Gunpowder Milkshake: Film Review

Gunpowder Milkshake

Courtesy of StudioCanal/Sky Cinema

I’ve quite enjoyed watching Karen Gillan‘s evolution from Doctor Who’s companion Amy Pond to Hollywood action star and I think playing a hitwoman in Gunpowder Milkshake is a logical next step!

In this neon-soaked action thriller, she plays Sam, whose assassin mother Scarlet (Lena Headey) disappeared after a botched mission when she was only 12. Fifteen years later, she’s now working as a hitwoman for The Firm, which her mum also worked for, and is routinely sent to “clean up” their mess. During one high-risk job, Sam must choose between being loyal to The Firm or saving an eight-year-old girl named Emily (Chloe Coleman).

Gunpowder Milkshake is nothing we haven’t seen before – it’s a flimsy, hollow, shoot-’em-up that’s more style over substance (essentially like a female John Wick) but despite these flaws, it’s still an entertaining watch thanks to the star-studded ensemble co-writer/director Navot Papushado has put together as they seem to be having an absolute blast.

If you’re here for the action then you will love it because the film is basically just a bunch of action sequences strung together with minimal character development. These action scenes are high-octane, violent, super stylish and feature some very cool stunt choreography. The gunfights got a bit boring after a while so I was grateful when the guns were sometimes switched for more interesting weapons. My favourite action sequence was when Sam’s arms were deadened so she had to get inventive.

As fun as these scenes are, they would have been so much better if we’d known more about these characters and The Firm. I wanted to spend more time getting to know Sam and “the Librarians”, a trio of Scarlet’s old accomplices featuring Anna May (Angela Bassett), Florence (Michelle Yeoh) and Madeleine (Carla Gugino). Considering she’s the lead, we never know why Sam followed in her mum’s footsteps or anything about her as a person outside of the hitwoman business.

Gillan has proven how capable she is with stunt choreography in the Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers and Jumanji films so it was no surprise to see her ace these complex setpieces. She brings a quirky energy to the character and has a fun relationship with Coleman’s Emily, who naively believes she’s going to become Sam’s apprentice. I loved that the librarians were comprised of women in their 50s and 60s – you hardly ever see that whereas older actors are action stars all the time. All of the women were so badass, and my favourite was Yeoh as she gets some great fight moments. It’s also worth pointing out that Paul Giamatti is in this as Nathan, the head of HR for The Firm, and is suitably devious.

Gunpowder Milkshake has awesome visuals and I loved seeing these women kick ass, but I wanted it to have a bit more meat on its bones.

In cinemas and on Sky Cinema from Friday 17th September

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Jungle Cruise: Film Review

Jungle Cruise

Photo by Frank Masi. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

I absolutely love classic family-friendly action-adventure films like Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones so it’s no surprise that I enjoyed Jungle Cruise big time.

Taking inspiration from the Disneyland theme park attraction of the same name, Jungle Cruise is set in 1916 and follows Dr Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt), a botanist who wants to find the Tears of the Moon, a flower which is believed to have healing powers that could benefit modern medicine. After stealing an arrowhead from a society in London, she heads to Porto Velho in Brazil with her reluctant brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) to find a riverboat captain to take them up the Amazon River on their quest. But in a case of mistaken identity, she ends up meeting skipper and tour guide Frank (Dwayne Johnson) instead of his more esteemed rival Nilo (Paul Giamatti). Their journey is filled with peril in the form of deadly animals, raging rapids, cursed mercenaries and a German aristocrat named Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) in hot pursuit.

Jungle Cruise reminded me of films such as Romancing the Stone, The Mummy (1999), the first Pirates of the Caribbean and the Indiana Jones franchise – I love all of these movies so Jungle Cruise was right up my street and I know that if I was still a youngster I would have watched this over and over again. It’s just so much fun! It is an entertaining thrill ride for all the family – there’s screwball comedy, tons of exciting and amusing action setpieces and stunts, heartfelt scenes, and some darker moments that kids may find scary.

There are a few downsides – I thought the film was way too long so I was fully ready for it to wrap up as it approached its (very predictable yet heartwarming) conclusion. Also, the film is too heavy on the CGI, particularly with the animals and the cursed villains.

Blunt is perfectly cast as the determined and fearless Lily, who won’t take no for an answer and wears the trousers (quite literally). She is a pioneering woman, a trailblazer for all female scientists and I loved her as this character. She has great chemistry with Johnson and they both seem to be having a great time making this. I wasn’t totally convinced Johnson was the right fit for Frank in terms of physicality but he was a lot of fun and his dad jokes were very bad.

A lot of people took issue with Whitehall being cast as Disney’s first-ever openly gay character, which I can understand, but I personally thought he embodied the spoiled rich boy character well, even if his jokes didn’t always work. I’m glad the film included a scene which addressed his sexuality, but it’s a shame that Disney wouldn’t let them actually use the word “gay”. This scene could easily go over the heads of many and I’m sure that was the intention.

Plemons has been tapped to play the antagonist many times in the past and that’s because he does it so well. He was hilarious as the campy villain. His accent was fantastic and he seemed to really enjoy himself in the role. While he is the fun villain, there is also Edgar Ramirez as Aguirre, a cursed mercenary that has quite a scary appearance – I would put him on a same level as the Captain Barbossa reveal in Pirates.

Jungle Cruise is a feel-good throwback action-adventure that looks set to be the family movie of the summer.

In cinemas and Disney+ with Premier Access from Friday 30th July

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Straight Outta Compton: Film Review

nwa1

I feel like I have had a serious education about N.W.A. and the general 80s/90s rap scene after watching Straight Outta Compton. It is a powerful slice of music history that I knew literally nothing about which also tackles the violence in Compton and treatment of black Americans by the police, which is still so relevant today.

[Read more…]

Love & Mercy: Film Review

love1

I knew nothing about Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys except their music so I was going into this with a completely open mind – I had no idea what they were supposed to look like, so that did not cloud my judgment on Paul Dano or John Cusack‘s portrayal of the troubled frontman, so my opinion is based simply on the film and the research I felt compelled to do afterwards.

[Read more…]

San Andreas: Film Review

san1

San Andreas is a big, ambitious disaster movie on an epic scale that we haven’t seen since Roland Emmerich’s 2012 back in 2009. I personally had not seen one focussed solely on earthquakes and I had learned loads about the San Andreas Fault in school so I was gripped, despite it being very by the book.

[Read more…]

Top Films for April

div3

Divergent

I have already seen this and as a fan of the book, I give it a big thumbs-up. It deserves more but it has been lumped into the same boat as The Hunger Games and will not fare as well in comparison. Read my review here. Shailene Woodley stars as Tris in this dystopian world where the inhabitants are split into factions. She doesn’t fit into one, she is divergent, and that makes her dangerous. Released: 4th

The Double

I want to see this purely to see Jesse Eisenberg plays two people – his shy, boring character goes so unnoticed that nobody is aware of the weirdness when his mega-confident doppelganger arrives. This looks so interesting. Released: 4th [Read more…]

Rock of Ages: Review

I really enjoyed this because it is fun, a laugh and will leave you with a smile on your face yet there are times when I doubted this. It isn’t consistently good. It was weird in places and I wasn’t 100% convinced on the singing and acting abilities of the two leads- Julianne Hough (Sherrie) and Diego Boneta (Drew).

In the 1970s, Sherrie moves to LA from Oklahoma to pursue a singing career. Upon arrival in the city, she is mugged outside rock club, The Bourbon Room. Drew, a bartender, helps her out and tries to sort her out with a job there. Romance blossoms between the pair but all that changes once Drew gets his first gig opening for Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise). Jaxx is the lead singer of Arsenal who is planning to go solo. He has got to the level of fame where nobody says no, he is arrogant, an alcoholic, ladykiller and always gets his way. It has turned him into a bit of arsehole.

There are plenty of supporting characters so the plot doesn’t just focus on Sherrie and Drew. Russell Brand is the manager of The Bourbon Room and Alec Baldwin is the owner. They are having financial difficulties with staff walking out, to Stacee’s greedy manager (Paul Giamatti) taking all their money and the possibility that rock music is dying out and being taken over by pop music. Catherine Zeta-Jones is the mayor’s wife who has a vendetta against Stacee and plans to ruin The Bourbon Room because of it.

Like I said, the film is very enjoyable and that is mainly due to the amazing rock songs used with it such as We Build This City, Here I Go Again, Hit Me With Your Best Shot and many, many more! However, there is a stage in the movie where the musical numbers are really close together and you start to lose the excitement. You just groan and think “not another one”. The numbers were good but the film was saturated with them in parts.

The cast also have questionable singing abilities- on some songs, I really like Hough’s voice and in others, I thought it was weak and childish. I was only convinced about the singing talents of Zeta-Jones and Boneta. I was impressed that all the cast could sing (including Tom!) but not all amazingly. With the songs being rock, they can get away with shouting or speaking some of the lyrics so the song choices hide weaknesses well. Diego and Julianne are both relatively new actors in a sea of seasoned professionals (bar Brand!) and it did show in some places. Some of their lines I cringed on for being so cheesy or cliched. They definitely grew throughout the duration of the movie and they became really convincing as the film progressed.

The main problem I have with this movie is the casting of Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx. I’m not saying I hated it but I just had trouble taking the character seriously. I just kept thinking “I can’t believe Tom Cruise is playing this part!” It is a very bold move for Tom and I commend whoever sent him the script. It is such a departure from his normal roles that is is hard to get into his character. Jaxx is an arse who talks a lot of mumbo-jumbo and a lot of time I just wanted him to shut up. Once you’ve got over the novelty of the character, he becomes quite annoying. You also wish he would put a top on because I was getting grossed out by his torso after a while. For me, he wasn’t convincing as a rockstar. My favourite part of his was when you first met him and when he is trying seduce journalist Constance (Malin Akerman). Their musical number together is hilarious and Malin is a great singer!

There was a weird scene where it was revealed that Russell and Alec that were homosexuals or just had feelings for each other. It came out of nowhere. They started singing “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” on their own in the empty club, ended up dancing together and then kissing. It was awkward and unnecessary because it was never referred to again and it seemed completely irrelevant to the plot so I just wish it was cut.

So, as you can see from my examples, there are some things about Rock of Ages that didn’t quite work for me. There were some “WTF?!” moments, but not in a good/funny way, but in a “that’s just too weird to enjoy” way. It’s not as innocent as some other musicals and it can be a bit sexual and also a bit bleak at times. Besides those instances, the film is really enjoyable and funny. It is great laugh and you will have the songs in your head for ages afterwards.