Bumblebee (2018)

Director: Travis Knight

Writer: Christina Hodson (Screenplay)

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Dylan O’Brien, Justin Theroux, Angela Bassett, Megyn Price

 

Plot: On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.


Tagline – Every Hero Has a Beginning

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming & Delightful

 

Story: Bumblebee starts when Bumblebee is sent to Earth to prepare a base for the Autobots from the war against the Decepticons, getting injured in the landing he goes into hiding. Charlie (Steinfeld) is turning 18 trying to finish fixing a car that her and her late father worked on, she stumbles upon the Volkswagen Bug in a junkyard taking it home.

Learning that the bug is actually Bumblebee she finds a new friend, Dropkick and Shatter have been hunting down Bumblebee in search for the new base, with Agent Burns (Cena) working with them to stop humans getting caught in the middle of a war between the robot factions.

 

Thoughts on Bumblebee

 

Characters – Charlie is an 18-year-old girl still recovering from the death of her father, even though the rest of the family has moved on, she isolates herself from people working on fixing her car. She finds Bumblebee becoming her first friend as she tries to teach the robot about the world, she is the heart and soul of this movie because you feel each moment that tests her in life, as she needs to move on with her life. Agent Burns is a military man that is there when Bumblebee lands, he has spent time hunting down the robots he saw kill his men, wanting both answers and revenge. Bumblebee is a warrior back n Cybertron, he is sent to Earth to prepare for the next battle, only he loses he voice in the battle and his memory has faded, he goes into hiding until Charlie brings him out of his shell showing him what is worth fighting for on Earth. Shatter and Dropkick are the two Decepticons that are hunting down the Autobots before they can regroup, they know how to work the humans to get what they need.

PerformancesHailee Steinfeld gives us the best performance in any Transformers movie, she brings a heart to this character that we actually care about for the first time in the series. John Cena continues his rise in Hollywood giving us a good performance without needing to be truly tested.

StoryThe story follows Bumblebee who comes to Earth to prepare it for a new base for the Autobots and defend it from any of the Decepticons that could make the base known, he meets a human in Charlie who offers him friendship guidance and helps fix him. The unlikely friendship helps both the isolated figures learn their place in life which makes this one of the surprisingly refreshing stories of the year, for a big action film. the villains are only a smaller part of the war which is nice because we don’t need or want to see Bumblebee battle Megatron. We could sit here and complain about different aspects of the large scale of the story from the previous films, but we don’t need to, we also get a nod to a future character in the series. The best part of the story comes from the idea that everything becomes simple again which keeps us only focusing on one story between the Charlie and Bumblebee.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action when unleashed is good with the fights between the Transformers becoming easier to watch than previous films with each having their own ability in the fights to become stronger. The adventure takes Charlie from what she thinks is a dead-end life to learn to move on with life. The sci-fi side shows us the Transformers war we are going to be part of soon.

SettingsThe film puts us in San Francisco, well just outside with the locations of the beach showing us the beauty in the open road, which is what Charlie wants to be on.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are brilliant, the fights between the Transformers all feel flawless with the world they are from looking like everything you thought it would be.


Scene of the Movie –
Final battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Why are they vehicles on Cybertron?

Final ThoughtsThis is easily the best movie from the Transformers universe, it brings a heart and soul to the characters making you care about what will happen to them.

 

Overall: Wonderful and will you with a smile.

Rating

 

 

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Aquaman (2018)

Director: James Wan

Writer: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall (Screenplay) Geoff John, James Wan, Will Beall, Mort Weisinger, Paul Norris (Story/Characters)

Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

 

Plot: Arthur Curry learns that he is the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, and must step forward to lead his people and be a hero to the world.


Tagline – He’s not from around here.

Runtime: 2 Hours 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: True Blast

 

Story: Aquaman starts as we learn about Arthur’s (Momoa) parents, mother the Queen of Atlantis Atlanna (Kidman) and father a mortal lighthouse keeper Tom (Morrison), Atlanna had to leave Arthur on land after her failed attempt to escape the rulers of Atlantis. We see how Arthur is being pressured into going to Atlantis and claiming his throne by Mera (Heard) to stop his half-brother King Orm (Wilson) who wants a war with the land by uniting the armies underwater.

Arthur must go on the quest to unlock his own position in Atlantis to prevent a war which will have mass causalities, along the way he will learn the truth about the ways of the Atlanteans if he is going to take the throne.

 

Thoughts on Aquaman

 

Characters – Arthur is the Aquaman, not wanting to be a hero on either land or in the ocean, he has always been against Atlantis because of what they did to his mother, he does protect the water from the helpless, while not being as friendly as the other heroes in this universe. He must go on a quest to take on his half-brother and become the true king of Atlantis. He does try to give us plenty of one liners through all the film. Mera is the princess and daughter to King Nereus, she knows that Arthur is the right person for the throne, though she is arranged to marry King Orm, she does come off as the smarter of the two while on the quest. Vulko has trained both to be prepared for fights, he is the advisor to King Orm, even if he believes that Arthur is the rightful king. King Orm wants to go to war with the land, he believes and is tired of how the oceans are treated, he wants to unite the different factions even if it means by going with force. He will use both sides to his advantage to put himself in the position of power. Atlanna is the mother of both Arthur and Orm, killed for her actions, one of the few people that commanded respect from all kingdoms. We do have the kings from each kingdom being pushed into following King Orm and Manta who wants revenge for Arthur’s action, he is human and a pirate, even if he ends up looking like a Power Rangers villain.

PerformancesJason Momoa is great in the leading role, he looks like he is having fun at times, which feels important, while he can get serious when needed, he also looks the part too. Amber Heard is good in her role where she gets to fill in the gaps for the audience. Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman and Dolph Lundgren are good in the supporting roles which you could watch them play for days. Patrick Wilson deserves praise too because he is one of the best villains in the DC universe.

StoryThe story gives Aquaman his first solo adventure after his appearance in Justice League, where he must learn about Atlantis and take on his half-brother before a war between the land and the ocean starts. This is kind of an origin story, which seems to be the way DC are doing them, lets us meet them in a team up movie before moving into their own story, this is that movie. The idea that two half-brothers are fighting to power does seem to borrow from the Thor first movie, which does have a different game as Arthur is the one that doesn’t want to be king. The idea that one man must learn his place and stand up and be counted is a great hero story which is needed for Arthur.

Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe action in this film is good with the battle in Sicily being the highlight for me, we get a unique use of camerawork too for shooting the action. The adventure does take Arthur around the world in search for answers above or below the ocean. The fantasy world plays into the idea that Atlantis has been living under the ocean to make their own technology which again plays into the sci-fi elements being used in the film.

SettingsThe film does use the settings well, with Sicily being a new fight location, though the underwater sequences look fantastic to be absorb within.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are fantastic for the ambitious scale of the world needed to be created, there are a couple of shots which do look weaker than the rest though.


Scene of the Movie –
Sicily fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story does feel safe for an origin story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a blast for an origin film, we can have a lot of fun with everything happening in the film and we now have a character in the DC universe to make us excited that we don’t only have Wonder Woman.

 

Overall: Great fun to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Alpha (2018)

Director: Albert Hughes

Writer: Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt (Screenplay) Albert Hughes (Story)

Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Johannes Haukur Johannesson, Marcin Kowalczyk, Jens Hulten, Natassia Malthe, Spencer Bogaert

 

Plot: In the prehistoric past, a young man struggles to return home after being separated from his tribe during a buffalo hunt. He finds a similarly lost wolf companion and starts a friendship that would change humanity.


Tagline – Leaders are born from survival.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Adventure

 

Story: Alpha starts as we meet Keda (Smit-McPhee) a young man and member of a prehistoric tribe, this is his chance to go on the hunt with the chief and his father Tau (Johannesson) to complete his path to manhood in the tribe, along with the other recruits, the week doesn’t end well for the young man when he becomes separated from his tribe.

Keda must find his tribe while dealing with the perils of the wilderness including the wolves, one of which he rescues making an unlikely friendship in the harsh world he is travelling through.

 

Thoughts on Alpha

 

Characters – Keda is the young man, the son of the chief of his tribe, he must go on his first hunt which only leaves him alone in the world. he must earn fast how to survive this environment with his caring nature showing with a wounded wolf that he nurses back to help. Alpha is the wolf that was hunting Keda, only to get wounded, she sticks around after being nursed back to health which brings her a new connection, one with a human. The two remain loyal to each other through the bitter winter which will test both of them. Tau is the chief of the tribe and father to Keda, he wants his son to follow in his footsteps showing strength to the rest of the tribe and wisdom to his son.

PerformancesKodi Smit-McPhee is fantastic in the leading role, he has to go through such a physical performance while balancing the emotion impact of believing he could be alone in the world. he does have to deal with most of the work in this film and the connect he has with the wolf. The supporting cast is good with what they need to do without having to do as much as Kodi.

StoryThe story follows one young man that gets separated from his tribe and must figure out how to get home, making a new friend along the way, a wolf. This does follow the survival story very clearly and the bond between man and animal starts coming through during the film. even with the formulaic storyline you are kept on edge through out as we want to see if Keda and Alpha can make it home. The connection between the two makes us see how humans and wolfs became one together. The simple story is what keeps us happy.

Adventure/FamilyThe adventure takes Keda who is part of the tribe through the prehistoric world with threats that a solo man would be struggling to survive through. This does have moments that would be slightly too dark for the younger family audience.

SettingsThe world created is beautiful, we have the open plains to the snow filled background each condition becomes more difficult as we go on the adventure.

Special EffectsThe effects are strong for the most part, we do have moments that are not good but for the scale of the film should be applauded for the world we see.


Scene of the Movie –
The tiger attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not understanding the bison hunt.

Final ThoughtsThis is a visual treat for the audience with a connection between man and dog that is fantastic to see, the story might be generic but it works well.

 

Overall: Entertaining adventure

Rating

 

 

Max (2015)

Director: Boaz Yakin

Writer: Boaz Yakin, Sheldon Lettich (Screenplay)

Starring: Thomas Hayden Church, Josh Wiggins, Luke Kleintank, Lauren Graham, Robbie Amell, Mia Xitlali

 

Plot: A Malinois dog that helped American Marines in Afghanistan returns to the United States and is adopted by his handler’s family after suffering a traumatic experience.


Tagline – Best Friend. Hero. Marine.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Movie

 

Story: Max starts as we meet Kyle Wincott (Amell) an American Marine who works with a tracker dog Max, who helps locate dangers in Afghanistan. When Kyle is killed in action, his family, Ray (Church), Pamela (Graham) and little brother Justin (Wiggins) who is a gamer high school student get to meet Max for the first time and only see his aggressive nature, apart from around Justin.

They take Max home as he is suffering PTSD and the only person he will listen to and remain calm around is Justin, with a new friend in Carmen (Xitlali), Justin learns to take responsibility for the first time in his life.

 

Thoughts on Max

 

Characters – Max is the loyal marine trained dog that has served in Afghanistan locating potential threats for his soldiers. He sees his handler killed in action leaving him suffering with PTSD and now he needs a new owner, and the brother of his handler is the only one he will listen to. Justin is the younger brother of Kyle, he has spent more time on video games and illegal deals, not having responsibility needed like his brother. When Max enters his life, he learns about taking responsibility and following in his brother’s path. Ray is the father of the boys, he served before which has made him patriotic towards the cause while dealing with the grief of losing his son too.

PerformancesJosh Wiggins as the younger brother is good in this movie, we do see this sort of character a lot and he handles it well. Thomas Hayden Church is good in the supporting role, but if we are honest it is the dog that is the star of the show here.

StoryThe story here shows the effects war can have on a dog that has been trained to locate threats, but the aftermath of losing that handler with their connection. We see the loyalty shown by the dog and how he can teach responsibility to the next generation of family. This is the strongest part of the movie, the rest does feel like a version of a home alone sort of thing because we follow a story about Max knowing right.

Adventure/Family This does show the family needing to come together after their own tragedy which will give their youngster member a chance for an adventure.

SettingsWe get a small look at the war scenario that Max has been and how he must adjust to normal life, which is where the struggle comes.


Scene of the Movie –
Max search.

That Moment That Annoyed Me –  I feel there was more to the Reyes story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good movie, that should be seen by dog owners that understand loyalty that could be given to the owner.

 

Overall: Dog Owners dream film.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)

Director: Jan de Bont

Writer: Dean Georgaris (Screenplay) Steven E de Souza, James V Hart (Story)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Gerald Butler, Ciaran Hinds, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor, Djimon Hounsou, Til Schweiger

 

Plot: Adventurer Lara Croft goes on a quest to save the mythical Pandora’s Box, before an evil scientist finds it, and recruits a former Marine turned mercenary to assist her.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Enough Sequel

 

Story: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life starts when Lara Croft’s (Jolie) latest treasure hunt ends up with her team killed and her treasure stolen by Chen Lo (Yam) who is willing to sell the orb to arms dealer Jonathan Reiss (Hinds) a former MI6 agent turned evil, that wants to use the orb to locate Pandora’s Box which could bring about the next viral apocalypse on the world.

Lara working with MI6 is joined by disgraced former agent Terry Sheridan (Butler) as per her request as they race around the world to unlock the truth about Pandora’s Box before it ends up in the wrong hands.

 

Thoughts on Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

 

Characters – Lara Croft the treasure hunting heroine that travels the world to locate the treasure of the world before they fall into the wrong hands. She is still the kick ass resourceful heroine we know, we see how her connections around the world can help and hinder her quest. Terry Sheridan is the disgraced former MI6 agent, he is granted freedom for information and his former connection with Lara puts him in the middle of the two sides. Jonathan Reiss is the arms dealer that wants Pandora’s Box to be able to sell to the highest bidders to create chaos in the world. he knows how to get results and is happy to kill anyone that crosses his paths. Bryce and Hillary return in the same roles getting the laughs and doing the background work Lara. Kosa is one of the many connections that Lara has around the world, they are good friends after the previous work and respect between the cultures.

PerformancesAngelina Jolie continues to be great in the role of Lara Croft, she had the perfect look for the character and handled the swagger about the character perfectly well. Gerald Butler is good as the shady partner to Lara through the film, giving us rough around the edges figure. Ciaran Hinds is good in the villainous role even if the character is everything you would expect them to be. Barrie and Taylor continue to give the humour when needed. The rest of the cast are fine as they just fill the role required.

StoryThe story here follows Lara Croft on her next treasure hunt where she faces a new shady society lead by weapons dealer who wants to unlock the power of Pandora’s Box. We get to see her globe trot as she is aided by MI6 to locate the mysterious and deadly item. This does continue keep us in the peril filled situations, the idea that Lara has connections around the world to make treasure hunting possible, the shady organisation and treasure that could cause major destruction to the world. This doesn’t test us to the same levels as the first film because as it ends up just following the same formula.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is big as we have bigger stunts going on through the film including a motorbike sequence along the Great Wall China, flying through the streets of Hong Kong and giant monsters in Africa. The adventure does take us around the world once again which is what we want, but we don’t get enough in tomb locations.

SettingsThe film does take us around the world as we see different locations some iconic, some secret tombs with historic stories.

Special EffectsThe effects are weaker than last time without taking us too far out of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The Great Wall motorbike scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough Tomb location.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough sequel that the fans of the original should enjoy, but if you didn’t like the first one you won’t be enjoying as much.

 

Overall: Solid enough for a sequel.

Rating