Monday, 19 August 2019

Pokémon Detective Pikachu: Blu Ray Review

Pokémon Detective Pikachu: Blu Ray Review 

How you feel about the family friendly Pokémon Detective Pikachu will depend largely on how you feel about the crazed cult of Pokémon.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu: Film Review

The uninitiated may struggle with the film, which is set in a world where both Pokémon and humans co-exist, thanks to the benevolent Howard Clifford (Nighy) who believes co-existence and betterment is possible.

One who doesn't agree is 21-year-old Tim (an awkward Justice Smith) who resents the Pokémon and refuses to be paired up with them like others. When he discovers his dad is missing after a car accident, Tim goes to Ryme City, the hub of the human Pokémon harmony, and ends up working with Ryan Reynolds' Pikachu to try and solve the case.

If you're a Pokémon fan, you will adore this film, packed as it is with creatures from the cards and the TV series, and no doubt riddled with Easter eggs.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu: Film Review

But, to be honest, for all others, it's kind of middling, narratively flat fare that's more about its nostalgia than a degree of coherence, and its plot is saddled with exposition for character development and sees a lurching plot stop and start while someone drops reams of necessary explanation.

There are elements of everything that's gone before here, with a Zootopia mesh, some Roger Rabbit hating of the opposites, X-Men, a film of fathers and sons and other all-too familiar sci-fi DNA tropes that can be seen a mile off. It unfortunately cripples part of the movie, as you can see what's coming before it hits, lacking weight and heft when it should.

In fairness, Ryme City is wonderfully realised, a kind of cartoony Blade Runner cityscape that shows the co-existence with ease. And Reynolds' trademark motormouth may be dialled down this time, but it still gives the over-caffeinated Pikachu some much needed laughs here and there. The buddy cop relationship between Pikachu and Tim makes for amiable fare as well.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu: Film Review

But Pokémon Detective Pikachu lacks the noir edges it's clearly aspiring to, saddling everything with heavy flashbacks early on to paint the portraits and relying on audience love and nostalgia to forego the repetitive simplicities of the plot. And that could be fatal, seeing as newer audiences are what will continue this series.

In truth, Pokémon Detective Pikachu is less gumshoe, more candy coloured gum stuck to your cinematic shoe. The series' refrain may be that you "gotta catch them all", but if you're not in the in-crowd, you should be happy to let this one go free. 

Sunday, 18 August 2019

The Kindergarten Teacher: DVD Review

The Kindergarten Teacher: DVD Review

Based on the film Haganenet by Nadav Lapid, Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as Lisa Spinelli, an adrift kindergarten teacher in this rather odd piece that veers creepily into territory that's unsettling.

Unhappy with her kids refusing to eat dinner as family, with one who would rather use Instagram to further her once burgeoning photo career and flailing in her poetry class, Spinelli finds her life changed one day thanks to five-year-old Joe (Parker Sevak).

Joe appears to spontaneously erupt into poetry, and Spinelli, sensing there's more here, decides to nurture him after taking one of his poems, reciting it in class and receiving accolades.

But she spirals further into pursuing his talent, what emerges is dangerously close to obsession.

The Kindergarten Teacher: NZIFF Review

The Kindergarten Teacher is an odd watch at times, with Spinelli's behaviour seeming borderline unsettling in its naivete and its execution.

And while there are definitely questions over Spinelli's actions, there are no questions over Gyllenhaal's performance as she descends. Committed, human and with subtle changes as the film goes on, Gyllenhaal imbues her character with the signs of some kind of breakdown and innate sadness.

It's hard to keep a film like this ambiguous without the audience becoming ambivalent, and while some moments border very closely to steering the film in a direction where you don't want it to go, Gyllenhaal and to a lesser extent, Sevak, manage to keep it just on the right side of uncertain.

"This world is going to erase you" is just heartbreaking to hear and when the frustration behind this is expanded further, Gyllenhaal gives Spinelli soul and a reason for her growing insanity - sadly, it's all too reflected in the modern world and in Spinelli's children.

In a weird way, The Kindergarten Teacher does feel like a psychological horror wrapped up in a drama, as the edges and lines become blurred - but as a subtle portrait of a breakdown and potentially, abuse, it perhaps works better.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

The Curse of the Weeping Woman: Blu Ray Review

The Curse of the Weeping Woman: Blu Ray Review

The Conjuring Universe continues to expand out with this latest, a solid but formulaic piece of fright fare that doesn't quite build on its promising premise.

The Curse of the Weeping Woman: Film Review

Sacrificing subtleties in favour of providing the Weeping Woman as a punchline to most scenes, The Curse of La Llorona deals with some dark issues - infanticide, suspected abuse, repressed grief as it spins the tale of recently widowed Anna Tate-Garcia (Scooby Doo and ER star Linda Cardinelli).

A social worker, Anna's called in to try and help the children of Patricia Alvarez who show signs of abuse. But when the children are found killed, drowned in a local lake, Anna's sanity begins to be questioned when a folktale of La Llorona, who takes children, appears to becoming true.

The Curse of The Weeping Woman is relatively taut, and as mentioned, hints at some real darkness, before ultimately deciding to sideline that in favour of rote scares.

The Curse of the Weeping Woman: Film Review

By keeping the film's point of view within Anna's family alone, there's a palpable sense of claustrophobia as the jolts start to come. And Chaves makes some good fist of a few visual tricks to build a creeping sense of terror. But much like any fairground horror house, he can't resist the pull of the cheap scares, and that's where The Curse of The Weeping Woman starts to fall down, as every scene becomes punctuated by Ramirez's ghost popping into frame.

It's lazy at best and detracts from some genuinely unsettling edges which are displayed throughout. It's a shame the psychological edges aren't mined more, for a deeply upsetting denouement.

From a bathtub sequence to a final housebound showdown, the film's successes come from making the most of the surroundings and some of the genre tropes.

The Curse of the Weeping Woman: Film Review

Unfortunately, in bringing in Cruz's former priest, the script settles for laughs and one-liners when the truly terrifying touch would have been to continue on with the darkness that's hinted at - suspense, suspicions and susceptible children make great bedfellows for any decent horror movie, but The Curse of The Weeping Woman doesn't seem content enough to push the boundaries, jettisoning the narratively beefy for the frighteningly familiar.

It's by no means a disaster, and offers the requisite thrills for what you'd expect, but at times, this mash up of The Exorcist and The Nun starts to feel horrendously like a horrific case of deja vu, and worryingly points to the Conjuring Universe potentially running out of tricks to pull on its audience, who are all too willing to go along for the ride.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance trailer

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance trailer

Image result for netflix logo
Launches on Netflix August 30, 2019

“The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, ” the epic prequel series to the beloved 1982 Jim Henson film “The Dark Crystal,”  premieres August 30 only on Netflix.

Based on The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson’s ground-breaking 1982 feature film, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance tells a new story, set many years before the events of the movie, and realized using classic puppetry with cutting edge visual effects. 
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance trailer

The world of Thra is dying. The Crystal of Truth is at the heart of Thra, a source of untold power. 

But it is damaged, corrupted by the evil Skeksis, and a sickness spreads across the land. 

When three Gelfling uncover the horrific truth behind the power of the Skeksis, an adventure unfolds as the fires of rebellion are lit and an epic battle for the planet begins.

About The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
Launch date: Friday, August 30, 2019
Director: Louis Leterrier
Executive Producers: Lisa Henson, Louis Leterrier, Halle Stanford
Co-Executive Producers: Jeffrey Addiss & Will Matthews, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Blanca Lista
Producer: Ritamarie Peruggi
Line Producer: Tim Wellspring
Associate Producer: Cameron Richardson
Co-Producer: Vivian Lee
Produced By: The Jim Henson Company
Format: 10 Episodes x 1 Hour

Voice Cast: The Gelfling are voiced by Taron Egerton (Kingsman), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones), Caitriona Balfe (Outlander), Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech), Harris Dickinson (Maleficent 2), Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones), Eddie Izzard (Ocean’s Thirteen), Theo James (The Divergent Series), Toby Jones (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Shazad Latif (Star Trek: Discovery), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (The Cloverfield Paradox), Mark Strong (Kingsman), Alicia Vikander (Tomb Raider), Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), and Hannah John-Kamen (Game of Thrones). The  Skeksis & Mystics are voiced by: Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy), Mark Hamill (Knightfall, Star Wars), Ralph Ineson (Game of Thrones), Jason Isaacs (The OA), Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele), Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (True Detective), Simon Pegg (Mission Impossible), Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine Nine), Benedict Wong (Avengers: Endgame), and Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians). Sigourney Weaver voices The Narrator.  Aughra is voiced by Donna Kimball.

Twitter: @darkcrystal
Facebook: @darkcrystal

Facebook: @darkcrystal

IT Chapter Two - Behind the scenes

IT Chapter Two - Behind the scenes


Evil resurfaces in Derry as director Andy Muschietti reunites the Losers Club in a return to where it all began with “IT Chapter Two,” the conclusion to the highest-grossing horror film of all time.

Twenty-seven years after the Losers Club defeated Pennywise, he has returned to terrorize the town of Derry once more. 

Now adults, the Losers have long since gone their separate ways. However, kids are disappearing again, so Mike, the only one of the group to remain in their hometown, calls the others home. 

Damaged by the experiences of their past, they must each conquer their deepest fears to destroy Pennywise once and for all...putting them directly in the path of the clown that has become deadlier than ever.

IT CHAPTER TWO is directed by Andy Muschietti and stars James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Jaeden Martell, Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor and Bill Skarsgård.

IT CHAPTER TWO releases in New Zealand cinemas on September 5, 2019.

The Addams Family trailer

The Addams Family trailer

They’re creepy.

They’re kooky. 

And they’re moving into the neighbourhood. 

Here is the brand new trailer for The Addams Family – opening in cinemas December 5.

Directed by: Conrad Vernon (Thomas & Friends) and Greg Tiernan (Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, Shrek 2)
Voice Cast: Oscar Isaac as Gomez, Charlize Theron as Morticia, Chloe Grace Moretz as Wednesday, Finn Wolfhard as Pugsley, Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester, with Bette Midler as Grandma, and Alison Janney as Margaux Needler.

Synopsis: Get ready to click your fingers! The Addams Family is back on the big screen in the first animated comedy about the kookiest family on the block. Funny, outlandish, and completely iconic, the Addams Family redefines what it means to be a good neighbour.

Borderlands 3 - The Borderlands Are Yours

Borderlands 3 - The Borderlands Are Yours


To view the trailer click the image below

We’re also excited to share the first gameplay footage of our newest Vault Hunter, FL4K the Beastmaster, who joins Zane the Operative, Moze the Gunner, and Amara the Siren in our new cast of badass, interplanetary treasure hunters.

Catch FL4K wasting bots and bandits across Pandora and new planet Eden-6 in two brand new gameplay clips, which you can download right here. You’ll also find two new screen shots of FL4K and their loyal pet companions at that same link.

If you’d like to learn more about today’s drop, you can find additional details about FL4Kand their skill trees right here, as well as more information on Eden-6 right here.

Finally, be sure to tune into on Monday, August 19 for a special Gamescom announcement during Opening Night Live.

Borderlands 3 launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on September 13.

Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha announced for Nintendo Switch

Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha announced for Nintendo Switch


NIS America is excited to announce that Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha and Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo will be available exclusively for Nintendo Switch™ as two separate collections that bring together Psikyo’s greatest hits! Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha will arrive first, followed by Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo soon after.

About Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha:
STRIKERS 1945 - The mysterious C.A.N.Y. organization seeks to conquer the world with powerful superweapons, and only the Strikers team can take them down and restore peace!
STRIKERS 1945 II - The Strikers team is called into action once again when a new threat appears in the form of the F.G.R. faction and their massive mecha technology!
STRIKERS 1945 III - A swarm of alien microbots known as "nanites" have infiltrated Earth's military bases, and the heroic Strikers must utilize powerful new vehicles and weapons to repel the invaders!
SOL DIVIDE - The evil emperor Ifter seeks to become a demon and take over the world. It is up to three powerful heroes to rise up and stop his nefarious campaign!
Dragon Blaze - Four dragon rider knights, each with their own goals, are on a quest to slay the Demon King. Will their quests end in triumph...or ruin?
ZERO GUNNER 2 - To free the world from the evil conglomerate Igem and their destructive ONI machine, the blazing guns of the Zero Gunner squadron are called in to take them down!

Key Features:
Pixel Perfect: Experience classic shooters beautifully rendered in high definition.
Play Your Way: Choose between horizontal mode and vertical “TATE” Mode, or hand a Joy-Con™ to a friend for some couch co-op fun!
Unlimited Quarters: Six shooters, six stories, and an infinite supply of ammo jam-packed in one game

About Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo:
Samurai Aces Episode I - The Shogun's daughter has been kidnapped by an evil cult, and it is up to six unlikely heroes to rescue her before she is sacrificed to resurrect a demon god!

GUNBARICH - A spin-off title of the "Gunbird" series, the young witch Marion and her anchor-wielding classmate Gurutan star in this charming game of colorful blocks.

Samurai Aces Episode II: TENGAI - The militaristic cult Shinrano has captured the Shogun's daughter in order to sacrifice her to their demon god. The only ones that can stop them are a group of misfits that must rise up to become heroes!

Samurai Aces Episode III: SENGOKU CANNON - The third installment marks the series' first venture outside of the arcade, bringing all the classic action and adventure to home consoles for the first time.
GUNBIRD - What do a witch girl, a robot, an adventurer with a jetpack, a martial artist, and a monkey warrior have in common? They all seek the pieces of a magic mirror in order to make a wish!

GUNBIRD2 - Seven quirky warriors face a mighty challenge: claim the legendary potion of a divine god in order to fulfill their grandest wishes!

Key Features:

Pixel Perfect:
 Experience classic shooters beautifully rendered in high definition.

Play Your Way:
 Choose between horizontal mode and vertical “TATE” Mode, or hand a Joy-Con™ to a friend for some couch co-op fun!

Unlimited Quarters:
 Six shooters, six stories, and an infinite supply of ammo jam-packed in one game.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Thunder Road: DVD Review

Thunder Road: DVD Review

Jim Cummings' extraordinary indie film about a US cop on the brink of breakdown is something to behold.

Expanded out from his 2016 12 minute award-winning short, the film opens with Cummings' Officer Jim Arnaud giving his mother's eulogy. With his face contorting with a mix of grief, unease and emotion after parts of his tribute fall apart, it's an exercise in awkwardness.

Thunder Road: Film Review

But unlike most of the mockumentaries that trade in such unease, Thunder Road bathes much of the proceedings in a level of pathos and humanity that's truly hard to ignore.

As Arnaud deals with the fallout from the funeral, he finds his relationship with his ex and his daughter punctuated by various problems, and various issues on the day-to-day front.

What Thunder Road juggles to marvellous effect is the mix of cringeworthy and the humane - Cummings owns every scene and the realistic writing aches with a reality that's at times, painfully close to the bone.

Drawing deep from the well of despair, Cummings' turn is the kind of performance that makes you wonder exactly where it is going to go next - and fearing for the worse. But what actually emerges is that Thunder Road swings from the sublime to the sad with contextual ease, and takes you along for the ride.
Thunder Road from Jim Cummings on Vimeo.

There's a portrait of trauma that emerges from here, and perhaps that's why Thunder Road should hit such a chord with many. It may be the portrait of a broken man who's trying to be better, one that merges both comedy and tragedy but it is compelling from beginning to end. 

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Need for Speed, Heat announced for November

Need for Speed, Heat announced for November



Deep Customisation, Authentic Urban Car Culture, an Open World, and an Immersive Narrative All Fuel the New Need for Speed Game
Watch the Worldwide Gameplay Reveal August 19 at Gamescom Opening Night Live.

 Ghost Games™, an Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) studio, today announced Need for Speed™ Heat, the ultimate street racer versus cop fantasy. The game deepens and expands everything Need for Speed™ fans love – expressive customisation, authentic urban car culture, and an immersive narrative that pulls you into the game. Watch the announce trailer here.

Need for Speed Heat sends fans to Palm City, a brand-new open world where street racers have gathered to make their names known. By day, players compete in the Speedhunters Showdown, a sanctioned competition where they earn Bank to customise and upgrade their garage of high-performance cars. At night, players risk it all to build their Rep in underground races where a rogue police task force roams the streets, ready to take racers down and swipe all their earnings. The roads, the risks, and the rides never end in this street racer where a player can roll deep with their crew, build their garage full of hot cars, and make the city their nonstop playground.

“We’re delivering more options than ever before for players to be unique and make themselves known,” said Riley Cooper, Creative Director at Ghost Games. “Our fans have been clear that they want more cars, more customisation, and more challenges, and we’re tuning up on every aspect. From your character’s style to your car’s performance and your driving style, we’re fuelling everyone’s creativity with this new game.” 

Fans who pre-order the standard edition will get a K.S Edition styled Mitsubishi Evolution X. Pre-ordering the Deluxe Edition adds three K.S Edition styled cars (BMW i8 Coupe, Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe, Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport), access to exclusive deluxe edition character clothing, and increased earnings of in-game currencies Bank and Rep. Anyone who pre-orders Need for Speed Heat in-game from Need for Speed Payback on any format will also get a 10% discount as a Loyalty Reward1.*  

Need for Speed Heat launches November 8, 2019 for Xbox One, PlayStation® 4, and PC. Jump into the game first on November 5, 2019 with EA Access and Origin™ Access Basic to enjoy up to 10 hours of play time as part of the Play First Trial, or sign-up for Origin Access Premier to get full access on PC.**

To join the conversation, players can like Need for Speed page on Facebook, or follow the Need for Speed channels on Twitter®, Instagram and YouTube. 

The Aftermath: DVD Review

The Aftermath: DVD Review

"The butler did it. It's always the butler."

The Aftermath: Film Review

It's a line spoken to Keira Knightley's Rachel as her husband Lewis (Clarke) apologises for the destruction of the Agatha Christie novel she's been reading.

But, as this story of life in Hamburg after the end of World War II progresses, and the love affair between former houseowner and German Lubert (Skarsgard) and Knightley burns, it's an apt comparison.

The truth of The Aftermath, based on the book of the same name, is that it's a film that feels lacklustre in its execution, its passions muted when really they should burn fervently within. Which is a shame as this is a story so rarely told in its early act.

It's an intriguing tale - the aftermaths of the title refer to many things within the movie; the aftermath of the war, the aftermath of grief affecting Rachel and Lubert, the aftermath of growing up for Lubert's daughter, the aftermath of a regime fall - it's all potent stuff to be stirred up and to be used for dramatic effect.

The Aftermath: Film Review

But for all of Knightley's intentions, her Rachel is petulant, icy, angry and unlikeable, her situation not intolerable, but her attitude just quite repugnant. Knightley does shine in moments, but given the script services her with moments that are simply meant to happen rather than organically evolve, the film's crippled in many ways.

Most effective in all this is Clarke, whose restrained and gradually overwhelmed colonel trying to be a shining beacon of decency is a real highlight in the movie. Moments where his humanity rises to the top in the face of all they deal with in Hamburg are critical to the stark and stilted moments elsewhere.

Ultimately, The Aftermath may be a slickly delivered period piece, but it's one that falls into the bland category far too quickly, with plots feeling rote, underwritten and underdelivered. 




The Iron Crown Collection Event Brings a Limited-Time Solo Mode, an Octane Town Takeover, a Double XP Weekend, and Even More Skins To Apex Legends

Get ready to reign over the arena: the highly requested Solo game mode is now available for a limited time as part of Apex Legends Iron Crown Collection Event. 

Starting today, players will be able to drop into the arena alone and face off against 59 solitary enemies – in the end, only one Legend will be crowned victorious. 

The event will also feature an adrenaline-pumping town takeover designed by Octane himself. In addition, the Iron Crown Collection Event will introduce brand-new skins, fresh loot, and much more for players to unlock. Get a look at some of the new content in an all-new trailer here.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Once Upon A Time...... in Hollywood: Film Review

Once Upon A Time...... in Hollywood: Film Review

Cast: Leonardo di Caprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie
Director: Quentin Tarantino

The new Tarantino film, possibly his penultimate cinematic entry, is an odd beast.
Once Upon A Time...... in Hollywood: Film Review

Riddled with nods to his way of delivering film and saddled with his own tropes, Once Upon A Time...... in Hollywood is an elegaic and relaxed film that's about the waxing and waning of the old Hollywood - before it erupts in another direction in the final 30 minutes.

Tarantino himself has asked for no spoilers, but suffice to say, the film zeroes in on Leonardo Di Caprio's Rick Dalton, a fading TV western star and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt, a simmering performance that lounges in casual charm and charisma but offers hints at more).

It's 1969 Los Angeles, and the tides of change are sweeping through Hollywood, and Dalton's trying to find his place in what's ahead - is the Golden Years over for them all?

Reflexive and reflective, Once Upon A Time...... in Hollywood is an intriguing proposition that may at times test your Tarantino love and frustrate the casual cinema viewer.
Once Upon A Time...... in Hollywood: Film Review

While there's no doubting that Tarantino's evocative recreations of 1969 Hollywood shine out (from his love of locations to period details), there's also a feeling in a lot of the film of padding and endless scenes of musical cues and scenes of driving simply being thrown into the mix, just for the sake of a soundtrack.

There's also a feeling of more of a meandering narrative than has ever been deployed before; it's never quite clear whose story exactly the film is thanks to intersecting lines that don't quite cross with thematic power as is usual with Tarantino.

And yet despite all of that, and a troublesome ending sequence which is true Tarantino, the film offers many pleasures, even if it's not one of Quentin's best. There's a buddy feeling throughout and the vibe between Pitt and DiCaprio is a good one throughout, making being in their company never a chore.

But without some expeditious editing, Tarantino's spinning a yarn that's a little too long in the tooth, no matter what allegories you pour on the relationship between Rick and Cliff and how it reflects real life.
Once Upon A Time...... in Hollywood: Film Review

It wallows when it doesn't need to and drifts as it crosses genres between revenge fantasy and period drama, and satire on the time and Tarantino's western fascinations.

All in all though Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood is a fairy tale, a rumination of times gone, all poured through a Tarantino prism; yet it's an intriguing and entertaining enigma that will have you talking and thinking long after the sun's set on 1969 Los Angeles.

Avengers: Endgame: Blu Ray Review

 Avengers: Endgame: Blu Ray Review

It's finally here.
Avengers: Endgame: Film Review

The end of the road for the Marvel Cinematic Universe's current phase, and the conclusion of events after Thanos snapped his fingers, and wiped out half of the world in Avengers: Infinity War.

Avengers: Endgame arrives with such a weight of expectation one year after the tease of the end that it's hard to live upto what fans - and cinemagoers - want.

But simply put, if you're a fan of the MCU, Endgame delivers in spades - and as a casual cinema-goer there's also a lot to gain from a film that has dalliances with the epic, but never once forgets the intimate.

Avengers: Endgame: Film Review

Avengers:Endgame is not a film the creators want spoiling.

The plot has been briefly hinted at in trailers but outside of the upcoming release, little is truly known of if Thanos is defeated, or how any attempts are made.

The interesting thing about the occasionally sprawling 181 minutes that unfolds is how much a lot of the payoffs from previous films are delivered and how all the threads of the other 20 plus films join together.

While it’s no condemnation to say Endgame contains an overload of fan service and crowd-pleasing moments, what it also contains is an emotional depth and exploration of sacrifice that’s confined to the core of original characters, that cinemagoers have spent a decade with.

Avengers: Endgame: Film Review
There’s an elegiac feeling of its opening, the meditations on loss and if second chances are worth losing are heartbreakingly laid out; there’s a reaction to trauma that leaves you finally feeling Thanos’ actions in Infinity War had real consequences. Doubt, regret and angst are in order, and are deftly delivered by the human cast.

It's something the MCU has previously until now been somewhat flippant about, but this time around, there's a sense the remaining Avengers are truly broken and vulnerable.

Yet, there’s also scope and depth here which is more than alluded to - old grievances are raised again and the culmination of years of foundation laying has an emotionally resonant payoff that’s mostly worthy of the three hour run time for fans of the franchise.

Brolin once again brings greater depth to his bad guy Thanos and makes you feel like everyone has collateral and damage after he pursued his utopia. His nuanced bad guy has been a real boon for the franchise, and certainly delivers the heft needed in this chapter capper. 

This film is predominantly about the relationship between Chris Evans' Captain America and Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man. But more than that, it's about Steve Rogers and Tony Stark - something which rewards when it needs to.

In among the pleasing set pieces and odd touches of humour, there are one or two stumbles, which were perhaps inevitable during the three hour run time, and with a farewell mentality in mind.

A final battle is a depressing return to the usual CGI throw-it-all-at-the-wall fare (though, in all honesty, it's hard to see what else there is that could be done). Coupled with one or two moments of excess (and one overblown statement of intent to address ongoing criticism), it's the denouement fans will want, but one that critics of the superhero genre will dismiss as once again, overcrowded and overdone. 

When it's confined within to just a few single actors, it's fair to say the denouement soars in its singular quieter moments. Even if foreshadowing robs some of the emotion from landing as it should. In truth, the moments are more about your familiarity with these characters, rather than what exactly the narrative of Avengers: Endgame delivers.

Avengers: Endgame: Film Review

Equally, despite all the promise and fanfare of the previous Marvel outing, it's troubling that one character is effectively reduced solely to a deus ex machina device in proceedings. 

There are also a few emotional moments that feel a little rushed, and didn't quite hit the mark that perhaps should have been expected.

But there are plenty of character complexities and moments that ground this superhero film in the realm of the human and our various foibles.

Ultimately, this film belongs to the original Avengers - it may be the end of Phase 3, and the farewell they've been anticipating after some 20 plus films over a decade, but it's not hindered the Russo Brothers from delivering a movie that is crowd-pleasing in extremis, one that walks a tightrope between nostalgia (thanks to plot devices) and closing a chapter from a studio that's always had its eyes on its vision.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Hellboy: DVD Review

Hellboy: DVD Review

For many, Ron Perlman is the definitive Hellboy.

With gruff voice and wearied attitude, his Hellraiser, along with director Guillermo del Toro set the tone for the story of the demon here to protect us all. But that was back in 2004 when the film hit a high, and now 15 years later, there's a new attempt to bring Mike Mignola's comics back to life.

This time, Stranger Things David Harbour is old Red, and Dog Soldiers' director Neil Marshall helps helm the CGI creations as Hellboy tackles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge in the R-rated flick.

Hellboy: Film Review

The road to Hellboy is paved with good intentions.

But unfortunately, this reboot is nothing more than a slightly polished stinker that does nothing for the legacy work created by del Toro.

A CGI creature feature that in parts looks like the bastard son of Jack The Giant Slayer, the creature work is so incredibly cheap-looking that it distracts mightily from what's transpiring on the screen.

Which isn't to say much, because the basic plot and piecemeal sewing together of various scenes in the film feels beyond rote, and borderline dull.

Harbour tries to deliver what he can under the prosthetics, but if you're after subtlety, this ain't it.

All the good character work done by Perlman and del Toro is distilled down and then thrown out, because all Harbour has to work with is what the script writers believe Hellboy is, a series of quips and some petulance, rather than a build up of emotional heft aimed at immersing you in his world, and buying into the torment he feels at his place in the world.

It just doesn't work though throughout, with a Scouser pig creature that's supposed to be Jovovich's character's sidekick feeling like an extra from a bad cartoon movie. Fight scenes aren't much better either, scored as they are to heavy metal tracks and distinctly looking cheap in their execution.

The cheapness affects the feel of the film and the script struggles for any kind of heft; even worse, the world-building feels less fantastical, more rushed, rote and utterly  lazy. There are precisely two good moments in Hellboy, and unfortunately, they come right at the end of the movie as Marshall demonstrates some directorial flair for action sequences, chopping and changing between slow-motion and speeded up ass kicking from Hellboy.

It only serves to show what's been missing in the Hellboy 2019 reboot, a film that chops around all over the place, uses terribly clunky exposition to anchor its hero, and delivers nothing short of a disappointment.

Simply put, Hellboy in its latest incarnation deserves its place in cinematic hell.