Review: Free Fire

It has most certainly been a while since my last review but I had a good reason for not writing one: there was nothing of interest for me to see lately, so I passed the time by posting news articles. On Friday, I managed to see something interesting in theaters and I thought I think this might be worth a review, so let’s jump right into Free Fire shall we?

From director Ben Wheatley, who wrote this with Amy Jump, Free Fire is a rousing, absurd but moderately entertaining shoot-em-up set in 1978 Boston, where a transaction to procure firearms between two criminal organizations goes horribly, horribly wrong!

Basically, you take a collection of good actors in Arnie Hammer, Sharlto Copely, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Enzo Cilenti, Michael Smiley, Babou Cessay, Sam Riley, Jack Reynor, Noah Taylor, Patrick Bergen and Mark Monero, put them in a very volatile situation, put a gun in each of their hands, douse the situation with proverbial gasoline and have one gun go off to light the situation up. Then just sit back and revel in the carnage and let this one thought occupy your mind as you watch the bullets fly: “These people are the worst shots EVER!”

Free Fire won’t make a lot of critical noise, but it certainly isn’t a quiet picture because Wheatley allows the action and pacing of the simple plot to take center stage and the action is enough to keep its audience satisfied. These characters are all shooting at each other, getting shot, squirming around on the ground covered in glass, debris and one guy who is crawling around on the ground gets stuck with a used syringe at one point, but what’s happening and what develops is stimulating enough to keep you engaged with the picture.

I think Ben Wheatley made a very rugged and respectable film. The action is simple but welcome and the pacing of the film is also commendable. The writing is also very refreshing; this was my first time sampling something from Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley and I like what I experienced.

This isn’t exactly a movie to evaluate the actors since no one performance stands apart from the rest but the cast is definitely fun to watch.

Laurie Rose’s cinematography definitely lets you feel like you are in the middle of the action, the editing of Jump and Wheatley are precise; they don’t use any cut or jump to waste a moment, Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury’s music takes something of a backseat to the picture but the use of John Denver music is cool, Emma Fryer’s costumes are on point, Paki Smith’s production, Paul Frost and Nigel Pollock’s art decoration and Liz Griffiths’ set decoration all add to the rich mise-en-scene of the film.

Free Fire may be a low-budget movie, but the action is top-shelf and its overall value is worth the price of admission. I had fun watching Free Fire, and if you have an afternoon to kill and would like to see something silly and surprising, I’d recommend Free Fire to change your pace.

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Captain Marvel Will Have Two Directors

The lineup for Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will lead to The Avengers: Infinity War, set for release on May 4, 2018. Captain Marvel, starring Academy Award winner Brie Larson figures to be a part of this lineup somehow but Marvel Studios has significant plans for the superheroine. It was announced that Larson landed the role late last year and Marvel Studios would search for a director to helm the film starring Larson and written by Meg LeFauve and Nicole Perlman. It was a widely held belief that Captain Marvel would have a female director since she would be the first Marvel heroine to lead her own movie but now the search has concluded and the film does indeed have a female director but with a twist. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck got the job!

Image by Vanity Fair

I confess, this has certainly caught me by surprise since I have no idea where these two came from but judging by Marvel’s hiring process, it makes sense.

Execs met with the duo many times before the studio decided to go with them and the pair impressed the studio time and time again with their vision for the heroine. The two have experience in both the TV and film world, which Marvel sees as a strength.

Best known for their character-study dramas like Ryan Gosling’s “Half Nelson” and Ryan Reynolds’ “Mississippi Grind,” Boden and Fleck directed episodes for such popular TV shows as “The Affair” and “Billions.”

Considering how Kevin Feige and Marvel have gambled and won on talents such as the Russo Brothers, Peyton Reed and James Gunn and trusted filmmakers like Jon Watts, Taika Waititi, Ryan Coogler and Scott Derrickson with leading productions on their pivotal heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Boden and Fleck follow a pattern that has served Marvel well in the past. I’m not familiar with their work together to this point but I’ll certainly have my eye on where Captain Marvel will go from this point forward. Captain Marvel set for release on March 8, 2019.

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Image by Marvel Studios

Review: Kong: Skull Island

For the fourth time in the history of American filmmaking, one of the all time great movie monsters bows into theaters to pound his chest, roar and reign supreme over an island not meant for man to tread. It’s director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ turn to give life to a beast some have dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World in Kong: Skull Island.

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Image by Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros.

Fair warning: the plot for the film will be familiar if one is familiar with the mythos of Kong from the past. In in the early 1970s, a scientific expedition to an uncharted island in the South Pacific goes horribly awry, when a team led by Colonel Preston Packard, decommissioned SAS Captain James Conrad and researcher Bill Randa run afoul of Kong, the mammoth ape protector of Skull Island. Their first encounter with the beast results in seven soldiers dead and the research team separated and every single soul on the island is in grave peril, but not from Kong; the truth is that Kong is the island’s deterrent to creatures far more frightening.

I won’t go out of my way to tell you that Kong: Skull Island is a blockbuster worthy of a king or it should be rightfully crowned. I found the picture rather tame with a few original twists but I suppose I was just unsatisfied with the final result.

If Kong: Skull Island had any selling points, it would be that I thought Vogt-Roberts and the writing team of Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connelly did a nice job in adhering to Kong’s origins and island life/persona: a fearsome protector to those in need, always ready to aid a damsel, worshipped as a god on Skull Island. I felt that they recognized the scope and grandeur of the title character and did what they could to make him as big as possible but the film itself just couldn’t measure up to the enormity of Kong’s reputation. Seriously, take the giant ape out of the picture and what are you left with?

For starters you have a movie that is weighed down to the anchored to the homages paid to Apocalypse Now, which is excessive to the point of over-the-top. This movie could have occurred in any time period so, why at the end of the Vietnam War?

You also have a movie that simply wastes a lot of star power. Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, Tian Jing, Thomas Mann, Will Britain, Richard Jenkins; there are many good actors in this movie and this cast tries to deliver good performances where they can but like Godzilla, they’re not why audiences show up! Whatever contributions they do make, go to waste because the material they are working with is shallow and the visual effects steals the show.

Larry Fong’s cinematography aims to be strong but reeks of inconsistency and the editing Richard Pearson follows suit, which is unfortunate. Stefan DeChant’s production design is striking, the art direction is commendable, the set decoration by Cynthia La Jeunesse is fine, Mary E. Vogt’s costumes aimed for authenticity; technically there was a lot to respect with this film and what did you didn’t like, you forgot.

Maybe I subconsciously compared Kong: Skull Island to its 2005 predecessor by Peter Jackson, even though I didn’t want to, but ultimately I couldn’t help but notice that Jackson’s Kong had the girth and dimensions to bring Kong to its Kingly status while this film felt cartoonish. Kong: Skull Island is fun, in it’s own way, but lacking.

Movie of the Week: Kong: Skull Island

2017 will mark the fourth year in which one of the most famous movie monsters of all time has ever graced the silver screen. In 1933, 1975 and 2005, audiences the world over has seen different takes of the enormously proportioned primate who reigned supreme over his domain only to be captured and felled in the domain of man. This weekend marks Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ turn to bring the giant ape to the big screen as a team of explorers ventures out into uncharted territory teeming with danger and atop the pyramid of Skull Island is a king whose reign about to be challenged by an unforeseen enemy: modern day man. Kong: Skull Island bows into theaters this week.

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Screenwriters: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connelly

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Tian Jing, John Ortiz and Toby Kebbell

What am I expecting to see?: The producers behind this movie have big plans for this film and I hope that this movie does enough to see these plans come to fruition. I want this movie to honor the Kong movies that came before it while doing everything it can to make a proper mark for itself. I don’t expect it to reach the epic levels that Peter Jackson’s King Kong reached in 2005 but I for one hope that Kong: Skull Island has its fun.

The King of Skull Island! Teaser Trailer

It is not wise to walk into another’s house and start a fight. That’s just extremely bad manners. It’s all the more unwise to venture into a monarch’s kingdom and drop bombs. That’s literally a declaration of war! A team of explorers and scientists embark upon an excursion onto a mythic island, where creatures never seen before call home and in their pursuit to study the island, they incur the wrath of the island’s protector! This team is caught in a maelstrom of chaos as they navigate uncharted terrain, evade exotic beasts and face unknown fears as they are in the grand presence of the King of Skull Island: KONG!

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and written by Max Borenstein, Derek Connelly, John Gatins and Dan Gilroy, Kong: Skull Island stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Toby Kebbell, John C. Reilly, Tian Jing and Jason Mitchell. Treading upon Skull Island is forbidden but an excursion will take place on March 10, 2017.

Brie Larson Joins The Avengers as Captain Marvel

Fans have been speculating, wondering, and waiting to see who would take the lead in Marvel’s upcoming superhero feature led by a leading lady. Comic Con put the speculation to rest with an announcement of slam-dunk proportions. Captain Marvel has been cast and the role has been won by none other than recent Academy Award winner Brie Larson!

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Image By dorothy (Brie Larson @ the SXSW premiere of Don Jon), via Wikimedia Commons

Carol Danvers was created in 1968, appearing in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 — a Captain Marvel story — as an American security officer working alongside Captain Mar-Vell, an alien sent to study the planet Earth. She debuted as the super-powered character Ms. Marvel in the pages of Marvel Comics after her human DNA was fused with genes from the alien race known as the Kree. She went on to inherit the title of Captain Marvel in 2012-Entertainment Weekly

Like landing Benedict Cumberbatch for Doctor Strange and Chadwick Boseman for Black Panther, this is a genuine slam-dunk casting for Marvel. Larson is months away from receiving her Oscar for delivering one of the best acting performances of 2015 in the highly acclaimed Room, but she is, or will be, known for other notable roles.

She’s been doing excellent work for years, ranging from indies like Short Term 12 and The Spectacular Now to studio pictures like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Most recently she shot a co-starring role in the upcoming blockbuster Kong: Skull Island, and she’s currently filming another indie drama called The Glass Castle that reunites her with her Short Term 12 director Destin Daniel Cretton.-Collider

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Image by Marvel Studios

At present, Captain Marvel is scouting potential fits for director but a screenplay is in place courtesy of Meg LeFauve and Nicole Perlman. Captain Marvel will make it into theaters by March 8, 2019 but Larson could be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe sooner via The Avengers: Infinity Wars.

 

God Bless Comic Con! Why? TRAILERS!!!

I just knew that I would be blogging something today. Didn’t know how, but I knew. At first I thought I would throw up a surprise review on Star Trek Beyond, which IMO wasn’t all that; I’m not a Trekkie, I fail to see the appeal in Star Trek but I’m being honest, fans of the franchise will get a kick out of Justin Lin’s addition to the franchise and its attempt to appease its audience with classic nostalgic tones but for those non-Trekkies like myself: meh.

In case it hasn’t dawned on you: San Diego Comic Con is underway. It is in this time where fellow nerds, pop-culture enthusiasts, comic-lovers, practically people I can get along with confluence together to ooh and ahh all of the new grounds being broken in the worlds of comics, video games, television, films in the coming weeks, months or years even. You can always count on Comic Con to deliver something to wet your pop-culture appetite. While I was distracted by Star Trek Beyond, I returned home to catch up on what I’ve missed and I have missed much!

Kong: Skull Island

When Godzilla roared his mighty roar, someone at Warner Bros. and Legendary must have realized that this could be the beginning of something truly extraordinary but the creatures Godzilla faced did not pose enough of a challenge for the giant! Who could possibly stand against such a foe? The answer: KONG! An expedition led by Captain James Conrad, takes a team of explorers onto an island laden with danger and reigning over this treacherous-loaded-paradise is a creature who has existed long before the time of man but formidable and fearsome enough to hold dominion over his world and he won’t bow before anyone who dares stand in his way! Behold the trailer for Kong: Skull Island!

Kong: Skull Island is written by Max Borenstein, Derek Connelly, John Gatins and Dan Gilroy and is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. The film stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell. Kong becomes King on March , 2017.

Doctor Strange

Just when I FINALLY calmed from seeing that ridiculously trippy trailer from Doctor Strange, they set this on us! I’m not complaining it looks spellbinding all the same! BY THE EYE OF AGAMOTTO ENCHANT US!

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Michael Stuhlbarg and Scott Adkins, Doctor Strange is written by Jon Spaiths, directed by Scott Derrickson and will land in theaters by November 4, 2016. WOW!

The LEGO Batman Movie

I confess, I regret not giving The LEGO Movie a chance while it was in theaters. It did prove to be quite the delightful adventure. The film went on to enjoy a LOT of success in 2014, and in typical Hollywood fashion success usually equals sequels or spinoffs and in The LEGO Movie’s case, both. While the sequel is a ways off, a spinoff starring one of the films most popular characters is completely put together and fans are eagerly awaiting for the unveiling of The LEGO Batman Movie.

Chris McKay is the director guy in charge of assembly, who co-wrote the film with Seth Grahame-Smith and Eric Sommers, with the assistance of Jared Stern and John Whittington. Will Arnett will lend his voice to Batman, and rounding out the cast is Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Zack Galifianakis and Mariah Carey. The LEGO Batman Movie will hit theaters with excellent reflexes on February 10, 2017.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Harry Potter’s magical age has come and gone but renowned literary genius J.K. Rowling has started a new story about a new magical hero. Famous magizoologist Newt Scamander’s arrival in 1950s New York City has coincided with strange happenings within the American wizarding community and these bizarre events have involved some form of magical beast or two. Scamander must put his expertise to the test to remedy the problem before the fallout falls onto the non-magical population. This is the latest trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is written by J.K. Rowling, directed by David Yates and stars Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Jon Voight, Ron Perlman, Carmen Ejogo, Dan Fogler and Samantha Morton. A new age of magic begins on November 18, 2016.

Wonder Woman

One can say she made her long-awaited debut in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, many can argue that she stole the show in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Either way, whether you liked Batman v. Superman or not-I didn’t-Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was a revelation and a statement; badass heroes don’t have to be men. Before she stepped back into the light in that intense battle, she had a story and this trailer is a preview of said story about how Princess Diana of Thymiscara set foot onto the world of men, guided by Steve Trevor.

Directed by Patty Jenkins and written for the screen by Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg, Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Saïd Taghmaoui and Florence Kasumba. Wonder Woman rides into battle June 2, 2017.

 Justice League

Perhaps no movie will be under no greater scrutiny than the follow-up to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Judging by this trailer, Justice League is saying and doing all of the right things but trailers have been deceiving before. Essentially, Batman is recruiting a team of meta-humans including Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. This team of extraordinary individuals with great power will combat a coming threat. Justice League is coming together.

Zack Snyder directs, Chris Terrio contributes the screenplay for this superhero ensemble piece starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amber Heard, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, J.K. Simmons, Willem Dafoe, Jeremy Irons and Henry Cavill. Justice League bows into theaters on November 17, 2017.

I have never attended Comic Con before but one day I hope to go and be a part of so much nerdgasmic excitement! Any more trailers come out, I’ll bring them here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy and GOD BLESS COMIC CON!