Film Review: ATOMIC BLONDE (USA 2017) ***

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

atomic blonde.jpgAn undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

Director: David Leitch
Writers: Kurt Johnstad (screenplay), Antony Johnston (based on the Oni Press graphic novel series “The Coldest City” written by)
Stars: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman

Review by Gilbert Seah

 Advertised as a female James Bond film with Charlize Theron as a top ass-kicking M16 spy, ATOMIC BLONDE tries its best to assume a British setting though Theron and most of the cast speak with an unchanged American accent. Who really cares, as the film delivers senseless action with dazzling visual and choreographed fight scenes courtesy of director David Leitch in his first solo directorial debut, himself a stunt coordinator and stuntman for stars like Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.

The film is written by Kurt Johnstad, based on Antony Johnston and Sam Hart’s 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City, published by Oni Press. The film opens with a commentary of how the cold war has ended in 1989 flowing the collapse of the Berlin Wall and then goes on to say that the film is not about this subject. The film is about the cold war revolving the good guys, the British M16 and the Americans in this case trying to retrieve a list of double agents that if fallen into the wrong hands would…..It does not really matter as Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock says. The point is that top level female spy, Lorraine Broughton (Theron) has been assigned to aid fellow spy and wild card David Percival (James McAvoy) with this mission. As it turns out Percival has supposedly got the list from Spyglass, a Starsi agent (Eddie Marsan) and he is to be escorted out of Berlin. Not so easy, as every Russian and German spy is also out to get the list.

With the film setting in the 80’s, one can expect a solid 80’s soundtrack. And the film has a great one at that, and not surprising as the music is by Tyler Bates who has put together similar memorable soundtracks for films like GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 1 and 2 and the two John Wick Films. The song are also appropriately chosen to fit the plot for example with Depeche Mode’s ‘Behind the Wheel’ during the defection segment and Queen’s ‘Under Pressure’ at the film’s climax.

The film’s excellent cast includes McAvoy (SPLIT), always good in portraying crazies. Eddie Marsan who plays Spyglass steals the show with a dead serious performance amidst the over-the-top action. German veteran actress Barbara Sukowa has a cameo as the coroner who delivers a key line: “In Germany, we do not make little mistakes.”

The film’s best action sequence lasts a full 10 minutes as Lorraine fights off multiple attackers in ultra-violent hand-to-hand combat on a staircase while protecting Spyglass. If this is not enough, an exciting car chase follows right after where villains in cars appear out of nowhere to chse the two. Director Leitch dishes sexiness to the limit with same sex scenes between Lorraine and a French spy (Sofia Boutella).

The plot of ATOMIC BLONDE is quite difficult to follow and there is no use trying as the plot is pointless. The story’s twist in the end of who is the double agent makes little sense either. But cold war spy films in the 70’s were often difficult to follow. ATOMIC BLONDE delivers dazzling senseless action, that is the point of the film and that it succeeds.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI7HVnZlleo

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Happy Birthday: John Goodman

johngoodman.jpgHappy Birthday actor John Goodman

Born: June 20, 1952 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Married to: Annabeth Hartzog (27 October 1989 – present) (1 child)

 

 

 

 

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dir. Joel and Ethan Coen
starring
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Holly Hunter
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1989
dir. Harold Becker
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Ellen Barkin
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1991
dir. Joel and Ethan Coen
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THE BIG LEBOWSKIThe Big Lebowski
1998
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BRINGING OUT THE DEADBringing out the Dead
1999
dir. Scorsese
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MONSTERS INCMonsters Inc.
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Zooey Deschanel
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2007
dir. Tom Shadyac
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Steve Carell
Morgan Freeman
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Simon J. Smith
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Renée Zellweger
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Melissa Leo
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2008
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Larry Wachowski
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2009
dir. PJ Hogan
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dir. Ron Clements
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MOVIE POSTEREXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE
dir. Stephen Daldry
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Tom Hanks
MOVIE POSTERTHE BABE
1992
dir. Arthur HIller
Stars:
John Goodman
Kelly McGillis
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dir. Chris Butler
Sam Fell
Stars:
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Anna Kendrick
MOVIE POSTERARGO
dir. Ben Affleck
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Bryan Cranston
MOVIE POSTERTROUBLE WITH THE CURVE
dir. Robert Lorenz
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Clint Eastwood
Amy Adam
MOVIE POSTERFLIGHT
2012
dir. Robert Zemeckis
Stars:
Denzel Washington
Melissa Leo
movie posterEVERYBODY’S ALL AMERICAN
1988
dir. Taylor Hackford
Stars:
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Dennis Quaid
MOVIE POSTERALWAYS
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dir. Steven Spielberg
Stars:
Holly Hunter
Richard Dreyfuss
MOVIE POSTERTHE HANGOVER PART III
2013
dir. Todd Phillips
Stars:
Bradley Cooper
Zach Galifianakis
TV POSTERTHE WEST WING season 4
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TV POSTERTHE WEST WING season 5
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MOVIE POSTERTHE INTERNSHIP
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dir. Shawn Levy
Stars:
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Vince Vaughn
MOVIE POSTERMONSTERS UNIVERSITY
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dir. Dan Scanlon
Stars:
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MOVIE POSTERTRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION
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dir. Michael Bay
Stars:
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Movie Review: RATCHET & CLANK (USA/Canada 2016) ***

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

ratchet_and_clank.jpgRATCHET & CLANK (USA/Canada 2016) ***
Directed by Jericca Cleland and Kevin Munroe

Starring: James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Jim Ward, Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Sylvester Stallone
Review by Gilbert Seah

One would definitely shudder of the news of yet another film based on a video game. Though the animated RATCHET & CLANK is one of those, the film is actually not that bad. It plays to what works best – safe bets as demonstrated in previous successful animated films.

The film’s protagonist, Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor) wants to be a Galactic Ranger – just as the rabbit protagonist in ZOOTPOIA wants to be a cop. While pursuing his ambition, Ratchet comes across a robot by the name of Clank (David Kaye) carrying important information on a planet with a desert landscape. The same premise happens with the character Rey and the robot carrying a message for Luke Skywalker in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. The most famous of the Galactic Rangers – Captain Owark (sounding like Captain Kirk) and voiced by Jim Ward has a figure modelled after the Buzz Lightyear character (Tim Allen) in the TOY STORY films. And the line of advice given by Grimroth Razz, Ratchet’s mechanic mentor (John Goodman) to Ratchet: “Don’t aim too high so that you will not get too disappointed,” is identical to the joke/advice given in ZOOTOPIA by the protagonist’s parents. It is uncanny how ZOOTOPIA and RACHET & CLANKS have these similarities.

One can keep on counting – the nods or similarities (depending how wants to look at it). But who really cares? The video game movie is well-intentioned for the kids and family and everything is done in relatively good taste without insult or injury.

The ‘original’ story begins with how the title characters first meet and how they attempt to save the Solana Galaxy from being destroyed by the villains of the piece, Chairman Drek (Paul Giamatti) and the Blarg. With Drek’s native planet Orxon having grown toxic and overpopulated, he sets about invading and plundering large chunks of rival planets to build a new super-sphere for his people. This is the same reason used by every film for an alien invasion of another planet.

The film features a number of the voice actors from the original video game series reprising their roles with a few new ones such as Giamatti, Taylor (as Ratchet) and believe it or not Sylvester Stallone.
The film is sufficiently colourful and the animation incentive enough providing harmless fun to entertain, without scaring the kids.

RATCHET & CLANK is a moderately budgeted independent animated movie. The film does will not outdo any Disney or other big studio animated features, but it should make a decent profit.

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
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Movie Review: 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE ***1/2

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10_cloverfield_lane.jpg10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (USA 2016) ***1/2
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg

Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.

Interview with 10 Cloverfield Lane Special Effects Foreman – Donnie Dean

Interview with 10 Cloverfield Lane Cinematographer – Jeff Cutter

Spoiler Alert: Please note that in order to provide a readable film review, there are minor plot points that have to be revealed in the review.

It should be noted that every attempt has been made to keep the key plot twists secret so that readers will not have their entertainment of this film compromised.

Films about sole captives have always done reasonably well at the box-office and have sat well with audiences. From William Wyler’s THE COLLECTOR to Peter Jackson’s THE LOVELY BONES to the recent Oscar best actress winning film ROOM, creepiness has always translated to good suspense and thrills. It is surprising that the above three films dealt with the main element of suspense and 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is the only one that is truly a horror picture. And quite a good one at that. The antagonist is played by the excellent John Goodman. Can you imagine waking up after being unconscious in a tiny room only to be greeted by a gigantic unshaven monster of a man? Now that is really scary. And the script written by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stucken, and Damien Chazelle milks that idea to the limit.
The film is a science fiction horror film and the spiritual successor of the 2008 film CLOVERFIELD, although the two films do not share the same fictional universe or continuity.

CLOVERFIELD dealt with teens protecting their neighbourhood from aliens. So 10 COVERFIELD LANE obviously has real aliens in the plot, though the first part of the film teases the audience with the fact that there might not be ab alien invasion and that Howard (Goodman) is keeping both Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Emmet (John Gallagher, Jr.) prisoners in the dark on the false pretext of an alien invasion fall-out. But whatever the reason, Michelle,the lead character, has decided to escape, regardless.

The best parts of the film is Trachtenberg’s depiction of the desperation of all the three characters – each one dealing with it in his or her own way. The script also blends humour in the best of unexpected times. This is obvious in the film’s start with the intercutting with Michelle’s car accident and the titles ‘Paramount Pictures Present” and then car overturning and then “A Bad Robot Production”. The script is also clever enough to always keep the audience surprised with one plot turn after another. Howard can turn from super nice captor, to suspicious host to totally angry monster. The bunker itself is a contradiction of wonderfully designed live-in space to isolated captive room. Even the start of the film is a surprise. Michelle is shown driving away for 10 minutes of screen time before it is revealed she is running away from her lover, Ben (voiced by Bradley Cooper). “I think we’re alone now” is also an obvious but fun choice of a song on the soundtrack.

A bit of moralizing is included for good sport. Is it better to be alive in this situation?

There are a few minor loopholes in the plot, which cannot be mentioned here due to they being spoilers, but these are minor and can be overlooked. But the last 15 minutes of high tech, high budget climax destroys the otherwise excellent plotting of the first 3/4 of the film. It could be argued that the last segment is necessary to bind the two CLOVERFIELD films, but unfortunately director Trachtenberg has thrown all logic out the door as the audience can see what one small bottle of whiskey could do.

Despite its flaws, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is thoroughly entertaining and succeeds as a horror movie. One wonders though of the NORTH BY NORTHWEST styled letter credits the filmmakers have chosen to use.

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: http://www.wildsoundfestival.com