7/23/16

PITCH: PLANET OF THE APES (2001)


In this first episode of Pitch, director Tim Burton meets with a studio executive to discuss his re-imagining of Planet Of The Apes back in 2000.

Based on a... sort of true story.

7/21/16

LETHAL WEAPON 4 - REVIEW


A whopping 6 years after Lethal Weapon 3, we somehow got another sequel to the iconic buddy cop action franchise starring Mel Gibson as loose cannon Martin Riggs and Danny Glover as Roger "Too Old For This Shit" Murtaugh.

A little older but not much wiser, the LAPD duo are still taking on bad guys in the streets in the most destructive and explosive ways possible but now, with Riggs' girlfriend Lorna (Rene Russo) and Murtaugh's daughter being pregnant, they're having to consider their age and their future. On top of that, you've got a Chinese immigrant smuggling ring being exposed which builds into a money laundering masterplan led by Jet Li's intimidating villain. And, of course, Leo (Joe Pesci) is thrown in there for added comic relief, as if having Chris Rock fast-talking his way through some of his leftover stand-up routines wasn't enough. It's a bit of a bloated, unfocused script and one wishes that some of it had been edited out or polished up a little because, as it stands, this sequel is a bit of a mess.

On the plus side, there's tons of action and impressive stunts to enjoy, Riggs and Murtaugh are just as likeable as ever and Jet Li is arguably the franchise's coolest and most memorable antagonist. Basically, this is Lethal Weapon 3 with a good villain with more old man jokes, more comic relief, more martial arts, more car chases but also a solid payoff. The third film's ending was somewhat disappointing so seeing Riggs and Murtaugh take on a very pissed-off Jet Li in a moody setting mano-a-mano is a breath of fresh air and makes for a genuinely tense climax. This is a much lighter movie in tone and, because of that, you never get the emotional payoff that you expect in some scenes and, believe it or not, having Joe Pesci monologue through a story in which he kills a frog by running it over with his bike doesn't exactly make for a tear-jerker scene.

Lethal Weapon 4 is admittedly a fun movie and fans of the previous films should find plenty to enjoy here. It may not be anywhere as good as the first two movies but, as a final send-off, it's charming, funny and entertaining enough to make it well worth a watch.

Ok: NOW they're too old for this shit.

7/20/16

THE DO-OVER - REVIEW


Following The Ridiculous Six, Adam Sandler delivers his latest Netflix-produced creation The Do-Over, a buddy comedy in which Sandler gives David Spade's loser the chance to build a whole new life for himself.

It's a much smaller film in scale than the aforementioned Western and it's all the better for it as it allows more focus on the characters and the story rather than endless silly jokes and too many side characters. Which is not to say The Do-Over doesn't have silly jokes but it doesn't feel the need to hit you over the head with them too often. The core premise is pretty clever as Max, Sandler's character, reconnects with Charlie (Spade), an old friend from high school, before the former takes it upon himself to fake their deaths in the hope of freeing each other from the burdens of their current lives. It turns out that Charlie isn't too keen on reinventing himself just yet plus it turns out that Max isn't the FBI agent he was claiming to be so the whole thing gets pretty messy rather quick.

There's something refreshing about The Do-Over as it kinda feels like Adam Sandler is paying homage to the likes of Tommy Boy and Black Sheep by teaming up with David Spade and it all feels like a good old-fashioned mismatched duo comedy, sort of like Bulletproof. Sandler's performances have been sluggish and uninterested as of late but he appears to genuinely enjoy himself in this one, plus he and Spade play well off each other. Unfortunately, the film feels the need to include some vulgar gross-out humour which doesn't really gel with the tone of the film as a whole and completely negates the emotional punch the main reveal was looking for. Had the movie, indeed, gone for a purely slapstick buddy comedy then it really would have been a great, memorable surprise. But it wants to have its cake and eat it too by attempting to be both heartfelt and moving while also being hilariously disgusting and that obviously backfires.

As unconvincing as The Do-Over may be, it's still much funnier and more enjoyable than most of Sandler's recent output. It'll probably fade into obscurity pretty fast but if you enjoy Sandler and Spade's style of comedy then you'll enjoy parts of this movie for sure.

Uneven, if amusing, romp.

7/18/16

GHOSTBUSTERS (2016) - REVIEW


As the internet finally recovers from all the silliness that surrounded the release of this Ghostbusters remake, we can now actually watch the film and talk about it like sober adults.

I should point out that the real problems skeptics had with this movie was not the cast but the idea of another by-numbers remake nowhere near as good as the original films in the vein of Total Recall or RoboCop. And with the mostly unappealing trailers we got prior to the new movie's release, this was frankly a fair concern. Luckily, the film itself is far better than the awful marketing for it suggested but, on the other hand, it's still an inferior by-numbers remake that's not as good as the originals, which is why most reviews for it are so up and down.

The cast, I can confirm, is likeable and does a decent job throughout. Melissa McCarthy is not the one-joke Chris Farley wannabe she tends to be in a lot of other movies instead taking on the Ray role with a slightly squeakier voice. Kristen Wiig does her usual SNL schtick as the more uptight member of the group and she mostly works even if her characterisation is very unfocused. Kate McKinnon sports the Egon look from The Real Ghostbusters cartoon and she is a lot of fun even if her jokes are more off-beat than they are laugh-out-loud funny. Then there's Leslie Jones' Patty who seemed like little more than a loud stereotype in the trailer but who, in fact, is much smarter and funnier than that.

Unsurprisingly, literally all the jokes from said trailers are the least funny moments in the movie so if you didn't like those then, don't expect to like them now.

There are laughs in this movie, for sure, as the new team tries to figure out the ghost-busting equipment, gets crushed by a giant Stay Puft balloon, encounters some genuinely creepy ghosts and struggles to be recognised as a legitimate business. Also expect good old Slimer to almost steal the show in an extended cameo. There are also plenty of groan-inducing bad jokes, however, with the whole Chris Hemsworth being dumb thing going on for far too long, one tasteless fart/poo joke too many, a shockingly wasted Bill Murray cameo appearance in which one of the funniest men on Earth is somehow not funny in the slightest and some needlessly long improv at times. The writing here is certainly not in the same league as the original film or even Ghostbusters II.

What hurts this movie the most is not the jokes but the clunky story and the fact it feels forced as a remake.

Honestly, you get the feeling that director Paul Feig took Dan Aykroyd's sequel script then butchered it to make it a complete re-telling somehow. Frustratingly, this could have easily worked as a sequel with Ernie Hudson playing Patty's uncle, Sigourney Weaver and Murray coaching their daughter, maybe McKinnon's character being Egon's niece, Ray could have been possessed by some evil ghost and Rick Moranis could then appear as a veteran Ghostbuster. It's SO easy to write a better story than this movie gives us it's crazy so if a sequel does happen, the script will need to be worked on heavily. As it stands, this movie suffers from countless plot holes, scenes that could have easily been cut out entirely (one dancing scene was, apparently) and a third act that's both visually appealing and rushed.

To cut a long review short, this new Ghostbusters is not a bad film or comedy but it is a lesser Ghostbusters film with more than its share of flaws. Funny and entertaining in parts, unfunny and clumsy in other parts, this is a forgettable, average flick but it's altogether harmless enough and perfectly watchable.

I ain't afraid of no sequel.

Well... maybe a little.

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE - REVIEW


20 years after Will Smith first punched an alien in the face in the original Independence Day, director Roland Emmerich brings us a belated sequel to one of the 90's biggest blockbusters.

Independence Day: Resurgence brings back some familiar faces while adding some young blood to the cast as those pesky extraterrestrials come back with an updated plan to destroy the world with a giant spaceship. Having to follow such a simple concept must have made the writing not too much of a chore and, indeed, the story is one of this sequel's best elements: it's more of the same except we delve deeper into how those aliens work (a lot like bees, it turns out) plus meet a brand new entity who is both an ally and a liability. There's enough there in terms of danger and intrigue to keep even the most reluctant viewer interested throughout. Add to that a reliably good Jeff Goldblum, a dramatic character arc involving Bill Pullman's ex-President plus lots of mindless destruction and you've got yourself a silly, entertaining romp that's not without its charm.

Parts of the film do, however, feel a bit rushed or could have been cut entirely. As fun as Judd Hirsch is playing Goldblum's dad, his entire subplot really doesn't add anything to the story except time and Charlotte Gainsbourg's character could have easily not existed, leaving Goldblum to figure out all the patterns and such. A scene in which the US President destroys some alien ship on a whim is frankly clumsy since it makes those aliens come off as moronic when they're not supposed to be and Brent Spiner's mad scientist could have scaled back the eccentricity but, considering how bland the young cast is here, it's a valid and needed over-the-top performance. The likes of Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Husher and Angelababy range from clich├ęd to bland to insufferable and as hard as this movie tries to make us care for this new cast, all they do is ruin a perfectly acceptable sequel.

As inconsistent and uneven as it is, Independence Day: Resurgence is much better than it had any right to be: it has its amusing moments and the destruction is appropriately apocalyptic plus the old cast brings some welcome nostalgia to the whole thing.

Fans of the original should enjoy it fine.

7/15/16

THE BIG REWIND: WELCOME TO BLUMCAST - PODCAST


In this 69th episode of The Big Rewind, we review Independence Day: Resurgence, talk about Melissa McCarthy, Star Trek Beyond and Quick Change.



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