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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Movie Review: My Mother's Future Husband (2014)

My Mother's Future Husband
2014
Cast: Lea Thompson, Matreya Fedor, Sebastian Spence, Chelsea Mae Leung, Jacob Tremblay 
Genre: TV Movie

Plot: A teenage daughter hatches a plan to fix her widowed mother with a guy (or three) to have some time away from their mother-daughter BFF time





'Same Old Rom-Com Fare The Likes You've Seen Millions Of Times Over, & Just As Forgettable'

A teen based/ Disney-fied - like dramedy that is in the vein of a romantic comedy in terms of its structure, My Mother's Future Husband is not entirely horrible.... it's just trite and predictable.

Rene (Lea Thompson) is a widowed mother who receives secret matchmaking services from her teenage daughter, Headley and her best friend and of whom, in turn, set her up with a single dad, Andrew. Sparks fly and along the way Headley and Rene learn to deal with the pain in the past, and how to move on from that & look forward to the future.

Jacob Tremblay, who was in 2017's Wonder with Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, plays the younger boy, Connor here and he didn't do or say much at all and for once, in a film, Lea Thompson doesn't over-emote, as much and nor does her performance grate on me. Honestly, these are the types of films she should be doing, as she is not cut out for anything else, in my personal opinion. It's harmless fluff, but stale and so-so and doesn't have much charm with a typical ending found in these types of films.

My Mother's Future Husband is a straight-To-DVD rom-com drama with a premise akin to The Parent Trap & in watching Thompson, she seems at ease, compared to most of the other films she has been in, and quite frankly, she should have been following in the same footsteps as Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston - had her movie career been far more prosperous. The teen scenes, however, were forgettable with some cringing singing and I didn't really pay attention to them & the religious themes I didn't care for. & some of the other music is also cringing to hear.

If you took a Hollywood rom-com, stripped away Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, the box office appeal and replaced them with TV movie actors & a low- budget feel and production values and made it more teen-friendly, this is what one would get in a film titled My Mother's Future Husband.





Final Verdict:

It's not completely dire, but at the same time, it's nothing that special. The low points are the corny singing, and alas, it's easily forgettable once you have seen a more superior and popular rom-com that did it way better than this film. My Mother's Future Husband is the McDonald's equivalent of a rom-com: cheap, quick to prepare, easy- to- digest and just as disposable.



Overall:


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Retro Review: New Jersey Drive (1995)

New Jersey Drive
1995
Cast: Sharron Corley, Gabriel Casseus, Donald Faison, Heavy D, Roscoe Orman, Christine Baranski
Genre: Crime Drama
U.S Box Office Gross: over $3.5 million

Plot: An impoverished New Jersey youth & his pal get their thrills by stealing cars and taking them for joyrides. Soon, he finds himself on the wrong side of the law, & makes a dangerous enemy in his neighbourhood 






'Hood-Based Crime Drama Lacking In Focus, But Still Gets By Through Strong Turns'

New Jersey Drive is a lower-tier indie movie that came out in 1995 and was relatively unknown, but it is also a film where it poses the question of whether or not citizens and the very people who are supposed to protect the city & community can co-exist alongside each other. & yet still, somehow & oddly it chooses to dodge this question & never providing the answers. Together with unsympathetic main characters, New Jersey Drive weaves through so many directions, but never finding one route in its angle and sticking with it throughout its entirety.

With a little help from Spike Lee, the drama focuses on a group of Black youths in Newark, New Jersey who resort to stealing cars and carjacking and their attempts at evading the law. Problems then mount when they steal a police car, with the officers launching an offensive that results in several deaths and police brutality. 

We have the black youths versus the police, versus other youths & versus their families. As well as this middling mix, the story and its characters fail to convince, lacking presence and empathy, depth and characterisation. Qualities that persist in Set It Off and Dead Presidents: fellow African- American Black movies, which for me go to far greater lengths than New Jersey Drive & ones that are similar in tone.

It's a movie with an agenda that it wants to say, loud and clear - unfortunately, whatever that was just didn't transcend & come through. There were a few times where I also felt that perhaps it was going somewhere and eventually finding its feet. But come towards the end, It was too late. Additionally, the 'B' & 'N' words are frequently uttered.

The performances were great though, which also includes appearances by Donald Faison, who later starred in the ABC show, Scrubs and Christine Baranski of The Birdcage and Bowfinger and it's a huge shame the film wasn't able to back them up. It looks great too, cinematography -wise but beneath the style and aesthetics, there was frankly little substance with characters with nothing to say about themselves. The main character, Jason never develops and by the end, I didn't care enough for him.

The film doesn't offer anything else or more, but mostly it's just to exhibit a bunch of youths cursing, stealing and joyriding cars with the police in pursuit of them. Although it does show both the youths and police being reckless and at fault, and so one thing I liked was it wasn't so completely one-sided. That, and it felt very realistic, genuine and raw, which was good to see. Yet had New Jersey Drive found a focus, stuck with it and elaborated on it more, then it would be far more coherent.





Final Verdict:

It's not a must-see in terms of Black and African American films; that & Dead Presidents & Set It Off are far superior when it comes to similar offerings of this type. But this one was okay, & by putting aside the negative depictions of the characters, therein still lies a little gem in African-American film that is not half bad.



Overall:




Monday, 16 April 2018

Mini Movie Review: 7 Guardians Of The Tomb (2018) #badmovies

7 Guardians of the Tomb
2018
Action - Adventure



A joint Chinese and Australian production, this is a Z-movie take on The Mummy & Indiana Jones - type of adventure movie, directed by the same person who did Bait, which I thought wasn't too bad, but the end result here is one that is utterly bland, not very exciting or entertaining, there is just nothing about it that captured my attention. The only recognisable face is Kelsey Grammar aka Frasier Crane, and he is another of those TV actors who found huge fame on the small screen, but movie-wise, he hasn't had much success as he turns to B & Z-movies. & here, that lacklustre run of his long continues. Rickety effects, some poor dialogue, honestly there are some notable Australian films that are far better than this (Strictly Ballroom, Muriel's Wedding, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert). It's one of those films where it looked like a huge amount of money was blown on everything - and still, it feels utterly maudlin & excruciatingly dreary with not one performance or standout moment. It's so easily forgettable and there is little to no value given to it. Oh, and the movie's title font looks like the designers ripped off the Guardians of the Galaxy logo too.


Is it worth watching?

No

Overall:

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Retro Review: Steele Justice (1987)

Steele Justice
1987
Cast: Martin Kove, Sela Ward, Ronny Cox, Bernie Casey, Shannon Tweed, Soon-Tek Oh
Genre: Action
U.S Box Office Gross: over $1.3 million 

Plot: Steele is an ex-cop and Vietnam vet who is determined to bring down Kwan, former South Vietnamese general and now rich and powerful drug lord





'Justice Steele Of America'

The mid-1980s take on Rambo and Commando with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steele Justice is a B-movie actioner that stars Martin Kove of The Karate Kid and Rambo II fame and is another in the long line of macho tough guy & one-man army protagonists taking out a horde of bad guys with his arsenal of weapons. Steele Justice gifted Kove one opportunity to show he can cut it as the good guy leading man for a change, and in some ways it's okay, but also it's not exactly top-tier stuff, either. 


When Vietnam soldier John Steele is betrayed by General Kwan, Kwan makes off with millions of dollars worth of gold supplied by the CIA to fund the war. Steele and his compatriot, Lee are both shot by Kwan and his cronies. Fast forward 10 years or so later, Steele is now a cop, who just lost his job and is estranged from his wife, Tracy. Kwan is alive and he and his son become drug traffickers. Lee's ties with a criminal organisation going by the name of the Black Tigers, bring out carnage and tragedy for Lee's family and they slaughter and kill Lee. When Steele finds out, he transforms into a John Rambo/John Matrix type, with his own brand of justice and thus, he goes leaps and bounds to get his vengeance on Kwan, as well as clear Lee of any wrongdoing.

Steele Justice pretty much borrows many elements and tropes from Rambo, Commando and other '80s action films to carve out a movie of its own. As nice as it is, it also pales in comparison to Commando & Rambo II and other similar films. 

Kove's performance and turn as Steele is modest and committed he puts in a lot of effort, and whilst I can picture him as an action hero type, he hasn't had more opportunities to play this type of role to be able to stamp his mark. He's mostly known for being the villain and antagonist or sidekick and as much as he tries, the nature of the script doesn't allow him to develop. With more effort put into the script and a director who could helm something that is fully watchable, Steele Justice would be worth talking about & Steele would be a far better character than he is, as well portrayed as he is by Martin Kove. The other performances are okay with a few roles played by some actors, Al Leong to name but two, who was in Big Trouble In Little China, and as subdued as Ronny Cox is, it was nice to see him play a good guy. There is also the odd cameo of Shannon Tweed in a swimsuit playing the girlfriend of the bad guy, Kwan. 

The one major blight I had with this film is a corny dance scene, which was too embarrassing for me, together with an even cornier pop soundtrack that made my ears bleed almost. There are also 1 or 2 car chases, a Karate Kid -style training montage & Steele treating a dart wound with only a knife and a buffet pan. 


It's a B-movie that is a little cheesy and has no time for logic, details and it just gets stuck into delivering the action, but with expectations lowered to a tee, it manages to do its job. 





Final Verdict

Far from competent and the story isn't great and plus, it isn't half as fun and entertaining as Commando, which did it way better, thanks to big Arnie, amongst others. Watching this, it's fair to say I can see why it was overlooked: it's too formulaic, there are no ''so-bad-it's-good moments'', no thrills, no characters who are as charismatic, unintentionally amusing and appealing as Bennett and John Matrix of Commando and with the iconic status of Stallone's John Rambo

But as a lower-tier, B-action movie, it's just a-okay. 


Overall:

Friday, 13 April 2018

Movie Review: Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017)

Smurfs: The Lost Village
2017
Cast: Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello, Mandy Patinkin, Michelle Rodriguez, Megan Trainor, Julia Roberts
Genre: 3D Computer Animated Fantasy Adventure Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $197 million

Plot: A mysterious map sets Smurfette & her friends, Brainy, Clumsy & Hefty on an exciting race through the Forbidden Forest, leading to the biggest secret in Smurf history





'A Movie That Is So Lost It Couldn't Find Its Way'


I was never a fan of The Smurfs cartoons when they aired in the 1980s on television. The theme song would grate on me after repeated listens -''la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la'', just urgh; after avoiding the first two movies based on their derisory reception and for being, well, bad, I gave this one a go, given some people have said how this is better than the other Smurfs films. For sure, The Lost Village tries to make an effort, in contrast to those travesties - but still, this was an unbelievably dull, bland offering that did little to turn things around for the series, insofar as animated movies go & it relies too much on pop songs to cater to audiences & not enough effort was put into creating a meaningful, engaging and engrossing film. 

Smurfette was created by an evil wizard named Gargamel out of clay and to spy on the other Smurfs and trick them by leading them to Gargamel's Caldron, only for Papa Smith to turn her to the good side. Smurfette tries to fit in with the other Smurfs, but she is unsure of her role and what she has to offer. 

The plot of The Lost Village completely fails to develop its characters: despite names such as Brainy, Papa Smurf, Hefty, Clumsy, Smurfette - names that could also be a play on the seven dwarves - and as such, irrespective of the cast names, the characters personalities fail to establish themselves throughout the duration of this movie, due to their almost pitiful absence of identity that isn't touched upon. 

It's baffling how seamlessly the art direction is in this movie- it looks so colourful, wonderful and the characters look just how as they should be; visually it's a treat. Yet the story itself is an utter chore that comes across as uninspired and lazy. I was also disappointed that though the feminist angle is nicely represented by the likes of Smurfette, SmurfMelody (Meghan Trainor), SmurfStorm (Michelle Rodriguez) & SmurfWillow (Julia Roberts), their character/story arcs are woefully brief & function more so as background characters. Having Brainy, Papa Smurf, Hefty, Clumsy, Smurfette just isn't enough. 

The usage of current pop music feels completely out of place - Effiel 64's ''Blue'' irritated the heck out of me when it came out in the 1990s, and it still irritates me today - and as such, the film should have omitted it. Some of the other voice acting I felt was barren, & didn't really suit the characters they portrayed; alas the actor for Gargamel here, Rainn Wilson just wasn't a match to the one in the 1980s cartoon series, Paul Winchell, who also happens to voice Dick Dastardly. It seemed he used his normal voice and it was boring to listen to. & though they had to recast actors for Papa Smurf & Clumsy, in my eyes and ears, it just never suited the characters that I'd envisaged. So with Gargamel and Papa Smurf especially, Rainn and Pantikin didn't work for me. But Demi Lovato did really good as Smurfette and by far, she made the biggest impression on me - and yet, I originally didn't tune into this film for her but for Julia Roberts. Roberts herself wasn't given much of a role to speak of (she appeared during like two-thirds of the movie) and she has more of a bit-part role. I was just as disappointed that with The Smurfs, given the other star support leads, Demi Lovato, singer Meghan Trainor, Michelle Rodriguez, this was a more well-known franchise, compared to Charlotte's Web and The Ant Bully for Julia Roberts to undertake - yet the conception, both in the movie and her bit-part role here did her no favours, at all. She and her meagre character said and did little of consequence  & in all honesty, I liked her turn in The Ant Bully far more than in The Smurfs and the attempts by the writers to throw in a rom-com- ish subplot of her character, SmurfWillow falling for Papa Smurf, because, -well, it is a role she plays most of the time in her other movies so why not-, feels awfully trite, tacked on and desperate.

As a film, but for the character designs, I don't feel the makers wanted to cater to those who grew up in that era of The Smurfs show. Whilst the reliance on celebrity star names to voice characters is something I don't have an issue with, it is only when they are not so effective as their characters that the movie fails to resonate and connect with audiences, especially those of an already existing I.P and franchise in The Smurfs. That and the story isn't compelling or enticing enough to hold one's interest. It definitely didn't hold mine and quite frankly, its execution just wasn't good enough. It bored my brains out and I couldn't wait for it to end. 

The progression with Smurfette's character was a good one to take, however, the same cannot be said for the rest of the film; kids and avid fanatics may find some enjoyment out of this, but with everyone else, there is just not enough here that is thoroughly worth it. 





Summary

Pros +


- The Smurf characters look far more authentic to their cartoon counterparts than the previous movies

- Tad better than the terrible Smurfs movie predecessors 

- Demi Lovato is the standout, by far 


Cons -


 - Didn't like the use of current pop songs, feels so out of place 

- Some of the voiceovers don't compare to those in the original cartoon 

- The story wasn't entertaining or appealing enough

- Everything else but for the visuals & despite Demi Lovato felt stale, it was just so bad

- Julia Roberts was wasted in a role, which was less sufficient & the SmurfWillow & Papa Smurf love storyline, like no

- Julia did it far better as Hova the ant in The Ant Bully than as a Blue Smurf



Final Verdict:

As mentioned this is a slight improvement over the last 2 Smurf movies, but that is scant consolation for what is truly an underwhelming and utterly bland offering, lacking in inventive ideas and relying too much on cliches and the overuse of pop songs irked me also. Plus it's yet another below mediocre non-Pixar/DreamWorks/Disney animated offering. 

This is so pandering, ponderous and overzealous, Smurfs The Lost Village turns out it is not that smurfing impressive. 


Overall:




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