JUMPSCARECUT: Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

Year: 2004
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Cast: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Ty Burrell, Lindy Booth

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

As a self-confessed wimp, I usually flat-out avoid all the spooky season shenanigans I see people partaking in. I mean, why would anyone choose to spend the whole month of October watching scary films and not being able to sleep!? But this year, I’m feeling a little braver than normal, and have volunteered to watch and review a handful of horror movies in the name of JUMPSCARECUT. First up is the 2004 remake of the classic Dawn Of The Dead, which as a fan of Zack Snyder and a tolerator of zombie horror, felt like a good place to start.

In many ways, this is pretty much your standard zombie-fare; a tale of survival in an apocalyptic world plagued by the flesh-eating undead. In typical horror movie fashion, our band of protagonist’s come from all walks of life, each bringing a different element to the group dynamic; from hard-knocks cop to playboy prick to amiable nurse, and we even get the added treat of a heroic canine and a pregnant Russian lady for good measure. Whilst this may all sound rather generic, it’s interesting that the actual zombies are kept at bay for much of the film, preferring to focus more on the tension, desperation, and moments of humanity between the survivors.

As an early-noughties horror flick, odds are that the acting will be pretty damn terrible, right? Well, that’s definitely true of some of the supporting players here, but for the most part, the main cast are actually rather impressive and very rarely cringe-worthy. Jake Weber and Sarah Polley lead the way with an endearing chemistry, and it’s a shame they’ve done very little in the film world since. The standout for me though, is Ving Rhames. From Pulp Fiction to Mission Impossible, I’m now starting to think Rhames may actually be a really great actor, and his turn here is one of brutish charm and stoic resolve. Another highlight is Ty Burrell Рbefore Modern Family fame Рplaying a real asshole of a character who couldn’t be further from the Phil Dunphy we know and love. And you know what, even the zombie acting was pretty convincing, which is no mean feat.

Speaking of which, much of the special effects in use here are surprisingly decent, and combined with some fantastic make-up work, create an altogether impressive looking production. Zack Snyder‚Äės visual style is clear to see throughout, with sharp close-up shots, a splash of slow-mo and a fuckload of visceral violence. It‚Äôs interesting to work backwards from the grandeur of the likes of Watchmen and 300, and see Snyder tackling the horror genre in his earlier, more humble days. It‚Äôs a task he navigates with deftness, a self-conscious irony, and a finger firmly on the pulse of the humanity behind the horror.

Thankfully, this film is far from terrifying, instead providing ample entertainment, some cheap thrills and a couple of fun jump scares along the way. It‚Äôs a film which does very little wrong, at the same time as doing very little to go above and beyond the formulaic, well-trodden path of many before it. Where it succeeds in its characterisations and more tense moments, this remake does fall into the trap of predictability on more than one occasion, and suffers from a couple of ludicrous moments which you can‚Äôt help but laugh at. More hardened horror aficionados will most certainly be left wanting, but for this scaredy-cat, Zack Snyder‚Äės Dawn of the Dead was the perfect way to get in the spirit of things as Halloween approaches.

Jakob’s Verdict:

3

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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

Top 10 Boxing Movies

Written by Patrick Alexander

Sports play a major part in the way the world works; from Superbowl Sunday to the World Cup final, pretty much everyone follows one sport or another. The problem is, the popularity of sports in general dictates that Hollywood tries and tries to churn out successful sporting movies, but sporting movies are notoriously hard to get right. That said, boxing seems to be one of the few sports that does work on film, and I’m here to prove it with 10 great boxing movies. Before we crack on with this list, I have to give some honorable mentions to a few films that didn’t quite make it into the top 10.¬†


Rocky III (1982): When you think of boxing movies, you naturally think of the ‘Rocky’ franchise, but we can’t have seven ‘Rocky’ films in here can we? In this third film, the villain Clubber Lang (played by Mr. T) makes a strong¬†case for himself and this is a great film, but not quite as good as some of the others in the series.

Cinderella Man (2005): One of Russell Crowe‚Äôs finest works, with a¬†fantastic Paul Giamatti supporting role, but this film’s old-old-old school mentality¬†lulls a hair too much to sneak into the top ten.

The Boxer (1997): Keeping it simple with the title, ‘The Boxer’ stars Daniel Day Lewis as a killer. But ‘The Boxer’ is not even his best¬†film about being an Irish Revolutionary. I mean, come on Daniel; what¬†kind of warped sequel to ‘In the Name of the Father’ is this?¬†

Okay, on with the real winners…


fatcity

10. Fat City (1972); Directed by John Huston; Starring Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges

Synopsis: Two men, working as professional boxers, come to blows when their careers each begin to take opposite momentum.

Verdict: A real old school boxing flick and the godfather of all boxing¬†movies, pre-dating both ‘Rocky’ and ‘Raging Bull’. Stacy Keach, as Tully,¬†carries the film‚Äôs focus in his showdown with a young Jeff Bridges. ‘Fat¬†City’ is everything you want it to be; non-formulaic, aware of its angle,¬†full of classic 70s dialogue, and a rip-roaring bout that will keep you on the¬†edge of your seat. Had the story aged better over time, ‘Fat City’ would,¬†indubitably, deserve to be ranked higher.


the-fighter-7

9. The Fighter (2010); Directed by David O. Russell; Starring: Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg

Synopsis: A look at the early years of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward, and his¬†brother who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s.

Verdict: Micky Ward sure does come off as a prick, but with Bale and¬†Wahlberg in tow, the director Russell actually makes you want to root¬†for Ward by the end. Dysfunctional in nature, Dicky Eklund‚Äôs portrayal¬†absolutely ties together what would have been a rather bland stint¬†without him. Docked points for sub-par boxing scenes by Marky Mark, ‘The Fighter’ has a candor and a degree of authenticity¬†which allows it to¬†keep it‚Äôs head above water¬†among the all-time boxing greats.


ali

8. Ali (2001); Directed by Michael Mann; Starring Will Smith, Jamie Foxx

Synopsis: A biography of sports legend, Muhammad Ali, from his early days to his time in the ring.

Verdict: Will Smith brings to life the childhood hero of many,¬†Muhammad Ali. We‚Äôve all got posters on our walls of the man who¬†could truly float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. From his “Thrilla in¬†Manila” to his personal journeys stateside, Ali fought more powers than¬†just Sonny Liston and Joe Frazier. Smith‚Äôs wily persona of the world-class champion lands a devastating blow on this list amongst the great¬†boxing flicks of old.


southpaw

7. Southpaw (2015); Directed by Antoine Fuqua; Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker

Synopsis: Boxer Billy Hope turns to trainer Tick Wills to help him get his life back on track after losing his wife in a tragic accident and his daughter to child protection services.

Verdict: A vociferously flashy, most glamorous, Eminem-infused battle¬†blast, ‘Southpaw’ attacks both fast and strong. Gyllenhaal is so¬†unbelievably ripped and his surreal training sequences totally make¬†this film. Fighting Miguel ‚ÄėMagic‚Äô Escobar, the fiery Colombian¬†antagonist only makes you root for Billy Hope and his lost hope even¬†more. Some may call ‘Southpaw’ formulaic and chalk this one up to¬†bias based on its recent release, but Antoine Fuqua gets everything right from tight boxing¬†sequences, to max-level grandeur, to a hard-hitting lefty landing a¬†wonderful wallop into this top ten.


rocky 4

6. Rocky IV (1985); Directed by Sylvester Stallone; Starring Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren

Synopsis: After iron man Ivan Drago, a highly intimidating 6-foot-5, 261-pound Soviet athlete, kills Apollo Creed in an exhibition match, Rocky comes to the heart of Russia for 15 pile-driving boxing rounds of revenge.

Verdict: In the fight that single-handedly ended the Cold War, Rocky¬†goes toe-to-toe with the juiced-up Russian cyborg machine, Ivan¬†Drago, who inexplicably felled the great Apollo Creed. Rocky lights our¬†hearts on fire by selecting the hard way out¬†in defeating his¬†Russian nemesis. Through snow-clogged sprints and intense cabin¬†training, Rocky once again shows us that there are no demons out there incapable of being defeated. A 15-round packed-punch of¬†emotion, passion, and defeating the Soviets lands ‘Rocky IV’ a place in the¬†throes of greatness.


undisputed

5. Undisputed (2002); Directed by Walter Hill; Starring Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhames

Synopsis: When heavyweight champion George ‘Iceman’ Chambers¬†lands himself in prison, the resident gangster arranges a boxing match with¬†the reigning prison champ.

Verdict: Outside of having, pound-for-pound, the greatest boxing¬†sequence of all time in film history (and you can take that to the¬†bank), ‘Undisputed’ brings the unique concept of prison boxing to the¬†table, an advantage unbeknownst to any other of its contemporaries.¬†Iceman Chambers vs. Monroe Hutchens is right up there with Balboa¬†vs. Creed, in terms of strength of fighting skills plus high class¬†drama. The total underdog of the list, ‘Undisputed’ will wow you with its¬†technical, authentic feeling final round. A must-see for boxing fans¬†everywhere.


creed

4. Creed (2015); Directed by Ryan Coogler; Starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone

Synopsis: Everyone’s favourite former¬†World Heavyweight Champion, Rocky Balboa,¬†serves as trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late¬†friend and former rival Apollo Creed.

Verdict: After the abomination that was ‘Rocky Balboa’, ‘Creed’ gets the¬†franchise right back in line with technically savvy, intense boxing, led by¬†magnificently deft camera work throwing us into all angles of the ring.¬†Throw in real life boxer, Tony Bellow, playing the indomitable ‚ÄėPretty‚Äô¬†Ricky Conlon across the ring from Adonis Johnson (Creed), and the¬†authenticity levels are unparalleled. With great training montages,¬†including a dirt bike sidled run up the steps to victory, ‘Creed’ supplants¬†not only Southpaw as the best boxing flick of 2015, but perhaps may¬†be the #1 boxing picture of the past decade.


the-hurricane_000

3. The Hurricane (1999); Directed by Norman Jewison; Starring Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber

Synopsis: The story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer wrongly¬†imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove¬†his innocence.

Verdict: One of the better ‚Äúoutside the ring‚ÄĚ stories of the bunch, elevated by a Mt.¬†Rushmore performance by Washington. Washington, as Rubin ‚ÄúHurricane‚ÄĚ Carter fights not only his¬†weary opponents in the ring, but the racism and hate that imprisoned¬†an innocent man, until love overflows to bust him out. A real knockout¬†punch right into the sixteenth round, ‘The Hurricane’ will box a hole right into¬†the throws of your heart.


rocky

2. Rocky (1976); Directed by John G. Avildsen; Starring Sylvester Stallone, Carl Stone

Synopsis: Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed, in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

Verdict: The ultimate underdog story. The picture that made you¬†believe you could conquer any obstacle in life by running up a few¬†steps in front of a local museum. Bill Conti‚Äôs epic soundtrack, Rocky¬†Balboa‚Äôs finest clash with Apollo Creed, and the city of Philadelphia‚Äôs¬†soul combine to make ‘Rocky’ an all-timer. With Burgess Meredith, a world class¬†stick man, and the darling Talia Shire along for the ride, Rocky¬†conquers every mountain, both real and metaphorical on its climb to¬†the top (well, nearly the top).


Raging.Bull.04

1. Raging Bull (1980); Directed by Martin Scorsese; Starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci

Synopsis: An emotionally self-destructive boxer’s journey through life,¬†as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring,¬†destroys his life outside it.

Verdict: A legendary, poetic performance by the menace of a boxer,¬†Robert De Niro playing Jack La Motta. This it the film that makes any young¬†kid want to be a boxer and perhaps evokes a raging bull inside all of¬†us. ‘Raging Bull’ is filled with demons, relief, and a pleasantly insane¬†narrative. Viciously brutal boxing sequences mixing slow beating and¬†frenetic flurries of blows, plus a heart of gold, mean Scorsese‚Äôs finest¬†work tops this list.