ABC Film Challenge – Action – X – XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017) Revisited

When I first reviewed XXX: Return of Xander Cage it got a 7.1.

Director: D.J. Caruso

Writer: F Scott Frazier (Screenplay) Rich Wilkes (Characters)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Rory McCann, Toni Collete, Samuel L Jackson

 

Plot: Xander Cage is left for dead after an incident, though he secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons.


Tagline – Guns, girls, global domination.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Popcorn Film

 

Story: XXX: Return of Xander Cage starts when Gibbons (Jackson) is killed by a falling satellite, CIA know the one device which could have caused this, ‘Pandora’s Box’ a device capable of taking satellites out of the sky turning them into warheads. Xiang (Yen) and his team Serena (Padukone), Talon (Jaa) and Hawk (Bisping) steal Pandora’s Box right from under the CIA agent Jane Marke (Collette) hands.

Jane is forced to turn to long thought dead Xander Cage (Diesel) to return Pandora’s Box, with his own team of Adele (Rose), Tennyson (McCann) and Nick (Wu) to travel the world to even the odds in the fights that will go around the world.

 

Thoughts on XXX: Return of Xander Cage

 

Characters – Xander Cage has returned from the dead, the extreme sport lover is bought back in for a new mission which will see him take on the deadly Xiang as his team of elite fighters. He uses his connections to get the mission complete, with his extremes sports to escape the situations he finds himself in. Xiang has led a team to steal the Pandora’s box, he is highly skilled and went through his own XXX recruitment program. His plans might not be as evil as first thought. Serena works for Xiang, she has the same background as Xander, working on the rebellious good guy nature. Adele is one of Xander’s team, she hunts hunters with her sniper skills. Jane Marke works for the CIA and needs recruit Xander to return the stolen weapon, she isn’t as friendly as Gibbons as she knows the stakes. We get the generic side characters too, each having their moment to help the mission.

PerformancesFirst thing before we get into the complete conversation on performances, we must praise the international cast, which sees actors from around the globe join forces. Vin Diesel is the leading role does better than I first gave him credit for, this is every you would expect from him. Seeing Donnie Yen stepping into an American movie is great because we get to see his fighting skills in action. Deepika Padukone steps away from Bollywood for her first Hollywood role never looking out of place in the action heavy role. We do have a wonderful supporting cast that includes Tony Jaa, Ruby Rose, Rory McCann and Toni Collette each getting to show off their time on screen.

StoryThe story brings Xander Cage back from the dead as he must lead a team in an attempt to return a stolen device which could be used as a weapon against the world. let’s be honest, we don’t need the deepest story because this is a film used to showcase the combat abilities of the cast, needing to keep the story nice and simple, good guys need to get device back before devastation could happen. We have a few twists along the way and we do get to build upon the universe that XXX operates in. this is one you can switch your brain off and enjoy.

Action/AdventureThe action is massive with fights, stunts and chases going on through the film which is a joy to watch if you want to switch your mind off, physics might well be out the window, but extreme sports fans will enjoy. The adventure side of the film takes us around the world as the mission is put into play.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show different locations that the XXX team would be operating in, be it hiding or willing to fight in.


Scene of the Movie –
Plane ending.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Ice Cube’s role is mostly wasted.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the action films you can just switch on and switch off to enjoy the action unfold.

 

Overall: Pure popcorn action blast.

Rating

 

 

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Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Revisited

Director: Joss Whedon

Writer: Joss Whedon (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Jim Starlin (Comics)

Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Samuel L Jackson

 

Plot: When Tony Stark and Bruce Banner try to jump-start a dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron, things go horribly wrong and it’s up to Earth’s mightiest heroes to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plan.


Tagline – A new age begins

Runtime: 2 Hours 21 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Action-Packed Sequel

 

Story: Avengers Age of Ultron starts as the full team, Iron Man (Downey Jr), Thor (Hemsworth) Hulk (Ruffalo), Captain America (Evans) Black Widow (Johansson) and Hawkeye (Renner) leading an assault on a secret Hydra base in search for Loki’s sceptre.

Tony recruits Bruce to help him use the sceptre to help create an artificial intelligence that could guard the Earth, making the Avengers be able to rest. When Ultron (Spader) takes control of what Tony is searching for, he becomes the latest enemy to the Avengers as he looks to bring world peace to the planet, using the Maximoff twins Pietro (Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda (Olsen) who has the ability to control their minds.

 

Thoughts on Avengers Age of Ultron

 

Characters – Tony Stark wants to create an artificial intelligence to defend Earth from visitors, he does this with Bruce without telling the rest of the team. He is desperate to find a way to save people however much of a risk is going to be, showing that is still struggling to work as a team. Bruce Banner is reluctantly helping Tony, hoping that once he creates this intelligence it would stop him needing to bring out the Hulk. Steve Rogers still believes he is doing the best for mankind, he will see the good in other people including the Maximoff twins who have sided with Ultron, he understands war can push people to the sides at first. Thor is sadly underused in this film because most of his story got cut from the film, most of his story involves him needing to stop the end of the world coming to his own world. Natasha gets a glimpse into the past she has been trying to forget and she has control over Hulk to return Bruce back into control. Hawkeye has been keeping a secret, this will show just what he is fighting for each time he becomes part of the Avengers. Nick Fury gives us the motivation that the team requires. Ultron is the artificial intelligence that Tony unleashes, he is designed to create peace, which in his eyes is complete destruction. Pietro is one of the twins, he has superspeed and like his sister Wanda who has he ability to control minds has been waiting for a chance to confront Tony for the death of their parents.

PerformancesRobert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner all return hitting the levels you would expect when they do get less screen time. We have James Spader mostly voicing the villain with his tone helping make him feel like the threat he is, while Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen both add to the grand scale of this film.

StoryThe story follows how the Avengers are being tested with their action by wanting to experiment on things they have discovered, idea which only end up bringing a new self-created villain to the world. this story does show us how heroes could easily become villains with their actions which is something we haven’t looked at before, we have an artificial intelligence being the villain here shows how quickly it could spread to be a threat for everybody it come sin contact with and losing the human element can leave it make decision which is sees as the only option. Having the minor conflict between the Avengers is important because it does show the clash of beliefs they will be showing through the years together. This story does only build on just where everything will end up going after the action involved in this film too.

Action/Sci-FiThe action involved here is large scale battle sequences, chase sequences and most notable the final act fight which goes on for an age. The sci-fi side of the film turns to the idea of artificial intelligence become the new threat for the Avengers.

SettingsThe film shows us a couple of different settings which will see the heroes needing to save a city which is literally being lifted out of the ground to be used as a weapon.

Special EffectsThe effects in this film do for the most part seem flawless yet again, the ability to have scenes on these scales is unbelievable.


Scene of the Movie –
Chase sequences.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Thor needed more scene time.

Final ThoughtsThis is the second joint venture for the heroes and this time they must fight their own problems, it is entertaining and deserves the attention of the world building involved.

 

Overall: Entertaining as they come.

Rating

 

 

The Avengers (2012) Revisited

Director: Joss Whedon

Writer: Joss Whedon (Screenplay) Zak Penn, Joss Whedon (Story)

Starring: Robert Downey Jr,  Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson

 

Plot: Earth’s mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a team if they are going to stop the mischievous Loki and his alien army from enslaving humanity.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fantastic

 

Story: The Avengers starts as Nick Fury (Jackson) is leading the investigation on how to operate the tesseract, which ends up summoning Loki (Hiddleston) who steals it, taking Hawkeye (Renner) and Dr Selvig (Skarsgard) under his control. This leads to Nick Fury bringing the Avengers Tony Stark (Downey Jr), Steve Rogers (Evans), Bruce Banner (Raffalo) and Natasha Romanoff (Johansson) for their first mission together.

When Thor (Hemsworth) joins the group, they must learn why Loki is on Earth this time and stop is master plan of unleashing an alien invader on Earth.

 

Thoughts on The Avengers

 

Characters – Steve Rogers is till adapting to the modern day, he is still as patriotic as he was, he will provide the middle ground between Thor and Tony as he is looking to solve the problem in the simplest possible outcome. Tony Stark is reluctant at help to start with, but learning he could get more information from SHIELD he steps up to help defeat Loki. Thor arrives in hope of bringing Loki back to Asgard to face punishment for his action, he must learn about the other Avengers and how to become closer to the humans he is meant to be protecting. Bruce Banner comes out of hiding to help with the scientific side, only he will need to unleash the Hulk to stay in the fight. Natasha Romanoff will show more of her skills as the agent of SHIELD, we see how she can play people to get the answers required. Nick Fury brings the heroes together to fight Loki after his own experiment goes wrong, he isn’t honest with them which only drives them away. Loki has returned to Earth for the tesseract which he will use to bring an alien invading army to take over Earth. Hawkeye is an agent of SHIELD who gets turns by Loki’s power, he is turned into one of his super soldiers with his deadly accuracy with an arrow.

PerformancesWe have the returning cast from the origin films, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L Jackson all return continuing to grow into their roles, Mark Ruffalo does make for a great replacement as Bruce, with his more human feel to the character and Jeremy Renner brings us another agent of SHIELD we want to get behind.

StoryThe story here brings the characters from their solo movies together to fight Loki who is planning on taking over the Earth with his alien invaders. This story works wonderfully because we have seen the major heroes Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk have their own movies to introduce us to them, show their strengths and weaknesses, so, stepping into this world we know how each hero knows of to use their strengths to their advantage to help each other in the battle and learn just how far they would go to save the world when the time comes. The bigger inclusion of SHIELD is great too, because we see how the mortal side of the people in the battle will do, what they can to help. Loki as the villain does work well, he always desired power and to rule which is the reason behind his appearance. To achieve the story telling that can reference previous films and eras, to give us a way to bring the superhero unit together for the first time is done to perfection here.

Action/Sci-FiThe action is the large scale battle sequences which include the jet base and the New York battle which shows each of the heroes using their strengths to win. We have the sci-fi side of the world by having the idea of aliens coming to invade Earth at the control of a high power.

SettingsThe film uses the settings well, we have the scattered intro, the base which seems undetectable and New York being the key to the final battle, yes, we have seen New York used in a lot of movies, but it still works for impact and the worlds eyes to see.

Special EffectsThe effects seem flawless through the film, the pure scale of the battles makes this even more impressive, when we see just how all the different powers are used to fight the good fight.


Scene of the Movie –
New York battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me You might miss certain references if you have seen the other films.

Final ThoughtsThis is the benchmark for any superhero team up movie now, this film showed us just how it can be done and how done correctly you will be left wanting more.

 

Overall: Must watch superhero movie.

Rating

 

 

Captain Marvel (2019)

Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Writer: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Screenplay) Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Nicole Perlman, Meg LaFauve (Story)

Starring: Brie Larson, Gemma Chan, Ben Mendelsohn, Samuel L Jackson, Lee Pace, Jude Law, Lashana Lynch, Annette Bening

 

Plot: Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.


Tagline – Discover what makes a (her)o

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Superhero Movie 101

 

Story: Captain Marvel starts as Vers (Larson) a Kree soldier is still figuring out how to control her powers, with her trainer Yon-Rogg (Law), her first mission sees her captured by the enemy alien race the Skrulls who help her learn about her past, on Earth as a pilot.

Vers must learns who her true self is once on Earth with Nick Fury (Jackson) helping down memory lane, before deciding which side of the war she should be fighting on.

 

Thoughts on Captain Marvel

 

Characters – Vers is how we meet her first, she has been trained to be a Kree warrior soldier, ready to get into the war against the Skrull. Vers does have powers she hasn’t fully learnt how to control yet and returning to Earth on the mission, will help fill in the blanks in her memory to show her a life she had before her training, as a fighter pilot named Carol Danvers. This is a character that is easier to write for, because it is the trademark design of a hero needing to learn about their powers for their first battle. Nick Fury is a younger agent in SHIELD, he witnesses first hand what Vers is fighting for and decides to help her even if it means going against the rulebook, he gets the bigger picture and in this film loves cats. Talos is the leader of the Skrull, he needs information from Vers to help his side in the war, he has become desperate and can shapeshift into any species he sees. Yon-Rogg is the leader of the Kree unit, he has been training Vers for combat and with his team, can be a threat for any opponent. Mar-Vell is a scientist that Carol worked with on Earth, her research is key to the war, she also appears as the Supreme Intelligence for Vers communication, which is meant to be somebody important in your life. Maria is the old pilot friend of Carol’s she believed her friend died and has spent her time raising her daughter away from the busy world.

PerformancesBrie Larson does a strong enough job in the leading role, she doesn’t quite have the comic timing for her jokes to come off, like many other actors in this universe, but does shine in the more serious moments. Samuel L Jackson gets to enjoy playing a younger version of himself, he gets to poke fun at the ideas people might have about him as a person too. Ben Mendelsohn is strong too, his accent can jump around in places, but for being under the makeup, we understand his characters emotions. Jude Law does well in his role too, he takes the mentor role, which is better than his outing in Fantastic Beasts. Annette Bening becomes the one you most want to see more from, in dual roles, she can make us want to see more of her characters.

StoryThe story follows Vers a Kree soldier that must learn about her past to understand her own powers, to make a decision on which side of a war she should be fighting for. This is an origin story for Captain Marvel, so we know the stakes are going to be less, because we don’t need true end of the world stuff going on here. The strangest way to describe most of this story would be like a Star Trek story, a person meets both sides of a war and must decide which side to fight on and once we get to the decision it plays out like how Kirk or Piccard would deal with the situation. This doesn’t mean it isn’t good or entertaining. The rediscovering the past is interesting to see and gets to play a lot of 90’s nostalgic moments too. One of the biggest negatives in the story does come from having the inclusion of characters we have seen die latest in the universe, because this does take peril away from them, both good and villainous figures. This does tick al the boxes for an origin story, it makes us care about this new character and ties in nicely to what will be happening next in this universe.

Action/Sci-FiThe action involved in the film is a mix of hand to hand combat, weaponry combat and flying combat, be it space or on Earth, everything is enjoyable enough to get what is required from this side of the film. the sci-fi side of this film uses the idea of an inter galactical war that Carol has become a part of, showing that the human heroes and enemies might not be the only threats to Earth.

SettingsThe film uses the settings well, we have the space location each has it own unique look to show us on different planets, while on Earth we go through the military bases and quiet of the radar places without needing to just blow everything up.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are strong throughout, we know and expect this by now in the Marvel machine.


Scene of the Movie –
It’s just a cat.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Captain Marvel seems too powerful.

Final ThoughtsThis is another entertaining fun addition to the MCU, it gives us a by the book origin story that we can understand the difficulties that Carol must be going through.

 

Overall: Fun, entertaining origin story.

Rating

 

 

Incredibles 2 (2018)

Director: Brad Bird

Writer: Brad Bird (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Craig T Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Catherine Keener, Eli Fucile, Bob Odenkirk, Samuel L Jackson

 

Plot: The Incredibles hero family takes on a new mission, which involves a change in family roles: Bob Parr (Mr Incredible) must manage the house while his wife Helen (Elastigirl) goes out to save the world.


Tagline – Back to work.

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Pixar Sequel Fun

 

Story: Incredibles 2 starts as the Incredibles are still trying to fight crime even if it is against the law, the latest mission sees them caught and needing to close down the program they are using. Winston Denvor and his sister Evelyn offer a chance to bring the superheroes back into the positive light, with Elastigirl being front and centre, leaving Mr Incredible to raise the children this time around.

As Elastigirl continues to fight crime and take on the mysterious supervillain known as the Screenslaver, Mr Incredible must learn how to deal with Jack-Jack’s new powers, which he is struggling to control.

 

Thoughts on Incredibles 2

 

Characters – Helen gets a chance to become Elastigirl in a hope to bring the legalisation of superheroes back for the public, she must leave her family to achieve this and relishes being in this role. Bob is Mr Incredible, but this time he must be the stay at home parent, which he learns to struggle with everyday problems that come with parenting and dealing with Jack-Jack’s powers. Violet and Dash must continue to learn their responsibilities as superheroes and not risk their lives like their parents do. Evelyn and Winston are the people that want to bring the superheroes back into the world, they are giving them a new PR make over which will the world accept superheroes again. Jack-Jack is the baby with new powers which will make him more powerful than the rest of the family combined.

StoryThe story here feels almost like a reverse of the previous film, with Elastigirl getting the chance to go back into the field only to come up against a supervillain with their own motivation to not want superheroes in the world anymore. We have a side to the story with Mr Incredible needing to stay home to look after the children which eventually tries to play into the idea that a husband and father couldn’t cope with the job a mother does with children, which does seem insulting. The biggest pot holes come from just not knowing the time between what happened last time and this film, the fact everyone has forgotten about Jack-Jack’s powers and all the random superheroes that are like the basic Suicide Squad side. If we are honest the story is easy to follow, it feels safe and wants to play into the different sides of the modern world.

Action/Adventure/Comedy/FamilyThe action involved in the film is good and gets to hit levels the live action superhero movies can’t do. The adventure takes our heroes on a new adventure against a new villain, simple and effective. The comedy is good with the Jack-Jack scenes being the highlight of the film.

SettingsThe film shows us the two different locations superheroes must operate in. one with normal life and the other where they are in the spotlight for the world to judge their actions.

AnimationPixar are always on top of their game when it comes to animation, nothing looks bad on a visual side of things which is all we ask from them.


Scene of the Movie –
Jack-Jack costume suit.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not remember Jack-Jack has powers after the end of the first film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple and enjoyable Pixar movie, it will get laughs, it has a good story asking if we need superheroes, while being a nice follow on to the previous film.

 

Overall: Pixar sequel that hits well.

Rating