Movie Review – Cimarron (1931)

Director :  Wesley Ruggles
Year Of Release :   1931
Principal Cast :  Richard Dix, Irene Dunne, Estelle Taylor, Nance O’Neill, William Collier Jr, Roscoe Ates, George E Stone, Stanley Fields, Robert McWade, Edna May Oliver, Judith Barrett, Eugene Jackson.
Approx Running Time :   123 Minutes
Synopsis:  A newspaper editor settles in an Oklahoma boom town with his reluctant wife at the end of the nineteenth century.

********

A sprawling melodramatic epic centred around the great Land Rush of 1889 and its aftermath, Richard Dix and Irene Dunne ham their way through this ragged, vaguely racist stereotypical period piece that hasn’t held up well. Cimarron was the first of RKO’s two Oscar-winning Best Picture films, boasting some jaw-dropping opening sequences and establishing the first time we see the famous studio’s “cowboy ranch” location used as the basis for its setting of the fictional town of Osage. The film’s attitudes and depiction of the period are often cringe-worthy, even if they might appear accurate, with several cheap jibes at both black culture (a brief comedic bit about watermelons early in the film is awful) and the plight of the American Indians, while the central arc never generates an ounce of emotive weight.

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Trailer Trash! – Spider-Man: Homecoming (Trailer #2)

The spoilery second trailer for Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming has landed. Be warned: it’s very… er, spoilery. Check it out after the jump!

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Movie Review – Justice League (Trailer #2)

The first official theatrical trailer for Zack Snyder’s DCEU flick Justice League, which teams up Wonder Woman, Batman, Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg – and although not yet sighted, a resurrected Superman – is an abomination of overproduced CG headache, the same kind of visual style that gave Batman V Superman the decidedly controversial reception only last year. As an avowed fan of BVS’s extended version, to find myself unwaveringly disappointed by Snyder’s persistence with this particular take on the DC cinematic universe. Anyway, the trailer is after the jump. Grab hold of something.

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Movie Review – Allied (2016)

Director :  Robert Zemeckis
Year Of Release :   2016
Principal Cast :   Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Matthew Goode, Simon McBurney, Lizzy Caplan, Anton Lesser, August Diehl, Camille Cottin, Charlotte Hope, Marion Bailey.
Approx Running Time :   125 Minutes
Synopsis:  In 1942, a Canadian intelligence officer in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fighter on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressures of war.

*******

Show me your chickens, Max.

Espionage, counter-intelligence, and general all-round spying, Zemeckis-style. Allied purports to be a tense, thrilling, twisty mystery thriller, but despite solid performances from the leads, excellent production design and attention to exacting period detail, and typical Zemeckis trademarks including visual effects and camera trickery, the film never really gets out of first gear. Allied remains inert throughout, offering scant moments of energy underneath its positively solemnised tone. Sadly, the film’s romantic aspects never mix well enough with its espionage narrative to allow adequate cohesion, and the emotional import Zemeckis hopes to achieve remain, sadly, unenthusiastic. Allied is a film that ought to have worked, but didn’t.

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Movie Review – Assassin’s Creed

Director :   Justin Kurzel
Year Of Release :   2016
Principal Cast :  Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Michael K Williams, Ariane Labed, Javier Guiterrez, Hovik Keuchkerian, Essie Davis.
Approx Running Time :   115 Minutes
Synopsis:  When Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassins society.

******

Well. That was interesting. The latest computer-game-franchise turned into a film, The Matrix I mean Assassin’s Creed, stars an intense Michael Fassbender as the descendent of Spanish assassins who’s being used by a collection of modern day scientists to locate a MacGuffin known as the Apple. Based on the successful game franchise of the same name (duh!), Assassin’s Creed’s potential and possibility far outstrips its execution; helmed by Australian director Justin Kurzel (whose main claim to fame is the hard-to-watch-but-brilliant Snowtown), the film is itself a computer game brought to life, only being played by somebody with an attention disorder and a confusing plot that makes no sense. Despite its lavish production value, and cool use of effects, Assassin’s Creed is ill-focused and nigh incoherent in terms of plot, although props for Fassbender for giving the character his all.

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Movie Review – Underworld: Blood Wars

Director :   Anna Foerster
Year Of Release :   2016
Principal Cast :  Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Tobias Menzies, Laura Pulver, James Faulkner, Charles Dance, Bradley James, Clementine Nicholson, Peter Andersson, Daisy Head.
Approx Running Time :  92 Minutes
Synopsis:  Vampire death dealer, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) fights to end the eternal war between the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her.

******

The fifth instalment in the increasingly convoluted Underworld franchise, and the fourth starring Kate Beckinsale, Blood Wars is nigh incomprehensible to anyone unfamiliar with the lore and history of the four films preceding it. Although it gives us a brief reintroduction of the “story so far…”, Blood Wars’ breathless narrative and waypoint-checking exposition leave little room for subtlety or nuance – admittedly, neither accents the franchise has delivered amidst its orgy of blue-hued gun ballet and werewolf animalism – becoming an unsubstantial, almost passive-aggressive dilution of the vampiric genre overall.

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Trailer Trash! – Transformers: The Last Knight (Trailer #2)

This looks like an absolute shitshow with no redemptive qualities whatsoever. If the prime motivation for us is insinuating that “I throw like a girl – we all do” then this movie has already lost me.

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Movie Review – iBoy

Director :   Adam Randall
Year Of Release :   2017
Principal Cast :  Bill Milner, Maisie Williams, Miranda Richardson, Rory Kinnear, Jordan Bolger, Charley Palmer Rothwell, Armin Karima, McKell David, Shaquille Ali-Yebbuah, Aymen Hamdouchi, Leon Annor, Petrice Jones.
Approx Running Time :   90 Minutes
Synopsis:  After an accident, Tom wakes from a coma to discover that fragments of his smart phone have been embedded in his head, and worse, that returning to normal teenage life is impossible because he has developed a strange set of super powers.

*****

 The best science fiction films often work with the simplest of premises. iBoy, a vaguely sci-fi thriller of sorts, works off the premise that a kid, Bill Milner’s Tom, has parts of his smartphone embedded in his skull, allowing him to “tap into” technology and become a mysterious vigilante known as “iBoy”, tracking down the perpetrators of a violent sexual assault involved with drugs within a London estate. It’s a tech-infusion fantasy, with grungy low-budget British criminality washing out the cleverness, a gritty, Batman-esque realism that rumbles along quite nicely until the mother of all WTF plot twists that absolutely makes no sense whatsoever, ruins the movie.

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Movie Review – Kong: Skull Island

Director :   Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Year Of Release :   2017
Principal Cast :  Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, John Goodman, John C Reilly, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Wigham, Thomas Mann, Terry Notary.
Approx Running Time :  118 Minutes
Synopsis:  A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

******

It legitimately surprised me to learn that Kong, the eponymous giant ape who debuted in 1933’s spectacular epic King Kong, has appeared in  no fewer than 8 cinematic ventures in which his name is in the title, including the latest, Kong: Skull Island. Modern audiences will be familiar with Peter Jackson’s 3-hour remake of the ’33 original, peppered with bloat and lengthy human characterisations that made little impact, although to that point it was the most realistic Kong ever to grace the big screen. Sadly, it would be 12 long years between Jackson’s visit to Skull Island and this one, although time appears not to have been able to manufacture a decent sub-story on which to hang one of Hollywood’s true heavyweight icons. Sadly, while it boasts plenty of dynamite visual effects, and one of the coolest 70’s-era soundtracks in a film in many an age, Kong: Skull Island personifies the modern day blockbuster: empty characters and lifeless plotting crash headlong into raucous action sequences and bombast, brought to life by director Jordan Vogt-Roberts.

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Trailer Trash! – Baby Driver

From Edgar Wright, the cult director behind Shaun of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim comes Baby Driver, a new film featuring an all-star cast plus Ansel Elgort (which I admit sounds like a brand of condom). It looks just crazy enough to be awesome! Check it out after the jump!

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