The Raid was a lean, brutal, propulsive action thriller laced with jaw-dropping fights and a structure that kept the endless violence fresh (basically, they started with guns, then knives, then fists, then whatever was lying around). In the sequel, director Gareth Evans has decided to expand both the fights and the story – only it seems bigger isn’t always better.
Forget all the “is it faithful to The Bible or not” chatter. The real thing to be thinking about going in to see director Darren Aronofsky’s epic is “how are they going to turn the Bible story into a two-hour twenty-minute movie?” And how, you might ask, they’re going to spice things up with all manner of crazy new additions – yes, this is a movie where fallen angels have turned into rock monsters. The real answer involves less magical fantasy and more shots of a brooding Russell Crowe.
Anyone who’s been following the rise of the Lego gaming franchise knows that the little plastic blocks aren’t just for sticking together any more. So what’s surprising about their first big screen outing is the way it manages to not only capture the silly fun of the games, but build on it to create a movie that’s one of the first really impressive animated features in a long, long time (sorry Mr Peabody & Sherman).
The thing about Marvel movies – which becomes a lot easier to spot once you realise they’re now Disney movies – is that they’re basically all the same. The stories are somewhat different, the characters have different superpowers and are played by different actors, but the core values of the films are pretty much identical: one hero, with a couple of sidekicks of lesser power, becomes entangled in a somewhat mysterious plot run by a sinister bad guy who’s kept a secret from the hero for much of the film (otherwise the hero would just go beat the bad guy up), with the destruction-heavy action sequences balanced out by a lot of mildly funny quips from the good guys.
Remember 300? Lot of shirtless guys and CGI blood splashing around … gave the world Gerard Butler: movie star? Well, this begins seconds after that film ends – King Leonidas and his men are all dead; the evil Persian God-King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) triumphant – then flashes back 10 years earlier when Greek leader Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) thwarted the first Persian invasion and killed the (then) Persian king.
It’s World War 2 in occupied Paris, which means the Nazis run everything. Bad news: the Nazis like art and they’re grabbing all the good stuff for themselves and running off with it. Parisian art scholar Claire Simone (Cate Blanchett) isn’t happy about this. Neither is US art historian Frank Stokes (George Clooney, who also directs), who delivers a lecture to FDR about the threat posed to the art of Europe by Hitler’s proposed giant museum.
Brooding dude Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is struggling to keep his now dead dad’s garage afloat the only way he knows how. Fixing cars? Nah: illegal street racing, complete with buddy Benny (Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi) flying overhead making sure the roads are clear. Then former local turned big-time racer who no one respects (because he’s secretly evil and not as good as Tobey and also stole Tobey’s girl) Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) shows up.
Geetroit Rock City was shaken up as the inaugural Motor City Music Festival hit the showgrounds over the Labour Day weekend. Celebrating 20 years of the Blues Train, there were some fantastic artists showcasing over the weekend. A couple of my favourite sets included the big electric guitar showcase featuring Australian blues royalty in Lloyd Spiegel, Jimi Hocking and Geoff Achison.
As a massive fan of Mikhael Paskalev, I was super excited to see his debut Australian album release of What’s Life Without Losers released last Friday. For most, the part-Norwegian part-Bulgarian indie-folk popstar is known for his incredibly catchy and short tune ‘I Spy’, which featured in the Kellogg’s LCM bar ad where the kid gets overly super excited about the LCM bar being in their lunchbox.
There is absolutely no doubting past Voice contestant Michael Paynter has an incredible singing talent; shown the whole way through his newest album, Weary Stars. Kicking off the album is a song you have heard plenty of times before, ‘How Sweet It Is’, an old single released by Paynter during his time with major record label Sony BMG in 2011, an odd choice for me as there are plenty of great fresh new tunes on this album.