12 Strong

Year: 2018
Directed by: Nicolai Fuglsig
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña, William Fichtner, Rob Riggle

Written by Tom Sheffield

If you’ve read some of my reviews on here before, you’ll know I’m a sucker for films based on true events, such as ‘Deepwater Horizon‘, ‘The Founder‘, and ‘Jackie‘ to name just a few I’ve written about for JUMPCUT. So with ’12 Strong’ riding into cinemas recently I thought I’d add another under my belt!

Following the devastating 9/11 terror attacks, a highly trained team comprising of CIA paramilitary offices and US forces, ‘Operational Detachment Alpha 595’ (ODA 595) flew out to Afghanistan to begin a secret and highly dangerous mission to fight back against Taliban forces. Once there, the task force must work alongside General Abdul Rashid Dostum of the Northern Alliance to push the Taliban out of Mazar-e-Sharif for good.

Hemsworth takes the lead as Captain Mitch Nelson, who was just about to start a role working behind the desk in an office rather than on the front lines before the terror attacks. It goes without saying that Michael Shannon gives another strong performance, despite his character getting less screen time than probably deserved. Michael Peña, Trevante Rhodes, Thad Luckinbill, and the rest of the squad also deliver believable and fantastic performances, often resorting to humour and wise cracks to lighten tense and serious situations, however these don’t feels shoehorned in and are delivered like genuine banter amongst brothers in arms. William Fichtner only appears briefly in a handful of scenes as Colonel Mulholland, but he certainly makes an impression as he sports a shiny bald head (which I found very distracting!).

Fuglsig may not be a director you recognise the name of, but there’s a very high chance you’ve seen some of his previous work, which has mostly been commercials. One that might ring a bell is for Sony Bravia in which 250,000 colourful bouncing balls were let loose on the largest hill in San Francisco. It would seem producer Jerry Bruckheimer took a risk offering the director’s chair to Fuglsig, given his lack of experience on feature films, but all in all I think he did a reasonably good job on such a demanding film. The direction is good and it has a familiar feel to war films we’ve seen before, which is by no means a bad thing.

Lorne Balfe provides the accompanying score for the film and does an incredible job of keeping you in the moment. There are some truly heart racing scenes in amongst some slower, and quite frankly boring, moments but Balfe’s score fits in so perfectly to whatever is going on that it keeps you engaged. Another winner from Balfe!

’12 Strong’ has got a lot of heart and, from what I’ve read, doesn’t steer too far from the truth for dramatic effect, unlike other films based on true events, and it’s the solid cast at the forefront of this film that really make it what it is. It’s a real slow burner that never really has it’s BIG moment, but it does well to deliver edge-of-your-seat tension. The big, slow build up to the third act is definitely worth it as we witness the events that lead to the mission’s conclusion. I highly recommend seeking this out at the cinema if it sounds like your kind of film.

Tom’s Rating: 6.5/10

Marvel Unleash First ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Trailer

“An unprecedented cinematic journey ten years in the making and spanning the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Infinity War” brings to the screen the ultimate, deadliest showdown of all time. The Avengers and their Super Hero allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

Anthony and Joe Russo direct the film, which is produced by Kevin Feige. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo and Stan Lee are the executive producers. Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely wrote the screenplay.”

It’s finally arrived! After months of fan speculation, numerous fake pictures and screenshots of release dates, Marvel have unleashed the first official trailer for the third ‘Avengers’ film, ‘Infinity War’.

The star studded film brings together every hero we’ve met in the last 10 years, including Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Guardians, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Black Panther. They’re all coming together to take on the Mad Titan, Thanos, who we’ve seen very little of and only ever really been teased about the threat he poses to Earth. Last time we saw him he grabbed his currently stone-less Gauntlet and declared “I’ll do it myself”.

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In the first post-credit scene, Thor, Loki, Valkyrie, and the Asgardians come face to face with a humongous ship. Fans speculate that ship belongs to non-other than the Mad Titan himself, and that this will tie in with the beginning of ‘Infinity War’.

The heroes also feature in the latest Vanity Fair issue, which includes photos of how some of the heroes will look in the film, but as many have noticed, some costumes (and weapons) don’t seem to match what we know going into ‘Infinity War’, which could mean that the Russo Brothers have plenty of surprises up their sleeves.

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The Avengers Trilogy Teaser Posters

New Look At ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ From Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair are kicking off this week in tremendous style by unleashing our first official look at the cast of  ‘Avengers: Infinity War’.

The magazine has 4 different covers available, which include a handful of huge cast of the film, including a beardless Captain America, Black Panther, blonde Black Widow, Pepper Potts, The Wasp, Hawkeye, and Vision!

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Along with the new covers, there are also some brilliant new shots of the characters, which you can see below! I think it’s safe to say that we can expect the first trailer for the film any day now!

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You can read Vanity Fair’s full article here

Thor: Ragnarok

Year: 2017
Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo

Written by Sarah Buddery

The staggering achievement of Marvel Studios in creating a cohesive, overlapping, and constantly evolving cinematic universe is something which – pardon the expression – should really be marvelled at. Undoubtedly helped by the wealth of interesting and beloved characters it has in its impressive back catalogue, the signs of growth are more evident than ever in the latest offering, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’.

Helmed by under-the-radar (but soon to be household name) New Zealand director, Taika Waiti, ‘Ragnarok’ is like none of the other 16 movies that preceded it. Fans of the off-kilter and quirky sense of humour in previous directorial films ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ and ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ will know what to expect, and everyone else? Well you’re able to get a full-on Waititi slap in the face and you are going to love it.

The first ‘Thor’ film had a great natural humour to it with its fish-out-of-water narrative, but the disappointing ‘Thor: The Dark World’ took itself far too seriously, suffering from weak villains and a clumsy style. ‘Ragnarok’ is Thor on acid, embracing the weirdness of the character in the best possible way. The Thor of the comics is absolutely nuts, and finally we have a Thor film which feels 100% suited to the character.

The comedy is the strongest it has ever been, and dare it be said that it even challenges ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ in that department. There’s zingers left right and centre, genius cameos and characters, physical comedy and oh so much more. Chris Hemsworth has never been better as the God of Thunder; his comic timing is absolutely impeccable and it is great to see him having so much fun where the character has previously been a little stuffy.

On the whole, the cast is absolutely fab with returning members being better than ever, and the new additions feeling like they have always been there. There is a reason why Loki is everyone’s favourite Marvel villain, and whilst not the main villain of this piece, he has plenty of screentime and Tom Hiddleston is, as always, a delight to watch. As Goddess of Death, Hela, Cate Blanchett is absolutely wonderful, but perhaps doesn’t get as much exposure as she deserves in this film; just one of its minor drawbacks.

Always the highlight of every single film he is in (that is a fact!), Jeff Goldblum chews every single bit of technicolour scenery as The Grand Master, and was clearly having huge amounts of fun. Having impressed in ‘Creed’, Tessa Thompson is wonderful as Valkyrie, and she kicks so much ass. Mercifully there is no romantic subplot (it would’ve felt massively shoehorned in), and it is so great to have another badass female hero, and a female main villain as well, for the first time in the MCU.  

The 80s vibe runs through the gloriously unique soundtrack, with synth seamlessly mixing with a more traditional superhero score. Also used in the trailer, it is so good to hear Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ used, and to amazing effect as well; let’s face it, this song was made to be used in a ‘Thor’ movie! Visually, ‘Ragnarok’ is one of the most arresting Marvel movies so far, with some particularly striking slow-motion wide shots, mostly in the flashback scenes and fight sequences. This technique is used sparingly enough so as not to become annoying, and it shows just how diverse a director Waititi is.

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is madder than a box of frogs and all the better for it. It does suffer from feeling a little disconnected from previous MCU films, but when a film is this much fun, it almost doesn’t matter. With Waititi’s stamp all over it (and the character he voices, Korg, unquestionably stealing the show!), ‘Ragnarok’ feels refreshingly different and is a much needed injection of fun, particularly for those who are feeling the so-called “superhero fatigue” from oversaturation of comic book movies. A strong contender for one of the best MCU films, and arguably the most fun, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is absolutely unmissable!

Sarah’s Rating: 9.0/10

Chris Hemsworth Rides Into War In The First Trailer For ’12 Strong’

“The film the story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11; under the leadership of a new captain, the team must work with an Afghani warlord to take down the Taliban.”

Directed by: Nicolai Fuglsig
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña, Elsa Pataky, Taylor Sheridan
Release Date: 26th January 2017

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The First ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Reactions Are In!

The first reactions to Taika Waititi’s ‘Thor: Raganarok’ are in and the majority are hailing it as a hit! Whilst the review embargo is yet to be lifted, the social media embargo lifted a few hours ago!

A number of reactions hail MCU newcomer Tessa Thompson, who plays Valkyrie, as the standout in the film, with Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk also getting his fair share of love. Cate Blanchett is also being praised for her role as Hela, with lots of critics admiring her role as the big-bad and that she looks like she had a lot of fun doing it.

As I’d hoped, Waititi is being praised a helluva lot for injecting his style into the MCU and into the character, and whilst it does appear that this third ‘Thor’ film is mostly self-contained, I hope that Waititi’s influence and style for Thor stick as we lead into ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and see Thor team back up with the Avengers, as well as all the other heroes we’ve come across in MCU so far.

A fair number of critics are also hailing it as the best ‘Thor’ film to date!

Below are a selection of early reactions: 

Fresh New ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Trailer From SDCC

When Taika Waititi was announced as the director for the third ‘Thor’ film,  I knew we’d be getting something special. Ever since then I’ve had high hopes that this third instalment of the God of Thunder’s solo outings would bring something new to the table and drastically improve the quality of his solo films, which for me are a couple of the weakest films so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

This new trailer has diminished any niggling doubts I had in the back of my mind completely. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s colourful, and they seem to have taken some risks that will hopefully pay off! Again, some people may feel this trailer shows a bit more than they’d like to see at this stage, but 9 times out of 10 those fears subside once you actually see the film and realise the trailer didn’t show much at all! 

How do you think Thor’s 3rd film is looking? Do you think this brave move brings hope to the future of the MCU?

“Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.”

 

Written by Tom Sheffield

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?

Hela Wreaks Havoc In The First Teaser Trailer For Thor: Rangarok

Right out of nowhere the first teaser trailer for the upcoming third instalment of Thor has been released and it gives us our first proper look at the the tone and plot of the film. 

In this teaser, we see Hela (Cate Blanchett) giving Thor a run for his money as she catches and then destroys his Mjolnir, rendering Thor basically powerless. We also see Hela up against an army of Asgardians, which she the lays waste to.  Subsequently, Thor is captured and made to fight in an arena where he is pitted against fellow avenger ‘The Hulk’ – much to Thor’s delight it would seem! 

As well as a better look at Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, we also get our first look at Karl Urban as Skurge and Idris Elba’s return as Heimdall. We also get a couple of shots of Loki, who we know Thor will team up with at some point in the film to try and find their father who is stuck on Earth. 

Since being announced as the director of this film, I’ve had high hopes Taiki Waititi would do Thor justice, and from the look of this teaser I will not be disappointed. Already there are a lot of people on Twitter comparing it to the likes of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ in tone and style, but is that necessarily a bad thing? What I’m taking away from this teaser is that Thor is finally going to get the love he deserves from fans of the MCU, where he’s only really shined in the ‘Avengers’ films, and less so in his solo outings due to poor plots and villains. It’s an exciting year to be a film fan, and even more so for lovers of comic book movies. 

What are your initial thoughts on the trailer? Are you sold on Thor’s new tone? 

The official synopsis for ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is: 

Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok — the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization — at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger — the Incredible Hulk!

Written by Tom Sheffield