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Indiana Jones and the Dial Of Destiny – Review

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James Mangold takes directing duties for the fifth and final adventure for Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones. Steven Spielberg stays on as executive producer, helping bring to life a new adventure in a very new era. It’s taken a while to get here, but now it’s ready for the world to see.

We join Indy in 1969 as he retires from teaching, but is immediately thrust into a race against time to retrieve the fabled Antikythera, a dial that can predict fissures time and invented by Greek mathematician Archimedes. Former Nazi astrophysicist Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) is also hunting down the dial, as is Indy’s god-daughter Helena (Waller-Bridge). Indy works with Helena in a shaky alliance to seek out the dial before Voller does, who intends to change the course of history and ensure a German victory in World War 2.

In a nutshell, a solid and enjoyable entry into the franchise that gives Indy a fitting and fond farewell. It sits comfortably beneath the golden trilogy and high above ‘Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull’ in terms of how it delivers. There is far less goofy humour, silly CGI action and cluttered cast.

The main man Harrison Ford delivers, as ever. 80 years old he may be, and yes, he is slower, more fragile and not able to do as much as he did in the past, but why should he? This is the final stage of his journey as Indy, and we’ve seen him grow through the decades. Mangold and the team don’t make light of Indy’s age but play it seriously and don’t have him do too much impossible action, letting Ford remind us how Indy is faring after a rather turbulent few years certainly feeling his age. But this does not mean Ford plays it gruff and grumbly; with his trademark twinkle and scowl, he injects warmth, humour and heart and quite possibly gives the most emotional performance for Indy across all five films.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge will ruffle feathers as she has a mouth, has hard fists and lots of spunk and isn’t afraid to bite back. She dominates her scenes and really pushes back against what Indy stands for, as she has her own personal motives and desires. But she takes a journey with Indy too, a simple arc that has her go from likeable, to not likable, and then a bit more likeable than before. Waller-Bridge attracts all the wrong kind of attention in the industry from many fans (often male) who can’t sit comfortably with her “strong, independent woman” schtick through her work than often has he pull apart established characters and films. She has that here a little bit, but certainly doesn’t de-rail the film and works well with Ford – two strong minded characters together make for a good bout of chemistry.

Sadly, we don’t have enough Mads Mikkelsen. It’s a crime when villains are underused in films and are just there to remind us that there are “bad guys” on the loose to push along the good. Mikkelsen is a fantastic actor, and plays the cunning, ruthless villain very well with menace oozing out of every pour, and has done through many blockbuster films. Here, however, his Nazi, Voller, needed more screentime to truly let us get under his skin, to allow him to become the threat that he eventually reveals himself to be. It’s just too little, too late when he really gets stuck into the meat of his motivation. That, if anything, is the biggest disappointment. He is a good mix of ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ Belloq and ‘The Last Crusade’ Donovan, but we just don’t get enough of him.

The wider support cast is not too bloated all do well – Ethann Isidore as Teddy, Helena’s Moroccan “Short Round”, is harmless and adds a little to proceedings without being irritating. Boyd Holbrook plays the rather violent trigger-happy henchman Klaber, and we have a warm return for John Rhys-Davies as Sallah who will generate the biggest smile from fans in his limited screentime. Antonio Banderas and Karen Allen are present, but in more blink and you’ll miss them sort of roles.

For Indiana Jones, the action has always been a benchmark for the genre. Innovative ideas, practical stunts and a big main sequence. In ‘Dial Of Destiny’, the action is good, but not great. It’s safe. The opening 20mins set in 1944 and in / around an exploding castle and loot train harkens that classic Indy thrill. The main story has lots of chases from the New York ticker-tape parade, the Morocco tuk-tuks to the minimalist Mediterranean boat and airplane sequences. There is nothing very memorable about them; they deliver, but not to the extent of feeling real danger, seeing real stunt performers, or matching the scale of the ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ truck chase or the ‘Temple Of Doom’ rope bridge.

This goes hand-in-hand with the CGI. In 2008, ‘The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull’ abused what CGI can offer and sent the world of Indiana Jones into cosmic realms and near physics defying absurdity. It’s good to see ‘Dial Of Destiny’ tone that down and use CGI to enhance certain locations and add a safety net around Ford and the others in the action. Granted, he’s 80 and can’t do as much as he did 42 years ago, so this blanket of CGI to protect him makes sense. It’s noticeable in parts, mostly during the shaky de-aging sequence, but never feels done to excess.

We have a decent score by the maestro John Williams who brings back riffs from past films, but never brings anything too memorable to this entry. Again, all very safe.

As you can see, the theme of this review is “safe”.

DOD doesn’t take big risks or make bold choices in where the story goes. It perhaps should have done in the third act. You think it will go one way, a sweep of emotion and “will they, won’t they”… and then it swerves somewhere else. And regarding the third act, it’s a shame that it feels rushed. As a send-off, it’s more fitting than those crystal skulls, but it came about rather abruptly, and it did not have that same swell of goodbye that TLC did so perfectly. Shaving time from the heavy second act would have been better, reducing the time of generic investigative exploring to focus on the sequences that deserved more time to hit hard.

Yet, it’s hard not to find enjoyment in this adventure romp. Big, bad Nazis are out to scupper the free world and our beloved grizzled leather jacket clad hero needs to punch lots of them in the face (and have lots of people shot?) to stop them, to a score of orchestral pomp and heroic risks. It’s good fun – safe, comfortable Indy fun and it doesn’t disappoint on the whole to deliver one last adventure.

Indiana Jones and the Dial Of Destiny is on general release from today

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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.

Sony Pictures Entertainment

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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