Independence Day Resurgence Review

Independence Day Resurgence Review

I was three years old when the first Independence Day came out so I obviously didn’t feel the hype for the first one as it was before my time. Like pretty much everyone I discovered it, watched it and was entertained by it. It’s by no means a “great” movie but it has a bucket load of charm and charisma. It knows exactly what it is, with Will Smith being the stand out star who brings the energy in abundance.

Which brings us to twenty years later and this painful sequel. Independence Day Resurgence is set twenty years after the original film and the films first half hour shows how humans have used the alien tech from the first one to build weapons and enhance our society. After the aliens come and guess what……we beat them, the end, see you later.

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Before I start criticizing this film I want too say that I really wanted to like this film. The first one has been played on numerous family gatherings over the years in my house with a bowl of popcorn and everyone having a great time with it. That’s what makes this film so bad is that if the end of the world as we know it is on the line and you don’t give a single fuck about who lives or dies then there’s HUGE problems with the film.

I actually wouldn’t of minded the aliens winning, at least I would of been interested by the film in some way. Literally after ten minutes of this film I was looking at my watch wanting it to be over. The CGI is overused way too much and the film doesn’t feel real at all. Literally every single frame of the film has CGI in it, I’d have to re-watch Transformers but I am pretty sure even that has a handfuls of shots without CGI in them.

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The director Roland Emmerich (who did a great job with the first one) has clearly no understanding of what made audiences invest in the first film because this savage over use of CGI makes the world seem like some cartoon world. For me personally I couldn’t get invested in the world and what made the first one great was seeing landmarks get destroyed (the famous White House shot) in this one the alien ship is literally the size of the Atlantic Ocean, so when it cuts to a Chinese man running out of his car to try and survive, I can’t get invested in that when everything is just so astronomically bigger.

The problems of the billions of people on the ground are just flooded in this cocoon of weightless CGI. It has zero emotional stakes and feels fake, at least with Warcraft the action had weight to it, this doesn’t. This film really is proof that bigger is not always better.

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Let’s get onto the acting and screenplay, eugh. That is the only word I kept saying to myself over and over again. The fleshing of the old and the new characters could have been interesting if they actually made the new characters do anything except be carbon copies of the original characters. The entire time the son of Will Smith’s character was on screen (yes I have forgotten his name already, if you see the film you’ll know why) I just pined for Will Smith.

It was reported before the film was officially announced that he wanted $50 million dollars to be in the film, they should have paid it. This film is dying for energy from someone. Liam Hemsworth attempts at comedy would have been rejected by Michael Bay, seriously myself and nobody in the entire cinema laughed once. Jeff Goldblum who should be the best thing about the film is quite frankly the saddest as he is literally phoning this performance in. At times it genuinely looks like he has having is lines fed through to him by earpiece, I’m not even joking every single line of dialogue he says has weird out of place pauses.

All the actors have zero chemistry with each other as every “emotional” scene just made me cringe in my seat. Bill Pullman (President in the first film) goes from being barely able to walk at the beginning to miraculously flying a alien/hybrid fighter jet, which I’m no pilot but I am pretty sure that is one hell of a difficult job. The mind boggles, how do some writers in Hollywood expect to shovel this shit onto the screen and have audiences believe/invest in any of it, but not only that actually pay money to see it! I must of counted at least ten moments in the film where I was like “Really!?” someone said that, or did that etc.

The pacing of the film is way off as well. The first one got this spot on as the invasion started straight away and all the character building was done around the focal point of the invasion. In this one we spend so long being introduced to side characters, that it felt like I was watching a two hour trailer not a full length feature film. For example the father of Jeff Goldblums character is back in this one and he isn’t introduced until over an hour into the film, then all the film has him do is say stupid things and drive some kids around on a bus.

The one interesting aspect this film had was a side story about an African Warlord and how his people fought the aliens, but the film shits all over that by having it being brushed aside to accommodate Hollywood’s latest trend “World- Building”. Instead of making a coherent, good film on it’s own it tries to add little hints and teasers to the next film. I won’t spoil it here but its literally the dumbest shit I have seen in years, and the end scene may as well be the entire cast turning round and sticking a finger up in your face as it pretty much tells you what the third film will be and as the credits hit you suddenly realize that’s two hours that you will never get back.

Overall this film is fucking terrible,tedious and worst of all joyless. It insults the intelligence of anyone who watches it. I did not like a single thing about this film and for anyone who knows me that is extremely rare.

0.5/10

 

Film – A Love Story

Film – A Love Story

When we first started this blog I never intended on it being just film reviews. I wanted it to be a written tribute to an artistic medium that I love. Now along the way I got lazy. I started to just write reviews. Then even before that they were lazy, Buzzfeed style lists. I don’t believe all of these are badly written and sometime they can be entertaining. There is just something about lists that shouts “I need to get something down and don’t know what.” Which makes zero sense. This isn’t my job, I don’t get paid for it and I don’t have a vast following I’d be disappointing. If I don’t have something good to say why say it? So tonight I decided to go back to that. Reviews will still come from both of us whenever we see a new film. Hopefully when Sam is less busy he’ll pick Netpicks back up as well.

However I will be trying to write something a little different more often, under the category, Storytelling. No more top five lists. I will actually try and say something interesting and original.So to start with I thought I’d write about something only I can. My long standing love affair with cinema. Most people who love film can attribute that fact to one film. Kevin Smith has talked often about how Jaws changed his life. Critic Mark Kermode has stated his was Krakatoa East of Java. Our own Sam has told me about watching Lord of the Rings changed him from film watcher to film lover. When discussing this, for sake of keeping it short I always say American Beauty. Which to an extent is true, it opened my eyes to a different quality of cinema.

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However I believe my love affair began much earlier than that. I have a few very early memories from my childhood. Moments on holidays, times in primary school. A lot of them though revolve around sharing a small room with my older brother. We had bunk beds and in the corner of the room we had a television we got from Santa. When we heard my mum and dad go to bed we’d switch it on very quiet and watch WCW and WWF. We’d sit for hours playing Altered Beast on the Sega Megadrive. What sticks out more than anything though is watching Wizard of Oz. My memory tells me it was very early hours of the morning and the world was still. In reality common sense says it was probably just about past evening.

I remember barely paying attention to the film, just thrilled to be sat up late. Until Dorothy opened the door and everything changed. Colour washed over the screen, contrasting the start of the film very dramatically. As a kid, even though I’d seen colour films and TV, it felt magic. Like I was witnessing something that was very special. Turns out little me was right and I was watching a classic piece of cinema. After that I loved watching films. Not at the point of loving them, but I definitely started to feel the magic. I watched all the early Disney films, I watched total crap like Baby Geniuses and Mars Attacks that both really stuck with me. I watch the start of Robo-Cop until we got too scared and switched it off.

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My film watching experience however stayed in the home. Blockbuster and TNT is how I watched movies. Often rubbish ones, but I didn’t mind, I just liked watching them. Until I was seven. Now be prepared to lose a lot of respect for me. I went to the local cinema, The Roxy. Sadly it doesn’t exist any more, but everyone over eighteen from Oldham has memories of the place. My Grandad took me and my brother to see Star Wars Episode I. Yes my first experience of the Star Wars world was The Phantom Menace. I loved it. Not the film, I was seven, I didn’t get the film. But the gigantic screen, the loud noises, the bright lights, the action. All of them clichés amazed me. I had climbed an extra rung up the ladder.

I then read my first “grown up” book. The same year my Grandma has bought me Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone. So when the film came out two years later she took me and my siblings to the opening day. Back when Warner Bros. still had cinemas. We went to the one in Bury and got McDonalds on the way home. There couldn’t be a more perfect day for a nine year old. So Harry Potter then stuck with me and I became obsessed with my first film series. I guess this was my “Lord of The Rings” moment. Then when I got a little older I watched American Beauty at an age where I shouldn’t have been watching American Beauty and it opened me up to a new world.

In the next few months after that I watched every Tarantino, Goodfellas, Casino, Fight Club. All the cool films. That led me to go a bit weirder, Fear and Loathing, American Psycho. Then indie films, Clerks in particular grabbed me. I realised at that point I didn’t just like watching films. I loved everything about them. Every genre, every style, every nationality. If it was a moving picture I loved it. I dreamt of one day making my own. I even have some of a poorly written Screenplay saved away. I guess a small part of me is still convinced I will. Until then however I will carry on watching them and writing about them with the same amazement I did as a kid, when the colour came in and the world never looked the same again.

The Nice Guys – Review

The Nice Guys – Review

There is an interesting thing about stories. We never want to experience them without knowing what they are about. When was the last time you sat down to watch a film you knew absolutely nothing about? Or bought a book that you didn’t read the blurb? I’m guessing the answer to both wouldn’t be far off never. If you’re going to invest time in to something you want to know what its all about. So how do you do that without ruining the film? You look up the director, the actors, the genre and the plot. You’ll watch the trailer. Then you sit down ready for everything this film throws at you. Sometimes however films are made that even though you know all this information, they take you by surprise on every level. So let’s approach this review in a different way to what I usually do.

The Director – Shane Black is a writer first and foremost. His talent for writing is up for debate, seeing as he wrote Lethal Weapon and Iron Man 3. One an absolute classic that will stick in the pop culture pshycé forever. The other was the worst Marvel Studios film by a long way. Directing wise he doesn’t wow. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was a lot of fun, but incredibly disjointed and Iron Man 3 was the worst Marvel Studios film by a long way. The Nice Guys however is fantastic in both screenplay and direction. It’s incredibly fast pace, the way he has positioned the characters with each other and how he has crafted this little bit of the 80’s just all worked. Writing wise there are some very funny jokes, very funny situations and actually for such a silly film, so heart. Surprise number one.

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The Actors – The funniest thing Russell Crowe had done before this was convince the casting director of Les Mis he could sing. Thus I expected him to be one hundred percent straight in this film, however he was refreshingly funny and proved that he has some comedic chops this late in to his career. Angourie Rice who plays the daughter of Holland March is fantastic. I’ve never seen her in anything or heard of her, mainly because she is only a child, but her comedic timing is fantastic, she stole the show. Surprise number two. The one thing not surprising was Ryan Gosling, who I already knew was incredibly talented and funny and he backs that up again.

The Genre – This film screams Buddy Cop movie and in some ways I guess it is. However it is also a very clever satire on 70’s action films, it avoids most of the common tropes involved with buddy cop movies and also becomes a bit of mystery part way through. Overall though it’s just a really good comedy that focuses primarily on making you laugh which took me by surprise. With the casting etc. I figured it’d be like a Lethal Weapon. Of course it’s funny in points, but there’s a lot of serious crime fighting action. This film however makes the action funny, which has to be drawing inspiration from Edgar Wright. Its subverts and exceeds the genre implications and thus becomes surprises number three.

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The Plot – This was the biggest surprise. The plot tells you nothing about this film. The plot is secondary to this film. The plot is two private investigators who, almost accidentally, end up researching strange murders surrounding a porno. That makes this plot seem a little bit too crazy and over the top. When it’s tied in with government corruption and conspiracy theories about birds not being able to breathe, the plot could run away from itself and it does. However each individual scene is so well written and crafted and the laughs come so often that it doesn’t matter at all. The plot is just there for the jokes to fit in which I just didn’t expect before sitting down.

The film was funny and refreshing. It was clever and dumb. It was the biggest surprise of the year and one of the best films I’ve seen thus far. I argued with a friend a bit back about actors. He said there’s no one like the old guard coming through. I said we are on the brink of a lot of actors about to shine, actors like Ryan Gosling and I’m glad he once again proved me right. It was also nice to see that the future of movie acting is in good hands as well, when a little girl outshines Russell Crowe then you know there’s a lot to look forward too. Also the machines weren’t working for our Limitless cards so we got free drinks and ice cream which just made the whole thing better. (Yet another win for Odeon’s customer service this year)

9.5/10

Money Monster – Review

Money Monster – Review

There has been a couple of defining moments since the turn of the century. Moments that have changed the way we think, the way we live and our future plans. First there was the World Trade Centres coming down. Then there was the economic collapse. Since the collapse the world plunged in to a global recession. This of course leads to a lot of people losing their jobs, their houses and just generally suffering. It left a bitter taste in a lot of people’s mouths and they looked for someone to blame. In an era of the internet everyone has a voice and that collective voice has been boiling over with rage for some time. So of course in comes Hollywood to profit from that anger.

Money Monster is directed by Jodie Foster and stars George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jack O’Connell. George Clooney is Lee Gates, a financial advisor on the television who is taken hostage live on air by Kyle Budwell (O’ Connell) whilst director Patty Fenn (Roberts) keeps the show going and attempts to control the situation. When a company named IBIS lost $80 million over night it cost Kyle his savings. He was angry and he wanted to know who to blame and why. With a gun and a bomb vest he takes control of the station and demands they keep on air until he has said his peace. Between the three of them they attempt to discover why IBIS lost so much money so quickly all whilst Lee and Patty try to stay alive.

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This felt like a film without an identity. It didn’t know whether it wanted to be a suspense thriller or a political thinkpiece. Thus it doesn’t do very well at either. You left The Big Short ready to riot against the banks. This however made up a fake scenario and pinned it on one person and thus you felt satisfied that the wrongs were made right. The commentary it made about media and how it capitalises on disaster is nothing Nightcrawler didn’t do better. Not to mention the fact that this film is a piece of media capitalising on disaster. You could argue that it is the duty of art to shine a spotlight on these issues and thus it isn’t exploitation, but the way it is blended with a thrilling tale of David vs Goliath almost trivialises it. Foster should have decided if she really wanted to say something about corruption on Wall Street and the nature of media or just to tell an interesting story.

Having said that she does tell an interesting and entertaining story. Although she falls over a bit on the suspense part, as a thriller goes it works. You really want to know what has happened as it sews the seeds of doubt in the audiences mind. You want to know more about the lives of Lee, Kyle and Patty. It keeps you hooked in that sense. It has some amusing moments and lines that keep it from being too depressing, because at points it is truly sad. I thought back to the film Phone Booth whilst watching. The way it flips from the microcosm of the studio to how the world is reacting to the scenario as well as the obvious police presence. In style and also in ability these films feel very similar for some reason. Well made entertaining films that don’t blow anyone away, but I doubt offend anyone to the point of walking out.

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Now I do want to talk about the performances. They are what elevated this film from an average run of the mill film in to something actually quite good. Clooney is at the best I’ve seen him for a long time. In Hail Caesar recently I felt he lacked the acting ability he once had. He proved me wrong in this however, playing the role of an aging lonely rich man very well (although that was him a few years back, drawing from experience must have been easy). You actually did empathise with a character that at first felt ridiculous and deplorable. Roberts was given the weaker screen time and lines, but did well with that she had. She was positioned between the action and the audience. She had a bit of control over the situation and you could sense that’s what kept her character from losing it in a trying time. Her relationship with Clooney’s character was an interesting dynamic that thankfully didn’t end in romance (small spoiler, but really doesn’t matter at all.)

The real star of the show however was O’Connell. This is an actor who I’ve followed for a long time. His first major role coming in the TV show Skins. His two seasons came out at the same time as me joining college so I was an avid watcher confused as to why my life wasn’t full of massive raves full of sex and drugs. Since then he has impressed massively in the films Starred Up and ’71. He is without a doubt one of the most exciting British talents on the rise right now. He plays the broken, working class Kyle very well. You are on his side the entire time despite the fact that he is really a terrorist. He is playing the every man who is at the end of his tether. Everyone has something inside them that wishes they could do something massive. Maybe not in this vein, but we don’t for a second question his motives.

Not a film I will be talking about for the next few years, but Money Monster is a very enjoyable watch. If it had either stuck to what it was inevitably good at, or swung the other way and gone all in as a political commentary, then maybe it could be elevated to something higher. I should have walked out wanting to destroy Wall Street the way I did about the banks after The Big Short. Instead I walked out entertained, but wholly underwhelmed and lacking much emotion at all about the film. I do however look forward to seeing more and more from O’Connell. I’m thankful this film isn’t bad enough to kill his career.

6/10