Category Archives: Disaster

Deepwater Horizon

True Lies

Remember the millennium? Loads of weird shit happened. One thing that happened was that BP changed their logo to be a green and yellow geometric symbol. I realise that’s not weird in itself but it was meant to represent green energy, plant life and the sun; mother natures all powerful life-giver.

Remember 2010? That massive oil spill in the gulf of Mexico? One of the biggest man made ecological disasters and one that destroyed acres of marine life was dismissed as an accident at first. Only after an official inquiry did it become fully apparent that it was actually crude negligence and the ever expanding chase for profits by highly flammable cockwombles at BP that caused this all powerful life-taker.

Suddenly their logo seems weird right?!

Deepwater Horizon is the origin story of this disaster focusing on the moments leading up to when it all went sideways.. and upside down… and generally very, very explodey!!

I actually met someone who worked on an oil rig and he showed me a picture of the view from his office window which was “some sort of outlet” but really it looked like the flamethrower scene from True Lies.

Deepwater horizon makes that picture look like a tealight because these flames go big. Really big. So big that it makes me thankful that the biggest hazard in my job is bad posture and RSI. It’s really quite spectacular and makes you realise that being in the middle of such of an event would be unfathomably scary. A nightmare of epic proportions.

I guess it’s lucky then that the people on the rig had Hercules on board to save everyone. Sorry, that was meant to be Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) not Hercules. It is a bit weird that the film is so Mike-centric because it seems highly unlikely that this one electrical engineer could preempt disaster, search for missing people switch on backup generators and be the last person to leave the rig… by jumping from the helipad.

It all seems highly dramatised and like it wasn’t corroborated by anyone else: “yeah, then I  totally tore a door off the wall with my bare hands and err… I surfed down the lava fields to safety! Oh and I totally shot all the bad guys on the way”.

I dunno. I wasn’t there. Maybe the film is actually highly accurate. Maybe it wasn’t. In the end it didn’t really matter because Marky Mark is as entertaining to watch as ever but adds to overall Hollywood gloss.

On the flip side is Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) and Vidrine (John Malkovich. Russell nails his role as the loveable but grizzled safety officer and Malkovich competently plays the voice of the corporation and help keep the film at least partly grounded.

I guess there is always a trade off though in this sort of film. Either you aim for entertainment by impressive visuals and maybe bend the truth here or there or you expose the lies of the real life even in a scathing critique of big oil and capitalism. Deepwater opts for the former and does a competent job of it but part of me still wishes they stuck more of a finger up at BP.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Explodey bits
+ Kurt Russell
+ Overall very entertaining


– Wahlberg’s character
– Seems overly dramatised
– Could have stuck up another finger to BP

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Independence Day: Resurgence

Regurgence

So, I started writing this post about how Independence Day Resurgence was an unwitting parallel to the Brexit independence day in which  similarly unbelievable characters fought a war against illegal immigrants culminating in an embarrassing mess with massive plot holes that left people scalping themselves they were scratching their head so hard.

As funny as it would be to talk about how Michael Gove reminds me of shit pencil topper or how Boris Johnson seems to be the lovechild of the Tasmanian Devil and a cauliflower it was all too unoriginal and unnecessary . So for a long time I tried to find an angle for my review even though I’d just found it: it was simply unnecessary. There is literally no good reason for this film to exist.

I guess my biggest gripe is that there is no complexity behind the story. The aliens are back. There you go – you now know the entirety of the storyline. If you are going to make a sequel after such a long time you better have a fucking reason to make the film other than “hahaha…. give me your money!”

Even when dredging the depths of creativity you can still squeeze out an acceptable film with a decent script but again the film really phones it in. To be fair, it kind of has to as it still needs to feel like the original which is about as cheesy as Burger King’s Mac & Cheetos.

Although there is a line at the end of the film where Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch) asks a group of orphaned kids if they want to go home with him. The kids say “I’d like that” to which he replies “… me too!” which I’m pretty sure is just grooming small kids. HOW DID THIS GET MADE?!

The acting is just miserable from almost everyone involved and there is an over-reliance on characters from the original film as if we couldn’t tell it was a sequel from the fact it has the same sodding name.

Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) may as well be called mr generic white man whilst Rain Lao (Angelababy… yeah seriously, that’s a name!) is wedged in to make it palatable for the Chinese market. The only palatable actor was Jeff Goldblum but an over-reliance on almost every character from the original really holds it back from breaking free of its old chains.

If you can forgive all of that you still need to overlook plot holes that are as gaping as Nigel Farage’s ability to be sane, rational and courteous. Classic inaccuracies of “we only have 20 seconds” then 5 minutes later they are still faffing is overshadowed by ones such as out-running a tidal wave created by planet sized space ship on a 12 foot fishing boat.

This is Roland Emmerich simply trying to out-do himself once again. First it was severe weather, then almost every possible natural disaster, now it’s giant aliens next is a project called Moonfall. Someone needs to put a stop to this man before we get film about an intergalactic, planet eating version of Barney the dinosaur is released.

The best advice I can give you to get through this film is the same as with Brexit: get a few beers and just watch the madness unfold around you.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Probably a fun film to get drunk to

– Inconsistent
– Terrible script
– Over reliance on old characters

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X-Men: Apocalypse

X-Men: Third Class

Credit where credit is due; Bryan Singer has done as much for the X-Men franchise as he has for the popularity of the superhero film genre as a whole thanks mainly to the success of the two original X-Men films.

This was followed by the abysmal X3 (which took a hearty dump on the franchise) and a number of middling Wolverine films before First Class and Days of Future Past brought fresh faces and ideas to the franchise whilst expertly weaving in aspects of the original films and real life events alike.

Its a shame to see the third X-Men film, once again, abandon a winning formula in favour of gratuitous CGI.

Watching Professor X (James Mcavoy) and Magneto (Michael Fastener) struggle to keep together their friendship whilst staunchly supporting their own opposing ideals was one of the best aspects of the previous two X-Men films. It’s a saga that Apocalypse needed to simply drop a cherry on top of, drop the mic and walk off into the sunset yet these two icons barely exchange a single word.

Instead the dialogue is proliferated by Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) who reels off self infatuated monologues to anyone who will listen which, as it turns out, is no-one.

This dialogue is meant to make us understand why his four horseman chose to unquestionably follow him. However, it’s hard to comprehend this devotion when such a terrifyingly powerful mutant spends more time preening and fabulous-ising his horseman than he does being the titular harbinger of doom.

Even in the final fight with Apocalypse he does nothing. Literally. Nothing. You have a couple of x-men standing still whilst CGI whirls around them and Apocalypse standing still whilst CGI whirls around him.

Compare that to the dynamic and imaginative fight scenes captured in Civil War and the action is hugely disappointing. It’s almost as if this film was adapting an issue of Marvel’s “What if…” comic book series – this one is “What if Roland Emmerich directed X-Men?”

Apocalypse, as a villain, sits right on top of shit-heap that is the MCU’s catalogue of underwhelming villains but moreover the whole film simply tries to do too much ending with mixed results.

The latest offering introduces new X-Men and old favourites. The absolute best scene in the film is once again stolen by Quicksilver (Even Peters) . It doesn’t live up to the kitchen scene from Days of Future Past – one of the most clever and entertaining moments in recent film – but it still is a welcome injection of fun.

On the flip side is Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) who’s unnecessary appearance is an attempt to connect his Origins film but it doesn’t advance the plot and the aggressive nature of the scene doesn’t fit with the feel of the rest of the film.

Equally unpalatable is the criminally under-utilised Psylocke (Olivia Munn), the newly turned emo version of Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Jubilee (Lana Condor) with her multiple cameos and Jean Grey (Sophie turner) who… well… I just think is bad at acting!

On the plus side we get really excellent versions of Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) who are both exciting and enigmatic new faces. They are perfectly placed to take the franchise forwards without having to rely on the juggernauts (pun intended) of McAvoy and Fassbender.

With so many characters to juggle and back stories to fill it’s unsurprising that the large chunks of the story feel completely disjointed as we jump from unrelated story to unrelated story with the exception of perhaps Storm’s involvement in the overall plot.

Even though it is largely unrelated to the main story the details of Magneto’s life after the events of the previous films are rather touching. It’s only a glimpse at what could have been but I would absolutely be interested in watching a Magneto standalone film that explores the tumultuous mind of Eric Lehnsherr.

The above might sound like I’m shitting on X-Men apocalypse and in a way I am, but it’s not because it’s a bad film to watch more that it’s lost focus of what was important in this film. Complete the Professor X, Magneto saga, introduce fresh faces to star in the next reboot and show some eye popping and imaginative action scenes.

Sure, it does some of the above but in a weird moment of self reflection it’s ironic that Jean Grey even states: “At least we can all agree the third one is always the worst”. Yes. Yes we can.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Quicksilver’s moment of glory
+ Most of the ‘new’ characters
+ Magneto’s Arc


– Rubbish villain
– Sophie Turner
– Does very little to expand the trilogy

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10 Cloverfield Lane

All Clover Again

In 2008 Matt Reeves directed a relatively low budget monster movie called Cloverfield. It was like Godzilla and The Blair Witch Project had a baby which sounds weird but it quickly became a cult classic thanks to this unique blend of genres. I suppose it helped that 2008 was before found footage was as played out as auto-tuning pop songs for audio ‘style’.

Cloverfield was a well packaged film, giving you only rare glimpses of the monster only to reveal it’s true nature at the end of the film. This is how the best horror films tends to work. The thing is though; we have seen the monster now so the mystery is gone. How then do you make a sequel without making it Pacific Clover Rim-field?

Well that’s simple. You get different people to write the film, you change the director, remove that shaky camera nonsense, you don’t set it in a city, keep exactly none of the original actors, get rid of the original monster and having the new title as the only reference to the original.

10 Cloverfield Lane is not in fact a sequel; it’s a spiritual successor. It’s important to set expectations here because it is very different to the original Cloverfield. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a psychological thriller more than a horror, monster or disaster film but it’s also important to go in knowing as little as possible so this will be 100% spoiler free.

The set up is simple. Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is running from her problems and in the process is involved in a car accident. She wakes to find she has been apparently kidnapped by Howard (John Goodman) but it’s not that simple because something has apparently happened to the outside world. Russian invasion? An atomic bomb? Chemical weapons? Aliens? Who knows, perhaps the apes have finally risen or One Direction fans are running riot. Terrifying.

So Michelle is holed up in a bunker along with Howard and, to her surprise, a local called Emmett (John Gallagher Jr). The film follows Michelle trying to make sense of the situation.

The majority of the film is set in the confines of the bunker so it is reliant on the script to take most of the strain. Writers Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken have done a fantastic job in this respect. They have managed to find a delicate balance between developing the characters and to keep you guessing what the hell is going on.

Of course any good script is also dependent on its delivery and all three of the actors excel in this regards but it’s Goodman who stands above all. This is easily one o the best performances of his career. He effortlessly flirts between a begrudging host, a strict ex-military serviceman, an under-appreciated good samaritan, threatening patriarch and oddball, end of the world conspiracy theorist.

I think the film should have ended with  the words “Oh come on!” and that’s about the only complaint I can go into without spoiling what is otherwise a finely crafted thriller.

Whilst the film holds very little in common with the first Cloverfield it does capture a similar feeling of mystery and intrigue. It’s definitely worth a watch but try not to read too much into it before you see it.

 

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ John Goodman’s performance
+ Keeps you guessing


– Ending is too drawn out
– Err… Other stuff

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Into The storm

Let’s Twist Again!

Who doesn’t love a good disaster movie? You can sit back and enjoy some crazy visual effects, people screaming, loose plot lines and at the end of it you can safely say “well that would totally suck if it actually happened”.

I think I got about 15 minutes in before I was firmly convinced that being anywhere near a tornado would suck… really fucking suck. I guess that is the easiest starting point, let’s face it you aren’t going to watch this film for the emotional drama are you?! because if you then prepare to be massively disappointed.

Seeing those tornadoes tear open buildings like a fat man tearing open a packet of crisps was truly a terrifying experience. The physics of people floating around in the wind or being sucked out of buildings was excellent. The sound design of the tornadoes only adds to the gravity of the situation so praise should go to the sound department.

Like most disaster movies the plot is simple. Tornadoes happen, they are bigger and more numerous than they expected, everyone tries to survive. It’s all put together through ‘found footage’ of people filming the events that have happened. Thankfully the found footage isn’t shaky hand cam stuff like you see in the Blair Witch Project or something similar because that now feels about as fresh as 3 week old milk.

Even though this approach is rather worn out it does help to take off some of the Hollywood gloss from the movie and that’s a good thing. Arguably it is still too glossy but if it did the full grainy shaky camera stuff it would have lost it’s impact so I guess it strikes a good balance in the end.

Apart from the main plot the films biggest failings are when people try to open up about their feelings. These dialog sections feel forced and wedged in to the script but it doesn’t help that there is little emotional investment in most of the characters. This also has the knock on effect in that you don’t really care about who lives or dies, but who lives and who dies? It could be anyone and that not knowing keeps you interested throughout the whole film.

Go See

  • Genuinely terrifying visuals
  • Excellent sound design
  • Firenado!

Avoid

  • The rather woeful emotional moments
  • Found footage feels a bit tired
  • If you live in a stormy area!

Overall

3-5-stars