Wednesday, 24 August 2016

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 25th August 2016

This week sees the US$100M budget release of 'Ben-Hur' - the fifth adaptation of the 1880 book by Lew Wallace - 'Ben-Hur : A Tale of the Christ'. The third big screen adaptation was made back in 1959 and stands the test of time to this day still as one of the classic all time swords and sandals epics. Back in its day the Bible and tales of the Roman Empire provided rich source material with other noteworthy epics of that era being 'Quo Vadis' in 1951, 'The Robe' in 1953, 'The Ten Commandments' in 1956, 'Spartacus' in 1960, 'Cleopatra' in 1963, 'The Bible' in 1966 and more recently of course we have had 'Gladiator' in 2000 and 'Exodus : Gods and Kings' and 'Noah' both in 2014 with a raft of others in between time.

The 1959 production of 'Ben-Hur' was Directed by William Wyler, was budgeted at US$7M and blew out to US$15M and was the most expensive film ever made for its time, and used 1.1 million feet of film for principal photography, that was edited down to 19,000 feet for the final cut. The theatrical release ran for 212 minutes, and used a cast of thousands, literally, including 200 camels, 2,500 horses, 10,000 extras with 365 Actors having speaking parts. Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Rock Hudson, Paul Newman, Marlon Brandon and Leslie Neilsen were all considered for the role of Judah Ben-Hur which went to Charlton Heston on a salary of US$250K for the thirty week shoot plus expenses. The film opened to huge critical acclaim and delivered US$74M in Box Office receipts delivering MGM Studios over US$20M in profits and saving it from bankruptcy. The film was nominated in 12 categories at the 1960 Academy Awards and won an unprecedented eleven for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Effects, Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best Sound Design and Best Music Score. It also won four Golden Globes and one BAFTA - all up 27 wins and 13 nominations. It's Oscar wins have not yet been surpassed, matched only by 'Titanic' in 1998, and 'Lord of the Rings : The Return of the King' in 2004. Will Timur Bekmambetov's 2016 retelling of this classic tale live up to those heady expectations - both critically and commercially - you'll have to decide for yourself!

This week there are four new movie openings that offer comedy, drama, horror and a Biblical retelling of a highly acclaimed classic. Kicking off there is a much loved office manager from the small screen taking his musical aspirations on the road and to the big screen that is sure to have you cringing in your seat. Then a reimagining of a classic swords and sandals epic featuring one of the most famed race sequences in cinema history; with a good old Aussie outback horror story featuring a scary monster, missing persons, and the stuff of legend! Then we wrap up the week with an offering of opposites attracting as one young girl cares for an older man through a deep rooted connection that binds them both and from which they both find benefit in their own way.

Four different offerings this week which when combined with those released in previous weeks and still out on general release, give you plenty of reasons to catch a movie in the coming week. When you have done so, share your thoughts, views and opinions with your like minded cinephiles here at Odeon Online by posting a note in the Comments section below this or any other Post. We'd love to hear from you, and in the meantime, enjoy your film of choice.

'DAVID BRENT : LIFE ON THE ROAD' (Rated MA15+) - back in 1982 a very young Ricky Gervais teamed up with good mate Bill Macrae and formed new wave band 'Seona Dancing' which is best described as a mash up of sound and imagery heavily influenced by the styles of David Bowie, Gary Numan and the Wham boys - George and Andrew. They had two singles which charted at their highest point at #79 on the UK Singles Chart, and as a result of that lacklustre performance the band split two years later. What the band did however, was give Gervais his first experiences of entertaining to a live audience, and in front of the camera. Following this Gervais spent the next fifteen years working in offices, including that of UK Radio Station 'XFM' where he met his future writing collaborator Stephen Merchant. In time he was made redundant from the radio station and he began playing the egotistical self-opinionated buffoon version of his own office self that eventually was pitched to the BBC. The rest is comedy history with the Gervais character David Brent of 'The Office' running for just twelve episodes from 2001 through until 2002 over two seasons, with two Christmas specials in 2003, and 'The Office Revisited' a short film for Comic Relief in 2013. The series has been widely acclaimed, the recipient of many awards and nominations, remade in numerous countries and sold to over 80 countries worldwide, and, it made a superstar of Ricky Gervais.

Now in 2016 that character of David Brent is back with a camera crew returning to Slough to hook-up with the former 'Wernham Hogg' Regional Manager, who has been demoted and now works for 'Lavichem' as a travelling salesman flogging cleaning materials and female sanitary products. Brent however, still craves musical stardom and so takes leave of absence from work on a self funded national tour with his band 'Foregone Conclusion' in the hope of realising his dream and all the trappings that come with rock & roll fame. Having to fund the tour out of his own pension fund because of minimal ticket sales and needing to pay his band members and crew, we learn that the intervening years after leaving Wernham Hogg have been less than kind to Brent as the following camera, dialogue and documentary spotlight will reveal as the tour progresses. Written, Produced, Directed and starring Ricky Gervais, here we see the now 55 year old man-child Brent in all his sad, hopeless, excruciating yet ever hopeful persona quite possibly for the last time.

'BEN-HUR' (Rated M) - this is fifth big screen adaptation of the 1880 source novel 'Ben-Hur : A Tale of the Christ' by Lew Wallace. First made in 1907 in the form of a fifteen minute film, it was remade in 1925 in an epic silent film, the classic William Wyler Directed epic of 1959 with Charlton Heston and an animated feature in 2003 starring the voice of Charlton Heston and made by his production company. And so for a whole new audience possibly unfamiliar with the source material or the earlier films, comes this US$100M production Directed by Timur Bekmambetov with Jack Huston playing Judah Ben-Hur - a Jewish Prince of Jerusalem who is falsely accused of treason by his long standing childhood friend and adoptive brother Messala (Toby Kebbell) - a Roman nobleman. Surviving slavery for five years under Roman rule, Ben-Hur swears revenge on Messala for betraying him and his family, and so is taken in by Sheik Ilderim (Morgan Freeman) who trains him to become a charioteer for a show-down in The Colosseum which will see the two arch-rivals battle it out to the death, but not before a number of life changing encounters with Jesus (Rodrigo Santoro). The film has so far taken US$22M and has received average reviews at best.

'RED BILLABONG' (Rated MA15+) - Aussie's know how to create good quality horror thrillers on a tight budget that look and feel way more expensive than they really were to produce, and it seems that in this latest offering to join the genre we have another such case in point. Written and Directed by first timer Luke Sparke, this tells the outback story of two estranged brothers Nick and Tristan Marshall (Dan Ewing and Tim Pocock respectively) who are called back to their grandfathers property when it is left to them following his death. It is Nick's first time back in ten years having left the family home where he grew up because of a scandal that he ran away from. Tristan is the younger brother who has an axe to grind against Nick for leaving in the first place, but when a development company offer big money for the property Tristan needs to reach out to Nick for advice and guidance. As the two brothers are forced together by these circumstances, so they are drawn apart by the choices they need to make and what they learn of the property they have inherited and all of its dark, sinister secrets. As close friends and acquaintances start to go missing, and there are strange goings on around them they learn more of what will change their lives forever - but is it all real, mythical legend, a simple story or elaborate hoax that is lurking out there and seemingly stalking them all?

'THE CARER' (Rated MA15+) - Hungarian Writer and Director Janos Edelenyi has created an acclaimed comedy drama centring around Sir Michael Gifford (Brian Cox) a noted Shakespearean Actor suffering from Parkinson's disease with just one desire - to be left in peace and to be left alone to see out his days. Meanwhile, Dorottya (Coco Konig) a young and beautiful Hungarian Actress refugee has one desire too - to make it big on the English stage. The two are brought together by Gifford's daughter Sophia (Emilia Fox) after various caregivers have failed, and she needs to find someone who will offer stability, empathy and genuine care to look after her father and attend to his daily requirements. Needless to say, you can guess I'm sure that the two will hit it off forging a strong relationship that benefits both parties based on their mutual love and respect for Shakespeare, whilst those on the sidelines looking in will feel threatened and alienated by the new kid on the block muscling in on a sick old man with a hidden agenda (probably!) A predictable story but one that has been lauded for its nuanced performances particularly from Brian Cox and newcomer Coco Konig, as well as its strong dialogue and noteworthy support cast that include Anna Chancellor, Karl Johnson and Roger Moore.

With four new reasons to get out amongst it this week to your local movie theatre, be sure that you do, and don't pass up on the chance to see any one of these or those other films on general release as Reviewed and Previewed at this Blog. Then, share your thoughts with your fellow readers. In the meantime, I'll see you at the Odeon.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Monday, 22 August 2016

THE SHALLOWS - Thursday 18th August 2016.

'THE SHALLOWS' which I saw on its opening day in Australia joins Steven Spielberg's seminal 'Jaws' which lurched on to our screens, sub-consciousness and popular culture back in 1975, together with it seems a wave of shark disaster movies year on year every year since, with the likes of several sequels following, and derivatives including 'Deep Blue Sea', 'Open Water', 'The Reef', 'Dark Tide', 'Jurassic Shark' and the more recent 'Sharknado' franchise to name but a few. Just when we thought it was safe to get back in the water, along comes another shark gore fest involving a secluded idyllic beach, a bikini-clad surfing maiden and a monster shark intent on a lunchtime snack of that bikini-clad damsel in distress. It's an easy premise that any Screenwriter could conjure up, and here we have Spanish Director, Jaume Collet-Serra making 'The Shallows' for a meagre US$17M and so far returning US$85M since its US release at the end of June, with what is, it must be said, a very respectable addition to the canon.

Here Blake Lively plays Nancy Adams a medical student, still mourning the recent death of her mother. She decides to take some time out and travels to a secluded beach somewhere down Mexico way, where her mother surfed at whilst expecting Nancy (New South Wales and Lord Howe Island, doubling for Mexico). We join Nancy as she is travelling in a car through the bush en route to said secluded beach with a friendly local, Carlos (Oscar Jaenada) trying to spark up a disjointed conversation with her driver in broken English. Whilst driving she is talking to her travelling companion over the phone who is back in civilisation at their hotel nursing a hangover from the night before and not in the mood for surfing. The pair reach their secret beach destination, and it seems like an idyllic spot. Carlos bids Nancy farewell, and asks how she will get back, but she tells him not to worry, she'll be fine (yeah right!). He drives off, living fairly close by it seems.

It's a perfect day at the beach, Nancy has found the paradise that her beloved Mum told her about, the skies are blue, the water clear and the surf is up. In the water are two local lads and other than that the beach is deserted. After suiting up and waxing down her board Nancy heads off into the ocean to catch some waves, chatting with the two surfer dudes and spending the afternoon making the most of the idyllic conditions. As the afternoon wears on the lads come in, spent for the day and they bid their farewell to Nancy who just wants to catch once last wave for the day. Now she is alone, and in the water a few hundred metres off from the shoreline.

Unexpectedly Nancy is bumped from beneath the surf by a Great White Shark whose attention had been drawn to the area by the corpse of a Humpback Whale floating nearby which Nancy went to check out. Seeing Nancy as a threat to its easy food supply, the shark attacks biting at her leg sending the lone surfer beneath the surface as the water all around her turns crimson. In her panic she swims for the only safe place - the decaying body of the whale, and scrambles up on to its upturned carcass. By now the shark is mightily pissed off and charges the whale with all its fierce might and up turning it so sending Nancy careering into the water. The other surfer lads had alerted Nancy earlier in the day to a small reef that becomes exposed at low tide, and seeing the exposed rocky outcrop she hastily makes for there and some temporary safe haven to nurse her badly shredded leg.

Being a medical student, Nancy is able to improvise and create a tourniquet from her leg strap, stitch up the deep gashes in her leg using jewellery, and create a compression bandage using the arm of her wet suit which she rips off with her teeth. Resourceful girl! There she remains as the tide continues to go out and nightfall draws ever closer. The shark however, continues to circle menacingly. All night she remains stranded on that small rock with only an injured seagull for company, which she affectionately calls Steven (Steven Seagull, geddit?).

As the new day dawns, we are alerted on screen to the number of hours before high tide, by which time the safety of her rock will disappear under the waves, calling for Plan B. That morning coming round in a semi-conscious state Nancy spies a man sleeping on the beach. She calls out to him several times. The man awakes from a drunken stupor, and makes out a distant figure standing on a rock yelling something at him. He spies Nancy's back pack on the beach and proceeds to steal her phone, her cash and the pack before spying her board floating close to the shore line. He thinks he'll make off with that too and wades in to retrieve it. Nancy tries to alert him about the presence of a shark but he pays no heed. Before you know, he's bitten in half, literally! Later that morning the two surfer dudes from the day before reappear ready to catch another day of perfect waves. They jump in the water and begin to paddle out. Again, Nancy from the safety of her rock tries to warn them, but before you know it . . . shark bait!

With three men down, and Nancy's hope for survival dwindling, she spies floating in the water the helmet and Go-Pro camera of one of the surfer dudes. It's close enough that she can just about retrieve it. She does so after some near misses with the shark and views the graphic footage of the shark attack that took the life of the helmets owner. She then uses the camera to record her final message to her father and sister in Texas before tossing back the helmet into the water in the hope that it will be washed ashore and retrieved, and rescue might possibly come, knowing too that the tide is rising steadily around her. Close by however, is a marker buoy, that might offer some salvation if she can reach it in time before another attack by the shark. To reach it though means swimming through a smack of jellyfish which would not only sting her, but the shark too, causing enough of a deterrent to buy Nancy the time to make it to the buoy.

Using a flare gun retrieved from the buoy, Nancy is able to shoot off a round into the leaching blubber from the whale carcass which ignites the sea in flame, and the approaching shark too, which as a result is even more pissed off now! Furiously the shark attacks the buoy and is relentless in doing so time after time until there is little left of the rusting metal construction. The chains securing the buoy to the ocean bed are dislodged and when these finally break free after another attack Nancy allows herself to be pulled down with the weight of the descending metal. The shark follows in hot pursuit with its jaws of death biting at Nancy's heels. Using some quick thinking and evasive tactics, Nancy turns at just the right time to allow for the sharks forward momentum to impale itself on the metal rods protruding from the buoy's mooring turning the shark killer into killer sushi! Well, almost!

I quite enjoyed 'The Shallows' because like 'Jaws' it is grounded in a realism that we can all relate too, unlike many others in the horror shark genre. For its lean 88 minute running time, the film has a number of jump scares, the body count while low is effective and well delivered and there is a believable story here with characters that we can adhere to. The shark FX are reasonably well delivered, there is suspense and atmosphere, and Blake Lively puts in a good turn as a simple Texas lass from Galveston subjected to extraordinary circumstances in complete isolation. This is the 'Jaws' for a whole new generation, and as such worthy of the price of entry.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Birthday's to share this week : 21st-27th August 2016.

Do you celebrate your Birthday this week?

Kristen Wiig does on 22nd August - check out my tribute to this Birthday Girl turning 43, at the end of this feature.

Do you also share your birthday with a well known, highly regarded & famous Actor or Actress; share your special day with a Director, Producer, Writer, Cinematographer, Singer/Songwriter or Composer of repute; or share an interest in whoever might notch up another year in the coming seven days? Then, look no further! Whilst there will be too many to mention in this small but not insignificant and beautifully written and presented Blog, here are the more notable and noteworthy icons of the big screen, and the small screen, that you will recognise, and that you might just share your birthday with in the week ahead. If so, Happy Birthday to you from Odeon Online!

Sunday 21st August
  • Peter Weir - Born 1944, turns 72 - Director | Producer | Writer
  • Carrie-Anne Moss - Born 1967, turns 49 - Actress | Producer
  • Kim Catrall - Born 1956, turns 60 - Actress | Producer
  • Hayden Panettiere - Born 1989, turns 27 - Actress | Producer | Singer  
Monday 22nd August
  • Kristen Wiig - Born 1973, turns 43 - Actress | Producer | Writer | Singer
  • Valerie Harper - Born 1939, turns 77 - Actress
  • Honor Blackman - Born 1925, turns 91 - Actress
  • Ty Burrell - Born 1967, turns 49 - Actor
  • Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje - Born 1967, turns 49 - Actor | Producer | Writer
  • Richard Armitage - Born 1971, turns 45 - Actor
  • Rodrigo Santoro - Born 1975, turns 41 - Actor  
Tuesday 23rd August
  • Alexandre Desplat - Born 1961, turns 55 - Composer | Conductor | Songwriter
  • Roger Avery - Born 1965, turns 51 - Writer | Producer | Director
  • Charley Boorman - Born 1966, turns 50 - Actor | Producer | Writer
  • Scott Caan - Born 1976, turns 40 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Director  
Wednesday 24th August
  • Rupert Grint - Born 1988, turns 28 - Actor
  • James D'Arcy - Born 1975, turns 41 - Actor
  • Steve Guttenberg - Born 1958, turns 58 - Actor | Writer | Producer | Director
  • Stephen Fry - Born 1957, turns 59 - Actor | Television Personality | Writer | Producer | Director
  • Kevin Dunn - Born 1956, turns 60 - Actor
  • Anne Archer - Born 1947, turns 69 - Actress | Producer  
Thursday 25th August
  • Blake Lively - Born 1987, turns 29 - Actress
  • Alexander Skarsgard - Born 1976, turns 40 - Actor
  • Tom Hollander - Born1967, turns 49 - Actor | Producer | Writer
  • Tom Skerritt - Born 1933, turns 83 - Actor | Director
  • Tim Burton - Born 1958, turns 58 - Director | Producer | Writer | Actor | Animator
  • John Savage - Born 1949, turns 67 - Actor | Producer
  • John Badham - Born 1939, turns 77 - Director | Producer | Actor
  • Sean Connery - Born 1930, turns 86 - Actor | Producer  
Friday 26th August
  • Chris Pine - Born 1980, turns 36 - Actor | Producer | Writer
  • Macaulay Culkin - Born 1980, turns 36 - Actor
  • Melissa McCarthy - Born 1970, turns 46 - Actress | Writer | Producer | Director | Singer  
Saturday 27th August
  • Tuesday Weld - Born 1943, turns 73 - Actress
  • Peter Stormare - Born 1953, turns 63 - Actor | Producer | Writer
  • Tom Ford - Born 1961, turns 55 - Director | Producer | Writer | Fashion Designer
  • Dean Devlin - Born 1962, turns 54 - Director | Producer | Writer | Actor
  • Aaron Paul - Born 1979, turns 37 - Actor | Producer 
  • Ellar Coltrane - Born 1994, turns 22 - Actor 
Kristen Carroll Wiig was born in Canandaigua, New York to mother Laurie Johnston, an artist, and father Jon Wiig who managed a lakeside marina in Western New York. Her father is of Norwegian decent hence the surname which originates from a county in Western Norway. The family moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania when Kristen was three years old, attending Nitrauer Elementary School and then Mannheim Township Middle School. At age thirteen the family moved to Rochester, New York where she attended Allendale Columbia School before graduating from Brighton High School. Undecided about her career aspirations she attended a local community college participating in a three month long outdoor living programme. She went on to the University of Arizona from where she majored in Art. Needing to complete her course programme she took acting classes and was persuaded by her teacher to continue the craft, whereupon she moved to Los Angeles to begin eeking out an acting career. She was nineteen years of age.

Upon arrival in LA she found work performing with the 'Empty Stage Comedy Theatre' and 'The Groundlings' - an improvisational and sketch comedy troupe and school located on Melrose Avenue in LA, feeling that improv. was more suited to her talents than straight acting. In 2003 she appeared on the reality television hoax show - 'The Joe Schmo Show' which ran for three seasons with her appearance as 'The Quack Marriage Counsellor' Patricia 'Dr. Pat' Lane. She was encouraged to try for 'Saturday Night Live' and she gained her debut in November 2005 on Season 31, and became a full member of the cast from Season 32 in 2006 through until 2012. Along the way she picked up Primetime Emmy Award nominations for 'Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series' in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, and in 2009 'Entertainment Weekly' voted her in their list of Top 25 Funniest Women in Hollywood.

Over the years Wiig has had numerous television series roles on single and multiple episodes. These have included 'The Drew Carey Show', '30 Rock', 'Flight of the Conchords', Bored to Death', 'The Cleveland Show', 'The Simpsons', 'Portlandia', 'Arrested Development', 'The Spoils of Babylon', 'The Spoils Before Dying' and made for TV movie 'A Deadly Adoption'. She was also the voice of Lola Bunny on the 'Looney Tunes Show' from 2011 until 2014.

Wiig got her big screen break in the 2006 Christmas film 'Unaccompanied Minors' for Director Paul Feig. 2007 brought 'Knocked Up' for Director Judd Apatow with Seth Rogen, and then 'Meet Bill' with Aaron Eckhart, 'The Brothers Solomon' with Will Arnett and Will Forte, and rounding out a year of comedy 'Walk Hard : The Dewey Cox Story' with John C. Reilly.

2008 saw more comedy fare with 'Semi-Pro', 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall', 'Pretty Bird' and 'Ghost Town', and then in 2009 more of the same with 'Adventureland', 'Whip It' in Drew Barrymore's Directorial debut and 'Extract'. 2010 followed up with 'Date Night', 'MacGruber' before her first non-comedic offering 'All Good Things' with Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst which made just US$645K back of its US$20M budget outlay. Sci-Fi comedy 'Paul' with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and then 'Bridesmaids' came next in 2011 which Wiig also wrote. That film became a critical and commercial success grossing US$289M off its US$33M budget with Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations forthcoming for Wiig in the Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay categories.

'Friends with Kids', 'Revenge for Jolly', 'Girl Most Likely', 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' for Director and Co-Star Ben Stiller and 'Anchor Man 2 : The Legend Continues' saw out 2013. 'Hateship, Loveship', 'The Skeleton Twins' and 'Welcome To Me' which Wiig also Co-Produced wrapped up 2014. A mixed bag of commercial success and failures here with 'Walter Mitty' bringing in US$203M and 'Anchor Man' US$174M compared to 'Friends with Kids' at US$12.2M, 'The Skeleton Twins' at US$5.7M, 'Welcome To Me' just US$625K and 'Hateship, Loveship' a very poor US$81K despite its strong cast including Nick Nolte, Guy Pearce, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Hailee Steinfeld.

The next year brought 'The Diary of a Teenage Girl', 'Nasty Baby', 'The Martian', 'Zoolander 2' for Director and Co-Star once again Ben Stiller, the all girl 'Ghostbusters' for Paul Feig again with Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Lesley Jones and still out on general release, and 'Sausage Party' just released bringing us up to date.

Next up and due later this year is 'Masterminds' with Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudekis and 'Ghostbusters' Co-Stars Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. Also due out this year is 'The Heyday of Insensitive Bastards' and 'Downsizing' with Matt Damon due in 2017. Wiig has lent her voice talents over the years to 'Ice Age : Dawn of the Dinosaurs', 'How to Train Your Dragon', 'Despicable Me', 'Despicable Me 2', 'Her', 'How to Train Your Dragon 2', 'Sausage Party' and is reprising her roles as Agent Lucy Wilde in 'Despicable Me 3' and Ruffnut Thorston in 'How to Train Your Dragon 3' due in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Also announced is 'Now That's What I Call' with Leonard Di Caprio and 'The Greatest Showman on Earth' with Hugh Jackman.

All up Wiig has 82 acting credits to her name, nine as Producer, three as a Writer, and, she can sing too. She has nine award wins and 59 other nominations including one Academy Award, one Golden Globe, one BAFTA and six Primetime Emmy nods. Wiig was married to Actor Hayes Hargrove from 2005 until 2009, and is currently dating Actor, Writer and Producer Avi Rothman. She is a vegetarian and is known for her love of chocolate.

Kristen Wiig - best known for her comedy track record, improv. skills and observational humour that puts her right up there as one of the best in the business; but, also carving out a reputation for more serious, dramatic and straight roles; has achieved much in ten years and is much in demand as a result; is keen to write her own material and to turn her hand at Directing; and is brutally honest with herself, about her fears and foibles and what she likes and what she doesn't. Keeping it real Kristen and keeping us well humoured and entertained as your star continues to rise - Happy Birthday to you, from Odeon Online.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 18th August 2016.

With the release of another predatory shark offering to make you think twice about stepping foot back in the water with this weeks 'The Shallows' as Previewed below, it got me thinking how much we love seeing sharks chomping down on mere humans frolicking in the water, and for how long studios have been turning out B-Grade and C-Grade horror films of the shark genre to satisfy our appetite for swimmer versus shark in just about every conceivable form you care to think about. Looking back over the years, my research uncovers more than 80 killer shark films, and so below I list perhaps the more notable and more bizarre offerings that go back to 1969 right up to the present day, and there seems to be no let up in the production of such, or the top acting talent prepared to star in them!
  • 'Shark!' - 1969 - Directed by Samuel Fuller, starring Burt Reynolds
  • 'Jaws' - 1975 - Directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Roy Schneider
  • 'Jaws 2' - 1978 - Directed by Jeannot Szwarc, starring Roy Schneider
  • 'Jaws 3-D' - 1983 - Directed by Joe Alves, starring Dennis Quaid
  • 'Jaws : The Revenge' - 1987 - Directed by Joseph Sargent, starring Lorraine Gray
  • 'Tintorera' - 1977 - Directed by Rene Cardona Jnr., starring Susan George
  • 'The Deep' - 1977 - Directed by Peter Yates, starring Robert Shaw
  • 'Shark Attack' - 1999 - Directed by Bob Misiorowski, starring Casper Van Dien
  • 'Deep Blue Sea' - 1999 - Directed by Renny Harlin, starring Samuel L. Jackson
  • 'Open Water' - 2003 - Directed by Chris Kentis, starring Blanchard Ryan
  • 'Red Water' - 2003 - Directed by Charles Robert Carner, starring Lou Diamond Phillips
  • 'Shark Tale' - 2004 - Directed by Rob Letterman, starring Will Smith
  • 'The Reef' - 2010 - Directed by Andrew Traucki, starring Zoe Naylor
  • 'Sharktopus' - 2010 - Directed by Declan O'Brien, starring Eric Roberts
  • 'Shark Night 3D' - 2011 - Directed by David R. Ellis, starring Katherine McPhee
  • 'Jurassic Shark' - 2012 - Directed by Brett Kelly, starring Emanuelle Carriere
  • 'Dark Tide' - 2012 - Directed by John Stockwell, starring Halle Berry
  • 'Jersey Shore Shark Attack' - 2012 - Directed by John Shepherd, starring Paul Sorvino
  • '2-Headed Shark Attack' - 2012 - Directed by Christopher Ray, starring Carmen Electra
  • '3-Headed Shark Attack' - 2015 - Directed by Christoper Ray, starring Danny Trejo
  • 'Bait' - 2014 - Directed by Kimble Rendall, starring Xavier Samuel
  • 'Sharknado' - 2012 - Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, starring Tara Reid
  • 'Sharknado 2 : The Second One' - 2014 - Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, starring Tara Reid
  • 'Sharknado 3 : Oh Hell No!' - 2015 - Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, starring Tara Reid
  • 'Sharknado 4 : The 4th Awakens' - 2016 - Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, starring Tara Reid.
There will be plenty more to add to this list that I have not mentioned including such gems as 'Ghost Shark', 'Dino Shark', 'Snow Shark', 'Sand Shark', 'Super Shark', 'Swamp Shark', 'Monster Shark', 'Shark Zone' and 'Shark Swarm'. And to further add to this list, those recently released in 2016 or still due for release this year are 'Atomic Shark', 'Dam Sharks', 'Ice Sharks', 'Planet of the Sharks', 'Ozark Sharks', 'In the Deep', with 'Sky Sharks' due in 2017, and 'Meg' due in 2018 with Jason Statham starring.

And so to the coming week with no less than seven new films to easily tempt you out to your local multiplex. Kicking off this weeks offerings is another tale of a giant menacing fish wanting to chow down on a poor unsuspecting surfer stranded out at sea. Then we have a couple of biographical dramas of the wartime kind but separated by about 150 years - the first the US Civil War and one mans quest to lead a rebellious uprising and stake his claim, and then the US war in Afghanistan with two young dudes profiting from the nefarious sale of arms to US allies under a legal contract that flew under the radar. From here we go to a mid-'70's apartment tower in a dystopian England as things go from very good to very bad as all order and civility crumbles amongst the residents. Then we go back to College in the early 50's as one student learns much about himself and those around him that has more far reaching consequences than he ever imagined. This takes us then to a New Zealand documentary that seeks to educate and expose an 'endurance sport' possibly like no other you have ever heard off; before wrapping up with an ancient Japanese stop-motion animated feature from a fairly new but an already acclaimed studio.

With seven new films to tempt, tease and tantalise your movie going tastebuds, remember that when you have sat through your movie of choice in the week ahead to share your thoughts and views by recording your own critique in the Comments section below this or any other Post. As always we'd love to hear from you. Enjoy your film.

'THE SHALLOWS' (Rated M) - ever since Steven Spielberg's seminal 'Jaws' burst on to our screens back in 1975, it seems there has been a wave of shark disaster movies year on year every year since, with the likes of several sequels following, with derivatives including 'Deep Blue Sea', 'Open Water', 'The Reef', 'Dark Tide', 'Jurassic Shark' and the 'Sharknado' franchise to name but a few. Just when we thought it was safe to get back in the water, along comes another shark gore fest involving a secluded idyllic beach, a bikini-clad surfing maiden and a monster shark intent on a lunchtime snack of that bikini-clad damsel in distress. It's an easy premise that any Screenwriter could conjure up, and here we have Spanish Director, Jaume Collet-Serra making 'The Shallows' for a meagre US$17M and so far returning US$76M since its US release at the end of June.

Here Blake Lively plays Nancy Adams a medical student, still mourning the recent death of her mother. She decides to take some time out and travels to a secluded beach where her mother used to surf at in her youth. She meets a couple of friendly locals, and apart from the three of them the beach is deserted. They surf for several hours, and on the final wave of the day, Nancy is bumped from beneath the surf by a Great White Shark whose attention has been drawn to the area by the corpse of a Humpback Whale floating nearby. Needless to say it doesn't end well for the two friendly surfers leaving Nancy stranded in the surf clinging to a buoy while the Great White circles menacingly. I am sure you can fathom out the rest, and suffice to say critics have been generally positive in their praise for this film, Blake Lively's convincing performance, and that too of one 'Steven Seagull' that Nancy befriends during her darkest hour out on the reef!

'FREE STATE OF JONES' (Rated MA15+) - Directed, Written and Co-Produced by Gary Ross, this American period piece tells the true story of Newton Knight who lived from 1837 until 1922 as is played here by Matthew McConaughey. Knight was a poor farmer living in Jones County, Mississippi, and during the American Civil War he worked as a battlefield medic in the Confederate Army. Having decided to desert and return home to his wife and children, he became disillusioned with the Confederacy (as did many soldiers) and so organises a militia to rise up against them in an armed rebellion that ultimately proves successful. Knight and his men capture a large tract of central south Mississippi which they call the 'Free State Of Jones' where they remain until after the end of the war. Also starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Keri Russell this film also charts how the Civil War plays out, slavery and its abolition, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and what becomes of Knights great-great-great grandson in Mississippi's miscegenation laws of the late 1940's/early 50's. Made for US$50M the film has so far recouped US$21M since its end of June release Stateside.

'WAR DOGS' (Rated M) - Directed, written for the screen and Co-Produced by Todd Phillips and based on a 'Rolling Stone' article later made into a book by Guy Lawson called 'Arms and the Dudes' this is a biographical war crime comedy that tells the story of two young 20 somethings who won a major US Government contract to sell arms to US allies in Afghanistan. Starring Jonah Hill as Efraim Diveroli and Miles Teller as his partner David Packouz who set up their company AEY Inc. to supply over US$200M in ammunition, assault rifles and sundry weapons to the Department of Defence as recently as 2007 - despite the fact that both were in their early 20's and had no credentials to do so. This leads them to some very shady places and some very dodgy characters as the pair get in way over the heads. Bradley Cooper also stars.

'HIGH RISE' (Rated MA15+) - based on the 1975 novel of the same name by J.G.Ballard this Sci-Fi dystopian drama film is Directed by Ben Wheatley and stars a roll call of fine English acting talent that includes Tom Hiddleston as neurologist Dr. Robert Laing, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, James Purefoy and Jeremy Irons as noted architect Anthony Royal as the designer of said 'High Rise' a forty storey tower block on the edge of London that represents the epitome of modern living during the 70's. On the upper floors live societies rich and elite, while on the lower levels reside more common middle classes. The upper levels offer its residents a gym, swimming pool, spa, supermarket, sculptured roof top gardens and a primary school giving residents no reason to leave other than for work. But things take a turn for the worse as a result of ever increasing power failures and tensions between the upper and lower levels mount to such a level that society within the high rise breaks down and violence and brutality become the new norm.

'INDIGNATION' (Rated M) - based on the 2008 novel of the same name by Philip Roth, this drama period piece set in 1951 Ohio is first time Directed, written for the screen and Co-Produced by James Schamus and stars Logan Lerman as Marcus Messner - a working class atheist Jewish student from New Jersey who is transplanted to the small and conservative Winesberg College in Ohio to avoid being drafted into the Korean War from which many of his friends have returned in pine boxes. Whilst there he experiences a sexual awakening with Olivia Hutton (Sarah Gadon), gets into a heated argument with his roommates that has repercussions on his living quarters, he clashes with College Dean Caudwell (Tracy Letts) over the role that religion plays in our society, and a revealing conversation with his mother Esther (Linda Emond) changes his life forever. Commended for style and substance, and the noteworthy performances this is one to watch out for if your like your films intellectual, meandering, heavy on well written dialogue and grounded in realism, then this one is for you.

'TICKLED' (Rated MA15+) - here is a film about a subject that you couldn't make up if you tried, but New Zealand 'light entertainment' television reporter stumbled across this subject matter and decided that it was worth digging deeper into. Seeing an online video about 'competitive endurance tickling' David Farrier partners with Dylan Reeve to Co-Direct this enlightening and startling documentary about young athletic men who are restrained and tickled by one another. Seeking to learn more, they uncover that Jane O'Brien Media is behind the production and being Los Angeles based, off the pair of intrepid tickling investigators head to learn more about the production company, and those who engage in such activities. Before you know it though Jane O'Brien Media begin to make legal threats and send representatives to New Zealand to coerce the pair into ceasing their investigative project. The more that Farrier and Reeve delve into this murky sport the more bizarre it gets.

'KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS' (Rated PG) - this stop motion animated fantasy action adventure feature from Laika Studios is Directed by Travis Knight and features an impressive voice cast that takes in Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei and Art Parkinson as young lad Kubo. Set in ancient Japan, young Kubo tends to his sick mother when inadvertently he summons up a vengeful evil spirit from the past. Now on the run he is befriended by Monkey (Theron) and Beetle (McConaughey) as they strive to unlock a secret legacy to locate a magical suit of armour once worn by Kubo's late father - the greatest Samurai warrior that ever lived. On their quest that meet up with new allies; come across enemies, demons and monsters including Raiden The Moon King (Fiennes) and the evil twin sisters (Mara) who must be defeated; and of course learn some valuable life lessons in the process before he can defeat the awakened evil spirit, be reunited with his family, and fulfil his destiny.

With a veritable bevvy of new cinema content coming your way in the week ahead, what's not to like about this dazzling array of films that offers just about something for everyone? When combined with those films already out on general release and as Reviewed and Previewed here on these humble pages, you just gotta get out amongst it and see a movie in the week ahead. Tell us what you thought when you have done so, and in the meantime, I'll see you at the Odeon.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Birthday's to share this week : 14th-20th August 2016

Do you celebrate your Birthday this week?

Andrew Garfield does on 20th August - check out my tribute to this Birthday Boy turning 33, at the end of this feature.

Do you also share your birthday with a well known, highly regarded & famous Actor or Actress; share your special day with a Director, Producer, Writer, Cinematographer, Singer/Songwriter or Composer of repute; or share an interest in whoever might notch up another year in the coming seven days? Then, look no further! Whilst there will be too many to mention in this small but not insignificant and beautifully written and presented Blog, here are the more notable and noteworthy icons of the big screen, and the small screen, that you will recognise, and that you might just share your birthday with in the week ahead. If so, Happy Birthday to you from Odeon Online!

Sunday 14th August
  • Mila Kunis - Born 1983, turns 33 - Actress | Producer
  • Halle Berry - Born 1966, turns 50 - Actress | Producer
  • Marcia Gay Harden - Born 1959, turns 57 - Actress
  • Steve Martin - Born 1945, turns 71 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Singer | Songwriter
  • Wim Wenders - Born 1945, turns 71 - Director | Producer | Writer  
Monday 15th August
  • Ben Affleck - Born 1972, turns 44 - Actor | Producer | Director | Writer
  • Alejandro G. Inarritu - Born 1963, turns 53 - Director | Producer | Writer | Editor
  • Nicolas Roeg - Born 1928, turns 88 - Director | Producer | Writer | Cinematographer 
  • Jennifer Lawrence - Born 1990, turns 26 - Actress | Producer
  • Debra Messing - Born 1968, turns 48 - Actress
  • Natasha Henstridge - Born 1974, turns 42 - Actress  
Tuesday 16th August
  • Angela Bassett - Born 1858, turns 58 - Actress | Producer | Director
  • Bruce Beresford - Born 1940, turns 76 - Director | Producer | Writer | Editor | Cinematographer
  • James Cameron - Born 1954, turns 62 - Director | Producer | Writer | Editor
  • Timothy Hutton - Born 1960, turns 56 - Actor | Producer | Director
  • Steve Carell - Born 1962, turns 54 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Director | Singer
  • Taika Waititi - Born 1975, turns 41 - Director | Producer | Writer | Actor  
Wednesday 17th August
  • Steven East - Born 1963, turns 53 - Blogger | Odeon Online originator  
  • Robert De Niro - Born 1943, turns 73 - Actor | Producer | Director
  • Sean Penn - Born 1960, turns 56 - Actor | Producer | Director | Writer
  • Donnie Wahlberg - Born 1969, turns 47 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Singer
Thursday 18th August
  • Edward Norton - Born 1969, turns 47 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Director | Singer | Songwriter
  • Christian Slater - Born 1969, turns 47 - Actor | Producer
  • Robert Redford - Born 1936, turns 80 - Actor | Producer | Director 
  • Roman Polanski - Born 1933, turns 83 - Director | Producer | Writer | Actor
  • Denis Leary - Born 1957, turns 59 - Actor | Producer | Writer
  • Madeline Stowe - Born 1958, turns 58 - Actress  
Friday 19th August
  • Kyra Sedgwick - Born 1965, turns 51 - Actress | Producer
  • Kevin Dillon - Born 1965, turns 51 - Actor
  • Matthew Perry - Born 1969, turns 47 - Actor | Producer | Writer  
Saturday 20th August
  • Andrew Garfield - Born 1983, turns 33 - Actor
  • David O. Russell - Born 1958, turns 58 - Director | Producer | Writer
  • Sylvester McCoy - Born 1943, turns 73 - Actor
  • David Walliams - Born 1971, turns 45 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Television Personality
  • Joan Allen - Born 1956, turns 60 - Actress
  • Amy Adams - Born 1974, turns 42 - Actress | Producer  
Andrew Russell Garfield was born in Los Angeles County, California, USA to mother Lynn Hillman from Essex in England and father Richard Garfield a Californian. From three years of age the family relocated to Epsom, Surrey, England. His parents ran an interior design company, with his mother also a nursery school teaching assistant, and his father went on to become head coach of the Guildford Swimming Club. He attended the Priory Preparatory School in Banstead and then the City of London Freemen's School in Ashtead, and then the Central School of Speech and Drama at the University of London, graduating in 2004.

He started taking acting classes at age nine, appearing in a local youth production of 'Bugsy Malone'. Whilst he originally had intended to study business, by the age of sixteen he had become more interested in acting. By 2004 he had been critically lauded for his role in 'Kes' at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre for which he picked up two Awards, both in the Best/Outstanding Newcomer category. He made his television debut in 2005 in the British comedy drama series 'Sugar Rush' appearing in five episodes of the total twenty produced running over two seasons. He followed this up in 2007 with two episodes on BBC's 'Doctor Who' series as Frank on 'Dalek's in Manhattan' and 'Evolution of Dalek's'.

Garfield's big screen debut came in 2007 in the Robert Redford Directed 'Lions for Lambs' with Robert Redford also starring along with Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep. Later that year he headlined 'Boy A' for Director John Crowley for which he won a Best Actor Award at the British Academy Television Awards, and much further critical acclaim still. 2008 saw a small role in 'The Other Boleyn Girl' and then Terry Gilliam's 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus' in 2009. That same year Garfield appeared in the acclaimed three part television series 'The Red Riding Trilogy 1974, 1980 and 1983'

2010 saw what was probably his breakout role alongside Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley in Mark Romanek's dystopian Sci-Fi thriller 'Never Let Me Go' which won him further critical praise and a Best Supporting Actor Award. David Fincher's 'The Social Network' came next in 2010 alongside Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, with Justin Timberlake and Armie Hammer. Garfield's role as Eduardo Saverin was highly acclaimed and garnered him both BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actor.

In 2012 he appeared in the reboot of Marvel's Spiderman franchise as our web slinging hero himself in Marc Webb's 'The Amazing Spider-Man'. Again his performance received much positive publicity giving the franchise the boost it needed. The film made US$758M at the Box Office and had Garfield/Spider-Man/Peter Parker star alongside Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy - his love interest in the film, and as it would later turn out, in life too off screen. Both would reprise their roles two years later in 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' which made US$709M at the Box Office.

Most recently there was '99 Homes' in 2015 with Michael Shannon. In the meantime Garfield hosted two episodes of 'Saturday Night Live', appeared in an 'Arcade Fire' music video for their single 'We Exist', starred on Broadway in the play 'Death of a Salesman' to much critical praise, and over the years has starred in several short films too.

Next up he will star in the London Royal National Theatre production of the two part play 'Angels in America' from April 2017. 'Hacksaw Ridge' for Director Mel Gibson with Vince Vaughn and a huge Australian cast including Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving, Luke Bracey, Richard Roxburgh, Ryan Corr, Teresa Palmer and Rachel Griffiths is due in November this year. Falling in December is 'Silence' for Martin Scorsese with Liam Neeson, Adam Driver and Ciaran Hinds. 'Breathe' is currently filming for a 2017 release for Director Andy Serkis, and 'Under the Silver Lake' for David Robert Mitchell with Dakota Johnson also starring is in pre-production also for a later 2017 release.

All up Garfield has 26 screen acting credits to his name, with eleven award wins and another 52 nominations. He holds dual US and UK citizenship, was dating Actress Emma Stone up until late 2015, is an Ambassador of Sport for the Worldwide Orphans Foundation, and supports same sex marriage.

Andrew Garfield - has achieved so much in a relatively short period of time; mixes it up between stage, screen and TV; has garnered way much more positivity that not; is clearly in demand with A-list Actors and Directors; is grounded in the real world; and is a star very much on the rise. We love your work Andrew - Happy Birthday to you, from Odeon Online.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Thursday, 11 August 2016

SUICIDE SQUAD : Tuesday 9th August 2016.

I saw 'SUICIDE SQUAD' earlier in the week, and after much hype and eager anticipation the long awaited third instalment in the DC Extended Universe with its assembled mad, bad, disparate antiheroes has burst on to our screens across the world last week. Made for a cool US$175M, Directed by David Ayer and Co-Produced by Zack Snyder this film stars an ensemble cast of Actors and Supervillains, poised at the ready to wreak havoc and bloody mayhem on an unsuspecting Midway City - seemingly nestled somewhere between Gotham City and Metropolis. These titular characters first appeared in 1959 published by DC Comics but received a make over and a modern touch in 1987 by John Ostrander, upon which this film is based, and having been written for the screen by David Ayer too (watch out for the visual nod to Ostrander too in the film). This latest version sees our anti-hero strike force of imprisoned nefarious supervillains operating covertly under the jurisdiction of the US Government on high-risk black-ops missions in exchange for leniency of their prison sentences . . . assuming they survive their missions of course. The film has so far made US$295M.

And so here we have a secret government intelligence agency headed up by Director Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) working for 'ARGUS' (Advanced Research Group for Uniting Superhumans) who creates a task force of our deadly, dangerous, despicable super villains under the banner of 'Task Force X' affectionately dubbed 'The Suicide Squad' by Deadshot, for a top secret mission to thwart an unknown but powerful enemy. Taking place after the events of  'Batman v. Superman' which sees Superman supposedly dead, and leaving Batman to clean up the streets, and he does, bringing in Deadshot/Floyd Lawton (Will Smith) an expert marksman, assassin and doting father to his eleven year old daughter, and Harley Quinn/Harleen Quinzel (Margot Robbie) a former psychiatrist who used to treat the inmates at Arkham Asylum until she turned as mad as those she was treating - especially The Joker (Jared Leto) whom she just happens to be 'madly' in love with.

Incarcerated in Belle Reve penitentiary with Deadshot and Harley Quinn are Captain Boomerang/Digger Harkness (Jai Courtney) an opportunistic thief and assassin who uses deadly boomerangs to dispense with his prey and now serving three life sentences; El Diablo/Chato Santana (Jay Hernandez) who can command flame at will and is serving time because in days gone by he couldn't contain this skill and he torched those closest to him and numerous others; Killer Croc/Waylon Jones (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) with a reptilian skin condition and an animalistic criminal with a tendency to eat his enemies - he spends a lot of time in the water; and Slipknot/Christopher Weiss (Adam Beach) an expert with chemically treated ropes and a skilled assassin.

We are quickly introduced to these characters individually, we get a little back story which Waller discusses with her advisors over dinner and her plan for them, and by way of bold text up on the screen which is all well & good but you need to be particularly adept at speed reading for the time that data scrolls out in front of you (David Ayer take note!). Under the pretext of wanting to protect the planet from possible otherworldly attack with someone of Superman's strength, a rag tag bunch of the worlds worst career criminals with nothing to lose are assembled under the command of Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) as the field leader of The Squad and seasoned special forces combat soldier applying the wishes of Waller, although not always agreeing with them. She gets approval to assemble her team, and what can the aforementioned gang do but to accept, and they do with promises of reduced sentences, special privileges, and the full arsenal of the US Government at their disposal . . . as long a they behave themselves. As a precaution, each has implanted in their necks a rice grain sized incendiary devise that will be deployed should they rebel, attempt to escape, not follow orders or step out of line - just once!

One other recruit is Dr. June Moone (Cara Delevingne) an archaeologist possessed by an evil ancient force that transformed her in to a powerful sorceress known as Enchantress. Rick Flag is in love with June Moone, but she is able to transform into the witch-goddess by simply whispering her name. She is under the control of Waller who holds her ancient heart in a brief case, enabling Waller to command the Enchantress at will knowing that for now she is fully subservient to her wishes and that she will comply. However, as if on cue the Enchantress quickly turns on everyone, deciding to wipe mankind off the face of our planet for imprisoning her for so long (literally thousands of years!) She summons up her brother, Incubus, to lend some much needed support, creates an army of humans transformed into deadly stone like orc monsters; begins building a super machine to destroy the planet and along the way gets her heart back from Wallers grasp.

Waller summons up the Squad on the basis that Midway City is under fierce attack from terrorists, and their mission is to extract a high-profile individual from the top of a tower block in the city centre. Just before leaving for their mission, the team are joined by Katana/Tatsu Yamashiro (Karen Fukuhara) an expert in martial arts and sword play wielding the mystical 'Soultaker' Samurai blade that captures the souls of those it kills. Katana has got Flags back. As the helicopter taking the Squad into the now evacuated city is en route it is attacked by Incubus and brought down, but all escape unscathed. However, they are attacked by hordes of the stone like orc monsters created by Enchantress once on foot, but are able to overcome them and make it to their final mark at the top of the tower block. Waller it turns out is the subject of the extraction, who quickly dispenses with her own immediate team with a well aimed pistol to several heads to cover up any involvement she has in what has just gone down. This shows Flag and Deadshot exactly what they are dealing with, and what Waller is capable of.

Meanwhile The Joker infiltrates the facility where the nano bombs are made that have been implanted into the Squads necks, and is able to disarm that which is in Harley Quinn's neck. He then makes off in his own helicopter to extract Harley Quinn from the others, by raining down rapid machine gun fire on Flag and his crew on foot below. Harley Quinn escapes up a rope thrown down by The Joker from the helicopter above, and they fly off into the night, but the aircraft is soon shot down by Wallers men. Harley Quinn escapes seemingly unhurt and rejoins her Squad members, but The Joker is believed perished in the wreckage. Immediately after, Waller is extracted by helicopter from the roof top, and her helicopter is shot down too, and she is carted of by the stone like orc creatures of the Enchantress.

With Waller now compromised, an all powerful evil force at work intent on destroying life as we know it, and the prospect of returning to incarceration The Squad decide enough is enough and they haul up in a deserted bar for some much needed refreshment and self consolation. Flag joins them, destroys the device that would activate the nano bombs in their necks, and says your free to go. But The Squad decide that they have a chance to prove themselves and do something worthwhile (like save the world!) and so they regroup. They track down Waller, Enchantress and Incubus to a deserted partially flooded subway station where they hatch a plan to destroy Incubus first as he poses the biggest threat. A NAVY Seals team intend to plant a bomb in the sewer below, but need Diablo to summons his set of particular skills with fire to help distract and thwart Incubus to position himself over the bomb at the point of detonation. This attempt is successful, but it costs Diablo his life in the process.

With Incubus gone, all attention centres on Enchantress who with her heart back is now all powerful. Ultimately she overcomes The Squad and offers them anything they can dream of in exchange for their submission, loyalty and honour. Harley Quinn gives in and sidles up to the Enchantress. Kneeling before her, and beside Katana's Samurai sword, which she lifts up and plunges into the stomach of the Enchantress ripping out her heart with her hands in the process. Killer Croc then throws an explosive package into the centre of the still functioning all powerful machine which Deadshot fires at with a well aimed shot so destroying the weapon of mass destruction, enabling everyone to live happily ever after (well, until the next global crisis anyway!) Flag takes the heart of Enchantress and crushes it to dust, so freeing June from the evil ancient curse. The Squad are returned to Belle Reve with ten years taken off their sentences and allowed certain special privileges, that include Deadshot being allowed access to his beloved daughter (see he is human after all), and Harley Quinn an espresso machine in her cell.

Just when you thought it was safe to look away, in bursts The Joker to spring his love, Harley Quinn from incarceration, much to her surprise and delight. In a mid-credits scene, we see Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) around the dinner table with Amanda Waller. He offers her protection from the backlash brought about by the shenanigans of the Enchantress in exchange for access to a Top Secret dossier that 'ARGUS' has on the ever increasing metahuman community and their known activities. He flicks through its files revealing, amongst others, Aquaman, and so setting up 'Justice League, Part One' due in November 2017.

I did enjoy 'Suicide Squad' for all the adverse press it has so far received, but I did feel let down by all the hype and expectation that went on months before its release. The film moves along at a cracking pace, has a thumping soundtrack, but there are plot holes and editing flaws in here aplenty as the story jumps around and in places is half-baked. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith at Deadshot carry this film without doubt and are both convincing and engaging in their roles, but many of the other characters are superfluous or simply under developed. Jared Leto plays a good Joker, but not in the same league as Heath Ledger's, and as someone sitting on the periphery of the Suicide Squad he adds little value to the story other than his relationship with Harley Quinn, or perhaps he's just in there for effect. There are several brief scenes with Batman/Bruce Wayne for continuity sake that do add value, and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller portrays the formidable, ruthless and intimidating Director well too. The effects are well delivered, but really nothing we have not seen in other similar comic book adaptations and certainly nothing that stands out with a 'wow' factor. With 'Man of Steel' bringing in US$668M, this years 'Batman v. Superman' US$873M, the DC Extended Universe needs a sure fire winner at the Box Office. Will this third instalment in that universe be the commercial success needed despite the luke warm reviews so far received? One thing is certain . . . you can't believe the hype, and for me the guys at Marvel set the standard by which DC will be judged, and they have!

-Steve, at Odeon Online-