Film Review: War on Everyone

War On Everyone

John Michael McDonagh’s War on Everyone is an entertaining buddy cop movie with a fizzing script. The cast and setting should ensure the filmmaker reaches a wider audience, and deservedly so.

Bob and Terry are corrupt cops in New Mexico. The pair regularly frame criminal and steal evidence. The pair may have met their match, however, with an adversary who appears much more dangerous than them…

Writer-director John Michael McDonagh brings his brand of black comedy to the United States with War on Everyone. McDonagh’s film has a definite 1970s feel, with the soundtrack and the iconic car. It is almost as if War on Everyone is the quintessential buddy cop movie turned on its head. Bob and Terry are certainly antiheroes, subverting expectations with their actions. In fact, McDonagh satirises American law enforcement with this film. It is certainly timely; the film focuses on officers who exploit the power of their badges and engage in police brutality. The film is played for laughs, albeit in the darkest humour. The message, however, is clear.

War on Everyone moves at a good pace, with action ramping up as the film progresses. The script complements this very well. The film fizzes with amusing lines. The momentum is measured so that there is time of contemplative yet humorous remarks. Humour hits more often than it misses. There are some wonderful lines in the film, although viewers need to be onboard with black humour to really appreciate them.

Michael Peña and Alexander Skarsgård have a good rapport as Bob and Terry. It makes a change to see Peña in a leading role, instead of simply the comedy sidekick. Tessa Thompson is decent as Jackie, whilst Malcolm Barrett delivers a good turn as Reggie.

War on Everyone is functions well as unconventional buddy cop movie and a satire on the state of US law enforcement. It is highly recommended viewing for fans of McDonagh’s previous films Calvary and The Guard.

Previews: Rules Don’t Apply Trailer, Morgan and More!

Lots of trailers, posters and clips this week, including the Rules Don’t Apply trailer, a clip from Morgan, Same Kind of Different trailer and more…

Rules Don’t Apply Trailer

Here is the Rules Don’t Apply Trailer. Warren Beatty writes, directs, and stars in the Golden Era-set film. With Alden Ehrenreich in the cast, the film is instantly reminiscent of this year’s Hail, Cesar!. Ehrenreich stars as the driver to Beatty’s Howard Hughes. The film features a stellar cast, that includes Lily Collins, Alec Baldwin, and Matthew Broderick. Rules Don’t Apply is coming soon to cinemas.

Morgan Clip

This clip from the upcoming Morgan gives a bit of insight into the title character. The film stars Kate Mara as a troubleshooter sent to a remote location to investigate an accident. Also starring Paul Giamatti and Jennifer Jason Leigh, the film is produced by Ridley Scott. Morgan is out in UK cinemas on 2nd September 2016.

Arrival Poster

Arrival PosterThis is one of a series of posters for new ski-fi thriller Arrival. The film is about a mystery spacecraft that arrives on Earth, and the team who are sent to investigate. Denis Villeneuve directs the film, which stars Amy Adams, Forest Whitaker and Jeremy Renner. Arrival lands in UK cinemas on 11th November 2016.

War on Everyone Trailer

The Guard director John Michael McDonagh’s latest film combines dark humour with a buddy cop movie. War on Everyone stars Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña as New Mexican cops who set out to blackmail every criminal that crosses their paths. War on Everyone will hit UK screens on 7th October 2016.

Moana Trailer

Disney latest animation Moana is about a South Pacific teenager who sails on a daring mission to save her people. The film features the voice of Dwayne Johnson, and songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Moana is directed by Disney dream-team Ron Clements and John Musker. UK cinemagoers will have to wait until 2nd December 2016 to see if the pair can recreate their earlier magic.

Hell or High Water Trailer

Hell or High Water is a new crime thriller from the writer of Sicario, Taylor Sheridan.  The film stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster as robbers who meet their match in Texas Ranger Jeff Bridges. Hell or High Water hits UK screens on 9th September 2016.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Poster

Miss Peregrine Poster

This poster is a visual feast. Director Tim Burton always delivers on the imagery front. Based on the book by Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children looks like it will be weird and wonderful. Starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield and Samuel L. Jackson, the film will be released in UK cinemas on 30th September 2016.

Same Kind of Different as Me Trailer

Uncomfortably reminiscent of The Blind Side, Same Kind of Different as Me is based on the book of the same name. The film stars Renée Zellweger and Greg Kinnear as a couple who befriend a homeless man (played by Djimon Hounsou). Some of what is shown seems risible, but the film will probably appeal to fans of the book. Same Kind of Different as Me is set for release in 2017.

Film Review: The Martian

THE MARTIAN

Ridley Scott provides a timely reminder of why he is such a celebrated director with The Martian. The film is a wildly entertaining science-fiction adventure.

Astronaut Mark Watney is part of manned mission to Mars. When a storm hits the planet, the crew decide to leave, with Mark presumed dead. Mark has to use all his skills to stay alive on the barren planet whilst trying to signal to Earth that he is alive…

Adapted from Andy Weir’s novel, The Martian is an engaging and entertaining film. Drew Goddard was a good choice to pen the screenplay. The script is frequently funny, with a wonderful ease when switching tone. Like Gravity, there could be a worry of how the film will remain compelling, given the premise. However, it does this with aplomb. The contrasting tales of survival and rescue work well to keep viewers engaged and introduce the necessary supporting characters.

Ridley Scott directs the film skilfully, ensuring good pacing over the two hours plus running time. Despite the period of time that The Martian covers, the film never feels as if it is dragging. During the film there is tension, action and amusement. The Martian ramps the pressure up for the conclusion, enthralling the audience for its finale.

Cinematography in The Martian is excellent. Dariusz Wolski photographs the landscape in a way that demands to be seen on the big screen. The sound is also great, from design to score to soundtrack. The latter is an unusual accompaniment, but it works exceptionally well.

Matt Damon delivers a decent performance as Watney, being the sole performer in many of his scenes. The supporting cast are also good, Michael Peña provides the laughs, whilst Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jeff Daniels are well cast in their respective roles.

Ridley Scott proved his talent working in the space medium with Alien. The Martian is a different time of science fiction movie, but one that also beguiles its audience.

Ant-Man Press Conference

Ant-Man Press Conference London

Last week, director Peyton Reed and stars Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Michael Peña sat down for the Ant-Man press conference in London. They discussed influences on the film, how Ant-Man was conceived, and future Marvel movies…

On Edgar Wright’s involvement…

Peyton Reed: I think it’s fair to say that none of us would be here, and there might not be an Ant-Man movie if it weren’t for Edgar and Joe [Cornish]. The idea to make Ant-Man a heist movie structure was all Edgar and Joe. The idea of Hank Pym and Scott Lang as mentor and pupil, again that was all their’s. I came on at the same time that Adam [McKay] and Paul [Rudd] were starting to do re-writes on the draft. There was some elements that had been in the comics but had not made their way into the script, that we wanted to bring into it.

Marvel's “Ant-Man” Press Conference

On inspiration for their characters…

Michael Peña: As far as I know, there is no comic book called ‘Luis’. I am portraying someone that actually lives in Chicago, he may or may not be a criminal. He may or may not be in jail, I cannot say.

Paul Rudd: The idea of Scott doing everything that he does for his daughter is from the comics. That’s the imprint we used for the film. When we were working on the movie and writing the script… both Adam [McKay] and I felt that we never veered too far from something that doesn’t make sense in the Marvel universe, or something that isn’t true to the comic.

Michael Douglas: I was never a comic kid growing up. They were kind enough to send me the script of the Ant-Man along with a leather-bound copy of two years of the comics. There was more backstory for Hank Pym than any of the so-called ‘reality’ movies that I might done. So I had a pretty good blueprint to follow.

Michael Douglas on starring in a comic book movie…

Michael Douglas: I was very excited about this opportunity when they came to me because I never had really done anything in this milieu. My entire career is contemporary-based, not by choice, just by characters. All the things I’ve done in forty years, except for one, is contemporary, never did an effects movie. I was also a producer, so I was really curious about how this whole thing went together. I have tremendous respect for Peyton in keeping all these pieces together. I enjoyed the experience, and I also have a great appreciation for actors who work with green screen, because there ain’t anything there.

On genre in Ant-Man…

Peyton: I think Marvel have always done these sub-genres. I think that’s one of the things that keeps the Marvel movies so interesting. When you look at last year, Captain America: The Winter Soldier owes to a sort of 70s political thriller, a paranoia thriller. And Guardians of the Galaxy is this crazy Gonzo space opera. Our movie happens to have the structure and feel of a heist movie.

Marvel's “Ant-Man” Press Conference London

On the future of Ant-Man…

Paul: I have no idea what the future holds. I’m excited about it, I’m interested in playing this part in whatever way Marvel sees fit I suppose.

Peyton: If we’re fortunate enough to make another Ant-Man movie, I think there is a lot of story left to tell with these characters. I think there is a freedom at Marvel to kind of tonally do whatever we think is best, what serves the story best.

On filming Captain America: Civil War…

Paul: It was weird; it made this whole thing seem real in a way that it wasn’t even real for all of us. I think we were kind of shooting in a bubble when we did this [Ant-Man].

Ant-Man is released in cinemas on Friday 17th July 2015.

Film Review: Tower Heist

Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist is a moderately entertaining crime caper. It is unlikely to have audiences crying with laughter, but it won’t have them weeping with despair either.

Josh Kovacs is a manager at The Tower, a luxurious apartment block in Manhattan that caters for wealthy clients. When the owner of the penthouse is arrested, staff at The Tower realise that their entire pension was tied up in his failed Ponzi scheme. Having lost their savings, a group of staff conspire to rob Arthur Shaw’s apartment…

Tower Heist is moderately funny, but not an out and out comedy. The film combines humour with action and the traditional sensibilities of a heist movie. As such, Ratner’s film does get increasingly convoluted. There is nothing particularly illuminating about the narrative, but it sufficiently entertains viewers.  Syrupy sentiment is laid on a little thick with the doorman strand. There are a few lulls during the course of the 104-minute movie, however momentum is recovered when necessary.

Some of Tower Heist‘s dialogue leaves something to be desired. The jokes do not always hit the mark; there is a definite feeling that the film would have been more enjoyable with a more humorous script. At times the screenwriters think too little of their audience, over emphasising details of the plan for example. Nevertheless, there are some good scenes in the film.

There are some resounding parallels between the Arthur Shaw character and Bernie Madoff. Like Madoff, Shaw is living the high life, seemingly without financial worries. And like Madoff, Shaw becomes the target of an investigation and has lost his investors millions. There is no problem with using current affairs in a film such as Tower Heist, except that nothing particularly striking or intelligent it done with it. The character, like a number of others, is rather one dimensional.

Tower Heist features a cast of well-known actors, but some mixed performances. Téa Leoni stands out as one of the better performers. Ben Stiller brings little to the straight-man role, while Casey Affleck is not utilised that effectively. Matthew Broderick fairs a bit better, and Michael Peña brings humour to the fold. It is refreshing to see Eddie Murphy in a costume-free comedy role, although he should have been given more amusing lines.

Tower Heist is unlikely to be remembered in a few years. An adequately entertaining movie with no real lasting impression.