Ice Cube Weekend – Ride Along 2 (2016)

Director: Tim Story

Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Mandredi (Screenplay) Greg Coolidge (Characters)

Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Tika Sumpter, Benjamin Bratt, Olivia Munn, Ken Jeong, Bruce McGill, Michael Rose

 

Plot: As his wedding day approaches, Ben heads to Miami with his soon-to-be brother-in-law James to bring down a drug dealer who’s supplying the dealers of Atlanta with product.


Tagline – The brothers-in-law are back.

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Enjoyable Comedy Sequel

 

Story: Ride Along 2 starts when newly appointed rookie Ben Barber (Hart) ruins his soon-to-be-brother-in-law detective James Payton’s (Cube) latest bust. James must go to Miami to continue the case and reluctantly takes Ben to take him out of his sister’s Angela (Sumpter) hair while she plans the wedding.

In Miami the pair need to remain undercover, which soon seems them going into the world of drug land which sees them working with local detective Maya (Munn) to uncover the truth.

 

Thoughts on Ride Along 2

 

Characters – Detective James Payton is tough talking cop that is dealing with his brother-in-law that is a rookie on the force, he is getting tired of him not following instructions and uses the trip to Miami to hopefully expose his weaknesses to the Captain. He is a good cop that only wants to stop criminals. Ben Barber is the rookie on the force now, he is marrying James’ sister, he talks too much which often sees him getting into trouble. Angela is the sister of James, fiancée to Ben, she is planning the wedding that wants her to see Ben head off for a couple of days. Antonio Pope is the local drug lord who looks like one of the popular businessmen around, he has been making his move to become a bigger dealer in the business, but his action has seen attention drawn on him.

PerformancesIce Cube is always going to do the strong job in the tough guy cop figure, this is no different. Kevin Hart brings his fast talking routine which tends to be a hit or miss with his jokes, but he never relents on them. Tika Sumpter doesn’t get that much screen time which is disappointing really. Benjamin Bratt can give us the routine villainous businessman.

StoryThe story follows the unlikely partnership between a tough talking detective and his soon-to-be-brother-law and fast-talking rookie that investigate a drug dealer in Miami. This does continue to use the idea that the unlikely partnership stumble through case trying to solve the case in a way that shouldn’t be achieved. We know this genre, we know how easily it works the story doesn’t need to be made anything more, but it is hard to still see them fighting between each other.

Action/ComedyThe action in the film follows chases, which are mostly a way of adding the comedy due to the reactions of what is going on. The comedy mostly relies on the fast-talking Kevin Hart, which is hit or miss.

SettingsThe film takes the action away from Atlanta to Miami which brings more sun and sea to the location.


Scene of the Movie –
The video game chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Hart’s joke can become too much.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple and fun sequel that will get laughs, but doesn’t hit the levels of the first because it is often just more of the same.

 

Overall: Simple and fun.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – K – The King’s Choice (2016)

Director: Erik Poppe

Writer: Harald Rosenlow-Egg, Jane Trygve Royneland (Screenplay)

Starring: Jesper Christensen, Andrew Baasmo Christiansen, Karl Markovics, Tuva Novotny, Katharina Schuttler, Erik Hivju

 

Plot: On the 9th of April 1940, the German war machine arrive in the city of Oslo. The Norwegian King faces a choice that will change his country forever.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 13 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice History Lesson

 

Story: The King’s Choice starts in 1940 Norway, when the Germans start to invade, dragging the peaceful country into the war, King Haakon VII (Christensen) is left to see his country come under attack and communicate with his government on how to protect his people, Curt Brauer (Markovics) the German representative tries to play peacekeeper before Norway does something against the Germans.

As the Germans continue to advance in the country, King Haakon must make the difficult decision which will leave his country in their own position for the war that torn Europe apart.

 

Thoughts on The King’s Choice

 

Characters – King Haakon of Norway has kept his country at peace for years, now the war has come to his doorstep and he must be separated from his family while trying to keep his country together through the opening invasion, one they were not prepared for. Kronprins Olav is the son of Haakon who stands by his side through the difficult situation, he sees his children sent into hiding, knowing that their lives and his father lives will be put on the line against this enemy. Curt Brauer is the closest connection to the Germans in Norway, he tries to stop the bloodbath spreading. The characters in this film are based on the real people that has to make the difficult decisions during the war.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are strong throughout, Jesper Christensen in the leading role makes us understand every single struggle his character is going through. The rest of the performances let him take the starring role in the film.

StoryThe story here shows us just how Norway became involved in World War II, how they were first invaded by German and how the King made the difficult decision to help the country. This is a history lesson on another story from World War II, not knowing any of the Norwegian involvement, this made this much more interesting for me as I literally didn’t know what was going to happen in this story. if you do know the full history this will play it out for you nicely too.

Biopic/History/WarThe film uses both the history and biopic side of things to show us the couple of days from the first German invasion through any negotiations to keep the bloodshed down.

SettingsThe film keeps most of the film in the different locations the King went to during the first invasion, where he talks out any solutions the Norwegian people will need to make.


Scene of the Movie –
The speech to the cabinet.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is slower than it needs to be.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good history lesson about World War II which continues to give us new moments in film that we didn’t know unless we truly studied the time.

 

Overall: World War II history lesson.

Rating

 

 

I, Daniel Blake (2016)

Director: Ken Loach

Writer: Paul Laverty (Screenplay)

Starring: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Briana Shann, Dylan McKiernan, Kate Rutter, Sharon Percy, Kema Sikazwe

 

Plot: After having suffered a heart-attack, a 59-year-old carpenter must fight the bureaucratic forces of the system in order to receive Employment and Support Allowance.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Must Watch Movie

 

Story: I, Daniel Blake starts as we learn that Daniel (Johns) has suffered a heart attack and is on the mend, not ready to return to work as per doctor’s orders, only he financial support allowance has been taken away from him. Calming going through the processes to get it collecting again Daniel finds himself going round in circles.

When he meets and defends single mother Katie (Squires) who is new to the area trying to get signed up for her own allowances, the two become friends and offer to support each other in their battle to just keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables, it what is a shocking look at the benefit system.

 

Thoughts on I, Daniel Blake

 

Characters – Daniel Blake has worked his whole life, he lost his wife and suffered a heart attack while working, living on support allowance while recovering until the doctors clear him to work, he learns that he has lost his allowance and gets forced into a battle just to get enough money to live, getting sent round in circles to get an appeal date. Katie is a Londoner forced to move to Newcastle for a flat with her two children, working with Daniel she has her own battles to stay afloat putting her children first, seeing Daniel as the friend she needs to help her settle. Daisy is the eldest child of Katie that has been seeing the good in Daniel who is one of the only people outside of her family to help her. China is the neighbour of Daniel’s he offers to help if Daniel needed anything even if he is from a different generation or background.

PerformancesDave Johns steps in the first film role and is fantastic, giving us a performance, we truly sympathise with. Hayley Squires is strong through the film where we see how she has been beaten down by life and needs to remain strong for her children. The supporting cast are good and help Dave get the spotlight like he deserves.

StoryThe story gives us a shocking look at the benefit system in the UK, we follow Daniel who has worked his whole adult life until his heart attack meaning he can’t return to work, which leads to him to need to fight for benefits he is entitled to, but the government wouldn’t give him the benefits. The story shows us the flaws in the system which could leave people with nothing and even on the streets. This could easily be considered a warning to what people are going through without needing to ask for help and how the system can be considered for a new look to help.

SettingsThe film is set in Newcastle the northern city in England, one that has been known for harder times but unity between the people there.


Scene of the Movie –
Spray paint,

That Moment That Annoyed Me That this is a real problem.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the more important movies you will see, especially if you are UK based, it will give you a shocking look at the benefit system and just how flawed it is, while making you want to support the lead character in his battle for basic support.

 

Overall: Essential viewing for all.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – G – Getaway Plan (2016)

Director: Inaki Dorronsoro

Writer: Inaki Dorronsoro (Screenplay)

Starring: Alain Hernandez, Javier Gutierrez, Alba Galocha, Itziar Atienza, Luis Tosar, Florin Opritescu

 

Plot: A thief expert with blowtorch is hired by a group of the Russian mob for a bank assault.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Heist Film

 

Story: Getaway Plan starts when the Russian mob need to find a new expert thief, they turn to Victor (Hernandez) who is famous for using a blowtorch to get into rooms, he has never been caught, making him their only choice.

With the cops trying to eliminate this threat who soon learns the Victor is part of the force, who has gone deep undercover as the two must start to work together to bring down the criminal operation, while Victor’s relationship with his wife Marta (Atienza) is pushed to the limit, Victor turns to the only person he can trust Rapido (Gutierrez) to get the job done.

 

Thoughts on Getaway Plan

 

Characters – Victor is a mastermind thief, he has his own style for getting the job done which sees him blowtorching his way out of buildings or safes, he is in fact an undercover police office balance the fine line between the law, which will see him needing to face difficult decisions in life along the way during his latest job. Rapido is the best friend and only man that Victor can trust, he does have his own addiction problems, but he will be the only person that doesn’t give away Victor’s secrets. Helena is a prostitute that has taken a shine to Victor, he is left torn between his wife and her, when she is willing to turn back to her life of tricks. Marta is the wife and mother of Victor’s baby, she is getting tired of his life undercover, which sees her putting him to the limits of what she will put up with.

PerformancesWhen it comes to the performances, Alain Hernandez does a great job showing his character trying to balance the two lives he is currently living, as for the rest of the cast nobody does anything wrong, though nobody makes any real impact on the film.

StoryThe story here follows an undercover police officer that is known for his masterful skills when it comes to robbing banks, he is hired to complete a job for the Russian  mob, which will see him need to balance his two lives which becomes very difficult for the man. When it comes to the heist like films we know they can run smoothly, which in this case the heist side is fine, nothing fancy, the problems with this story comes from, not really having a true villain crime boss, you feel if he was being forced into a job the boss would push him to the limits. The idea that Victor is trying to balance the two lives does become the central story because he can’t talk about his wife in one and seeing her getting frustrated that he isn’t around for their child becomes more understandable. In the end the story is extremely watchable and can be enjoyed in places, though it does fall into the old, we have seen this before line of work.

CrimeThe crime side of the film does bring us a unique way of escaping the robberies, with the blowtorch element being a real factor in the story, the idea this man must live on both sides of the law does play a major factor in the story too.

SettingsThe film uses the typical settings you would imagine, we have the underworld locations, the police headquarters and his home life, each one has different meaning to Victor.


Scene of the Movie –
Blowtorch escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me No real villain of the piece.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple by the book crime drama, it doesn’t do anything truly wrong and can be enjoyed by the fans of the genre.

 

Overall: Simple and effective.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – B – Birth of the Dragon (2016)

Director: George Nolfi

Writer: Stephen J Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson (Screenplay)

Starring: Philip Ng, Yu Xia, Billy Magnussen, Simon Win, Ron Yuan

 

Plot: Set against the backdrop of 1960s San Francisco, BIRTH OF THE DRAGON is a modern take on the classic movies that Bruce Lee was known for. It takes its inspiration from the epic and still controversial showdown between an up-and-coming Bruce Lee and kung fu master Wong Jack Man – a battle that gave birth to a legend.


Tagline – The Fight That Created The Legend

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not the Most Effective Biopic

 

Story: Birth of the Dragon starts in 1964 San Francisco, where Bruce Lee (Ng) has started his own kung-fu academy with students including Steve McKee (Madnussen) and Vinnie Wei (Yin), he has just started to move into filming his fight sequences and always looks after his student’s mental vices too.

When one of the masters from China Wong Jack Man (Xia) visits to see the how Kung Fu is being used in the western world, he is guided around town by student Steve who wants to learn off him too. The showdown between the two is going to go down in legend.

 

Thoughts on Birth of the Dragon

 

Characters – Bruce Lee is the legend we know, in this film he is only in the early stages of teaching kung-fu to Americans, not the most popular decision within the kung fu community. He is cocky, arrogant and will help his students through any problems. He is moving into movies, filming his fights, but first he must prove himself to a former master. He believes he can win any fight he is put in using the kung fu skills he has learnt through the years. Wong Jack Man is a master of kung fu, visiting from China to learn how the Americans are using his skill. He is also punishing himself for his action back home, putting himself back into a position of needing to learn the reason of using kung fu. Steve McKee is the American that has been training under Bruce, but he becomes fascinated by Wong Jack Man’s visit wanting to learn more from his skills, while trying to win the heart of a Chinese local woman.

PerformancesPhilip Ng is solid enough with the fighting side of the film, but he does make Bruce look like a terrible person. Yu Xia is the best of the performers, the calmness he brings to the characters makes us want to see more of his characters life. Billy Magnussen did have his role cut back, which doesn’t help his performance because he does feel like the main character in this film.

StoryThe story follows one of the masters of kung fu going to America to witness the new wave of kung fu being taught be Bruce Lee before they both get caught up in the middle of a gang war, needing to see just who is the best. This is meant to lead up to one of the most controversial fights every reported, only it makes Bruce Lee out to be an arrogant man and uses the stereotypes of gang mentality to give us a mostly traditional and dull story to follow. The story also gives up on its own main character getting completely lost in the story it is telling through the film.

Action/BiopicThe action involves the basic of kung fu which we have seen before, only feeling anti-climatic when it comes to the showdown between the legends.

SettingsThe film is set in San Francisco which for the time would have been one of the locations the Asian community would have first been bring the kung fu teachings to America.


Scene of the Movie –
The club fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The showdown was billed to be more.

Final ThoughtsThis is an action biopic that doesn’t give us enough details of the iconic Bruce Lee, doesn’t deliver on what is being promised and fails to make us connect to the characters involved.

 

Overall: Disappointing biopic.

Rating