Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – 6/10 superhero action fantasy movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Writer: James Gunn
Peter Quill / Starlord: Chris Pratt
Gamora: Zoë Saldana
Drax The Destroyer: Dave Bautista
Groot: Vin Diesel
Rocket Raccoon: Bradley Cooper
Glenn Close: Nova Prime
The Collector: Benicio Del Toro
Writer: Nicole Perlman
Writer (Original Comic Book): Dan Abnett
Writer (Original Comic Book): Andy Lanning
Producer: Kevin Feige
Actor and Executive Producer Xandarian Ladies’ Man: Stan Lee

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Peter Quill, better known to himself as Starlord, has stolen an ancient orb but it quickly transpires that he isn’t the only one after it. Anyway, long story short, he ends up in prison but as he warily teams up Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket to escape, each discover that this orb has greater universal importance that they thought and that their begrudging friendship may be the only thing more powerful.

6/10

Guardians of the Galaxy enthusiastic contemporary reception is rather inflated. Thanks to poor action editing and ostentatiously dull villains (Ronan’s a Snoozer), the movie is largely forgettable. The extreme violence should also dampen how much fun you find things; one scene played for a mechanical laugh has the explicit sound effects of several enemies having all their bones broken repeatedly. That said, it is fun at times and there are chuckles to be had. The real surprise is the attempt at character development: each of the Guardians behaves differently at the end than they do at the beginning. For some, the change occurs because they were hiding their true nature at the start; for others, the enforced or enticed team-up leads to camaraderie. It’s sketchy and shallow but it’s unmissably there and highly welcome. I also like the colour, interior and design of Starlord’s spaceship, Chris Pratt is good and Zoe Saldana is clearly working her way up to being allowed to play a white person.

This movie contains bad language, adult dialogue, extended extreme violence, extreme fantasy violence

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Aces Go Places II (1983) – 7/10 action comedy movie review

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Cast / crew
Actor and Director Fattie: Eric Tsang
Screenplay Writer: Bak-Ming Wong
Sam Hui: King Kong
Karl Maka: Albert Au
Sylvia Chang: Supt. Nancy Ho
Tsui Hark: FBI

Aces Go Places II aka Mad Mission Part 2 aka Zuijia paidang daxian shentong (1983)

When King Kong gets framed for a bank robbery, the real robbers insist that he go and buy a diamond with counterfeit money from the mafia who have sent Black Glove, an American assassin and brother of White Glove (killed in the first movie), to make sure that the deal goes down and King Kong and Baldy are despatched.

7/10

A gloriously insane mess of action scenes and funny comedy hurled at the screen and quickly wiped off so that more can be thrown. Some of the action is terrific, some of it is just infectiously insane. The comedy works most of the time and some of it is hilarious thanks to largely relying on slapstick. One instance that saw Baldy literally fly across the room during the fun Valentine’s Day rumble would have caused a genuine spit-take if I’d been drinking at the time. The inclusion of Clint Eastwood lookalike (Filthy Harry) is charmingly bizarre. Look out for famed Hong Kong director Tsui Hark as FBI and it was interesting to see the half-a-car chase done here two years before everyone saw it in the Bond movie A View to a Kill. This is a fun, snappy, entertaining movie from start to finish.

This movie contains violence, bad language

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Aces Go Places aka Mad Mission (1982) – 6/10 comedy action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Eric Tsang
Writer: Bak-Ming Wong
Sam Hui: King Kong
Karl Maka: Albert Au
Sylvia Chang: Supt. Nancy Ho

Aces Go Places aka Mad Mission (1982)

Expert jewel thief King Kong is forced to join forces with an American detective Albert "Baldy" Au to thwart a diamond heist being orchestrated by White Glove.

6/10

Lively action comedy with lots to like including an athletic lead (reminiscent of Jackie Chan thanks to the haircut and tone of the film), some good action moments and an infectious sense of fun. While Chinese comedy frequently doesn’t travel, Aces Go Places is successful more often than not with most jokes not stretched past breaking point. Special mention for a mighty elevator gag: "Doesn’t this lift seem a bit small?" (the three walls of the elevator are three guys holding massive mirrors; brilliantly unexpected).

This movie contains violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Godzilla: Final Wars aka Gojira: Fainaru uôzu (2004) – 5/10 monster action movie review

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Cast / crew
Producer: Shogo Tomiyama
Screenplay Writer: Wataru Mimura
Screenplay Writer: Isao Kiriyama
Special Effects: Eiichi Asada
Masahiro Matsuoka: Earth Defense Force Soldier Shin’ichi Ôzaki
Rei Kikukawa: UN Molecular Biologist Miyuki Otonashi
Don Frye: Douglas Gordon
Maki Mizuno: Newscaster Anna Otonashi
Kazuki Kitamura: The Controller of Planet X
Kosugi Kane Takeshi: M-Facility Soldier Katsunori Kazama
Shigeru Izumiya: Samon Taguchi
Masatoh Eve: Xilian General
Akira Takarada: UN Secretary General Naotarô Daigo
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura

Godzilla: Final Wars aka Gojira: Fainaru uôzu (2004)

After sealing Godzilla in the South Pole, the Earth Defence Force presumes that the planet is safe from monsters at last. Suddenly, all across the planet in cities with recognisable landmarks, monsters start appearing and wreaking havoc and salvation will come from a completely unexpected source but may have a heavy price.

5/10

The Godzilla action is actually rather good fun, but there’s a hour of not-a-lot to get there and weak humanoid villain X to bafflingly deal with once we do. Still, if you’re here for the monster mashing, you certainly get your money’s worth as Godzilla breathes his way through a planetful of monsters in an entertaining and spectacular manner. Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla, now just plain Zilla, is repurposed as a villain monster and gets disparagingly dispatched with a real-Godzilla tail flip and a dismissive one-liner. Weirdly, half of the movie is in English. Special mention for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it detail where midget monster Minilla is wearing a seatbelt in the truck which, after recovering from my 28 g-force double-take, I think is enough to stick another star on.

This movie contains graphic, gory violence, fantasy monster violence, extreme humanoid violence

City Under Siege aka Chun sing gai bei (2010) – 6/10 mutant superhero action film review

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Cast / crew
Producer: Chiu Suet Ying
Aaron Kwok: Sunny
Shu Qi: Angel
Collin Chou: Zhang Dachu
Wu Jing:
Zhang Jingchu: Cheng Xiuhua
Editor: Benny Chan
Screenplay Writer: Benny Chan
Screenplay Writer: Ling Chi Man
Screenplay Writer: Carson Lau
Producer: Benny Chan
Director: Benny Chan

City Under Siege aka Chun sing gai bei (2010)

After being infected with a WWII bio-chemical weapon, some former members of a circus troupe go bad and cause violence and mayhem but, after swallowing his own body weight in sea water and a good bout of diarrhoea, Sunny isn’t affected as badly and retains his humanity along with superhuman speed and strength.

6/10

As I was expecting some sort of crime thriller (I was only watching this as it was a Benny Chan film and I hadn’t seen anything else about it), it came as something of a surprise to find out it was a mutated-human monster movie. As such, it’s watchable and entertaining for the most part though it does go past deliberately goofy, straight through serious, pushes through spoof and bursts out the other side into mildly glorious over-the-top cheese-tastic insanity. Whether that’s good or not, well, I watched it happily until the end and enjoyed a particularly good chuckle at the bad guys demise.

This movie contains mild swear words, extreme violence, gory and unpleasant scenes

Appleseed Alpha (2014) – 6/10 post-apocalyptic mecha action anime movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Storyboard Artist: Shinji Aramaki
Screenplay Writer: Marianne Krawczyk
Story Writer: Masamune Shirow
Producer: Joseph Chou
CGI Director and Storyboard Artist: Masaru Matsumoto
Deunan: Luci Christian
Briareos: David Matranga
Wendel Calvert: Two Horns
Chris Hutchinson: Matthews
Adam Gibbs: Olson
Actress and Motion Capture Performer Iris: Brina Palencia
Josh Sheltz: Talos
Elizabeth Bunch: Nyx
Actor and Motion Capture Performer Briareos: David Matranga
Motion Capture Performer Deunan: Alissa Simmons

Appleseed Alpha (2014)

Deunan and Briareos are struggling to get by as mercenaries following World War Three and are currently indentured to Two Horns, a gangster who has taken over the remains of New York City. He sends them out on a simple droid-clearing assignment but they run into Olsen and a mysterious girl and find new meaning to their lives.

6/10

Entertaining and good-looking action movie which isn’t as successful at capturing the audience’s emotions as it is trying to be. Fortunately, it isn’t grasping too hard and so you don’t find the emotional beats funny. This is not a negative review but the action likewise doesn’t break out of adequate; a lack of imagination and logic means that there are some reasonably exciting scenes which end when their time is up, not because a character or plot point or logical action caused it to end. None of the action in the Appleseed CG movies has ever been close to the heights of the opening scene of the first one.  With these faults noted, though, I still enjoyed the movie, I liked the characters enough and was never remotely bored. Villain Two Horns is an unexpected highlight but some of the visuals are clearly the talking point; the environments and explosions are photo-realistic and the characters are highly convincing without using the anime-style of previous outings or descending into the distracting uncanny valley.

This movie contains strong violence, adult dialogue

The Croods (2013) – 7/10 CG animated adventure movie

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Cast / crew
Actor, Director and Writer Belt: Chris Sanders
Director and Writer: Kirk De Micco
Nicolas Cage: Grug
Emma Stone: Eep
Ryan Reynolds: Guy

The Croods (2013)

Grug Crood’s world is about to come crashing down around him. His teenage daughter, Eep, is gaining her independence and questioning some of his rules against new things and curiosity. On top of that, the world is about to come crashing down around him. Literally.

7/10

Chris Sanders, with this and How to Train Your Dragon (he also did Lilo & Stitch for Disney which had promise and style but big tonal problems), has moved himself into the list of directors it is certainly worth paying attention to. There are a good number of very funny moments and a generally nice tone. Nicolas Cage provides another great piece of voice work (after Astro Boy). But the title! The title is just awful. I don’t want to see a crude film on the big screen, especially not one marketed at children. This is absolutely not crude at all. (Surprising, given that it is a Dreamworks Animation project.) That said, it’s certainly not without plot or character problems. It promotes rebelliousness and disrespect for your father and the idea that they are less wise and insightful than their children; a bafflingly common Hollywood theme. You can become an independent adult without arguing and fighting and being impertinent and disrespectful but you never get that message from Hollywood. And the parting message seems to be "Follow the sun" which, I shouldn’t have to say, is remarkably nonsensical advice. Anyway, while The Croods is blighted by typical Hollywood morals and a dreadful title, it’s easy to look past that and see a fun, funny, warm-hearted film.

This movie contains comic violence

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.