Friday, 15 April 2016

FILM REVIEW: London Has Fallen

What I'm about to say may most probably leave a bad taste in the mouths of many, but please allow me to go on this rant: who ever told Gerald Butler that he could be an action superstar is the biggest liar there ever was! They sold dreams to the poor man, and now he is still out here chasing rainbows. I mean honestly, it is like he tries to break his own record of the worst action movie ever made each time he releases a new one, and just like the previous counterpart of this film, "Olympus Has Fallen" and "Gods Of Egypt", "London Has Fallen" is almost nothing short of garbage status. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, we can swiftly move along. (NB: that rant was totally based on me just trying to emphasize how much of a non action superhero Gerald is and very little on how bad the movie actually is because it is really not THAT bad but someone has to save Butler from himself; so I had to exaggerate to make sure that justice is at least served).

"London Has Fallen" should have really just been titled, "London Has Exploded" because very little falling happens here as almost everything just seems to go up in flames. Blasting gun shots, explosive bomb attacks and blazing helicopter crashes that leave most of London’s landmarks blown to smithereens, all put together with cheap pitiful visual effects. A few friends from university and I used to joke about how studying film might not have been a smart move for film lovers like us because it certainly ruined our movie watching experiences. We no longer view films like the average audience does and will scrutinize almost every aspect of the production such camera shots, lighting, sound, editing, acting skills, etc. So I am sitting here imagining that if we as viewers could find this as very important details, how much attention should the filmmakers pay to such aspects when producing a film; and yet creators of movies like "London Has Fallen" couldn't be bothered. Everything in the film is over the top and almost feels like a parody because of the poor quality of the CG explosions and helicopter crashes.

The plot itself starts off with a very clichéd storyline. Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), Secret Service agent for President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart), is expecting his first child with his wife Leah (Radha Mitchell). He hopes to spend more time with his family, and is contemplating resigning from the Secret Service. In the mist of that, Asher and Mike are informed that the British Prime Minister James Wilson has died and along with Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett), they travel to London to join other prominent world leaders for Wilson's state funeral. As the dignitaries are arriving, several attacks are launched, killing hundreds of people. This really just made me laugh because as much as Butler and Eckhart are the main stars of the movie, it is ridiculous how all the other presidents and prime ministers just die off so easily. Well, surely they don't have prominent security personnel of Gerald Butler's caliber, but for Banning and Asher to come off as comic superheroes was just baffling. Even when their escape MI6 helicopter is shot and results in a crash landing on a park, they only just come of a little wounded despite the fact that everything, and I do mean everything in this film has been going up in explosion. I guess the writers tried to calm down our minds, that would obviously be troubled by this, by killing Basset's character; and yet for me, it just wasn't enough (even though killing Banning and Asher would have made no sense for the movie so I guess it's the over the top action that would have had give).

When you go head and attempt to just enjoy the escapism factor of the film, it really turns to be a good one. All the fast paced action make up for the terrible plot sequences and it's scenes like when Banning and Asher are expecting help from the White House but are able to spot an imposter Delta Force Team that make Butler come off as somewhat intelligent. He notices that the operators aren't sweating after supposedly trekking across the city on foot in heavy gear, making one think that maybe he isn't so much of a glorified butler after all (pun totally unintended). I also assume that if I wasn't one to overanalyze everything I watch, maybe the experience of seeing "London Has Fallen" would have been like enjoying a good action video game with all the explosions, crashes and shootings creating a nice backdrop of adrenaline infusion.

The film goes off to end in another extremely clichéd scene. Two weeks after the attack on London, Mike returns home and is spending time with Leah and their newborn child, named Lynne after his deceased boss. He sits in front of the laptop to send in his resignation letter but it is the news report on his television that prompts him to change his mind and delete it. This obviously leaves notion for a third film, oh so help me God!!!

FILM REVIEW: Batman Vs Superman

Okay, so I guess you could say I'm a bit late on this one; but please don't judge nor crucify me. Funny how this has been one of the most anticipated movies of 2016 and while almost EVERYONE rushed to the cinemas to see it on its release dates, it took me about a whole week and a half delay to finally join the party. Then there was that whole load of work that I had to do on the side, that left me behind on the blog, pushing me even further back on this review. But, oh well, let me stop blabbing and wasting more time; now that everyone has seemingly had their say, here is my two cents worth on this DC comics film.

I will start by stating how amusing it has been to see the world divide into two over the movie. While most critics came out to pretty much ambush the film and declare it utter trash, a number of fans that went to theatres to see it, came back in full defense; turning sharp blade on the reviewers for their negative criticism. What is also very interesting is that I haven't met or heard of anyone that was quite in between with their opinion of the movie. It's either you really loved it or extremely hated it. And I understand why. See, "Batman vs Superman" is an epic superhero film; but is also a very ridiculous story to watch or follow. What I mean is, if you are all about the action - two power figures coming at each other, turning everything upside down and fighting off a genetically-engineered monster in a massive showdown - then this film is everything that you need. Plus, if you are truly a comic or DC devotee, "Batman vs Superman" will definitely touch you way differently than the average audience. I can imagine the tear jerking moment you might have had when Superman was declared dead and your heart almost jumping out of your chest when you heard that heartbeat in the final scene. But, to be honest, all this excitement is not necessarily brought on by this particular movie, but rather by all the other Superman/Batman films that have created some sort of deep connection between the superheros and their avid fans such that it would move you to see them die or struggle in any sort of way; no matter how crappy the movie is.

On the other hand, if you are someone that doesn't just get satisfaction from the adrenaline rush of fast paced action and require a film to have a coherent story line for you to enjoy it, then I'm afraid "Superman vs Batman" might not be your cup of tea. I have never seen a movie that came from all sorts of angles like this one (okay, I probably have, but I don't remember it 'cause I can never recall the bad ones anyway). One minute Bruce Wayne is after Kent Clark and vice versa, then Bruce is out at Luthor's party and suddenly, we now have Batman and Superman going at each other as their superhero characters. At some point there are too many stories happening at once, you are not sure which one to follow. As for how and why, Batman and Superman are fighting each other when the enemy is clearly Luthor is beyond me (don't even try to answer that, it was a sarcastic question). Then there are the useless hurdles like Diana Prince stealing the data drive from Bruce Wayne only to later return it after she is unable to decrypt it. Why waste time in stealing it if we weren't going to see her use it anyway. And for her to return it was just ridiculous and totally unrealistic (but I guess that is why some things only happen in movies).

The entire film is very dark and gloomy. It's like everything happens late in the day around sunset into the night. This gives the film quite a depressing mood. It has no color at all. Some of the camera work in certain scenes is shaky and the cinematography of the film is really just nothing to write home about. The work done by the cast was truly amazing though and to be honest, the entire ensemble comprises of strong actors. However, their skills were pretty much just sabotaged by the poor script Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer put together.

I will not lie and say I was bored the whole time that I viewed "Superman vs Batman", but at some point, I was really just so frustrated by the plot that was all over the place that I stopped following the storyline, squinted my eyes through the dark scenes and enjoyed all the action.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016


The inevitable is that someone must die, but the question that lingers is, who's hands should the blood fall on? That is the concept that this drone warfare film which boast of a powerful performance by Helen Mirren pretty much tackles. Colonel Katherine Powell played by Helen Mirren commands a mission to capture high-level Al Shabaab extremists meeting in a safehouse in Nairobi, Kenya. Clad in a camouflage military uniform, Helen is the queen bee of this operation and she keeps calling the shots like a gun machine at war (well, technically, she is at war). In fact, Colonel Powell is actually the only character that was able to just make her decisions without wasting time in this entire film, unlike her other co-stars that kept hesitating as we see later on. She is well respected and the other officers all address her as ma'am; I was a bit jealous myself (yes, because nothing is sweeter than having all the power in your hands).

Unfortunately, Colonel Powell didn't exactly have ALL the power to her disposal. A reaper drone controlled from Nevada by USAF pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) provides an aerial view, while undercover Kenyan field agents use short-range video bugs for ground surveillance of the location where the terrorists are based. Kenyan ground troops are positioned nearby to execute the arrest, but are called off when Farah discovers that the terrorists have explosives, and are preparing two suicide bombers for what is presumed to be an attack on a civilian target. That is when Powell decides that the mission objective needs to be changed from "capture" to "kill". However, she is advised by her counsel to seek approval from her superiors. This is when the information is pretty much transferred from one superior to another, as they are all reluctant to make the difficult call, citing conflicting legal and political views. The film also becomes a tourism venture as we are taken through different countries. The mission is a multinational operation and the authorities involved are all located in different countries. While Colonel Powell is based in Northwood Headquarters and the drone controller is in Nevada; the mission itself is happening in Nairobi, Kenya and we get to meet officers in the UK, China, Singapore, etc. None of them want to have this blood on their hands so they keep referring Powell and her team to the next best superior.

Meanwhile, the situation in Nairobi is getting quite complicated. For one, the terrorists are going on with their plan and getting closer to reaching final stages; then there is also a girl spotted selling bread outside the building where the bombers are located. The military must now make the decision of whether to launch the attack and risk killing her too or stand down and risk having thousands of people killed by Al Shaabab. These scenes right here will have you the most frustrated. You get angry at the officials that are busy wasting time and you are really annoyed by the girl who is distracting the whole operation. It is easy to just root for a character to get killed when you are the viewer and the writers in this movie made sure to really grill us by pretty much influencing our desires but not giving us what we want for the longest time. It's like dangling the carrot in front of the rabbit and not giving it away until you feel so. When the strike is finally executed, it's sighs of relief galore for by the viewer, but we also somehow find ourselves praying that the girl is not hit. It shows just how Gavin Hood and his team really won at creating this film in a really emotionally evoking manner; which is what any good movie should entail.

"Eye In The Sky" probes away at the ethics of drone warfare in a darkly humorous fashion. There is a lot of military jargon involved but it is not in a way that disengages the audience. The cast does a steller job, and I have already gone on a blab earlier about how I loved Helen Mirren's performance. I'm a huge fan of war films and "Eye In The Sky" makes my 'good list' for sure.