Saturday, November 18, 2017

Movie Review … Justice League

This year has been the year of the superhero movies with one nearly every month.  With the box office showing a little sign of ‘superhero fatigue’, that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from churning them out.  They are lucrative business with the various spin-off merchandising raking in big bucks.  ‘Justice League’ leaps its way to screens in the same fashion.  Almost as non-distinguishable from other similar movies, it’s still an exciting blockbuster sure to draw in crowds no matter what film critics say.

Determined to form a team of heroes to combat otherworldly evil, Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) takes charge.  Assembling a group including The Flash (Ezra Miller), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and others, Batman labels them the Justice League.  Their formation comes at a perfect moment due to the arrival of deadly alien Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds).  On the hunt for a powerful weapon that could destroy the universe, Steppenwolf’s actions spur the Justice League to combat evil in any way possible.

‘Justice League’ is a predictable but fun superhero yarn.  It’s neither fish nor fowl as it plays things safe by presenting a straight forward spectacle.  The cast work as a true ensemble with Affleck, Miller, Gadot especially diving into their roles with gusto.  It’s a pleasure watching them strut their stuff against an array of ghoulish baddies.  It’s also pleasing they carry off their civilian guises equally well, infusing genuine emotional weight not often seen in films like these.

The weakest aspect of ‘Justice League’ is the choice of villain.  Whilst Steppenwolf does evil things and looks bad, he never projects a sense of true menace.  You don’t feel as though the heroes are in any danger when confronting him which dilutes impact.  The CGI looks amazing, if a little rushed, but Zack Snyder’s energetic direction and Danny Elfman’s great orchestral score aid in moving the story along.  ‘Justice League’ moves fast so one doesn’t think about the ridiculous plot holes for which comic book movies are renowned.

‘Justice League’ does a good job of furthering the DC movie mythology along while being entertaining. It’s among the easiest superhero movies to sit through with solid pacing and fine performances.  Although these films appear with alarming regularity, they have their place as blockbuster spectacles with ‘Justice League’ standing among the others with pride.


 Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Movie Review … Murder On The Orient Express

Although the works of mystery writer Agatha Christie have been adapted for TV for decades, movie versions of her books have been rare.  The latest version of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ is the first English language film based on her books for over twenty years.  Maybe her novels are more suited for the small screen even if several Christie films in the 70’s and 80’s proved popular.  ‘Orient Express’ may rectify that with its sumptuous cast having a grand time figuring out whodunit.

Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is looking forward to a relaxing journey on the famed Orient Express train.  Filled with guests including Princess Dragomiroff (Judi Dench), Samuel Ratchett (Johnny Depp) and Mrs Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer), the esteemed company enjoys the ride.  Unfortunately their trip is rudely interrupted when one of the passengers is killed.  Tasked with finding the culprit, Poirot questions each guest before time runs out at the train’s final destination. The interviews lead Poirot to a conclusion of murder.

Calling ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ old-fashioned isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Whilst occasionally creaking under its genteel antiquity, it commands attention due to a great cast.  Each has their moment to shine and seem to enjoy partaking in Christie’s murderous parlour game.  Branagh, Dench and others are at the top of their game with well-rounded performances.  Letting them down are leaden pacing and the lack of genuine thrills that make Christie’s books great reading.

Although initial scenes in Malta are full of nice humour and action, once the train stops and the murder occurs the momentum halts.  What follows is a series of interviews with suspects that gradually bores more than excites.  Branagh does what he can as director, as well as actor, to keep things moving and his technical skills are superb.  It’s that the screenplay suffers from lack of genuine movement – it needed more life to make it memorable.  The cinematography does what it can to compensate and successfully provides the glossy colour crucial in building the overall 1930’s atmosphere.

‘Murder on the Orient Express’ is a generally fine adaptation of one of Christie’s most famous works.  Despite not really grabbing attention as it should, the cast and direction do their best to jazz up a rather static script.  It will be interesting seeing if this is a hit with modern audiences with a gap between further Christie movies hopefully not as long.


Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.


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Movie Review … Jigsaw


After seven films, the never-ending ‘Saw’ horror franchise finally ended in 2010. A leader in the ‘torture porn’ genre, its bloody visions raked up a mountain of ghoulish dollars.  Whether people enjoyed watching that sort of thing didn’t matter as the series became one of the most profitable horror franchises ever.  That’s why we now have ‘Jigsaw’, the eighth gory extravaganza.  Proof that money can resurrect any stagnant movie series, it shows one should never believe a movie’s ‘final chapter’ is really the end.

A decade after his evil reign ended, serial killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is back.  That’s what the police are led to believe as a new series of murders fitting his pattern surface.  They are baffled as Jigsaw met a definitive end with his deadly earnest killings seemingly concluded after his death.  Unfortunately that’s little comfort to new victims including Logan (Matt Passmore) and Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) who are trapped in one of his wicked torture chambers with death their only merciful escape.

It would be simple slamming ‘Jigsaw’ as violent rubbish but that’s taking the easy way out.  Whilst the violence is more subdued than usual, it’s still ghastly to watch.  To its credit ‘Jigsaw’ harks back to the original concept of the ‘Saw’ series.  This outing is more mystery and suspense than endless gore as characters try to discover who is behind the slayings.  The answer isn’t easy to guess as the script makes an effort in building on the established mythology with genuinely surprising twists.

The traps Jigsaw’s victims navigate are very hellish and part of the grotesque ‘fun’.  The creativity gone into crafting new vile ways to kill might be concerning but the overall story maintains interest.  There are plot holes galore if you think too hard but the franchise has never been known for its amazing story-telling.  The performances are reasonable even if the actors mostly just react to events than instigating them.  Bell has a grand time returning as the evil disciple of carnage with his calm and frosty demeanour almost as chilling as the traps he sets.

‘Jigsaw’ might not provide a charming night at the cinema but devotees should admire it.  Whether this is ‘the end’ again remains to be seen.  Only box office dollars will tell if Jigsaw returns for more brutality with the prospects of further sequels scarier than the series’ main antagonist.


 Movie Review Rating out of 10: 6

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.

Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.

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