Tag Archives: potted film review

Potted Film Review: In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)

MV5BN2I1MGQ2ZjMtMjc1My00YzU1LThjNzktNzJlMWRkMTc0NjZhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTkxNjUyNQ@@._V1_Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Michael C Hall, Cleopatra Coleman

A surface-level synopsis of this movie may make you feel like this is ripping off The Terminator, but once you dig down you will find that this Netflix offering is a little more complex than that, and perhaps a tad more grounded as well.

Time travel in movies is an easy sell for me, but it can be a difficult concept to pull off successfully. Although it ties itself up in knots in the final quarter hour, and the reveal is a little hard to swallow, In the Shadow of the Moon earns its stripes by managing to sidestep many of the head-scratching problems a movie like this faces.

Recommended (but you will need to keep your brain switched on) ⇑

Potted Film Review: Fractured (2019)

MV5BZTE0MWE4NzMtMzc4Ny00NWE4LTg2OTQtZmIyNDdhZjdiZmJhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzY0MTE3NzU@._V1_UY268_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Starring: Sam Worthington, Lily Rabe

Sometimes movies try to be too clever for their own good, and the writers will throw up any number of roadblocks and red herrings just to ensure the viewer doesn’t figure out what is going on.

Fractured is a psychological thriller and could very easily have been one of those movies, but instead it kept me on the hook right until the end, even if I had pretty much (mostly) figured out what was going on before the credits rolled.

Although it does change things up a bit, what’s on offer here is not an original concept – and to say too much about the plot would be to spoil it, so I won’t – but it’s all done very well, to the point where the movie is thoroughly engrossing throughout.

Recommended ⇑

Potted Film Review: Backtrace (2018)

Starring: Matthew Modine, Sylvester Stallone

I am an unapologetic Stallone fan, but he has made a lot of less than stellar movies. Backtrace – in which he plays a supporting role as a cop still working a case from the best part of a decade earlier – is one of them.

His performance (for what there is of it) is fine, as are those of the rest of the cast, but from start to finish this by-the-numbers crime thriller feels like a movie you would find at the bottom of the bargain bin in your local supermarket. It’s not a terrible movie, or a great embarrassment on anyone’s resume… but it’s just a completely forgettable ninety minutes.

Not Recommended ⇓

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) ⇓

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 ↓