Blindspot 2017: The Italian Job (2003)

Italian Job Poster

Plot: After being betrayed and left for dead in Italy, Charlie Croker and his team plan an elaborate gold heist against their former ally.

This month is running the risk of churning out very little blog posts. That’s okay. I’d rather post when I’m in the mood versus loading crap because I have some demented sense of responsibility. I sat down to get through this Blindspot entry after my emotional breakdown finishing Spartacus. I can’t even contemplate reviewing it yet, I go into a hulk smash mode whenever I think of it – just ask Zoë. So I am not committing to watching another show right now. I can’t deal with having my heart ripped out of my chest a second time.

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So on to The Italian Job – it was quite okay if a bit forgettable. Mark Whalberg pretends he can act and we let him think he can. Seriously, I’ve always thought of him as Second-Tier Matt Damon. Then Donald Sutherland – what’s the word on him out there? He seems to have been 76 for 76 years; I can neither contemplate him as younger or older than he always seems to be. I’m also not really onboard with saying he’s a fantastic actor – age is not an indicator of talent. President Snow is a top tier thief in The Italian Job, recently on the run from his parole officer, when he meets up again with Charlie (Whalberg), and a Fast and the Furiousesquetype of team of thieves. There’s Jason Statham as Handsome Rob (don’t get why people think he’s handsome – he’s short, angry, and can’t act), then two other guys. Or three other guys. Not sure. They are all introduced in a typical fashion, with flashbacks and quips. Some of the dialogue is quite off, the humor doesn’t always hit the right spot, and it is very easy to forecast the resolution of this film. Homegirl Charlize Theron is the best with acting in the bunch working to find her father’s killer, and she made the movie okay for me. She’s a smart sort in this film, making sure the skills she learned from her nefarious father is turned into a legal and thriving enterprise. Also – really blonde and pretty and completely devoid of her South-African accent.

It seems like an Ocean’s Eleven, without the extreme charm of George Clooney and Brad Pitt to carry it when needs be. The acting and storyline isn’t as solid as it should be either. They rely heavily on the use of Mini Coopers to provide flash, and I guess when the car manufacturer launched again back in 2003 it was a big deal. But shoot me – I don’t see a man driving a mini as significantly manly. The car is so tiny – if you want to rob things just use a big vehicle.

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The Italian job a decent enough heist/thief movie, with the characters as always trying to show you how nice thieves really are. Did I miss the part where the name of the movie links to the content of the movie? Or is it merely because their job in Rome resulted in the death of one of their team members? I can’t really tell, so let me know if you know.

I’ve had such a fantastic list in 2017 so The Italian Job isn’t near to the best I’ve seen, but it is quite enjoyable all the same. You don’t need to think too hard about it, so it was really quite okay to watch with my broken Spartacus and Gannicus’d heart.

Rating: 7/10

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Movie Review: The Fate of the Furious (2017)

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Plot:When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trials that will test them as never before.

I am quite the big fan of the Fast and Furious franchise. I reviewed the entire series a while ago, and naturally the mere mention of the return of Dominic Toretto and his family was enough to get me excited. These movies have become progressively bigger and more extreme as the series developed, and the Fate of The Furious makes no exception.

To be honest, this is the first film that I felt was overly ridiculous. It has always been very ridiculous with this franchise, but this one went very extra. The “banter” between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham made my toes curl with embarrassment. Seriously – the testosterone these two emit in each other’s presence was nothing short of hilarious. Dwayne Johnson had some pretty funny lines as a school soccer coach, and his desperation in having his girls win the game to avoid a Tay-Tay concert was quite funny and understandable. Fast 8 tries to market Jason Statham now as one of the team, as a Shaw brother it is quite confusing as he was a main villain about fifteen seconds ago.

Dominic Toretto abandoning his family seems crazy, and that is exactly what he does. Villian Cypher (Charlize Theron) shows Dom something on a screen and it is enough to make him drop his wife Lettie (Michelle Rodriguez) and his team. What could make him do this? What does Cypher want? That’s never too clear, because I don’t think the plot is the primary point of this film, and we are left in the dark more than once.

I won’t say why Dom did what he did, but there WAS a BIG reason. Naturally Brian (Paul Walker) must be mentioned loudly at least once, and that he can’t come help because they decided he needs to be away. I don’t really agree with the decision on that, because Brian O’Connor in the Law of the Furious would never drop Dominic Toretto – however sad Paul Walker’s death may be, I think the character would have died too instead of abandoning his family.

Charlize Theron’s Cypher has a very blurry reason for the things she does. The chemistry between her and Vin Diesel is less than zero, and that kiss they share is cold and plain weird (despite Diesel’s strange comments about it). There is a lot of explosions and more bad dialogue, and when Diesel, Johnson and Statham appear together onscreen the manly manliness is almost too much to witness. The rest of the crew – Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Megan (Nathalie Emmanuel) and  Ludacris (Tej) get laughably terrible lines. Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) is still cool AF, and he’s joined by tough guy Scott Eastwood as a new recruit. The awesome Kristofer Hiviju is Cypher’s henchman, and I still love Tormund even though he’s a baddy in here.

The last few scenes of the film is naturally very dramatic and highly unlikely, and the end is  mushy but manly-still. This formulaic fan festival of epic proportions is outrageous, crazy and very similar to the last couple of Fast films. I found it slightly less engaging with a little worse dialogue, but I’m not even fooling myself – if there is a Fast 9, I will still watch it.

Rating: 6/10

Watched, Read, Loved: September 2017

Yay! Spring is here in South-Africa and I couldn’t be more excited. When the weather is so much better I am so much better. Getting to work while the sun is actually up makes me a much nicer colleague.

I’ve been doing a couple of Parkruns. My work gave us all the opportunity in taking part in the Discovery Pulse challenge, which made me realize (again) how little steps I take each day. I’ve been trying to average it at 5000 steps, but that is already a challenge. The challenge officially began on the 27th of September 2017, and I really am working hard to do everything healthier – eating, sleeping, more exercise, less stress (HA!). It runs for three months and I will definitely let you know how it progresses.

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Movies

The Fate of The Furious: Continuing the ridicule of series that is the Fast Franchise, Dominic Toretto this time abandons his family for some obscure reason. I really enjoy these films because they are so brain dead and is just easy entertainment, but this one was particularly ridiculous.

Hidden Figures: So.Much.Love. It is heartwarming and beautiful with excellent performances, and I am so happy the film was released in such an important time in history. Not only is it about racial prejudice, it is about female empowerment, determination, love, courage and there are also great scenes of the early days of NASA.

Walk the line

Walk The Line: I was SO proud when I finally watched this – I’ve had the DVD on my shelf for many years now, and I remember hearing people rave about it but I never really made the effort to see for myself. Well, it was great, and a great Blindspot choice for me.

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The Girl on the Train: It was okay. I enjoyed Blunt (I always do), and her supporting female co-stars where all very strong. I also really do like Luke Evans. The big plot twist – I caught it half right so I was marginally impressed. Definitely not as good as Gone Girl, but interesting all the same.

Easy A (Official Movie Poster)

Easy A (2010): Emma Stone is one of my favourite young Hollywood stars. She’s just so incredibly talented and really funny. Easy A is some of her earlier work and she’s hilarious as Olive Pendergast. If I ever have daughters I hope they are like Olive – not willing to take bad behaviour from friends, loyal, hilarious, inventive and wildly inappropriate.

Wild Child

Wild Child (2008): Many people wouldn’t necessarily like this film, but I really do. It is one of my favourite teen movies, and although it isn’t as sharp as Easy A, Mean Girls, Heathers or Clueless (other favourites), it still remains one of the nicest things to watch, reminiscent of a time where Emma Roberts and Alex Pettyfer were clean cut, sweet individuals (probably not that sweet).

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Australia (2008): One of Baz Luhrman’s work I have had the least exposure to, Australia is a tribute to the wild and terrifying glory that is the continent of Australia. Hugh Jackman is ridiculously attractive, wildly blown out of proportion delicious, and the dainty and unexpectedly hilarious Nicole Kidman impressed me with some of the humour she injected into her character. This was definitely a great watch and I will watch it more in the future

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Clueless: Clueless is one of my favorite “high-school” films. It is so silly and sweet and Paul Rudd is so adorable and Alicia Silverstone is so friggin adorable. You can’t feel bad after watching something like this, you just can’t.

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Books:

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Gone Girl: Gillian Flynn I actually started reading this after The Girl on The Train, because it made me want to explore more thrillers. I am really enjoying so far and finding the writer pretty good at telling a story.

Hot Rocks: Nora Roberts I can’t decide whether it will be worth my time actually reviewing this. I’ve now successfully proven to bestie that I can actually read and review a book and then just not remember it, and it might very well happen with this novel. It wasn’t bad and I actually had a pretty great time, but it feels superfluous reviewing every single Nora Roberts book I read

Movie Review: Furious 7 (2015)

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Plot: Dominic and his crew thought they’d left the criminal mercenary life behind. They’d defeated international terrorist Owen Shaw and went their separate ways. But now, Shaw’s brother, Deckard Shaw, is out killing the crew one by one for revenge. Worse, a Somalian terrorist called Jakarde and a shady government official called “Mr. Nobody” are both competing to steal a computer terrorism program called “God’s Eye,” that can turn any technological device into a weapon. Torretto must reconvene with his team to stop Shaw and retrieve the God’s Eye program while caught in a power struggle between the terrorist and the United States government.

Rating: 7/10

I’m finally through the franchise! I’ve really had a blast, despite some of those first few movies that made me legitimately wonder how they ever got more movies approved.

Furious 7’s production was initially halted when Paul Walker tragically died in a car crash. The world was horrified – both by the death of this well-loved actor and the way that he passed away. Walker has always been a car fanatic, and the car he drove in 2Fast 2Furious was actually his own car. His brothers helped out with filming the remaining scenes, which ensured that Brian O’Connor got the end he deserved.

As for the film? There are numerous mentions for the need for Brian to stop and properly commit to his pregnant wife and son. He struggles with being a standard dad and not an adrenaline seeking ex-cop turned car thief turned assisting the FBI, and wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) notices these struggles. She urges him on one last mission to avenge the death of Han (Sung Kang). Lettie (Michelle Rodriguez) is still struggling to regain her memory and Dominic is struggling with impatience because there are obvious things he wants her to remember. Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson) returns to make bad jokes and Tej (Ludacris) returns to being geeky and cool. The most recent permanent instalment returns as Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who seems to have found even more muscles since the last film.

Furious 7 is as expected over the top, this time with Lamborghinis crashing through sky towers in Dubai. Brian O’Connor escapes a few certain deaths himself, and I couldn’t help but think the writers really wanted to leave clues everywhere. In terms of insanity, the airdrop scene came only second to the Dubai scene. Okay, there was the final collapse in Los Angeles was very crazy too.

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Djimon Hounsou is some form of African warlord and he is basically ignored only when he’s really needed. Jason Statham replaces Luke Evans as the Shaw brother to sort out, and for all his capabilities in dealing with action sequences, I have never thought him to be the most solid villain. Elsa Pataky returns as Elena, and I am not really sure why, except (hopefully) that she and Hobbs end up together – a girl can dream! Kurt Russel also has some role, and I was surprised when he was the good guy to the end, it seemed shot in a way that he would have ulterior motives.

But is the film good? Well, it’s not bad. I thought it was a bit loose at the ends and it didn’t gel as it should have. Overall, as part of the franchise, the film didn’t feel like the best. I am glad it ended like it did, but I also thought that Brian O’Connor would never leave Dom behind – ever. It’s pretty much that feeling that Mark Darcy should rather be dead (like in the books) than leave Bridget Jones – I can’t believe I just compared the Fast franchise to Bridget Jones, but there we go.

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What are your thoughts? How do you feel about what happened in the last film? Do you agree with the arc regarding Brian O’Connor? Share, share!

Just what is this Macho Movie doing on my blog?! The Expendables III (2014)

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Plot: Barney augments his team with new blood for a personal battle: to take down Conrad Stonebanks, the Expendables co-founder and notorious arms trader who is hell bent on wiping out Barney and every single one of his associates.

Rating: 5.5/10

So, I made it to the final one. Watching the Expendables has been consistent – consistently bad. The second one was the best because it had so much cheesy in it. I actually really enjoyed Expendables 2. It was hilariously cheesy and I can watch that again.

E3 has a bigger cast and bigger explosions but not a bigger heart. The younger cast wasn’t implemented correctly and it is a really bad day when Kellan Lutz has to be mentioned as the best performance of new cast members. He was actually much better than I expected.

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Harrison Ford replaces Bruce Willis as the intelligence agent. He looks so painfully old. It makes me uncomfortable to face this stark reminder that even the greatest action stars aren’t immune against time.

The biggest thing in this movie was the music score. Why did they suddenly choose rap music? WHAT?

Then there are Sylvester’s outfits when he runs around with Kelsey Grammar playing rent a sniper. He just looked like a pimp. What?

That girl. Really, what was the idea? Her acting was so bad I couldn’t celebrate the existence of a female Expendable.

Antonio Banderas as the village idiot: WHAT? So bad and so annoying.

Just, WHAT?

Just What is this Macho Movie doing on my Blog?! The Expendables II (2012)

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Plot: Mr. Church reunites the Expendables for what should be an easy paycheck, but when one of their men is murdered on the job, their quest for revenge puts them deep in enemy territory and up against an unexpected threat.

Rating: 6.5/10

The Expendables 2 is this little gift of hilarity that fell straight down from heaven. It is ten times better than the first one.

I really do like Sylvester Stallone. He seems to be a really hardworking and mostly nice guy, he’s been married for a very long time to one lady and he is a living legend who likes to do his stunts on his own (that explains the painful running scenes). I think it’s quite cool that he did a project like this – these old action figures are legends that deserve the same amount of respect and admiration as old rockstars do. It’s a bit creepy, but I really enjoy looking at Sly, especially with that hat on. I think I should go see a psychologist about it though – he’s OLD.

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The Expendables 2 gifts us with seeing Stallone, Willis, Arnie, Van Damme AND Chuck Norris all in one film. I mean, these are the gods of Action. It is also the movie where artificial faces make its case study to be accepted into society – Stallone loses the competition where Arnie and Van Damme were his opponents for extremely odd looks. Van Damme has the weirdest eyes possibly ever and is truly quite terrifying. He seems as hard as nails and that he won’t even feel bad after kicking your ass.

Barney Ross: I've heard another rumor, that you were bitten by a king cobra? Booker: Yeah, I was. But after five days of agonizing pain, the cobra died.
Barney Ross: I’ve heard another rumor, that you were bitten by a king cobra?
Booker: Yeah, I was. But after five days of agonizing pain, the cobra died.

We get us some Chuck Norris, complete with sound track and all. I could eventually not stop giggling when he came on screen, he is too much for me to handle. He enters in his signature way, always saving the day and being totally cool about it.

Where the first Expendables failed, the second film improved. The humour in E2 lets you know they are aware they are being cheesy but they are enjoying themselves while doing it. The humour is once again on an astronomical level and the dialogue makes you once again wonder how many retakes there were because the cast could not stop laughing, but this time around the actors are in on your joke and they are playing along. I heard referencing to the Terminator way too many times, and Chuck’s jokes wereso.friggin.lame.

The action sequences are still as unbelievable as it gets but they are slightly shorter and better executed and that makes it all a better use of your time. I am amused rather than sickened by the killing spree – I don’t think most deaths are quite so theatrical as they would like you to believe.

The memo the feminism squad sent out regarding the blatant sexism in E1 reached the right ears: not only are the women less stereotypical in E2 they also get decent parts with actual dialogue and a purpose. I enjoyed Maggie’s presence and how she actually contributed towards the team’s success, although they might want to look into not immediately having the only female ogled by the entire squad. I also enjoyed the females protecting their town, although I did not appreciate the joking that women can’t shoot.

I don’t know what happened to Mickey Rourke this time around (he was basically the only good thing about the first movie), but they offset the loss by adding someone who is also trained in the art of acting – Liam Hemsworth. I think he has enormous potential that hasn’t been brought to light yet by Hollywood. He and Statham are by far the youngest of the team and Hemsworth has the best acting on the screen – the only actor who gets close enough is Bruce Willis, who really is the coolest guy on the earth. I liked Hemsworth’s role – he is from the recent generation of soldiers who have very fresh scars, and he realises that he needs a healthier lifestyle. He seems respectful and sad – really like I imagine the majority of soldiers. His death is an actual blow and the only real emotional thing in the film, and old Sly’s speech was quite nice at the gravesite.

The Expendables 2 is by far the best of the franchise so far, and while I can’t begin to claim that it was actually good, I giggled so much I need to give it points for the feel good factor it was responsible for.

Just what is this Macho Movie doing on my blog?! The Expendables (2010)

Expendables poster

Plot: A CIA operative hires a team of mercenaries to eliminate a Latin dictator and a renegade CIA agent.

Rating: 5/10

Hmm, I love me a good action movie. Strong fearless men overcoming impossible odds? Bring the popcorn. I’ve wanted to get around to The Expendables for ages now I know quite a number of people (guys) who are embarrassingly in love with the franchise, and since I enjoy a good action movie, I thought: hey, why not?

I think I would have enjoyed The Expendables more if it HAD been a good action movie. The dialogue is cringe worthy and I have no idea how the cast managed to act their roles out without bursting into laughter. Lead characters Jason Statham (I don’t get the fuss about him being good-looking… NO) and Stallone (Whose symmetrical features I found way too attractive #yuck #old #itsStallone) attempt to portray a strong bromance relationship that falls flat because the dialogue is so bad. It appears that they wanted Statham to appear like he was more in touch with his feelings than the rest of the cast but that too didn’t even get a few seconds of proper directing or time.

Stallone… sheesh. I was a bit disgusted that I thought for a few seconds he’s attractive – the guy was about four hundred years old at the time this film was shot and that is very deep into the grandpa territory for me. It was really painful to see him run. It looks excruciating and as if he couldn’t get quite into his whole sprinting sequence.

The story itself is so out of control silly. The mercenaries infiltrate small country Vilena to save them from the brutal rule of ex-CIA officer James Munroe (Eric Roberts), a one dimensional villain with no real development or cause. The main attraction on Vilena seems to be the money involved and the pretty lady Sandra (Giselle Itlie), which is probably a fine reason to head over to a terrorist infested country if you are a mercenary. The plan and reason for the attack is never really made clear except for the five seconds Bruce Willis appears on screen pretending to be scary and who is quickly joined and departed by Arnie who then also backs out because he is too busy being cool or being governor to spend more time on this crap.

The CGI… the most I can really say is that the tomato sauce bursting from people looked WAY authentic. Seriously, what was up with that and the ridiculous fight sequences? I think if I went and brought a CGI for Dummies book and sat and studied it for an hour I would have done a better job than this.

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The only interesting about this film was Mickey Rourke. The man has a commanding presence on screen and focusing on him is quite easy because his acting is good, what he says seems interesting and he looks so intense and badass.

 Expendables 1 Stratham

Then there are the three ladies that appear on screen that had me off my rocker with irritation: The first one is the typical cheating female, who then later appears with a black eye and Jason Statham gallantly loses his shit and beats up abusive co-cheater and his merry band of friends. Sheesh, Jason, SUCH a gentleman hey?! Then, Mickey Rourke brings in his typical hooker lady, all enthusiastic about being on Mickey’s lap. Hey, Mickey is allowed to have a hooker on his lap if he wants one, but all the same, distasteful and unoriginal. The last lady to appear on screen is Sandra, who manages to be hot while looking pure and intense and everything men of Stallone’s caliber could ever want. Nice going there, Expendables: feeding your largely testosterone driven crowd more stereotypes for consumption about females.

The Expendables is truly what it advertises: a testosterone fest without a plot or a second of originality. It is rushed and underdeveloped and I even though I’m happy that it ended under two hours it needed either more time for the plot to actually appear on screen or less ass kicking and more explanation why asses were being kicked. Not my thing at all, although perhaps I simply do not have the sufficient level of testosterone to handle this!