Film Review: TAG (USA 2018)

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Tag Poster
Trailer

A small group of former classmates organize an elaborate, annual game of tag that requires some to travel all over the country.

Director:

 Jeff Tomsic

Writers:

Rob McKittrick (screenplay by), Mark Steilen (screenplay by) | 2 more credits »

Writers:

Rob McKittrick (screenplay by), Mark Steilen (screenplay by) | 2 more credits »

TAG the film is based on the kids playground game “Tag”.  The comedy centres on a group of kids, now fully grown up with jobs who have been playing this game every year during  the month of May for 30 years.

Sounds unbelievable?  The ads and the film itself make sure that the audience is reminded of this fact.  Based on a True Story.  But this phrase can mean a lot of things and it seems that only the main fact that the men are still playing the game is true.  All else could have been made up for what Warner Bros. hopes to be a successful box-office male comedy to the likes of THE HANGOVER or HOT TUB TIME MACHINE.

The film is based on real-life friends from Spokane featured in a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, “It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being It” by Russell Adams.  When the film opens, one of the friends, a CEO, Bob Callahan (Jon Hamm) is being interviewed by a Washington Post reporter (Annabelle Wallis) when he suddenly tagged by Hoagie (Ed Helms) who has sneaked into his office after gaining employment as a janitor.  The reporter decides to follow the men on the game to write her article on the friends playing tag.

The film goes downhill from this point and very fast.  The aim of the men is to tag Jerry (Jeremy Renner in Jason Bourne mode) who has never been it during all the many years.  Jerry is about to be wed to a high maintenance bride (Leslie Bibb) and this is the perfect opportunity to tag him as he has not much chance of getting away.

There is only so much one can do with this premise.  The chases get monotonous and one can only fall down in a limited number of ways when running away or banging into things.  Expensive ornaments get wrecked, windows broken, walls bashed in are what the audience is n for.  Director Tomsik (in his directorial debut, too and he is given this sorry script and story) even resorts to some inventive filming (example: the chases in a building are brought outside with the camera showing the chase as the men run past the windows) cannot lift the film from its mediocrity.  

The script by Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen brings in the female element to expand the target audience with the characters of the bride and also Hoagie’s wife, Anna (Isla Fisher).  Anna is very eager to get into the game (gender equality?), helping her husband aggressively.  Unfortunately none of their antics evoke many laughs.  The script calls for Anna to scream lots of vulgarities that only serve to emphasize how desperate the film is in need of laughter.  Worse still, the script inserts a message (and a very  obvious and unbelievable one at that) towards the end when Hoagie is hospitalized.  There is one coloured character, Sable (Hannibal Buress) who is not given much to do.

The film runs an hour and 45 minutes.   This is one game that has run too long.  But the film’s budget comes under $30 millions which means that it should make a bit of cash for this male adult comedy.

TAG the film is really not it!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rQu77pgnpg

 

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Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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captain_america_civil_warCAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (USA 2016) ***
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Daniel Bruhl, Frank Grillo

Reveiw by Gilbert Seah

Judging from the box-office successful but critically panned BATMAN V. SUPERMAN, audiences love to see their super heroes battle one another – never mind the reason, never mind who wins, and never mind anything else. In this latest Marvel superhero movie, there are lots more of the same. It is a dream come true for current action fans as there is a full 15 minute action fight scene during which two factions of super heroes battle it out with each other.

The film begins with establishing the reason for the formation of the two factions. It is a world disaster in which innocent people are killed in Nigeria following a criminal being pursued by the Avengers. As a result of the collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps, one led by Steve Rogers aka Captain America (the handsome hunk Luke Evans) and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s Ironman (played by Robert Downey Jr.) surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.

This is an AVENGERS film despite the Captain America title. Other Marvel heroes on display here include Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Winter Soldier of the film title (Sebastian Stan), Falcon from the IRONMAN films (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye with his arrows (Jeremy Renner), Vision (Paul Bettany), Spider-man (Tom Holland) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) the latter two providing most of the humour in the film. But the script by a multiple of writers includes many one-liners that only Marvel fans will find funny, or whoever is in the mood. But the one-liners are quite mediocre and no match compared to those found in other action films like the DIE HARD or TERMINATOR films.

So there is one faction led by Ironman with Spidey, Faclon and Spider and the other by Captain America, Winter soldier and Hawkeye. There is an extended fight scene between the two leaders as well but no one really comes out the outright victor. The heroes use their powers like Spidey his web, America his shield and Hawkeye his arrows.

The film running at almost two and a half hours is surprisingly short on both story and character development. The script contains lots of repetitions on the need to control the Avengers i.e. to substantiate the rivalry between the two groups. All this tends to be a tad boring after a while, not to mention that the matter is never resolved at the end and the film set up for a sequel.

Not much is demanded in the acting department for an action film of this nature except for the actors to look good. And they all look very bulked up or pretty as the case may be. This reviewer never liked Robert Downey Jr. as an actor (in Sherlock Holmes, IRONMAN and other films) or in person for his wise-cracking smart-ass attitude. So, the best line in the film delivered by Black Widow to him: “Are you incapable of letting go of your ego for one Goddamned second?” gave me a big smile.

CAPTAIN AMERICA is a film that would delight action Marvel fans, but those serious in their taste of cinema – might want to take all this with a pinch (or rather, heap) of salt.

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