‘The Promise’ is confused in what it’s trying to be.

promise_xlg.jpgThe Promise is set on the brink of the first world war as the Ottoman Empire stands upon its last legs. As Michael Boghosian (Oscar Isaac, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) arrives in the vibrant city of Constantinople (now Istanbul) with the determination of bringing modern medicine with him to his ancestral village in Southern Turkey, he finds that Turkish Muslims and Armenian Christians have lived together for centuries. A photo-journalist by the name of Chris Myers (Christian Bale, The Dark Knight trilogy, The Prestige) has only come to cover the geo-political situation. Chris is mesmerised by Charlotte le Bon’s Ana, an Armenian artist from Paris who’s only just arrived after the sudden death of her father. When Ana and Michael meet, their shared Armenian heritage sparks a romantic attraction and rivalry between the the two men. As the Turks form an alliance with Germany, Turkey turns violent against its own ethnic minorities. The trio are forced to put their feelings aside as they fight for survival.

There’s no doubt that The Promise often veers into a cliche territory that we, as an audience, may have seen multiple times before and there are better historical romances set against the backdrop of war, but the one thing that The Promise does remind us of is the often untouched parts of the war that Hollywood hardly delves into.

Like many films that struggle with story and with the film overall, there’s at least a performance or two that make it somewhat worth it. In this case, it’s in Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale, who continue to prove themselves to be amongst some of the best actors of their generation. The portray a story amongst many against the backdrop of the last days of Constantinople though the story hardly ever feels as epic as it tries to be. Co-writer and Director of ‘Hotel Rwanda’ fame Terry George does try his best but it’s no cigar. Story isn’t enough and all the technical elements can only do so much to bolster something that just isn’t there in the first place.

The Promise endeavours to educate us in a portion of history but honestly doesn’t take full responsibility for doing so. It barely skirts at the truth, the love triangle more of a hinderance than an aid, though this isn’t something that should be surprising. The film as a whole could barely decide if it was war film or a love story, confirming further that this film just doesn’t know what it is. The Turkish Government still denies the fact that the genocide that happened, despite all the proof. It was like The Promise was afraid to really pull off a confronting look at what happened.

Film-O-Meter: 5/10.

‘The Secret Scripture’ gets lost in translation.

The Secret Scripture
 tells the story of a woman who kept a diary during her extended stay at a mental hospital.

It’s no surprise that this is a film that holds a negative light — it could be considered a historical romance at its cheesiest, despite the performances. Rooney Mara is a brilliant actress, when given the right role to shine, an it was nice to see Theo James in something else than the Divergent films and Underworld: Blood Wars as the macho action star. However, in saying this, it blows any Nicholas Sparks novel to film translation. You’d much rather see something like this than drift off into sleep into another, almost generic, Sparks adaption.

‘The Secret Scripture’ is a film with a lot to say but as it delves deeper and deeper into the film, it really struggles to find a way to say it. Even with the multiple attempts the film tries to come across fails to really get across what it wants. Director Jim Sheridan (In The Name of the Father, My Left Foot, In America) lacks the subtly of his previous work, unable to find any stable footing to bring across the story despite the wonderful performances he helps draw out of the actors.

The adaption of The Secret Scripture can be seen as the classic case of an adaption from a novel to a film where the themes are lost in translation. It’s a film that looks nice on the outside but ultimately it’s foundation is on rocky ground. The more time spent with the film, the more you’ll see past the facade it holds. In the end, the ‘big reveal’ has hardly so.

Film-O-Meter: 5/10.

‘The Lost City of Z’ suffers from its length despite its potential.

The Lost City of Z tells the story of Percy Fawcett who ventured into the Amazon in search of a myth. What he discovered became legendary.

What an extraordinary film that’s another example of length making it almost insufferable. It’s a much preferred watch compared to, say, the new Transformers atrocity currently in cinemas that holds a similar length. In saying this, however, it would’ve been nice if the film were historically accurate but again, this may be asking too much with the current state of the film. The quality of filmmaking here is noticeable and therefore much more appreciated for what the film is worth.

Ever since his days in Twilight, there’s no doubt that Robert Pattinson has improved though he still remains somewhat stale. He has a long way to go but has also come a long way so far. The star leading the film through the Amazon Jungle in Charlie Hunnam carried the weight of the film on his shoulders with much more ease than with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, in which he awkwardly stumbled through. Whatever happened between those two films was a noticeable difference as he really proved himself to be an amicable actor. It was also such a different side to him that we saw in Son’s of Anarchy.

It is worth the run time and if you’re looking for something to watch, amid the slew of trash (or lack there of) gracing our screens at the moment, The Lost City of Z is something to consider.

Film-O-Meter: 6/10.

‘Rough Night’ is something we’ve seen before.

Rough Night
 tells the story of the things that go terribly wrong for a group of girlfriends who hire a male stripper for a bachelorette party in Miami.

This is a film we’ve seen before and it brings nothing new to the table apart from the fact that it’s an all female lead cast that gives it a whiff of fresh air. I saw Rough Night after a weekend of working at a convention and just wanted to see something that would help me wind down and for that, it served its purpose: it was a mindless film where events occurred, in places that you expected they would, and the characters reacted to said events, in the way that you expected they would.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if much of the audience that went to see the film thought that the dick jokes and the characters doing stupid things when mixing alcohol and drugs was just plain stupidly boring. However, in saying this, this part of the audience clearly went into the film with a different expectation: Rough Night shouldn’t be taken seriously and because of that, a much more enjoyable time could be taken out of it.

Rough Night isn’t perfect but it is fun, even when every joke wasn’t laugh out loud yet worthy enough of a snort at least. The first act of the film is by far the weakest but most needed to establish Rough Night, though the characters, along with their traits and personalities, are obvious. Once you get past this, the film really gets going and events start to spiral out of control. And what the best part about of the latter two acts of the film is that the female characters aren’t sexualised in anyway that the female characters in, say, The Hangover films in which Rough Night was compared to. For what the film is, this is actually quite nice to see.

And being an Australian, going into this film knowing that a non-Australian in Kate McKinnon was playing an Australian made me nervous. There were times where her accent seemed a little over the top or she even lost it completely, but overall, it remained consistent throughout unlike other on screen attempts. It also would’ve been great to seen an Australian fill the role as there’s no shortage of Australian’s in Hollywood with Margot Robbie, Rose Byrne (who used her native accent in comedy Neighbours along with its sequel), Isla Fisher, Teresa Palmer, Abbie Cornish, and Rebel Wilson (much like Rose Byrne, used her native accent in the Pitch Perfect movies) making an impact.

It’s nice to see Scarlett Johansson taking on a comedy as she’s mostly been known for her drama films or kicking ass along with the Avengers. Jillian Bell and Zoe Kravitz don’t disappoint as they give their own fair share of laughs. The friendship between the characters was something that could really be believed and that’s something that could be commended on. The surprise appearance of Demi Moore was nice as, much like Johansson, wasn’t something that the audience or myself were expecting. And with all these female characters, it was good to see that they weren’t portrayed in a one dimensional way.

Rough Night offers a lot more than the typical storyline it follows that many of the male lead films fail to deliver on. Though it may not be the most memorable film, and one that may not be getting much attention amongst the other slew bigger budgeted or more series films out now, it’s at least something you can switch off to while having a laugh.

Film-O-Meter: 5/10.

‘The Mummy’ isn’t even worth sleeping through.

‘The Mummy’ tells the story of an ancient princess who’s awakened from her crypt beneath the desert and brings terrors that defy human comprehension.

For a film that was supposed to set off Universal Studios ‘Dark Universe,’ it was utterly disappointing. It’s more common place now to see multiple films tied together in supposed ‘universes’ much like many of M. Night Shyamalan’s films or the comic book universes saturating the market and in Universal’s attempt to do this, their attempts to mash up the Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins ‘The Wolfman’ back in 2010, the Luke Evans starred ‘Dracula Untold’ alongside Dominic Cooper, this new ‘Mummy’ remake, as well as the known story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. With names like Johnny Depp and Javier garden being thrown into the mix, it’s not hard to find that Universal is pulling all the strings they can to make this work and so they can catch up, only to fail miserably thus far.

It’s been nearly twenty years since the Brendan Fraser incarnation of the film graced our screens. It was a brilliant, over-the-top, cheeseball of a movie that was definitely of it’s time. But the difference between this Tom Cruise incarnation and the Brendan Fraser helmed trilogy is that Cruise is by far from his peak, hardly as charismatic as he once used to be, and it felt like another rehash of his Ethan Hunt role from the ‘Mission: Impossible’ series where the stunts (and everything behind it) are more memorable and well known than the actual film or even the storyline. Cruise is just being Cruise throughout the film as he runs from evil with his face of intensity that has become his natural look and signature demeanour of a lot of his films of late. He does this while, typically of films of late, an attractive, usually blonde, woman half his age runs around without half a brain and hardly assisting him apart from playing the part of a romantic interest. It takes itself way too seriously and can’t have fun at the same time, much like Fraser ‘Mummy’ trilogy. This new adaption is just plain wrong and failed to gain any sort of interest early on.

Even with the titular character of ‘The Mummy’ being a woman in the amazing Sofia Boutella from ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ and ‘Star Trek: Beyond’ fame, her desire to possess Cruise’s character so they could reign together as King and Queen, it really makes you question how this film came about, why those like Cruise, Boutella, and Russell Crowe agreed to do the project in the first place, and how three screenwriters as well as three ‘screen story by’ writers came up with such a film as this. It’s also a shame, however, that Boutella had very little to do because if given the chance, she could’ve become more of a threatening presence.

Amongst the writer’s, there are the ever experienced David Koepp responsible for hits such as ‘Jurassic Park’ (1993); ‘Mission: Impossible’ (1996); and ‘Spider-Man’ (2002) alongside Christopher McQuarrie responsible for the writing of ‘The Usual Suspects’ (1995); ‘Valkyrie’ (2008); ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ (2014); and ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’ (2015). With credits like these, it really makes you question what went wrong because a lot of these films were well received. Even with director David Kurtzman, responsible for the screenplays of ‘The Legend of Zorro’ (2005); ‘Star Trek’ (2009) and it’s sequel ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ (2013), there was no saving this film. His directing credits are limited, with only a single feature film credit previous to this film, and it really shows with ‘The Mummy.’ It felt like he was haphazardly throwing the film together, not really sure what he should be doing. As a result, it makes the film even more unbelievable.

No character is memorable and the writing falls into traps that any screenwriter should know to avoid — they tell more than they show with Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll more of an expository character than anything else (though it was fun to see him beat the crap out of Cruise later in the film). For some reason, the writer’s, despite their filmic and television experience, thing that the more explaining, the better of the film will be. How could the be more wrong. The dialogue was stilted and strange with the actors struggling to do their best with poor direction and an even worse script.

‘The Mummy’ isn’t even one of those films that you love to hate or even a film that you could turn off to while watching. The cinema chairs might be a little uncomfortable to even fall asleep in and take a nap throughout this USD$125million disaster that honestly just doesn’t know what it’s trying to be, despite how desperate it wants to be original. It’s dull in comparison of the 1999 film and, if it can be believed, a worse of a start to a potential series than Guy Ritchie’s ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ was.

‘Wonder Woman’ one of the best DCU films in a long time.

Wonder Woman
 tells the story of Diana Prince, princess of the Amazons, before she was Wonder Woman. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

What an amazing film coming out of a pile of dogshite that’s the DC universe, don’t excuse the French. Director Patty Jenkins has brought us the best portrayal of ‘Wonder Woman’ to the screen and does the character justice to such an iconic character. What’s such a massive relief is this film being done right and wasn’t destroyed like Catwoman in 2004 and Elektra in 2005. The DC universe did get off to a rough start that didn’t deliver so fingers crossed this is a change of pace, finally.

There will be no doubts comparisons to MCU and there’s no shame in saying that Wonder Woman’s DCU’s Captain America — a fish out of water with a heart of gold only wanting to do the best for those around her. You couldn’t imagine anyone else as Wonder Woman apart from Gal Gadot and she has wonderful chemistry with Chris Pine as war pilot Steve Trevor.

Amazonians accompanying Gadot is Connie Nielsen as overprotective mother and Queen, Hippolyta and her right hand woman Antiope played by the bad ass Robin Wright, whom I love very dearly.

It’s a visually spectacular film with mind blowing action set pieces pulled on camera by Matthew Jensen. It’s not a conglomeration of special effects much like what we’ve seen in previous instalments of the DC universe in Man of Steel and Batman Vs Superman helmed by Zack Snyder and Suicide Squad helmed by David Ayer. Those films were a mess that you couldn’t make any sense out of while Wonder Woman finally had a refreshing sense of logic and humour to it. It was a film that was serious but didn’t take itself too seriously.

The film doesn’t really start going until we leave the island of Themiscyra after an average first act that was needed to set Diana up as a character. There, she’s broken into a world that’s so unlike what she imagined. And from there, we’re taken straight into the action and like I said before, it isn’t overwhelming. It’s enough to get us excited to see a woman be so bad ass and kick some bad guy butt. Amongst all this, a love story is interwoven but it isn’t a stand out, over the top aspect of the story. If this was helmed by a man, or done any differently, the hinted at sex scene would’ve been taken further and made almost pornographically unnecessary. Much like the MCU with their villains, it’s not the strongest element of this movie but the women do steal the show.

All the idiots who have brought the film down because of their sexist and misogynistic views can bite their tongues. Hard. Until they bleed. While everyone deserves their opinions and the such, there are some that just need put in their ways, to help those with those views to realise what’s ultimately wrong. There have been comments about Gal Gadot’s appearance and is downright sexist trash that makes me sick thinking about it.

Wonder Woman is one of the best films in a long time, and even since The Dark Knight all those years ago. It’s such an important movie for woman and honestly, it’s the first in a dramatic change in cinema and how we view films.

Film-O-Meter: 9/10.

‘John Wick: Chapter 2′ is what every sequel should aspire to be.

John Wick: Chapter 2
 continues the story of John Wick after he returns to the criminal underworld to repay a debt and discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.

With this sequel that every sequel aspires to be, Keanu Reeves proves that he still has it and that he’s an immortal vampire that’ll never share his secrets of eternal youth. Chapter 2 proves to be still as ridiculously over the top as the original and it’s rare that action type films have any sort of artistic value but with John Wick, there’s no doubt that it proves to be something of quality.

if you want a break from all the drama and seriousness of cinema, without having to venture into the sloppiness that comedy has become, this is the film for you. The production value of the film has been set incredibly high and is an incredible film in itself, from the colour, design, and action sequences that are beyond impressive and would put any Tom Cruise action film to shame.

And despite its extended run time from the original, you don’t feel its length as film sucks you in and spits you out. To simply put it, John Wick: Chapter 2 proves to be all around enthralling as you live in another world. It’s one of the best action films in a very long time and is everything you’d want from one. Even with other familiar faces in rapper Common is commendable in his role and the brief appearances of Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, as well as Laurence Fishburne, they all made their own impact in the small roles they were given. It was a primarily Keanu Reeves held role and any up and comer struggling with the weight of a film on their shoulders should take note. The only slight disappointment was Australian Ruby Rose who barely made an impact. While representation is a downfall in Hollywood, Rose’s character can be commended for that, but her performance as a whole was bland and unmemorable. She’s not an actress and it shows.

If you loved the first, you’ll love the second, and even then, it’s well worth your time and money.

Film-O-Meter: 7/10.