Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – 7/10 science fiction fantasy action adventure movie review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Luke Skywalker has disappeared. No-one knows why. In his and all Jedi’s absence, the evil First Order has risen to be within a hair’s breadth of taking control of the galaxy. No-one knows why. At this critical stage, both the Resistance and First Order are after one thing: a map containing the location of Luke Skywalker. No-one knows why.

7/10

J.J. Abrams treads accurately in the sandy footprints of George Lucas with this fan service-packed remake of Star Wars. While it’s action is immediately forgettable due to Abrams choosing not to give it a shape or story of it’s own and suffers badly in comparison with the Death Star attack from the original (which remains one of the greatest action sequences of all time; it’s always clear what they’re trying to do and why this piece of action on screen now is helping to accomplish that while naturally building and focusing on the one critical path), Abrams has come up trumps with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega and gone the extra mile with the three lead characters (the aforementioned and Harrison Ford) and villain Kylo Ren. He also oversaw a perfect trailer campaign with no story spoilers or even hints. While he doesn’t keep temporal or spatial control of his story (people can do anything in any amount of time and appear wherever they need to) and fumbles the codas, Abrams has otherwise made an efficient, furiously-paced, fun adventure. (As a side note, I don’t know why it’s 12A, PG would have been fine)

Content Summary

This movie contains violence, violent interrogation scenes

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

Cast / crew

Director, Producer and Writer: J.J. Abrams
Writer: Lawrence Kasdan
Writer: Michael Arndt
Characters Creator: George Lucas
Producer: Kathleen Kennedy
Producer: Bryan Burk
Music: John Williams
Han Solo: Harrison Ford
Luke Skywalker: Mark Hamill
Princess Leia Organa: Carrie Fisher
Kylo Ren: Adam Driver
Rey: Daisy Ridley
Finn (Star Wars): John Boyega
Poe Dameron: Oscar Isaac
Lupita Nyong’o: Maz Kanata
Supreme Leader Snoke: Andy Serkis
Domhnall Gleeson: General Hux
C-3PO: Anthony Daniels
Max von Sydow: Lor San Tekka

The Jungle Book (2016) – 7/10 adventure movie review

The Jungle Book (2016)

When Shere Khan learns of the prescence of mancub Mowgli – who has been brought up by wolves after being discovered in the jungle – he vows to kill him as soon as the current drought-enforced peace treaty ends. When the waters return, so does Khan with a terrible fury.

7/10

Slightly subdued but otherwise very nicely executed adaptation of both Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 book and Walt Disney’s 1967 film The Jungle Book. Neel Sethi is great as Mowgli while the animal cast is uncharismatic (especially when compared to the 1967 film) but fine. The two songs are integrated well but performed without much life or energy. The main talking point is how wonderful the visual effects achievement is; while not perfect (Kaa is not up to the standard of the furry animals, every animal’s but especially Shere Khan’s face looks too big and his entrance has some slightly wrong animation of him dropping down ledges), it instantly suspends disbelief, the flora and fauna are completely convincing and the furry animals (especially the wolf Raksha) look stunning most of the time. I also very much liked the opening multi-plane-esque hand-drawn animated Walt Disney logo. A highly worthwhile remake which may become a touchstone for a new audience.

Content Summary

This movie contains violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Cast / crew

Director and Producer: Jon Favreau
Screenplay Writer: Justin Marks
Book Writer: Rudyard Kipling
Mowgli: Neel Sethi
Baloo: Bill Murray
Bagheera: Ben Kingsley
Shere Khan: Idris Elba
King Louie: Christopher Walken

Bang Bang! (2014) – 7/10 action musical romance movie review

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Cast / crew
Writer (Original Film) Knight and Day: Patrick O’Neill
Hrithik Roshan: Rajveer Nanda
Katrina Kaif: Harleen Sahani
Pavan Raj Malhotra: Zorawar Kalwa
Danny Denzongpa: Omar Zafar
Javed Jaffrey: Hamid Gul
Screenplay Writer: Sujoy Ghosh
Screenplay Writer: Suresh Nair
Writer (Dialogue): Abbas Tyrewala
Director: Siddarth Anand

Bang Bang! (2014)

A bank receptionist winds up on the most thrilling blind date ever with an international thief who is wanted dead by both sides of the law.

7/10

Tremendously entertaining, energetic and almost ridiculously good-looking action thriller that suffers from the same problem as Tom Cruise original Knight and Day in that the romance simply doesn’t work when the hero kills scores of dudes in the action scenes (at least they’re all baddies here). While women may like excitement and Hrithik Roshan with his shirt off (blimey), they probably aren’t amazingly thrilled when people are being shot and beaten to death right in their face or with being drugged and kidnapped. Repeatedly. (It’s also rather more violent than you might expect a 12A to be.) However, this is a film that works despite incoherence and ridiculousness. The action is fantastically cool, there’s a flyboarding action sequence which is a first, a GP2 car makes a surprise appearance, the songs are fine and look amazing and the wonderfully supple and charismatic Roshan keeps taking his shirt off and dancing to endlessly astonishing effect.

This movie contains extreme violence, bad language, sensuality

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

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Snow White and The Huntsman (2012) – 7/10 fantasy action adventure movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Rupert Sanders
Screen Story and Screenplay Writer: Evan Daugherty
Screenplay Writer: John Lee Hancock
Screenplay Writer: Hossein Amini
Producer: Joe Roth
Producer: Sam Mercer
Snow White: Kristen Stewart
Charlize Theron: Ravenna
Chris Hemsworth: The Huntsman
Sam Claflin: William
Ian McShane: Beith
Bob Hoskins: Muir
Ray Winstone: Gort
Nick Frost: Nion
Sam Spruell: Finn

Snow White and The Huntsman (2012)

A wicked Queen usurps a kingdom’s power and rules it with an iron unfeeling fist. Her only objective is to remain ‘the fairest of them all’ and considering this is Charlize Theron we’re talking about, she does; no-one gets close. The end.

7/10

This is an engrossing, enjoyable, great-looking adventure movie that is thrilling despite badly edited action sequences typical of contemporary Hollywood. You could easily argue about faults and some incoherence but, for me, the movie captured my attention and more than kept it. The technical achievements of the production are also eye-catching with the dwarves unbelievably convincing and impressively unnecessary (dwarves exist and they will appear in your movie for a fee). I suspect one of the most glaring problems is also the film’s best actor: Charlize Theron. She is in a different class of beauty and charisma than Kristen Stewart. Theron goes full hernia-inducing insane but at no point is she not "the fairest of them all" and by some distance, too. She is photographed magnificently throughout (it is a superb-looking film overall) and, well, if you had to be stabbed during sex with anyone, Charlize Theron in full charisma and hotness mode would be at the top of the list.

This movie contains strong violence

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

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) – 7/10 Ray Harryhausen fantasy adventure movie review

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Cast / crew
Sinbad: Kerwin Mathews
Kathryn Grant: Princess Parisa
Richard Eyer: The Genie
Torin Thatcher: Sokurah the Magician
Writer: Kenneth Kolb
Special Visual Effects Creator: Ray Harryhausen
Producer: Charles H. Schneer
Director: Nathan Juran

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

A sorcerer hatches a cunning plan to get Sinbad and an armed crew to go back to an island inhabited by cyclops, dragons and two-headed vultures to get his hands on a magic lamp with incredible powers.

7/10

The creatures are great, Kathryn Grant is sweet,  Torin Thatcher is treacherous but everything else is average; which makes this jolly adventure one of best films to feature Harryhausen’s incredible effects work. 7th Voyage fills the bits inbetween Ray Harryhausen’s distinctive and rather splendid FX work with humour and treachery instead of dull wooden acting. It makes a nice change to see Harryhausen’s work in an entertaining film. His special effects, while looking rather dated in the late 1990’s, are still special and are a wonderful testament to a master of the art. Too often, though, his work is the only good thing about otherwise dreadful movies. This movie is a nice exception, the bits inbetween the special effects are still reasonably entertaining and involving.

This movie contains violence, unpleasant scenes

Le Havre (2011) – 7/10 refreshingly pleasant movie review

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Cast / crew
André Wilms: Marcel Marx
Kati Outinen: Arletty
Jean-Pierre Darroussin: Monet
Blondin Miguel: Idrissa
Elina Salo: Claire
Evelyne Didi: Yvette
Quoc-Dung Nquyen: Chang
Laika:
Director, Producer and Writer: Aki Kaurismäki

Le Havre (2011)

Marcel Marx has a happy existence as a shoe shiner thanks to good relationships with his neighbours, pub mates and beloved wife, Arletty. One day, a young African refugee, Idrissa, comes into his life and Marcel responds with kindness and generosity despite his meagre means.

7/10

Uncommonly warm-hearted drama that sees the usual backbone of the genre, conflict, replaced entirely with generosity. This positivity is something that I’ve only really experienced from master animator Hayao Miyazaki and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie. Now, Le Havre is quite captivating and paced nicely but despite the ending, there’s no magic; the movie never becomes special and it never touched me. Miyazaki and Amelie consistently engender joy, wonder and delight at their best while Le Havre just happens. That said, it is absolutely worth watching and a refreshingly pleasant experience.

This movie contains bad language

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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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