REVIEW: MOJAVE

CAST

Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy)
Louise Bourgoin (A Happy Event)
Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter)
Walton Goggins (Django Unchained)
Fran Kranz (Dollhouse)
Matt Jones (Mom)
Dania Ramirez (Heroes)

Mojave is the brain child from the writer of ‘The Departed’. Add in a slew of great actors and the result is me, with high hopes for this movie. But within the first few minutes those hopes were drastically lowered. This is mainly due to the all around aimlessness of the story. Garrett Hedlund wanders into the desert and meets the hick version of Oscar Isaac. Than Hudlund inexplicably bludgeons Isaac and frames him for the murder of a police officer. So, Isaac follows Hedlund back to LA in hopes of exacting of his revenge. All of this roughly taking place with in the first ten or twenty minutes of the film. Now we have our story. What I liked most about ‘Mojave’ is the scenes that Isaac and Hedlund share. While there may only be two or three of them, I found them to be the best parts of the movie. Both sociopaths, it was interesting and sometimes rather funny to watch these two go back and forth.The only other aspect worth mentioning is the music. In this otherwise uninspired film, the music really helped capture the mood of each scene. Whether or not the scene actually has the desired affect on you is beside the point. Even though, more times than not, the music is really the only thing that helps move scenes forward. Other than these few things there really isn’t much that ‘Mojave’ offers. The performances are passable but almost every actor in the film feels miscast. All of them seem to over or under act in a strange attempt to give these flat characters meaning. And boy most of these characters are two dimensional. They worst offenders come in the form of Mark Wahlberg and Walton Goggins. These two come into the film as nothing more than vessels for director William Monahan to force in his own opinions. There is nothing more to them than that. They come into the film, spit their “political commentary”, and leave as quickly as they came.2As you watch this, it’s impossible not to think, “Wow, what the heck was that about?”. Not to mention the incredibly in your face social commentary. I understand that many of us are hopelessly addicted to our phones but do you have to pretend like EVERYONE is? And, do you seriously have to show this in every single scene?? The worst part is, they don’t just talk about it. There is one scene in particular where a character exits a bar and passes a line of people. ALL of which are on their phone, and to make things even less subtle the film feels the need to add phone clicks and buzzes. This is not a film that children are going to see so do you have to make it this obvious?

maxresdefaultI’m pretty sure that I do actually have a brain and I can pick up on subtly. So why ram it down my throat with next to no subtly? Aside from the two or three scenes that Isaac and Hedlund share this is all the film does for its hour and a half run time. Use uncomfortably pretentious celebrity cameos to drive home the films own misguided views of the world. While it does do some things right I can’t say that this is worth recommending. This overall standardness is enough to send ‘Mojave’ spiraling into obscurity.

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REVIEW: PAN

CAST

Levi Miller (Jasper Jones)
Hugh Jackman (Logan)
Garrett Hedlund (Tron: LEgacy)
Rooney Mara (Side Effects)
Adeel Akhtar (The Dictator)
Nonso Anozie (Dracula)
Amanda Seyfried (Jennifer’s Body)
Kathy Burke (Flushed Away)
Lewis MacDougall (A Monster Calls)
Jack Charles (Tom White)
Cara Delevingne (Sucide Squad)
Paul Kaye (Game of Thrones)

Newborn Peter (Levi Miller) is left by his mother Mary (Amanda Seyfried) on the steps of an orphanage in London, an establishment under the care of Mother Barnabas (Kathy Burke). Several years later, during World War II, upon learning that Mother Barnabas is hoarding food for herself, Peter and his best friend Nibs (Lewis MacDougall) try to steal it to distribute amongst themselves and the other orphans but they are caught. In the process, Peter finds a letter written by his mother, declaring her love and assuring Peter they will meet again “in this world or another”.In retaliation for the boys’ mischief, Mother Barnabas summons pirates who kidnap Peter, Nibs and several others. Nibs manages to escape but Peter does not. He is captured and taken aboard a flying pirate ship. Following an aerial battle with several Spitfires the ship takes Peter to Neverland, a magical realm beyond space and time, where he is forced to become a slave laborer and mine for Pixum (crystallized Fairy Dust) on behalf of the terrible pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) who uses it to prevent himself from aging. Peter befriends another miner, named James Hook (Garrett Hedlund). After insulting Blackbeard’s men, Peter is forced to walk the plank over the deep mine, but survives by flying. Blackbeard then tells Peter about an old prophecy that a boy who could fly would one day kill him, but Peter refuses to believe he is that boy.Peter joins Hook and his accomplice, Sam “Smee” Smiegel (Adeel Akhtar), stealing one of Blackbeard’s flying ships and escaping into the forest. There they are found by the native chief’s daughter Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and nearly executed but when the natives Chief Great Little Panther (Jack Charles) notices Peter’s pan flute pendant, left to him by Mary, and said to belong to their people’s greatest hero, the legendary Pan. With the Memory Tree, Tiger Lily tells Peter that many years ago when the natives and the fairies united to fight together against the pirates, the Fairy Prince and the love of Blackbeard’s life, Mary fell in love but when Blackbeard discovered them, the Prince took human form to rescue Mary. But as fairies could only live in the form of a human for one day, the Prince sacrificed his life for Mary. Mary was then forced to hide their newborn son Peter in the other world and seek shelter in the Fairy Kingdom when she and the fairies had to retreat. As part of his heritage, Peter has the ability to fly, but is unable to do so because of his lack of faith.Fearful of Blackbeard’s punishment, Smee betrays the natives’ location to him, and in the ensuing battle, Chief Great Little Panther is murdered by Blackbeard, who also reveals that he killed Peter’s mother. Peter is hurt to learn that Tiger Lily had lied to Peter, telling him his mother is alive but she explains that he would have walked away from his destiny if he knew the truth.Peter, Hook, and Tiger Lily escape in a raft and head to the Fairy Kingdom to enlist their help in defeating the pirates. Along the way, Peter falls into the river and is nearly eaten by giant crocodiles before being rescued by the mermaids, after which he has a vision of Blackbeard accidentally killing Mary as she defended the Fairy Kingdom from his offensive. Despondent over their chances, Hook leaves while Peter and Tiger Lily arrive at the Fairy Kingdom only to be ambushed by Blackbeard who plans to use the fairies vast amount of Pixum to live forever. Blackbeard takes Peter’s pan flute pendant, which is the key to the fairy kingdom, opens their gates and launches an attack.Peter escapes and befriends one of the fairies, named Tinker Bell. Together, they rally the rest of the Neverland fairies to fight the pirates while Tiger Lily duels Blackbeard. Hook returns on the stolen ship and fights Blackbeard’s right-hand man Bishop (Nonso Anozie) until the ship tips over, sending both falling to their deaths. Peter conquers his fears and flies to save Hook, while Blackbeard and his men are overpowered by the fairies. Forced into an abyss, they subsequently fall to their deaths. Smee is the sole survivor having fled during the battle. Peter then sees a vision of Mary, who reaffirms him to be Neverland’s savior: Peter Pan. Shortly afterwards, Peter and Hook, now the captain of the Jolly Roger, return to London to rescue Nibs and the other orphans, who become part of Peter’s crew, the Lost Boys. In the final scene, Peter and Hook reaffirm their friendship, certain that nothing will ever go wrong between them.A totally different side of the Peter Pan story. Unique and imaginative. Non stop action packed and Hugh Jackman like you’ve never seen him before. A talented cast and brilliant production.

REVIEW: TRON 1 & 2

CAST

Jeff Bridges (R.I.P.D.)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
Cindy Morgan (Caddyshack)
Bernard Hughes (Da)
Peter Jurasik (Babylon 5)

Watching Tron now you can’t help but feel that the visual effects are looking less impressive than they did back in the ’80s, then you realise that this film is thirty years old, and suddenly they seem pretty decent again!

The story tells of a computer genius trying to hack into his former boss’ computer system to get back his intellectual property, after breaking into the premises and being digitised into bits of data by the prototype laser transporter there – he finds himself literally inside the system. Inside the mainframe he finds himself involved in a battle against the Master Control Program, an artificial intelligence which has mutated beyond its initial coding and has visions of world domination by hacking into other networks.

The various bits of software he encounters are visually represented using blends of computer animation techniques and live action manipulated in post-production. The film has a stylistic look which was unlike anything seen at the time. It still remains a unique experience as computer generated imaging quickly evolved since, leaving Tron as a pioneering title which has inspired the CGI work on countless films over the years and has been parodied many times. Admittedly the computer graphics do look very basic now and the large flying “recognisers” are laughably crude and not even slightly menacing. You do start to get used to the computer graphics though and the impact of their basic look softens. Despite this, I don’t consider at the special effects to be particularly dated, this is best viewed as a film of its own time, you can then truly marvel at the immersive world which has been created, not that dated visuals matter too much as the strength of this film exists in the central story of a man trying to break free from a corrupt system – in both the virtual and the real world. Abuses of influence by those in high positions and by those who surprisingly find themselves with power are themes which will always be relevant, and therefore the film still remains contemporary and probably always will.

Jeff Bridges brings a cheeky flamboyance to his dual roles as Flynn the maverick genius, and Clu – his virtual alter-ego. He is a convincing programming maestro without being a stereotypical code bore, he is aware of his own esteemed regard by his peers and enjoys it. In an age where video-arcades represented the pinnacle of publicly available technology, he is the king of that domain and a character you want to see succeed in his mission against the large corporation which seems to represent so much of what is wrong with the world. For a more tech savvy generation Tron stretches plausibility, the spurious elements of what happens inside a mainframe computer will be hard to swallow but the look of the film is one of pure science-fiction fantasy and the innards of the machine could easily be a completely different world. This is escapist cinema and so it doesn’t need to be too believable, it just needs to be fun – and Tron definitely delivers there.

 

CAST

Jeff Bridges (R.I.P.D.)
Garrett Hedlund (Unbroken)
Olivia Wilde (Cowboys & Aliens)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
James Frain (Gotham)
Beau Garrett (Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer)
Michael Sheen (Underworld)
Serinda Swan (Smallville)
Yaya DaCosta (Ugly Betty)
Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Jeffrey Nordling (Arrow)
Christine Adams (Batman Begins)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Cillian Murphy (Inception)

Sam Flynn, the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn, looks into his father’s disappearance and finds himself pulled into the same world of fierce programs and gladiatorial games where his father has been living for 20 years. Along with Kevin’s loyal confidant Quorra, father and son embark on a life-and-death journey across a visually-stunning cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous. Meanwhile, the malevolent program CLU, who dominates the digital world, plans to invade the real world and will stop at nothing to prevent their escape.

There’s a fairly coherent storyline here that would appeal across the spectrum, striking a fair balance between drama and action, although action junkies would have preferred for set action sequences given the investment in souping up and introducing a number of vehicles other than the light cycle.

Certain scenes stood out either as homage or influenced pieces, the nightclub scene with Gem the Siren (Beau Garrett) bringing our new protagonist Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges returns to once again play two roles, that of Kevin Flynn the founder of Encom and his digital creation / avatar Clu) to meet Castor (played by Michael Sheen with flamboyant spunk) an information broker in the undergrounds of the digital Grid world, seems to have contained a whiff out of The Matrix Revolutions, with Persephone and Merovingian. But of course the Wachowskis didn’t have Daft Punk to turn the tables, and parallels between the Matrix and the Grid cannot be more prominent given entities within are programs, with the ones gone rogue instilled with a desire to cross over to the real world.

Then there’s something unmistakably Star Wars about it too, with the designs of attack space crafts zipping through the night sky, and clearly one of the many gorgeous costumes here can’t seem to hold a candle to what looked like an awesome robe, simple as it is, but striking nonetheless. Or how about something which reminds one of Gotham City’s caped crusader, with the Tumbler inspired getaway vehicle with large inflatable tyres played out in a scene right out of Tim Burton’s first Batman movie with the long road back to the secret hideout within which to seek out answers to questions left silent en route.

Olivia Wilde provides for the token fashionista who is ever ready to flex her battle prowess with skills in various weapons – a lethal combination of The Matrix’s Trinity equipped with Star Wars blades – and vehicles, whose background is given a superficial twist which seeks to expand the Tron universe a little bit more with miracle phenomenon being a natural occurrence once a perfect equilibrium is achieved. Fans will get to learn and understand this expanded universe a lot more as explanations get dished out in due course, even one that deals with the time in between the first and second films, of Kevin Flynn’s obsession with his latest playground that his creation ultimately took over, turning it into an arena with its own brand of gladiatorial fights for entertainment. But there’s enough material introduced without being overwhelming for the new Grid entrant, and opens up a lot more avenues for future storytellers.