REVIEW: NO TIME TO DIE (2021)

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NO TIME TO DIE (2021)

Daniel Craig says goodbye to his tenure as 007 in this final flick that wraps up some of the story arcs that were woven within his now five films. This adventure picks up where Spectre left off with Bond (Craig) retired from active duty and romancing Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux). When Spectre attacks and Bond feels betrayed, he parts ways with Madeleine and goes off to live a solitary life in Jamaica. Five years later, he is drawn back into action, when CIA buddy Felix Leiter asks for help, when a traitorous MI6 scientist (David Dencik) hands a dangerous new nanotechnology over to vengeful madman Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek). Things get even more difficult when he finds Madeleine is somehow involved.

Twenty-fifth Bond is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga from his script and story with Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Pheobe Waller-Bridge. Fukunaga brings the action, intrigue, glamourous locations and sizzling romance we expect from this series, while adding a stronger than usual emotional undercurrent with Madeleine and Bond’s personal drama at the center of things. There are some dynamic actions scenes, some fun new characters—like Lashana Lynch’s double-o, Nomi and Ana de Armas’ scene stealing CIA agent, Paloma—and an effective and fiendish villain in Rami Malek’s Safin. The nanotechnology tech was an interesting plot MacGuffin and added some nice tension and a couple of chilling scenes. We also got a welcome return to the maniacal villain with an island lair for Bond to infiltrate, which makes for an emotionally charged climax. If the film has any drawbacks, it’s that at 163 minutes, it could have used a bit of a trim, with some of the scenes between Bond and Madeleine stopping the film’s momentum at times. Otherwise, this was a fitting and solid entry for Daniel Craig to say goodbye with.

A very good cast with Craig in top form as Bond. He plays a man weary of world intrigue and hardened by too many betrayals. He is still lethal and dangerous when provoked. Léa Seydoux is good as Madeleine Swann and gets a much meatier part this time to play. Rami Malek is an effective and spooky villain as the scarred and vengeful Lyutsifer Safin. He is a man with a deadly purpose and he is one of the creepier Bond villains in some time. Malek plays him disturbingly calm and it makes him all the scarier. As mentioned, Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas were welcome new additions as new double-0 and ditzy but dangerous CIA agent respectively. Returning cast members Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q and Geoffrey Wright as Felix, all perform their parts strongly. We even get a spooky cameo by Christoph Waltz as Blofeld. A top notch cast.

In conclusion, it may have been a tad too long and deviates from the action a bit more often than needed, but it is still a solid Bond flick and a proper farewell to Daniel Craig as 007. We get a worthy Bond adversary, some lovely and lethal ladies and some really good actions scenes in globe hopping locations. In the end, what more do you want from a Bond film?!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) Aston Martins

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007 RETURNS! NO TIME TO DIE GETS A NEW TRAILER!

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No Time To Die is being heralded as Daniel Craig’s last outing as 007 and we are getting a new trailer ahead of it’s scheduled November release. Newest Bond adventure is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga from a script by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Scott Z. Burns, Robert Wade and Neal Purvis. Rami Malek is our villain with Bond girl Léa Seydoux returning along with Ana de Armas and Ralph Fiennes once again as M. No Time To Die opens in the US on 11/20/20!

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-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: KNIVES OUT (2019)

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KNIVES OUT (2019)

Flick finds best selling mystery writer and millionaire, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) dead with his throat cut. It’s ruled a suicide, but an anonymous someone has hired private detective Benoit Blanc (a wonderful Daniel Craig) to take on the case. Blanc finds the game is afoot with a family cut out of Harlan’s will at his 85th birthday the night of his death and his personal care nurse Marta (Ana de Armas) now the sole inheritor of his fortune and assets. With a house filled with those who would benefit from Harlan’s demise, can the unwelcome detective unravel the tangled web that has been woven.

Written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) this is a near perfect flick. It’s a delightfully old fashioned murder(?) mystery with a dozen or so suspects, all with a motive, and an intricately woven plot that our detective must unravel. It’s easy to follow, but like Craig’s Blanc we must find and interpret the clues, while the web keeps getting more and more complex around him…and us. The film has a darkly comic tone, which suits the story perfectly and an absolutely fabulous cast to play our suspects including, de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson and Toni Collette, not to forget the legendary Christopher Plummer as Harlan. It keeps you guessing and smiling, never confuses you, but doesn’t make it easy for you either. When the time comes, there are some fun surprises and reveals and you also realize that for the last two hours you’ve been spectacularly entertained. A near perfect movie that has a perfect cast. Also stars Katherine Langford, Lakeith Stanfield and Noah Segan.

-MonsterZero NJ

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REVIEW: BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017)

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BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017)

Sequel picks up thirty years after the disappearance of Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) with replicants now being perfected to the point of obedience. One such new model “K” (Ryan Gosling) hunts down older models as a Blade Runner. When he “retires” replicant Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), he finds a box of bones on his property that belong to Deckard’s replicant lover Rachel. They also indicate Rachel had died giving birth, a starting revelation that finds K sent on a reluctant mission to find and eliminate the child before the world finds out about it. This puts him in great danger as he must track down Rick Deckard and is pursued by the Wallace Corporation, who want to find out how a replicant gave birth and use that knowledge for their own purposes.

Worthy sequel is directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) from a script by Hampton Fancher (who co-wrote the original) and Michael Green. It’s a science fiction mystery with an amazing visual style that both brings us back to Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult classic and yet goes beyond it to create it’s own futuristic world, of neon overindulgence and rotting decay. It is a moderately paced and moody thriller that manages never to be boring at a lengthy 163 minutes and populates it’s world with some very eccentric…and dangerous…characters. The script links the film very cleverly to the 1982 original and takes the story to new places and gives us a lot to think about as we follow K on his journey and we discover the clues and startling revelations as he does. Like Scott’s film, there is some violent action, but this is a film noir, mystery/thriller not an action movie, much like the first film and it works very well if you have the patience to let it tell it’s story at it’s own pace. The cinematography by Roger Deakins is quite sumptuous and the score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch sets the mood perfectly and mixes in some elements of the original Vangelis score, so the film feels like a Blade Runner movie.

Villeneuve has a great cast. Gosling is a perfect fit for the brooding Blade Runner “K”. He gives the outcast replicant some nice emotional depth as he ponders his part in this ongoing mystery. Ford steps back into Deckard’s shoes with ease giving him a weariness and a hardened edge of living a lonely life in exile. Robin Wright makes for a tough, hard-nosed cop as K’s superior officer, Lt. Joshi. Ana de Armas is charming, sweet and sexy as K’s hologram girlfriend Joi. Rounding out is a creepy Jared Leto as Niander Wallace, who has taken over the replicant business from The Tyrell Corp and Sylvia Hoeks as his very lethal hench-woman, Luv. They serve as our villains, as they want to find Rachel’s child for their own nefarious purposes. The supporting players, including Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista, are all top notch, too. A very solid cast.

It’s too early to tell if this flick will become a cult classic like it’s predecessor. It is a solid sequel and yet very much it’s own movie. It has a great cast, some incredible visuals and an intriguing mystery that keeps our attention even at almost three hours long. It may be a bit too brooding and lengthy for some, but if you are a patient person, and a fan of the original, it is a highly recommended sequel to a cult classic.

-MonsterZero NJ

rated 3 and 1/2 holographic girlfriends.

 

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS! and KNOCK KNOCK

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ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS! (2015)

Great documentary about schlockmeister Cannon Films that churned out so many delightfully bad…and very entertaining B-movies during the 80s. Mark Hartley’s documentary is told through the eyes of a number of talents who worked for Cannon during their existence from both behind and in front of the camera. We get a real good look at the inside of the studio founded by Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus and how they dreamed of taking America by storm. We hear from actors like Bo Derek, Molly Ringwald, Robert Forster and Cannon regulars Lucinda Dickey and Michael Dudikoff, who all have entertaining stories to tell about starring in some of the studios most infamous productions. We also hear what it was like to make films for them by the likes of Tobe Hooper, Sam Firstenberg and Franco Zeffirelli. We get a story of two men whose dream to be a major studio was derailed by churning out some of the shlocky-est productions during a decade renown for it’s excesses. They made a major action star out of Chuck Norris and reignited Charles Bronson’s career…although not completely in a good way. Documentary is almost as fun as some of the ‘so bad it’s good’ movies they produced under Golan and Globus between 1979 and 1985.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

 

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KNOCK KNOCK (2015)

Eli Roth’s flick is a reworking of a 1977 film called Death Game where two women (Sandra Locke and Collen Camp who are given producers credits here) terrorize a man (Seymour Cassel) over a two day period. In this update, we have architect and family man Evan Webber (Keanu Reeves) who is left home alone on Father’s Day weekend to finish some work while his wife and kids hit the beach. During a rainstorm, two beautiful young women (Ana de Armas and Lorenza Izzo) show up soaking wet at his door, claiming to be lost and wind up seducing Evan into a threesome. The following morning Evan finds his guests still there and acting quite out of control. He manages to evict them, but they return that night to take Evan hostage and begin to torment him as punishment for what he did to them, claiming they are only fifteen years-old. Viewing him as a pedophile, the psychotic women claim he must die at dawn unless he plays their twisted games.

Despite a familiar premise that could have been fun, this flick is just dull and silly as these two loonies torment Reeves’ unfaithful family man for over forty minutes. It’s not only never gripping, but really just amounts to a fairly bloodless and uninventive torture show as the two women claim that Webber needs to pay for taking advantage of underage girls like themselves. While the two actresses do have a good time going all over-the-top, neither is remotely believable for a minute at being that young, or is given any real meaty material to work with. As for Reeves, he seems very miscast here and does not seem comfortable at all with the material…and it goes beyond the character’s discomfort with being a married man in the company of two horny vixens turned psychopaths. Even had Reeves been less wooden, the film offers nothing new and doesn’t even make inventive use of the familiar tropes of this type of Fatal Attraction flick. Roth does clarify his ladies intentions in the DVD extras, but one shouldn’t need supplemental material to make things clearer. Dull and only worth watching for the generous nudity from Armas and Izzo (Mrs. Eli Roth) who are clearly having a fun time with their parts. Wish Reeves would have had more fun with his part and Roth stopped recycling his influences and gave us something more original.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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