Category Archives: Rebourne

Rebourne: The Lion King (2019)

“Find your place in the circle of life.”

Directed by Jon Favreau
Starring Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and James Earl Jones

The Original

Touted at the time as Disney’s first original feature film, The Lion King was the fifth film in the Disney Renaissance, and the most successful offering of that period by a substantial margin, as well as playing a substantial role in the spread of major animation studios such as Dreamworks Animation. The film is a coming of age adventure, folowing young lion Simba (Matthew Broderick) as he grows up in exile and returns to face his wicked uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons) and avenge the murder of his father, Mufasa (James Earl Jones). It caught a storm of controversy over similarities to Kimba the White Lion, the English language dub of a Japanese anime film called Jungle Emperor Leo, but remains one of the iconic products of the House of Mouse.

The Remake

In 2019, The Lion King became the latest movie from the Disney back-catalogue to receive a ‘live-action’ remake, directed by the man who did the same to The Jungle Book. I use sarcastic quotes because, unlike the 2016 The Jungle Book, there is no human presence, and in fact what we have is almost – or perhaps actually – entirely computer animation.

Simba (JD McCrary) is the son of Mufasa (Jones) and Sarabi (Woodard), the King of the Pridelands and the leader of the lionesses who hunt for and defend the pride. While Mufasa and his adviser the hornbill Zazu (Oliver) try to guide Simba towards a positive model of altruistic monarchy, his brooding uncle Scar (Ejiofor) plots to seize power.

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REBOURNE: Men in Black International (2019)

“The world’s not going to save itself.

Directed by F. Gary Gray
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois, Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson

The Original

Men in Black was a science-fiction action comedy, made on a modest budget, which became a huge sleeper hit in 1997. Pairing Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agents J and K, the newest and oldest field agents for the Men in Black, a secret organisation which polices alien activity on Earth, which is run as a neutral port for galactic refugees and travellers. The combination of Jones’ assured presence and the meteoric rising star of Smith – this was the role, coupled with 1996’s Independence Day, that catapulted him from surprisingly solid rapper and TV actor turned support player to bona fide superstar – with a sharp script and pacy, gonzo plot about a giant cockroach trying to steal the ultimate energy source produced a real standout of nineties SF cinema, and spawned two sequels of… less outstanding quality.

In 2002, Men in Black II spent a chunk of its runtime undoing the ending of the first movie for the sake of the magic pairing of Smith and Jones, and replaces the pathetically terrifying prospect of an impossibly tough and powerful insect in a rotting Vincent d’Onofrio suit with an alien disguised as an underwear model and trows in some unnecessary backstory and a bunch of poop and boob gags for good measure. It… wasn’t good.

Do not believe that quote.

It was to be another ten years before 2012’s Men in Black 3 added time travel and fourth-wall breaking to the mix, and threw in some more unnecessary back story as an alien supercriminal tried to pre-murder K. By this point the shine was definitely off, and as good as Smith and Jones are, they really didn’t seem to give a shit anymore.

Calls for another sequel were virtually non-existent, but the franchise had just enough juice left for another run to be considered worthwhile. With Smith and Jones unwilling, unavailable, or just because the response to MIB 3 was so disappointing, the studio opted for a soft reboot that would expand the franchise to an international stage and be called… Men in Black International.

The Soft Reboot

In 1996, Molly Wright meets an alien, and sees her parents neuralised by the MIB. Twenty years later, Agents H (Hemsworth) and High T (Neeson) face an attempted invasion by an alien force called the Hive at the gateway to (Tomorrowland) at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Three years after that, Molly (Thompson), having failed to get the FBI or the CIA to recruit her to ‘the department that deals with up there,’ finally manages to track down the MIB in New York, where Agent O (other Thompson) recruits her as a probationary agent with the designation ‘M’.

Continue reading REBOURNE: Men in Black International (2019)

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)

Rebourne: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

“The Game Has Evolved”

Directed by Jake Kasdan
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Nick Jonas and Bobby Cannavale

The Original

Years after a boy is sucked into a mysterious board game, two more children find the game and begin to play. In order to avoid getting trapped themselves, they must play the game to the end, and in the process learn some important lessons about themselves.

The Late Sequel

In 1996 a teenager finds, but sets aside the Jumanji board game. To lure him in, it becomes a computer game. Twenty years later, four mismatched students – nerdy gamer Spencer (Alex Wolff), jock Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), queen bee Bethany (Madison Iseman) and angry young woman Martha (Morgan Turner) – are given detention and tasked with clearing out old papers from the basement. There they find the game, and it pulls them in.

Continue reading Rebourne: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Rebourne: Blade Runner 2049

Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto

The Original

1984’s Blade Runner was and is one of the seminal works of cinematic science fiction. It secured the place of Ridley Scott in the roster of great directors, whatever missteps he might take in the future, and alongside fellow class of 84 alumnus Neuromancer it shaped the genre that became known as cyberpunk.

The Late Sequel

Driving with a thousand-yard stare on his face is kind of Gosling’s jam.

In 2049, Replicants are made by a new company in an even larger and more opulent pyramidal HQ than that of the Tyrell Corporation. Under the guidance of Niander Wallace (Leto), a new line of obedient Replicants has been produced, including K (Gosling), who works under LAPD Lieutenant Joshi (Wright) as a Blade Runner, retiring the remaining Nexus 8 Replicants who survived an unsuccessful rebellion in 2020.

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Rebourne: The Mummy (2017)

“Welcome to a New World of Gods and Monsters”

Directed by Alex Kurtzman
Starring Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Russell Crowe

The Original

Boris Karlof. Not an Egyptian.

The first Mummy movie – and, as the original Universal Mummy, the direct ancestor of this current version – was The Mummy (1932), starring Boris Karloff as Imhotep, an Egyptian priest, mummified alive for the blasphemy of trying to restore his girlfriend Ankh-es-en-amon. Restored to life by someone carelessly reading aloud from a scroll, Imhotep seeks forthe reincarnation of his love, intending to kill and mummify her, so that Ankh-es-en-amon can be returned as an immortal mummy. In the nick of time, the girl in question remembers enough of her past life to call on Isis, whose statue ends Imhotep’s unlife with a god laser to the magic scroll.

There have been roughly a shit-tonne of mummy movies since, including a Hammer Horror series, beginning with The Mummy in 1959 which featured Christopher Lee as the title character, Kharis.

Ladies.

The Hammer series wrapped up with Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb in 1971, a rather histrionic adaptation of Bram Stoker’s ‘Jewel of the Seven Stars’ which featured a rare instance of a female Mummy (Valerie Leon).

The next major entry – as opposed to direct to video efforts – was Stephen Somers The Mummy, a 1999 super-loose remake of the 1932 film, but bigger, dumber and just… a whole lot of fun. Featuring Brendan Fraser as adventurer Rick O’Connell and Rachael Weisz as librarian Evelyn Carnahan, this version was a rollicking adventure with an emotionally tough heroine who displayed genuine agency. It was followed by the vastly inferior The Mummy Returns (2001) and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), which had an interesting idea, but poor execution and a marked lack of Weisz (Maria Bello stepping into the role with an iffy accent.) It also span off the Scorpion King series, so there’s that to thank it for.

Not going to lie to you; I missed these guys.

The Remake

The new version is the first film in the ‘Dark Universe’, Universal’s somewhat delayed (Dracula Untold was intneded to be the first, but has since been detached from the franchise) attempt to get on the expanded universe gravy train.

In 1197, a group of crusader knights bury their comrade with a significant red gem. In the present day, the tomb is discovered by Crossrail excavation and taken over by a mysterious group of archaeologists in black, led by a man we will later learn to be Dr Henry Jekyll (Crowe), who proceeds to translate and narrate the story of Ahmanet (Boutella), an Egyptian princess of the New Kingdom who responded to being disinherited in favour of her infant brother by murdering her father, stepmother and the baby after making a pact to bring the god Set into the world. Prevented from completing the ritual, she is mummified alive and buried far from Egypt.

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Rebourne: Power Rangers (2017)

This understated early poster is pretty cool.

“It’s Morphin’ Time”

Directed by Dean Israelite
Starring Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Bill Hader, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks

The Original

After astronauts on the Moon open a space dumpster and release the space witch Rita Repulsa, space wizard Zordon and his irritating robot sidekick recruit five ‘teenagers with attitude’ to become the Power Rangers and battle Rita, launching a multi-series franchise which worked by revamping many largely unconnected Japanese super sentai series through a mix of voice dubbing and new footage for the Western market.

Spandex!

The Reboot

On primeval Earth, a team of armoured, alien warriors led by Zordon (Cranston) are killed battling an enemy named Rita (Banks), but drop a rock on her before she can seize the crystal she was pursuing. Millennia after, the town of Angel Grove has grown up over the site. High school football star Jason Scott (Montgomery) wrecks his future by sneaking a cow into a rival school’s locker room then crashing his car while fleeing police. He winds up in long-term detention with disgraced cheerleader Kimberley Hart (Scott) and autistic tinkerer Billy Cranston (Cyler), and the three of them end up at the town’s gold mine at the same time as the rebellious Trini (G) and reckless Zack (Lin) when Billy unearths a wall of volcanic glass from which they remove five medallions which quickly prove to have mysterious powers.

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Rebourne – Kong: Skull Island (2017)

We’ve got a real Apocalypse Now vibe going on with this movie.

“All Hail the King”

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, Terry Notary, John C. Reilly

The Original

The faces of Kong

1933’s King Kong was a black and white movie about a movie crew looking for a lost island, finding a giant ape which is in no way a grotesque caricature of a black man. The ape, Kong, falls in love with the starlet – on some level or other – and the crew catch him, then bring him back to New York, where he escapes and is shot from the top of the Empire State Building by biplanes. It was remade in a contemporary setting in 1976, and again in its original era in 2005 by Peter Jackson.  In 1962 Kong was added to the Toho studios kaiju universe in Godzilla vs. King Kong.

The Latest Remake

During WWII, American and Japanese pilots crash land on an island where their attempts to kill one another are interrupted by the appearance of a giant gorilla. In 1974 the island is picked up on satellite imagery. Bill Randa (Goodman), biologist San Lin (Jing) and geologist Houston Brooks (Hawkins) of Monarch tag along with a Landsat survey team to look for monsters. They recruit a helicopter platoon on the way back from Vietnam, lead by Colonel Packard (Jackson) and professional tracker and ex-SAS badass Conrad (Hiddleston), while anti-war photographer Mason Wheeler (Larson) gets herself attached to the survey.

This may seem like a lot of characters, but wait; there’s more. Captain Chapman (Kebbell), a major heading home to his family; Landsat official, Nieves (Ortiz); and members of the platoon including Mills (Mitchell), Cole (Whigham), Slivko (Mann) and Reles (Eugene Cordero).

Continue reading Rebourne – Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Rebourne – Dad’s Army (2016)

dads-army
This is one of the least accurate taglines of recent years, given that the film concerns a purely defensive and domestic force.

“The British Empire Strikes Back”

Directed by Oliver Parker
Starring Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Toby Jones, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon, Blake Harrison, Daniel Mays, Bill Paterson

The Original

Dad’s Army, by Jimmy Croft and David Perry, is perhaps the most beloved and enduring of Britain’s classic sitcoms.

The originals: Arthur Lowe, John le Mesurier,
The originals: Arthur Lowe, John le Mesurier, Clive Dunn, John Laurie, Arnold Ridley, Ian Lavender and James Beck

Set in the seaside town of Walmington-on-Sea, the series told the story of the local Home Guard platoon, who for nine years engaged in scrapes and shenanigans more or sometimes less war related, from camouflage exercises, to hunting down escaped IRA operatives, to capturing enemy parachutists and submariners. The writers and the characters became national treasures, the series continues to be repeated long after the morbid passtime of calling out which of the actors had since died during the closing credits became monotonous, and a scene in which a German prisoner asks for the name of the youngest platoon member, only to be cut off by Mainwaring’s sharp “Don’t tell him, Pike!” was voted the nation’s favourite comedy line over many more recent offerings.

Often conceived as ‘cosy’, Dad’s Army was pretty racy for its time, with about half the characters engaged in extramarital affairs. It revived the Home Guard in the national memory, launched a thousand catchphrases and while ostensibly focused on the comedy of old men and boys playing soldiers, never failed to present its protagonists as intelligent, good-hearted and courageous. With a run almost unprecedented in the history of British sitcoms, it established unusually rich characters in a full and developed world.

There was also a 1971 film, which remade the early episodes about the formation of the platoon, and added a hostage rescue with German airmen invading the church hall.

The Remake/Sequel

The new bunch:
The new bunch: Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Tom Courtenay, Bill Paterson, Michael Gambon, Blake Harrison and Daniel Mays

In 1944, the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard platoon still diligently guard their little stretch of the south coast, under the command of Captain Mainwaring (Jones) and the leadership of Sergeant Wilson (Nighy). The arrival of glamorous reporter Rose Winters (Zeta-Jones) throws the platoon into a spin, provoking the jealousy and ire of the women of the town as the men prove once more the claim of Cleopatra, that all men are fools and what makes them so is beauty like what she has got.

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Rebourne: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

fantastic_beasts_and_where_to_find_them_ver4_xxlg
Naturally, while the home of the Ministry of Magic looks like a train station, that of the Magical Congress is a skyscraper. Oddly, neither really looks like a government office.

“From J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world”

Directed by David Yates
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo and Colin Farrell

The Original

Harry Potter. Seriously, if you’ve been sufficiently living under a rock to not know, I can’t remotely do it justice here, but I will pencil in a massive rewatch and review sometime after I find the time for my Jackson-Tolkien extended editions marathon.

The important thing, vis a vis Rebourne, is that after seven books – made into eight movies, because the last book is always two movies – JK Rowling swore up and down that she was done with the boy wizard and off to writing grim and gritty detective fiction. And technically that still holds, as someone else wrote the script for the two-part stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and this film is actually a prequel without Harry or any of his immediate relatives (the nearest it gets is a photo of his godfather’s aunt.)

The Totally Unexpected Prequel

In 1926 the US magical establishment, headed by President Picquery (Ejogo), is in turmoil as a series of seemingly magical events, and the actions of dark wizard Gellert Grindlewald, threaten to reveal the magical world to the No-Maj (American for Muggle) community. Unto this came Newt Scamander (Redmayne), a hapless-looking chap with a suitcase full of magical beasts. A series of accidents lead to Scamander crossing paths first with No-Maj wannabe baker Jacob Kowalski (Fogler) and then with ex-Auror Tina Goldstein (Waterston), and his case being swapped for Kowalski’s.

Continue reading Rebourne: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)