Movies

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Last night, I decided to revisit one of my childhood’s memories of a movie. This one being The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, available on Disney plus. When a chunk of the budget goes towards Sir Sean Connery, and you realize they had to use that remaining amount to hire other actors, stunts, editing, and all that other jazz that goes into making a movie… It’s actually not that bad for what it is. Especially considering these days when having shit writing is okay as long as everything else looks pretty. If only 20th Century Fox had the level of bots, and ownership of media companies, as some people these days. Maybe then we could look past the over-the-top silly narrative. But then we look over at Marvel Studios, and can’t help but notice that some movies and characters look very uh, similar…

The characters in the movie are different than the actual characters they’re based upon, from both the original author’s works and the source comic material. One might daresay it tried to come up with an original twist on it all. Allan Quatermain is a hunter with the impeccable ability to never miss his shots (unless he wants to). Hello, Hawkeye. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as a scientist that takes an elixir that changes him into a hulking brute with its own personality and consciousness. Hello, Hulk. An invisible thief that provides comedic charm to it. Mina Harker as a vampire badass that despises the evil inside her. Hello, almost Blade. Tom Sawyer as the American gunman that sprays all his shots merely hoping to hit the target. Hello, you know what institution. My favorite, Captain Nemo with his giant ship/submarine, and his army of Indian soldiers/pirates. Yea, I can see why this might be a hard sell. Dorian Gray as an immortal, wealthy douchebag. Hello, investors.

These fellas, and lady, all team up to stop a rich merchant of death from profiting from even more war. In a totally alternative world where only this kind of stuff exists there, this villain blows up various structures, kills innocents and places evidence framing a foreign nation in order to try and create a world war. Oh man, the profits that villain would stand to gain. Back to the movie, it had some great action scenes that were just simply ridiculous yet funny to watch. You could see had they only hired a more competent writer, or even director, this movie could have got a sequel. There are glimpses of awesomeness in it. Sir Sean Connery is always fun to watch. Shane West doing his job as the American heartthrob to draw in American audiences and help them be interested in the story. Peta Wilson as the Vampire dressed in leather (beating out Underworld by 2 months). Tony Curran was enjoyable as a smarmy, loveable bastard. Stuart Townsend as the cunt, and I could visually see why they’d wanna initially hire him as Aragorn way back when. Jason Flemyng was clearly having a delight playing the troubled doctor having concerns about trusting the monster inside of him. Especially during the transformation scenes. Those look like it took hours to apply him his make-up and costume. Naseeruddin Shah was fantastic as the martial art badass sending bad guys flying with mere kicks. His commanding presence was a joy amongst the silliness.

Honestly it all comes down to the writing and story direction as it being a failure. Yet, it had diversity for once with a brown action hero. Clearly that should have excused it from any wrongdoings, and audiences should have flocked to watch it otherwise they’re racists or intolerant. This movie deserves a sequel, or a remake. In a time of super-powered characters gracing the screen, these characters would fit right in.

Movies

Lightyear

What a colossal waste of time. I thought maybe the other reviews were wrong, but no, no, they were right on the money. And it has nothing to do with the shoehorned in lesbian commander and her kiss. It’d be great if maybe characters were allowed time to be fleshed out, to be more than walking, talking caricatures. But none of that happened. Disney is here to sell merchandise, and that’s the only reason for these characters to be the way they are. Gotta hit all the demographics across the board. You might think that the suits interfered with the story, but no, that blame is solely at the feet of the two writers: Angus MacLane, and Jason Headley. The former is also the director of the movie, and a known animator. These two somehow managed to create an entire story devoid of any emotions, entirely dumbed down characters, and plot events that happen because our heroes are inept idiots that cause their own trouble. That last bit feels like a bit of a projection on behalf of the writers. Thank you both for confirming you are idiots.

The plot is that Buzz Lightyear maroons 1200 people on a desolate planet because his ego is too much, and he’s too full of himself. To rectify his mistake, he volunteers to test out the proprietary fuel supply which is unstable that results in time dilation and everyone around him aging. All his friends and everyone he’s ever known gets old, and eventually passes away. Tragic, right? Surely, there’d be some sort of plot element to address this, right? Surely, Buzz will get a chance to process some emotions… oh wait, never mind, onto the next plot element. Because Buzz ain’t a fleshed out character resembling a human being, no, he’s a piece of franchise material: nothing but merchandise. And then the evil Zurg is explained away with the dumbest twist possible because Pixar are too cowardly to admit that the Buzz Lightyear cartoon is much better than any drivel they can come up with (they actually straight up copied themselves for the villain).

Each of the supporting characters is a total nitwit that constantly causes more problems and do nothing but make quips. They’re all supposedly 20+ years old and yet inexplicably act like children. Yes, it is a children’s movie and yet much of the plot is aimed at adults while simultaneously dumbing everything down that the end result is neither for adults or kids. Good job, Angus, keep proving to the world that animators should just stick to animating and leave writing to actual writers. Perhaps if Jason was in charge of all the writing, it might have turned out decent.

It’s a damn shame really. Pixar did a great job animating, as usual. But, other than the animation, it squarely belongs in the trash. The two writers proving that their ability to type is akin to monkeys on a typewriter, and after having seen this travesty, I wonder how they live with nothing but air between their ears.

Do not pass go, do not watch this garbage. I do not recommend it to anyone. Hug your kids, and have a family night instead of this. Show them Buzz Lightyear of Star Command if you want a proper Buzz story.

Movies

The Gray Man

I’ve been looking forwards to this one for some time, since the movie’s promotional team shared pictures on Reddit. Ryan Gosling as our titular character, a man that’s 007, Jason Bourne, and John Wick all rolled into one. The unstoppable action hero. I love these kinds of movies because you hold no fear for the main character, and you just wanna see the level of carnage that they’re capable of in their quest. And the action sequences do not disappoint.

Ana De Armas was equally capable and badass in her role, as CIA agent Miranda, helping our lead to achieve his goals. In fact, the star studded cast helped elevate this movie especially when it came to our villain. Played excellently as a sociopath, Chris Evans, in a stark contrast to the goody two shoes we know him from in Marvel, was a delight. I enjoyed seeing him playing a bad guy. Hope he tries it out more. The weakest link for me was the agency chief, played by Rege-Jean Page. At no point did he come across as menacing, or coldly intelligent, or anything remotely to a serious villain. He felt like a joke amongst all the rest of them, a complete miscast. I kept waiting for the zinger which never arrived.

Oh, a special shoutout to the character of Lone Wolf played by Dhanush. It’s always fun to see a character that has honor, and scruples. I could see them making a movie outta his character.

The plot itself lends itself a few twists and turns to keep things interesting, and inventive action sequences – at times. Like the tram sequence, I particularly enjoyed when our lead used the reflections of the building to aim his shot. Plenty of scenes can be seen in a humorous light, especially with the quips coming from both hero and villain. The music wasn’t anything special, except for the usage of the song ‘Silver Bird’ in two action sequences. That was nice.

My only major gripe is showing the one torture scene with a bit of explicit detail. That had no reason to be there other than to showcase gore. You can heavily imply what is being done without actually showing the damage through the creative use of angles. Honestly, I just closed my eyes while exclaiming “ah fuck off, Russo bros”. That scene was purely for shock value. Added nothing that you didn’t learn immediately in the next scene. “Oh, why are the bad guys showing up here? Ah, yes, clearly the torture worked. So why the fuck did I have to be witness to that?” Oh and, Joe Russo once again putting himself into his movies, as a small role, don’t think I didn’t notice ya buddy.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie except for that one gripe. I loved the charisma that Ryan Gosling always brings to the table. The fierceness of Ana De Armas. The quips of Chris Evans. It is an enjoyable Friday night movie for me. Netflix has finally put out an action movie that has a pulse. I didn’t think it possible, yet here we are.

Movies

One Shot and Black Site

Oh look, two movies with very similar plots released within a year of each other. A common occurrence, like Armageddon and Deep Impact. The movie, One Shot, is a smaller budget movie than Black Site due to the actors involved. One has action B-stars, and the other has formerly A-list stars.

One Shot was a fun experiment in a long continuous take, with much of the action showed with as little cuts as possible. Often using misdirection to make it seem like one continuous take. It starred Scott Adkins as a Navy SEAL, Ashley Greene as a CIA analyst and Ryan Phillipe as the station chief of the black ops detention facility. When it falls under attack by hundreds of insurgents, they must work together to get a high priority target out safely into order to find a nuclear bomb hidden on US soil.

The action was definitely B movie tier, but it was fun to watch. It was relentless, and enjoyable for if you’re in the mood for an hour and a half of non-stop action. The plot was minimal, it was merely a vehicle to deliver the action. Of which it came in spades. Minor issues with bad guys having unlimited ammo while the good guys had to reload, but good sound quality overall. I liked it.

Black Site goes the other direction, with a focus on story and development over action. Even then, it suffers the same issue as One Shot did which is the unbelievability of how the main bad guys enter the place. At the same time, it’s quite enjoyable to see American intelligence and military as being incompetent. And the slight digs at the CIA and Mossad are a nice little treat. We have Michelle Monaghan as a CIA analyst with personal ties to the bad guy, Jai Courtney as soldier Miller (he’s good at playing bullies), and Jason Clarke as the sadistic bad guy called Hatchet. We also have a relative newcomer, Phoenix Raei as the Israeli Mossad agent called Uri.

When incompetent delta forces fail to interrogate Hatchet, the base goes on lockdown and they have one hour to restore communications lest they be hit by a drone strike by their own nation, the United States. What follows is hilariously bad attempts at re-securing their own base, while Hatchet goes around brutally killing the inhabitants.

In both movies, the target of the bad guy(s) is a businessman with alleged ties to terrorist organizations and we do not know if he’s a head honcho or merely just a puppet.

Somebody needs to tell the action choreographer or the guy in charge of effects for Black Site, that guns have recoil. It is a sad attempt to not have any when the blood effects were on point. Also if you’re supposedly a trained soldier or ex-soldier, you’d know when picking up a gun to check ammo/that it works right.

Overall, I’d recommend Black Site for the story because it has threads of truth to it. While I would recommend One Shot for the action.

Movies

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

This is the rare example of a near perfect video game adaptation. It is full of references or Easter eggs to the games, while staying faithful to the lore already established. Any deviations add to the story rather than take away. At its core, it’s a kids movie through and through. With plenty of toilet humor, and lots of strong family values. Yes, the final act was a CGI extravaganza like most Marvel movies but Sega and Paramount spared no expenses. There were no moments of extremely dubious graphics; everything was gorgeously rendered.

The story, this time around, is that Dr. Robotnik (played masterfully by Jim Carrey) has returned to earth with the help of an echidna named Knuckles to seek a powerful artifact capable of turning thought into reality. Sonic teams up with newcomer Tails, a gadget tinkering fox to stop them. Along the way, we see many adorable references to the games themselves, jokes rife with current popular actors and media, and some good ole fashioned family values. Sonic, himself, grows as both a character and a burgeoning hero and in a rare twist, shows that absolute power doesn’t have to corrupt.

Jim Carrey delightfully steals the show as the egotistical megalomaniac Dr. Robotnik. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be watching. He is an absolute treat to behold, and watching his performance I felt a nostalgia for him to return. To see his old characters again, to re-watch his performances. I hope he returns for the third movie despite his wish to retire from acting. It just wouldn’t be the same without him. Ben Schwartz as Sonic was okay, same with Idris Elba as Knuckles. As voice actors, there’s not much those two could do. Idris Elba especially felt wasted here, and I feel like they should have gone with actual voice actors instead. Like they did with Tails using the game’s voice actress, Colleen O’Shaughnessey. James Marsden did a great job again playing Tom, Sonic’s friend and parental figure. There was a nice comedic turn from Shemar Moore, wasn’t expecting him in the movie so that was a nice delight.

Overall, I highly recommend this movie to kids and adults that have grown up on the Sonic games. It’ll scratch your itch for a proper video game adaptation, and there’s plenty of re-watching available to try and catch all the Easter Eggs/references with your kids.