Thursday, 30 April 2015


For the longest time ever, I have been a fan of comic book superheroes and have taken a liking to Hollywood film adaptations of them. Therefore, it is no surprise that I am extremely eager to watch this movie I am about to review. After a tremendous billion dollar box-office success with The Avengers in 2012, comic book publishers Marvel green-lit a sequel for release in 2015.

The sequel in titled The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Joss Whedon returns to the helm to direct and write the film. The sequel reunites the cast from its predecessor; Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johannson, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Samuel L. Jackson, and Cobie Smulders. Joining the assemble cast are Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olson, and James Spader. As with all Marvel films, Kevin Feige returns as producer.

Will the sequel be better than the first film? Do read on…

Avengers Assemble!

The assemble of Earth’s mightiest heroes known as The Avengers is on assignment to retrieve Loki’s (villain from previous film) scepter hidden by Hydra in an Eastern European country. After successfully completing their mission, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) decides to use the energy from the scepter to create a robot with artificial intelligence named Ultron. To their surprise, the robot Ultron begins to take a life of its own and is hell-bent on destroying Earth. It is up to our superheroes to stop it.

Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)

Scattered and mildly strong. Following the success of the first film which received raved reviews for its storyline, uncommon for comic book superhero films, this sequel was slightly disappointing. Although the storyline is pretty straight forward, at times it tends to cramp a lot all at once. It seems that Marvel is trying to set-up multiple storylines for future films involving each individual superhero character. In other words, there are too many sub-plots to supplement the main storyline plot. This eventually led to more dialogue scenes to explain a lot of what is going on in the film. On the bright side, the wit and humour is as good, and maybe even better, than the first film. Quite good characterization of roles as we get to see more of the human side of our heroes rather than focus on their special abilities.  

Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth)

With an ensemble cast of established actors in one film, it is expected for each and every actor to bring their best to the screen. I am happy to say that all perform well. I particularly liked the performance of the new cast in Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, and James Spader. Although we only hear Spader’s voice, he sounded menacing as the main villain of the film. Paul Bettany, who in previous Marvel films only provided the voice of Stark’s artificial intelligence software Jarvis, is given a bigger role as a live-action member of the cast. His performance is remarkable and somewhat a scene stealer for the film.

Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)

Excellent but can be a little over the top. Director Joss Whedon is known to be true comic book fan. In my opinion, Whedon brought comic book artistry to life in the first film. He does it again with the second film and it is just as exciting. As with blockbuster movie franchises such as this, movie studios tend to provide more budget to produce sequels. Whedon took advantage of this by staging more spectacular action sequences and included more visual effects compared to the first film. Everything is on a bigger scale this time around. The visual effects are top notch and there are some very creative shots.

Director Joss Whedon on set with Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)

Moderate at best. When there is a lot of dialogue to explain the film’s plot, it feels a little slow. However, it is balanced out with some wit and humour the Joss Whedon ‘style’.

Tony Stark / Iron Man building Ultron

As the world is faced against an unpredictable force of evil, our Earth’s mightiest superheroes must put aside their ago and petty differences to protect humanity from what could be a global disaster.

Newcomers Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen as twins Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch

The editing could have been better. Multiple sub-plots can be turn-off for audiences.

Director Joss Whedon giving some pointers to Elizabeth Olsen

Great action sequences and visual effects which is complemented by some nifty sound effects design.

Captain Amerca / Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) in action

Personally, I feel the first film is better than this second film. However, it is worth a watch because it is highly entertaining. It is not necessary to watch the first film in order to understand the second film but it would be a better experience have seen both.

7 out of 10.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015


Back in 2001, a little known film about the world of street car drag racing titled The Fast and the Furious made its debut in cinemas. The film became a surprise hit and to this date has spawned six more sequels for a total of seven film in the movie franchise. Personally, I am a fan to the film series and have watched every movie in the film series. This seventh film in the series is not only anticipated because of its popularity but also due the fact that one of its leading actors did not complete the film. During a hiatus in production, actor Paul Walker was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident.
The seventh film in the film series is titled Furious 7. A new director is at the helm in the name of horror master James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious). The film reunites the core cast members from the previous films; Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Jordana Brewster, and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Joining the star-studded cast is action star Jason Statham and veteran actor Kurt Russell. Asian star from Thailand Tony Jaa also has a small role. The film is written by Chris Morgan and is produced yet again by Neal H. Moritz.

How will the seventh installment fair up this time? Do read on…

Muscle, fast cars, and family.

Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel) and his gang return home to Los Angeles in hopes of starting afresh after their previous mission saw them defeating terrorist Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). As they are about to settle down with their families, Owen’s elder brother Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) vows vengeance by threatening the lives of their loved ones. Deckard is revealed to be a very formidable foe. At the same time, a secret government organization led by Kurt Russell is also after Deckard. Together, the organization and Torretto’s gang form an alliance to track down Deckard.

(L-R): Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker, and Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges

The storyline is surprisingly good and engaging. It has just the right amount of action and drama to make the film interesting. Despite the plot being a continuation of the previous sixth film, it can actually function as a stand-alone film even if the audience hasn’t watched the previous installments. There are also good comedic scenes to give the film some balance in between the action and drama. The plot is easy to understand and does not feel complicated. Even though there are many characters, each role is given sufficient time to develop. The film also managed to squeeze in a romantic subplot between the lead characters which fan of the film series will understand. There is a pretty moving tribute to Paul Walker in the end.
Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel) getting ready for an action.
The characters of the film series is pretty much rooted in toughness and machoism. Since the same actors are reprising their roles, there’s not much stretch of the imagination required by the actors. I am pleased to say that everyone brought their ‘A’ game to the film. The addition of Jason Statham as the villain and Kurt Russell as a sort of ‘elder statesman’ brought freshness to the film. I liked the fact there is more screen time given to Tyrese Gibson and Chris “Ludacris’ Bridges to expand their roles as the film’s comic relief.

Jason Statham plays Deckard Shaw.

To be honest, I had doubts that James Wan would be able to pull it off directing an action film. Wan is known for horror films and I didn’t see how he could fit in enhancing the film series. I am pleased to say that he squashed my doubts and did a fantastic job in directing the film. The shots were creative in particular the action scenes. The fight scenes were choreographed neatly and the intensity was gripping. Some action scenes were quite intense which could make the audience member cringe in fear. The visual effects blended in seamlessly into the film which make it as though they were filmed using practical effects.

Star Vin Diesel and film's director James Wan

Good pacing and rarely boring. Although at times when the pacing was slow, it managed pick-up pace with good dialogue and minor action scenes.

A group of ragtag criminals who intend to turn a new leaf must band together once again to battle an unexpected cunning enemy while risking their lives and loved ones.

The late Paul Walker in an action scene

Good story and good action scenes. I dare to say that it is even better than the previous films. Good mix of drama in between the testosterones of the film. Many positive elements of family, brotherhood, and teamwork.

Some plot lines and character development are related to previous films. If you haven’t seen previous film installments, you might not understand.

Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) battle it out with Deckard (Jason Statham)

In my opinion, this is the best one of all the seven films. The previous films were bombarded with constant action scenes while this film has a good balance. For fans of fight choreography, seeing Vin Diesel and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson go up against Jason Statham is worth the price of the ticket. I really like it!

For Paul

8.5 out of 10