Ghost in the Shell

3.5 Stars

A decent blockbuster, but don’t expect to be blown away.

Major Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson) is the first successfully built cyborg of her kind. With a human brain and a robotic shell, she has been specially developed by Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche) as a useful tool for the government’s counter cyber-terrorism unit. Alongside her team member Batou (Pilou Asbæk) and under command of Chief Arumaki (Takeshi Kitano), she is tasked to get to the bottom of a new and powerful hacker who has emerged.

I preferred this version to the anime film from 1995 because it’s far less ambiguous and easy to follow. This does mean it lacks a certain mystery in comparison with the original, but it’s a worthwhile tradeoff for folks like me who aren’t intrigued enough to watch it multiple times in order to understand the plot. This is certainly more catering to the masses.

Johansson and Asbæk were well cast in staying true to the character traits established in the original film. The futuristic Tokyo cityscape they have created is visually stunning, except on the big screen the cgi graphics are too low quality to really knock your socks off.

All-in-all a good and entertaining film – nothing more, nothing less.

Ghost in the Shell premieres in Sweden on 31 March.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

3.5 Stars

Slightly better than The Force Awakens.

For those who are unaware, Rogue One is actually a Star Wars Anthology film – a standalone story which is set within the Star Wars universe; but not part of the sequel trilogy. This means the main characters from other Star Wars movies are largely left out.

rogueone1

The story centers around Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) who are on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star – a superweapon developed by the Galactic Empire with the capability of destroying entire planets.

From the locations and sets to the costumed background characters and aliens, the Star Wars universe has been utilised to full effect with beautiful results. There are many visually stunning scenes.

rogueone2

It is actually refreshing the fact that this is a standalone movie that hasn’t been stretched out or watered down in order to fit into a set number of installments. I think this is what makes it superior to The Force Awakens, it feels more complete.

The story is a little complex and difficult to follow at first, but don’t stress – as the film folds out everything starts to become clear and make sense. It can be a little confusing when place names sound like character names and vice versa!

rogueone3

My misgivings about Rogue One largely center around the lacklustre lead characters. It’s not that there is anything ‘wrong’ with them as such, they just can’t hold a candle to the likes of Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo, Princess Leia or even Queen Amidala in terms of likeability and charisma. Jyn Erso’s character doesn’t feel fresh, as her look and personality traits are much like Rey from The Force Awakens – she might as well be the same person. This lack in strength of the new characters becomes further apparent when Darth Vader makes a brief but welcome appearance in a couple of scenes.

rogueone4

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story premieres in Sweden on 14 December.

Suicide Squad

2.5 Stars

Style over substance.

If anything, this film is proof that being hip and cool doesn’t count for much when the story isn’t up to par. Even with a winning concept, the wardrobe department on top of their game and a killer soundtrack.

suicideSquad1

Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) works for a secret government agency in charge of security. Against her colleagues’ advice she suggests putting together a squad of the most dangerous and colourful criminals in custody, in order to respond to future security threats. Under command of Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), her suggested lineup includes Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), amongst others. The most lethal of these is a witch called Enchantress (Cara Delevingne).

suicideSquad2

In this depiction of the comic world, The Joker (Jared Leto) is Harley Quinn’s boyfriend. As much of a fan as I am of Jared Leto, I found his portrayal of The Joker a little lacking in something that I can’t quite place my finger on. Lacking in soul, perhaps? Or maybe just *TOO* odd. I’m not sure if it’s because he didn’t have enough scenes to really show what he had, or maybe we have been so spoilt with Heath Ledger’s version that nothing else can come close. He certainly didn’t copy – i’ll give him that.

The beginning of the film is promising, it feels like they had a decent writer churn out the overall idea and then handed it over to a bunch of monkeys to finish it off. Disjointed, boring at times, I could go on. It’s such a shame because there was so much potential.

My favourite thing about this film? Harley Quinn’s outfit and props, hands down.

Suicide Squad premieres in Sweden on 3 August.

Jason Bourne

4 Stars

He’s back, and the action scenes are more spectacular than ever.

There’s no doubt that Jeremy Renner did a great job portraying Bourne in 2012’s The Bourne Legacy, but there’s nothing like having Matt Damon back in the role. Damon even produced the film this time – a first in the series. This is classic Bourne: Matt Damon, scenes shot in Berlin, rooftop sniping, and as usual he is on the top of the CIA’s wanted list.

jasonBourne1

Jason Bourne’s past is brought into question when documents are discovered by old comrade Nicky Parsons (Julia Styles). He must uncover the truth behind his existence in the CIA program whilst being viciously hunted down by CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and agent Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander).

jasonBourne2

The chase scenes in Bourne movies have always been fantastic, but this time things are turned up a notch. Without giving too much away, you get a glimpse of what i’m referring to if you check out the trailer and see the van crashing into a Las Vegas casino.

jasonBourne3

My only reservation with this film is that perhaps the storyline is a little too simple, and therefore not as unpredictable as it could have been. Ok, and maybe Alicia Vikander’s erratic accent which seems to morph from American to British at will. Other than that, this is a must-see for Bourne fans!

Jason Bourne premieres in Sweden on 27 July.

Bastille Day

4.5 Stars

Something to keep you satisfied until the next Bourne film comes out.

If you’re anything like me, you’re hanging out for the next Bourne film. Sure, there’s Bonds and Mission:Impossibles coming out every few years, Idris Elba has even been tipped as a future contender to play James Bond. But as far as action thrillers go, there’s something special about the Bourne franchise. Bastille Day has the same rawness and energy as the Bourne films, so it’s not surprising that the screenplay has been penned by Andrew Baldwin – the same writer as the upcoming Bourne sequel, Jason Bourne.

bastilleDay1

Sean Briar (Idris Elba) is a former CIA tough guy with a point to prove, after compromising the safety of another agent in his previous mission. Taking on an anti-terrorism case, he comes upon Michael Mason (Richard Madden), a talented pickpocket who has unwittingly placed himself in the center of the investigation.

bastilleDay2

There’s a real vibrance here, I honestly didn’t think they made films like this anymore. The British/French production gives it the air of a foreign film whilst keeping it completely accessible to English-speaking audiences with much of the dialogue in English. It’s actually refreshing that this is a stand-alone film, you can’t count on anyone needing to stay alive to participate in any sequels – so literally anything can happen.

bastilleDay3

The acting is decent all round. Special mention to Richard Madden for being incredibly good-looking. No, I didn’t rank the film higher because of this – but I *could* have 😉

Strangely, Bastille Day currently has no release date for the US. Their loss!

Bastille Day premieres in Sweden on 22 April.

Images © 2015 Studiocanal S.A. All Rights Reserved.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

2.5 Stars

Hyped up piece of nonsense.

I guess if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, you can’t really expect much from a concept like Batman versus Superman. With the right execution they just might have been able to pull it off. Unfortunately, they didn’t.

batmanSuperman1

I did my best to reserve judgement until the film came out, but it turns out that people were spot-on with their reservations about Ben Affleck as Batman. His acting is way below par; most of the time he just looks bored. This isn’t at all helped by the fact that he spends half the film channeling Bane rather than Batman. However this is more down to the flawed character development than the acting itself.

Batman isn’t the only character who seems a bit off. This incarnation of Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is awkward and nerdy – he’s more like The Riddler played by Jim Carrey in Batman Forever. Certainly not the powerful and strong business man that he’s meant to be. Then there’s Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons), who looks like he should be working for some high-end men’s fashion brand. There’s no way you can believe he’d lower himself to the ranks of butler. He’s not even dressed like Alfred.

batmanSuperman2

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) seems like an afterthought rather than an integral part of the film. Then there’s the story, and the script, the uninspiring action scenes… I could go on.

There was one thing they did get right, though. Henry Cavill IS Superman. He gives a flawless performance in spite of what he has to work with. This makes a huge difference to the film, and saves it to some extent. It’s a shame that Spiderman is on Marvel rather than DC Comics, to see Andrew Garfield’s Spiderman vs Superman instead would have at least been superb acting on both counts. Jesse Eisenberg does give a decent performance though, in spite of the odd direction of his character.

For all its flaws, at least it’s not mind-numbingly boring – and i’ve ranked it accordingly. All I can say now is: “Internet, bring on the memes!”

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice premieres in Sweden on March 23.

Point Break

2.5 Stars

The trailer’s better.

As with any remake, we must ask the question, “Why?”. If the original was good, what’s the point? A friend of mine even boycotted this reboot out of principle, Facebook page and all. Well, it’s not really all that bad. But I must agree it is pretty pointless, and as with most remakes it’s not as good as the original. If you really thought making the original into an action-packed version where the perpetrators were more hippie than surfy, sure…

pointBreak1

Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) is an ex motocross star who has recently joined the FBI. A hunch on solving a series of robberies leads him to cross paths with Bodhi (Édgar Ramírez) and his crew of extreme-sport loving comrades. Johnny must decide where his true loyalties lie.

pointBreak2

The acting in this isn’t half bad. Kudos to the film makers for not going for big names here, it wasn’t at all necessary. You could say that Luke Bracey is actually a better actor than Keanu Reeves in this role, although Keanu’s more wooden acting does give his character a certain extra sense of vulnerability.

pointBreak3

It’s obvious that the film has been brought roaring into 2015, with Bodhi and gang having corporate sponsorship, everything’s a bit more James Bond with dramatic stunts over a backdrop of amazing scenery. It’s worth mentioning that the plot and characters are not identical to the original either. Similar in many ways, but not exactly the same. I think if they departed from the original story even more they could have pushed it in an even more exciting direction and it could have been something special. However it feels a bit restrained and underwhelming all told.

Don’t discount this completely, but don’t expect much.

Point Break premieres in Sweden on February 5, 2016.

Spectre

3 Stars

What you’d expect, and not much else.

Another film down and it just feels like standard operating procedure. Overly dramatic theme song, Bond using as many different modes of transport as possible, visiting exotic cities, drinking martinis, fast cars, watches, having it away with the women – you get the idea. If that’s all you want from a Bond film, then great. If you expect a little more you may feel somewhat short changed.

spectre1

This time round, James (Daniel Craig) is in hot water with his new boss, M (Ralph Fiennes). After receiving a tip-off in the mail from the previous M (Judi Dench) now deceased, he embarks on a new mission she has assigned him. Going against all orders, and with the help of colleagues Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Wishaw) he discovers an organisation called Spectre, which threatens the very existence of their secret service.

spectre2

I was interested in seeing Monica Bellucci but her part is in fact very minor. Léa Seydoux has a considerably greater role than she does. Christoph Waltz is very much the stereotypical baddie, much like an Alan Rickman for our generation. Then there’s Ben Wishaw as Q, I can’t talk about the actors and not mention just how much his character reminds me of Moss from the IT Crowd.

spectre3

The opening scene does set a high standard. Set in Mexico, at the ‘Day of the Dead’ festival, the costumes and overall vibe is really enticing, with pulsing background music and you just wonder what is going to happen next – a great way to open the movie. There is a pretty spectacular fight scene in a helicopter as well. But then as the film progresses it soon relaxes into safe and expected 007 territory.

It feels like the whole Bond film series could really do with a shake-up of sorts. There’s a fine line between being sentimentally endearing and downright predictable. I’m sure fans will be satisfied but I doubt that any will be blown away by this. Perhaps they do need a new actor to play Bond, just to up the interest level. They need something fresh, in any case. Hopefully the next one will wow us a little more!

Spectre premieres in Sweden on October 30.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

4 Stars

Does what it says on the tin.

What is it with action flicks opening with dramatic aeroplane scenes these days? There was The Dark Knight Rises, then The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and now again in MI:5 – come up with some new ideas please, writers of Hollywood!

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

This installment sees Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) along with his IMF teammate hackers Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and boss (Jeremy Renner) try to conquer the rogue organization called ‘The Syndicate’. To track down The Syndicate, Ethan must pursue the mysterious Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) – but whose side is she really on?

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

As you would expect, the film is set in your typical spy-esque destinations; including Minsk, Vienna, Washington, Morocco, Paris and London. As usual, Tom Cruise carries off his stunt-work with ease. And like the previous films, it is fun and enjoyable to watch. My only real complaint is that it has become a little too generic now, in comparison with the original movie. Apart from the standard bunch of actors, you could just as easily be watching one of the Bourne or 007 films. They have also added a hint of comedy to the mix, which doesn’t feel very true to the franchise – although this no doubt makes it more easily accessible to mainstream audiences.

Good news for fans, though: Tom Cruise has already stated that Mission Impossible 6 will probably start shooting next summer! It looks as if Karl Pilkington’s film idea featuring Mission Impossible 7 and 8 might just come true, although the timing is a bit off (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch this).

MI:5 premieres in Sweden on July 31.