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nicky

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nicky last won the day on September 14

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  1. BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC (2020) 2.5/5 (No spoilers) So they finally made a third film, but was it worth the wait and a most triumphant return? Well despite having the original writers attached it was most non-triumphant. The writers need to be 'melvined'. The plot is wafer-thin and focusses a lot on Bill and Ted's daughters (who no one gives a s*** about) who I found to be fairly boring characters with nothing to distinguish them from each other. They act like the younger versions of their dads but come across like a bad impersonation; annoying and not fun. Whenever the daughters came on-screen I just wanted the scene to end quickly so we could go back to their dads. There's not much 'Bill and Ted' about Bill and Ted themselves; very few mention of classic rock bands and not even much air-guitaring. Rufus (George Carlin) is hugely missed and is instead replaced by his daughter who severely lacks in charisma and then there's the killer-robot who just feels like crap comic-relief in a film that is already *supposed* to be funny (but isn't). Even William Sadler back as Death doesn't show up until the third act and doesn't really add much to the plot. The previous two films are obviously far better, this new sequel doesn't even feel like a Bill and Ted movie and introduces too many new and boring characters. Very underwhelming, I wouldn't even say it was 'alright'.
  2. I saw it the other day, it was better than I was expecting after reading about it.
  3. MULAN (2020) 3/5 No Spoilers I've never seen the 1998 animated feature so I can't compare it. But as far as ancient Chinese Wuxia movies go I will say that MULAN (2020) is a very Americanized story of a classic Chinese tale which kinda ruined my enjoyment. Much of the supporting cast speak in American or Americanized Chinese accents and not even one word of Chinese is heard (despite casting calls asking for Mandarin-speaking actors as I recall). Niki Caro does a decent job directing but the script is somewhat flat with little explanation given to the story's fantasy elements or the villain's motives, a disappointment coming from the writers of the Planet Of The Apes reboot. The whole idea of a woman disguising herself as a man trying to fit in could have been great but it seemed more a like a subplot rather than the main focus. There's also a very subtle (quasi-homosexual) love subplot running which was the only interesting characterization in the story but it's not really fleshed-out much and viewers are left unsatisfied (apparently the #MeToo movement had something to do with it?). Donnie Yen isn't given much to do either and Jet Li even less, he doesn't even move his body! Jet's dialogue was also dubbed which defeats the purpose of hiring a star name, surly. Gong Li is good but I found her origin lacked explanation and her motivation for what she does at the end rather questionable. And why is Mulan herself blessed with that much power but no one else? The costumes and set design all look beautiful but its way too colourful, its like a 1950s MGM musical in the village scenes especially. I half-expected a villager to break out in song. I know its a Disney film aimed at families but I felt it only added to the overly-Hollywoodized/commercial feel of the film. If a Chinese director had made this (Ang Lee turned it down) I'm sure he'd be accused of selling-out especially with the heavy Western influence. I felt that way about Zhang Yimou and Yeun Woo Ping when they made THE GREAT WALL (2016) and CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON: SWORD OF DESTINY (2016) especially since the first Crouching Tiger film was in Mandarin, not English like the sequel. Asian-lead films made in the West for mainstream mass consumption are rare so I really want this to be a commercial hit but Disney put-off a lot of potential paying viewers by making it so expensive on Disney+. And then there's the boycott due to the stars' less-than popular political views. Its an OK film, a bit flat and an obvious product of commercialism and colonialism but I also feel its a product of the political and cultural climate which dictates what writers should or shouldn't put in their stories to make them more "accessible". BONUS: The most annoyingly dumb comment I read online was, "It's got Donnie Yen and Jet Li in it. But why not Jackie Chan too???" Just cos its got two of the biggest Chinese martial arts stars to have made it in Hollywood in it, doesn't mean JC should be in it too.
  4. I watched a lot of old Chow Yun-Fat films recently: City on Fire (1987) - the film that inspired Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino's film is pretty much a remake of this. Wonderful performance from Chow paired-off with Danny Lee in roles as cop and crook which they would later swap in The Killer (1989). Prison on Fire 1 & 2 (1987, 1991) - brilliant prison dramas in the style of Midnight Express (1978) and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975). Another great performance from Chow this time with Tony Leung. Wild Search (1989) - reviews said it was like a remake of Witness (1985) with Harrison Ford but I didn't think that at all. Full Contact (1992) - controversial bad-ass action flick with great villains and a slimey Simon Yam and Anthony Wong. A Better Tomorrow 1 & 2 (1986, 1987) - None of John Woo's "heroic bloodshed" classics are as good as everyone makes out IMO (apart from Bullet In The Head), in fact I much prefer all the films I mentioned above that Chow made with director Ringo Lam than John Woo. RIP Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing. All About Ah-Long (1989) - Chow Yun-Fat's best film IMO. A bit like Kramer Vs Kramer (1978) only MUCH better. Stellar acting from the three leads including the kid, great story and music. Directed by Johnnie To. Tiger On The Beat (1989) - a fun buddy-cop action-comedy with CYF and Conan Lee. A great cameo from Lydia Shum and amazing finale; a chainsaw kung-fu fight! Curse of The Golden Flower (2006) - nicely shot with lavish sets and costumes typical of director, Zhang Yimou. The story is very much like an opera or Shakespearean tragedy. Also starring Gong Li, soon to be seen in Disney's live action Mulan (2020). I also watched: Midnight Express (1978) - Gruesome prison drama with a great Brad Davis, John Hurt and a ropey Randy Quaid. RIP director Alan Parker. Mississippi Burning (1988) - Shocking KKK murder drama with Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe. Not enough Dafoe though. Also with Brad Dourif, Micheal Rooker and Frances McDormand. RIP director Alan Parker. The first 18 rated film I ever saw at the cinema at age 12! The Life Of David Gale (2003) - Disappointing murder drama from director Alan Parker (RIP), starring Kevin Spacey as a death row inmate and Kate Winslet as the journalist racing against time to prove his innocence. Kramer Vs. Kramer (1978) - This child custody drama won Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars?! It was nice but not great although Dustin Hoffman is good whereas Meryl Streep seems hardly in it which was odd since she's the antagonist/mother. Predictable, weak cop-out ending too. Twins (1988) Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito as long-lost twins in Arnold's first and best comedy. Charming buddy adventure with great chemistry from the leads but nowhere near as good as Arnie's action classics. RIP Kelly Preston. I wonder how the long-in-development sequel will handle her death. The Mission (1999) - Disappointing HK gangster film by Johnnie To starring Anthony Wong, Eddie Ko and Simon Yam. Amateurly written with irritating music. Heroes Shed No Tears (1986) - Absolutely bonkers John Woo exploitation action-fest starring Eddie Ko and Lam Ching-Ying. Almost zero plot; something about capturing a druglord and taking him across the border.
  5. EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA (2020) 3* (No spoilers) What a peculiar event for Hollywood to make a movie out of, I didn't think Americans even knew what Eurovision was. It turns out producer/star Will Ferrell was introduced to the contest by his Swedish wife and immediately became a fan. Like most of Ferrell's films, I thought this was pretty mediocre. Ferrell and Rachel McAdams play an unpopular Icelandic pop-duo with dreams of winning Eurovision and making Iceland (and Ferrall's father, Pierce Brosnan) proud. It's a pretty standard underdog story, there's nothing new here. But there are emotional beats within the film which are overly-sentimental at times which becomes confusing as you try to separate drama from comedy. It's as if the film is confused about what genre it is; a drama that wants to be a comedy or a comedy that wants to be a drama. The casting of McAdams (not really known for comedy) is also an odd choice and only takes away the comedy aspect even further while the chemistry between her and Ferrell is pretty underwhelming. There is also a love-story subplot between the two leads which I felt was unnecessary and only added to the film's long length. There's a scene that really felt like the film's climax but when it was over I checked the timer to see there was still 30+ mins left. What was also unnecessary was the Russian rival (Dan Stevens) who's purpose and motivation in the story is unclear. Was he supposed to be an antagonist or not?? It's not a bad film and I did enjoy the original songs but as comedies go I expected something lighter and shorter. Eurovision fans will be glad to know there is a musical sequence halfway into the film that features cameos from past Eurovision contestants, all singing right into the camera just like a music video. This was obviously fan-service but it came at a cost because it really took me out of the film...especially when a hot babe turned around only to reveal herself to be that bearded transgender winner from 2014. I shuddered. BLADES OF GLORY (2007) was better.
  6. THE OLD GUARD (2020) 3.5* (No spoilers) I had to force myself to watch this. My first thought was, "Uh-oh. Another Netlix graphic novel". Netflix films to me have only ever been "alright" at best and THE OLD GUARD was...alright at best. Charlize Theron leads a team of immortal mercenaries who are double-crossed by their employer and then stumble across a new recruit. But just how and why these characters suddenly became immortal at a point in their lives leaves us scratching our heads. However, there are some interesting backstories, flashbacks and themes touched-upon for these characters (similar to the HIGHLANDER and WOLVERINE films) but there's also a lack of danger because we know they're unkillable. I was entertained for the first half of the film where we're introduced to the team's new recruit but somewhere in the middle the plot changed to a rescue mission. The action scenes are kinda John Wick-lite and the film steers towards a climax which goes on for too long (who knew central London streets could be so empty and then SUDDENLY fill?). The film has a straight-to-DVD feel to it, maybe that's cos I *know* it's Netflix but it still definitely feels like one on those projects that A-list action stars (Nicolas Cage, Bruce Willis etc) resort to making when their careers are in decline. This cheap feeling is only heightened by the badly chosen music; pop songs during action scenes always make a film look tacky. And the main villain was very typical and hard to look at; my God what a distractingly uncomfortable-looking face. Its not a solid film but it did have great potential and I think would served better as a series - there's even cliffhanger ending which alludes to a sequel. There was certainly a lot to fit into the runtime but I think it could have done with 15 mins shaved off.
  7. DA 5 BLOODS (2020) 3.5/5 (No spoilers) Spike Lee turns what might have been an interesting post-war action-drama into a quasi political message about brotherhood and the Black struggle (as always with Lee's films). Personally, I'd much rather have seen Oliver Stone direct this but that's not to say DA 5 BLOODS is a disappointing film, its just if a film is about Vietnam vets returning to 'Nam in search of hidden gold then I would prefer it to have more focus on post-war tensions instead of a pro-Black message. Actually, the political/Black angle of the film doesn't really feature that much, it feels more like a sub-plot but Lee dresses it up in a way that makes you think its more prominent than it really is. The film is also pretty long and the slow start doesn't really help which is kinda inexcusable really since most of The Bloods themselves are quite under-developed. Delroy Lindo is the only fleshed-out character and the only one to perform a monologue right into the camera like in earlier Lee films like DO THE RIGHT THING (1989). However, Lindo's monologue adds nothing to the film and comes so randomly almost 2hrs into the film - it just feels awkward. Lee also shoots sometimes like a documentary and seems to want to educate his audience by using archive footage and flashing up pics of famous Black historical figures whenever someone mentions their name which becomes quite patronizing and unnecessary - we know who Aretha Franklin is, (and even if we don't) do we really need a pic of her to suddenly flash on-screen? The music/songs in the film was used quite inappropriately too in scenes which really didn't need it. I found the film entertaining as a 'search for hidden gold' adventure but couldn't help but feel more should have been said about the post-war tensions like Oliver Stone or RAMBO films. Having said that, this film was better than THREE KINGS (1999).
  8. SPOILERS: Yeah, it was dumb that the French girl called up to the woman in the window (for no reason) only for the woman to then dob her in to the Nazis for being out past curfew. Why didnt the French girl just stay put while the squad checked the house as instructed? Nothing came of the French girl's zombie aunt. Why was she even there and not held captive like the other zombies? Pointless having her at all. The American soldier that the was rescued from the lab was not given enough introduction. He just popped-up midway into the story and all we're told is he was captured when he parachuted in. He added nothing to the story and just served as an extra man on the squad. The hero stupidly injects his dead squad-mate with the serum DESPITE having witnessed the horrors of the lab. Did he really expect him to be normal afterwards?! I can count the total number of zombies featured on-screen on one hand.
  9. OVERLORD (2018) 2.5/5 (No spoilers) I like the idea of Nazi zombies, its an interesting combination of two evils; one based on real-life and the other on fantasy while simultaneously making an interesting alternate take on history. OVERLORD has a bigger budget than most undead Nazi films but it was actually pretty disappointing. It makes me question now whether seeing JJ Abrams name on a poster is actually a good thing these days. The plot was quite underwhelming, the characters a bit shallow and most importantly there just wasn't enough zombie action..or enough zombies at all. Its a wonder where the budget went, certainly not to zombie effects. Its a pretty slow start and a good while before the first zombie even appears and up until that point we have to settle for what is essentially a 2nd rate standard WW2 movie who's only saving grace is the typical, "distract the SS officer while people hide" scene. There was also something unlikable and forced about Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt) as the corporal leading the troops; maybe it was him trying to be like his dad but whatever it was, it just wasn't working. Some plot-points and characters were left in mid-air too and new characters just seemed to just pop-up out of nowhere with very little introduction. Not enough was told about the zombie experiments and even the scientists did nothing to reveal more in the film. If you're gonna make a movie about an engineered zombie army then SHOW US THE ZOMBIES and include the HOW and the WHY behind the experiments. Its a fairly crapily written film that misses opportunities to shed light on certain areas and the zombie aspect just seemed to be in the sidelines and not the forefront. Its a disjointed film where the writer made some odd decisions on behalf of the characters to get the story moving from A to B. DEAD SNOW (2009) was better.
  10. MID90s (2018) 3.5/5 (No spoilers) I quite liked Jonah Hill's directorial debut. It was a charming, multi-layered film dealing with a variety of themes such as loneliness, acceptance and loss of innocence. Despite not having much of a plot, the characters and situations were very believable (apart from the girl and the ending*) which was what kept me engaged and made-up for the lack of story. MID90s is the film I was expecting when I first saw Larry Clark's KIDS (1995); in Clark's film the boys just happened to be skateboarders (Clark's attempt to be 'trendy'?) but it had no bearing on the plot whatsoever whereas MID90s highlights the skateboarding as an important part of the kids lives. There's also a nice balance throughout the film where we see the main character bounce between his less-than-ideal family-life to the one with his controversial new-found friends - it's this parallel within the narrative that poses an interesting question about where a lonely boy feels more welcome. I didn't like the ending though, it was too sudden and didn't really resolve anything - but its hard to have a good ending when you have no plot. If it wasn't for that ending I'd have given a higher score. I'm not sure why Hill chose to shoot it in 1:33:1 aspect ratio though instead of standard 1:85:1 widescreen, that was a controversial decision and it felt like it was some kind of pretentious artistic statement/gimmick (if it was then why not just make the film black & white?). Maybe 1:33:1 was meant to be reminiscent of the 90s... but that doesn't make sense since widescreen movies have been around for decades in cinemas. Still at least it's better than BOYHOOD (2016). *SPOILER* I didn't buy a girl her age would wanna fool around with a much younger 13 yr old boy. And the ending; WHO edits camcorder footage onto another CAMCORDER TAPE?! You would edit the camcorder footage onto a VHS master-copy cassette. Then you could bring that cassette to the hospital and play it in the video player in the room! WTF!?
  11. ALIEN: ISOLATION 7.5/10 Massive fan of the films but this game was only alright. It was very repetitive and too long. All you do is walk around similar-looking corridors, flicking switches, pressing buttons and opening doors. Dodging the Alien got annoying after a while and the two space-walk missions were dull apart from the graphics. I wish they made this into a movie instead because the story had great potential but it was lacking in character depth and closure (I hated the ending).There weren't even many cut scenes, only at the beginning it seems when you meet the first character, Axl. Even Aliens: Colonial Marines had a better story. What also really annoyed me was that the writer's hadn't done their homework and acknowledged certain plot-points in the "Ripley's daughter scene" from Aliens: Special Edition ("Amy...I promised I'd be home for her birthday. Her 11th birthday.") I didn't think it was scary at all either. Also I didn't get HOW Weyland-Yutani were able to salvage the Nostromo's flight recorder. Wasn't it onboard the Nostromo when it blew up OR still on the Narcissus with Ripley floating around in space????!!!!
  12. General rule of thumb for any talent (extra/model/actor etc) is to be VERY wary of any agency asking up-front for any kind of fees - the reason being more often than not, they're scams. Any agency worth their salt will just take commission after your job is done AND/OR if they do ask for admin fees they will deduct them after your first job. Universal Extras is an agency that ask for a registration fee up-front despite being legit but they're quite strict/anal and well-known to be rude on the phone. Productions don't reveal publicly where they're due to shoot otherwise security will obviously be flooded by fans/media. I know you hear stories that fans have somehow managed to find out shooting locations but I think they must be leaks. Production will generally recruit vetted extras (the industry term is 'supporting artists' or SA's) from dedicated agencies and the agency will put your profile/headshots forward and then the film's casting team will say either 'yes' or 'no'....BUT even if they say 'yes', a film's schedule and shoot dates and even their decision to hire you, will often change at the drop of a hat. In movie news you hear about "studio interference", script-rewrites and general indecisiveness and it affects everyone even extras. That's the worst part of the job; you do get messed around A LOT...mercilessly. And without remorse. It's a tough industry having to endure frequent job cancellations and lose-out on other jobs you turned down cos you said you were booked for another. You don't even get compensated if you lost out on another job, you're only little fish and they don't give a s***, all they care about is the success of their film. You don't get to choose what shoot you wanna work on, you can ask the agency to put you forward for production to consider you, but that's it - production won't hire you just cos your keen, they'll hire you cos they want your look...even if you're just in the background because they're very meticulous about detail and authenticity.
  13. I like 300 too, its Snyder's best film after Dawn Of The Dead (2004). I was a bit disappointed by 300: Rise Of An Empire though as probably most people were. I never met Snyder but I saw him on set when I worked as an extra on Justice League in April 2016 for a few days at Leavesden. His daughter's death was a while after that. I was one of the Armies of Men in the big battle flashback scene. I'm looking forward to Snyder's long-in-development-hell-but-finally-coming-soon Army Of The Dead with Dave Bautista.
  14. EXTRACTION (2020) 4/5* (No spoilers) OK, I'll be generous cos the "John Wick-style" action and simplicity of the story made-up for everything else. Netflix films and features directed by stunt guys or 2nd unit have always raised alarms bells for me so I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed this film despite the predictability and obvious White Saviour template (Chris Hemsworth being as White as you can get) among others things. EXTRACTION thankfully keeps things old skool while never trying to be too clever or ashamed about what it is; it's just a straight-forward action romp but at the same time that's one of the script's flaws. You have a man (Hemsworth) and a kid (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) at the centre of the story so you naturally expect there to be some kind of heart to the script but sadly its not as big a heart as it thinks it is which is a huge missed opportunity for a stunt-guy-turned-director (Sam Hargrave) wanting to prove himself. The 'bond' between the two leads doesn't justify the teary ending and the core emotional beat halfway through doesn't land because not enough has happened between them besides dodging bullets. Hemsworth's character is a cliche; a hero with a death wish suffering from personal loss. Think LETHAL WEAPON (1987), END OF DAYS (1999) and GLADIATOR (2000). The cliche is fine IF done right but here it feels 2nd rate and purely *incidental* written-in only as an obvious attempt to flesh-out the character and win sympathy from viewers. The film could easily have been the same story without this archytype (only dumber). As far as kidnapping films go though there is a really nice twist which I'm surprised hasn't been thought of before. Not only this but we get an almost scene-stealing supporting character (played by Randeep Hooda) who we find much more about and care for more than either of the two leads put together. It's also amazingly refreshing to see an Indian action-man in such a mainstream movie. If Joe Russo (writer) put the same amount of care into the other players we'd have a much more rounded film but instead we get a film with a fairly rushed loose-ending. On a final note, I applaud the producers for giving us a new face and not taking a short-cut by adopting the typical lazy Hollywood-casting choice and just giving us Dev Patel to play the kid (just cos he's the only experienced brown actor they could think of). I know he's 30 but that didn't stop Harry Potter's Katie Leung playing a school-girl in THE FOREIGNER (2017) for just five bloody minutes.
  15. Babies having babies. I think she went to Kingsly or Kings High School in Warick/Leamington Spa, right? Where I'm from.
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