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Rating History

Lethal Weapon
Lethal Weapon (1987)
8 hours ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

This movie opens with the classic Christmas song [i]Jingle Bell Rock[/i] by Bobby Helms. Yes that's right this classic action flick could also be considered a Christmas movie as it takes place over the festive season. This is one reason why its always kinda reminded me of 1988's 'Die Hard'. Its seems Xmas was a popular backdrop for action flicks back in the 80's.

So what is this all about? Well back in 1985 Shane Black wrote a screenplay for an urban western inspired by 'Dirty Harry'. In typical Shane Black fashion the script was quite long and excessively violent. Cutting a long story short, after numerous rewrites from various people (including Black), the script was eventually bought and offered to Richard Donner. The final result was (I believe) the first buddy cop flick to really light up the box office; and I believe the first flick to kick-start the whole buddy cop genre, to establish the rules almost. Over the years, from this one movie, came a raft of clones that used and abused every idea to the point where they became common stereotypes.

The eventual plot: Its very simple really. Riggs and Murtaugh must battle a heroin-smuggling operation known as 'The Shadow Company' (they umm...smuggle heroin). You see a young girl is murdered and her father (Michael Hunsaker, a close friend of Murtaugh) wants her killers found. But it turns out Hunsaker used to be in cahoots with the Shadow Company, helping them launder their money. When Hunsaker wanted out, the company killed his daughter. So Riggs and Murtaugh run about the place trying to solve this little problem with lots of gunfire and car chases.

Even today looking back, its really hard to not roll your eyes at all the common tropes and cliches that have now been milked dry over time. I had to keep reminding myself that this was literally the first movie to introduce these things. I mean lets look at the basic outline here, one white cop, Riggs (Mel Gibson). One black cop, Murtaugh (Danny Glover). One is middle-aged, ex-special forces, and a complete loose cannon. The other is an older more mature, straight-laced, by the books Veteran of the police force. The loose cannon is of course insane, suicidal (due to the death of his wife); where as the straight-laced cop is a sensible family man. The sensible cop is lumbered with the insane cop as a new partner. At first they don't get on, a clash of personalities, but over time they come to respect each other and eventually become buddies.

At the start of the movie Riggs is essentially living like a bum. He's an alcoholic living in a run down scruffy trailer on the beach. Not quite sure how he's allowed to have a trailer on the beach, surely local laws would not allow that? In the meantime Murtaugh has a hectic family life with three young kids, one of which is of course a coming of age young girl. Riggs is looking to put himself into dangerous scenarios because he simply doesn't give a shit; whilst Murtaugh is slowly becoming older and grumpier, trying to survive until retirement. The latter is exacerbated by a dreary saxophone theme that plays every time Murtaugh is feeling like shit. Again something that has become an action movie stereotype/cliche ever since.

Everything in the movie is basically set up to reflect these character traits. For instance Riggs carries an automatic pistol where as Murtaugh uses an old fashioned six-shooter. The musical score for Riggs is obviously very different to Murtaugh's little saxophone theme. Murtaugh's young daughter takes a fancy to Riggs, much to his horror (a bit risqué these days!). Riggs sports a wild mullet that goes against police regulations and Murtaugh's sensible short back and sides. Riggs dresses casually in jeans and a shirt, Murtaugh wears a suit etc...Its all very corny these days naturally. But of course the basic premise is that both characters save each other. Murtaugh and his family give Riggs a reason to keep living. Whilst Riggs injects some excitement and much needed manly companionship into Murtaugh's life, at a point where he was at a low due to his age.

[i]'guess we gotta register you as a lethal weapon huh'[/i]

As for the villains, well its obviously cliche city, but also not as good as you might recall. The Shadow Company is also controlled by an ex-special forces bloke (a regular trait of action movies, everyone is ex-something). General Peter McAllister (Mitchel Ryan) is simply an old bloke with white hair, he literally does nothing except throw some orders around. This character is not in the least bit threatening. His second in command, the über blonde Mr Joshua (Gary Busey), is also not particularly threatening. Unless you count being able to resist getting your arm burnt by a cigarette lighter as scary. Its amusing really because both characters literally do jack shit for the entire movie, Joshua has a fight sequence with Riggs in the finale but that's it!

And why does Joshua and Riggs right anyway? Out of nowhere Riggs just offers him a chance to fight him, one on one, mano-a-mano. Yeah we know Joshua had Riggs tortured at one point, and shot him with a shotgun at another, but why do we need this fight? It kinda felt like Donner ran out of ideas for the finale, found himself needing something to fill the gap. Its also at this point we discover both Riggs and Joshua are experts in fighting; something you don't get any inkling of beforehand and never crops up again.

In these old action flicks the baddies normally are the cheesiest. For some reason all the multitude of henchmen appear to be middle aged guys in suits, often with odd haircuts, wearing shades. This was basically the norm back in the day for action movies, but its hilarious looking back now. They were also completely useless and couldn't hit the side of a barn door with their automatic weapons. Its also amusing how these guys never seemed to have any sort of personal life, like they all just stand guard over their boss 24/7. And what group of bad guys would be complete without their own seedy bar to hang out in huh. The kind of bar where you can shoot someone and no one blinks an eye apparently.

Then outside said bar, Murtaugh simply walks into a random alley, the very same alley that McAllister is escaping in. They literally cut from an action sequence to Murtaugh wondering around outside and, oh look, there's the bad guy escaping in his car, how convenient! After Murtaugh pumps the windshield full of lead the car hits a bus and inexplicably flips over and explodes (laugh out loud!). Yeah twas cool to watch back in the day but wut?? There are many (now) hilarious sequences like this in the movie, such as the desert standoff. Riggs is on sniper duty miles away, but McAllister finds him?? Where did McAllister come from?? Murtaugh threatens to blow everyone up with a grenade...but as Joshua points out, he obviously isn't gonna kill his own daughter. Then there's the ridiculous escape failure by Murtaugh's daughter. She tries to escape in the car and somehow allows the baddie helicopter to run her into a ditch. She then proceeds to do the obligatory 'get out and run and pretend to fall over' routine.

Its clearly of no surprise to anyone that this movie is by far the best in the franchise. Like many other old action movie franchises the original is the darker, grittier, more adult orientated of the bunch. 'Lethal Weapon' is by no means a great movie looking back. After rewatching I found myself cringing at many of the action sequences, laughing at dialog and attempts at comedy, and generally thinking to myself how a persons opinions change with age (when I was younger I thought this was an epic action flick). I have to be honest and say, I think this movie gets more of a pass simply because it was the first of its kind; the first to kick open the doors and introduce all these hammy action movie cliches. Its actually the Murtaugh family scenes which are more of the highlight now. Watching Riggs react to Roger's old man bickering with his wife and kids. But despite all that, as said, its still easily the best in the series and way better than most modern day attempts.

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (Captain Underpants)
6 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Based on a children's book series of the same name which I've never heard of (no surprise). The first epic movie? So are there going to be sequels? If not then this title will look kinda silly no?

The plot: George and Harold are best friends and a pair of practical jokers in their school. At school you would have the usual array of characters such as the bully, nerd, jock, princess etc...Well these two were the pranksters. Their target being their grumpy principal Mr Krupp. One day after meddling with a fellow students invention Krupp decides to separate them which destroys the boys lives basically. In order to reverse this decision the duo hypnotise Krupp with a 'hypno ring' from a cereal box. They instruct Krupp to be more like Captain Underpants, a comicbook character they themselves created.

For a time everything is going smoothly with the boys controlling Krupp as Captain Underpants. That is until a German scientist called Professor Pippy P. Poopypants arrives at the school. It seems that the professor is trying to rid the world of laughter (because he's fed up with people mocking his name). So now its up to Captain Underpants to save the world, but will the boys keep the Captain or reverse him back to Krupp?

So as I'm sure you can tell from the character names here, this movie is inherently a kids feature (with names like Professor Pippy P. Poopypants I'm sure that's not a surprise). The whole idea of a superhero character running around in his underpants is of course an old joke passed down over the generations that (I believe) stems from Superman and his outfit. You know because Superman has those red pants on his outfit which look like underpants, which kinda look like they should be under his outfit. So since that very first incarnation there has always been this silly gag about superheroes and underpants which kids have always enjoyed. Whether or not this quirky character has anything to do with that I don't know, but its a safe bet.

So the movie is extremely childish, because its aimed at young kids. The main protagonists spend their days drawing comicbooks in their treehouse and playing pranks. There's loads of school references (albeit more American) that kids will love to hate. Lots of kiddie toilet humour. And the mcguffin they use to hypnotise Krupp is from a cereal box, a cereal box! I remember the days when hunting for little collectible toys in cereal boxes was part and parcel of my childhood, an important part of the breakfast ritual. Literally everything the duo get up to is aimed squarely at kids because they will relate to it fully. Adults will most probably receive ripples of nostalgia but will possibly find things a bit too Saturday morning cartoonish.

The real treat comes in the form of the movie visuals, something us adults can appreciate. The entire film is mainly CGI naturally but it has that claymation look to it. Everything is big round and solid with few edges, as if everything was made out of solid balloons. Its basically the same visual style as the 'The Peanuts Movie' but much much more colourful and vivid. You kinda wanna eat what you're seeing on the screen, it all looks deliciously edible. But next to that we also get snippets of other animation forms such as hand drawn, cutout, flash and a wicked little sock puppet sequence. Yes we've seen this type of thing before but its definitely a winning move. It all adds a really cool blend of dynamic visuals and imagination into the mix. Not that this movie lacks imagination, hell no, but its just really cool to see other forms of animation (one lasting plus point of the 'The Simpsons').

After doing a bit of research I was also impressed at how close to the original source material the visuals were. They really did stick to the book and capture that, dare I say, crude hand drawn style which is obviously mimicking children's drawings. All they did was make it pop in colourful CGI, kudos. Now I think about it the movies visuals also had a kind of Nintendo vibe about them I think (especially Poopypants giant toilet). An early 80's NES vibe about it, it could almost be a Mario movie if you use your imagination. I could easily see the Mushroom Kingdom being brought to life with these visuals.

So whilst the visuals were terrific the plot was a rollercoaster for me. The movie starts out good enough with the boys doing what they do and then discovering how they can bring Captain Underpants to life, so to speak. That was all relatively relatable and jolly. But everything just gets way too crazy and off the wall when Poopypants turns up. Not having read the books I can't comment on how accurate it all was, and being an adult I'm not the target audience here. But the entire zombie thing had me rolling my eyes, because that isn't the go-to option for virtually everything is it. And Poopypants giant toilet invention is basically [b]too[/b] off the wall frankly, its almost [i]South Park[/i] levels of absurdity. Its all just a bit too weekday cartoonish for me, and probably other adults. But yeah, its stupid, its silly, its enjoyable, its for kids. Simple as that really.

Swordfish
Swordfish (2001)
6 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Possibly the stupidest movie title ever? We do find out why during the film but still. Possibly the stupidest look for Travolta? The most camp hairdo? Gotta be contenders huh.

This film is basically about hacking computers, stealing lots of money and transferring it here there and everywhere in a flurry of slick sexy sequences. That's pretty much it, Travolta's character tells us its all in the name of national security and for US protection against terrorism, which it does seem to be. So this begs the question why is Travolta and his goons made out to be bad guys when they're working for the US government and hitting back at dangerous terrorists? The FBI finds out about the operation, OK its a dodgy op but what's wrong with it?

Apart from being very much like an ensemble 'Bond' flick the film actually offers a few interesting insights. Halle Berry's first topless scene is the big one (no pun intended), doesn't really add anything to the film and feels pointless but its there. This was only Vinnie Jones second major Hollywood film and again he has very little to say, still weird to see him in a Hollywood film at the time though. Twas also only Jackman's second Hollywood action film also, after 'X-Men'. This was one of the earlier films for Cheadle which started to push him further into bigger action films. Likewise this was a film within a string of action films for Travolta that all kicked off after success with a certain Tarantino film.

A bland film really with little to show, the action is impressive but doesn't feel required. It also seems way way over the top just for the sake of it. The plot doesn't really make much sense, its simple yet made out to be grand and complex with lots of tech talk and government plots. Thing is you can see right through it, its just an action film with too many big stars that are knee deep in makeup. An odd collection of stars too, none of them really gel together.

I really got the impression that certain scenes and stunts are in there just to keep you the audience interested, as none of it serves the plot. At the start where Travolta's character is doing his own little Tarantino-esq bit of dialog, Berry topless as said before, Jackman's character getting a blow job whilst trying to crack a code, sexy ladies asses on display, a car chase where Travolta uses an M60 machine gun (I think) etc...The story could be told without all that.

Its like a compilation of sexy smooth cool sequences which is assumed people will like. The actual plot and character development seems to have been added afterwards as an afterthought.

The finale typifies how the director tries to make this out to be a clever film. Travolta's character seemingly escapes in a chopper but gets blown to kingdom come by a rocket launcher. We then discover that a body double was in the chopper and Gabriel tricked everyone. But how did Gabriel know his chopper would get shot down? What if Jackman's character didn't use the rocket launcher? He didn't have to, he may not even of thought of it seeing as the weapon was back on the bus.

That was the clever twist the film had been building up to! that and another which wasn't exactly groundbreaking. So really the bad guys entire dastardly plan seemed to hinge on whether or not the good guy would use a particular weapon at a particular time, that's some good crystal ball skills right there.

Logan
Logan (2017)
6 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

And so we reach the big finale, the final curtain for Huge Jackman and his run as the infamous X-Men character Wolverine. The tenth installment in the X-Men franchise, the third solo Wolverine movie and the first R rated movie. Taking much inspiration from the classic comicbook series 'Old Man Logan' the movie is technically a stand alone story clear of any previous events in early movies. But this seems to be unclear with some saying it is a sequel to 'Apocalypse' but not a direct sequel. Or its a sequel to the 'Days of Future Past' timeline. Myself I have no clue, the X-Men franchise is so convoluted and I can barely recall anything from the earlier films anyway.

Its the year 2029 and mutants seem to be slowly dying out as none have been born for the last 25 years. Logan is now an aging, grey haired, broken man whose special healing ability has weakened over time. He now spends his time working as a limo driver whilst caring for Professor X. The professor is now also very old and weak, suffering from a brain disease that causes violent seizures which has resulted in many X-Men being killed.

Logan reluctantly accepts a job to escort a woman and young girl to a refuge in North Dakota. Alas it seems the young girl (Laura) has the same powers as Logan and a shady outfit are after her. The shady outfit in question being Transigen, a company that uses children with mutant DNA to create weapons. Transigen created Laura and want her back. And so Logan must now help Laura reach the refuge in North Dakota.

So the main hook with this movie seemed to be the fact it was an R/18 rating. This would be the first time we would see Wolverine really getting stuck into his enemies, swear and showcase a lot of claret. In all honesty that pretty much seemed like the entire reason for the hype to me. This time there would be no cuts, we'd see Wolverine stick his claws through someones head...and there would be blood, awesome. But was it? Was it really? I mean sure twas cool 'n' all but Jesus Christ I didn't cum in my pants or anything. I guess for a teenager this might have been epic but for me I saw nothing special.

But that aside lets look at the story and acting. The plot isn't anything amazing, its essentially a standard chase formula. Bad guys are trying to catch the good guys as both parties tear across the countryside. Wolverine is the typical reluctant hero, he doesn't really wanna have to deal with it, he has his own problems, but he now finds himself in the thick of it. The girl he's stumbled across was more of a pain at first, uncontrollable, a burden; but as time passes he becomes attached to her, he becomes her guardian. Its all relatively bog standard stuff we've all seen before.

Obviously the movie revolves around Jackman and his gritty performance as Logan. As I just said, at first he doesn't really wanna get involved with Laura, he has his hands full with Xavier. So naturally he's grumpy, rude, kinda selfish in a way, but ultimately tired and weary of his existence. He's aging and slowing down, he's not as agile or fit as he once was and his claws hurt him as they extend and retract. He doesn't wanna get into any fisticuffs but still finds himself raging out and killing people, mostly scummy criminal types of course. But is this really anything new? I mean lets be honest here we've seen Jackman do this grumpy, gritty, no-nonsense persona before with Wolverine, its not really that new. Is he good at it? Yes, very much so, but this wasn't an outright Oscar performance or anything, he didn't blow me away whilst watching.

I feel the same way about Patrick Stewart's performance as Xavier. Was this a good performance? Yes very much so, Stewart like Jackman have both perfected their performances as these characters and it would be hard to see another person in the roles. But did I see anything that blew me away or was any different to what he's done before in previous movies with this character? No not really, it was a solid performance but nothing more than what I've come to expect from this franchise. There is a shit-tonne of emotion radiating throughout this movie and at times, namely the ending, its quite poignant. But at the end of the day I didn't really see anything that I haven't seen before in previous movies, it was just more heightened this time.

As for the kid actor, Dafne Keen (Laura), yes again she was good in her role, but she hardly had any dialog and merely acts like a feral child when the action kicks in (which always looked kinda cringeworthy in my opinion). Yes I understand she's just a child actor and yes she did put in a solid performance for her age, but again it didn't blow me away, it really didn't. Seeing her growl and bounce around (mostly by a stunt double) like a lethal Gollum just didn't wow me I'm afraid. Its only towards the end when she starts trusting and caring about Logan that she actually comes into her own.

I did also notice that all the other child characters in this movie were mostly minority actors. Because clearly director James Mangold and co needed to hammer home the political narrative of minorities/refugees and borders, striving for freedom, and the evil white man chasing and trying to enslave/kill them. Its kinda sad that almost every movie these days has these little, not so hidden, political angles to appease certain demographics and groups.

For me I really couldn't get past the fact it was just another samey superhero flick. Despite all the grit and emotion packed into it, at the end of the day it was the same old thing. The villains were the same corny bunch of faceless kill fodder they always are. There only seems to be a dozen or so hencemen throughout the movie, then come the finale there's loads of them! Loads of bad guys for all the hero characters to merrily kill. I didn't really understand the point of the bad guys either. They wanted this mutant kids back because they created them, OK sure. But they only wanted to exterminate them, so why go to all that trouble to try and capture them? And with all this future tech on display, you're telling me that no one could have added some kind of device in these mutant test subjects that would shut them down, or kill them with the flick of a switch, if needs be? Surely by now these evil companies would have thought to do that because they all seem incapable of keeping their creations under lock and key.

I also really disliked the entire clone of Logan aspect, I realise that's a major part of his characters backstory but seeing two Jackman's (one looking kinda goofy with those muttonchops) fighting each other just looks stupid. The effects were handled well (inevitable CGI superhero stuff aside) but that kind of thing always looks daft to me. Also the clone of Logan (X-24) could have easily killed him at any point, just taken his head off, but no we gotta do the usual throwing thing. That's the other thing about these X-Men.superhero movies, the action is very repetitive. In other words what else do you expect a bloke with claws to do all the time, exactly. Seeing Logan slice 'n' dice people isn't awesome anymore folks, we've been there and done it. Simply adding blood and gore doesn't really make it any more exciting or better.

I just get the impression this movie seems to have been blown way way outta proportion simply because it was Huge Jackaman's last outing as Wolverine and everybody likes him in the role. Oh and of course it was an R rating so that makes it instantly cooler, apparently. Was this a bad movie? No. Was it a good X-Men movie? One of the best ones? Yes. Was it a stunning movie? No, it was a solid but completely unoriginal chase movie in a superhero wrapping. Don't get me wrong I didn't not like it, its certainly one of the better comicbook superhero (based) flicks, I just didn't see what all the fuss was about. In no way does this movie deserve the hype it got, in my opinion.

North Sea Hijack (ffolkes) (Assault Force)
8 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

So this is one of those movies that has numerous alternative titles for no real apparent reason. The official British title, in my opinion, is easily the best and rather self explanatory. The title of 'ffolkes' is actually the name of the protagonist played by Roger Moore. ffolkes is an old English name/title that belongs to the Baronetage of Great Britain and yes it is spelt with a lowercase 'f'. Naturally the Americans needed a more action packed title to sell it, ugh!

The plot: Its really quite simple. Ex-military officer Rufus Excalibur ffolkes is employed to create a contingency plan should any British oil rigs come under threat. Low and behold, months later, a team of crack terrorists take control of an oil rig in the North Sea. They demand a 25 million ransom or they will destroy the rig. Of course this is just what ffolkes was counting on, because he created that contingency plan remember. So its up to him to use said contingency plan and save the day.

So firstly, yes that is the characters real name. Rufus Excalibur ffolkes, just in case you didn't quite get the fact that this chap is full on British. We're talking full on [i]Rule, Britannia![/i] Union Jack waving, tea sipping British. And who better to play this type of character than Roger 'Bond Templar' Moore. The amusing thing is Moore took this gig on with the intention of getting away from being typecast as Bond-esque characters. Yet what we have here is merely Bond all over again, but grumpy. In fact the character of ffolkes is more in line with Daniel Craig's Bond if anything. He's rude, arrogant, merciless, and a misogynist (unapologetically so). Oh and he's also a big cat lover. They basically try to make him out to be the typical bachelor, as far from Moore's playboy image as possible. Alas that fails because it still screams of Bond.

Backing up ffolkes during this dangerous escapade is Admiral Brinsden played by James Mason. Not really sure why they allow an aging officer to go along with ffolkes plan to take down the terrorists. I think the bad guys wanted leverage against the British government, a juicy hostage. But anyway, if you wanted more evidence of how British this movie was, you don't get much more British than good old James Mason. Stiff upper lip and all that old chap.

The evil terrorist villains are led by Anthony Perkins (Lou Kramer) who looks and acts exactly the same as he always does, and Michael Parks (Shulman) as the sidekick with small thick Lennon specs. The character of Kramer is your bog standard baddie really. He's very aggressive, shouts a lot, twitchy, trigger-happy, clearly loses the plot when things get a bit awkward etc...Where as his sidekick Shulman is the typically quiet, calmer madman who looks a bit odd down to his thick specs.

The movie clearly plays it straight and the results are amusing to say the least. We find ffolkes training his men, his elite special unit, on what looks to be a very large climbing frame. It literally looks like he's pinched a builders scaffolding set up, because its literally scaffolding. His men are climbing all over it trying to reach the top within a certain time limit...or something. It doesn't look like a specialised elite fighting unit that's for sure, especially with ffolkes dressed like a character from the [i]Harry Potter[/i] universe, or [i]Where's Wally[/i]. What really made me laugh is how the British government chose ffolkes and his team. They watch a crappy VHS video recording of his team taking out local Judo club members who were hired to guard his scaffolding (seriously).

The movie does feature solid production values I can't deny. Shot on-board real ships and using real dockyards (in Ireland I believe), all of which adds to the authenticity. There are some good underwater sequences, good sets, and reasonable model shots. Its also looks suitable chilly at all times which again adds to the whole look and feel. Overall it definitely looks like the action is happening out in the North Sea and it definitely looks uncomfortable and moist. As you might expect the action is somewhat lacking in thrills. There isn't really any fisticuffs to speak of, hardly any gun porn, no breathtaking stunts etc...Its all pretty low-key really, dare I say very gentlemanly in execution, to tie in with the main protagonist perhaps. The most brutal things you'll see are a few hits with a harpoon gun.

Overall this is definitely a middle of the road affair that you'd typically see on TV during a lazy Bank Holiday afternoon (probably on ITV). Yes it is indeed almost a precursor to the legendary 1988 action epic 'Die Hard', the similarities are evident. In fact its very much in line with the many 'Die Hard' clones that came later, 'Under Siege' for example. One of the best things about this movie is obviously Roger Moore and his quirks. But its the misogyny from his character that actually makes this more enjoyable honesty. Knowing how controversial it would be now, the sheer outrage that would follow (across [i]Twitter[/i]). It does show how more accepting we were back in the day frankly, that you could actually do this without worrying about outrage. Knowing it was just for the movie, just a bit of dark humour for a dark horse of a character. It shows how much we have regressed as a society in my view.

I love how the finale kinda expresses this point. After the mission is complete ffolkes is congratulated by the Prime Minster and top ranking officials. But he doesn't receive medals or money or whatever (stuff and nonsense my dear boy). Instead he is awarded with three fluffy kittens, because he's a cat loving bachelor that hates women, remember.