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.

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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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Magnificent 7

Image: Columbia Pictures

“I seek righteousness. But I’ll take revenge.”If you love romanticized western action with a happily ever after, this probably isn’t the story for you. But if you like gun fights, quick witted folk, and high-stakes, you’re in luck.

With low camera shots staring into the sun behind our rugged stars, Magnificent 7 really does have a bit of that classic western style so many people enjoy. Dirt, dust, saloons and drink aplenty, we follow Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) as he assembles a team for his latest job. The warrant officer has been contracted by grieving widow Emma (Hayley Bennett) to help save her town from the man who killed her husband. So as they travel back, Chisolm finds his seven. Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier).

How are we going? So far, so good?

Each of these men are more different than the sun and the moon, but they slowly start to find a rhythm to work with. Josh Faraday’s (Pratt) near constant stream of sarcasm serves not only to make us laugh, but also to stir up his companions, always resulting in different reactions. These reactions are one way in which we really get to see how different the men are.

The fights, from bar room brawls to shoot outs in empty street, are all excellently choreographed. Each member of the 7 has different skills and attitudes in how they approach an altercation, which makes for some entertaining scenes.

While a fun movie for someone looking for a good bit of action, it’s important to remember that triumph doesn’t always come on the happiest of terms.

Pete’s Dragon

It was once said that “it simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.” While this isn’t the particular tale he was referring to, Tolkien’s words still ring true. Pete’s Dragon is definitely a worthy adventure.Director David Lowery brings this beautiful story to life, impressing audiences right from the start. The opening scene was excellently portrayed, showing the sadness of the events without being excessively graphic or traumatising. 

A great amount of credit must also go to the cast. Oakes Fegley is adorably innocent in the leading role of Pete, the young boy who has grown up in the woods with only Elliot for company. The stand out fact that makes this story all the more amazing? Elliot is a dragon!

Of course not everyone is going to react the same when the existence of said dragon comes to light. Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a park ranger who, with the help of her father, Meacham (Robert Redford), and her boyfriend’s daughter, Natalie (Oona Laurence) want to protect Elliot. On the other side of the coin, we have Natalie’s uncle, Gavin (Karl Urban). Gavin’s reaction upon discovering the dragon is to go hunting. 

We really can’t blame Gavin too much for his reaction. It seems, more often than not, that upon finding something unknown to us, our instinct as humans is to fear it. Stories generally tell us that dragons are something to be feared, so that is the view point adopted by Gavin and his friends.

Thankfully, as in most children’s movies, lessons are learnt and friendships made, so don’t despair too much.

The soundtrack was another facet to this film I really enjoyed. The mostly calming song choices kept the magical feeling throughout.

Lastly, but by no means least, we must address the elephant in the room; or rather, the dragon. Elliot’s mannerisms remind me of a large (ok, massive) green Labrador puppy. His excitement as he plays with Pete and the fear and sadness when he finds himself alone are very well displayed. Effects used to create this adorable, furry giant are fantastic in their quality and his personality is shown extremely well for a character who has no dialogue. 

For kids and adults alike, Pete’s Dragon is the perfect tale to put a little magic in your day.

Suicide Squad

Releasing a bunch of convicted felons to military custody and ordering them to save the world? Sounds like a good idea to me!

DC’s Suicide Squad are the worst of the worst. They steal, destroy, maim, and kill. And they’re our only hope.

From the start, our views of these characters are brought into question. They’re bad guys, right? We’re not supposed to like them; let alone feel sorry for them. But that’s what begins to happen as soon as the screen comes to life.

Deadshot (Will Smith), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) smash their way into our hearts as they smash some baddies.

Will Smith as Deadshot is awesome from his first appearance. With a quick tongue and a little cocky, some might think he’s all talk; but he soon proves he has the skills to back up that attitude.

Killer Croc is big, mean, and ugly. And he knows it. His character, I found, doesn’t show the major, out-right development that the others do, but it’s there. You just have to see past the scales.

El Diablo has already changed his ways by the time we meet him. From bad ass gang leader to pacifist, it’s quite the difference. He’s not interested in fighting. But obviously, that’s no fun in an anti-hero movie.

Aussie villain for the win! Captain Boomerang is an excellent role for the Australian born Courtney. While I admit I would have loved to see more of him during the fights, Boomerang as a character made me giggle more than a few times with his thick Aussie accent and cracks at everyone.

Of course we can’t forget our leading lady, the one and only Harley Quinn. Margot Robbie is wonderfully twisted in her role as the psychiatrist-turned-villain. Her backstory is definitely one that will invoke a little sympathy.

The other much anticipated character that cannot be ignored, is none other than Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker. Jared Leto plays this maniacal jester’s newest incarnation.

One of the biggest criticisms I’ve come across in regards to Suicide Squad is the lack of screen time the Joker has. In my humble opinion, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The film is about the Suicide Squad. Harley is a member, however unwilling; the Joker is not. So as much as I’m excited to see more of Leto’s Joker in the future, his use in building Harley’s story but allowing her to take the lead is fantastic. Having said that, I am in agreeance with many fans asking why DC and Warner Brothers used so much Joker footage in the advertising stage.

Between the quick paced fights and traumatizing flashbacks, the darker feel for the DC cinematic creation they started with Dawn of Justice is continued. These comic book character are not just for kids.

The soundtrack to this film is certainly something else. While it still does well to move with the action and emotions of the film, the selection of songs themselves feel a little list a playlist someone has put together as their own personal soundtrack to life. And let’s be honest, that’s exactly the egotistical thing some of these guys would do.

Hate to love them or love to hate them. It makes no difference in the end. Either way, you’re in for a wild ride when you check out Suicide Squad.

 

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Legend of Tarzan

Director David Yates transports us to the absolute beauty of the African Congo in this new adventure of our beloved wild man.

Right from the simplistic but action filled opening scene, it’s easy to tell you’re in for something special. Such an unadorned, stand-alone scene that leaves you with a feeling of anticipation for what’s to come.

Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) has left his home in the jungle, leaving behind his name. Living on his family’s estate in England and going by his birth name, John Clayton thinks he is where he belongs. Until along comes George Washington Williams. Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) recruits a hesitant Clayton’s help, asking him to return to the wilds of Africa.

After much discussion (and the lady putting her foot down) it is decided that John’s wife, Jane Clayton (Margot Robbie), will also be returning to the land where she spent much of her childhood.

While there is no denying that Robbie and Skarsgård play their roles wonderfully, Jackson was the one who stole the show in my eyes. Jane’s fierce loyalty to those she loves and John’s unparalleled determination to face down the evil threatening his family are admirable to say the least. Jackson’s sarcasm and dry humour in the face of their serious task add that extra layer to the film.

The effects used to create the many animals the actors interact with are truly stunning (I’m thinking of you, baby elephant!). And to make those animals move the way they do, it’s a sight to behold.

All in all, the Legend of Tarzan is definitely not the Disney classic I remember as a child. Quite a bit grimmer with lives at stake, the fights are serious; on more than one occasion I found myself jumping.

Family isn’t restricted by blood, all lives matter, and you must fight for what you love.

Star Trek: Beyond

To boldly go where no man has gone before. Anyone how has watched any part of the Star Trek franchise knows that, although exciting, these words usually spell trouble for the member of Starfleet. The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are no exception.

But before things take a turn for the worse, we get to have a few laughs at the expense of Captain James T. Kirk as her wades through one of the less exciting duties of a Starship captain. It’s these little bits and pieces of humour that really make the Star Trek movies extra enjoyable for me. Even though, they are mostly serious and action packed, the writers still take the time to make you chuckle.

The levity however is soon interrupted when the lone escapee of a downed ship requests the help of the Enterprise to rescue her shipmates. The catch? Her ship is on the other side of a dangerous, uncharted, and, for most ships, impassable nebula.

From there it’s a rollercoaster of new enemies with the technology to rip into the Enterprise like she’s nothing more than a soft drink can.

The effects used to create the aliens, space craft and battles are amazing to say the least. The first space battle we see is nothing short of astounding. It really sets the scene and raises the bar for what we should expect from the rest of the film.

Returning from the first two films are the amazing command crew. We have Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott (Simon Pegg), Doctor ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban), Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto), and Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine).

Having served together for a few years now, you can see them starting to really mature and settle into their roles as part of the crew, and their little, make-shift family. You also start to see the effect that spending such long periods of time isolated in space can have on someone.

There’s quite a bit more I could say but I’m going to stop now to avoid spoilers. If you’re a lifelong Trekkie, new to the fandom, or just after something fast paced and exciting to watch, check out Star Trek: Beyond.

Live long and prosper.

Ghostbusters

Paranormal Activity ain’t got nothing on these ghosts!

Right from the start, we get thrown into this world of spooky happenings and hair-raising apparitions. These fearsome phantoms leave us with one question. When there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gona call?

Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a physics professor at Columbia University. She enjoys her respectable job until somebody asks for her opinion and help on a highly unrespectable subject in the science community. Ghosts.

Erin is pulled back into research she thought she had left behind when she tracks down her old friend and Abby Bates. While Erin has been teaching, Abby (Melissa McCarthy) has been continuing her paranormal studies with the help of Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), a brilliant (if slightly unorthodox and manic) engineer.

The last two members to round out their team are Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) and Kevin (Chris Hemsworth). Patty, although not being overly fond of ghosts after her own encounter, bring her can-do attitude to the team; she’s not taking rubbish from no ghosts! Although well meaning, Kevin isn’t overly competent at his job as the team’s receptionist. However, he does add more levity to the already hilarious movie.

The lead roles are very well cast, the four blending together well while still bouncing off each other’s quirks and personality’s. The diversity of these women’s attitude and aptitudes when it comes to the different parts of their job and interactions with each other makes you want to be part of their team.

Throughout the film there are so many throwbacks to the original movies, and yet they still managed the ‘same but different’ concept well by paying homage to their predecessors while still making this their own. Keep an out to see who or what you spot.

So put on your jumpsuit, grab your proton pack, and prepare to be slimed by ghostly, ectoplasmic goop as you watched these chicks do what they do best!