Monday, 3 June 2019

Rocketman


ROCKETMAN

Review

By Brett Haynes 03/06/19

Score: 9/10
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In the span of seven months we get two bio-pics about two influential British musicians and both directed by Dexter Fletcher (or at least partly directed by). Where Bohemian Rhapsody fails, Rocketman succeeds and should earn itself and its star a lot of attention come award season. Taron Egerton is Elton John in this tell all story exploring the highs and lows of the English singer.

Taron Egerton similar to Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody doesn’t just play the role but transforms himself. Unlike Malek, Egerton actually belts out the tunes and manages to capture John unique vocals. If Egerton doesn’t receive the same level of attention as Malek did last year then there is something seriously wrong.
 
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Rocketman tells us the life story of Elton John up until the late 80’s (sorry no Egerton singing Circle of Life). We start off with his childhood before jumping into his early days of stardom. We explore his battles with drugs and alcohol before witnessing his road to recovery. The way that Fletcher tells this story makes you think what Bohemian Rhapsody could have been cause if there are any two artists whose stories you could tell as a fantastical odyssey its Freddy Mercury and Elton John. Unlike Bohemian Rhapsody, Fletcher isn’t afraid to show off John’s sexuality either. Nothing seems to be off limits.

All of this is told using some of Elton’s greatest hits but in a creative way. This is no jukebox musical and all the song choices fit into the overall story. While Egerton leads the way, he is backed up by a fantastic supporting cast. Jamie Bell plays Elton lifelong friend and collaborator Bernie Taupin who through it all is like a brother that Elton never had. Richard Madden is flawless as John’s toxic manager/lover in John Reid, Bryce Dallas Howard plays Elton’s rather uncaring mother while Steven Mackintosh as his callous and cold father.
 
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Combined with Lee Hall’s amazing script, these performances magnify most of Rocketman right off the screen. Unfortunately the only problem with that is when you do get a scene which doesn’t quite measure up, it shows. Luckily those are very few and far between. Similar to Bohemian Rhapsody, Fletcher manages to recreate a lot of John’s iconic moments but that’s not what the focus is on a lot of the time. It’s the emotional rollercoaster that John is going through that is the main focus as he goes from happy to depress in a heartbeat. The story is more interested in how he deals with stardom then how he got it.

Overall Rocketman is one of the best films of the year so far. With some amazing performances especially from Egerton and some fine renditions of John’s greatest hits, this is one to revisit many times over.

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Monday, 27 May 2019

Aladdin (2019)


ALADDIN (2019)

Review

By Brett Haynes 27/05/19

Score: 7/10
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Aladdin is the latest Disney animated classic to get the live action treatment. Everything these days is getting the live action treatment which makes no sense cause why would you mess with a classic. I’m one of those who think Disney should stop wasting money on these and start doing more original work. Though we all know that’s not going to happen as long as these things make money so as long as we have to have them can they all be as fun as this one. Don’t get me wrong, this is nowhere near as good as the original 92 classic but Guy Richie adaptation manages to capture the charm of the original.
Richie remake does attempt to take the story in a new direction adding some new characters and giving existing characters more of an arc. Unfortunately just like a lot of these live action remakes this still plays it pretty close to the source material and it would have been better to see them attempt to take it in a new direction. I mean if the Broadway version can do it why can’t this one. Speaking of the Broadway version that is what this film reminded me a lot of. In fact I was reminded more of that version then I was the 92 version.

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A lot of that comes down to colourful sets and the beautiful visual set pieces that fill this movie. Spaning shots of this bustling trading port that is Agrabah which is influenced by cultures all across the region. We see these influences in the way these characters dress, the food they eat and the dances they perform. The joy of this movie is just how visually stunning it is to look at. From the spectacle of the palace to the crowded streets of the market place, everything after the first fifteen minutes (those are questionable) is well paced giving us a chance to see this marvellous city. Agrabah feels vibrant and energetic and its best represented during Prince Ali arrival to the city.

Now let’s talk about the big blue elephant in the room. When this movie was announced people all said it would fail because no one can replace Robin Williams as the Genie. He is the soul of the animated movie. Casting a comedian would be stupid because we would just be comparing them. So it was pretty smart casting to get Will Smith in the role for a number of reasons. The first is he is extremely likeable. The second is he has charm and charisma for days and the third he’s not a comedian so he would have to find a new way to play it because just coping Robin really wouldn’t work for him.
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For everyone out there that thought he would fail, I’m pleased to say he passes with flying colours. Smith manages to take the character and puts his own spin on it. Smith charm and charisma really do help to sell this character as this version of the Genie really is just Will Smith but that is a huge draw card. He has a great bond with Aladdin actor Mena Massoud and the two contribute to some of the funniest scenes in the film.
As for Aladdin himself, Mena Massoud does give a fine performance and is sure to have a long career after this. He shows Aladdin kindness and good nature while also having that sense of arrogance that made Aladdin such a loveable character in the original. I found him less annoying as Prince Ali in this version then I did in the original and watching him get nervous and awkward around Jasmine is one of the best inclusions.

Speaking of Jasmine, if Massoud is going places then Naomi Scott should be at the top of everyone’s list. She had already killed it as Kimberly in the 2017 Power Rangers movie and gives another fantastic performance here. Jasmine arc is one of the only improvements this movie has over the original with Jasmine now politically minded (you know like an actual princess). She cares for her people and does whatever she can to help them. We explore her character in a lot more detail which allows Scott to really explore her motivations.

The supporting characters are more or less hit and miss. Nasim Pedrad handmaiden to the Princess is always able to provide a laugh while Marwin Kenzari take on the villainous Jafar is less encouraging. While Kenzari isn’t giving a bad performance, the way they present Jafar here is just as a power hungry dictator and nothing more. His reason for wanting to be sultan is so his no longer number 2 but no more depth is given. Everything that made this character such an enjoyable villain in the original has been sucked away.
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This is a musical after all so all your favourite songs from the original are back. Some of the sequences are proof that Guy Richie probably shouldn’t do musicals while others are done rather well. Prince Ali sequence shows off the beauty and energy of the set the most while Friend like Me is the closest this movie comes to capturing the energy of the original animation. One of the best sequences is actually a new song written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul called Speechless which Naomi Scott nails.
Overall, this remake probably didn’t need to be made but there is enough here to get an enjoyable viewing out of. The performances from the three leads are well done, the musical numbers for the most part are fun to watch and the visuals are gorgeous. It’s not perfect but if Disney is still going to make these, I hope more of them are like this.

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Sunday, 26 May 2019

Brightburn


BRIGHTBURN

Review

By Brett Haynes 26/05/19

Score: 7/10
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Brightburn is in a similar style to the Injustice series. A dark what if universe where instead of becoming the symbol of hope and justice, Superman becomes a tyrant and kills anything that wrongs him. In the comics, a young alien baby crash lands in Smallville Kansas where he is found by a young couple known as the Kent’s who are desperately trying for a baby. They raise young Clark to become a symbol for good and to use his powers to help move humanity forward. Brightburn is the same story except instead of Smallville we’re now in Brightburn Kansas and instead of the Kent’s it’s the Breyers.

Their version of Clark is named Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) who may have been a boy scout to begin with but quickly changes when he reaches the age of 12. He clearly has a violent side which only gets worst when he discovers his powers. His alien heritage is never revealed but it seems unlike in Superman that Brandon was sent to Earth to wipe out the native Population. Brandon never shy’s away from this mission once he’s activated even claiming that he is more superior then the insects that surround him. His books are filled with images of him killing large groups of people and of just graphic imagery in general.
 
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His parents (played by Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) soon discover they can’t control him and have to come to grips with the idea that their son is a super powered psycho who will kill anyone that looks at him funny. The idea of Superman as a horror movie character is a good idea especially when you play it like a slasher film. The only downside to this is you know everyone’s going to die because well it’s Superman. Unless they have kryptonite somewhere it’s very hard to stop him.   

What we do get are some very imaginative kills as we watch this emotionless 12 year old tear apart anyone who so happens to cross him. In a way what screenwriters Matt and Brian Gunn have done is given us one of the most realistic version of what a 12 year old with super powers would do. There’s not a single kid who’s bullied and wakes up with powers who wouldn’t use them to make his bullies pay. With those powers you would see everyone else as insects just as Brandon does.  
 
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 Brightburn doesn’t go to deep into the whole power corrupts element and that’s really where this movie could have been improved upon. Brandon is more or less a monster right from the start but where never given a reason why. He keeps saying he wants to do good but very quickly jumps back into murder mode. What Brightburn focuses on more is on Superboy killing and his parent’s inability to stop him. This film is dark and very bloody. There is one murder which is not for those with light stomachs.

Brightburn also teases a possible sequel with other dark heroes which make me hopeful that people go out and see this movie so we get that. The acting all round is good especially from young Jackson Dunn who shows very little emotion throughout the course of the film. Both Elizabeth Banks and David Denman move this film forward as they come to grips with what is happening. You buy them as a couple and they have genuine chemistry together.

DC has had its fair share of else world stories and this while not technically DC is a lot of fun. It’s a dark and bloody slasher film with Superman as the murderer. There is enough here to keep fans of both horror and comic books entertained.

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Tuesday, 21 May 2019

TV Recap: Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 6


TV RECAP

GAME OF THRONES SEASON 8 EPISODE 6

By Brett Haynes 21/05/19

 

*SPOILERS*

 Well that’s it. Game of Thrones is officially over and after a decade of TV left us with a pretty satisfying conclusion. Considering the rushed nature of the season and the corner they had written themselves into, I believe it concluded as well as could be expected.

 We start off with Daenerys looking over the destruction of Kings Landing while Greyworm continues to kill Cersei men. Come on man, you’ve won. How many more do you need to kill to get revenge for your dead girlfriend? My biggest fault with this episode is that Greyworm gets to live. He needed to die because in the end he was just as big a monster as Daenerys.
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The MVP of the episode is Tyron. It took until the season finale but Peter Dinklage delivered a performance to the level we’ve come to expect from him. Right from the first scene you feel his anger. He gives an emotional performance which will probably see him nominated for yet another Emmy. Not to be outdone, Emilia Clarke also gives a fine performance and the scene between the two of them showed how good this show can be at its best.

 Fortunately as was expected Daenerys doesn’t end up on the Iron Throne. After getting a talk from Tyron about what a world ruled by Daenerys would look like, Jon Snow reluctantly kills her. Kit Harrington is another who gives a fine performance. It’s funny what these actors can do when given material to work with. Drogon comes in but instead of killing Jon, he burns the Iron Throne instead. So this whole journey to see who would sit on the Iron Throne results in no one. It makes sense though; he destroyed the thing that turned his mother into the monster.

There is a ruler though. Now I feel sorry for the writers because whoever they chose people would be upset but the new king is Bran. Tyron gives a speech about stories and how nobody’s story competes with Bran (even though all the Starks have pretty impressive stories). Bran is named king and Sansa declares the North an individual kingdom so maybe Sansa Stark should take over the Brexit negotiations.
 
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Jon is done the dirtiest out of all the remaining characters by being forced into exile after he killed Daenerys. He saved the world and is still punished but I think he was always more a wildling at heart. Tyron becomes Bran hand and Jesus how quickly did they rebuild Kings Landing.  The final scene of the Starks all going their own way was pretty emotional. Arya is sailing off to see what else is out there meaning we might get an Arya spin off in the future.

That concludes one of the greatest TV shows in entertainment history. Overall Season 8 wasn’t as good as previous seasons but it wasn’t horrible. The show still had some great character moments as well as some fantastic set pieces which made the show such a hit to begin with. Season 8 suffered from only being 6 episodes and just felt quite rushed at times.

Winter has come and I’m glad I watched it.

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Thursday, 16 May 2019

TV Recap: Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5


TV RECAP

GAME OF THRONES SEASON 8 EPISODE 5

By Brett Haynes 16/05/19

 *SPOILERS*

Alright so I’m finally getting around talking about The Bells, an episode that like a lot of episodes this season has divided the fan base. Personally I rather enjoyed this episode, my problems with it a minor. If anyone is surprised that Daenerys burnt Kings Landing to the ground clearly didn’t see the look on her face at the end of last week’s episode. This week’s episode is all about the Mad Queen and Daenerys turn to the dark side.
It’s not a turn that happened suddenly. All season she shown glimpses of crossing that line. The only one who really noticed was Varys who paid the ultimate price by getting roasted by the Dragon. Tyrion has really been quite dumb this season so far, still siding with Daenerys even when he knew she probably wasn’t the best choice. The better choice in Jon Snow has done very little and continues to bend the knee.

If Daenerys actions have done anything, hopefully it will wake those two the hell up. The main part of this episode was seeing Daenerys go all villain and burn Kings Landing. She didn’t just go after Cersei, she killed everyone. Her army wasn’t much better with Greyworm going full berserk mode killing soldiers who had already surrendered. My problem isn’t so much with Daenerys quick change (because that is something we’ve seen glimpses of since season 1), it’s how quickly her army just became monsters. It’s something we haven’t seen before.
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Another thing is and this is something I’ve read online is why did we have to wait so long if she could take all of Kings Landing with just one Dragon. I mean she had three, why couldn’t she have just flown here earlier and burnt the Lannesters alive back in season 4. Her Dragon makes pretty short work of the Golden Circle. Next week episode will be interesting because how are they going to kill the dragon. While Daenerys has her dragon, she will be queen.
When the Bells start ringing is when Daenerys lets loose. She finally snaps and it’s not like this is a new thing. She always had a lust for death. Her first choice of punishment has been death. You can argue that those people were bad but it’s still part of her character. She is just as much a tyrant as Cersei is the only difference is Daenerys has had advisers around her to control that side of her. Now she trusts no one, everyone she cares for has either betrayed her or is dead and in her mind those people below have helped Cersei. They’ve kept her in power and they need to be punished.
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The Mountain and the Hound fighting was the mini showdown within this massacre. Was anyone else getting Vader vibes when the Mountain helmet got knocked off? The conclusion of that fight was one of the only things that I predicted correctly this week.

Finally let’s talk about Jamie’s arc because unlike others I think they completed that rather nicely. Jamie got his redemption at the Battle of Winterfell but now realises what he is. He isn’t a good guy and neither is Cersei. He knew there was only one way he was going to go out. I didn’t expect them to die getting crushed to death but the way they filmed it I’m not going to complain.

This episode like a lot of season 8 just felt rushed. I enjoyed it but I feel like this should have been episode 7 of a ten episode season with 3 more episodes to explain the ramifications. Now we just have one more episode to finish it all up. I’m still curious to see how it all ends up but many people are not going to be satisfied.

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Monday, 13 May 2019

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu


POKEMON: DETECTIVE PIKACHU

Review

By Brett Haynes 13/05/19

 Score: 7.5/10
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I’m not going to lie, when I first heard they were going to do a live action Pokémon movie I thought this is going to suck. Then I heard that Ryan Reynolds was cast to voice Pikachu and I was even more confused. I had never heard of the Detective Pikachu game before this movie. Seeing the trailers sold me on it though and the end product doesn’t disappoint either for the most part. For those of you who grew up in the 90’s, you’ll know what a big deal Pokémon was. You collected the trading cards, you watched the anime and you played the games (the countless games that Nintendo released each year). It was a phenomenon that has stretched well over 20 years now. 
 
Now we finally have our first live action Pokémon movie and it’s still a bit of a head scratcher why it’s not based around Red or Blue and why it’s based on such an obscure property like Detective Pikachu. That doesn’t really matter because just on Ryan Reynolds brilliance, the cuteness of the Pokémon and the heart of the film itself, Detective Pikachu is a family hit.

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Pikachu isn’t with his trusted trainer Ash Ketchum in this one but instead our main character is Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) who when we are first introduced to him keeps his distance from the mystical beast that inhabit his world. His not a huge fan of Pokémon anymore. Tim was like any 90’s kid, collected Pokémon cards and decked his room out with all sorts of Pokémon decorations. In a way Tim represents a key demographic who are going to see this film.
One of the best things about this film is the way they set up this world. This is the Pokémon world and we get to see Humans and Pokémon living and working together side by side. A majority of this film takes place in Ryme City which for the sake of the audience allows its Pokémon to walk around so we can get excited every time a new one pops on screen. It is awesome to see these characters in live action form. They are really well done and all feel like they belong in this environment. We get some nice quiet scenes like when they come across a heard of Bulbasaur in the wild to louder scenes like when Pikachu is fighting a junked up Charizard.

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The Pokémon all look and feel the part and really that’s why we’re buying a ticket to this film. The other reason is Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu. Tim comes across Pikachu while looking for his father who has gone missing and at once they are at odds. Tim starts questioning his sanity cause as anyone who knows Pokémon knows these creatures aren’t suppose to talk. Pikachu constant talking is enough to drive anyone up the wall but it is charming to see Tim and Pikachu put aside their differences and come together as partners. These are the emotional scenes which really do work surprisingly. I really loved the connection between Tim and Pikachu

The plot isn’t as up to par as the Pokémon are. The mystery element is a little too easy to figure out. A lot of time was spent of getting the world right and not so much on creating more mystery in the plot. The last act goes all out (even ripping off a part from Burton 89 Batman). It’s fun to see Pokémon just smashing into each other, which is why it’s strange to me that they didn’t have many Pokémon battles.
Detective Pikachu relies a lot on nostalgia, cuteness and humor. The humor throughout often lands but you can tell that Ryan Reynolds wanted to push the line at times.  It’s because of this that both adults and kids will continually be laughing just at different things.  Reynolds is the stand out of the film and he constantly kills it with his comedic timing. While his human co-stars aren’t terrible, both Justice Smith and Kathryn Newton just aren’t given much to work with. They either feel underdone (Justice Smith) or trying to do too much (Kathryn Newton). While they often feel like they’re there just because humans are needed, you can tell the actors are trying.

Overall Detective Pikachu is a fun and enjoyable family film that works a lot because of Ryan Reynolds while also playing a lot on our nostalgia. The Pokémon look great and while the story isn’t as strong as it could have been, I’d be happy to see more of these films in the future.   

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Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Trailer Review: Spider Man From Far Home Trailer 2



TRAILER REVIEW

SPIDER MAN FAR FROM HOME TRAILER 2

By Brett Haynes 07/05/19

So we got a new trailer for Spider Man Far From Home today and I love the fact that it opens with Tom Holland saying don’t watch this if you haven’t seen Endgame because of spoilers. Firstly if you haven’t seen Endgame (the second highest grossing film of all time) by now you probably don’t care about spoilers. By that logic, I too will be talking about spoilers.  The trailer opens by talking about the death of Tony Stark, straight up like that. It’s not even hinted at, it’s just his gone. I also love the line that Happy gives saying “I don’t think Tony would have done what he did if he didn’t know you would be”. Yeah because he only killed himself stopping Thanos because he knew Spiderman would be here to carry on the fight. Not sure that’s what was going through his head.
 
Peter Parker goes on a summer trip to Europe when Nick Fury more or less high jacks it. I love Samuel L Jackson in this and he has the best line. When Parker says “I’m just a friendly neighborhood Spiderman”, Furry reply’s “bitch please, you’ve been to space”. Furry introduces Parker to Quentin Beck aka Mysterio. I don’t know a lot about Mysterio except that his a villain but here they’re making him look like a hero.
 
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Furry mentions that his not from this Earth but the snap opened up a riff and now we have the multiverse (don’t use this to undo the events of Endgame MCU, just don’t). So maybe this Beck is a good guy and the Beck from our Earth is a bad guy or maybe he’s just playing everyone. I don’t know.

One of the things I was most curious about was how the effects of Endgame was going to be felt in future MCU movies and it looks like it will be play a pretty big part. Overall this trailer makes me excited for the film. I’m curious to see how this ends Phase 3 of the MCU and I’m also curious if MJ actually works out that Peter is Spiderman cause as she says in the trailer “it's quite obvious” which it is.

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Rocketman

ROCKETMAN Review By Brett Haynes 03/06/19 Score: 9/10   In the span of seven months we get two bio-pics about two influen...