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Sunday, 25 March 2018

Movie Review - Pacific Rim Uprising


Hollywood loves it's sequels - but it seemed strange to many that Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim of all films earned itself a sequel five years after release, considering it's extremely weak domestic earnings and fairly average global earnings of $409 million, rendering it far from a commercial failure but not exactly record breaking considering it's naturally colossal budget. With it's US opening weekend set to barely reach $30 million, it seems this year's Pacific Rim Uprising will also be relying on international takings to being recouping it's beastly costs. Reviews have also been less inspired than the original; is such mediocre reception deserved?

Set in 2030, a decade after the original, Uprising focuses on Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of acclaimed war hero Stacker Pentecost, who earns a living selling Jaeger tech on the black market, which soon leads him to a hidden independently made Jaeger built at the hands of young orphan Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny). Both eventually find themselves captured by the authorities and escape prison with an alternative to join the Jaeger program itself, a familiar and unwanted sight for Jake, which finds itself thrown into action once again when a number of unexplained rogue Jaeger's begin to reek havoc, linking to even bigger threat that ignites the return of the menacing Kaiju monsters and their sinister goals for world domination.


Uprising of course isn't going to win any awards for it's story - probably an obvious claim for those who've even yet to see it. However, what's interesting is the path the narrative takes as things get going, becoming more than a simple rehash of the first movie. There's a decent level of heart to it, and while it's emotional moments are cliché for sure, the cast portray such moments with solid performances, notably Boyega and Spaeny in their lead roles, and the morals conveyed are relatively touching if somewhat uninspired. It's this that makes the story a decent skeleton to link each of the inevitably gripping action sequences, and while a number of contrivances and daft plot twists do certainly pop up out of the blue as we approach the climax, it's all still, again, just that bit more than a dull rehash of the first movie.

Of course action and visual effects is where Uprising does stand out in an impressive fashion. The Jaeger's pummelling each other in many epic bust ups, mercilessly trashing every environment that surrounds them, equates to some superb set pieces that naturally make for the film's best moments. Some may certainly feel dragged out, and perhaps a little repetitive, but if you come to see the film it's arguably these scenes you're here to focus on, and they surely won't disappoint most fans. It's all brought to life, as with the original, some remarkable visual effects; Jaeger's not only look fantastic, but are animated just as superbly - and of course, IMAX is definitely how the film was meant to be viewed, as may seem obvious. It's story may be second rate to many, but at least there's a fairly decent amount of effort put into it, and, as I've made quite clear by now, the set pieces we're treated to alone will make Uprising worth watching for fans of such stuff.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Movie Review - Game Night


A premise I was certainly excited to see unfold when the first trailers came to my attention, Game Night sees a group of friends whose most recent weekly, well, game night, becomes something much more dramatic when a staged murder mystery soon evolves into one quite the opposite; with lives at stake and major criminals behind the scenes, it's now down to said friends to piece together exactly what is going on and put a stop to it before major repercussions soon come to fruition.

Leads Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams helm most of the story, supported by a lineup of similarly talented actors - Kyle Chandler, Jesse Plemons, and many more. Said well chosen cast help bring many of the film's best moments to life without a doubt, particularly Chandler and Bateman as long lasting sibling rivals. Whilst I'd love to of course say the same about McAdams given her role as Bateman's wife, it's hard to remain as interested in her persona at times given her occasionally excessive, hyperactive nature, rendering her an irritating listen in many scenes.


Whilst the overall cast is certainly decent and visibly talented, and all perform their roles without any major flaws, it's only really our aforementioned leads Bateman, McAdams (when not bellowing every comedic line), Chandler, and Plemons that stand out for the majority of the story. Of course supporting roles don't require as strong a focus on development, but the outright lack of it in areas also leaves some of the other characters extremely forgettable and somewhat bland at first. Similar flaws also extend into the overall story, which arguably drags a little during it's opening moments, courtesy of a sluggish pace and somewhat repetitive humour; it comes and goes without an awful lot of charm, but thankfully such standout flaws largely brush off as we venture into the meat of the story...

While I struggled to find the overall viewing as much of a consistent gem like many others did, it's certainly the second half where the story becomes just that little bit more involving, presenting us with many cleverly structured plot twists and balancing witty humour with some genuine thrills as the climax approaches - this is of course where our cast, despite their flaws, really pull off their best efforts, thus perfectly bringing a well structured finale to life. Of course one doesn't expect the introductory moments of the film to be in a similar category of excitement, but it's a shame Game Night isn't really as interesting when it begins as it is when it ends - for the most part, it starts off samey and boring, morphing into something far more engaging as it progresses, thus making it a fairly decent if unbalanced viewing for the most part.