SO you’re back from your FIFO stint at the mines, and wondering what to watch at the movies? Here are some of the current and recently-released films you might want to catch at the cinemas or on a DVD.
A QUIET PLACE 2
(John Krasinski, Emily Blunt)
A Quiet Place Part II is quite literally a sequel, picking up directly where its preceding chapter left off, extrapolating on the first instalment’s cliffhanger ending, which had resilient mother Evelyn Abbott (Blunt) killing off inhuman attackers who were threatening her and her kids Regan and Marcus.
But there’s a prelude before the story continues, in which the viewer is taken back to the very moment the Abbott clan witnessed first-hand the horrific experience that would forever disrupt and change their lives.
Via the flashback, we see how the Abbotts reacted to Earth’s new apex predator – blind, emaciated beings with chitinous armour and an acute sense of hearing – and provides an inkling of where they came from.
Flash forward 474 days, and the surviving members — still living by a code of silence lest they give their presence away – meet an old friend, Emmett, who’s been hiding out in an abandoned steel mill.
It’s Regan’s idea to find the nearest radio station and use her hearing aid to broadcast a signal that could defeat the beasts once and for all. Getting there is doubly dangerous though, as she and Emmett encounter horrors both human and alien along the way.
Indeed, this is just one part of an overly complex, three-pronged arc that breaks up the family unit and relegates Blunt to the background.
One story features Emmett and Regan in the woods, off on their own odyssey, another Evelyn heading back to town for medical supplies, while adjacent to that one, Marcus has to tend to the baby, while also fending off one of the multi-toothed critters.
It’s perhaps an attempt at a cross-cutting editing technique that appears too ambitious – but kudos for the effort.
(Lewis Tan, Josh Lawson)
Let’s briefly recap for the uninitiated. At the heart of the video game is the tussle between the player and an opponent of his choice in a one-on-one match, involving various combat moves and attacks. The trademark feature is the Fatality, a finishing move executed against a defeated rival to kill them in a gruesome fashion, some of which have become almost iconic.
The challenge for any moviemaker then is to take the simplicity of this fighting platform, and build any sort of storyline around it, incorporating all the various characters, elements, and yes, even the Fatalities. Especially the Fatalities, in fact.
In this latest remake, the lore of the series is brought to a grand and epic scale, showing off the crowded roster of individuals.
Backed up by some beautiful cinematography, stellar fight choreography and physical stunts that defy logic and gravity, the impressive action sequences brim with energy and excitement, with many based on those found in the video game, such as bicycle kicks and juggling maneouvres.
And there’s one definite character improvement which stands out, which truly sets this apart from other video game adaptations where the cast consists of humdrum individuals.
The scoundrel Kano, played brilliantly by Josh Lawson, has been transformed into a dinky-di Ocker with wisecracking one-liners and a foul mouth that would make a sailor blush.
The interpretation completely steals the show, bringing pure, unadulterated joy and injecting some much-needed levity at every turn, so much so that when Kano is not on screen, he is genuinely missed.
Bob Odenkirk, Alexey Serebryakov
The movie begins by focusing on the humdrum life of the lead character Hutch (Odenkirk), a former feared secret agent who is painted as a loser. His disinterested wife sleeps with several pillows between them, and his son is disillusioned after Hutch refuses to put up a fight against a pair of home intruders.
When a bunch of drunken gangsters get on the same bus as Hutch and start harassing a girl, he beats them up in a wonderfully choreographed sequence which is all fast, furious and farcical, causing the audience to guffaw and recoil in disgust at the same time.
Unfortunately for Hutch, one of the injured ruffians is the brother of a Russian mobster named Yulian (Serebryakov), a crime boss who just likes partying and having fun but isn’t above killing a dude at the smallest provocation.
Watching Odenkirk using all his skills to defend himself – while calling himself just “a nobody” – and gleefully killing Russian gangsters with various forms of firearms is a guilty joy.
Nobody contains many inspired set pieces and enough bits of vim, verve and violence to make it an entertaining experience. But the fact that the characters are pretty typical and unsurprising limits the film’s staying power, while the casting of an actor more known for his comedic roles makes every scene feel like it will end with a knowing wink at the camera.
GODZILLA VS. KONG
Rebecca Hall, Alexander Skarsgard, Kaylee Hottle
Everyone’s favourite gargantuan reptile, Godzilla, long seen as a friend of humanity, has started to attack the puny homo sapiens and destroy their towns and cities, seemingly without provocation.
So what’s up with that? In their desperation, the military and scientists call upon help from the supersized simian Kong – who has been held captive in an artificial simulacrum of his homeland, Skull Island.
And therein lies the basic premise of this epic monster mash, as the two creatures square off for the alpha title.
This the fourth film in this monster universe (after 2019’s Godzilla: King Of The Monsters, 2017’s Kong: Skull Island and 2014’s Godzilla), and one in which the primordial protagonists get the most screen time.
As such, human relationships and characterisation take a back seat, unlike the initial chapters of the franchise when there was an underlying moral conundrum of whether the kaijus should be kept alive to balance the forces of nature.
While the story won’t win any Oscars, the movie definitely lives up to its title in every way – monster-size entertainment worth catching on the biggest screen possible.