REVIEW: Bumblebee (2018)

Directed by: Travis Knight
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Dylan O’Brien, Justin Theroux, John Cena, Angela Bassett

Written by Dave Curtis

Let’s be honest, Transformer fans haven’t had an easy ride with movie adaptions. Back in 1986 during Transformers: The Animated Movie, every child’s favourite Autobot Optimus Prime was unexpectedly killed off. In 2007 Michael Bay unleashed the first (and best) of the live action films. What came next were 4 sequels all declining in quality. All were filled with giant explosions and very loud noises, but what they all lacked were any real cohesive storylines.  Frankly, they made no sense, it was all just crash, bang wallop. It was Paramount’s cash cow. Eventually, the cow ran dry and it was announced that the next film in the series would be a prequel/reboot of sorts centred around Bumblebee; the once little VW beetle but now a flashy Camaro getting his own spinoff movie. The fan reaction was mixed at best, but when it was announced that the film wouldn’t be directed by Michael Bay but by the exciting talent of Travis Knight (director of ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’), it gave new hope to a stagnating franchise.

Bumblebee begins right in the middle of a brutal battle in the last days of Cybertron. The Autobots are on the back foot. Optimus Prime (still voiced by Peter Cullen) sends Bumblebee to earth to escape and maybe set up base for the future survival of the alien race. On arriving at Earth he quickly runs into trouble with the army (John Cena) and he is also being pursued by two Decepticons, Dropkick and Shatter (Justin Theroux and Angela Bassett). Badly damaged, he goes into hiding where Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) finds the damaged beetle in a junkyard and takes him home.

Whereas Michael Bay thought bigger was better, the Travis Knight approach is a much more refined affair. The focus is not so much on the set pieces but on Charlie’s relationship with her new car. His decision to scale back on the number of the Transformers works wonders. It is not stuffed full of mindless action which might have been fun the first time around but quickly got tedious five movies in. Bumblebee very much uses its executive producer’s Steven Spielberg blueprint of movie making. Imagine E.T but with a giant transforming car and you are halfway there. It is full of Spielberg troupes like being set in a small rural town and a missing father figure. This kind of treatment may sound like a less of a spectacular but it helps drive the plot forward to a more grounded and enjoyable film.

The cast are all excellent in their own way. Hailee Steinfeld carries on from her fine performance from Edge of Seventeen. Her performance doesn’t get overshadowed by her CGI counterpart. This is her film. John Cena as Agent Burns chews up every line for fun. He knows what kind of movie this is and he doesn’t pull back from it.

Setting the film in 1987 lends itself well to the film, the era which the original cartoon first appeared helps capture the spirit. The 80’s soundtrack helps create a bridge between the character and the script and the history and era Transformers first came popular in. Knight’s decision to return Bumblebee to his original form (Bay wasn’t a fan) will please the fans.

Christina Hodson’s smartly written script doesn’t get bogged down in any mythical madness. It is pretty simple that it doesn’t try and squeeze too much out of a wafer-thin idea. It also benefits from a reasonable runtime. Where Bay’s films were over two and a half hours (sometimes pushing 3) Bumblebee is just under 2 and it zips along nicely. The action scenes don’t over stay their welcome and the characters are actually more than just eye candy (sorry Megan Fox).

Bumblebee is a vast improvement compared to its predecessors. It’s not all about giant fight scenes with loud noises. Gone are the muddled storylines and useless MacGuffins. This is a story with real heart and it actually makes sense. The central relationship between Charlie and Bumblebee are key and the main focus of the movie, and Travis Knight doesn’t let that get away from you. As Bernie Mac says in the first Transformers film “A driver don’t pick the car. Cars pick the driver. It’s a mystical bond between man and machine.” In this case, the car picked the right driver. Finally, Transformers fans have reasons to be happy and look to the future. Autobots roll out!

 

DAVE’S VERDICT:

3-5

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Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Year: 2018
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Simon Pegg, Michelle Monaghan

Written by Dave Curtis

I like to imagine it is fun being in meetings when coming up with ideas for the next ‘Mission Impossible’ film. Tom Cruise sits quietly in the corner staring out the window. The director and writer, Christopher McQuarrie, paces around behind him.

CM: Right Tom, with ‘MI:5’ we hung you off the side of plane?
TC: That was fun, I love planes!
CM: We tried to drown you already didn’t we?
TC: That was easy, I can hold my breath for ages.
CM: How are you with heights, maybe we have you hanging off a tall building?
TC: Seriously, Did you not watch Ghost Protocol? I was on top of the highest building in the world!
[Chris scratches his head….]
CM: So what I’m hearing is that you want to go higher.
[Chris joints down higher on a pad on paper. ]
[Tom spins around on his chair and jumps on it.]
TC: Not only do I want to go higher, I want it be fucking crazy. How about you throw me out of a  plane this time?
CM: Like on green screen or something. I don’t think the producers would like us to drop you from the sky?
TC: Tom Cruise doesn’t fake action… he is action!
CM: Have you ever skydived before?
TC: Please. How hard can it be, I’ll just learn how to –
CM: OK!
[Chris writes down skydive.]
TC: I’m also learning to fly a helicopter at the mo so maybe we can do something with that?
CM: Sure…
[He writes down helicopter.]
CM: Anything else?
TC: I really like Paris.
[Chris writes Paris down.]
CM: Well this already sounds great TC we’ve done it again!

[Chris and Tom high five.]
** End scene.**

‘Mission Impossible – Fallout’ is insane…

The franchise so far has come be to known for its big set pieces and the chance to watch Tom Cruise run, jump, shoot, drive, climb and nearly kill himself in increasingly dangerous situations. As IMF’s best spy, Ethan Hunt, Tom Cruise is still trying to save the world the only way he knows how. He pretty much makes it up and hopes for the best. It seems he is a very lucky man.

The returning director and writer Christopher McQuarrie (the first director to return to the franchise) brings back all the familiar faces – Simon Pegg, Ving Rhymes and Alec Baldwin (No Jeremy Renner, he was busy on another small film). This is also a direct of sorts sequel to ‘Rogue Nation’ (‘Mission: Impossible 5’) so Rebecca Ferguson as the mysterious Ilsa Faust and Sean Harris as the villain Solomon Lane return.

As ever the IMF team are on race against time and somewhere a clock is ticking. Hunt and team are trying to locate the remaining members of the ‘Syndicate’, who now call themselves the ‘Apostles’. He isn’t sleeping well, thoughts of Solomon Lane fill his dreams. Maybe his past is catching up with him. Lane wants Ethan to see the world he protected for so long be destroyed and lose what he loves the most.  This isn’t the Ethan Hunt of old, he is a man on the edge who seems to carry more weight on his shoulders. He is at breaking point. Lane himself, the movies MacGuffin (like the rabbit foot in ‘MI:3’), is a villain of few words and seems to be pulling strings even when behind bars. Sean Harris brings his normal intensity to role. He is even given some action scenes, but he does still feels a bit under-cooked and not as interesting as the film wants to you to believe.

The IMF crew also have Henry Cavill’s CIA agent August Walker (great name) joining them for company. Walker is a black ops assassin who is assigned to get the job done by any means necessary, whether Hunt likes it or not. Their mission, if they chose to accept it, is to retrieve some black market plutonium and stop Solomon Lanes master plan. What Cavill lacks in personality he makes up in sheer physical presence. The fight scenes feel brutal and Walker’s more heavy handed approach to Hunts more delicate touch makes for bone breaking and more believable fights. The stand out fight is the bathroom scene, it’s up there with ‘True Lies’. Cavill looks like he is enjoying playing a more questionable character and his moustache is there and accounted for, no CGI needed there.

Other new additions to the franchise such as Vanessa Kirby’s White Widow and Angela Bassett’s head of  CIA, Erica Sloan, slot in nicely. Kirby’s underworld broker shines. She is not in it much but she steals every scene. Bassett’s head edge manner also brings Erica Sloan to life, this is not a woman to cross. She’s badass to the bone. What was once a man’s franchise brimmed to the rim of testosterone, ‘Fallout’ is so refreshing. Rebecca Ferguson’s MI6 agent Ilsa Faust once again nearly steals the film from everyone. She is still a match for Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. Gone are the lingering shots of her legs. This time it’s all about her and the mission.

To be honest the ‘Mission Impossible’ films have never really been about plots and characters. It’s all about the big set pieces, the unbelievable stunt work and Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise. The plot does just about make sense, but the film really comes alive when Tom Cruise is doing some kind of death defying stunt. There are car and bike chases through the tight streets of Paris, the halo skydive (which Cruise trained a year for), crazy rooftops chases (that’s where he broke his ankle) and a helicopter pursuit which needs to be seen to be believed. Why does he do all this? It’s because he loves to entertain. He knows the audience want to see him in these situations. I also think he enjoys it. It seems Christopher McQuarrie and him enjoy pushing each other and seeing how far they can take it.

Not only is ‘Fallout’ fun to watch, it is also technically brilliant. From the score to the cinematography and the stunt work, it’s amazing to think about the hours of hard work the crew have had to put in to make a movie like this. They are the real MVP’s. I salute them.

‘Mission Impossible – Fallout’ is hugely entertaining. It is a proper popcorn flick which only has a few minor flaws. To think this franchise has been going for 22 years and it still feels this fresh and new is a testament to the director and star. I can’t imagine what they have in store for Mission Impossible 7.  Surely only outer space beckons now.

Dave’s Rating:

4

New ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ Featurette Showcases Cruise’s ‘Most Dangerous Stunt Yet’

With each passing ‘Mission Impossible’ film there’s always one question on fans minds… What the hell is Tom Cruise going to do in the next one to top it!?

We’ve witnessed Cruise versus 16 tons of water as he blows the glass on a fish tank and quickly has to escape, free climbing Dead Horse Point, scaling the Burj Khalifa, base jumping, clinging on the to side of an aeroplane as it takes off, holding his breath for 6 minutes underwater, almost taking a knife to the eye… you name it, Cruise has probably done it!

But, even after his aeroplane stunt in ‘Rogue Nation’, Cruise still promised he would out-do himself, as he always somehow manages to do. From what we’ve seen so far in teasers and trailers, Cruise has upped the ante once again as he clings from a rope on a helicopter in mid-air, climbs up said helicopter to then fly it, leaping from buildings (and consequently breaking his ankle!) and of course, the Halo jump!

Whilst we eagerly await the films release, Paramount have released a featurette for the Halo jump, which showcases how the cast and crew trained and shot the scene that will have no doubt kept McQuarrie up at night!

“MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT finds Ethan Hunt and his IMF team along with some familiar allies in a race against time after a mission gone wrong. Henry Cavill, Angela Bassett, and Vanessa Kirby also join the dynamic cast with filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie returning to the helm.”

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin, Wes Bentley, Frederick Schmidt

Release Date: July 25th, 2018

Ethan Hunt Is On The Run In The Final ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ Trailer

“The best intentions often come back to haunt you. “MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT” finds Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies,  in a race against time after a mission gone wrong. “

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Alec Baldwin, Michelle Monoghan, Angela Bassett

Release Date: July 27th, 2018

Black Panther

Year: 2018
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis,
Martin Freeman

WRITTEN BY ANDREW GARRISON

While this is far from the first black superhero movie, it is still very important. Diversity is a gift, allowing us to see new stories and points of view we may have not yet considered. It opens our world to new exciting possibilities. Marvel Studios has grown increasingly diverse over the past decade, but this is the first time a primary non-white protagonist emerges. I was excited about this movie even before ‘Captain America: Civil War’ arrived. I thought Black Panther was a character the Marvel universe needed. Coming into this movie with high hopes, it did not disappoint.

‘Black Panther’ follows the return of T’Challa (Boseman) to his home, Wakanda, after the events of ‘Captain America: Civil War’. He is to be crowned king but must face the mistakes and adversaries of the past and attempt to guide his people toward the right future. This film has the most talented cast that Marvel has used to date. Chadwick Boseman plays the Black Panther very well. He dives into the character and never lets up. The main antagonist is Erik Killmonger played by Michael B. Jordan who delivers a stirring performance. Lupita Nyong’o is incredibly cool throughout this film, she nearly steals the movie from Boseman, which is an impressive feat all its own. You know you are watching something special when the secondary characters feature the likes of; Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Daniel Kaluuya, Andy Serkis, and Martin Freeman. Everyone did wonderful work in their roles.

This film may be fantasy, but it is loaded with profound concepts for the world we live in. Things that needed to be said and heard by the masses were exposed. This movie highlights some ugly truths about our own world. Things we need to accept as issues and then get to work finding resolutions. Granted it is early, but the cinematography, set designs, costumes, and makeup are flawless throughout this film and I hope will receive some award nominations in the future. You don’t just learn about Black Panther and his close circle, you learn about the spiritual, political, and social culture of Wakanda in stunning detail. This is a very fleshed out world, better than anything Marvel has done to date in this regard.

The music throughout this film is aesthetically pleasing, perfectly sewn into the film at the right moments. Combine that with excellent sound and CGI, and you have a film that is well-made all around. There are humor and action throughout, but the humor is tamed. It knows when it can be funny and when it needs to be serious. (Think ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ and not ‘Thor: The Dark World’.) The film mixes in periods of drama and character development with intense actions scenes. Marvel has gotten a bit more brutal in recent years. The violence was still very much PG- 13, but it was very much fitting of that rating. When the action goes down, it is some of the most impressive I’ve seen from any superhero film to date.

While I enjoyed ‘Black Panther’, it does have a few issues. Anyone familiar with these Marvel movies over the past decade knows they have some flaws. Without spoiling anything, this movie carries on a recurring Marvel issue regarding the fate of it’s villains. This by no means ruins the movie, but it is a fact that Marvel isn’t going unnoticed amongst fans.

While I tried to avoid a lot of news about this film, I was hearing a lot of hype for Killmonger as Marvel’s best villain. He has a compelling story, but there was so much of it glossed over. I wanted to know more about this character and he never fully developed as I hoped. There are a couple of decisions the movie makes that I didn’t like. I felt Marvel had built up something and then wasted a great opportunity. While not often, sometimes the camerawork would be erratic and hard to follow. ‘Black Panther’ wasn’t just a Marvel superhero movie, it was a rattling of the cages type film. It spoke a lot of truth that we often sweep under the rug about the world we live in. It raises awareness and then offers the global society an olive branch. ‘Black Panther’ is well-crafted in every sense of the word. Director Ryan Coogler continues to astound, and this may be the most beautiful Marvel movie made yet.

ANDREW’S RATING: 8.8/10

Killmonger Takes On T’Challa In Brand New ‘Black Panther’ Trailer

“T’Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.”

Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Andy Serkis, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Martin Freeman, Sterling K. Brown
Release Date: 16th February 2018

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Welcome to Wakanda – The First Teaser Trailer For Black Panther Has Arrived!

Since his introduction in ‘Captain America: Civil War’, fans of the MCU have been on tenterhooks waiting for a glimpse of T’Challa’s solo film. Then yesterday, out of the blue, the first poster hit the web along with an announcement that a teaser trailer would follow a few hours later.

Whilst the poster received it’s fair share of criticism over on Twitter, the teaser trailer seems to have received an overall positive reception. And rightly so..

Joining Chadwick Boseman in Wakanda are Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Winston Duke, and Sterling K. Brown. Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station) is in the director’s chair, which I couldn’t be more excited about!

Andy Serkis is reprising his role as Ulysses Klaw, who we met in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ when he sold vibranium to Ultron, who then proceeded to slice off his arm in a fit of rage. Martin Freeman also returns as CIA Operative, Everett Ross, who had a run in with the Avengers and Black Panther during ‘Civil War’ when the CIA captured Bucky Barnes. 

This first teaser does a superb job of being a tease of what to expect from this film and I can’t wait to see more! 

Synopsis:

“Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.

“But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.”

‘Black Panther’ is currently scheduled to hit UK cinemas on 16th February 2018

Updated Synopsis For ‘Black Panther’ and First For ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Released

Black Panther was introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) last year in ‘Captain America: Civil War’, and what an introduction it was! We were introduced to T’Challa, who briefly explained the mantle of Black Panther and what it meant to the people of Wakanda. ‘Black Panther’ wrapped filming last month and is set to release on the 9th February 2018. With two more MCU films left to release this year in the form of ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ and ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, it is probably a safe bet to assume that one of these will have an end credit stinger linked to ‘Black Panther’ is some way.

The newly updated synopsis goes as follows:

“After the events of Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa returns home to the reclusive, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country’s new leader. However, T’Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from factions within his own country. When two foes conspire to destroy Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must team up with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakanadan special forces, to prevent Wakanda from being dragged into a world war.”

‘Avengers: Infinity’ and the as-yet-untitled ‘Avengers 4’ will be what every film in the MCU has been leading up to, and we will finally see Thanos get up off his chair and wreak some havoc himself. We learned during it’s press junket that ‘Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ ends 4 years before the start of ‘Infinity War’, and with just ‘Homecoming’, ‘Ragnarok’, and ‘Black Panther’ the only films we’ll see before this huge event, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover! 

Avengers: Infinity War Synopsis:

“As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment – the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.”

What are your thoughts on the films we have left to see before ‘Infinity War’? Which of the three are you most excited for?

Black Panther First Synopsis Released

Marvel have this afternoon given a press release confirming that filming has begun on ‘Black Panther’, and in their statement they’ve given us a litter teaser for the film in the form of the first official synopsis and confirming characters we will see in the film. 

The first synopsis reads:

“Black Panther follows T’Challa who, after the events of ‘Captain America: Civil War’, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to take his place as King. However, when an old enemy reappears on the radar, T’Challa’s mettle as King and Black Panther is tested when he is drawn into a conflict that puts the entire fate of Wakanda and the world at risk.”

Both Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis have been confirmed to reprise their previous roles within the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’. Freeman will be returning as Everett K. Ross, who we first met last year in ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and Serkis will be back as Ulysses Klaue (Klaw), who,  when we last saw him on screen, lost an arm when came face to face with Ultron in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’. John Kani is also confirmed to reprise his role as T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father, in what we can safely assume will be flashback scenes seeing as we witnessed T’Chaka’s death in ‘Civil War’. 

The film is being directed by ‘Creed’ director, Ryan Coogler, and will also star Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Sterling K. Brown. 

‘Black Panther’ is currently filming and has a release date of 9th February 2018 in the UK

Written by Tom Sheffield