Tag Archives: potted film review

Potted Film Review: Rambo – Last Blood (2019)

Rambo_-_Last_Blood_official_theatrical_posterStarring: Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega, Sergio Peris-Mencheta

The biggest problem with the latest (and hopefully the last) installment in the Rambo franchise is that it isn’t really a Rambo movie at all. Sure, Stallone is in the title role, and he gets to enjoy plenty of gratuitous violence, but with his short, neatly styled hair, he doesn’t even look like the John J. of old. I would argue that this may have worked better if you take the title character out of the story and just make it a generic revenge tale… because that is kinda what it is. In fact, now that I think about it, this would have been more appropriate for the next Expendables movie.

At under 90 minutes Last Blood is a relatively short ride, the first half of which is far superior… which says a lot because the revenge part (the part of the movie you’re really meant to get into) happens in the second half. Yeah, I understand Rambo’s motivation to do what he does, and the blood being spilled when he does it is pretty fun, but this script does not need to have him in it, and it feels a little weird that he is.

Ironically, if you’re a completist then you need to see this as (hopefully) a button on the series, but for the casual action fan there are far better offerings out there. It pains me, but I can’t recommend this as the fifth Rambo movie, and ultimately that’s how I have to view it. Somewhere along the line Stallone lost the essence of the character, and the guy on screen here is only superficially the same person, to the point where I am almost convinced that Rambo was just shoehorned into the plot to add a little cache to the production.

Not Recommended (as a Rambo movie) ⇓

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Potted Film Review: Super 8 (2011)

super8587783329.jpgStarring: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler

Spielberg, kids, aliens. Back in the eighties that was a three-pronged recipe for blockbuster success. A couple of decades later, and although Spielberg may have fallen from his lofty perch, his name continues to hold cache, and he still knows how to produce a compelling tale.

The kids in Super 8 may not be as entertaining, and the story here may not be as effectively told as anything from Spielberg’s heyday, but it’s still a pretty good yarn… just not as good as it could have been. 

There’s a fantastically realised train crash to set things up, but other than that, Super 8 is not particularly memorable. 

Recommended (slightly) ⇑

Potted Film Review: Skyscraper (2018)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Hanskyscraper-poster-600x9502100222201.jpg

What’s it all about?
The Rock is Will, an FBI operative who loses his leg below the knee and has a prosthetic attachment for the remainder of the movie. A decade later and he is a security consultant for the world’s taest skyscraper, which is in Hong Kong.

A group of terrorists break in to the building and start a fire in order to take control of the situation, but as luck would have it, Will’s children are now stranded and it is up to him to save the day and take down the bad guys…

…which he does about an hour later courtesy of a lot of not-so-special effects, some awful stunt work, and one particularly ludicrous moment where my suspension of disbelief was taken beyond breaking point. Yes, you can see it in that poster.

Watching it with the kids…
Yeah, go on. This is family friendly entertainment… although I use that term loosely.

Verdict…
I went in to this one with high hopes. The Rock is a very charismatic performer, so at least it has him going for it, right? Well… no. This is very much in the mould of Die Hard, although I feel dirty even making that comparison because Skyscraper has none of the action, stunts, heart, soul, humour, or pathos of that classic. It’s a one-legged imitation.

It pains me to say so, but this is a poor Dwayne Johnson movie, and one I will never go back to.

Not Recommended

Potted Film Review: The Equalizer 2 (2018)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders

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What’s it all about?
The Equalizer 2 takes up a little further down the road from where the first movie ended, with McCall (Denzel Washington) working as a driver-for-hire by day, while at night he plays at being a vigilante warrior.

This time around Chloe Grace Moretz, who was pivotal to the thrust of the first entry, is nowhere to be seen… so already it’s an uphill battle. In an effort to mirror that relationship, McCall befriends Miles, another troubled teenager. A poor imitation for sure, but it is the best thread of the movie.

There are some stand-out moments – a fight in a moving car through the streets of Boston, and a tense search through McCall’s apartment come to mind – but this is disappointingly rote.

Watching it with the kids…
As with the first movie, this is pretty violent stuff with lots of blood and breaking of bones. Best not pick this one up if you’re looking for rainbows and snowflakes, or for something to babysit the little ones.

Verdict…
This is hard for me, because I really enjoyed the original movie. The only job this sequel had was to give me more of the same. Do that and I’m (probably) happy. Unfortunately, The Equalizer 2 is half-baked, and it doesn’t do anything as well as the first installment. It’s also very clumsy and far too convoluted for the story it wants to tell.

Not Recommended ↓

Potted Film Review: The Shape of Water (2017)

Starring: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones

What’s it all about?
Elisa is a mute cleaner who works in an undisclosed government facility. She does her job and keeps her nose clean, chatting to her friend Zelda, unti one day she discovers a strange amphibious creature in one of the rooms that she is cleaning.

Initially Elisa’s interest in the creature is no more than curiosity, but her feelings soon grow into something greater, and against all odds the two form a close bond.

Elisa hatches a plan to steal the creature, thereby releasing from its shackles, so that she can keep it in her apartment where it will not have to be subjected to pokes and prods from the government officials. She elicits the help of her father and Zelda to do this.

Watching it with the kids…
There are a couple of scenes where things get pretty violent and bloody, and you may have to turn away from the screen if that isn’t your kind of thing. There is sex, a bunch of bad words, and full frontal nudity. So no, don’t watch this with the little ones.

Verdict…
The Shape of Water is both a very strange movie, but also a very simple one. Yes, it’s a period fantasy movie centred around a man-fish (or maybe it’s a fish-man), held captive by some shady political officials, but it’s essentially just a love story with a few bells and whistles to make it stand out from the crowd. And it does stand out. It starts off slowly, but by the time the credits rolled it had made me a believer, and I wanted them to live happily ever after too.

Recommended ↑

Potted Film Review: A Star is Born (2018)

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay

What’s it all about?
Jackson (Cooper) is a well-known country/folk musician who likes the drink a little more than he should. He sees Ally (Gaga) perform in a drag bar and – seeing her talents – falls in love with her there and then.

They get together, and he quickly introduces her on stage to his audience. From here, Ally’s stairway to stardom soon eclipses that of Jackson, and the bright lights of the music business gradually pull her away from where they were when it was just the two of them.

The movie follows Ally’s rise to international fame while also detailing the ebbs and flows of the relationship between the two leads as a result of how they are viewed by the industry.

Watching it with the kids…
If you can handle the bad language, drug abuse, a couple of scenes of intimacy, and the strong adult themes of relationship struggles, there is not much here that will soil the younger eyes.

Verdict…
I was pleasantly surprised with this, and especially by the performance of Lady Gaga, who I had not considered as a worthy actress. I will however, hold my hands up and say I was wrong. Both her and Cooper are understated from start to finish and play their roles in such a way that you never believe they are acting. In fact, there are several scenes that I feel certain were ad-libbed, with only brief direction given to the performers. A Star is Born feels real, and as such, the emotional tug of the story is that much stronger, when it comes.

Recommended ↑

Potted Film Review: Toy Story 4 (2019)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Keanu Reeves

Toy_Story_4_posterWhat’s it all about?
As per the events of Toy Story 3, Woody and the rest of the gang now live with Bonnie, but she is about to begin kindergarten and Woody is concerned that the experience will be difficult for her. It is here that we are introduced to the newest character – Forky, a suicidal plastic spork whom Bonnie adores.

While Woody is encouraging Forky to integrate himself with the group, he lays everything down to find an old friend who has been lost for years. His selfishness results in Forky being kidnapped, and – with the help of some new faces – Woody needs to devise a plan to rescue him in order to bring him back to Bonnie.

The final act – which I will not spoil here – is an emotional ride in which you will not only forget these are toys, but that this whole thing has been computer generated. These characters prove once again that nobody does animated heart and soul quite like Pixar.

Watching it with the kids…
As with all the Toy Story movies (and everything that Pixar does) this is superficially for children, but there’s always a deeper theme aimed at adults.

Verdict…
It takes a lot to elicit an emotional response from me at the cinema, so bravo to the writers, animators, and performers of Toy Story 4. It’s a great movie, but is it the best iteration of Pixar’s flagship series? I don’t think so. It has a similar feel to the third entry, and – although Woody has always been the main star – here he takes up more screen time than ever before, at the expense of everyone else that we have come to know and love. It’s absolutely fine, but it sometimes feels more like a solo spin-off movie than a true ensemble sequel.

Recommended (highly) ↑