Monday, 20 August 2018


By Brett Haynes 20/08/18

Score: 10/10

Over the last few years we’ve gotten some really good films that focus on race relations. It’s a serious issue that has gotten more and more screen time since the Trump administration took over. BlacKkKlansman is the latest film to show a moment in American history that not to many people may have heard about.

Spike Lee newest film is not only a serious drama focusing on the racial tension of the time but also a thrilling police film. It shows just how frightening the Klan can be and is a welcome reminder of what we have to fight against. It’s a well-acted, well-told and quite funny at times.

The film is based on a true story and stars John David Washington as Detective Ron Stallworth who was the first African American police office in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 1979, Stallworth started an undercover operation into the Ku Klux Klan in which he impersonates a racist white man. Stallworth is so good that he even gets grand wizard David Duke (Topher Grace) on the phone for several chats. When the Klan want to meet in person, a white officer named Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) takes on the persona.

It’s a fascinating story, which is told and acted superbly. What makes this so fascinating is the level that the Klan got duped. The Klan isn’t seen as great thinkers but that’s more of an observation then a joke. When a group of people with bad ideas gets together dangerous things can happen. They also represent a very real danger to Ron Stallworth and his community.

The film begins with a cameo by Alec Baldwin playing Dr. Kennebrew Beauregard. A man giving a cringe worthy speech about the destruction of America because of integration. He is a figurehead and nothing more, spewing garbage from a script. The first investigation Ron Stallworth goes on is undercover at a Kwame Ture (Corey Hawkins) rally. This is a man who can speak, telling the audience about how Hollywood internalize racism by making him cheer for Tarzan against the natives. Speaking philosophies about racial equalization and what it means to be black. Hawkins gives an amazing performance here that it’s hard to believe he is acting.

 The Klan rallies are a lot different. They know what it means to be white and to them black people are taking it all away. They celebrate their whiteness by having parties and watching D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. This is a powerful scene because while the Whites are watching and cheering the film, we cross to an elderly black gentleman named Jerome Turner (Harry Belafonte) who tells how the film had a huge negative effect on African American lives in the south.

BlacKkKlansman gives us some amazing performances from Washington and Driver who fit into Spike Lee storytelling perfectly. Everyone in this film gives amazing performances making this film feel authentic and at times scary.

BlacKkKlansman is a comedy but it has a serious message. The Klan may be seen as a joke but they are scary. This is a political message most of all that no matter how stupid the idea, if enough people believe it, it can turn deadly. This film is as important as ever today.

Images owned by Focus Pictures

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Hotel Transylvania 3


By Brett Haynes 20/08/18

Score: 6.5/10

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a fan of this franchise. The first two Hotel Transylvania films have become Halloween must watches bringing the old school monsters into the 21st century. It’s also become a fun and crazy alternative to the more mature and grounded work provided by Disney and Pixar.

For those of you who have never seen these films before, the series focuses on Adam Sandler’s Dracula who runs a hotel for classic monsters to go to, to get away from humanity. In the first film, Dracs daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) falls in love with a human named Johnny (Andy Samburg). The second film focuses on Draculas relationship with his grandson.

In the third instalment, Dracula has become lonely and wants somebody to love. Sensing something is wrong but mistaking it for work related stress, Mavis plans a surprise cruise for her father and the other monsters. The cruise travels around the Bermuda triangle and ends at the lost city of Atlantis (which is basically Vegas). While on board Dracula meets Captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn) and faster then a Disney princess he falls in love.

Though there is a catch as Ericka is the Great Granddaughter of Abraham Van Helsing who plans to locate an item that will kill all monsters permanently. In the meantime Dracula is trying to woo the captain while she is trying to kill him (in hilarious ways).

Similar to the other installments, this is a very visually stunning film. We get to explore a lot of different places this time around from the Bermuda Triangle to the very Vegas looking Atlantis. With each new location, the movie can explore different visual gags to go with them and it’s at this point that the movie is at its best.

Saying all that, this one isn’t as good as the previous two installments and a lot of its problems come from its plot. The plot here revolves around Dracula Zinging with Ericka. A zing is literal love at first sight, something that is a major plot point of the first film. Though this time around only Drac zing and for a major part of the film, Ericka is just playing with him in order to kill him. She even says, “this can’t be, I don’t even know you”. That’s all thrown out the window in the last act in order for the film to have a happy ending which is quite disappointing.

The Hotel Transylvania series is an enjoyable series and this is another fun installment. Kids will love the silly humor and the visuals are great, just try not to think to hard about the plot.

Images owned by Sony Animation

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The Meg

By Brett Haynes 20/08/18

Score: 7/10

If there are two things people seem to love its sharks and Jason Statham beating things up. Fortunately there is now a movie that combines both those things in brilliant over the top fashion.

The plot of the Meg is pretty basic. Statham plays Jonas Taylor, a deep-sea diver who years earlier had an interaction with the Megalodon that left him rattled. He is called back in when a vessel is trapped at the bottom of the ocean carrying his ex-wife. In the process of rescuing them they accidently allow the giant shark to escape into the upper levels of the ocean and the only thing standing in its way is Jason Statham.

Don’t go into this film expecting any high level art. If you saw the trailer then you know what to expect and that’s exactly what it delivers. Director Jon Turteltaub takes the film rather seriously for the most part. The first half hour or so is spent filling our heads with all kinds of scientific explanation that it half expects us at some point to throw our hands up and say sure that’s plausible. The other thing I will give this film credit for is the way in deals with death. It allows its main characters the chance to grieve, which is quite unusual in a film where there main purpose is to get eaten.

The film has a lot of heart and the cast supplies that. Statham is front and center and this kind of film is right up his ally. He does get to play the big action star here while also showing his comedic side as well. Statham knows exactly the kind of film he is in but never goes at less then 100%. Similar to The Rock in Skyscraper, he helps this movie jump the shark (which it does literally at one point) without becoming completely ridiculous. He allows you watch the ridiculousness and go sure why not; it is Jason Statham after all.

The supporting cast helps Statham out a lot. Li Bingbing plays Suyin, the romantic interest to Statham. She is a lot more then just the love interest. She is a deep-sea expert who along with her father runs the whole project. She is also a good mother and has genuine chemistry with Statham Jonas. Her daughter (Sophia Cai) brings the 8-year-old cuteness while Ruby Rose does a great job in the limited screen time she has.

The biggest problem that the Meg suffers is with its rating as well as the amount of time that the Meg is on screen. We don’t see the shark until the half hour mark and then we don’t see it killing people till much later. Granted the film does a really good job of building the tension and suspense especially when Statham is swimming hundred meters away from 80-foot killer shark. It just feels like we could have had more.

Also the fact that this was only a PG13 in the US means that we don’t get to see gruesome death scenes that you would expect to see when a giant shark enters an inhabited beach. This film should have been given an R rating (MA here in Australia) just so we could have gotten some more gruesome moments.

Unlike the Sharknado films, this is a giant shark film that takes time to establish its characters and focuses on building suspense and not just on the killing. It never gets too insane either. Sure its ridiculous but what did you expect. I cant lie, it sold me exactly what it was and that was Jason Statham fighting a shark and that was exactly what I wanted.

Images owned by Warner Brothers

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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Mamma Mia : Here We Go Again

By Brett Haynes 01/08/18

Score: 8/10

In 2008 Universal Studios released the film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Mamma Mia. While having its target audience, the film got mixed reviews from both critics and audiences. So when a sequel was announced it’s natural to have hesitations. Though as Ouija Origins of Evil and Annabelle Creations have taught us lately its bad first movies usually create amazing sequels (which are usually prequels).

Mamma Mia Here We Go Again has taken what worked in the original film and gotten rid of everything that didn’t. While in the first film it felt like the story was being dictated by the music, here it feels like the music is being dictated by the story and so feels more like a complete story. It’s an ABBA jukebox film that doesn’t just rely on the music element.

Here We Go Again has the privilege of both being a sequel and a prequel with a majority of the film being spent watching how a young Donna (Lily James) got to meet Sophie three possible dads from the first film, Sam Carmichael (Jeremy Irvine), Bill Anderson (Josh Dylan) and Harry Blight (Hugh Skinner). Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard all reprise their roles as the older versions of the characters in a reduced role.

Amanda Seyfried returns as Donna daughter Sophie who is preparing to reopen her mother’s hotel after certain events take place. Christine Baranski and Julie Walters return as Donna best friends while Dominic Cooper is also back as Sophie boyfriend Sky. Meryl Streep has a very small role (almost Mark Hamill Force Awakens small) and you don’t have to be two smart to work out what has happened to her character. Cher also has a small role as Sophie Grandmother but along with Andy Garcia manage to steal the film with their take on Fernando.

Whoever was the casting agent did a fantastic job as the younger actors look near dead ringers for their older counterparts. There is also a different feel to this film then its predecessor with the topics of loss and grief playing a big part. It’s safe to say that the film is not as big and loud as the first. A lot of effort has been put into the story making something that along with some more obscure ABBA hits makes this way more memorable then the first.

While I’m not a huge ABBA fan, I did enjoy this film a lot more then I did the first. It’s got some fantastic performances (especially from the younger actors) and a thoughtful and moving story. Throw in some good songs and you’re looking at one of the more enjoyable films of the year.

Images owned by Universal

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BLACKkKLANSMAN Review By Brett Haynes 20/08/18 Score: 10/10 Over the last few years we’ve gotten some really good films that ...