The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Cinema Review)

15 – 118mins – 2017


TRIGGER SCRAPPY

“It’s my job to keep you out of harm’s way.”

“Shit, motherfucker, I am harm’s way!”

Hollywood heavyweights Ryan Deadpool Reynolds and Kong: Skull Island‘s Samuel L. Jackson bring buddy cop bantz to this darkly violent contemporary action comedy which feels like a very blatant attempt to channel the iconic tone of 18-rated 80s classic Lethal Weapon. But excessive injury detail and profuse bad language do not a successful film for adult audiences makes.

… Keep Scuttling!

Kong: Skull Island (Cinema Review)

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12A – 118mins – 2017 – 3D


 

FURRYTALE KINGDOM

While a recent preparatory re-watch revealed that some of the more ambitious CG wizardry has not aged as well as the titular giant primate himself, I still get swept up in the rollicking sense of old school adventure Peter Jackson imbues his King Kong adaptation with. This character-introducing reboot – the second entry after Gareth Edwards’ 2014 opener in Legendary’s MonsterVerse – shares none of the same cast or crew with the Lord of the Rings helmer’s 2005 bum-number, but I was still excited to return to Skull Island – a lost world where monsters reign supreme.

… Keep Scuttling!

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (Cinema Review)

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12A – 107mins – 2017 – 3D


 

CAGE FIGHTER

After Mr Cube’s substitute adventure put the franchise on, erm, ice for a decade, Vin Diesel’s renewed bankability following the resurgence of The Fast & The Furious series saw a reinvigorated interest in a return for the true xXx – and his ‘iconic’ fur coat!

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xXx: The Next Level (DVD Review)

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12 – 97mins – 2005


 

COMEBACK TOUR

When their hi-tech underground Headquarters in Virginia is infiltrated and decimated by deadly assailants, escaping NSA Agent Augustus Gibbons (Cell‘s Samuel L. Jackson) sets about repopulating a new unit of deep-cover operatives armed with an arsenal of specialist skills.

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Cell (DVD Review)

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15 – 87mins – 2016


PHONE PHREAKS

They’re acting like a flock of birds!”

Meshing damning social commentary with bloodthirsty horror like a particularly gruesome instalment of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror (minus the witty satire), this recently released Stephen Creepshow King adaptation (which the horror maestro co-scribed the screenplay for) shows intermittent flashes of promise but ultimately falls flat due to bland execution.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Cinema Review)

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12A – 127mins – 2016 – 3D


IN THE LOOP

Ballerina, Storks, Trolls, Sing, and Moana. Four colourful, predominantly tuneful CG ‘toons which the marketing bods at Cineworld thought were perfectly suited to trail ahead of Tim Burton’s latest dark surrealist fantasy. Now, I appreciate that Miss Peregrine’s features children – even in its curiosity-piquing but less-than-punchy title – but this does not automatically a children’s film make!

… Keep Scuttling!

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