A Star is Born – Next Entertainment Review

THE LOWDOWN

Everyone who is anyone has watched “A Star is Born”.  Being a “cultured in training” humanoid, I of course, didn’t know that this was a remake, until the media around the film started to get bigger.  Now this didn’t make me go watch the original starring Janet Gaynor and Frederich March, but it definitely is now on my bucket list.  Also.  Lady Gaga, is all I have to say.

But for sake of giving you a proper review.  I suppose I will do more.  So here is the lowdown.

Seasoned musician Jackson Maine discovers – and falls in love with, struggling artist Ally.  She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer until Jackson coaxes her into the spotlight.  But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jackson fights an ongoing battle with internal demos (IMDB, 2019).

Sidebar. The Oscar buzz around this film is huge, with both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga both getting some Oscar nods for best actor and actress – and of course, the best song nomination going to the hauntingly beautiful “Shallow”.  My prediction: Best Original Song is a definite, but both Cooper and Gaga have their work cut out for them this year with absolutely impeccable performances by Christian Bale (Vice), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Glenn Close (The Wife) and Olivia Colman (The Favourite) – to name a few.

 

THE GOOD

What’s there to say about such brilliant film?  The performances are great.  The storyline is solid.  And the 2 hours film duration go by without you even gazing at the time (for me that’s a big deal, especially in a drama).  I must say firstly, that I was confused.  Do I like Lady Gaga? Do I like Lady Gaga without the extreme makeup and harmonic hairstyles?  Or is Gaga, actually known as Stefani Joanna Angelina Germanotta – the real deal when it comes to this kickass performance?  Most will come at me with pitchforks for bringing this, but isn’t this just a newer, cooler version of Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard? I had to say it.  Everyone was thinking it.

But, great news is, that it works.  Add the fact that Gaga does indeed perform incredibly well in this musical performance, Bradley Cooper is in top-form (and sings like a pro too!), and a special shout out to Sam Elliot – who just gives this film a bit more class and performance dignity that it already has way too much off.

 

THE BAD

What do you want me to say! It’s too difficult to marginally hair pick anything wrong with this film. So, I’ll let others do the dirty work for me.

  • A journalist from Independent UK called the film an “Unnecessary remake, with not much added by the performances”
  • Vice online said that the film is “two hours of anxiety punctuated by the brief ecstasy of Lady Gaga’s singing performance”
  • com had one problem: “Bradley Cooper is too handsome to play a coke-snorting has-been”
  • And Screenrant had a problem with the ending of the film, saying that this problem originated with 1937 version

 

A Star is Born is available now on Blu-Ray and DVD from Next Entertainment.

Mission Impossible: Fallout – Next Entertainment Review

 

THE LOWDOWN

Ethan Hunt and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to prevent a disaster of epic proportions. Arms dealer John Lark and a group of terrorists known as the Apostles plan to use three plutonium cores for a simultaneous nuclear attack on the Vatican, Jerusalem and Mecca, Saudi Arabia. When the weapons go missing, Ethan and his crew find themselves in a desperate race against time to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

 

THE GOOD

You know there are some celebrities that people always have some “go-to” statements when they hear their name?  Well Tom Cruise, for some reason, is part of that list.  Yes, he did eat his baby’s placenta.  Yes, he is (or was, or who really knows anymore) a promoter and frontman for Scientology.  And for some reason, more than that he is not taken seriously by the majority of the movie going public anymore.

There was, however, a time when we loved Tom Cruise.  I believe in my heart that we STILL love Tom Cruise.  He does no wrong on the big screen.  Granted.  Eyes Wide Shut was a bit much for pockets of people.  But.  I maintain. He does no wrong.  On screen and behind the scenes.

With all the Mission Impossible films including Fallout, he does his own stunts.  And yes, it is a credit to his age, and his commitment to his craft.  But also, they make for some really great action sequences. It is indeed, these sequences, that show us that this film pulls out all the stops.

In a time where big budget superhero films are dominating the box office – action films are a close second to put your money on.  But only the really, really good ones.  Like this one.  Mission Impossible: Fallout, is what some are calling, the best action film of 2018.

What I like about Fallout, is that yes, there are 4, maybe 5 or 6 Mission Impossible films out so far, and you can watch the latest in the franchise and still feel like you are not the spare wheel in-between a private joke.

Also.

Rebecca Ferguson and Vanessa Kirby add class and integrity to the film.  Their performances are subtle and superb at the very same time.

What more do you want?

Action (done right) – Check

Tom Cruise at his best – Check

Scenes that will win you over one act at a time – Check.

Fallout has got all the check boxes ticked.

 

THE BAD

Here’s the deal.  I really enjoyed this film.  So, I didn’t have much to complain about.  But.  I did do some scratching and got a feel for what others had a different opinion on when watching Fallout.

  • Some felt that the villains were not up to standard. Henry Cavill was a bit stock standard with little context to whom his character was and even less more around why he hates Ethan Hunt so much.  I have never really been a fan of Henry Cavill’s performances, so I wasn’t expecting more than 2-dimensional acting on his part.
  • On that note, should we ask ourselves “Has Alec Baldwin had his time on the big screen?” I mean, he has more than proven himself to be a great comedic talent on television – but it almost seems like reusing an old hat for an improper fit here.
  • Some have felt that the plot was rather thin – but in the film’s defence, you should watch all of the films to enjoy the franchise and what it has to offer.

 

RANDOM PERSONAL SIDEBAR

When I was around 5 or 6 years old, I watched Cocktail with my sisters and found Tom Cruise to be my personal hero.  For years, I demanded to have a haircut just like the one Tom Cruise would don and would endlessly comb it in his 80’s lady-killer style – thinking it would bring me closer to being Tom.  That. And we also have the exact prominent nose shape.  It was like it was meant to be.  A Tom Cruise doppelganger every time I looked into the mirror.  Ah. Memories.

 

You can get your copy of Mission Impossible: Fallout now on DVD and Blu-Ray from Next Entertainment

The Meg – Next Entertainment DVD Review

 

THE LOWDOWN

The Meg is a 2018 science fiction thriller film directed by Jon Turteltaub with a screenplay by Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, and Erich Hoeber, loosely based on the 1997 book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten. The film stars Jason Statham, Li BingbingRainn Wilson, Ruby RoseWinston Chao, and Cliff Curtis. The film follows a group of scientists who encounter a 75-foot-long (23 m) megalodon shark while on a rescue mission at the floor of the Pacific Ocean.  And of course, many things go south from there on.

 

THE GOOD

I loved this film.  One, the teasers for this film were released around a year and half before it’s actual release date.  So, I had been waiting a really long time to grab my popcorn and watch The Meg.  I am a big monster film fan – so this was right up my alley.  On a quick point, that also made me super-sensitive to whether the film would be done right?  And The Meg delivered on all my expectations.  Jason Statham is great.  Watching him in all his films as an action-hero, and now as an action-adventurer, he always gives an audience what they want.  Men want to be him, and women (and men) just plain, want him.  The cast had a cool dynamic. The action scenes are positively terrifying (in a good way).  You will cheer when the massive Megalodon takes a bite out of, well, anything and everything, that it can.  And there are some great mass casted scenes that will put Jaws back on the shelf and to shame.

 

THE BAD

When a film is released on circuit I always read, listen and watch the public’s reaction to watching it via a lot of social media platforms and forums that I belong to on the net.  It gives me a better idea as to being able to provide a more accurate review of a film, and not have it be a one-sided view, as most critics do.  Even though I thoroughly enjoyed watching this film over and over again, a couple of things did come up.

The first is that those of you that didn’t watch The Meg or won’t watch it – have no interest in a monster film.  It’s definitely a preference.  My sister is one of those people.  Most of the time I can convince her to watch a film – but she has done nothing but flat out refuse to watch this film.  It has nothing to do with a fear or phobia, it’s just not her type of thing.

Another is that those that did watch the film, felt like it was a basic idea with no real innovation to movie making.  But again, I say this quite often with action adventure films.  Are any of them vying for best picture at the Oscars? No.  They are here for pure entertainment.  There are, of course, many, many films in this genre that perpetuate a terrible script – but this film isn’t one of them.  It’s fun. It IS ,indeed basic. But The Meg is free from “cringe worthy” moments.  And that’s a big plus in my opinion.

 

THE CHERRY ON TOP

The DVD release of The Meg includes a great bonus feature called “Chomp on This:  The Making of The Meg”.

Director John Turtletaub takes you behind the scenes in the making of the movie; why he chose to take on a monster film (something he has never done before); and what makes watching people on screen in absolute terror, so enthralling to an audience.

The feature also highlights how everyone, from the director to the stunt director – have nothing but great things to say about working with Jason Statham.   A credit to his name.  If it wasn’t true, I assume it would be just as easy to find a number of other things to put in the special features section.  It’s an honest running theme that he is a great guy!

And that does kind of justify a little as to why it is that we enjoy watching Statham in this, and all his other films.

Barrie M. Osborne, the films executive producer takes you on a play by play as to how the film was shot in the “middle” of the ocean with a skeleton crew and equipment.  This Is great to watch knowing we got some amazing scenes that Statham and the crew had to work well together to sell the believability of a giant prehistoric shark on the hunt for anything it can sink its teeth into it.  We also get to see how “water-acting” was accomplished and a glimpse into the swimming safety lessons that the cast had to take before getting into the water.

What is quite special to watch is child actor Sophia Cie with her experiences on the set and how she got along with the entire cast and crew.

 

The Meg is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray from Next Entertainment.

 

Fan Film Favourites for 2018

With only two weeks left to the start of a polished and promising new year, it’s only fitting to have a quick look in the rear-view mirror of your 2018.   Once again, the blockbuster, big budget films reign supreme at the box office.  Props need to go to these films as they as the reason fans still pay an arm and a leg and a toe, to buy tickets to watch.  Big names, big stories, big on fun, just plain big.

So even though we had top notch films in offer from Hollywood – like I, Tonya; The Darkest Hour; Alpha, and The King – I want to look at the films that need a mention, because the fans say so.  And that’s what I asked them to do, say anything they wanted about the films they most enjoyed, and we’ve included them below.

You still have a couple more days to catch up on those you missed out on!  These films are the gospel for 2018, according to you.

 

Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom

 

The second in a 3-part sequel series for the original Jurassic Franchise, had Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard reunited to, not get chased around an island by dinosaurs anymore, but rather around a mansion in rich American suburbia.  Fun, fun, and more fun as this film sets up what the original story possibly promised us all along?  A world where it will become man against terrible lizard?  We’ll have to wait for the 3 and final instalment.

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a fun ride full of adventure – and scares – that builds on the mythology of Jurassic Park in very interesting ways.”

 Molly Freeman (Screen Rant)

“Everything you loved about the classic brought up to date with everything you love about modern action blockbusters.  Chris Pratt is a treasure!”

 @DarthZadyBun (insta)

 

Justice League

DC has stepped up to the plate to take the spotlight of years hogged by Marvel.  To be fair, DC had to establish a following and awareness for individual character franchises before taking on an ensemble story.   So far, we have decades of two major players in the DCU – Batman and Superman. So, the crossover prequel to JL was a no-brainer in Batman VS Superman.  The huge success of Wonder Woman allowed the producers to start their plot for Hollywood territory acquisition.  Now with the ground work laid this year, we are flocking to watch Jason Mamoa in Aquaman, and will be returning to cinemas soon for WW84.

JL was a fan favourite, with Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, and a resurrected Superman who all take on one of their most powerful foes, SteppenWolf as he arrives on the scene hell bent on guess what, global domination.

 

“The movie you have been waiting your entire life for! The greatest Superheroes in creation united on the big screen at last!”

 @DarthZadyBun (insta)

 

Mamma Mia – Here We Go Again

When the world heard that Cher and ABBA were going to come together and make beautiful music, things just felt right.  Like peanut butter and jelly, like bum and panty, like a shooting star and a wish, like Trump and delusion – this was a perfect marriage.

Having said that.  The tie in to Mamma Mia – Here We Go Again had us asking for nothing more.  Of course, they did a number on us with only a cameo by Cher, and Meryl Streep nothing more than a distant memory (quite literally).

So how did everyone feel watching this film?  Well.  Let’s just say, with ABBA, you can’t go wrong.  This time.  The “we” in “Here we go again” still brings back everyone from the first film, plus a couple more characters (Yes, it can be done).  Put on your sequence bell bottoms.  This one is a revival.

“It was fun. Enjoyed it for what it was. Recycled too many songs from the first one and ABBA has a massive library they could have chosen from, but it was still watchable. Missed Meryl Streep though.”

@LegendstoLife (Insta)

 

Black Panther

What does one say with one of the biggest films of all time?  Well, that it was, big.  And forking great.  I can’t even tell you what set Black Panther apart from the rest, but it just did.  A perfect blend of heart, talent, roaming eye-popping cinematography – and the spirit of “Wakanda Forever”.  It will make you wish you a had little vibranium in your life.

 

“Never felt so at home with a superhero movie. It was as if I could encounter this world by leaving my front door. It felt both fantastical and grounded.”

@LegendstoLife (Insta)

 

“The diversity that Black Panther brings to the MCU is refreshing. The female characters were effortlessly integrated into the narrative, without forcing the usual female character archetypes. Of course, I loved that the ruler of Wakanda had an all-female bodyguard team.”

@cassricorn (Insta, Twitter)

 

Ready Player One

One of the “not to be missed” films of this year.  Steven Spielberg knows how to make a fan happy.  In fact, he made millions of fans out there very happy with his revival of the 80’s and 90’s gaming nostalgia and culture that play in a wonderful and big world of the not so distant future.  Grab an avatar, popcorn and large coke and let the games (quite literally) begin.

“A wild nostalgia ride from start to finish with enough easter eggs to keep you occupied for days. Made me feel like a kid again.”

@LegendstoLife (Insta)

“One of the best feel good movies of the year that tugs on the heart strings of nostalgia and pop culture references.”

@cassricorn (Insta, Twitter)

 

The Greatest Showman

It’s actually hard to believe we already have been gifted with this gift to movies for a year already.  The Greatest Showman – where have you been all our lives?  With an anthem in “This is me”, restored faith in the musical genre, and one fun ride, this film will have going to watch it over and over again, while you listen to the soundtrack, over and over again.

“A lovely heart-warming movie. The soundtrack is absolutely spectacular and having big names like Hugh Jackman alongside Zac Efron working with emerging stars such as Zendaya is a great way to boost this amazing movie.”

@ThePhantomPuff (Insta)

 

“The Greatest Showman is a non-stop musical thrill-fest that becomes more enjoyable the more you watch it. Hugh Jackman not only mesmerized us with how magical theatre can be but hidden in the movie is a story about having heart, passion and the desire to never give up. As a bonus offering, the soundtrack entertains long after the end credits.  (Not sure if this works, but I really enjoyed The Greatest Showman, I don’t normally watch musicals)”

@awalicomics (Insta)

 

Deadpool 2

Ryan Reynolds pulls out all the stops, and a whole lot more in this much loved cinematic sequel to the, quite frankly, rather slow first film.  With a bunch of great cameos and humour that makes you uncomfortable in a good way, Deadpool 2 doesn’t take itself seriously and still manages to breech the tie in with the X-Men franchise and superhero extravaganza Hollywood has blown us up with over the past decade or so.   Domino will make your “Favourite Things Ever” list.  All I can say is my 3 favourite things about this movie are “Brad Pitt, Juggernaut, and the phrase ‘Prison Wallet”.

 

“Twice as funny, twice as epic twice as badass to the bone.  A rare triumph among sequels.”

 @DarthZadyBun (insta)

 

“A superhero or rather antihero movie that you don’t have to take too seriously. It’s funny, crude and clever in its execution.”

@cassricorn (Insta, Twitter)

 

“Ryan Reynolds, the gift that keeps on giving… See a doctor afterwards for a few tests just in case you caught something.”

@LegendstoLife (Insta)

 

Special Mentions:

And lastly, but certainly not least – are my two personal holy grails of the year.  Yes, I am a massive fanboy for comics and comic culture, but, Avengers – Infinity War and Venom will be forever euphoric moments in my personal film history.

Brining cinemas to their knees, 2018 will forever be remembered as the year Thanos came to deliver his vision for the universe.  Were you one to survive?  And have you already calendered May 2019 for Avengers End Game? Watching all our favourites come together in one film will never get old.

And then there is Venom.  A surprise hit that killed numbers at the box office and is still doing the rounds as fans across the globe flock to cinemas to watch it over and over again.  Can we hope for a Venom/Spidey team up in the future?  We certainly can hope.

 

That’s it!  Here is to Hollywood and all the stand out moments you gave us in 2018!

 

Creed II – Interview with Michael B. Jordan, Florian Munteanu and Director Steven Caple Jr.

Creed 2 sees the return of Adonis Creed taking on Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago.  Ivan killed Adonis’ father, Apollo Creed, 30 years ago. And in a showdown of epic proportions, we see Adonis and Ivan face off .

The film also sees the return of Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren reprising their original roles as Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago.
I had a chance to sit down and chat to the stars of the film, Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther) and newcomer Florian Munteanu about what they learnt on set.

I was also joined by the film’s director, Steven Caple Jr. who tells us all about the this chapter in Rocky saga, and what he dreaded most about making this film.

Next Entertainment Review – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

THE LOWDOWN

This is the fifth instalment (but not likely last – they are planning a 3rd and final in the Jurassic World trilogy) in the American science fiction adventure film franchise Jurassic Park.  Steven Spielberg and Frank Marshall are back at the producer’s helm, and it is directed by J.A. Bayona.  Set on the fictional and now iconic island of Isla Nublar, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing set out to rescue remaining dinosaurs before a volcanic eruption destroys it.  But what is a Jurassic Park film, if not for its plot twisted by the greed of human beings.  DNA collected by the remains of the Indominus Rex, leads to the genetically engineered and ferocious Indoraptor – which forms part of a line-up of captured dinos that are being auctioned off to the highest bidders.  We also see the return of our favourite Velociraptor, Blue, who teams up with our heroes to take on the bad guys and liberate this world from the Jurassic Era.

THE GOOD

We love Chris Pratt.  He is just a really, really likeable casted character in pretty much any film, and the franchise did well by securing him in this and the last film, Jurassic World.  So big plus on that front getting to watch Pratt in action again.  We also absolutely love that Jeff Goldblum cameos again as the voice of reason (or doom and gloom, whichever you prefer).  Say what you want about the Jurassic Park franchise – but it is enjoyable.  And I can be objective.  I hated Jurassic Park 2 – The Lost World.  Well, the part that had the T-Rex running through the streets of American suburbia like some cheap Japanese monster film rip off.

Look, I have been a fan since the 1990’s.  This is just another chapter in historic film making.  Watching the T-Rex in action (again) is homage to the original.  Sure.  I would have loved to see the amazing Laura Dern somewhere in the Jurassic World’s, but we can’t get everything we want.  On the dino front, the Indoraptor is positively perfect.  The hint to an emo-horror film is a big-time theme in the film, as it skulks around open bedrooms and chases little girls around mansion halls. And it’s fantastic.  I personally will be in the front row for Jurassic World III.  I am just hoping there will be mass havoc (as hinted to at the end of the film) across the 50 states of the Trump administration in the next film.

THE BAD

As a massive fan of the Jurassic Park franchise, to find out that most of the film takes place off the island was a bit of a let-down.  Having said that.  I can respect that the filmmakers did give us something slightly different to the original plot.  People go to an island.  People meet dinosaurs.  People get eaten by dinosaurs.  People get off said island.  End scene with T-Rex.

Don’t get me wrong.  People get eaten. If this isn’t your vibe, stay away from this film.  Also.  Just replace “island” with mansion in the rich burbs of America, and you have Fallen Kingdom.  It won’t win any Oscars, or much favour with critics, but then again, Fallen Kingdom doesn’t set out to promise audiences riveting unique movie going.  It’s supposed to just be fun.

THE CHERRY ON TOP

The DVD release has a ton of great extras you can enjoy.  Let’s have a look at some of my favs:

  • You get to see Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard on set behind the scenes. They have some amazing chemistry.  I love watching actors having fun and doing their thing, as you get to know them a little more personally.
  • The Kingdom Evolves: Steven Spielberg chats about his love for the franchise and why he kept the Jurassic faith.  Again, we also get confirmation that there will be a 3rd in the Jurassic World
  • Birth of the Indoraptor: One of my favourite dinos in the Jurassic Park films.  Genetically engineered danger wrapped in a beautifully homicidal package.  We get to see the concept art and creation of this majestic monster.
  • Death by Dino: How do you die by dino?  Find out in this segment as we see the actors get bloodied and beaten.
  • Malcolm’s Return: Jeff Goldblum is a highlight in our lives, and of course, in the film.  Ian Malcolm embodies the spirit of Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton.  We get a closer look at his involvement in this movie.

And a whole lot more.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray from Next Entertainment.

 

 

 

Next Entertainment: Deadpool 2 Review

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D86RtevtfrA]

THE LOWDOWN
Deadpool 2 is the second in the franchise and the 11th in the X-men film series. Directed by David Leitch, with some stellar scripting by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds (who also plays Deadpool in the film – the story revolves around now fully fledged mercenary Wade Wilson, trying to deal with the loss of his girlfriend Vanessa, who was gunned down by one of Deadpool’s failed target hits). The X-men’s Colossus takes Wade in, recovering at the X-Mansion, but things quickly go south for the X-man in training, when Deadpool confronts an unstable youth called Firefist, both go to mutant lockup, and Firefist finds solace in the care of the unstoppable Juggernaut. Throw in future freedom fighter Cable, and team up with the beautiful Domino – and Deadpool 2, is one of the best films you will see in 2018.

THE GOOD
Firstly, I want to re-iterate that because I am a massive Marvel fan, most would think I would be completely biased in my opinion of a Marvel film. It’s quite the opposite. Because I am a big fanatic – I have a much higher expectation of the comic adaptations that come to our silver screens. And so you can definitely expect an raw and honest review.

Now that that’s out the way.

This film is great. It’s actually super-awesomely great.

D2 is brilliant from start to end. While the first in the franchise spent most of the film setting up the origin and premise of the character, we got a whole lot more time to spend with all these really likeable characters in the second.

Don’t worry, there is still the down side to the film coming up. But that can wait for a moment.

One. The humour is crazy. The action is everywhere (in a good way). And the acting is spot on. Ryan won us over in the first film, and he does it again in the sequel. The Deadpool franchise can get away with what the X-Men films can’t – so expect a lot of in your face, off the tangent cinematic moments.

Everyone in this film is amazing, but Zazie Beetz who plays Domino, takes the win in every scene. Not only is she breathtaking to look at, but even more breathtaking to watch encompass the role.

Also. Please. Celine Dion. On “Ashes”. Who does not love themselves a little Celine Dion coming out of the woodworks to perform your film’s movie title song (and more than likely Academy Award’s Song of the Year 2019)?

I could go on and on. Oh wait. A surprise appearance from Brad Pitt. Don’t blink. You will literally miss him.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CX11yw6YL1w]

THE BAD
So, I did promise you the “bad”. And to be completely honest, Deadpool 2 (as hilarious as it is) does take the slapstick feel of humour too far in many scenes. You almost literally “lose the plot” through joke after joke after joke, and I must say, at points it can become rather tedious.

THE CHERRY ON TOP
The DVD release includes a gag reel that features all the heroes you love from the film. You will catch Wade, Domino and Cable cracking jokes and forgetting their lines, dropping some major F-bombs, and some general tomfoolery that happens on the set.

Deadpool 2 is now available on DVD from Next Entertainment. To stay up to date with their releases, check out and like their page on Facebook.

Next Entertainment: Pacific Rim Uprising Review

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EhiLLOhVis]

THE LOWDOWN
In his directorial debut, Steven S. DeKnight with producer Guillermo Del Toro, bring you the second film in the Pacific Rim franchise. In 2035, ten years after the battle of the breach (also the setting for the first film), this movie follows Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, who makes a living selling and stealing Jaeger parts on the black market. His misadventure leads him smack bang to the path of a 15-year-old Jaeger building prodigy, Amara Namani, whose self-built Scrapper has a run-in with the Pan-Pacific Defence Corps – and both are arrested. Jake’s adopted sister, PPDC Secretary General Mako Mori, helps Jake avoid prison by having him train Jaeger program cadets, with Amara serving as one of his recruits. Thrown into the mix is Shai Corporation’s drone program, which mass produces Jaegers, who are the forerunners for shutting down the original man-piloted fighting machines after Mako is killed by Jaeger Obsidion Fury. But that’s not all, Kaiju brains are being cloned in the drone production program – and all goes pear shaped when Kaiju-Jaeger hybrids wreak havoc in Tokyo.

THE GOOD
I really loved the first Pacific Rim film. It took the genre of man vs. monster to the level and expectation we all wanted: more massive monsters, with more action, more of the time. Having said that, I was looking forward to watching the second instalment. I also wondered how they would stretch the story beyond what worked so well for the first film. I must say, the idea was great and the execution even better. To pull in original characters into differently motivated roles was rather cool. The fact that the concept of the Kaiju had evolved was also a great angle. And of course, that the sentiment of man’s capitalisation on both mother nature and machine never ends well, was a solid running representation throughout the film.

THE BAD
The film lagged slightly, more so because of the disconnect of likeable characters that don’t feature in the film. This is because the character isn’t fully developed, and so at the end of the day, you care more about wanting to see a ferociously magnificent Kaiju in every scene over what becomes any of the characters behaving more like talking heads throughout the film.

THE (MASSIVE) CHERRY ON TOP
There are so many bonus features packed into the DVD release, so you might have to take a real moment to enjoy it all. I must say, I quite enjoy watching scenes that have commentary by the film director – a feature not new in concept, but still something that you have to get used and of course, and which you will only find with the DVD or Blu-Ray releases. Pacific Rim also has a ton of deleted scenes. You can enjoy them along with director Steven DeKnight.

  • Hall of Heroes – an insight to all the best of the best Jaegers in the film.
  • Bridge to Uprising – a look at how the creators of the film managed a realistic follow-up to the first film.
  • The Underworld of Uprising – where does the backdrop of the film play out, where Jaeger parts are being harvested, 10 years later, in the wild west zones and remains of the destruction in the first film.
  • Becoming Cadets – the new breed of Jaeger cadets. Younger, fresher, and more passionate about the war against the Kaiju.
  • Unexpected Villain – you know me. I love a good villain. And this villain doesn’t come cheap! A turn for the worst from one of our favourite characters from the first film.
  • Next Level Jaegers – a badass tribute to the new line of Jaegers. Next Level indeed. More efficient. More agile. Overall, more hardcore. The visual arts department had their work cut out for them.
    …and a whole lot more of course.

Pacific Rim Uprising is available now on DVD from Next Entertainment. For other movie reviews, check them out and like their page on Facebook.

Next Entertainment: Rampage Review

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coOKvrsmQiI]

THE LOWDOWN
Directed by Brad Peyton, Rampage centres around genetically engineered animals that wreak havoc on the city of Chicago and the population alike when a rogue experiment ‘monstrifies’ a wolf, an alligator and George, an albino gorilla, as a result of a lethal mutagenic substance falling from space. Primatologist Davis Okeye (Dwayne Johnson), who is George’s caretaker at a local animal care centre, is joined by discredited geneticist Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend.

THE GOOD
Look. I am a massive Dwayne Johnson fan. He has won me over time and time again, making sure that performances are always entertaining – no matter the role. This, probably, still has to do with the fact that we constantly will underestimate him, being a former WWE star “The Rock”. I suppose it is fair to say I’m never expecting an Oscar winning moment from Johnson. But does that really matter? Not really. If he doesn’t disappoint, he doesn’t disappoint.

I am also a sci-fi fan. So, I like watching special effects pushed to whatever boundary. I’ve said this before, but if mind numbing entertainment is about big budgets and non-stop action, then why would anyone complain? The actors are convincing, the story is sound, and it’s a lot of fun to watch. I must take a moment to also commend anyone who can turn an 8-bit arcade game with very little work (see video below), into any type of watchable story. Also, if you are gaming fan, both Rampage the arcade game and Rampage World Tour are a pretty awesome way to pass time bashing buildings and eating people, if that’s your thing.

THE BAD
It’s simple. Here’s the plot again.
Space goo falls from destroyed space station. 3 animals become really, really, really big and mean. They trash place. Kill a bunch of people. The Rock is there to save the day with his oversized Gorilla companion. The End. This is not supposed to tickle your cerebral cortex.

THE STUFF YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE KNOWN
• At the wrap up party for Rampage, director, Brad Peyton gifted Dwayne Johnson a vintage Rampage arcade machine.
• The Actors Starring as Davis’ Primatology team actually have backgrounds in primate behaviour.
• American sign language plays a giant role in the film.
• Dwayne Johnson and producers Beau Flynn & Hiram Garcia worked with actual gorillas.
• The director and producer team have ‘tangoed; before – working together on Journey 2 the Mysterious Island and San Andreas.

THE CHERRY ON TOP
The DVD release includes the featurette “Not Just a Game Anymore”. Rampage video game animator Brian Colin gives you some insight into the design of the game, which was rather revolutionary in its multiplayer mode, and also the fact that you were playing as the monster and not the hero (for once). Small nuggets – like fashioning certain avatars off’ his wife – are great for nostalgic fanboys and fangirls out there. The light-hearted tone from the game is translated into the feel of the film. Ryan Engle snatched the honours of having his screenplay turned into a mega movie monster blockbuster, influenced by films like Jaws and Jurassic Park. Watch this featurette for all the Easter eggs!

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoFDdmD2T6k]

Rampage is available now on DVD from Next Entertainment. For other movie reviews, check them out and like their page on Facebook.

Next Entertainment: Tomb Raider Review

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ndhidEmUbI]

THE LOWDOWN
A reboot of the classic game Tomb Raider, Lara Croft is on her first adventure following her father’s footsteps, unbeknownst to her, as a tomb raider. The myth of a death queen, Himiko, turns into reality when her father goes missing and Lara refuses to accept his death. She stumbles upon a series of clues and hidden artefacts that take her to an island off the coast of Japan, and the sinister ongoings of a global corporation – Trinity, with a face off to see who the ultimate Tomb Raider will be.

THE GOOD
I enjoyed this Tomb Raider, and I believe most people will too. It’s definitely in the category of mind-numbing entertainment with not much more happening at a deeper level. Sometimes we need these types of films. Buy or rent the DVD, make yourself some popcorn, pour a large coke – and let the world pass you by while you are transported into the world of another’s.

Let’s do a bit of a checklist to see why you should give this a watch:

  • Script and storyline? Not bad. Check.
  • Acting: Believable. Check.
  • Action and Entertainment value: Great. Check.
  • All in all. Not a bad night in.

THE BAD
I’m sure by now you have guessed I was saving some comments for this section. After seeing the making of the film (also featured on the DVD release), I understand why my expectation of Lara Croft’s character should have been readjusted. At first, she immediately comes off as weak and well, beatable. Not a heroine of a story at all. Seeing that this was a true origin story, I understand now that there needs to be growth and struggle in a hero’s story for them to become who they are destined to become. But I still maintain, I needed more from the Lara I grew to love and know. It is after all, still a tool for buying into the sequels that are sure to follow, and I think they could have sold me more on her extraordinary-ness (if that’s a word). With me, it’s always about two things, casting and scripting. I can accept Alicia Vikander as someone who can hopefully soon give us the grit and strength of a Lara Croft, but with Walton Goggins who plays the villain, it is just something personal I have against his acting style. We just caught him in another villain role in Ant-Man and The Wasp, and again, he taints the big screen for me. Bygones.

THE CHERRY ON TOP 
The DVD release features Tomb Raider: Uncovered, a look at the behind the scenes efforts to create the reboot of the franchise. Narratives by Director Roan Uthaug and Producer Graham King, explain the choice of taking the story back to the origin of Lara Croft’s identity and contextual background. Whereas previous films had already established the character and depended quite heavily on the popularity of the gaming character, this seeks to start a story a new, showing an authentic, believable side to her and Croft’s journey. A close up with all the film’s characters shows insight as to cast synergy and buy-in to a devotion to each character. Special mention to Franklin Henson, the film’s stunt coordinator, who had his work cut out for him. Where one wouldn’t say off hand that this was a difficult movie to make, this featurette reminds you of key scenes that were quite breathtaking and absolutely believable as great action sequences. What you won’t know is the film was shot in South Africa to achieve the balance of gritty and beautiful landscapes we get, to see recreating all the island (and Hong Kong which was recreated in the ports of Cape Town) scenes in Tomb Raider. And then of course, the main character (for me, anyway) – the tomb. Which is where all memories and nostalgia for gaming references comes to life. Greatly created and fun to explore.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3rb5IKvkUw]

Tomb Raider is available now on DVD from Next Entertainment. For other movie reviews, check them out and like their page on Facebook.

Next Entertainment: Ready Player One Review

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSp1dM2Vj48]

THE LOWDOWN
Ready Player One is set in 2045, where the human race has abandoned the desolate reality of their lives to escape into a virtual reality called the OASIS, each with their own avatar, identity and game goals. With the death of its co-founder, James “Anorak” Halliday – the playing public start vying for a common prize, the ownership of the OASIS and a hefty trillion-dollar inheritance, on the completion of finding and solving clues to 3 keys in the OASIS. The hero of the story, Wade Watts, an orphaned teenager, groups the most unlikely of allies within the OASIS and tries to complete the game before conglomerate Innovative Online Industries (IOI), run by businessman Nolan Sorrentom, can do so.

THE GOOD
There is so much about this film that is not only good, but great. The fact that Steven Spielberg is attached as producer and director is all I needed to say “I’m in”. Zak Penn and Ernest Cline write a beautifully rich script, which is based on Cline’s 2011 novel of the same name. If you are a Spielberg fan you will note that he has an affinity for focusing a lot of his film’s plots around the perspective of a child. He is a champion of the youth – and in this film, that comes through better than ever. There are also an endless amount of beautifully shot scenes and wonderful 80’s (and other iconic) references. You get to see ‘Child’s Play’ Chucky on screen with Batman, the T-Rex from Jurassic Park, King Kong, and the DeLorean from ‘Back to the Future’. One of my personal favourite scenes is one that features a game level set in the world of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’. The story is fast paced and entertaining – both in the virtual and real world and guaranteed to be worth every moment you spent making the choice to watch the film.

THE BAD
I have to admit, the first thing that put me off (before watching the film) was the nearly 2 and a half hour running time. You have to be REALLY well justified in what you want to put on screen to have a movie goer commit to a film longer than around 110min. But Ready Player One does. And if you aren’t OCD like I am, you won’t feel the time at all by counting down minutes to the credits. On an (actual) reason to gripe, I must say, the villain, Sorrento (played by Ben Medelsohn) in the film put me way off. The casting for this character didn’t feel right. I always say this, whether you are a hero or a villain, or anything in between – you still have to have a sense of likability in the sense that people want to keep watching you – and this film’s bad guy made me want to fast forward until he stopped saying things.

THE CHERRY ON TOP 
The DVD release includes a great featurette entitled “The 80’s: You’re the Inspiration”. It tells of Cline’s inspiration for writing the novel in a time influenced by an era where his definitive view on pop culture was nurtured by channelling his memories of getting his first game console, computer and VCR, that opened up his world. Oddly enough, many of Spielberg’s production company produced many of his favourites – from ‘Goonies’, ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Gremlins’. We also see some of the behind the scenes footage and some vox clips from Spielberg, co-writer Zak Penn and some of the film’s cast. A trip down memory lane – is an understatement. You will love this film.

Ready Player One is available now on DVD from Next Entertainment. For other exciting reviews, check them out and like their page on Facebook.

Next Entertainment: The Greatest Showman Review

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgXCCWv-w3w&feature=youtu.be]

THE LOW DOWN
The circus-themed musical is a film based on the life and story of a man named P.T. Barnum. When let go from work, Barnum racks his brain for ideas that will provide a wonderful life for his wife and two girls. After buying a wax museum in the hope that the fantastical will appeal to the public, lifeless replicas of what is, could be or once was – are not enough. A suggestion from his kids leads Barnum to explore the beauty of the fantastical, by recruiting a band of wonderfully unique people with powerfully thrilling skills, and a circus is born. But the ride isn’t an easy one. Themes of hate and discrimination towards the differences in society bleeds through the main plot of film. Self-acceptance, and the destructive allure of fame, glory and fortune all are lessons in this exhilarating movie experience.

THE GOOD
Everyone will agree on me with this one. Not even the good, but the great – is the music. In fact, I actually listened to the album before I watched the film – for no other reason than one, everyone was raving about, and two, I wanted to sing along to all the songs people were raving about. Every single track on the soundtrack is amazing. Upon release, “The Greatest Show” (Jackman, Settle, and the Ensemble Cast), Zac Efron’s and Zendaya’s “Rewrite the Stars” and Keala Settle’s “This is Me” quickly entered the Billboard (and many other) charts as fast favourites around the world. The soundtrack also reached #2 on iTunes. “This is Me” went viral and became and anthem for all who have been inspired to embrace who they are despite societal or self-inflicted norms.

The story is also strong. The performances are great. And it is highly unlikely that someone will come out watching this film and had not enjoyed it.

THE BAD
I’m going to move out of my “fan-boy” mode and give you the real on why you might not like this film. And it’s the only reason. If you hate musicals, you will hate this film. As easy as that. Stay away, away. That’s all.

THE INTERESTING
Some things you may not know about The Greatest Showman:

  • Zendaya performs all her own stunts. She trained in various aerial-acrobatic acts to prepare for her role as Anne Wheeler, and we love her for it.
  • Actress Rebecca Ferguson, who plays the opera singer, is one of the roles who doesn’t actually sing herself in film. The Voice contestant Loren Allred provided the singing voice for her character.
  • Hugh Jackman turned down a James Bond role to play P.T. Barnum. Let’s hope they give him another go at 007.
  • Many of the costumes worn by the cast came from the real Barnum Circus.

THE CHERRY ON TOP
The DVD comes with a huge extras section. From Joel Chang’s concept art and storyboard galleries, to (my favourite) a sing along version of the entire film to get your words in check and sing along with, unapologetically. After all, who doesn’t want to have words like “I know I am worthy of love, and there’s nothing that I don’t deserve” – stuck in your head, and always there for a feel-good day. You also have a “Music Machine” which accesses all the songs directly, and audio commentary by director Michael Gracey. Some great behind the scenes interviews with the cast and (fun fact) Laurence Mark, producer for the film, but also produced the Academy Awards that featured Hugh Jackman, and got the conversation going to start this film together. Also a round of applause to songwriters Justin Paul and Benj Pasek for their musical mastery that makes this film larger than life.

The Greatest Showman is available now on DVD from Next Entertainment. For other interesting reviews, check them out and like their page on Facebook.

By Chris Jordan