The Predator

The Predator (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.

*Minor spoilers*

We’re all really here for the alien action, right? Who cares about anything but how pretty The Predator is? Well, lucky for us, he’s back and looking as buff as ever and that’s even before his big evolved brother rocks up. The rest of it is… not great.

Marry me

Let’s start with Casey Bracket (the lovely Olivia Munn), a ballsy scientist with a special investment in space animals. She’s pretty good and more than just a pretty face, thankyouverymuch. Her connection to The Predator is a little flimsy, something about a letter to the president when she was a kid and I couldn’t even work out if she was joking. Anyway, she’s there when the freshly captured Predator busts loose and is lucky when he approaches her butt naked, unarmed form and decides to let her live. Oooh, fishy…

Then there are our ‘heroes’. First up Quinn McKenna (the unbearable Boyd Holbrook) who witnesses the crash landing of the Predator’s space ship. First on the scene and still reeling from the slaughter of his mercenary colleagues, Quinn does what any sensible person would in the same situation. He steels alien hardware (a helmet and wrist cuff) and posts them back to his PO Box in his hometown. Well THAT won’t come back to bite him in the arse will it?

Riding in prison buses with boys

Add to the mix the rest of the gang – and in my opinion the most important part of the movie – and, well it’s a bit hit and miss I’m afraid. When Quinn is detained by the authorities, he meets Nebraska, Coyle, Baxley, Lynch and Nettles (Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen and Augusto Aguilera respectively) – all bad (ish) men in trouble with the military – and admittedly, probably a good bunch to affiliate yourself with when shit hits the fan.

The Predator is exactly what you’d expect really. It’s a romp, it’s really stupid and it is enjoyable in places if you can suspend your disbelief. The rag tag bunch are fun if a little bit terrible (Nebraska is good but not the greatest stretch for an actor that moved me to tears in Moonlight).

The kids are alright

One of my main problems with it is that it feels like a kids film which doesn’t blend well with the hyper-gore (which I love). The focus around Quinn’s autistic son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) is interesting but gives it an 80’s Flight of the Navigator tone that doesn’t work for me. I want Shane Black on acid, using all the special effects he can in the modern day and some of them are just shocking. I’m quite sure he’s kept them schlocky as a nod back to the 80’s though which might have been a mistake. Also, our super villain Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) needs to shut his mouth. Literally. (Dude looks like a cow chewing cud and it’s really distracting).

My Rating

3/5.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Directed by: 
Starring: Alden EhrenreichWoody HarrelsonEmilia ClarkeDonald GloverPhoebe Waller-Bridge

IMDB Synopsis

During an adventure into the criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.

Where: Odeon, Brighton
When: Friday 25th May
Who with: Glynn Bass
Snacks: Deluxe popcorn and drink combo

*Beware spoilers*

I’m starting to think I’m incapable of thinking badly of any of the Star Wars movies (not you original prequels). Every time I get a new SW film, be it spin off or part of the original story line, I can’t help be satisfied.

I really enjoyed Solo but must cop to going in with a little less excitement than normal. I mean, I was into it but not in the same way as I was with Rogue One. The main draw was Donald Glover as Lando but girl, it was all a trip and I loved every minute. Genuinely.

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Solo begins on the streets of Corellia where we meet orphaned Han (Ehrenreich) and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Clarke), two hood rats forced to work the streets for crime matriarch Lady Proxima. Both share the same dream which is to steal a ship and blow this grimy popsicle stand once and for all. Sadly, only one of them escapes and thus begins the further adventures of Han Solo as he does everything in his power to become the best ever pilot and get back to his girl.

Does he? Well, you’ve probably seen the trailer so it might not be a surprise to find out that they do indeed meet three years later, just as Han makes the acquaintance of Beckett (Harrelson) and his feisty droid L3-37 (voiced by the amazing Waller-Bridge). Solo has also just met his life partner Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and that’s the real love story here. 

Qi’ra has become something of a highly refined Lieutenant, working for Crimson Dawn crime boss Dryden Vos (delicious Paul Bettany) and when Beckett comes clean to Vos about a mission gone wrong, Han proposes another plan to make everything alright again. 

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Will it work? Will Qi’ra and Han (and Chewie) live happily ever after together? And who the hell is Enfys Nest and his/her Mad Max-esque crew of super scavengers?

Only one way to get in the picture!

All in all though I think this is a strong addition to the SW canon, I found it less scattered and messy than The Last Jedi (which I also loved) – and I don’t think you can fault Ehrenreich for his performance at any point, he brings his own charisma to the proceedings but also nails a young Harrison Ford perfectly.

Highlights are (but of course), Lando and L3 who bring a light-hearted sass to the table. L3 is a feminist icon if we’re honest and a welcome one,  joining the ranks with a whole bevy of SW female badasses. Where’s her fucking spin-off?

My Rating

4.5/5.

Pacific Rim Uprising

Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight
Starring: John BoyegaScott EastwoodCailee SpaenyCharlie DayTian Jing

IMDB Synopsis

Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, reunites with Mako Mori to lead a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including rival Lambert and 15-year-old hacker Amara, against a new Kaiju threat.

*Minor spoilers*

I want to add a disclaimer to this review before I start: I abhor movie snobbery. People should watch what makes them happy, be it Adam Sandler movies or dogme 95. Who cares, right? Life’s too short for guilty pleasures and I strongly believe we should all be loud-mouthed enthusiasts. So when it comes to blockbuster season, I am all in.

I live to see giant robots/apes/aliens smashing the shit out of one another while the poor city around them crumbles to the ground. I love action heroes and explosions, prehistoric sharks, Wookies and above all, spectacle. It doesn’t always work and I don’t always leave the theater satisfied but I’m still down for whatever because that’s what film is about: Escapism. Joy. Magic (in no particular order).

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Pacific Rim (2013) was a balls out sci-fi adventure romp directed by Guillermo del Toro, a high octane alien ride of epic proportion starring Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost, the hero of the hour and defender of the universe. And although I realised during the viewing of its sequel that I couldn’t remember a damn thing about it (apart from how Elba filled his uniform), the first movie was HUGE and beloved by fans around the globe. 

Uprising follows Jake Pentecost (Boyega), son of Stacker and all-round babe ten years after the first movie. Oh to keep it that family, eh? (sorry Mum).

Jake isn’t as disciplined as his Kaiju war hero father and is reluctant at times to be associated due to the fact that he doesn’t stack up that favourably in comparison. *Spoiler* Pops sacrificed himself for the good of humankind remember? And Jake’s more irresponsible than that.

When he gets picked up by the feds for nefarious horseplay, he’s given an ultimatum by PPDC General Secretary Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchiwho is also Jake’s adoptive sister: join the Jaeger program as a cadet trainer or face prison. Along the way he picks up Jaegar enthusiast Amara (Spaeny), a scrap yard baby who has single-handedly built her own Jaegar from scratch. Amara is recruited as a cadet for the program too because of course she is.

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Things kick off quickly as the Kaiju return to fuck up Earth and the responsibility of saving the world is once more placed in the hands of a Pentecost. Is Jake up to the task? With the help of his new recruits and old buddy Nate Lambert (Eastwood) you could say he’ll at least give it his best shot.

In other news, Charlie Day’s high-energy Doctor Newton Geiszler is up to his own japes while super-bitch Liwen Shao (Jing) heads Shao Corporation’s drone program, which threatens to overshadow everything the Jaeger program has been working toward. For the good of mankind, can’t they all just get along? Hmmmmm?

This sequel is not great, nor will it particularly stick in the mind. It is what it is in the moment, it’s fun and larger than life. The robot work is excellent and frankly, at least this isn’t as soulless as some of the Transformer movies.

It’s clever to have cast Boyega in the lead, he’s gorgeous, funny and a good actor, just like his father (Stacker) but he’s also very current and off the back of his Star Wars success, probably the best man for the job. Although he doesn’t have a lot of really sophisticated dialogue to work with here, he seems to be having fun and that my friends is half the battle. The other half is the Kaiju themselves obvi.

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I think my forgetfulness relating to the original PR has harmed my enjoyment of Newt’s story line as I didn’t even remember Charlie Day was in it. He’s definitely and understandably the comic relief and he does an okay job. He puts me in mind of a younger Bobcat Goldthwaite but not as accomplised.

Clint Eastwood’s son Scott doesn’t fair well either, though he is uncannily like his father in certain lights. I did also like the females in this movie – it’s good to see equal opportunity on the battlefield and in the laboratories. I thought Tian Jing was good as not-all-bad corporate witch Liwen Shao particularly.

All in all I’m not mad I saw this on the big screen if only to get my Boyega on and to soak up the scale of everything.

My Rating

2.5/5.

Ready Player One

Ready Player One (2018)

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tye SheridanOlivia CookeBen MendelsohnLena WaitheT.J. MillerMark RylanceSimon Pegg

IMDB Synopsis

When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.

*Minor spoilers*

Oh my Lord. It’s always disconcerting when you go into a movie whispering the mantra, “Please be good. Please be good.” To say I went into the theater with high expectations would be an understatement, especially since I loved the book and have pressed it into the sweaty hand of many a friend.

Luckily for me, the adaptation was handed to the perfect director for the project and, with Ernest Cline on-board for screenwriting duties, I was left more than impressed. At one point I nearly lost my shit, it was so perfect and so relevant to my personal interests.

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Spielberg has the nostalgia thing down pat at the best of times but with the OASIS at his fingertips, he has the freedom to let loose on the popular culture references. There’s no limit to what he can do and it’s so multi-layered, so awe-inspiring I defy anyone not to come away with a new respect for what special effects can do.

I’m wary of giving too much of the game away in this review but what I can say is that, through Wade Watts and his avatar Parzival (Sheridan), we learn all about the OASIS and what it really means to the inhabitants of a now desolate world in 2045. While things IRL aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, OASIS’ creator James Halliday has just passed away, leaving a legacy that has the potential to change Wade and his friends’ lives forever.

Wade’s crew is small but perfectly formed and grows stronger still when they team up with Parzival’s crush, the elusive Art3mis (Cooke). But with super villain Sorrento (Mendelsohn) hot on their tail and determined to solve Halliday’s riddles and win control of OASIS for himself, they’re really up against it.

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Man, I have a couple of favourite scenes that I just want to gush about but I can’t, let’s just say as a classic horror fan, I was moved almost to tears by one extended segment and if you’ve seen RPO you’ll know which one I mean.

While the romantic aspect of the story I could take or leave, everything else about it was appealing and exactly what I wanted from this adaptation. Fans of the book might notice a few differences but there’s nothing too jarring and the visual references pad it out perfectly.

I hope you enjoy it too.

My Rating

5/5.