Ready Player One (Cinema Review)

12A – 140mins – 2018 – 3D


 

V.R. TROOPERS

Cineworld were in full alert last night with bouncers at the doors of their latest Unlimited Preview Screening to physically watch you switch off your mobile phones before you entered for an exclusive viewing of young adult sci-fi action adventure adaptation Ready Player One. This didn’t, however, stop the projectionists from messing up and starting the film too early, so we got to watch the opening five minutes twice in the space of a quarter of an hour.

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Transformers: The Last Knight (Cinema Review)

12A – 149mins – 2017 – 3D


 

PIECE OF SCRAP

I know it’s lazy to deride Michael Bay’s bloated brigade of big ‘bot battle blockbusters, but boy is this fifth Transformers film a rotten piece of shit! I realise that isn’t a very erudite (or polite) way to kickstart a review, but I’m not editing it for two reasons: Firstly, multi-millionaire Bay, producers Paramount and Hasbro Studios won’t care what The CR@Bpendium thinks of their gallizion dollar expanded-universe franchise – people will still turn out in droves. Secondly, given the amount of bad language that litters this light-hearted adapted-from-toys summer sequel, apparently kids are down with the swearz these days, too?! So the shit stays where it is.

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Baywatch (Cinema Review)

15 – 116mins – 2017


 

THE ELITE OF THE ELITE

“This all sounds like an entertaining but far-fetched TV show.”

As an 80s-baby growing up in the 90s, I know I used to watch Baywatch. It was prime ITV Saturday night cheese. The Hoff in those red trunks, Pamela Anderson in that red swimsuit, plenty of slow-motion gunning through golden sands and diving into crystal clear Californian oceans while the theme song challenged you not to sing along…. But aside from those iconic cornerstones, I seriously struggle to remember much more about it. Yet, as I sat down last night for what I anticipated to be a full-on nostalgia fest, all I kept thinking throughout this $69million big screen revival was: surely the TV show wasn’t like this?!!

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Cinema Review)

12A – 136mins – 2017 – 3D


 

STILL HOOKED ON A FEELING

Formerly feared to be comic and movie franchise giants Marvel’s unknown quantity, James The Belko Experiment Gunn’s 2014 mega-hit established that even lesser known superheroes can find adoration, form meme-worthy catchphrases (“I am Groot!”) and sell retro-flavoured mixtapes by the bucket-load.

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Beauty and the Beast (Cinema Review)

PG – 129mins – 2017 – 3D


A READY-FURNISHED CLASSIC

Disney continue their recent trend of mining past animated hits for future live action gold (as I write it is currently the highest grossing film of 2017) with this fifth conversion – following Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella and The Jungle Book (which I reviewed HERE) – of one of their greatest ‘toons as old as time into 3 living, breathing, singing and dancing dimensions.

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Power Rangers (Cinema Review)

12A – 124mins – 2017


 

MORPHING THE MORPHERS

“Alpha, Rita’s escaped. Recruit a team of teenagers with attitude,” Zordon instructed at the beginning of every episode of Saban’s phenomenally successful mid-90s appropriation of footage from Japan’s Super Sentai series. But, if truth be told, the five Mighty Morphin’ teens lacked any kind of edge; they were clean-cut do-gooders who vanquished evil, taught bullies a lesson and saved the environment without a cross word, mood swing or cuss between them.

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Assassin’s Creed (Cinema Review)

12A – 115mins – 2016 – 3D


 

LEAP OF FASS

In an attempt to cure the ‘disease’ of violence, the Abstergo Foundation use Death Row inmates due to be executed for murder as pawns in their Animus Project, transporting the lab rats back into the memories of their descendants in the hope of locating the mythical lost Apple of Eden, which contains the genetic code for free will and will allow Abstergo scientists Sophie Rikken (Marion Cotillard) and her father Alan (Jeremy High-Rise Irons) to subjugate the human race. Anti-social pimp-killer Callum Lynch (Michael X-Men: Apocalypse Fassbender) – a descendant of 15th Century Assassin Aguilar de Nerha – has just been forced into Sophie’s programme…

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Doctor Strange (Cinema Review)

Image result for doctor strange 2016

12A – 115mins – 2016 – 3D


 

THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION

“Leave behind everything you thought you knew…”

A career-ending car accident sees astonishing-but-arrogant New York neurosurgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Black Mass Cumberbatch) traverse the globe in search of revolutionary and non-traditional healing techniques to cure his damaged hands. In Kathmandu, Nepal he is introduced to The Ancient One (Tilda Trainwreck Swinton), a master of the mystic arts who harnesses the desperate doctor’s spiritual powers to unleash his full potential.

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Jaws 2 (Blu-ray Review)

PG – 116mins – 1978 


 

BIGGER, STRONGER, MORE TEETH

“I don’t intend to go through that hell again!”

Studio bosses were understandably eager to dive straight into pre-production on a sequel following the monster success of Steven Spielberg’s iconic 1975 Oscar-winner, but some less-than-manageable production issues (mainly involving “Bruce” the mechanical shark) saw the legendary helmer swear off a return to the waters around Long Island.

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The Legend of Tarzan (Cinema Review)

12A – 108mins – 2016 – 3D


 

THE SPIRIT OF THE TREES

Before his imminent return to the wizarding world with November’s Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, director David Yates looks to older literary inspiration in bringing Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Victorian ape-man back to the big screen for his umpteenth reimagining.

What makes The Legend of Tarzan unique, however, is that rather than again retelling John Clayton III’s (Alexander Skarsgård) oft-told origin story, we instead join up with Lord Greystroke eight years after he has returned to England with his wife, Jane (Margot Robbie), with crucial flashbacks to his formative years in the jungle integrated into this sort-of sequel.

Christoph Waltz, who I must confess I have never warmed to as an actor, returns to his moustache-twirling devious antagonist comfort zone as Captain Léon Rom, the corrupt envoy for Belgium’s debt-ridden King Leopold II. Rom devises a sinister scheme to lure the renowned Tarzan back to Boma in the Congo jungle, capture him and delivery him to an old enemy for a bounty of diamonds to save his dire government from bankruptcy.

Waltz’s Hateful Eight co-star Samuel L. Jackson plays second fiddle to the titular shirt-shy star as sharp-shooting American envoy George Washington Williams, who accompanies Tarzan and Jane on their overseas expedition, and aids in the rescue of Jane when Rom sees the sinister opportunity to lure his prey out of hiding with some wife-shaped bait.

Sumptuously imagined in a similar CG-heavy approach to Disney’s recent The Jungle Book reboot, this vine-swinging wild ride seems to have been somewhat lost in the wilderness of blockbuster season, receiving a trough of middling reviews where John Favreau’s uncanny Mowgli remake was lauded for its technical wizardry. Sure, the occasional shot is noticeably green screened, but there is far more to make you go “ooo!” than “ergh!” here.

The pacing isn’t perfect, with the grand riverboat finale reached prematurely, despite the action bobbing along nicely up to that point, but the film’s only major misstep is in expecting us to invest in little-seen African tribal leader Chief Mbonga’s (Djimon Air Hounsou) passion for revenge against the film’s hero – despite Tarzan’s earlier murder of his son only being briefly alluded to and never visualised.

Otherwise, I see no reason to lambast screenwriters Adam Cozard and Craig Brewer for their vision, which is as bestial, exotic and adventurous as a Tarzan story can be. Sadly, I fear this Legend going the same way as Disney’s doomed adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ other shaggy-haired literary property, John Carter, which flopped for no discernible reason in 2012.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 3 stars