Month: March 2015

Chappie – Review

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It’s a horrible feeling watching a film that has an exciting and intriguing opening only to fail in every sense possible for the remainder. This unfortunately is the case with Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie – an artificial intelligence based thriller lacking intelligence.

Set in the near future, Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) has created a police force purely droid based who patrol the mean streets of Johannesburg. When one of the robots is destroyed, Deon steals the droid from his work against the word of his boss at his weapon supplying company, Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver).

Deon discovers a way to add consciousness, human thoughts and feelings to this droid, but just as he is kidnapped by some gangsters, Ninja & Yolandi, who steal the robot, naming him Chappie (voiced by Sharlto Copley). Under the influence, and effectively growing up with these crime lords, Chappie is soon used as a catalyst in their heists and petty thefts – despite his intentions.

Whilst this mayhem is taking place, Deon’s failing rival at work, Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman), is looking for a way he can make a success of his own creation, The Moose, a human operated super drone.

Vincent finds a way to disengage Deon’s droids, which are occupying the city of Johannesburg, and chaos soon breaks out. This is therefore the perfect excuse to release his Moose and truly bring an end to Deon.

A film with a storyline of this type has a lot to live up to – Robocop springs to mind immediately in terms of comparison (and not just because the film completely rips off the ED-209). And Chappie certainly delivers in the opening twenty minutes, but as soon as Chappie is born, things turn sour.

Let’s start with Chappie himself because irritating would be an understatement. Many have failed to give a human touch to a robot but Chappie falls well short and what we get is a cross between Jar Jar Binks and C3PO who you feel no affiliation with whatsoever.

Where the film also fails is distinguishing itself as an action thriller and a heartfelt drama. At no one stage does the film completely satisfy its audience, struggling to the juggle the gory and bad mouthed set pieces along with Chappie learning to love and expressing his emotion.

With all this in mind, Chappie isn’t completely faultless. Some set pieces are well shot and visually stimulating along with positive performances from the both versatile Patel and Jackman.

But Chappie is messy in too many places to watch with comfort and it’s difficult to find a demographic that the film would appeal to. Blomkamp recently admitted he made errors when making Elysium. He will be kicking himself again for sure.

What to Watch – March/April 2015

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Award season is now over as well as a freezing winter. There may still be a chill in the air, but Spring is officially upon us. Here is my list of films to look out for in the coming months that may bring some sunshine into your life.

Focus – Out Now

Will Smith returns to his cool, composed best in this con caper, playing Nicky, a veteran conman. When Jess (Margot Robbie) joins his conning crew, she brings a host of deceptive talent along with a love interest for Nicky, which has serious implications.

Chappie – Out Now

In the near future, the police is run by robots but when one of these robot drones is stolen, he his reprogrammed with human thoughts and feelings. Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel and Sigourney Weaver star in this dystopian thriller, which may be worth a watch.

Unfinished Business – Out Now

Vince Vaughn is an actor who seriously splits opinion. His new film, co-starring Dave Franco and Tom Wilkinson, sees a small business owner on the brink of securing a huge deal but thinks don’t quite go to plan. James Marsden and Sienna Miller also feature in Unfinished Business, which will either have you laughing throughout or asking for a refund.

Run All Night – 13th March

Liam Neeson in a crime thriller? Surely not…It may be the only type of film Neeson seems to feature in these days but something has to give. Ed Harris also features heading a strong cast alongside Neeson. Run All Night feels like another wannabe Taken but let’s hope it springs a surprise.

The Gunman – 20th March

Speaking of wannabe Takens, The Gunman feels like another on the horizon. Sean Penn takes the veteran hero role in this one, playing a former Special Forces suffering from PTSD looking to reconnect with a long time love. He must first though clear his name running across Europe. It looks to be a battle between the veteran actors this month.

The Voices – 20th March

This is one of those films that you just cannot tell which way it will go. Ryan Reynolds stars in this dark comedy about a man pursuing his office love with the help of his talking pets. Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick also feature with Reynolds voicing his animals. Sounding farfetched? It may just be worth giving a chance…

Home – 20th March

The latest Dreamworks animation centres around Oh, an alien who lands on planet Earth on the run from his own people. Forming a friendship with a young girl, Tip, the pair learn many a lesson as they discover the tru meaning of the word Home. Jim Parsons and Rihanna head the voicing cast, and if Dragons and The Croods are anything to go by, Home will be a charming watch also.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water – 27th March

Everyone’s favourite yellow sponge is back on the big screen! When Plankton has one final attempt at stealing the Krabby Patty Secret Formula, Bikini Bottom turns to chaos. The only way normality can be resumed is if SpongeBob and co pops their heads out the water and travel across land to retrieve the stolen formula. Typical spongy fun is guaranteed.

Get Hard – 27th March

Two of the hottest comedy properties in the US team up in the prison based comedy. Will Ferrell plays James King, a millionaire sent to jail for fraud. In order to psyche himself up for the horrors of prison life, he turns to Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) to prep him for what’s to come. There is sure to be laugh a plenty in the pair’s latest comedy flick.

While We’re Young – 3rd April

Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts star in this comedy drama about a middle-aged couple whose marriage becomes jeopardised when a young couple (Amanda Seyfried & Adam Driver) enter their lives. Early noises suggest this to be a hit, with a number of very positive reviews.

Furious 7 – 3rd April

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the Fast & Furious franchise but I can understand why there is so much hype surrounding the release of the 7th edition. Hollywood’s big boys join forces yet again for another outing and the last for one the series’ favourite sons. RIP Paul Walker.

The Water Diviner – 3rd April

Russell Crowe stars in his first attempt at directing in this war drama about an Australian man travelling to Turkey after the battle of Gallipoli to try and find his three missing sons. Again, early suggestions are positive for Crowe. Jai Courtney and Olga Kurylenko also star.

Child 44 – 17th April

During the Stalin based Soviet Union, a rebellious member of the military police investigates a series of nasty child murder. Based on the first of a trilogy by Tom Rob Smith, Tom Hardy heads a very strong cast in this thrilling drama directed by Daniel Espinosa (Safe House).

Avengers: Age of Ultron – 23rd April

The long awaited return of our comic book heroes is nearly upon us. When Tony Stark’s attempts to launch a peacekeeping program, things take a turn for the worse leaving our favourite superhero team to stop the villainous Ultron. James Spader plays Ultron and in his typical dark manor given what the trailer has to offer.

What are you most looking forward to seeing this Spring?

Focus – Review

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All great con movies have a certain class and style about them. Glen Ficarra and John Requa’s Focus is by no means a great, but carries its only swagger thanks to its glamorous cast and settings.

Will Smith plays Nicky; the most professional of conmen who takes rookie Jess (Margot Robbie) under his wing when she fails in an attempt to outsmart him. Nicky teaches Jess the tricks of the trade – enlightening her on the art of diverting the focus of the victim as well as introducing her to his con crew who she ultimately becomes a part of.

However, when the usually measured and slick Nicky embraces feelings for Jess, things become complicated between the two. From then on it is a guessing game over who is playing who tangled with this romance complicated by some serious trust issues.

Focus is no masterpiece. The storyline in places is sloppy and there are moments of genuine disbelief, which is disappointing. The ending in particular leaves a lot to be desired. However, the two headline acts certainly make up for any sloppiness with their classy presence on screen.

Smith and Robbie share a very watchable chemistry, packed with sexiness, comedy and charm. There were a host of potential actors who came close to taking up the two roles but the pair fit the bill perfectly.

Likewise, Focus’ glamorous settings also dazzle as it hops from New Orleans to New York to Buenos Aires.

Focus is a fun, easy and stylish watch with some classy performances but perhaps this is merely an attempt to strain our focus from its faults.