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Battleship: Humans Vs Aliens Action Flick
Summer is all but here and we have been blessed with another alien-action blockbuster based on a toy and no, this time around it’s not Transformers, though by the way this film’s been marketed, you’d think Battleship was an extension of the Transformers franchise; ‘Transformers at Sea’ if you will. And while the two films have several things in common, they’re also quite distinct. For one Transformers focuses on the robots - and truth be told, they’re pretty damn impressive - while on the other hand, Battleship, surprisingly, focuses more on the human characters. Neither of the films managed to combine the two - interesting robots/aliens and compelling humans that is- but the human element in Battleship makes it easier to get caught up and emotionally involved in the film.
NASA discovers a planet in a different solar system that has very similar conditions to Earth, conditions conducive to life, and promptly builds a satellite station in Hawaii to try and establish contact with any forms of extraterrestrial life that may be out there. The scientists discover the success of their experiment when five huge unidentified objects hurtle into our atmosphere. One takes out a huge chunk of Hong Kong while the rest crash land in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Hawaii, in the middle of a bunch of international navy fleets that have gathered for an exercise. A massive battle takes place between the aliens and the navy as the humans try and thwart the aliens’ attempts to communicate with their home base and send for reinforcements.
Since Battleship is being marketed towards the same demographic that made Transformers such a cash cow, you’d think they’d have put a bit more effort into their alien design. Firstly, their spaceships look like metal cubes, kind of like a rectangular version of the AllSpark cube in Transformers, and secondly, the aliens themselves look like tall, metal Power Rangers. Another thing is that it’s never really explained why the aliens come to Earth in the first place. All we get is the hypothesis that when the humans managed to establish contact, a few aliens decided to mosey on over here to check out our planet.. Thankfully, and this may be a product of entering the film with zero expectations, the humans mostly make up for the aliens and the general lacklustre visuals.
Kitsch plays Alex, a smart slacker with attitude issues who’s forced by his older brother, Stone (Skarsgard), to join him in the US Navy as a way of getting his life on track. Decker plays Samantha, Alex’s girlfriend, who’s a physical therapist and the daughter of the fleet’s captain. Thanks to the fact that the film clearly emphasizes Alex’s potential, his transformation from immature slacker to a bona fide leader is actually believable while Samantha, thankfully, gets to be more than just the token girlfriend and plays a large part in saving the planet as well. Rihanna makes her acting debut as a badass Navy officer named Raikes while Linklater plays Cal, a wimpy, nervous scientist and the source of most of the film’s comic relief.
The film as a whole takes a while to settle into its groove, but when it does it becomes quite engaging. By the final third, when the war reaches its peak, you’re actively rooting for the Navy and restraining yourself from cheering out loud and singing along to AC/DC. The film as a whole is far from perfect and is actually too uneven to be called good, but the final half hour is wall-to-wall fun, ending the film on a pretty high note.
Delivering more than its fair share of scares, the follow-up to director James Wan’s 2013 hit horror-film, The Conjuring, continues its almost-flawless cinematic realisation with a aesthetically pleasing, atmospherically fitting and particularly creepy sequel.
Set in 1976, The Conjuring 2 is once again centred on paranormal investigators Ed (Wilson) and Lorraine (Farmiga) Warren who are living at the height of their infamy following their involvement in the highly controversial ‘Amityville Horror’ case. After encountering a horrifying demon during one of their sessions at the old Lutz home, the couple decides that it’s time to give their profession a little rest.
Meanwhile, in Enfield, U.K, Peggy Hodgson (O’Connor) and her four children are being terrorised by a mysterious and malevolent demonic presence that has developed a keen interest in her youngest daughter, Janet (the wonderful Ms. Wolfe). Enlisted by the Catholic Church to fly over and investigate the case - which at this point has been dubbed as ‘England’s Amityville’ - Ed and Lorraine find themselves against an unknown evil entity whose power is yet to be tested.
The Conjuring 2 proves to be yet another chilling and skilfully-executed horror tale from Saw director James Wan, who has allegedly turned down the opportunity to direct Fast 8 for an ‘life-altering’ amount of money, in order to continue his work here – and horror fans will be glad he did.
The biggest cliché in Hollywood is that no sequel can ever top its predecessor; but in this particular case, The Conjuring 2 bucks the trend. Expanding on the old in order to bring in the new, everything about the story feels tighter and more focused. The lingering, creepy mood is just right and the camera work in particular is remarkable, with Wan’s admiration of 70’s and 80’s horror movies evident throughout.
Wilson and Farmiga are strong in their respective roles and while Farmiga is given a little bit more to do this time around, they are both equally deserving of plaudits. Their onscreen chemistry is easy and palpable, which serves the story well, while thirteen year-old British-born actress, Madison Wolfe, is absolutely outstanding as the possessed young child whose identity is slowly being swallowed up by something from within.
Overall, The Conjuring 2 is a successfully frightening follow-up which will keep fans, and newcomers, happy and satisfied. While there are moments of predictability to be found, the story’s two-hour-plus running time never, ever feels like a chore.
While it may be rigged with clichés and met with the expectedly formulaic hits at every turn, there’s still something awfully endearing about watching funny-man, Kevin Hart, and wrestler-turned-actor, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, as they manage to keep their infectiously infectiously funny onscreen dynamics intact in the largely weak comedy, Central Intelligence.
The story is centred on Calvin Joyner (Hart); a reserved accountant who isn’t exactly overjoyed with the way his life turned out to be. In high school, he was voted as most likely to succeed and although, he is professionally successful is married to his high-school sweetheart, Maggie (Nicolet), he still can’t help but feel like a failure.
With his twentieth high school reunion just around the corner, Calvin soon finds himself crossing paths with Bob Stone (Johnson); a formerly overweight - and bullied - outcast who has grown up into a quirky ball of muscle and is now super eager to reawaken his ‘friendship’ with Calvin.
As it turns out, Bob is a CIA agent who has gone rogue; however, according to him, he is actually under-cover trying to reveal the identity of a traitor within the agency - who goes by the name ‘The Black Badger’ - before classified U.S government information is sold to terrorists. Calvin, of course, has no choice but to join him for the ride.
Predictable in nature, Central Intelligence - scripted by We’re the Millers director who shares writing credits with Ike Barinholtz and David Stassen - is definitely not the most ‘intelligent’ movies you’ll see.
Plot holes, illogical setups and uneventful action set pieces make up most a large bulk of the story, but the film benefits greatly from the casting of Hart and Johnson who pretty much carry the movie on their shoulders. Hart, taking a step back from his usual loud-self, does a great job as the insecure accountant, but it’s ‘The Rock’ who deserves most of the credit here; the ex-WWE wrestler shines brightest as the quirky, Unicorn-loving, Sixteen Candles-quoting hulk.
In the end, Central Intelligence is a glaringly flawed affair, but the clichés and lazy set-ups are, to a certain degree, endured thanks to the irresistibly compelling onscreen chemistry of the two leads who manage to make us forget just how poor the whole package actually is.