Monday, August 3, 2015

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)

I would've liked writing a solid "MI vs. Bond" entry, but there's still time until "Spectre", "Skyfall" is long gone, and besides that I don't time to write. In brief "Rogue Nation" convinced me of something that I wasn't sure yet after "Ghost Protocol". Somehow, for me, the U.S. secret agent version beats the British MI6. I can't say exactly why. I guess it's mostly because "Mission Impossible" doesn't take itself as seriously as the "Bond" movies. And since we got to that ...

Probably the best part in "Rogue Nation" is neither the story (which is a bit unpolished anyway), neither the action scenes, nor the "MI" version of a Bond girl (more plausible than actual Bond girls), but the comic relief. Simon Pegg reprises his IT mastermind part, getting here a presence that's almost on par with the main role both as importance in the script, and also as screen time. And that's exactly the element that helps cutting off the rigorous feel you have in a solid spy thriller (a la John le Carre), and as result to admit that we're watching an implausible story that doesn't assume it's more than typical action movie entertainment. Stuff that Bond keeps forgetting ... or otherwise said wants to look more complex than it is. If the MI's stunts would've also been more normal and less SciFi ...

The subject? Better than what's in the trailer. It doesn't make sense to spoil it. Enough. As said, no time to write ;)

Rating: 3+ out of 5

Monday, July 27, 2015

Woman in Black (2012)

I decided to check out the pile of titles I missed in the last couple of years. And since "It Follows" re-opened a bit my appetite for horrors I decided to watch "Woman in Black". Even though this is vacation material = for times with less daily stress, which is not the case. The choice was good ... for the first part ...

The movie is produced by the famous British "Hammer" studio, responsible for many horrors, some of a debatable quality, between the '60s and the '80s (among which we can find the "Dracula" series with Cristopher Lee, or "Frankenstein" with Peter Cushing). Apparently, the brand was brought out from the grave (no pun intended) quite recently after a long hiatus, and "Woman in Black" is among the, let' say "major" titles released after resurrection. The movie adapts a novel which follows the classic path of ghost story + haunted house. A very classic version I could say. We have the typical dark story with the tragic ending resulting in an unrest spirit, who must be put somehow to eternal sleep. More details in the movie.

Why did I say the choice was good - at first. Well .. the standard context is not an issue (at least not for me). Especially given that the movie is really well done in the intro part, and actually for the first half. In particular, the location setting is superb, although the same road connecting the isle of the haunted house seems to have been used also in an older TV version, so they had source for ideas. The problems with the movie start when the main character decides to do some social service work for a small community (not his own) by putting the ghost to rest. Well, from that point onwards ... the action seems to be a bit far fetched. Not excessively, but enough to notice a contrast with the first part. And that leaves a final impression that's neither a light horror to watch for fun like "The Haunting" or "13 Ghosts" or many others, nor does it have a real scare potential as I've experienced long ago in "The Ring" or something more recently in "It Follows". In any case .. the result is much better than, well ... let's say "Sinister" which doesn't deserve getting tire with details.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Ant-Man (2015)

Busy, busy days ... I have the same time to spend for "Ant-Man" as much as he occupies on the poster area. So let's get to the point ...

I'm waiting for the day when I'll see a super-hero movie that I'll like. But something to really like. I don't think this happened since '92: "Batman Returns", where either I was too young to be really impressed or Tim Burton did some magic in that movie. Ant-Man comes with an interesting perspective, and quite original compared to what's on the market. Literally speaking. Spoiler: we can see a tsunami in the bath tub. The subject itself is sort of average, but I didn't expect much more. Probably the best part of the movie is the comic relief, very present and sufficiently well integrated to not leave the rest to get to the disaster state of alternating cliches with CGI sequences as we've seen in Avengers 2. The script and the acting ... better not talk about it (= fortunately Evangeline Lilly and her green eyes were there to save it a bit .. at least for my concern).

It's a light, summer movie. Fine if you don't expect much, and also if you don't expect that you'll be surprised for not expecting much. Worse in my opinion than the last Spiderman or Iron Man, but above Thor, Avengers, etc. from the Marvel Universe (yeah, I know ... I have a messed up scale compared to the box office and fan preference in the super-hero niche). Obviously, I didn't include Guardians of Galaxy in the Marvel list. That was brilliant. Probably because, technically speaking, that wasn't a super-hero movie ...

Rating: 3 out of 5

Monday, July 13, 2015

Slow West (2015)

"Slow West" is something hard to describe. In the end it's probably what it seems to be, a western. But a very particular type of western. I don't actually have another example to compare to. I was thinking to say that if Terry Gilliam would've done a western probably the result would've been something like "Slow West", but ...

But "Slow West" is still a bit .. let's say more "settled", or "to the point" than the average in Terry Gilliam's movies. What we have close to Gilliam is a fine nuance of surreal that persists for pretty much all the movie, and which is the best part of it. The subject: a young Scotsman travels to California to find his girlfriend who ran away from Europe, is just a pretext for an initiation road trip, short and ended, in my opinion .. (light spoiler) too "classic" for a western. Probably that's what missing in "Slow West" to transform it completely in an "anti-western": the ending that switches towards the normal standards.

I didn't hear about John Maclean (director and screenwriter) until "Slow West", but I hope I will again. I guess I know after all how to call the result. It's a Terry Gilliam mixed with John Michael McDonagh ("The Guard", "Calvary"). Maybe more of the latter. It's a movie that definitely deserves your time if you're open to something that's not mainstream, even if it's only for one or two memorable scenes. Pitty that the one in which "His heart was in the wrong place", wasn't what I was expecting after the rest of the movie :) You'll get it when you'll get there ;) Maybe ...

Rating: 4+ out of 5 (almost perfect)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Terminator Genisys (2015)

"Terminator Genisys" wants to be, but it's not ... "Genesis" (aka "T1 Reloaded" if the hint is too obscure), as well as Jai Courtney is not Michael Biehn, Emilia Clarke is not Linda Hamilton, Byung-hun Lee dies too quickly to be Robert Patrick (yeah, yeah, spoiler .. and yeah, yeah, I know that's in T2), and Schwarzenegger is "old ... but not obsolete" ;).

Coincidence after last time, we have again a movie saved by Arnold. Probably many critics who bashed Terminator Episode 5 won't agree with that, but I'm asking then ... if T5 is so lame, how would it be without even the recycled T-800. I don't want to imagine that ... But, let's get to the point. Why is T5 so bad? Well ... first it's debatable if it's that bad. As in many other case the story is good. The script, however, is horrible. And the casting is awful. To cap it, the trailer gives a twist, which even though it doesn't have a major impact could've been handled more discrete. In brief, the timeline got altered in a way that doesn't deserve killing neurons to figure out and Kyle Reese sent back in time to save Sarah Connor, gets to be "damsel in distress". And, in a conflict that seems picked out of a Greek tragedy, the unborn son, returned in time with metal anatomic parts, gets to be main enemy. As I said, let's not consume neurons. Anyway ... too many spoilers :) (still, the story is quite ok ...)

No matter what the hardcore fans would say, who probably would've preferred a T1 screening for their T5 ticket (I've heard comments claiming the effects were better there .....), the latest version is not that bad. For who's really nostalgic about the first movies, is impossible not to be touched a bit by some remade scenes, well .. evolving differently, but which we've seen for the first time many, many years ago. Starting with the landing back in time, up to more subtle references = landing (more or less ...) a chopper at the new Cyberdyne HQ. And even if this doesn't bring a memory, I've personally never seen a "serious" chopper chase before :) at least for originality it gets a well deserved plus ...

I guess that a bigger problem than the ton of cliche and the periodic stupidity of the script lines is the terrible casting. Jason Clarke is a major disappointment to what I was expecting. Emilia Clarke tries, but she can't be Sarah Connor. The "Mother of Dragons" is not sufficiently rugged as screen presence to offer credibility for a female version of a Che Guevara risen against uncontrolled technical advancements. And Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese ... I didn't think I'll ever get to praise the acting capacity of Michael Biehn, who got mostly obscure secondary parts in his career besides the Cameron collaboration. Speaking about Jai Courtney I remembered about another failed sequel = the latest "Die Hard". And about a big difference ... If Bruce Willis there seemed to just wait to cash in the check and go home .. Arnold here respects the part that defined his career. He enjoys it. And that probably makes him to be pretty much the only actor in the whole cast that doesn't seem miscast. Luckily there's still an ... "I'll be back" :) no matter how dumb is the moment when it's delivered ;) ...

Rating: 3 out of 5