Category Archives: 51-60%

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn* (2020)

* aka Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, the title having been changed after a week in some sort of desperate hope that the poor opening was due to the title burying the lede rather than the studio opting to open an action movie in Febraury.

“Prey for Gotham”

Directed by Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs)
Starring Margot Robbie (The Legend of Tarzan), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Gemini Man), Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Hands of Stone), Rosie Perez (Riding in Cars with Boys), Chris Messina (Argo), Ella Jay Basco (feature debut), Ali Wong (The Lego Ninjago Movie) and Ewan McGregor (Christopher Robin)

After breaking up with the Joker, Harley Quinn (Robbie) hits rock bottom, finally blowing up the chemical factory where she was ‘reborn’ in a symbolic rejection of his toxic influence on her life. This leaves her without the protection afforded by the fear Joker commands in the underworld, and everyone she ever wronged, in particular crime boss Roman Sionis (McGregor) and his henchan Zsasz (Messina) , comes gunning for her.

Continue reading Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn* (2020)

Joker (2019)

“Put on a happy face”

Directed by Todd Phillips
Starring Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator), Robert De Niro (The Intern), Zazie Beetz (Deadpool 2), Frances Conroy (The Dark is Rising) and Brett Cullen (Ghost Rider)

Clown-for-hire and aspiring stand-up Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) lives with his mother, Penny (Conroy), but feels ignored by the world. Deeply troubled, but with his mental health support withdrawn due to budget cuts, his comedy unremarked and his efforts as a clown met with scorn and violence, he falls into a scenario where he ends up shooting three bullying rich kids on the subway. Finding solace in a new relationship with his neighbour, Sophie (Beetz), he begins to revel in his notoriety as the ‘clown killer.’

Continue reading Joker (2019)

Angel Has Fallen (2019)

“Loyalty is Under Fire”

Directed by Ric Roman Waugh
Starring Gerard Butler (Gods of Egypt), Morgan Freeman (Lucy), Jada Pinkett Smith (The Matrix Reloaded), Lance Reddick (John Wick), Tim Blake Nelson (Fantastic Four), Piper Perabo (Beverly Hills Chihuahua), Nick Nolte (The Spiderwick Chronicles) and Danny Huston (Wonder Woman)

Struggling with the health impact of too many action blockbusters, Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Butler) is faced with the possibility of a desk job and more time with his wife Leah (Perabo) and daughter, while his old army buddy Wade Jennings (Huston) is struggling to make ends meet with the US government no longer employing his PMC and totally not planning to betray his old buddy.

Continue reading Angel Has Fallen (2019)

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

“Long Live the King”

Directed by Michael Dougherty
Starring Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe and Zhang Ziyi

As Monarch struggles to maintain autonomy and funding against governments keen to shut them down and, as it were, Destroy all Monsters, a research base led by Dr Emma Russel (Farmiga) is attacked by ecoterrorists led by Alan Jonah (Dance). She and her daughter Madison(Brown) are kidnapped, while their subject, Mothra, escapes and goes into a cocoon.

Continue reading Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

Hellboy (2019)

“Raise some Hell”

Directed by Neil Marshall
Starring David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim and Thomas Hayden Church

In the European dark ages, a war between humanity – represented by Arthur and Merlin – and the supernatural – led by the ‘Blood Queen’ Viviane Nimue (Jovovich) – ends with the latter’s dismemberment and burial in scattered locations, as explained in a narration almost identical to the one from the New Year’s Doctor Who episode, but with more swearing. Centuries later, monster and monster-puncher Hellboy (Harbour) is sent to rescue a fellow agent of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence, only to find him turned into a vampire and gasping out final words about ‘the end.’

Continue reading Hellboy (2019)

Alita: Battle Angel

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“An Angel Falls. A Warrior Rises.”

Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Starring Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley and Keean Johnson

Three hundred years after a war known as the Fall, a mysterious cyborg girl (Salazar) is discovered by Dr Dyson Ito (Waltz) in the discarded scrap from the last of the great sky cities, Zardem. He repairs her and gives her a name, Alita, but she has no memories.

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The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

“The Legend You Know Has a Dark Side”

Directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston
Starring Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Jayden Fowora-Knight, Eugenio Derbez, Matthew Macfadyen, Richard E. Grant, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman

In Victorian London, the Stahlbaum family is struggling. Benjamin Stahlbaum (MacFadyen) is lost without his deceased wife, and trying to hold things together for his children Louise, Fritz and Clara (Foy). Clara was closest to her mother, and spurns her father’s attempts to move on as she seeks to understand her mother’s last gift, an egg-shaped box containing ‘all she will ever need,’ with the help of her godfather Drosselmeyer (Freeman). Also, it’s Christmas.

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Robin Hood (2018)

“The Legend You Know. The Story You Don’t.”

Directed by Otto Bathurst
Starring Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Tim Minchin and Jamie Dornan

Nice posh boy Robin of Loxley (Egerton) has his idyllic life with working class girlfriend Marian (Hewson) interrupted when he is drafted for the Crusades against the Arabs. After five years, Robin tries to prevent the execution of an Arab civilian, and his commanding officer, Guy of Gisbourne (Paul Anderson), gives him a blighty wound which, miraculously, doesn’t develop gangrene.

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Venom (2018)

“The world has enough Superheroes.”

Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott and Jenny Slate

A spaceship owned by the Life Foundation – who are not even a little bit evil, really – cashes in Malaysia and an alien lifeform escapes, moving between individuals it uses as hosts. Life Foundation CEO Carlton Drake (Ahmed) recovers four other lifeforms and uses the homeless as subjects to experiment on. Journalist Eddie Brock (Hardy) confronts Drake on this, and Drake has Eddie and his soon-to-be-ex-fiancée Anne (Williams), a lawyer working on a Life Foundation defence case, fired.

Continue reading Venom (2018)

Rebourne: The Predator (2018)

“The Hunt Has Evolved”

Directed by Shane Black
Starring Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Sterling K. Brown and Yvonne Strahovsky

The Original

In 1987’s Predator, an alien hunter comes to Earth and stalks an elite US military rescue team led by Major Dutch Schaeffer (Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the height of his powers.) As in the previous year’s Aliens, it opened with all the trappings of a war movie – muscular action heroes of the 80s breed, mowing down hundreds of nameless enemies without regard to cover or return fire – and then throws these characters up against an unearthly foe that they are utterly unprepared to face. Both embracing and puncturing the machismo of the period, it is rightly remembered as a classic, and was followed by a sequel in 1990 which wasn’t half bad, and did the same thing with a violent action cop movie as Predator did with jungle warfare.

There followed a twenty year gap – I don’t count the Alien vs. Predator movies, because they were a pile of crap, and they didn’t show up until 14 and 17 years after Predator 2 anyway – before Predators in 2010, which pitted a group of abducted hardcases against a trio of bigger, better, faster, more Xtreme Predators on a planet which served as a game run. Predators was produced by Robert Rodriguez, who had plans for further sequels, but they never materialised.

Fast forward eight more years…

The Late Sequel

When a fugitive Predator (Brian A. Prince) crash lands in South America, US sniper Quinn McKenna (Holbrook) loses his unit. Fearing that he will be swept under the rug by the government, McKenna mails the Predator’s mask and wrist computer to a PO box and swallows a cloaking device, only for these to fall into the hands of his son Rory (Tremblay) when the PO box is closed and the package delivered to Rory and his mother, Emily (Strahovsky).

Continue reading Rebourne: The Predator (2018)