Men in Black: International (2019)

Director: F. Gary Gray

Writer: Matt Holloway, Art Marcum (Screenplay) Lowell Cunningham (Characters)

Starring: Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, Rebecca Ferguson, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Kumail Nanjiani

 

Plot: The Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. In this new adventure, they tackle their biggest threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization.


Tagline – The Universe is Expanding

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lifeless

 

Story: Men in Black: International starts as we see the mission which made Agent High T (Neeson) and Agent H (Hemsworth) famous before meeting Molly (Tessa Thompson) who has been trying to find her way to the Men in Black, proving herself to be a useful asset that Agent O (Emma Thompson) gives a chance to.

Sending Molly under the name Agent M to London, she works with Agent H to uncover the why a dangerous species has arrived on Earth, with a connection to one of the deadliest enemies The Hive, can Agent H show Agent M the ropes to save the world once again?

 

Thoughts on Men in Black: International

 

Characters – Agent H is known as one of the most famous agents in the Men in Black, he uses his swagger to get the job done, seeming to be lucky over good, he almost feels more like a James Bond figure over any other agent we have seen before, his reputation has put him above other agents, but others see him not reaching the promised potential. Agent M, has been trying to find the Men in Black after an encounter as a child, she has applied to every law enforcement agency in America, not getting any luck even after being offered jobs, she has her own way to hunt potential alien visits, until she finds the Men in Black, she gets offered a chance, with her first assignment in London, to work with that branch which leaves her working with Agent H, trying to save the world, left in a position we aren’t sure who to trust like her. This is a strange character because she starts out being all about independent strong woman and soon just gives this up for a guy she fancies. Pawny is one of the aliens that ends up working with H and M, he gets all the laughs and is easily the best part of the movie. Agent O runs the New York branch, she reluctantly gives Molly a chance to prove herself, unlike any system the team has done for recruitment. Agent High T is the former partner of H, they saved the world once, he will always stick up for H after his mistakes, being like a father figure to him. Riza is a former lover and alien arms dealer, she does have a beauty figure that could get what she wants.

PerformancesThis is the hardest part of this review, we have some of my favourite actors in this film and they are exposed to their weaknesses through this film. Chris Hemsworth has been able to handle comedy with ease before, only he does well with his character, only it feels like his character shouldn’t be acting like this. Tessa Thompson starts well, only to just being generic throughout the film. Emma Thompson is just not used enough and Liam Neeson is involved enough to impact the main story. Kumail Nanjiani brings the jokes, showing he knows comedy being the highlight in the film.

StoryThe story follows a rookie MIB agent that finds herself in the middle of the battle to save the universe when visitors are searching for something on Earth. This is where everything does seem to fall apart for this movie, the story is painfully weak and flawed all over the place. we get confusing main characters, who lack the spark the original pairing had, the character don’t even feel like real agents either, granted one is new, but we have always been led to believe they are strict and well behaved. The story going on is hard to get invested in because of the direction it goes through, we don’t get to care about the characters which only makes the big scenes lack that it factor. It does end up feeling like a story which goes, here is one location, head to this location and then another location.

Action/Adventure/Comedy/Sci-FiThe action involved in the film is very basic, we get the chases and minor fight and one moment that includes too many guns, the adventure does take our agents around the world, hence the international name tagged to the film. the comedy misses on nearly every level, if it wasn’t for Pawny, it would have failed completely. The aliens are here and while what the alien twins can do are interesting to see, only we don’t get anything new.

SettingsWe get the easy location around the world, New York, Paris, London etc, we get an international feeling which is all needed.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are strong throughout with the alien twins getting the most use out of them with their unique look.


Scene of the Movie –
Pawny

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is painfully predictable.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple addition to the Men in Black franchise, which does waste the talents of the people involved to give us one of the most predictable movies you will ever see.

 

Overall: Use the Neuralyzer.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – M – Monster Hunt (2015)

Director: Raman Hui

Writer: Alan Yuen (Screenplay)

Starring: Baihe Bai, Boran Jing, Wu Jiang, Elaine Jin, Wallace Chung, Eric Tsang

 

Plot: In an ancient world where monsters rule the land while humans keep to their own kingdom, a baby monster, Wuba, is born to a human father and monster queen. When mortals and creatures alike set out to capture the newborn, Wuba’s adventure begins. The cute baby monster Huba is the child of a human man and a monster queen, threatened by both monster-hating humans and monsters attempting to capture the new-born in an ancient world based on medieval China.


Tagline – The monsters just got bigger

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun, But Doesn’t Translate Well

 

Story: Monster Hunt starts as we enter the ancient world where monsters rule and are now in the middle of a civil war, the Queen in on the run to save her baby which lands her to the path of humans, Song Tianyin (Jing) and Huo Xiaolan (Bai), she passes her baby to Song to protect from the people who are hunting it.

The two set off on their adventure to keep the young baby monster Wubu safe in an attempt to return him to his father when both monsters and humans are chasing them down.

 

Thoughts on Monster Hunt

 

Characters – Huo Xiaolan is one of the two people given the responsibility to look after the new royal baby, she takes it with her travelling partner, she does seem to be the brains between the two and equally capable in combat. Song Tianyin is the other travelling partner, he is impregnated by the queen and takes responsibility for the baby, comes off as the butt of the jokes more often than not. Along the way we do meet a host of colourful characters which are after the prince for their own reasons.

PerformancesThe performances from the whole cast are good throughout, Baihe Bai and Boran Jing work very well together and have wonderful chemistry between the pair.

StoryThe story brings us into the world of monsters and humans where the next generation of one species is being bought into the world that is being hunted down only to be guarded by a couple of humans. This does everything you would come to expect when it comes to returning a lost child to their family, it does show us how the people need to learn to overcome their own problems to become the person they were meant to be.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action is good throughout the film with a mix of combats going on, the adventure takes our characters on out of their comfort zone to achieve the mission, with the fantasy elements of the film being used to show us monsters and humans together.

SettingsThe film takes place in ancient China which works but also hinders this for the world cinema.

Special EffectsThe effects are good in the film and concept behind the creations can be seen working in the real world.


Scene of the Movie –
Th final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It did get confusing at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is one for the fans of the monster hunter idea, it does show character developments on the journey and the adventure feels like a must for the peace of the world.

 

Overall: Simple and fun throughout even if it can be hard to keep up with.

Rating

 

 

Method of Murder (2019)

Director: Elliot Manarin

 

Plot: British author Jacky Rom jets off to LA and Las Vegas on a fact-finding mission to investigate murder weapons, deception, and body disposal methods in order to help inspire her latest crime novel.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Interesting Look at Building a Character

 

Story: Method of Murder starts as British author Jacky Rom heads to America to investigate different types of murder, Jackie gets to meet experts in different fields from tattooist, historians and weapons experts in bows and guns, each expert offers information required to find her new killers specialist weapon of choice.

The learning curve Jacky goes through sees how she sees the positive and negative from each potential weapon as she gets to experience the power of different weapons for the first time.

 

Thoughts on Method of Murder

 

Final ThoughtsThis documentary gets to dive into the creative methods behind an authors attempt to create a new original style for their killer in a book, let’s be honest, this can make or break a novel because when somebody can find something new, we will be surprised and enjoy this. The best way to find a new way to create a kill would be to learn from the experts in the fields that could give away secrets to how to get away with a crime, this is something we see the detective side of the novel do, meet the specialist to learn secrets, so why not go in reverse. Each field we do enter does show how the people know the pros and cons of weapons which does give the answers Jacky requires. There is part of this documentary that does feel like a sightseeing holiday though, which is fine because seeing somebody being able to mix work with pleasure is always entertaining, see ‘Stephen Fry’s Every State Series’ he got to visit different locations and work with people in different states. This documentary is extremely watchable and does show how people could have twisted ideas going through their head too.

 

Overall: Documentary that teaches the author how to get away with murder.

Rating

 

 

Ma (2019)

Director: Tate Taylor

Writer: Scotty Landes (Screenplay)

Starring: Octavia Spencer, Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis, McKaley Miller, Corey Fogelmanis, Gianna Paolo, Dante Brown, Luke Evans

 

Plot: A lonely woman befriends a group of teenagers and decides to let them party at her house. Just when the kids think their luck couldn’t get any better, things start happening that make them question the intention of their host.


Tagline – Welcome to Ma’s

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Octavia Spencer Steals the Show

 

Story: Ma starts when Maggie (Silvers) moves to her mother’s Erica (Lewis) home town to put their lives back together, it isn’t long before Maggie becomes friends with Haley (Miller), Andy (Fogelmanis), Chaz (Paolo) and Darrell (Brown) who enjoy to party, only they can’t buy the booze yet.

The friends meet Sue Ann (Spencer) a lonely veteran nurse who agrees to help them buy booze, only if they use her basement to party, so she knows they will be safe, only for curiosity to get the best of them after they break the rules and Sue Ann shows a different nature to the caring one she starts with.

 

Thoughts on Ma

 

Characters – Sue Ann is a lonely veteran nurse that starts to befriend the local teenagers after buying them booze and offering them a place to drink in safety. Sue Ann gets nickname ‘Ma’ which makes her feel loved, only she is haunted by the events of her past which sees her starting to slowly show a darker side which puts the teenagers lives in danger. Maggie is the new girl in town, it doesn’t take her long t make friends and find a love interest, it is an unrealistic time scale this happens, she is trying to fit in which means going outside the normal support of her mother, Maggie is a mix of the innocent member of the group and the rebellious teen. Erica is her mother that is just trying to hold it together for her daughter, which means bringing her daughter back to her home town, she is the attempted cool mum that is trying to understand the decisions, but wanting to remain as the best friend figure in her life. Haley is the girl from school that welcomes in Maggie, she does fill the sluttier one of the two girls, she does get a couple of funny lines, but she is just the beginning of the annoyingly written teenagers that are generic as they come, make it seem like all they want to do is drink, get high or have sex, this doesn’t make any of them likeable, making it hard to support them.

PerformancesOctavia Spencer gives one of her bet performances of her career, she breaks away from the wholesome figures we are used to seeing to make us feel uneasy whenever she is on screen. Octavia’s performance completely eclipses the rest of the cast, with most of the younger cast, Diana Silvers or McKaley Miller struggle to keep up with her, while Juliette Lewis, Luke Evans and Allison Janney rounding off the experienced supporting cast well.

StoryThe story here follows a group teenagers that become friends with a lonely woman that offers them a chance to party in a place of safety, only it soon takes twisted turn when they learn about her true nature. This is a story that has plenty of positives and negatives, first the positives, which is the character of Sue Ann, which shows how a woman could balance two different sides to their nature, which is interesting to see which side of her we will be seeing each time we see her, the reveals along the way are supporting the decisions too. When it gets to the negatives, it does have the most generic unlikable group of teenagers, they do have more of a life away from drinking, drugs and sex which seems to be all they care about. Elsewhere on the negative side we get the typical bad decisions in horror which only frustrates throughout.

HorrorThe horror elements of this film comes from Sue Ann’s mental state, which sees her doing actions which just make use feel uneasy, think having Annie Wilkes with a larger amount of people.

SettingsThe film uses the small town setting to show us how everybody has a connection to each other an with the right connection you could have parties in secret.

Special EffectsThe effects are only used very well when needed, we have a couple of moments which has the audience gasp and we don’t just go to the need to nothing.


Scene of the Movie –
Sue Ann finally snaps.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The annoying teenage characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that Octavia Spencer completely steals, it is easily the highlight of the film, because when it comes to the supporting characters around her, we get decisions that just feel out of place.

 

Overall: Octavia Spencer is truly fantastic.

Rating

 

 

Monster Trucks (2016)

Director: Chris Wedge

Writer: Derek Connolly (Screenplay) Matthew Robinson, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger (Story)

Starring: Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Thomas Lennon, Barry Pepper, Rob Lowe, Danny Glover, Amy Ryan, Holt McCallany

 

Plot: A young man working at a small town junkyard discovers and befriends a creature which feeds on oil being sought by a fracking company.


Tagline – On January 13, meet Creech

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Family Film

 

Story: Monster Trucks starts as we see how the oil company run by Reece Tenneson (Lowe) has an accident on one of their sites which see three creatures discovered underground, where one escapes. We meet Tripp (Till) a high school student that struggles to concentrate, who works at the local scrapyard to stay away from his step-father Sheriff Rick (Pepper).

When Tripp finds the creature in the scrapyard the two become friends as it hides in his truck, with fellow student Meredith (Levy) trying to explain the biological side to the creature, while Reece is trying to figure out how to solve a potential problem to the eco-system and his oil drilling.

 

Thoughts on Monster Trucks

 

Characters – Tripp is a high school student, living with his mother and step-father, he comes off like a slacker with dreams of leaving the small town. He works at the scrapyard working on his escape with the truck he has been building, when he befriends the unknown creature he gets to go on an adventure to save the new species. Meredith is a fellow student that works with Tripp to understand the creature but her character plays out with the idea of being a damsel in distress.  Jim works for the oil company, he learns of the intelligence the creatures have and wants to help make them free not destroying their environment. Sheriff Rick is the step-father of Tripp who must try to keep up with Tripp without letting him get in trouble, he isn’t a direct enemy of Tripp’s though. Reece Tenneson is the oil tycoon that is losing money with the creatures being alive and now he will do anything to get rid of them.

PerformancesLucas Till is good in this leading role even though himself and Jane Levy both feel too old for the high school role as we have seen both in more adult roles. Thomas Lennon makes good for the extra comic relief even though most of his jokes miss, Rob Lowe is a good businessman villain too.

StoryThe story follows an undiscovered creature being found in an oil drilling location, making it a battle to see whether the oil company can be bought down before destroying the creatures home. This works for the story, it may not be the most original idea but it brings us the character we can relate too who want to do right and the ones that don’t with their greed. We get good moments of unlikely friendships coming through different locations too.

Action/Adventure/Comedy/Fantasy/Sci-FiWe hit a lot of genres here, the action comes from the chase sequences that are pure fun once you switch your brain off, the adventure takes Tripp on a journey he never imagined he would be going on. The comedy is hit or miss though but the fantasy elements are part fantasy and part a potential reality because you never know about new species. This is designed well for a family film though.

SettingsThe film takes part in and around a small town in North Dakota, this idea is that you might not make it out of this town and this shows what could happen for the characters.

Special EffectsThe effects work well enough for the film without being the absolute best because with the budget the film has you would expect better.


Scene of the Movie –
The final chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Meredith could have been written stronger.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun film, don’t expect greatness but just something you could enjoy with ease.

 

Overall: Enjoyable family film.

Rating