" that's currently surrounding Glover, rather than anything else.

Equally, it has to be said, that while Ehrenreich comes occasionally close to matching some of what Ford did as Solo thanks to hints of where his future lies, the cocky edges aren't on show, and even hints of them are missing. He feels like he's come from a Western, and is trying to impress as Solo, but the script doesn't quite serve him as well.

In fairness, Han and Chewie's relationship - along with Phoebe Waller-Bridge's L3-37 robot and Lando - are where the film really does hit its straps. Playful, earnest and with heart, these fire unexpectedly off the screen from the moment they're seen - and really make parts of Solo: A Star Wars Story stand out. It's a shame there's not more of this, as when they come, they're joyous.

Unfortunately, Clarke and Ehrenreich have little chemistry, and what little they can muster pales into insignificance with the ease of what Carrie Fisher and Ford achieved. For an emotional centre, it's sorely miscast and deeply uninvolving.
Solo: A Star Wars Story: Film Review

Ultimately, Solo: A Star Wars Story feels muted, and struggles with some lulls; it doesn't help that most of the mystery of Solo is unravelled in other's hands, leaving you the feeling none of his hinted-at reputation was earned, merely given, which is a crucial difference in such a character, whose reputation is key. 

What emerges from the spinoff space saga is a feeling that it feels like a project that floundered to find an edge, a piece of fan service that tries too hard to hit its core audience in the intergalactic feels (You want a Cantina style scene? Sure, we'll give you that) and which which tries to subvert expectations, but never quite gets there.

Solo: A Star Wars Story may never reach the pantheon of the greatest Star Wars films, and its perfunctory execution and lurching-from-one-sequence-to-the-next don't do it any favours. 

In this galaxy far, far away, the stars don't appear to shine as brightly.

It may have been doomed from the start, thanks to the weight of what happened in 1977, but it certainly shows that not everything in this endless galaxy needs to be explained, and that sometimes, a hint of mystery should be - and indeed is - more than enough to sustain a legend for cinematic eternity.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The Sinner: Season One: DVD Review

The Sinner: Season One: DVD Review

Rating: R16
Released by Universal Home Ent
The Sinner: Season One: DVD Review
Jessica Biel stars in the adaptation of Petra Hammesfhar's novel about a woman who, one day on the beach, cracks and stabs someone to death.

As the police delve into the killing, mysterious secrets and a conspiracy emerge...

Biel and co-star Bill Pullman make for harrowing partners in this thriller, which has twists aplenty and is willing to reward those who stick with its slower moments.

Whilst the book's darkness may have been toned down for the TV show, there's still a feeling of claustrophobia and unease as it plays out - and Biel commits fully to the role, with Christopher Abbott proving to be a worthy foil and a growing less-recognised talent.

Ultimately, The Sinner takes its time to grip, but finally does when it all comes together.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

The Client List: Season 1: DVD Review

The Client List: Season 1: DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by Madman Home Entertainment

The Client List: Season 1: DVD ReviewJennifer Love Hewitt stars in a vaguely salacious series about the pressures faced by an American family.

She's a mother, who facing financial problems, turns to the oldest game in town (in some ways) in a massage parlour to help make ends meet.

Seduced by money and placed in an enviable position, The Client List is about as provocative as you'd expect from a Lifetime series, so it's more about the dilemma faced by Love Hewitt's character.

It's not a strong series, but does offer some sincerity in the form of Love Hewitt, who sells the role with conviction, even if the scripts don't.

Over 10 episodes of the first season, The Client List hits some of the stops you'd expect, but its soapier edges make it less of a compelling drama than it could be - it's simply one which relies on the charms of Love Hewitt to sell it with conviction.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Duckman: The Complete Seasons 1-4: DVD Review

Duckman: The Complete Seasons 1-4: DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by Madman Home Ent

Running from 94 to 97, this adult animated cartoon was a crude blast of fresh air.
Duckman: The Complete Seasons 1-4: DVD Review

Confined to late night BBC viewings in the UK, the titular Duckman was a private eye (played by Jason Alexander) who had more of the self-hating vibe than you'd expect.

With the set comprising some 70 episodes and some great special features, including commentary and animatics, there's definitely a feeling of the full Duckman experience that's worth dwelling on.

And with an extremely high profile guest cast list, there's lots of "that sounds like" moments to be had as well.

But it's in the scabrous tales and the mocking of private eye conventions and tropes that Duckman flourishes, painting everything with a crude afterglow that's hard to deny. And it's funny too - Alexander gives his all to Duckman and the ludicrous situations he finds himself in.

Funny, crude and amusing before South Park et al made it fashionable, Duckman's Complete Seasons are well worth owning if you've even serious about what animation means.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Phantom Thread: DVD Review

Phantom Thread: DVD Review

In 1950s post-war London, Paul Thomas Anderson's latest aims to shine with sleek production values, a pitch-perfect soundtrack from Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood and Daniel Day-Lewis' swansong in acting.
Phantom Thread: Film Review

And yet, the chilly Phantom Thread fails to emotionally engage the viewer with its tale of control, powerplays and a decidedly uncomfortable central relationship.

Day-Lewis is renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, a fashion icon, and confirmed bachelor who welcomes women into his life as muses, then discards them when they reach the end of their usefulness.

Escaping to the country after delivering a dress, Woodcock meets waitress Alma (Krieps), whose entrance into his life is marred by a clumsiness that juxtaposes his own precision. Taken with her, Woodcock finds new inspiration in her shape and is consumed with the creative joy a muse brings.

However, Alma is strong-willed and refuses to bend to his more curious edges, setting up a conflict that has ramifications for the Woodcock house and empire.

Phantom Thread: Film Review

It's fair to say that Anderson's Phantom Thread has an icy chilliness that some will find engaging, and others will find dis-engaging.

Sumptuously shot, delicately woven, this psychological battle of wills plays out on a frosty background that seems oddly contemporary despite its period setting.

While Day-Lewis' Woodcock is a relatively spiteful enigma, whose insouciance and desire for perfection irritates, Alma's desire to be part of this world and to be the woman who changes the man for the better is a universal theme in all relationship dramas.

Orbiting the pair of them is the Oscar-nominated Lesley Manville, as Cyril, Woodcock's sister and administrative arm of the empire. With relatively little dialogue and the nuance of minor actions throughout, Manville brings a thaw to proceedings as Cyril goes on her own arc.

Phantom Thread: Film Review

But it's Krieps who engages the most here - going from doe-eyed would be suitor to woman determined to get her own way (elements of MacBeth and Lady MacBeth's Florence Pugh spring to mind), her character is one that feels like a reaction of the MeToo movement, a woman whose desires won't be thwarted by a creative fragile apparent genius.

And yet, despite the strong performances, Phantom Thread itself remains somewhat of an enigma, a curio of a film that never quite hits any emotional resonance and feels like you, the audience, are watching a game of chess and consequent strategies from afar.

It's a distant piece, and with its meticulous edges, feels a little too crafted for general consumption. It may be sumptuous, but it's never bewitching at the level it should be. Everyone's functioning at the top of their game, and the pieces are there, but the emotional core of where Phantom Thread should be feels hollow and unconnected and uninviting to anything else.