AN EMPIRE OF WORDS


2 Comments

Jason Bourne (2016)

I am a complete novice when it comes the Bourne franchise. I haven’t seen any of the Matt Damon trilogy, nor the Jeremy Renner addition. I’ve always imagined that Bourne was the American answer to James Bond. (that or Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt)

I was fairly apprehensive going into this as the last action-heavy film I saw Matt Damon star in was The Green Zone, which wasn’t that enjoyable. (However, he did The Martian, which was fantastic). Either way, I settled down to Paul Greengrass’ third instalment and the fifth overall of the Bourne franchise.

960

Greengrass opened the film in possibly the most gripping way possible as Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne is pulled back from the fringes of the Greek border into an anti-austerity rally in Athens by Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles). Immediately we are thrown into a quick-paced motorbike chase away from an unnamed asset (played by Vincent Cassell) and the CIA.

Parsons was responsible for a hack on the CIA, which revealed information that they are planning on launching another program similar to the Treadstone one, which Jason Bourne is a product of. Thankfully Jason Bourne has a quick catch-up part for the fools like myself that went into this without prior knowledge.

This hack of course sends the CIA into a meltdown, led by a very haggard Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and his second-in-command Heather Lee. (Alicia Vikander) As this film catches up with Jason Bourne nine years after The Bourne Ultimatum, Paul Greengrass rightly references the changes in the world with the addition of added security from the internet and the impact of social media and the fears of privacy.

Jason-Bourne1

Although I am unaware of the previous films, I imagine that they follow a similar cat-and-mouse chase between Bourne and his continual efforts to elude the CIA, but how Greengrass managed to play this out was fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable. Against the backdrops of Athens, London and Las Vegas the film becomes very easy to become lost in quite pleasantly.

As I am fairly new to this franchise, majority of this was fresh to me and thus very enjoyable, but how that it stacks up against the previous four films of the franchise, I cannot comment. The mystery element that surrounds Robert Dewey, his relationship with the Asset and of course his eagerness to overturn and backstab Heather Lee in her mission to bring Bourne in, was rather impressive.

This also helped with the tense scenes throughout he film as I completely unawares what was going to be result of Jason Bourne’s escapades. Jason Bourne is very much on par with the likes of James Bond & Mission Impossible films, as the chase scenes are fantastically done and the mystery surrounding the narrative was well worked throughout.

Admittedly, the Las Vegas tear up scene with ‘The Asset’ in tow was a bit needless, considering the rest of the film didn’t have a large amount of destruction, but from the anticipation building point it was very enjoyable, and of course a chance to see the two slug it out between one another.

Jason Bourne (2016)

I thought the cast did an excellent job, Matt Damon is very much in his element as Jason Bourne especially with Vincent Cassell working opposite to him making for a fantastic duel of fates. This tension between Alicia Vikander and Tommy Lee Jones worked fantastically as they both represented different ages of the CIA, and carried their respective narrative through perfectly.

It has to be said though, it’s outstanding how little Matt Damon actually says in the film.

I am unsure why I’ve never actively pursued watching the Bourne films, but if they hold up anything like Jason Bourne that I eagerly anticipate my catch-up with that franchise. Paul Greengrass’ latest instalment is such an enjoyment to watch, with the correct amount of action and tension throughout the runtime which is a touch over two hours. But that feels like nothing due to sheer enjoyment from the film.

I actually saw this film in the same week as Suicide Squad and Star Trek Beyond. I was astounded leaving the cinema feeling that my best cinema experience in that week was with Jason Bourne. 


2 Comments

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)

The trailers that accompanied this film didn’t illicit a single chortle, chuckle or smile from me. Immediately I thought does this bode well for the film I’m about to see? I enjoy ridiculous, inconsequential comedies with the best of them, but the trailers were nothing but tripe.

With Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, the clue is in the title. Mike & Dave Stangle (Adam Devine and Zac Efron) need wedding dates. In the opening credits the aforementioned brothers are painted as the joyous and fun-loving dynamic duo that are the life of the party. This comes crashing down as they are shown to actually reek havoc at these family occasions, including blowing up a motorhome and watching as their grandfather collapses into his birthday cake.


The Stangle brothers are then offered an old tomato or rather an ultimatum of bringing dates to their little sister Jeanie’s wedding in Hawaii, in a bid to shape up. What would a logical 20-something young adult do in this modern age? Post an ad online. This subsequently goes viral, becomes a sensation across the world and receives a humongous amount of attention.

Apparently, this is actually based on a true story. 

Enter Mike & Dave’s counterparts, the wild, out of control Alice and Tatiana (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza, respectively) who come up with the brilliant plan of a chance meeting with Mike and Dave and be their wedding dates. Convincingly emulating the nice girl shtick that is their polar opposite (they talk about watching a film called the Rodfather and Cockbusters at one point) Alice and Tatiana become titular wedding dates.


As the film flows into the Hawaiian backdrop, the film becomes about whether the foursome can keep up appearances for the sake of Jeanie’s wedding. Realistically the girls just want to let loose on a free ‘vacay’. What I was pleasantly surprised at was expecting the role reversal of having Alice and Tatiana as the boisterous out of control characters and Mike & Dave as the sensible ones, however, it seemed as though Tatiana and Mike were out of control and Alice and Dave were the sensible characters whom offered something in depth rather than the loud exterior exhibited by the former duo.

It has to be said, majority of the comedy used in this film is situational and slapstick and was featured in the trailers. However, it seemed as though in his first feature film Jake Szymanski went for the raunchy and ‘let’s make the audience’ crease element. Unfortunately for Jake, this element has been touched on many times, even earlier this year with Grimsby and Bad Grandpa.


Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates works on the comedic level, due to the chemistry by the on-screen brothers Zac and Adam, with an enjoyable change of character from Anna Kendrick, however, it is primarily driven by Aubrey Plaza and Adam Devine. As Adam is in his element, channeling his TV Personality Workaholics character of Adam DeMamp, his creates the more enjoyable scenes due to his hyperactivity on-screen.

It seems as though Efron took a backseat for this film, which worked as it gave more room to breathe for Devine thriving in his element. It seems as though Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a more centralised Wedding Crashers with elements of American Pie. Due to the film not offering much more than a pretty backdrop to couple the comedy in the film, as a whole it falters as the laughs cannot carry the film all the way.

If you’re looking for 100 minutes of laughs with an enjoyable cast not really pushing the boundaries on a comedy then Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is your film. This actually happens to be my type of comedy, rife with cheap jokes and shenanigans, just unfortunately for the first time director this film isn’t groundbreaking or anything original.


Leave a comment

Suicide Squad (2016)

Due to the overconsumption of films from the war waged between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Cinematic Universe, I wasn’t that bothered when Suicide Squad was first announced. Less bothered when Will Smith was heading the charge. Then the temptation grew with cast photos of Jared Leto’s Joker and Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress.

Villainous characters have always been my favourite when it comes to cinema, as they have to more interesting story rather then the standard framework of the typical ‘hero’. A film about Anti-Heroes banding together to save the day? Fantastic. Sounds right up my street. What could possibly go wrong?

Joker 1

Suicide Squad plot takes place shortly after the events of the Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice as Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) begins to formulate her plan to bring together the baddest of the bad in the war against the ‘metahumans’. Each character is then introduced including their rap sheets with little background, other than Will Smith’s Deadshot and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. 

It’s clear who the studio wanted to run with.

Deadshot and Harley Quinn are made to team up with Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (Adewake Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) as an expendable task-force. Although it’s not that basic, there is an intertwined hatred of The Batman (Ben Affleck cameos) and the Harley Quinn/Joker love story happening. Amanda Waller’s grand scheme goes a bit pear shaped when the Enchantress (Dr. June Moore played by Cara Delevingne) escapes from the clutches of the watchful bodyguard and lover Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and starts to reek havoc on Midway City. Hence the expendable crew.

Jared Leto’s Joker was probably the most intriguing character throughout the film. Decked head to toe in the finest clothes and flashiest jewellery, his shrill laughter striking the very soul. His relationship with Harley ventured on an intriguing backstory and teased just enough of it to keep the hope alive that Suicide Squad’s narrative may get interestingbut unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

picture-of-margot-robbie-suicide-squad-photo

For me, the problems really lay with the narrative and the characters trying to band together, only witnessing chemistry from the very dysfunctional relationship between Robbie and Leto. (I would really enjoy a spin-off exploring this) Suicide Squad’s narrative seemed to have an abundance of anticipation and build up, for a very meagre finale. Played out correctly, this could’ve been the best finale to date as it had the flashy sequence to go with it, just not the narrative, as the villains plan is only brief shown and discussed for a matter of seconds.

One noticeable difference between the two franchises (Marvel & DC) is the comedic value that is taken away from the two films. Marvel is miles ahead in the comic relief, but DC makes up for the lack of comedy with the grittiness shown in it’s film, most noticeably as the grizzled Batfleck is very rough around the edges. However, Jai Courtney provides that comic relief as he doesn’t offer much else than a boomerang, a pink unicorn and a drinking problem.

Careful now, there may be spoilers up ahead. 

Although it sounds like I’m slating the narrative, parts of it worked for me. The Witch or Enchantress worked for me as a character, including her background and her relationship with Dr. June Moore, but I feel it wasn’t used to it’s full potential, much like the rest of Suicide Squad. El Diablo didn’t have nearly enough hype surrounding his character considering he probably was more impactful than the rest of the team. I really would’ve being interested in a narrative involving his character more.

As the film ran it’s course, it occurred to me that I did not care for any of these characters and their fates. Whether this was due to how the narrative played out and how the Anti-Heroes fitted in, I couldn’t tell you, but I simply could not care less regarding their outcomes. (Maybe except for the Joker)

End of spoilers.

I was left feeling largely underwhelmed by Suicide Squad. The direction the film was poorly thought out and seemed a jumble of narratives happening at once. There are enjoyable parts to the film, including the adrenaline-fuelled action sequences which are entertaining and Margot Robbie’s performance as Harley. However, Will Smith’s ‘Poor Old Me’ routine became really tiring, very quickly. The characterisations were interesting from afar, but for me, it seemed as though Deadshot and Harley Quinn led the charge leaving the rest in the dust.

maxresdefault

There are some enjoyable parts to Suicide Squad but unfortunately the joyous sections are vastly outweighed by the frustrating narrative, annoying characters and confusing message the squad are trying to convey.

Unfortunately for Suicide Squad, I feel that films of this calibre and containing an ensemble of heroes (anti or super, whichever) are always going to be compared with Guardians of the Galaxy due to the how enjoyable the Chris Pratt-led Marvel film turned out to be after little expectations.


Leave a comment

Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Star Trek Beyond is the third instalment of the recently rebooted Star Trek franchise, however, this time Justin Lin (of the Fast and Furious franchise) has put his spin on this.

After the events of Star Trek Into Darkness, released three years earlier, the enterprise crew undertook a five year mission, which they are currently three years into. As expected when being cooped up on a ship, they are starting to get a little bit antsy.


As expected Spock and Jim’s (Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine, respectively) chalk and cheese chemistry continues to thrive on screen, rising a few laughs from the audience. But Star Trek Beyond sees a mix-up of the crew as they are ambushed by the villan Krall (Idris Elba) and his ‘bees’. Due to their swarming attack and the destruction of the SS Enterprise, we see Bones (Karl Urban) and Spock team up, Jim and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) together and Sulu (John Cho) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) lead the rest of the Enterprise crew.

It’s clear to see Justin Lin’s influence on the rebooted franchise of  Star Trek with the dizzying flight sequences teamed up with action-fuelled chases (in particular the bike sequence is where Justin Lin is having his fun) which is entertaining for the big-screen, but unfortunately doesn’t make up for the lack of story behind Star Trek Beyond especially the backstory of Krall and his mysterious powers. Who happens to look more like the Villian out of The Mask than an otherworldly villain. 


However, I won’t delve too much into that due to potential spoilers!

Justin Lin has seemed to create a very miss-mash film as some sections of the film are really enjoyable and other parts became frustrating to watch. Lin managed to capture the essence of the characters and continue the trend that JJ Abrams began with Spock and Kirk’s constant bickering. However, this time round the characters role are switched, as Bones and Spock are stealing the show. It all worked, creating laughs from the cinema and becoming the enjoyable scenes throughout the film.

On the surface the film is very entertaining and a good popcorn film, which helps the two hour runtime pass by with ease, unfortunately this becomes the weakest of the three instalments as there doesn’t seem to be a great deal going on underneath the flashy surface. However, the cast are still continuing with their already successful roles from the first two instalments creating that chemistry that was already established. Lin has also chosen to add Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) who could be a more than a bitpart in the future instalments. 


My immediate feeling from Star Trek Beyond is ‘meh’. Although there are some really enjoyable parts, there was that certain finesse missing from the first two. Whether JJ Abrams would have told the story different I am unsure, but considering previously Abrams developed a slight backstory to Khan and Nero, whereas Krall is left largely undiscovered and left me feeling rather underwhelmed considering the fantastic use of villains in the previous two.

P.S. During the aftermath of this film, Sulu’s sexuality seemed to become a point of reference in reviews and talk alike. I thought this was completely irrelevant and doesn’t create the controversial point the media seemed to create out of it. 

Also I realise this has been a shorter post than usual, however, I feel the film in general just chunters along without any outstanding plot points other than the splitting up of the crews and their shared irritation setting in on the SS Enterprise.