Tag Archives: Thoughts

American Assassin

 American Assassin is a 2017 American action thriller film directed by Michael Cuesta. It is based on Vince Flynn’s 2010 novel of the same name and stars Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar and Taylor Kitsch. It follows Cold War veteran Stan Hurley and CIA black ops recruit Mitch Rapp when they receive an assignment to investigate a wave of random attacks on both military and civilian targets. After discovering a pattern of violence, Hurley and Rapp join forces with a lethal Turkish agent to stop the detonation of a rogue nuclear weapon.

 I’ve got to say I’m disappointed. I was expecting more from this film. And yes, maybe that’s my fault for giving it potential it should never have had but from the trailers I was expecting something more than a very generic action spy flick. I was expecting more thriller than…average forgettable cinema. Again, maybe that’s just my fault for going in expecting to see a different film but I always try my best not to read up to much about films before I see them. Open mind and all that. Unfortunately what we get is a formulaic, predictable affair with some fast cut close combat fight scenes and some rather shoddy CGI. This is more Jack Reacher than Bourne and having just watched the outrageous Kingsmen sequel it’s just too easy for a film like this to get lost in the shuffle.

It’s not that American Assassin is a ‘bad’ film, it’s just that there are many more that do everything this film can do better. Everything about this film is fine, serviceable, a C Grade if you will, but it just lacks anything extra that will make it a great movie. The performances are okay and I did enjoy Michael Keaton as Hurley but I feel like practically anyone could have played Mitch Rapp in their sleep. In reality there isn’t all that much going on with the character at all. Rapp is a man who follows his impulses rather than orders and frequently lucks out when things could and perhaps should all go tits up. Which could be true to the source material, which I’ve never read, or it could be just bland acting and lazy writing.

Ultimately, depending on your mood and expectations this could be an enjoyable movie to watch. Perhaps on a lazy Sunday afternoon when there is nothing else on TV and you’ve lost your Jason Bourne DVDs.

Verdict: Thumbs Meh-ddle (HAHA…aren’t I a clever little sod?)

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Kingsmen: The Golden Circle

Thumbs up or Thumbs down? Simple, spoiler free reviews.

kingsmanposter_0When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the remaining Kingsmen’s journey leads them to their US counterparts, called Statesmen.

Kingsmen: The Secret Service is one of my favourite films, not just recently, but ever. I think it is simply fantastic. It was fresh, fun and brutal. I actually thought from the original trailers that I would hate it, but boy was I proven wrong. In fact, I’ve watched that film countless times and have been looking forward to this sequel ever since.

As a result I actually risked over hyping its potential to myself and perhaps as a result of this I did start getting a little concerned about the quality the second film in the franchise could produce. To be honest, I’d almost convinced myself that this film would fail horribly and be awful. It was a clear case of lowering my expectations so that I wouldn’t be too disappointed. I need not have worried, Kingsmen: The Golden Circle is a cracking film.

Now admittedly, The Golden Circle is not as good as the original, but you know what? Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was not ‘quite’ as good as the original either but that does not make either of them bad films. Far from it, this second outing is a highly enjoyable romp throughout that keeps a lot of the charm whilst also going a bit more bonkers at times. The argument will be that what was once fresh, new and different is now known and expected but Kingsmen 2 delivers on those moments of similarity and doesn’t feel like a re-tread of what we’ve already seen.

In Julianne Moore we have another excellent and eccentric villain and the action is as brutal as ever. Sure, it’s a little over the top at times and often ridiculous but when you’re having fun with it, who really gives a damn? Plus it still has that brilliant, now iconic (in my opinion) camera work for the fight and action scenes. Granted nothing is likely to ever top the original church scene with Colin Firth or that bar brawl just because they were so iconic and well executed in the original.

All of the returning characters are still a lot of fun and the new additions from The Statesmen are great too. Plus there are a number of surprises as well as a hilarious cameo too.

Honestly, if you enjoyed the first film you will enjoy the second one and if you have not seen the first one. Firstly, why not? Secondly, do so. Thirdly, then go and see this film because you will also enjoy this one. It’s really that simple.

Verdict: Thumbs Up

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Thumbs up or Thumbs down? Simple, spoiler free reviews.

valerian_and_the_city_of_a_thousand_planets_ver14_xlg

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a science fiction action adventure film based on the French comic series Valérian and Laureline, written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières. It stars Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline.

Now, granted I know absolutely nothing of the original source material but I simply refuse to accept that for something first published in 1967 all the way through to 2010 that this movie is the best that could be made. It’s rushed, sloppy and ultimately soulless.

It’s a shame because the opening scenes with Valerian and Laureline do show some potential, however unfortunately everything quickly devolves into a big mess of nonstop…Things happening. You meet this character for a scene and then this character for another. It is all so meaningless. The movie barely takes a second to breathe and when it does try, it misses the mark.

Valerian was written and directed by Luc Besson, who directed the cult classic Fifth Element and in many ways this does feel like a 2017 version. It has a similar vibe, the same bright colours and a daft, poorly executed plot. Truth be told, it is not as good as the Fifth Element. Maybe the whole thing just needed a Chris Tucker cameo to tie it all together though? Maybe…

Meanwhile you have Dane DeHaan, I just don’t see him as an action star. He’s has that scrawny, weird-looking kid kind of vibe about him. To me, he felt like a fish out of water but again, I do not know the source material so that casting could have been spot on. In my opinion it looked like a nerd trying to play a badass, but it wasn’t done intentionally for laughs. He’s just been miscast.

The main problem however is the lack of any sort of back story, who are these people? What have they done before? Couple that with very minimal character development and you leave me wondering why I should care about anything I am watching. I literally did not care for anyone in this entire film, they were either boring or CGI. Okay fine, I thought the little animal converter thing was cute, but that is just playing on my weaknesses. A friend of mine said that hopefully we would get more information if a sequel was greenlit but that is one film too late!

The love story, which is the only thing that you could even pretend had any development in was forced, on the nose and in honesty kind of boring. There is pretty much zero chemistry between the two leads. Valerian is meant to be some sort of big time ladies’ man, but I didn’t believe it and by the end I was just rolling my eyes.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets also ticks another box on my pet peeves list. Too much CGI! Many others are praising the movie for how good it looks and in some shots it is fantastic but the main aliens themselves reminded me far too much of John Carter and the Star Wars prequels. Which I believe we can all agree is not a good thing! Can we not get some make up and prosthetics up in here?!

Ultimately watching this film I was both bored and frustrated, which is not a particularly good combination to have. I have to say that I would not recommend it and in my opinion this movie is an absolute bomb. Which I take zero pleasure in saying. If you were hoping for a new ‘Guardians of the Galaxy out of left field’ hit franchise, this isn’t it folks. It’s more Jupiter Ascending.

Verdict: Thumbs Down

 

Review – New Found Glory: Makes Me Sick

newfoundglory_makesmesickart_fullMakes Me Sick is the ninth studio album and follow-up to 2014’s Resurrection by the American pop punk band New Found Glory. It was released through Hopeless Records in April of this year.

Despite being a fan of New Found Glory (NFG) this one completely slipped past me, hence the review being in late June rather than April. Man, am I glad I realised though as this album might just turn out to be the soundtrack to my summer. I think it’s awesome!

This new record from NFG is easily my favourite of theirs this decade. That’s not to say Radiosurgery (2011) or Resurrection (2014) where bad, far from it. I enjoyed those too, but this one is a step above. Quite often you can say during reviews for bands who have been around for so long ‘you know what you’re going to get’ and while this is very much a NFG album in that sense I still am surprised by just how incredibly upbeat, catchy and most importantly fun this is. Overall it feels softer and more buoyant, through the synths, lyrical choices and melodies.

After 20 years, NFG know what they are and don’t strive to push the boat out too far. Their goal is to continue to make irresistibly catch tunes and they certainly hit the nail on the head more than a few times here. Makes Me Sick is full of great songs that will be in your head for weeks but if I had to pick my favourites right this second I’d say that ‘Party On Apocalypse’ (above) and ‘Call Me Anti-Social’ would certainly be up there. The only real curve ball here is ‘The Sound Of Two Voices’ which sticks out a little from the rest of the crowd. I still like it though.

Absolutely a must buy for any New Found Glory or pop punk rock genre fans in general. The clean and crisp production coupled with catchy pop hooks and sing-along choruses make this a very  pleasant listen. An early contender for favourite album of the year in fact!

Verdict: Thumbs Up

Money In The Bank 2017: The Thoughts On Wrestling Podcast

Join Rob and Dan for the Thoughts On Wrestling Podcast as they discuss the Smackdown Live exclusive PPV Money In The Bank 2017. Controversy throughout the PPV and the sudden British summer has the guys on edge this week!

Review – Money In The Bank (2017)

Money In The Bank did not disappoint, it was a solid show from start to finish with some excellent wrestling at times and a few surprising moments. Controversy in the first ever Women’s MITB ladder match, a shocking debut and hopefully a few teases of things to come.

It’s vary rare for me to walk away from a WWE main roster PPV with a good overall opinion of it, but I was very happy with what happened. I see potential in all story lines and even though my favourite wrestlers didn’t win. I am content.

Money In The Bank Ladder Match
Winner: Carmella

054_mitb_06182017jg_0611-caa06542d3384264da149ee1e3b35a8cStraight in with the controversy! Oh the internet seems to be massively divided on this on. Some people despise the ending other people love it. I personally loved it.

In case you are unaware the finish of the match saw James Ellsworth tip Becky Lynch from the top of the ladder, proceed to climb the ladder, retrieve the briefcase and then drop it into Carmella’s waiting open arms. It was a complete mockery off a finish, showing complete disrespect to all of the women involved. This was their moment to show the world they could do it just as well as the men and it was ruined.

It was the PERFECT heel move. Absolutely brilliant! I mean, what a disgusting thing to do. To ruin the inaugural Women’s MITB ladder match by having a man decide the finish. The heat Carmella should receive from this is unreal. This is where a lot of people seem to be getting confused again. You didn’t like what the heel did? You aren’t meant to. It’s meant to rile you up!

The only problem I had with it was the confusing referee discussion after the bell rang. It made it seem like Shane McMahon or Daniel Bryan were going to come out and restart the match but never did. It clearly confused the crowd to who just stood there waiting for something to happen.

As for the match itself, I thought it was unfortunately a little sloppy. Certainly not the high standards we know the women can reach on their day. I certainly thought the ‘this is awesome’ chant early on was incredibly generous of the St Louis crowd. Not that anyone is going to remember the match itself its all about the finish.

I’m not entirely sure why the WWE made the creative choice of having all 5 women come out to the ring, then show a 3/4 minute video hyping up the match. Surely it would have made more sense to open the show with that promo package? As for the video itself, even more marketing bullshit promoting the women’s revolution. Stop patting yourselves on the back every chance WWE, it makes everything seem so much more forced and false.

Review: The Mummy

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Simple, spoiler free reviews.

Because everything in Hollywood has to be a reboot and have its own cinematic universe, here is the 2017 version of The Mummy. A franchise reboot that nobody was wanting or asking for. It’s the first in the Universal ‘Dark Universe’ which will also feature films like Dracula, Frankenstein, Van Helsing and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The Mummy stars Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Russel Crowe and Sofia Boutella as the titular character of The Mummy or Princess Ahmanet if you want to be slightly friendlier. I’ve listed four people there, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this is anything more than the regular Tom Cruise show. Which normally I wouldn’t have a problem with, as I like Tom Cruise, but it’s just one of many things that stop this being a ‘Mummy’ film as it focuses its attentions elsewhere.

First of all, like many before it, The Mummy is the first film in a franchise that spends far too long trying to set up multiple movies down the line instead of making sure that the first movie is actually good. Why would people want to return to the universe if the first one is rubbish? For example, you know what made Iron Man one so successful? Despite being the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe it actually just focused on being a good Iron Man movie, with Easter eggs hidden here and there and then a post credits scene with Nick Fury. Simple.

Perhaps more importantly though is the overall tone and general pacing of the movie that’s wrong here. Now I think we can all admit that the previous iteration of The Mummy starring Brendan Fraser was by no means perfect, in fact it was a bit rubbish, but what you can say is that the general tone of the films was entertaining. Simple and fun action fantasy adventure flicks. This time around everything has to be real, modernised and gritty. Dark tones and jump scares galore. That might float some people’s boats but it’s not really what I wanted to be honest.

Then you get to the pacing. In places they fly through scenes, such as when they find the burial chamber at the start but then the film lingers in the middle and really slows down to a crawl. There is a scene in which Tom Cruise fights something, it’s almost completely irrelevant to the main plot and serves nothing more than as a distraction. I guess the writers thought they needed an action scene to spice things up a little.

One of the main problems that this film has though is that Tom Cruise’s character is just a bit of a dick. It’s the classic cocky scoundrel who eventually ends up doing the right thing and saving the day routine. For whatever reason I just couldn’t connect with it. Then you get to his best friend, who is as dumb as Cruise was unlikable, and their comedy bickering and general relationship are at complete odds with the rest of the films darker vibes.

It’s not all bad though, for example; the set pieces, in particular the plane crash that you get a glimpse of in the trailer is fantastic and as usual with Tom Cruise films you do appreciate the fact that he does his own stunts.

The most interesting thing about this film is, somewhat ironically for all of my complaining, Russel Crowe’s character(s), Dr Henry Jekyll and Mr Edward Hyde. He’s in this movie simply to be the connecting arm throughout the new cinematic universe and while sort of necessary for the plot, very much shoehorned in at the same time. However, I actually left the cinema thinking how much more interesting a movie revolving around those characters at the helm of a monster hunting organisation would be. I guess we’ll get glimpses of that throughout all of the films.

This version of The Mummy’s main crime though isn’t that it’s trying too hard to set up an entire new cinematic universe or that its darker tone is rather hit and miss. Instead it’s actually that the film is just pretty boring.

Verdict: Thumbs Down