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No Time To Die Reaches The Heights That The Cast And Crew Were Aiming For

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We’ve been expecting you Mr. Bond, and for quite some time now as after countless delays the anticipation has grown higher for Daniel Craig’s final 007 mission. His fifteen years as Bond has created such an impact to this British Icon and to define and describe his tenure throughout these films Craig has given rich and emotional performances. Then you get to his first 007 outing in Casino Royale were they establish that this bond is more edgy and harder than previous incarnations. He’s used as a weapon, murdering people in grayscale bathrooms in an epic opening montage. Three more films followed soon after, Quantum of Solace (which was a hit or miss) , Skyfall (The one that made $1.109 Billion), No Time to Die picks up from the end of Spectre with Bond on holiday with the apparent love of his life Madeleine (Lea Seydoux).  



However there are secrets between them, trust issues especially since Vespa Lynd’s (Eva Green) shadow looms over them, reminding us on how much she truly meant to Bond. Both Madeleine and James are still being haunted by the demons from the past. 

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Retirement doesn’t last long though as his peace in Jamaica is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous technology. 

Nineteen months is certainly a long time to wait for a martini or Heineken, but I’m pleased to say that Craig’s finale or Swan-song if you will was truly worth the wait. It had me shaken, stirred and on the absolute edge of my seat. It’s a breathtaking emotional conclusion to Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond with a very human but eerily timed story. Cary Joji Fukunaga has crafted a Bond film that certainly takes brave, bold and bombastic choices with the character’s narrative arc. It’s a franchise that has spanned for nearly 60 years and has gone through many incarnations but still keeping the familiar themes like action and espionage. Craig’s era as 007 took a risk by shaking things up and No Time To Die, the 25th Bond film is deeply tragic and heartfelt. So prepare yourself to be shocked and unsettled as this labour of love is a hefty 2 hours and 43 minutes. 



Craig truly excels in his final outing as 007, he fully embodies the character with his classic one-liners and vintage gadgets from Q. He gets to show off different sides to his Bond that we’ve never seen before as in No Time To Die he feels more human with a powerful, emotional performance. during his tenure his bond has gone from being reckless and careless, he then takes the journey through Skyfall which I believe makes him mature and he eventually becomes the lethal assassin we see here. Thanks to Daniel’s involvement and input into the franchise he became a producer and has certainly shaken up the Bond formula by writing and having his say in the stories. Craig also gets one of the most standout action sequences, a brutal one-take on a staircase. 

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No Time To Die does not waste a single character as each bring something to the film and to Bond himself. Léa Seydoux returns as Dr. Madeleine Swann, the way she is written in this film is very different from Spectre, expect a totally different side of the character as she brings the heart and innocence. Can she be trusted, who knows, but her return as a lead next to Bond feels just right. It’s important to see bond in love again because he had this relationship with Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale but she betrayed him. Seydoux gives a beautiful and emotional performance and truly has some beautiful moments opposite Craig. 

Lashana Lynch has so much confidence as Nomi another 00 Agent, she is simply here to do her duty and job she does best. Nomi is a dangerous operative for Her Majesty’s Government who carries a license to Kill and let me tell you, she is not afraid at all to use it. 

However it’s Ana De Armas as Paloma who stole my heart. She is criminally underused but with the little time she has, she manages to convey sassy, feistiness, panache and tons of beauty. She has an infectious smile and passion which makes this CIA operative a worthy ally to Bond. Would definitely love to see more of her character whether a movie or a streaming series. 

Jeffrey Wright returns as Felix Leiter, the film is able to continue the partnership that both agents started in 2006. Billy Magnussen also provides a comical performance as another CIA agent. David Dencik as Obruchev, the scientist caught up in all this definitely offered the comic relief and Henchman Dali Benssalah as Primo aka Cyclops brings something new to the role. 

The Mi6 team have returned also slightly underused and many have now become background characters to the story, listening in from HQ. Though I feel without them, Bond would be helpless. Naomie Harris as Moneypenny and Rory Kinnear as Tanner are both great talents. You also get to see more of Ben Whishaw’s Q who outfits the 00 agents with equipment for use in the field. Q being openly queer is a fleeting moment when we get to see more of his personal life as bond and Moneypenny visit him which is seen in the trailers. this truly gives hope for more queer representation in the future. 

Ralph Finnes is at the centre of MI6 as M, it’s a challenging role since his introduction in Skyfall but he brings the power and enthusiasm in every scene as that what a leader is all about. 

Finally we have Rami Malek as the evil Lyutsifer Safin, who certainly was quite unnerving. He is one creepy and disturbed villain who has little few words, so he’s definitely a silent killer. Though not having much screen time as a bond villain his actions loom over certain characters even when he’s not on screen. Malek gives a haunting and chilling performance which is reminiscent of classic monster performances such as Claude Rains’s Phantom of the Opera and Bela Lugosi’s Dracula. Safin is up there alongside Mad’s Mikkelesen’s Le Chiffre and Javier Bardem’s Silva. Though out of the Craig era villains, Safin is probably the most dangerous man Bond has faced. 

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Christoph Waltz returns as SPECTRE leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld, he truly gets under Bond’s skin with his manipulation and after the explosive confrontation between the two in Spectre, Blofeld is now confined to a chair in a high-security prison. The interrogation scene is such a highlight but it’s the fact that Spectre is somehow still one step ahead of bond, which made me wonder what is Blofeld up too. Another favourite sequence of mine is a glamorous party in Cuba that goes horribly wrong. 

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Fukunaga’s direction and style are certainly unique as he brings the camera up close and personal. my favourite has to be the opening titles and the uniqueness of the iconic gun barrel. Cinematographer Linus Sandgren gives Bond a genuinely modern feel, such as the rustic Italian villa, neon nightclub, haunting forests and the minimalistic concrete style of the villains lair. 



Hans Zimmer’s score is packed full of thrills, Bond references and jam-packed full of emotion. His score sits perfectly well with the likes of John Barry and David Arnold. Its huge with full on orchestra and featured soloists as Zimmer goes one step further by incorporating Monty Norman’s iconic Bond theme in phenomenal new ways. 

Overall No Time To Die reaches the heights that the cast and crew were aiming for and it ultimately does exactly what it was intended to do, which is to round off and draw the curtains on Daniel Craig’s era with tremendous gratitude.

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Bad Boys: Ride or Die | Official Trailer – Sony Pictures Entertainment

Miami’s finest end up on the run.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Comedy

Release Date:

2024

Director:

Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah

Cast:

Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens

Plot Summary:

Miami’s finest end up on the run

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Kung Fu Panda 4 Review: Po and Co are Back to Pack Hilarious Punches.

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I’ve seen too many great animation franchises deliver diminishing returns with more and more sequels. To name some recent examples one could include How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me, Cars, etc. Kung Fu Panda is another franchise that unfortunately falls in this category. The threequel that released in 2016, was most people’s choice for the weakest entry in the beloved franchise. So that made me pretty skeptical whether the world was ready for this franchise to return and gave us good cause not to have expectations set too high, especially given the weak marketing campaign and smaller production budget. To make things worse, it was being reported that the furious five would not be a part of the story.

So I went in with my expectations in check but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s been 8 years since the last Kung Fu Panda movie, but the characters are somehow still fresh and fun. One of the best things that the makers are able to do is remind the viewers what makes Po such a darling and why we love him so much. Jack Black is such a natural fit for his voice and makes this character special with his wit and wisdom in this latest entry. 

This entry is notably structured in a very different way from the other 3 entries. This one focuses on Po’s search for a successor and his ascension to the Master of Peace. The main characters are split up pretty early in the movie and are sent on separate adventures in a sort of buddy-cop-style scenario. On one side we have Po and Awkwafina’s Zhen, and on the other, we have Bryan Cranston and James Hong as Po’s dads. These two duos are a lot of fun in their own ways.

(from left) Po (Jack Black) and Zhen (Awkwafina) in Kung Fu Panda 4 directed by Mike Mitchell.

Po and Xen have more of a good boy-bad boy dynamic, while the dads have more of a light-hearted brotherhood between them. Both pairs of misfits deliver a string of humorously entertaining sequences that will have you laughing your heart out. The humor here works for most parts apart from one or two instances and the dialogue in particular is very smartly written. The story, on the other hand, is where the movie is at its weakest.

The structuring is pretty generic with a very cliche twist at the beginning of the second half and the script mostly fails to provide significantly fresh plot points. But credit to it for executing the successor plotline better than a lot of movies that have tried it, especially Cars 3. The writers make sure to put their entire focus on humor and entertainment value, but they do come up with a couple of charming moments and some subplots that come full circle.

The animation here is surprisingly really good, especially given the significantly lower budget. The trailers didn’t get too many people encouraged about the quality of animation, but I can tell you that even though it’s not DreamWorks’ best, it’s still really well done. The background score also hits the right spot where it’s able to compliment the scene and lift it at the same time. The voice work here is also pretty solid. Jack Black is amazing as always and Awkwafina Ke Huy Quan are welcome additions.

(Center) Chameleon (Viola Davis) in Kung Fu Panda 4 directed by Mike Mitchell.

Apart from Po, the best part of the movie is Li and Ping. They are the heart of this movie. The two of them have incredible chemistry and Mike Mitchell finds a way to bring out the best from the both of them. They play off of each other in the most silly, but whimsical manner which is just a joy to watch. We could do with a spin-off of them. Ian McShane’s return as Tai Lung is another highlight here. He is nicely integrated and fits well into the story being told. On the other hand, Viola Davis’ Chameleon is somewhat of a disappointment. For a villain that has the powers of all the previous villains, she was a rather tame antagonist.

Overall, Kung Fu Panda 4 is a return to form for the beloved franchise. It has a lot of elements that made the franchise successful and is a much-needed reminder of how much we love these characters and in particular, Po. Jack Black knocks it out of the park with Bryan Cranston and James Hong emerging as surprise standouts. It lacks the emotional depth of the first two entries and has a disappointingly tame villain. But it is a major improvement from the last entry and unsurprisingly very very entertaining.

Kung Fu Panda 4 releases in cinemas on March 8.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_inKs4eeHiI&pp=ygUXa3VuZyBmdSBwYW5kYSA0IHRyYWlsZXI%3D

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One More Shot: Scott Adkins Returns in This Kick Ass Sequel Seemingly Shot in One Take.

With many immersing and kick ass action sequences, One More Shot is another technically impressive action film from director James Nunn.

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Scott Adkins One More Shot

Bigger, better, and more kick-ass than the first, One More Shot is another impressive one-take action film full of tension, stakes, and adrenaline fuelled action sequences. Much like the first, One More Shot is another action film shot in one-continuous take. With hidden cuts of course. This one-take style adds a greater level of intensity to the film by immersing audiences deeper into the action, and connecting audiences closer to it’s characters. James Nunn’s work behind the camera is even more precise than his previous effort. Blending excellent camera work, explicit framing, and fluid editing Nunn leave audiences with punchy (no pun intented), smooth, and enthralling action movie experience.

Scott Adkins once again kicks ass as Jake Harris, delivering another exhausting performance as he takes out waves of bad guys with guns, knives, and of course, his infamous high kicks. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast was pretty underwhelming with Alexis Knapp being the worst offender. Likewise, as exciting as it was to have Michael Jai White star alongside Scott Adkins again, he certainly doesn’t get the screen time he definitely deserved. White should have been the main antagonist. Not a high level bodyguard. With that said however, Michael Jai White’s and Scott Adkins’ brawl was a phenomenal piece of action cinema that action movie fans shouldn’t miss.

One More Shot is an action extravaganza with impressive work both on and off camera, and a brilliant early contender for action movie of the year.

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After the attack on the black site in Poland, Navy SEAL Jake Harris must escort suspect Amin Mansur (Waleed Elgadi) to Washington DC for interrogation. However, after the two become trapped at an airport in the US by an army of armed mercanaries, Jake Harris must protect Mansur or else the fate of America would be on his head.

Much like its predecessor One More Shot is a very technically impressive action movie. Whilst James Nunn proved himself as a fantastic action movie director with his previous endeavour, it’s One More Shot that truly cements it. The filmmaker nails the tension, pacing, cinematography and framing of every fight. The airport setting is much more immersing setting compared to the previous one, allowing for much more creative, and tight action sequences.

Complementing Nunn’s excellent direction, was the casts breathtaking physicality. Unsurprisingly Adkins steals the show with his efficiently brutal, and fast paced martial arts which add a level of finesse, and polish to every fight scene. Likewise, Michael Jai White was another standout. His large physique, matched with his fast and incredibly precise combat proves a deadly foe. Despite the amount of times we have seen Adkins and White go toe to toe, the novelty still hasn’t worn off. Both performers are expert in their craft and give every fight between the two their all. While it would’ve benefitted the film if Michael Jai White had a greater role to play, it was still an unrelenting, and exhilarating brawl. Fingers crossed he’s the big bad in the next one.

Sony Pictures Entertainment

While many have come to see fist fights, shoot outs, and explosions, One More Shot boast’s a surprisingly developed script that’s much deeper than its predecessor. Writers James Nunn, and Jamie Russell provide a well paced and intriguing story full of heart and tension. The characters are far more developed, and introducing audiences to Mansur’s wife, and unborn child greatly elevated the stakes.

The performances where perhaps the films biggest downfall. Adkins was fantastic, White was incredible, and Waleed Elgadi was captivating. As for the rest, their performances just felt lazy. They brought zero nuance to their characters, and seeing them on screen provoked a thought’s of “Damn, I can’t wait to they get killed off”.

One More Shot’s ending is a little abrupt, and while it does have a sweet resolution, the film sort of just ends. We don’t get to see much of the repocussions of the events that unfolding throughout the movie which raises more questions that answers. However, we guarantee that James Nunn and Jamie Russell are working a script for the final film, undoubtedly titled “One Last Shot”. Fingers crossed.

While it may be a little premature, One More Shot is damn great action film that could easily end up on many “Best Action Movie of the Year” lists by the time December roles around. It’s technically impressive, boasting great camera work, and imagery with many adrenaline fuelled action sequences scattered throughout.

One More Shot is available to purchase on demand January 16th

Check out the trailer below:

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