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By midlandsmovies, Oct 12 2018 01:13PM

The Hurricane Heist (2018) Rob Cohen

From the director of such “classics” as XXX (2002), Stealth (2005) and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) comes this inane action romp where a bunch of criminals plan a bank heist around the impending arrival of a Force 5 hurricane.

There’s so little to recommend in a film with such a ludicrous premise as this and with a CinemaScore of “B-“, that’s far too generous for a movie which I think sits near the top, if not actually at the top, of my list of the worst film experiences of 2018.

A no-brainer in all senses of the word, the film is unsurprisingly a no-entertainment zone too. As although the silly concept is ripe for fun action set pieces, it goes through the motions with a set of stock characters and atrocious dialogue.

A vague attempt at some family drama alongside some double-crossing is terribly handled and the main character’s name “Breeze” is such a stupid analogy that it had me groaning as soon as I heard it.

Some would argue that certain sections have a knowing irony about them, but the joke was certainly lost on me as one risible scene led to another. So, batten down the hatches and ensure you are safely hidden away until this monstrous disaster has passed you by.

You have been warned.


Mike Sales

By midlandsmovies, Jul 5 2016 06:57AM

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) Dir. Roland Emmerich

20 years after defending the earth from a first wave invasion, ID4: 2 (which only I am labelling it) picks up with humans utilising the aliens’ technology to create a defense system in the hope of preventing further extraterrestrial attacks. As you would expect, this idea is pretty useless and a second wave that has superior firepower descends upon the planet to wreak further havoc on landmarks across the world.

The “plot” mainly focuses on the government’s plan to destroy a new mothership – and to be fair – there really is not much else. No character arcs come from the mish-mash of sub-par stories interwoven with each other, as Emmerich always does, and nothing has any weight or much consequence.

That said, this flimsy premise does have some positives going for it. It is funnier than some comedies – sometimes with it, often at it, but mostly this was in a dumb-fun cheese-fest way. The real serious problem comes from a lack of “a” Will Smith but not necessarily Will Smith per se. He was dumped after ludicrous pay demands but Resurgence is in desperate need for someone to centre the film. The triumvirate of Smith (pilot), Goldblum (scientist) and Pullman (President) kept things on track in the original but no such dynamic exists here. There’s new characters like Warlord Dikembe Umbutu (a first-draft stereotypical African name you’d expect to be jettisoned before shooting) whilst Tesco-value Hemsworth (Liam) is Joe ‘Hot Shot’ Average. Jeff Goldblum is back as David Levinson, and sleepwalks through a facsimile of his previous scientist roles and Judd Hirsch returns as his Jewish stereotype, and given the most ridiculous scene in a series of ridiculous scenes as his small tugboat outruns a giant wave.

Brent Spiner is resurrected and simply awakes from a coma and his “death” in the previous film never once mentioned. In many ways, I enjoyed this bold-faced ret-con – i.e. the film is already so preposterous one more stupid idea won’t hurt. Finally, what William Fichtner and Charlotte Gainsbourg are doing in this nonsense is anyone’s guess and everyone else is so unmemorable they barely deserve a mention.

All this is a side-show for the CGI battles however. I saw this film in the X-Plus (and 3-D) format with a fantastically projected big screen and even bigger sound and I have to admit I was impressed. The CGI was convincing – so easy to get wrong these days – and so often a particular bug bear of mine. Seeing this film on the largest screen possible is the only way to see it in my opinion, as the size and scope of the alien craft/battles are eye-hurtingly good and battles have a theme-park ride quality to them.

The main driver of the film is a “kill the Queen, the rest will fall" trope – which again is a cliché seen so often it’s almost never used these days but the film got me back on its side with an amusing scene which sees the Alien Queen galloping across the desert. The stuff of brainless blockbusters, the well-designed monster with multiple protruding appendages was entertaining as were the additional sequences involving more alien interaction than the film’s predecessor.

[BIG SPOILER]. A few days earlier, I had watched the first ID4 as a catch up and from only seeing the trailer to Resurgence I proposed that the bearded President Whitmore would play a Randy Quaid role – that of slightly mad man whose previous alien encounter is key to the story. My guess was this would eventually lead to the ultimate sacrifice. And as if by uninspired magic, this played out exactly as prescribed.

If you enjoy uber-destruction scenes, then the great CGI and immense sound could help overcome the (many) flaws the film has. Silly to the point of enjoyment, if you jettison any requirement for narrative and accept the characters are the broadest of clichés then you’ll leave the cinema with a sci-fi smile. It’s a forgettable film as you’ll ever see yet I found myself warming to its daft antics. The most expensive b-movie ever created, I enjoyed it a lot more than Emmerich’s 2012 and the recent San Andreas so if you want hare-brained action, laughable characters and startling CGI battles then the film will definitely provide some Saturday night thrills. For the rest of you, the obvious and uninspired clowning around is probably best avoided.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Sep 1 2015 12:12PM

San Andreas (2015) Dir. Brad Peyton

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars in this disastrous disaster movie that makes even companion piece “2012” look like a nuanced take on the genre. He plays a divorced dad (also in 2012 & Independence Day) and his day job of helicopter rescue pilot sees him in the perfect position to take helpful steps when California’s infamous chasm starts to crack.

Rather than assist a multitude of people though, The Rock focuses on his immediate family but from the outset the terribly fake CGI starts almost straight away and is completely devoid of any real world physics.

It cracks open the clichés as Paul Giamatti is given the exposition job as a literal “teacher” in a classroom full of students as he explains what an earthquake is. Durhhh. In-between staring at photos of his previous happy family outings, The Rock pulls off car doors as if he’s the frickin’ Terminator whilst the first big action set piece involving the Hoover Dam is mildly entertaining. It ends with a low-key support actor telling a girl to “close your eyes” as you turn away your own eyes in sentimental disgust. The strange tone is confounded as he’s then blasted with a few billion gallons of Hoover Dam water. *sigh*

After the obligatory establishing shot of L.A.’s Griffith’s Observatory setting both the place and, of course; “yay, science!” the film is punctuated with a cast of hollow nobodies including an English guy who I couldn’t stand after 2 minutes of screen time. The characters are well-off middle class douchebags who aren’t interesting and certainly not worth saving whilst a limo-driver scene is again a direct lift from 2012. Do you see where we’re going with this?

The problem with these types of films is that huge CGI city-destruction hasn’t been shocking or awe-inspiring for years now and for all the bombastic visuals you feel absolutely nothing for anybody. It’s such a painful watch. The characters have all the depth of a pothole.

The barely comprehensible plot see The Rock fly the least reliable helicopter and plane in San Francisco whilst the action plods along boringly as people start looting – but don’t worry, The Rock will see to that. People hang onto helicopters like they are gymnasts and although they can also survive huge catastrophes, the Englishman is forced to limp after an inch of glass scrapes his thigh.

We also get to see damage to the Golden Gate bridge – which of course is a brand new idea if you forget X-Men 3, Godzilla, Pacific Rim, Aliens vs Monsters, Planet of the Apes, The Core and a few others – but somewhat strangely, in a film this terrible, it’s one of the better sequences as The Rock and his ex-wife try to escape a huge tidal wave before coming up against an oil tanker.

I think you may get that this film really wasn’t for me. It’s not so very bad but it’s just so uninteresting and unexciting which is simply not good enough for an effects-filled blockbuster. A chasm of plot holes and some tongue in cheek acting can’t shake things up enough and you’re simply left with the San Andreas Fault-y Towers as the buildings fall as quick as your interest does.


Midlands Movies Mike

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