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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Ice Cube Weekend – Ghosts of Mars (2001) Revisited

Director: John Carpenter

Writer: John Carpenter, Larry Sulkis (Screenplay)

Starring: Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Jason Statham, Clea DuVall, Pam Grier, Joanna Cassidy, Richard Cetrone

 

Plot: In 2176, a Martian police unit is sent to pick up a highly dangerous criminal at a remote mining post. Upon arrival, the cops find that the post has become a charnel house.


Tagline – Terror is the same on any planet

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Silly Fun Action Horror

 

Story: Ghosts of Mars starts when the lone survive of a prison transfer Melanie Ballard (Henstridge) is recount the events of her mission. The mission was for Melanie, Jericho (Statham), Bashira (DuVall), Commander Helena (Grier) going to an outpost on Mars in the year 2176 to transfer Desolation Williams (Cube).

When the team arrives, they find the outpost abandoned, bodies hanging from the ceiling and the only breath people seemed to have become infected by something. This forces the team to work with Desolation to battle the infected people coming after them.

 

Thoughts on Ghosts of Mars

 

Characters – Melanie Ballard is one of the police officers sent to the outpost to transfer the prisoner, she does use drugs to relax her, she is the one telling the story of the events, where she must take control of the situation trying to get the people out alive. Desolation Williams is the prisoner they are meant to be transferring, he has been accused and cleared of murder numerous times, he will have to work with Melanie to get out of this situation, where he skills will help the people fight to survive. Jericho Butler is one of the more experienced soldiers that is the go-to guy for weapons and fixing problems. Bashira is the rookie on the squad, who must learn quickly as the situation becomes deadlier. We do have too many characters, which will lead to many blink and you miss it deaths.

PerformancesNatasha Henstridge does a strong job as the reluctant hero, she handles the combat well, while trying to be the tough figure. Ice Cube brings the type of character that we know he will bring to most of his roles. With the large cast, most of the rest of the cast struggle to make any real impact on the story.

StoryThe story follows a group of military police on Mars looking to transfer a prisoner for a trial, only for them to find themselves coming face to face with a mysterious evil that has taken over the locals turning them into crazed killing machines. This is simple concept for a sci-fi horror, we get both sides of the law needing to work together to get the job of survival done, we do get the explanation about where the evil has come from. The problem with the story is that we have way too many characters, we have somebody telling the story, which sees them seeing the story through multiply viewpoints which does become frustrating because at times you hear a scene on the radio, only to cut back to the scene happening, which makes it feel like filler, rather than parts of the story.

Action/Horror/Sci-FiThe action here is plenty of bullets flying around, hand to hand combat and weapons which can see body parts flying off. The horror isn’t as strong as it could be because we don’t get the blood shed the film hints at, the sci-fi side of the film shows us how the colonies on Mars would operate.

SettingsThe film is set mostly on an outpost on Mars, it is remote, we know how long the team will be there before the transport returns, leaving us waiting to see how they could escape the situation.

Special EffectsThe special effects used in the film mostly from the body horrors the evil have been doing to themselves, it is strong use of make up but never feels terrifying like it should do.


Scene of the Movie –
Who is in charge now?

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of those silly fun action films in which you can enjoy without expecting anything to be overly serious, it might have plenty of flaws but watch with enjoyment you can laugh along.

 

Overall: Easy to watch action horror.

Rating

 

 

Ron Perlman Weekend – The Book of Life (2014)

Director: Jorge R Gutierrez

Writer: Jorge R Gutierrez, Doug Landgale (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube

 

Plot: Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Magical

 

Story: The Book of Life starts with a school trip being told the story of two Gods Xibalba and La Muerta making a wager to see who gets to rule the land of the living and the land of the dead, their bet follows two young Mexican boys Manolo and Joaquin betting on who will marry Maria.

Manolo is from a bullfighting family and wants to be a musician, while Joaquin becomes General known for fighting off bandits. When everything gets out of hand in the battle between Manolo and Joaquin, Manolo ends up in the land of the dead to save Maria.

 

Thoughts on The Book of Life

 

Characters – Manolo is from a family of bullfighters, he is expected to follow in his ancestor’s footsteps even though he dreams of being a musician. He is part of the bet, he has the better heart trying to win her heart through music, he travels through three worlds to win her heart. Joaquin is the brave fighter, he has been selected by the evil to win Maria’s heart given the medal of everlasting life meaning he can’t die, this adds to his confidence he possesses. Maria is the woman the two are fighting over, she is independent as they come willing to lead her people without needing a husband by her side.

StoryThe story does seem to follow what we saw in Coco in places, this one did come first. We have the central character of Manolo that is expected to follow on path not allowing him to follow his own dream of music. We have the travel through the land of the living, the dead and the forgotten. Where we go to be different is by including Gods that can make a bet to keep them entertained. This story does feel magical from start to finish.

Adventure/Comedy/Fantasy/MusicalThe adventure that Manolo goes on is wonderful to see through the different lands of Mexican culture, this does have good comedy going on through the whole film mostly from the side characters. The fantasy world of the land of the dead and forgotten look beautiful to be travelling through. The songs are delightful to listen to even if some are remixes of famous songs.

SettingsThe settings takes us to Mexico, as we follow the culture of the land, both past and present.

AnimationThe animation looks fantastic, different and what we are used to seeing too, the colours stand out and the different lands have a unique look.


Scene of the Movie –
Forgive song.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I had just watched Coco a few weeks again and knowing that movie just stole most of the ideas annoys me.

Final ThoughtsThis is a magical animation that leaves you with a happy thought about what you have just seen.

 

Overall: Magical and beautiful.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Anaconda (1997)

Director: Luis Llosa

Writer: Hans Bauer, Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr (Screenplay)

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz, Jonathan Hyde, Owen Wilson, Kari Wuhrer

 

Plot: A “National Geographic” film crew is taken hostage by an insane hunter, who takes them along on his quest to capture the world’s largest – and deadliest – snake.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Creature Feature

 

Story: Anaconda starts as the National Geography team set off down the Amazon River deeper than anyone has filmed before, we have director Terri (Lopez), cameraman Danny (Cube), Host Warren (Hyde), production manager Denise (Wuhrer), Dr Cale (Stoltz) and Gary (Wilson). Travelling down the river the crew find a standard hunter Paul Serone (Voight) offering him a ride to the next village.

This is where they first clash, Dr Cale believes he knows how to find what they are looking for while Paul believes he knows best when searching for the tribe they are looking to film. when Serone’s motives become clear, he is hunting down the world’s largest Anaconda he makes the team help him which leaves them in a battle to survive against the deadly predator.

 

Thoughts on Anaconda

 

Characters/PerformanceTerri is the ambitious director about to get her big break, she is loyal to her cameraman and crew, she will never give up on her team even against Serone. Serone is a hunter who has spent his life hunting this anaconda, he doesn’t care how many people for him to get his prize. The rest of the characters a generic 101, the street smart black guy in Danny, the stuck up English presenter in Warren and the American know it all in Dr Cale.

Performance wise, Lopez is good enough in the leading role as we know most horror need a good strong leading lady. Jon Voight isn’t the best as we know this is an Oscar winning actor who is filled with funny looks throughout the film. The rest of the cast all do a solid job without being the scene stealers they could be.

StoryStories in this genre are always easy to put together, put a group of people in an unusual location and find an oversized creature to kill them one by one. This is easy to follow and never leaves much to the imagination and can be enjoyed by all the creature feature fans out there.

Action/Adventure/HorrorThe action is mostly down to them trying to escape or kill the anaconda nothing too fancy, the adventure does come going into the unknown down the Amazon river with the horror in the creature feature side of the film watching how the giant snake is trying to kill them.

SettingsI like the setting because it shows how dangerous the Amazon river and rain forest can be for anyone who dares goes deep enough into it.

Special EffectsSadly here is another one of the weak points, the CGI looks bad, I do know this film is 20 years old now but it just doesn’t ever look like it could be that good even back then.

Final ThoughtsIf you want a fun barmy creature feature, then look no further you have something big, bad and fun here.

 

Overall: Enjoyable but bad creature feature fun.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – XXX 2 The Next Level (2005)

casting card

 

Plot: Darius Stone, a new agent in the XXX program, is sent to Washington, DC to defuse a power struggle amongst national leaders.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Poor Sequel

 

Story: XXX 2: The Next Level starts as the NSA base with Agent Augustus Gibbons (Jackson) is stationed meaning they need to find themselves a new XXX that is deadlier than the previous one. The man they turn to is Lieutenant Darius Stone (Cube) who is currently behind bars.

When all the government start searching for Darius and Gibbons they find themselves hunted down by General Deckert (Dafoe) making this a personal situation after he takes down Gibbons. Darius must use all of his training to uncover the truth with Deckeret after him and Agent Steele (Speedman) not knowing what he is walking into.

XXX 2: The Next Level is a sequel to a standard action film only it doesn’t bring back the lead actor and has to find a quick excuse to fit a new hero into the film and suddenly they are all one unit of former soldiers and everything stays within the US. This doesn’t really achieve what the first film does and ends up just being a plain action film that story comes off flat.

 

Actor Review

 

Willem Dafoe: General George Deckert is our main bad guy this time, he is the sectary of Defence that is out to us the NSA project as a cover up for his master plan which means he has to take out all of his former men including Gibbons and Stone. Willem as a villain what a surprise there where he is just solid in this role.

Samuel L Jackson: Agent Augustus Gibbons has his base attacked leading him to find a new X agent where he turns to one of his old soldiers as we learn a lot more about the back story behind this character this time. Samuel is solid in this role but it feels like it could just have been pay check for him.

Ice Cube: Darius Stone is the new agent X he is a former soldier that has been locked up but after Gibbon breaks him out he puts all of his skills to use to uncover the truth as the battle comes to home ground in America. Ice doesn’t reach the levels of Vin as you never feel he could have been a soldier.

Scott Speedman: Agent Kyle Steele is the man investigating the attack on the NSA but as he learns more about the story he works himself with Darius to protect the nation. Scott is solid but doesn’t make that big of an impact in the story.

Support Cast: XXX 2: The Next Level much like the original has your typical supporting cast but I do feel this one does a larger range on the whole sidekick side of the story.

Director Review: Lee TamahoriLee gives us a sequel that doesn’t reach the levels of the original but having to fast track a new hero into the story didn’t help.

 

Action: XXX 2: The Next Level has very basic action being used throughout without being anything fresh.

Adventure: XXX 2: The Next Level lose the adventure side of the story which doesn’t help the ideas in the film.

Thriller: XXX 2: The Next Level should keep us on the edge but just doesn’t pull us in anymore.

Settings: XXX 2: The Next Level keeps all the action in America which doesn’t help the idea in the film because of the adventure angle.
Special Effects
: XXX 2: The Next Level has a few solid special effects but also a laughable effects.

Suggestion: XXX 2: The Next Level is one to most likely miss, it doesn’t add anything to the original and almost comes off as a parody of the first. (Avoid)

 

Best Part: No

Worst Part: Car on the train tracks.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Yes

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $87 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

Tagline: The greatest threat to our nation comes from within.

 

Overall: Terrible sequel really.

Ratingcard