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Showing posts from June 14, 2015

Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Picking up where the previous film left off (with no reminders of the previous film’s events, mind you), Hunger Games winners Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are forced to play up a romance and tour the various districts. However, the President (Donald Sutherland) and the new games master (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are sensing that Katniss is inspiring a rebellion amongst the people, and the President is keen to keep his power. It is decided that at the next Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta will face only former Hunger Games champions (Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer among them), hoping that Katniss’ chances of survival are miniscule. That’s the plan, at least. Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Liam Hemsworth, and a hopefully well-paid Toby Jones reprise their roles from the previous outing.

This 2013 sequel to the hit YA fiction adaptation is at the very least a vast improvement on its tedious and stupid predecessor. H…

Review: Joe vs. The Volcano

Joe (Tom Hanks) has a boring job, an unpleasant boss (Dan Hedaya), and for the love of God will someone fix those fluorescent lights, they’re enough to give a guy a migraine! Well, a migraine is merely one of many illnesses that Joe believes he suffers from, and you can probably add hypochondria to the list too. Or maybe not, as when he goes to see a doctor (Robert Stack), Joe is told that he has a ‘brain cloud’, which although somewhat vague, is incurable and fatal enough to make Joe re-evaluate his dull, barely lived life. With only months to live, Joe quits his job and when an oddball millionaire (Lloyd Bridges) turns up with an offer: Joe can live the remainder of his life in luxury, so long as he agrees to travel to a previously unheard of island, and jump into a volcano as a human sacrifice to stop the volcano from wreaking havoc on the locals. Somehow Joe actually agrees to this lunacy. Hey, he’s already dying so I guess it doesn’t matter. Meg Ryan turns up in a number of diffe…

Review: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Set in an alternate 1899, he mysterious M (Richard Roxburgh) gathers together a band of Victorian-era characters for a secret mission to thwart the evil plans of the elusive ‘Fantom’, who is using highly advanced weaponry and artillery to set the world at war. However, there’s more to this plot than meets the eye. This team is named The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Sean Connery is legendary adventurer Allan Quartermain (or Quatermain if you’re a bit of a twat), Naseeruddin Shah plays Indian inventor and explorer Captain Nemo, Shane West is American Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer (!), Tony Curran plays invisible thief Skinner (aka The Invisible Man, except not quite The Invisible Man if you know what I mean), Jason Flemyng is the troubled scientist Dr. Jekyll who has a beastly alter-ego, Stuart Townsend plays the immortal Dorian Gray, whilst Peta Wilson makes the title nonsensical, playing vampiress Mina Harker. David Hemmings turns up briefly as Quartermain’s brother.

Based on …

Review: Prisoners

Hugh Jackman plays Pennsylvania contractor, survivalist, and family man Keller Dover, who is with his family and the family of neighbour Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard) for Thanksgiving dinner. Afterwards they notice that Dover and Birch’s two 6-year old daughters are missing, having been outside playing earlier in the evening. Dover’s older son claims to have seen an RV parked outside at one point, otherwise there are no leads for Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal, with neck tattoo and blinking facial tic) to go on. The van’s driver is arrested and brought in for questioning. He is Alex Jones (Paul Dano) a peculiar young man of low intellect, and it’s that low IQ combined with a lack of evidence that sees Jones released. Dover is enraged, as this simply won’t do, especially with time running out (The longer it goes on, the less likely it is that the girls are still alive). He is convinced of Jones’ guilt, especially since he claims Jones whispered something incriminating to him out on…

Review: Muppets Most Wanted

The Muppets have a new manager, a hack named Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), who is shockingly a bad guy in league with a wanted criminal named Constantine who looks rather like Kermit the Frog. He has a mole and a Russian accent, however. The Muppets are touring Europe when Kermit gets arrested for being mistaken for Constantine, and is thrown in a Siberian gulag. There he is forced by prison warden Nadya (Tina Fey) to assist in the production of the prison camp musical (the prisoners are played by Ray Liotta, Danny Trejo, Jermaine Clement, and WWE’s resident little person Hornswoggle among others). The rest of the Muppets don’t even notice the difference in Kermit’s appearance, accent or demeanour as Constantine impersonates Kermit as the European tour is used merely as a front for the criminal activities of the froggy criminal mastermind and disingenuous Dominic (Whose last name is pronounced ‘Bad Gee’- Maniacal laugh, maniacal laugh. Sigh). Ty Burrell turns up as a clueless French…

Review: The Chamber

Sam Cayhall (Gene Hackman) is about to meet the gas chamber for a bombing in the 60s that resulted in the deaths of two children. An unrepentant, but aging Mississippi racist (from a long line of Klan members), Cayhall is visited by his new lawyer just a month before his scheduled execution. That young lawyer turns out to be Adam Hall (Chris O’Donnell), Cayhall’s own grandson. Can O’Donnell find a way to save his grandfather? Did Cayhall act alone in the bombings? Faye Dunaway plays Cayhall’s long-suffering daughter who hates the sordid past being dredged up all over again. Lela Rochon and David Marshall Grant play O’Donnell’s assigned aide on the case and the smug governor who as a former prosecutor was the man to convict Cayhall in the first place. Richard Jackson plays a former FBI investigator on the bombing case, Millie Perkins plays the mother of one of the victims, Robert Prosky plays O’Donnell’s boss back in Chicago, and Raymond J. Barry plays a frightening character crucial t…

Review: The Accidental Spy

Jackie Chan stars as (wait for it) Jackie Chan, a fitness equipment salesman who attracts media attention after stopping a robbery. Before he knows it, the wealthy father he never met is requesting he travel to see him in South Korea. Dad is gravely ill, but leaves his son a crucifix and a key before he passes (He has to travel to Istanbul, mind you). Geez, what a cheap bastard! Anyway, it’s not long before some no-good types are after Chan (who always wanted to be a cop, by the way), who they believe was given something by his old man that they very much want possession of.

American distributors apparently greatly changed this 2001 film from director Teddy Chan (“Bodyguards and Assassins”, producer of “Black Mask” with Jet Li) for its American release, and this is the version I saw on Aussie cable TV. It’s pretty poor, I have to say, but whether its due to the cuts or if it would’ve been a poor film anyway, I cannot say. All I can say is that it gets pretty tedious after a while, and…

Review: The Expendables 3

Third go-round sees Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and the gang (Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, and Terry Crews) on a mission to rescue a former Expendable named Doctor Death (Wesley Snipes, who gets to make fun of his legal issues). After this, CIA man Drummer (Harrison Ford, who shows off his piloting skills at one point) hires Barney to track down another former Expendable, Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), whom Barney assumed was long dead, and who co-founded The Expendables. This, however, is not a rescue mission, because Stonebanks is an evil, amoral arms dealer currently located in Romania. For this mission, Barney eschews the other Expendables in favour of a new team of more fresh-faced recruits, with the advice of head-hunter and retired mercenary Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer!). Ronda Rousey and Kellan Lutz play the only ones you’ll need to remember. That mission doesn’t go so well, however, and so the old gang gets put together, with some extra help from the very silly …

Review: Carrie (2013)

Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz) is an extremely awkward and timid teenager who has been raised by an intensely religious mother (Julianne Moore). At school she is targeted by queen bee Chris (Portia Doubleday), and her sycophants, though one of them named Sue (Gabriella Wilde) eventually breaks ranks. Although she took part in the lead-up, Sue thinks Chris has gone too far this time by posting a humiliating menstruation moment of the completely oblivious Carrie’s (Mum apparently never had ‘the talk’ with poor Carrie) on the net. Well-meaning gym teacher Judy Greer takes pity on poor Carrie, and also has Chris suspended for the incident, even banning her (and Sue) from going to the prom. Meanwhile, Sue wants to make up for her own part in taunting Carrie by getting her boyfriend to go to the prom with Carrie, since Sue obviously can’t go to the prom herself. Unfortunately, by this point Carrie- who has developed strange telekinetic powers- may be too far gone, and with Chris and her dopey …

Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

After successfully navigating them away from danger, wizard Gandalf leaves his party of thirteen dwarves (and hobbit thief Bilbo, played by Martin Freeman) to attend to go off on his own mission. Now it is up to Thorin (Richard Armitage) to lead Bilbo and the dwarves to The Lonely Mountain and defeat the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), so that the dwarf kingdom can be reclaimed. Along the way they are attacked by giant spiders, rescued and then imprisoned by elves. Luke Evans plays a smuggler named Bard, whom our protagonists ask for help at one crucial point in a town ruled by a red-bearded and frankly odious Stephen Fry as the Master of Lake Town. Orlando Bloom reprises the role of elf Legolas (or a younger version of him), with Evangeline Lily as Tauriel, another elf, and Lee Pace plays the rather cold-hearted elf king Thranduil, Legolas’ father.

I really never got into the previous Peter Jackson adaptation of the JRR Tolkien classic, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journ…