Atomic Blonde

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“The name is Blonde, Jane Blonde”
Well it’s not, it’s actually Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), but any spy film can’t help but being compared to a certain other well known spy franchise. In fact the Jason Bourne franchise has stolen a bit of Bond’s thunder of late, so you kind of have to throw that into the mix too, if we are comparing. How does it measure up, well here is this week’s review.

Lorraine Broughton is MI6 most elite spy and it is 1989 in Berlin just before the wall is about to fall and she is called on to retrieve a very important list and take down an espionage ring into the bargain.

David Leitch is a newcomer to the director’s chair, but he has experience as a stunt coordinator and he is certainly called on to draw on that experience in the fight scenes of which there are quite a few, in fact the movie is heavy on these as Lorraine Broughton kicks and punches her way across Berlin. She tends to hit first and ask questions later, presuming she has not dispatched them first.

This movie also likes dipping into the late 90’s playlist with a bit of Bowie too. The movie very rarely stops to take a breath and there are more than a few twists, turns and double crosses, a little too many to mention in fact. Does all of this mixed together work out? Well it probably works best when watched on a surface level as it is based on a original graphic novel and a lot of the action is truly comic book, similar to the superhero genre and violence that tends to take place in them.

For all it’s faults as this director is still finding his feet, it is an enjoyable watch if you like that sort of thing. It will most likely not stick longer in the mind once you step out of the cinema door but forgive it that and you will find it an enjoyable watch. After all this movie is coming out during the summer, we are not looking for deep and meaningful here, the winter months and the run up to next year’s Oscars will take care of that.

Valerian & The City Of A Thousand Planets

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It is nearly 20 years since Luc Besson made The Fifth Element, it combined Hollywood sci- fi with a European stylish flair and a unique vision of the future. Even today it still is a great watch. Now why do I bring this point up, I liked Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets and before this movie had been made the previously mentioned movie had been the most expensive European movie to date. What I feel may not work in this movies favour, is that repeated watchings may expose it’s flaws. Certainly there is lots to see and admire up on the screen and you can see where the movie has been spent, but I feel maybe that the two central leads might not strong enough actors yet to make this film memorable over time.

I suppose I better get down to the review then. Well, we find ourselves in the 28th century and on Alpha, an ever expanding space based metropolis which has had to leave the confines of the space around Earth, due to the fact that we keep encountering new species and it appears that Earth based space at least is limited. All these races use Alpha to interact with humans but we have encountered quite a few at this stage hence the move away from Earth.

Enter special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) who are required to maintain order on Alpha and the other human settlements. But all is not well on Alpha of late, a malevolent force is expanding within the metropolis threatening its very existence. They are tasked to find out what is causing the disturbance.

As I said earlier in the review, I liked the movie but ultimately the sci – fi future vision has moved on, even in a universe far far away. This movie considering it is set in the future can sometimes feel like a movie made many years ago, maybe referring back to the other movie mentioned at the start – 20 years ago.

Enjoyable yes – memorable over time, less so.

The Big Sick

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Hope that I haven’t scared you too much with my picture this week, it’s okay it’s just your regular friendly movie review. This week’s selection is The Big Sick, it has been a while since we’ve had a comedy to review.

Just before I start into my review, my little movie experience while asking for my movie ticket “I would like one for The Big Sick at ten past six”, it’s easier to write than say believe me, quite a tongue twister let me tell you, I’m digressing aren’t I.

As it happens the lead character’s name has not been changed
as Kumail Nanjiania, who happens to be a Pakistani comic portraying himself.
Well, while doing his set up on stage he given a friendly heckle by a girl
called Emily ( Zoe Kazan ) at one of his stand-up shows.

P.s The real Emily also helped to write the movie’s screenplay.

Over time their relationship blossoms, but he is Pakistani and she is not. As in many cultures, his parents expect that he will marry a girl from that country and do quite a lot of staged semi comedic meet and greets to make sure that this happens, unaware that his real affections lie elsewhere.

Suddenly Emily develops a life affecting illness and is placed into medically induced coma. While staying at the hospital with her, he meets Emily’s parents portrayed by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter. As Emily is trying to recover, they start to bond with each other and Kumail finds himself liking them more and more. This turns out to be a slight problem as Emily’s and Kumail last meeting before her illness took hold, was not stellar.

It’s a hard thing to switch from things going well and then not so well, but this movie manages to pull it off. Maybe this is in part thanks to the fact that this is a story based in truth. Such is life, with the good comes the bad with a little bit of humour mixed in.

If you have been longing for a good romantic comedy to come along,
then this may be the one for you.
Both affecting and comedic in equal measure, worth seeking out.

Dunkirk

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This movie in essence is a movie from a certain point of view, in fact having now seen it and I was not really counting, the only troops, sailors and pilots for which we are told the story of is the English ones with a smattering of small amounts of French ones. We never actually see the Germans portrayed, well not in person at least. More an observance than a criticism. But if what I have said about that makes you think, should you go and see it. Yes you should, is the answer.

Even if your knowledge of the history of the Second World War is scant at best, there is probably a good chance that in saying ” Dunkirk”, that you may have a mental image forming in your head as I speak.

But just in case – here’s the history lesson. At this stage in the war in May 1940, Germany had advanced into and overtaken the troops of many countries in Europe . In entering France they trapped and encircled the allied troops to the beaches of Dunkirk.
The troops on the beach could nearly touch the shores of home, they were so close, but they were not home.

This is graphically displayed both on the land and sea as the troops try to seek a route home as they are harassed by the advancing Germans. The story also takes place above the heads of the troops as the Royal Air Force tries to prevent a greater loss of life happening beneath them.

There is of course a lot more to this story in the movie, but as I like to stay spoiler free if possible, I will just urge to go and see this movie. There is dialogue in this movie, but it is really the action that happens which tells the story, the pictures fill in the gaps that the dialogue leaves. As the movie is relatively short to tell this story, you are made feel like you are in the thick of the action for a good part of the time. It can make for an uncomfortable watch at times but don’t let that put you off on going to see it.

This is probably, if not the best movie that the director Christopher Nolan has made, well it’s certainly one of the better ones, will it become a modern classic – well only time will tell. There have been many classic and well made war movies in the past, so the bar has been set quite high.

It is an intense experience and watch, but a worthwhile one that honours those who took part in this historical event. Go see it, I feel you won’t be disappointed. In fact try and go to see it on the biggest screen you can, it deserves to be seen on that size of movie screen.

 

War For The Planet For The Apes

 

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A bit like Star Wars: Rogue One – A Star Wars Story earlier in the year this movie dovetails what came before but was actually made later than the movies that inspired them, if that makes sense.

The original movies back in the the late 60’s and early 70’s told a different tale, they were written in a time of seismic changes in America – the civil rights movement being just one of them. So restarting the franchise more recently was always going to be a more difficult sell, what was the story they wanted to tell. The filmmakers sought to outline the backstory of how it came to be. After the success of the first of the new movies, a second naturally followed and based on the success of that movie also, the current movie was pretty much a certainty and this is where we currently find ourselves with the same director from the previous movies – Matt Reeves.

Just a word before I start into the movie review proper – kudos should go to Andy Serkis for his continuing portrayal of Caesar, he has become so adept at the motion – capture special effects that you do not even question whether this is an ape or a man portraying an ape. He totally inhabits the part. He is not just a man in monkey suit so to speak.

After the showdown with Koba in the last movies, we are left in no doubt right  at the very start that the title of this movie says it all. There is a split in the ape camp, they are not all fighting the same side. Some of them who followed Koba have thrown their lot with an army of humans, itself a split in the human camp led by a chillingly portrayed Colonel (Woody Harrelson), those apes just want to survive and if that means fighting their own kind well so be it.

After this initial showdown, the Caesar camp have found themselves suffering losses both in terms of their numbers and personally. This causes Caesar to go on a quest. At times the portrayal feels more like we are watching a Western genre movie from times past, Caesar not only has to confront this Colonel but also darker forces, is he becoming the very thing he sought to drive out of the Ape camp. It is has become a battle for the planet and whoever wins will become the dominant species.

It is unusual that a series of movies of movies to stay consistently strong over the telling, more often than not there is usually a weak one in the numbers. It does help if you have seen what came before, but equally it is strong enough to stand as a stand-alone story, with some nods to the original series of movie, and a certain other war movie quest.
Apes Strong.

 

Spiderman:Homecoming

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Spiderman: Homecoming is our movie for review this week, and you are probably thinking why should I bother seeing this movie, haven’t we seen two other actors and 5 movies portray him before. What new story is there to tell and do we really need to see another origin story again. Thankfully the filmakers know that we have most likely seen at least one or two of these movies and their take is a little different.

Rather than Spiderman: Homecoming, a more accurate title might be Spiderman: The High School Years. You may remember that Spiderman popped up with some of the other Marvel Universe in Captain America: Civil War and this movie is not afraid to poke a little fun at his goody – goody image. Disinterested careers and gym teachers, no bother our Cap will step into the breach!! Anyway Tom Holland reprises his role from that movie here, his youthful exuberance is infectious.

Our Spidey wants in on being a full member of the Avengers, but Tony Stark (AKA – Iron Man) – Robert Downey Jr says “You are not quite ready kid” or words to that effect. So what’s this movie’s take on the story.

It appears while it’s quite nice that the Avengers keep saving the world, but boy do they leave some mess behind. That’s going to be a big clean up job for someone. Spiderman’s foe does not originally set out that way – an enterprising construction guy – played by Michael Keaton, otherwise more famous for playing another superhero in another universe. Well, he finds some alien technology in the rubble, post – Avengers battle and decides to exploit it. Fast forward a little and he doesn’t want to let anyone spoil his fun. He morphs into Vulture and Spiderman’s current foe has been born.

Going back to the start all be it from a slightly different angle, when this story has already been told is always a little risky, but I am happy to report that this take works and I won’t be surprised if they have another outing for your friendly neighbourhood web-slinger before too much longer. It has it’s faults for sure, show me a comic superhero – based movie that doesn’t but there is enough humour and action here for you to forgive that in the most part. Lots here for Marvel fans and first timers to enjoy.

P.s What about Aunt May!!

 

Baby Driver

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Even if we don’t always have our music headphones in, we from time to time have an internal soundtrack in our heads, a remembered song that we heard that day or from long ago by something we have seen that sparks a memory.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) on the other hand has a nearly forever rolling soundtrack playing in his head for reasons that are explained in the movie. He is a good driver, no rewind that he is a great driver but finds himself constantly under the thumb of a crime boss (Kevin Spacey).

The phone call is made and he is once again drawn into the world of crime as a professional getaway driver, this is his life. But he decides one day to stop into a diner and his whole outlook changes when he happens upon a waitress (Lily James), she makes him stop and question his life choices and he thinks outside his current narrow world view – maybe there is another life I am not living and I could live it with her.

Ah, if life were that simple, sadly it rarely is and the lady of his dreams gets drawn into the maelstrom of chaos following a heist gone badly wrong.

This must have been a really tough gig for whoever had to secure the music rights for this movie, as one song fades out almost immediately a new one fades in. This movie is best described as a soundtrack with bits of dialogue, crime and action weaved into it.

So now the question of the moment, did I enjoy the movie? I liked it but if I am being honest here, this year’s effort in The Fast And The Furious franchise did more for me.
You may however may feel differently and if a Bonnie & Clyde -esque caper is your thing then you will enjoy this movie.

The lead character in the movie likes to mix his music and I found myself on my trip home after the cinema riffing two songs together, so maybe the movie affected me more than I thought!!