Gold

Image: Black Bear Pictures

2016 gave us some great based-on-true-event films, and 2017 looks set to continue that trend. Built loosely around the mining scandal that befell Bre-X in 1993, Gold brings adventure, crime, and suspense to the big screen once more.

Prospector Kenny Wells’ (Matthew McConaughey) business is just like his liquor, on the rocks. Having taken over his late father’s company, Wells has been unable to land a big contract and he grasps at his last available straw. Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez) is a geologist living in Indonesia. When Acosta is approached by Wells to find the gold the geologist was once so sure exists beneath the jungle, a little persuasion is required. Soon enough, they’re off, obtaining funding (though only enough to scrape through by the skin of their teeth), workers, and core samples; but they find nothing. Just as all hope seems lost, what should appear? Gold.

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xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Image: Paramount Pictures

Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is back, and he’s just as hook on adrenaline as ever. The extreme sports junkie is called in to once again save the world as part of Augustus Gibbons’ (Samuel L. Jackson) xXx program.

As far as action movies go, xXx: Return of Xander Cage is everything people love, without brining anything new to the table. Stunts, explosions, girls in bikinis, and guys with no shirts. It’s all well and good, and if action movies like this are your thing then, by all means, check it out. In all, it’s very reminiscent of late 90s, early 00s action flicks with big explosions and little subtlety.

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Moana

Image: Disney

Summer holidays means kids movies! And you can’t go wrong with a little bit of Disney magic.

Moana is the latest heroin to join Disney’s repertoire. This water loving Polynesian girl is the village chief’s daughter. While her mother and father want nothing more than for Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) to take her rightful place as the future chief, the young woman has dreams of her own. She wants nothing more than to be with the sea. Her love to the ocean is so great that when an ancient curse invoked by the demigod Maui (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) threatens all life, the water choses Moana to help fix it.

Being Disney, you come to expect a pretty catchy sound track; and Moana doesn’t disappoint. With Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) on board, you can expect to have at least a few of these tunes stuck in your head long after the movie has finished.

Catering for multiple ages, this film has the colour and sound to occupy the littlies, those expected shrouded jokes for the adults, and a complex and entertaining enough storyline to entertain anyone in between.

One particular feature, which may seem small to some but had me internally shouting, was the fact that the characters actually put their hair up! So often you see animated characters with ‘princess hair’ that, no matter how rough things get, just seems to sit perfectly. Well not here. You see Moana’s amazing curls get in her way on occasion, enticing her to just tie them back and get on with her mission!

As far as animated movies go, 2016 is set to finish on a high with Moana.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Image: Disney

Over the past 39 years, we’ve been given a reasonably complete timeline for the Star Wars galaxy from the Skywalker point of view. While this is all fantastic, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story marks the first time the goings on of the rest of the rebellion have been brought forward (at least since the dismissal of the extended universe).

In Episode IV: A New Hope, the Alliance were able to destroy the Death Star, thanks to intel provided by a group of dedicated rebels. Rogue One tells the story of the rebel fighters who acquired the Death Star plans in the first place. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), the estranged daughter of an Imperial scientist, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), an Alliance Intelligence Officer with vast field experience, and K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), the reprogrammed, and extremely opinionated, Imperial droid are just the base of the team tasked with finding the newest Imperial plans. Continue reading

Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Years before Harry, Ron, and Hermione graced the halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the wizarding world was already in full swing. In this newest addition to JK Rowling’s repertoire, we are introduced to one Newt Scamander. Mr Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is a young English wizard (and a Hufflepuff) with a fascination for all magical creatures under the class of beast. His travels take him to 1926 America. Through a series misfortunate occurrences, Newt has the great opportunity of meeting witch sisters Porpentina ‘Tina’ (Kathrine Waterson) and Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), and nomaj (the American term for a muggle), Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler).

Eddie Redmayne is positively adorable in his portrayal of Newt. With his long blue coat, bowtie, and pleasant, if quiet, mannerisms, Newt is a stereotypical English gentleman. His character is all the more obvious when stood alongside Dan Fogler’s Jacob. Jacob, while still a gentleman, is much more outwardly confident and talkative. In one scene, Jacob’s charisma and Newt’s honest curiosity are beautifully displayed in their body language as they carry a conversation; Jacob making sure that Newt is still there and interested, while Newt is constantly angled towards his friend, showing undisrupted attention and interest.

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Arrival

Image: Paramount Pictures

In a post 9/11 world, having multiple phones around you going off and receiving requests to turn on a news channel is sure to inspire fear. For linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), an attack is not what she finds, but instead, the arrival of interplanetary visitors.

12 identical pods set down at seemingly random coordinates around the Earth; and with no governing body, the human race soon discover how hard it can be to work together. In an effort to understand what the beings inside these devices want, US army officer Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) enlists the help of experts such as Banks and theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner).

What could be described as animalistic sounds make up the spoken dialogue for the visitors, suggesting that beings don’t have to speak a seemingly humanoid dialect to be considered sentient and intelligent. Their written language however, is where things truly start to get interesting.

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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Image: Paramount Pictures

From Washington D.C. to a New Orleans Halloween parade, Jack Reacher will go wherever he needs to find the truth behind this latest conspiracy.

When Major Turner (Cobie Smulders) finds herself framed for espionage, her new contact Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) must dive back into the world of the military to help her uncover the truth.

Action, violence, cars, guns, you should know the drill by now. It all adds up to lots of noise and cringing when that particularly hard hit lands. One thing that is a little different is that our hero really gets his butt handed to him a few times. Yes, he’s a highly trained MP (sorry, ex-MP), but so are the people he’s up against. They are trained to fight and to kill. So it stands to reason that Reacher will get as good as he gives.

If you haven’t seen this film’s predecessor, fear not. While the main character is returning, you don’t lose out on any of the story line if you start here.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

Image: 20th Century Fox

New neighbours are always interesting, but suburban couple Jeff and Karen Gaffney get more than they expected when the Joneses move in.

Jeff Gaffney (Zach Galifinakis) works in HR. His wife Karen (Isla Fisher) is an interior designer. They live a quaint and happy life in their suburban cul-de-sac, raising their two sons, going to barbeques, and enjoying time with their nice, normal neighbours. After sending their sons to summer camp, the couple come home to find that the empty house on the street has been sold. Enter the Joneses.

Tim (Jon Hamm) and Natalie Jones (Gal Gadot) are unlike anyone else living in the Gaffney’s street. With Tim finding his career as a travel writer and Natalie running a food blog and following her passion to help orphans, these two beautiful, young, well-travelled individuals seem too good to be true. Of course, this is where the action kicks in. The Joneses are in fact spies. Jeff and Karen are soon dragged into the world of espionage.

The slightly bumbling nature of the characters as they try to look suave is a little reminiscent of the Spy Kids movies. Not that that’s a bad thing. With a few jokes and plenty of action in the form of car chases and gun fights Keeping Up with the Joneses does make for an enjoyable movie. The lack of crude humour is definitely a stand out feature for this film. While there are a few adult references, there’s not an overabundance of swearing or sexual references that are so common these days.

As far as action and comedy goes, Keeping Up with the Joneses should be pleasing for a wide audience.

Doctor Strange

Image: Marvel Comics

Latest in the Marvel cinematic timeline, Doctor Strange is yet another success.

Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is an accomplished and respected neurosurgeon. At the top of his field, Strange has everything he could want or need. When tragedy strikes, Strange finds himself without the use of what he perceives as his most important tool, his hands. From there, we’re thrown into a story of rediscovery as the doctor searches for a way to fix his hands and return to his previous standing, only to find that he’s destined for something else entirely.

Benedict Cumberbatch as our leading man plays his part well. Portraying the intelligence, and cockiness that goes with it, before finding some humility. The development that Strange goes though during the movie makes good use of Cumberbatch’s ability and experience with different characters.

The special effects used at the climax of the film are absolutely stunning. For anyone with sever motion sickness, this might prove an issue; but if you can struggle through it, then totally worth it!

Perhaps one of the biggest features of this film is the lesson that you are more than you might think. We often find our niche in life and, while that’s great, occasionally something happens that leaves us without that safety blanket. This is the point where people either break, or shine.

Inferno

Image: Columbia Pictures

As time goes on, the population of the earth has been and continues to expand exponentially. There is a theory that with overpopulation we are destroying the human race’s chances of survival. What happens when an individual decides to take action against that?

Director Ron Howard returns for this third film based on the books by Dan Brown. When symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) finds himself in hospital being treated for a head wound and no memory of the past 48 hours, it becomes a race against time and people unknown to find out what he had been working on.

With the assistance of Dr Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), Langdon has to crack the puzzle leading to the next plague as the future of the human race hangs in the balance.

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