Archive for February, 2020

From Miami to Mexico City

Bad Boys for Life

Directors: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah

Cast: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Alexander Ludwig, Vanessa Hudgens, Charles Melton, Paola Nunez, Kate del Castillo, Joe Pantoliano, Jacob Scipio, Theresa Randle

Michael Bay directed the first Bad Boys back in 1995 and then there was a sequel Bad Boys II made in 2003 both featuring buddy cop duo Mike and Marcus played respectively by Oscar nominee Will Smith (Ali, The Pursuit of Happyness) and comedian Martin Lawrence.

So it’s been 17 years since this franchise had a glossy revamp with the new film Bad Boys for Life featuring the same actors as the same fast talking Miami cops who go after evil gangsters.

Fortunately, directing duo Ardi El Arbi and Bilall Fallah do justice in the 2020 reboot Bad Boys for Life as Mike and Marcus considerably much older and now assisted by an Ammo taskforce as they collectively take on the ruthless Mexican drug cartel when the vicious head of a Mexico City cartel Isabel Aretas played by Mexican actress Kate del Castillo orders her son Armando Aretas viciously played by Jacob Scipio to kill Mike in downtown Miami.

Both Will Smith and Martin Lawrence have terrific screen chemistry as the cop duo and this is reinforced by the fantastic new additions to the cast of the Ammo crew: namely, Kelly played by Vanessa Hudgens (Second Act, Suckerpunch), Dorn played by Canadian hunky actor Alexander Ludwig best known for his pivotal role in the brilliant historical series Vikings and Rafe played by Charles Melton (The Sun is Also a Star). Ammo is headed up by the gorgeous Rita played by another Mexican actress Paola Nunez.

What is most impressive about Bad Boys for Life besides the glossy cinematography, the fantastic visual shots of Miami and Mexico City, is the fast-paced action and the surprisingly well written storyline.

This film is fun, funky and definitely worth seeing for those viewers that enjoyed the first two Bad Boys films and also for those viewers unfamiliar with the franchise. Most notable is the gripping Miami nightclub action sequence as well as the spectacularly gripping finale set in the Palacio di Hidalgo, a beautiful ruined Palace, in Mexico City.

If audiences want decent action, witty one-liners and superb plot twists, then go and see Bad Boys for Life as Mike and Marcus battle the cartel from Miami to Mexico City.

Bad Boys for Life gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is thoroughly entertaining. Judging by the audience popularity for this film, there will definitely be a Bad Boys 4.

Gotham’s Girl Power

Birds of Prey

Director: Cathy Yan

Cast: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosie Perez, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ewan McGregor, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco

Oscar nominee Margot Robbie (I, Tonya; Bombshell) reprises her role as Harley Quinn the now ex-girlfriend of Joker whose character was first introduced in 2016’s Suicide Squad in a new standalone film called Birds of Prey which doesn’t unfortunately pack the same gender affirming punch as director Patty Jenkin’s groundbreaking film Wonder Woman.

Although both Birds of Prey, Suicide Squad and the Oscar winning Joker all fall under the Warner Brothers DC Comics franchise, Birds of Prey is not as brilliant as Wonder Woman but rather resorts to being too much of a garish man-hating super-hero film which doesn’t link back to Suicide Squad or even Justice League.

Birds of Prey features a suitably evil villain Roman Sionis devilishly played with camp enthusiasm by Scottish actor Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Moulin Rouge) along with his equally psychotic blonde haired side kick Victor Zsasz superbly played by Chris Messina (Argo, Live By Night)  who both go after Harley Quinn with a vengeance.

The crazy Harley Quinn soon teams up with a range of butt-kicking awesome females showing off Gotham’s Girl Power including hard drinking disgraced cop Renee Montaya wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Rosie Perez (Fearless), The Huntress played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Gemini Man, Kill the Messenger) whose alter ego is Helena Bartinelli who is the daughter of one of Gotham’s famed mob families and Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Dinah Lance aka Black Canary who betrays Roman after watching his misogynist treatment of women in his zany nightclub.

This gang of Gotham girls aim to protect a local thief Cassandra Cain played by Ella Jay Basco who purposefully swallowed a sought after diamond wanted by the mob.

Not evolving beyond being a garish fantasy piece without a solid storyline and inadequately directed by Cathy Yan, Birds of Prey aims to confuse the viewer more than actually help them identify with Harley Quinn as a crazy but lovable blonde villain.

Problematically, Birds of Prey was released in cinemas too soon after the absolutely brilliant Todd Phillips film Joker in which Joaquin Phoenix has just won his first Oscar award for Best Actor.

With an ultra-saturated Gotham, Birds of Prey should have spent more time in post-production or with some decent script rewrites especially considering that the main theme of the film seems to be that it’s alright for violent girls to kill boys or even vice versa. The action was tasteless and the setting was confusing.

Birds of Prey gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and Margot Robbie should have known better than to do a questionable film version of Harley Quinn without a decent director and brilliant script on board. Even if there is a pet Hyena thrown in! Watch Birds of Prey at your own risk but it doesn’t touch the brilliance of Joker.

92nd Oscar Awards

92nd Academy Awards took place on Sunday 9th February 2020 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California

Best Picture: Parasite

Best Director: Boon Joon HoParasite

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix – Joker

Best Actress: Renee Zellweger – Judy

Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress: Laura DernMarriage Story

Best Original Screenplay: Boon Joon HoParasite

Best Adapted Screenplay: Taika WaititiJojo Rabbit

Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins – 1917

Best Costume Design: Jacqueline Durran – Little Women

Best Make up & Hairstyling: Bombshell

Best Visual Effects: 1917

Best Film Editing: Ford v Ferrari

Best Sound Editing: Ford v Ferrari

Best Sound Mixing: 1917

Best Production Design: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Documentary Feature:  American Factory

Best Documentary Short Subject:Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You are a Girl)

Best Live Action Short Film: The Neighbour’s Window

Best Original Score: Hilda Gudnadotter – Joker

Best Original Song: Elton JohnRocketman

Best Animated Feature Film: Toy Story 4

Best Foreign Language Film: Boon Joon HoParasite

It’s a Zoo Out There

Dolittle

Director: Stephen Gaghan

Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Jessie Buckley, Harry Collett, Emma Thompson, Octavia Spencer, Rami Malek, Marion Cotillard, Tom Holland, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, Carmel Laniado, Kumail Nanijani, John Cena, Frances de la Tour

(from left) Dog Jip (Tom Holland) and Dr. John Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) in Dolittle, directed by Stephen Gaghan.

Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr (Chaplin, Tropic Thunder) takes on the mischievous role of Victorian animal doctor John Dolittle who has an amazing ability to communicate with animals which includes a menagerie of beasts and birds including a timid Gorilla, a Polar Bear and a bossy Parrot voiced by Oscar winner Emma Thompson (Howards End) in the heart-warming film Dolittle which is definitely an ideal film for parents to accompany their children to.

Dolittle is a delightful film if slightly boisterous at times with a really simple plot about a young boy named Tommy Stubbins played by Harry Collett who accidentally shoots a squirrel and then takes the poor creature to the infamous Dr Dolittle to seek his assistance. Stubbins is roped into assisting a young and comatose Queen Victoria played by Jessie Buckley (Judy) by a Lady Rose played by Carmel Laniado.

Both Stubbins and Lady Rose ask for the assistance of the eccentric and reclusive Dr Doolittle wonderfully played by Robert Downey Jr to assist in finding the source of Queen Victoria’s condition.

Soon Dr Dolittle and Stubbins plus the menagerie embark on a nautical adventure to a mysterious island to find a cure for Queen Victoria but along the way they get stranded in Montevideo, an exotic island run by the crazy King Rassouli played by Oscar nominee Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory) who also happens to be Dolittle’s belated father-in-law. Doolittle’s gorgeous wife Lily Doolittle has mysteriously vanished.

While Dolittle’s storyline is slim, it really is a fun filled film about a doctor who has the amazing ability to talk to animals with an overall message of conservation and appreciation of animals which the younger generation will be able to enjoy.

The villain in Dolittle is Dr Blair Mudly marvelously played by Michael Sheen (Frost, Nixon) and there is also a cameo appearance by Oscar winner Jim Broadbent (Iris) as Lord Thomas Bagley who is suspiciously watching over young Queen Victoria’s supposed demise.

Dolittle is a raucous animal film with a fantastic voice cast including the talents of Oscar winner Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Tom Holland, Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List) and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer (The Help) which all help bring the screen animals to life with vitality and without the pretensions. The visual effects are extraordinary.

Dolittle is recommended viewing, a crazy fun-filled family film with a fabulous cast of characters and animals and is suitable for the entire family.

Dolittle gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and is by no means a masterpiece nor does it pretend to be cinematic gold. It’s a light enjoyable adventure film filled with sufficient animals to populate a zoo.

Film Directors & Festivals
Review Calender
February 2020
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