ORBzine - Young Adult Adaptations Movie Reviews


The Fifth Wave

The Fifth Wave Yes, yet another post-Apocalyptic action movie with a teenage heroine like Hunger Games and Divergent . The protagonist is Chloe Grace Moretz , but she is not the kick-ass hit-girl we are used to.

Alien starships arrive and hover over the major cities, like in V: The Series . Then they start their attacks. The first wave is an EMP, which makes planes drop out of the sky like in Revolution . The second wave is more literal, a massive tsunami like in Deep Impact . The third wave is an outbreak of disease. The fourth wave is a bunch of hillbillies with hunting rifles.

Finally the US Army arrives on the scene, led by a Colonel (Liev Schreiber - Scream ) and Sergeant ( Maria Bello ). It turns out they are building an army of child soldiers to fight the Fifth Wave of the alien invasion. Anyone who has seen the film Oblivion will be a bit cynical about this whole series of events.

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  • The Giver

    The Giver This is set in a futuristic city, isolated from the outside world - a standard trope in Sci-Fi. The story is based on a Young Adult novel, and is quite derivative of other works. Our protagonist (a male, which is unusual for this sub-genre) turns eighteen, and attends the standard job-allocation ceremony (like in Divergent ). He is allocated a strange job - he is to be a receiver of memories, the guardian of almost-forgotten knowledge. Jeff Bridges (almost as beardy and unkempt as he was in True Grit ) is his predecessor and trainer, who now becomes the Giver of memories. The old man teaches the youngster by means of a telepathic link.

    Naturally, when our hero discovers the dark side of his Utopia he rebels against the system. In this case the grown-ups are his Mother ( Katie Holmes ), Father (Alexander Saarsgard - True Blood ) and the community's Matriarch Meryl Streep .

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  • I am Number 4

    I am Number 4 This is based on a novel, but the unoriginality does not begin there. The producers are Gough and Millar ( Smallville ) and Marti Noxious ( Buffy ). The plot is a rehash of Roswell . Alien teenagers are in hiding on modern-day Earth. Our hero, Number Four, is one of them. His guardian/mentor is American Jedi Timothy Olyphant (the male Julie Benz - he is in everything!). Our hero goes to a new High School, where he meets love interest Diana Agron . She also plays a High School girl in Glee , though she (like the rest of the cast) is about ten years too old. There are the usual two-dimensional jock and nerd stereotypes too.

    Our heroes are hunted by the Trench Coat Mafia - they have tattoos, they are the least subtle villains since Charmed . Their leader is Joshua from Dark Angel ! Speaking of that show, there is also a mysterious Buffy-lookalike, Faith-acting motorbike chick ( Eliza Taylor ) ...

    The result is predictable enough. But if you know what to expect, you have no right to complain.

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  • Hunger Games Franchise

    Hunger Games

    Hunger Games Once upon a time, 13 colonies rebelled against their Government. The Colonies - err, districts - were defeated. The victors, Canada - err, Capital - instituted an annual TV reality show ( Running Man ) as punishment. Every year, a boy and girl from each District are put in a giant televised dome ( Truman Show ) where they hunt and kill each other. Sort of a Battle Royale - avec cheese!

    Katniss ( Jennifer Lawrence ) lives in poverty, in a rural district where food is scarce. This is in contrast to the country's Capital, which is Nouveau Georgian in style - all powdered wigs and face-paint (and that is just the men)! Capital controls the districts through their food supply; So where is the food actually created if not in the rural districts?

    Our heroine volunteers for the Hunger Games in her sister's place. She gets trained (supposedly) by Effie ( Elizabeth Banks ) and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson - Natural Born Killers ).

    The Great Dictator (Canadian actor Donald Sutherland - Don't look Now ) and his minions - Wes Bently ( Underworld 3 ), Stanley Tucci ( The Core ) and Toby Jones ( Your Highness ) can manipulate the games. The Dome is fitted with hard-light hologram projectors that can create a forest-fire or a horde of man-eating hounds. Unfortunately, despite this massive Holodeck (a dome several miles in diameter) they cannot be bothered to build food replicators to feed the starving. Yes, they may have circuses but not bread.

    The result is a mediocre effort. The cast is incredible, but that is because there was a huge budget. The problem is that the action scenes, the real core of the film, are ruined by shaky-cam.

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  • Hunger Games: Catching Fire

    Hunger Games: Catching Fire Just like in the first film, we spend the first half of the film in the setup. The Presidential Dictator (Canadian actor Donald Sutherland - Don't look Now ) is concerned that Katniss ( Jennifer Lawrence ), by prompting a change in the rules of the Games last year, is encouraging rebellion. The new gamesmaster, Philip Seymour Hoffman ( Mission Impossible 3 ), advises him that character assassination will be better than actual assassination. As a result, this year's Hunger Games will consist of the victors of the previous years' Games.

    We get to meet some of the other survivors of previous games. Some of them are potential allies, while others may become arch-rivals. Johanna ( Jenna Malone ) is near breaking point. Jeffrey Wright ( Casino Royale ) is a brainiac. Haymitch (Woody Harrelson - Natural Born Killers ) is still around to give Katniss advice. His scene at the end sets up the next film.

    It is nice to see action scenes that are not ruined by shaky-cam. Also, as Big Government cracks down on the rural poor we get a lot more of the political background to the series. The first movie was about survival, while this is more about resistance.

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  • Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

    Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Katniss and the others reach sanctuary in District 13. The President of 13 ( Julianne Moore ) needs the Victors of the Games as a propaganda tool. Katniss agrees, under certain conditions. Unfortunately the scripted lines they feed her are dreadful.

    Katniss spends most of the film in an underground bunker. There is a single action scene she is part of, where she uses a single arrow to shoot down TWO enemy fighter-bombers. Apart from that, the film relies mainly on suspense and tension as she watches other people take all the risks. As a result, some viewers feel that splitting the book was a mistake - presumably most of the action-adventure stuff happens in the second half. Some people regard this as being too thought-provoking and not explosive enough.

    District 13 have been stockpiling weapons, although these are presumably out-of-date compared to the Capital’s next-generation weaponry. However, the tactics employed by both sides seem unusually wasteful of manpower.

    The Capital is a massive mega-city with a holodeck several miles in diameter. This is powered by a hydro-electric power plant similar to the Hoover Dam. So what on earth do they need ten thousand hillbillies to mine coal for? And for every ten miners there are five guards to act as slave-drivers. This is a terrible waste of resources!

    District 13 has weaponry and trained soldiers, but they do not distribute them to the local Resistance movements like the SOE did in World War Two. Instead they rely on the revolting peasants to use human wave tactics, losing so many civilians that the villains run out of ammunition. So is District 13 any better than the Capital in terms of wasting human life?

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  • Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

    Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Katniss ( Jennifer Lawrence ) is reduced to a propaganda tool for the President of 13 ( Julianne Moore ). However, our heroine has a different plan. She makes her way to the frint line, where she is talked into joining a team of combat aces. Despite being the best of the best, their mission is not to go after enemy targets - merely to shoot more propaghanda footage. However, they must do this in a war zone, within the Capital itself.

    The Presidential Dictator (Canadian actor Donald Sutherland - Don't look Now ) uses his minion Robert Knepper (Prison Break) as a scapegoat for military failures. Then he gets the games-makers to weaponise their forcefield technology. Instead of repairing the mile-wide holodeck they create hundreds of replicators that function as boobytraps, creating deadly flame or oil to kill the approaching rebels.

    Katniss also has personal problems. Both her love interests are included in the propaganda team. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson - Bridge to Terabithia ) has been brainwashed by the villains, and Gaela (Chris Hemsworth - Expendables 2 ) is now too deeply integrated with the District 13 mindset for comfort.

    The gamesmaster, Philip Seymour Hoffman ( Mission Impossible 3 ) is missing from a couple of key scenes because the actor died during production. His loss is keenly felt, even though the film papers over his absence.

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  • Divergent Franchise


    Divergent This is set in a post-apocalyptic near future, when all life on Earth has been destroyed (apparently) except the MegaCity of Chicago. The population has been split into five factions, each representing one human personality trait. Sort of like Herman's Head, but dumbed down and without the jokes. They are the snobs (intellect), the rude people (honesty), the hippies (growing food), the public servants (giving the food away to the homeless) and the Dauntless (free-running teenagers). The teenagers must take a test to find their aptitude, so they know which faction to join. This is not a written test, it is a drug-induced state allowing the testers to observe the candidate's surface thoughts via a monitor. Maggie Q is the test administrator, so we know she will pop up later.

    Our heroine is Tris ( Shailene Woodbury ), raised as a public servant, chooses Dauntless. She does not have the physical fitness necessary, and the necessary character traits are not established so it all seems out of character. I mean, Katniss in Hunger Games was established as a bow-hunter, but this girl is never shown as having an interest in free-running.

    There is another problem with her leaving her home Faction. You can choose a new Faction, but they do not have to choose you. The bottom 35% of testees are dropped, and since they cannot return home they become Factionless. They will be excluded from citizenship and all the creature comforts, but are still allowed to live in the city (as homeless scroungers in cardboard boxes). Now, this means that there are three times as many of them than of any single faction! That said, there are always the suicides and the selective murders.

    Kate Winslet , leader of the snobs, decides to launch a Coup D'Etat against the city leader, the head of the Public Servants - Ray Stevenson ( Punisher: War Zone ). His associates, including Katniss' mother ( Ashley Judd ) are all marked for death. Can Katniss and her friends save the day?

    The story has an open ending, because there are two more books in the series. Like Captain America 2 (which was released at the same time) it is PG-13, so the action is CGI violence - there are no realistic injuries. Of course, this effort has a much more simplistic plot, but that is really where the differences end.

  • Insurgent
  • Allegient
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  • Insurgent

    Insurgent The second book in the Divergent Series, this takes off just were the original leaves off. There is no character development to speak of, the characters are just as two-dimensional as they were in the first film. Yes, the previous film’s Hero’s Journey resulted in absolutely no character development for the supporting cast.

    The English BF discovers that his mother ( Naomi Watts ) has disguised herself by becoming a brunette and looking ten years younger. She faked her death, and is now the secret leader of the Casteless Untouchables. She plans a violent rebellion against the ruling clique, so she is the perfect ally. However, her son (who has had minimal contact with her for over a decade) condemns her as completely untrustworthy. How can he be so certain? And more importantly, is he correct?

    The teenage heroes must infiltrate the villains' HQ and overthrow the evil regime. No surprises there.

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  • Allegient
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  • Allegient

    Allegient This is the first half of third book in the Divergent Series.

    The English BF's mother Evelyn ( Naomi Watts ) has her own agenda. She kills anyone who does not do what she says. She starts with Kate Winslet's followers, but then goes on to kill Joan's followers as well.

    Tris ( Shailene Woodbury ), her English BF and her brother make a break for freedom. Miles Teller ( Fastastic Four ) tags along, despite having double-crossed Tris (and been forgiven by her) in both the previous two movies. They discover a utopia ruled by ... However, Tris is paranoid about things that are too good to be true. After all, we all know how Mount Weather turned out in The 100: Season 2 .

    The villains plan to release a gas that gives everyone in Chicago a memory wipe. The heroes act as if it is a terrible idea, but it is a non-lethal weapon that will stop the war and prevent any further killing.

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  • Maze Runner Franchise

    Maze Runner

    Maze Runner An amnesiac teenager, Thomas (Dylan O'Brien - American Assassin ) wakes up in a location filled with other teenage boys. They are in a concrete pen, many acres in size, with only one way in or out. During daytime hours the gate is open, and the boys can explore the maze outside. But at night the gates automatically lock, while the Maze resets itself. And anyone locked outside at night is left to the mercy of monsters so terrifying that nobody has ever seen them and lived to tell about it.

    The setting is original but the storyline is quite basic. Our protagonist must make allies, explore the maze and eventually save everyone. It is adapted from a Young Adult novel, so it is not overly complicated. However, it is well-made and the style makes up for the substance. All in all, quite a watchable effort.

  • Scorch Trials
  • Death Cure
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  • Maze Runner 2: Scorch Trials

    Maze Runner 2: Scorch Trials The original film in the series seemed to be exactly that - original, to a greater or lesser extend. However, this sequel is a derivative and predictable piece of work.

    Thomas (Dylan O'Brien - American Assassin ), Newt (Thomas Brody-Sangster - Game Of Thrones ), and the rest of our teenage heroes find themselves guests in a bunker where they are checked out by medical personnel. But does the boss (Aiden Gillen - Game of Thrones ) have their best intentions at heart? Or is this like in The 100: Season 2 ?

    Our heroes make their way across the desert, AKA the Scorch of the title. It does not live up to its reputation, as it is not the thing that actually inflicts damage on their group. No, what puts them in danger is their tendency to REPEATEDLY wander around in dark creepy ruins where the Fast Zombies are lurking! Also note, when wandering in the desert everyone seems to use camp-fires that can be seen many miles away. And they assume that the villains will be unable to track them down!

    Our heroes meet Giancarlo Esposito (an untrustworthy renegade who is a more ragged-looking version of his character in Revolution ) and Alan Tudyk (not at all like his character in Firefly ). Can they find Sanctuary, like in Logan’s Run ? Will the rebel leaders ( Lilli Taylor and Barry Pepper - Battleground Earth ) shelter them? And since the villains use helicopters as their main assault vehicle, do the rebels have lookouts and Anti-Aircraft weapons at the ready?

  • Maze Runner
  • Death Cure
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  • Maze Runner 3: Death Cure

    Maze Runner 3: Death Cure This is the third and final installment in the series. It should have come out a year earlier, but production was delayed by an on-set mishap. As a result, the previous films may not be in the forefront of the audience's memories. At least this series has a concluding chapter, unlike the Divergent Series .

    Thomas (Dylan O'Brien - American Assassin ), Newt (Thomas Brody-Sangster - Game Of Thrones ) and the teenage heroes of the series try to rescue their still-imprisoned friend. To do this, they must hijack a train guarded by a SWAT team. The kids have a couple of token adults to help them - Giancarlo Esposito ( Revolution ) and Barry Pepper ( Battleground Earth ).

    The boss (Aiden Gillen - Game of Thrones ) is still after the teenagers. They are valuable because they are subjects in an experiment to find a cure to the virus that has destroyed most of the human race. Infected people, basically Fast Zombies, roam the wastelands. The survivors are few and far between.

    The teens have to penetrate the villains' inner sanctum. It is a walled citadel, inside the fabled Last City. Yes, one city of humans has actually managed to survive thus far. The outskirts are a typical Mad Max shanty town ruled by Walton Goggins ( Predators ). He will help them infiltrate the inner city, where all the rich people still live comfortable middle-class lives. But only if the kids help him destroy the urban utopia!

    Thomas discovers his love interest ( Kaya Scodelario ) has converted to the cause of the so-called villains. They are the only ones who can get a cure for the zombie-itis. Okay, they are only doing it so they can be powerful and rule the world. However, since they already have most of the guns and the food we can safely say that they already control as much as they need to.

    At its heart, this movie is basically action-adventure. The climax is a CGI-intensive explosion-fest.

    Since the story is basically one of teenage anarchists rebelling against the tyrannical authority of adults, there can be no good ending. They live in a Fast Zombie apocalypse. The best outcome they can expect is the one at the end of Planet Terror .

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  • Scorch Trials
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  • Girls Kick Ass!

    Atomic Blonde

    Atomic Blonde The title character ( Charlize Theron ) is given a debriefing by Toby Jones ( Your Highness ). The result is an unnecessarily convoluted tale filled with nonsensical twists and double-crosses.

    The title character is basically a female James Bond. The brutal violence is like something out of Jason Bourne , but she also has the sex drive of 007. The last female action character who could compete with Bond in this area is Barbarella .

    The blonde is sent to West Berlin, where she is teamed up with the local British agent (James McAvoy - Wanted ). They team up against the KGB.

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  • Breaking In (2018)

    Breaking In (2018) A woman takes her children to stay in an up-scale home fitted with CCTV cameras and a hidden safe. Unfortunately some crooks think the place is empty, and break in to steal some hidden loot. Yes, this is basically Panic Room . The big change is the race swap - Gabrielle Union is the female lead in place of Jodie Foster , and Billy Burke ( Revolution ) fills a role similar to that of Forest Whitaker ( Black Panther ).

    Basically this is a by-the-numbers thriller. The master villain does not have a team of Euro-thugs like in Die Hard . Instead, he had to recruit the dregs from the local county jail-house. One is a nervous rookie, another is a borderline psycho. Yes, all the archetypes are covered. Things go well until the Real Estate Agent ( Christa Miller ) turns up.

    In the fifteen years since the original room, it seems that there has not been much improvement in CCTV technology. The security system includes a small drone, but that is about the only update. Similarly, the protagonist has no military-style skills or gear. She has to fumble her way through the encounters, and relies more on luck than actual ability.

    The acting performances are decent, but the film is let down by its basic unoriginality.

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  • Colombiana

    Colombiana This starts in Colombia, 1992. A gangster and his wife ( Cynthia Addai-Robinson ) are targeted by a hit-squad. Their daughter turns out to be a free-runner, and she easily evades the gun-toting adult men who chase her. Then she outsmarts the CIA, and gets to Chicago. Her Uncle (Cliff Curtis - Risen ) trains her as a world-class assassin, like in Leon .

    Fifteen years later, the girl has grown up to be Zoe Saldana . She may be the best assassin in the world, but she has a very nasty habit of grandstanding. Leaving a calling card is bad enough, but instead of killing a man with a single shot she takes out all his security team as well for no reason. This does not get her enemy's attention, she just gets herself targeted by FBI Agent Lennie James ( Walking Dead ).

    The arch-villain, the Colombian drug lord who killed her parents, is under witness relocation thanks to CIA Agent Callum Blue ( Dead like Me ). However, he still has his old death squad hanging around.

    This was directed by Olivier Megaton , and is basically a cliched shoot-em-up.

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  • DOA: Dead Or Alive

    DOA: Dead Or Alive A trio of high-kicking kung-fu babes (Ninja Princess Devon Aoki , Texan wrestler Jamie Pressley and Australian cat-burglar Holly Valance ) are all invited by rollergirl Sarah Carter and suspiciously friendly Eric Roberts ( The Expendables ) to fight in a Mixed Martial-Arts tournament. Like in Mortal Kombat , without all the Otherworld stuff.

    Natassia Malthe is a Ninja sent to kill the Princess for abandoning the clan. The so-called Ninjas use Chinese skills, not Japanese ones, but this is not the kind of film to take seriously.

    The fights are well-shot and expertly choreographed, but it descends to typically OTT wire-fu. This was shot by a Hong Kong director on a Hollywood budget ...

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  • Everly (2015)

    Everly (2015) Everly ( Salma Hayek ) is a woman who spent four years as a sex slave of the Yakuza. Now, on Xmas day a decade after her retirement, her old boss sends his goons to attack her apartment. However, she manages to take them all on single-handedly.

    Like all modern crime/action thrillers, this owes a lot to the works of Quentin Tarantino . It is basically Kill Bill made on the budget of Reservoir Dogs.

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  • Ghost in the Shell (2017)

    Ghost in the Shell (2017) This is a completely unnecessary remake of a classic Manga cartoon. The story originates in Japan, but it is made in an era when the big Hollywood studios are attempting to open up the Chinese market. So who is the best person to play the lead role? The role is for an Asian female, but will the actress be Japanese or Chinese? Well ... it is the auburn-haired caucasian Scarlett Johannson ! Her sidekick is another caucasian - Pilou Asbaek ( Game of Thrones ). The only non-English speaker is the boss (Beat Takeshi - ), who talks in Japanese while everyone else responds to him in English.

    The film is intended to be shown to American audiences without subtitles. As a result it completely lacks subtlety. For example, when Johansson becomes a cyborg the doctor ( Juliette Binoche ) explains that her mind - the Ghost of the title - is in a shell-like robot body.

    The Major, a cyborg, is part of a police unit that runs a dystopian city. The villains are held to be bad people because they believe that the good of the many outweighs the good of the few. In contrast, the police kill suspects on sight and rarely take prisoners, so the issue of morality is irrelevant.

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  • Hanna

    Hanna Hanna ( Saoirse Ronan ) is raised in a snowy wilderness to be an expert warrior - like Conan the Barbarian . Being a girl, however, a better comparison might be to say that she was raised like Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass .

    Eric Bana has been living in secret off the grid, like he did in Hulk . But when Hanna is old enough, he sends her to kill his arch-enemy Cate Blanchett .

    This has elements of fairytales, with Hanna as a Little Red Riding Hood and Blanchett as a Wicked Witch. But Bana is an unstoppable killing machine in his own right, especially compared to the mediocre henchmen that Blanchett deploys, that the main battle is something of an anti-climax.

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  • Haywire

    Haywire This is a modern 21st Century thriller, but it is closer in tone to the 1970s than the techno-thrillers of today. Mallory ( Gina Carano ) is a female Jason Bourne, on a roaring rampage of revenge, rather than a hi-tech James Bond. She is double-crossed and left for dead, as is typical in these things.

    Can the lead actress cut it? She is a Mixed Martial Arts cage-fighter, not a supermodel or Shakespearean thespian, but the script was written for her strengths. If The Rock can follow in Arnold Schwarzenegger's footsteps, why can a woman not do likewise? A look at the male action stars (Van Damme, Seagal, Lundgren, etc) shows a tendency towards athleticism over thespianism.

    Stephen Soderburgh delivers a lot of action, but the cast does not let up in terms of acting ability. Duplicitous characters include Michael Fassbender ( X-Men: First Class ), Ewan McGregor ( Star Wars: TPM ) and Antonio Banderas ( Mark of Zorro ).

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  • Lucy

    Lucy Scarlet Johannson is shanghaied (no pun intended) into delivering a mysterious briefcase to a gangster in Taiwan. Unfortunately, these gangsters have no concept of the word subtlety. They leave a lot of messy corpses all over the place, like a cannibalistic family of hillbillies in a clichéd horror movie.

    The McGuffin is a new drug that unlocks the human brain’s full potential. This was previously covered in the film Limitless , where the drug only increased intelligence. However, in this film the drug also gives the taker telepathy, then telekinesis … and finally turns them into a Star Trek creature of pure energy.

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  • Morgan

    Morgan Brian Cox sends a young female troubleshooter ( Kate Mara ) to investigate a robotic prototype that injured one of its creators. The robot, a girl they named Morgan ( Anya Taylor-Joy ), lives in a bunker in the grounds of a remote mansion. The mansion this was filmed at is in Northern Ireland, but it seems to be standing in for Canada. The scientists include a few familiar faces - Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michelle Yeoh, Rose Leslie .

    The film starts slowly, as we get to know a bit about each of the characters. This does not really make us care about any of them, because everything is so slow-moving that they just seem a bit boring. There is a certain amount of tension, however. That is because of the ever-present fear that this story might just be another Frankenstein story, the kind that every robot-based storyline usually turns into - one where the scientists are destroyed by their own creation.

    Things really start to happen with the arrival of the interrogator (Paul Giamatti - ). His scene-stealing, scenery-chewing performance really brings the show to life, and lets us realise exactly what is missing from the rest of the film. Unfortunately this is something of a high point. There are a few action scenes, including the compulsory car chase, but nothing in the original setup really led up to this.

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  • Peppermint (2018)

    Peppermint (2018) Riley North ( Jennifer Garner ) is the female version of The Punisher .

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  • Proud Mary (2018)

    Proud Mary (2018) Like most female-led action movies, this is named after the protagonist. The fact that Mary ( Taraji P. Henson ) is specified as being Proud is a reference to a Tina Turner song, thus marking this as a modern-day Blaxploitation movie.

    Henson previously played a freelance killer in Smoking Aces . This time she is an assassin who works for a Chicago crime syndicate run by Danny Glover ( Age of Dragons ). One of the killings she commits leaves a young boy orphaned. A year later, the boy is homeless and earns a crust by running errands for a rival gangster, Uncle (Xander Berkley - Barb Wire ). A shocking indictment of Child Protective Services and the foster-care system. Mary intervenes, and things get violent.

    It looks like things might boil over into all-out war with Uncle's gang. Mary needs a patsy, so she picks the black syndicate's token white man - her good buddy Walter (Neal McDonagh - Legends of Tomorrow ). He is implied to be of the same inclination as his character in Justified, but this is still a nasty move for a character to make.

    The gang war breaks out anyway. The Godfather has a small army of thugs and enforcer, but he prefers to use Mary as a one-woman army. After all, he trained her and his son as super-assassins. This is the old cliche, like Liam Neeson in Run All Night or Tom Hanks in Road To Perdition . In other words, this is a very old-fashioned kind of movie.

    In the climax, Mary's unofficial foster-son gets held hostage by her bosses. She must defeat her entire army of cow-orkers in order to save the boy. Obviously, this chevalric motive raises her above the generic hard-boiled revenge-motivated heroes of most film noir movies. However, sad to say this film really has nothing new or original to offer.

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  • Red Sparrow (2018)

    Red Sparrow (2018) This is a star vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence , a capable actress who was boosted to super-stardom status. Since she made it directly after Passengers , a blockbuster that lost money because of a backlash against her casting in a reactive role, she is now cast in a far more active role.

    Lawrence is a Prima Ballerina in Moscow when she gets an injury that ends her career. This is when her character is established, as is the genre of the film. She seeks bloody revenge on those she holds responsible for her injury. Throughout the film, she follows the path of revenge. There is no character development, no learning of morality - the only thing she develops is her ability to destroy peoples' bodies and lives.

    The ex-Ballerina's uncle is Assistant Director of Russian Intelligence. He recruits her for undercover work, and sends her to a special school run by Charlotte Rampling . She is trained to seduce and destroy enemies of the state, like a female James Bond.

    Meanwhile, a CIA Agent (Joel Edgerton - Midnight Special (2015) ) is running a Mole in Moscow. Unfortunately Edgerton's tradecraft is sloppy: his pass-off is clumsy, and draws attention of local beat cops. Worse, he then panicks and then blows his cover. Yes, he is the worst CIA Agent ever. But he has to be, to make the ex-Ballerina look good.

    Finally, Lawrence is posted abroad with flat-mate Thekla Reuten , and ordered to seduce Edgerton in order to uncover the Mole. She tells him that she wants to defect, for some strange reason. Her logic is never realistically explained - however, she is obsessed with revenge for any imagined slight so perhaps it is best to see her as a manipulator akin to Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct . Only without the glamourous sex scenes, of course. At its heart this is a grim and gritty revenge thriller, nothing more.

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  • Salt

    Salt Evelyn Salt ( Angelina Jolie ) is a CIA Agent. She gets accused of being a mole, so she goes on the run to clear her name. Yes, the same plotline that Tom Cruise goes through in every Mission: Predictable movie. Ironically, Cruise apparently turned this movie down. Liev Shriver ( Scream ) is in charge of the (wo-)man hunt.

    When this came out, mainstream critics lauded it as the first female-led action movie. Of course, not only is this a slap in the face to fans of the Resident Evil franchise or the Underworld series, but it also ignores the fact that the female lead in this film had already starred in TWO Lara Croft movies!

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  • Millennium Trilogy Franchise

    Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The

    Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The The film kicks off with an Uber-stylish credits sequence, like something out of a James Bond film, to a Trent Reznor cover version of a classic rock song. It then proceeds into a pulp 1970s-style revenge thriller that Quentin Tarantino would be proud to have written. Of course, David Fincher gave us slick pieces like Se7en so this is much less gaudy or lurid in delivery.

    Our hero is Crusading Journalist Stieg Larson - oops, I mean Mikhail von Blumberg - who looks like International sex symbol James Bond (Daniel Craig - Casino Royale ). He is in trouble for harassing and slandering a businessman who is supposed to have helped finance the Croatian Militias in the defence of their families during the Serbian genocide of the 1990s. Wow, no political point-scoring here.

    The title character is Lizbo Salamander ( Rooney Mara ) , who has single-handedly invented the Goth-chick look. Wow, how original! She is a ward of the state - ooh, poor victim. Wait a minute, she is a violent sociopath with multiple convictions for violent felonies. If this story had been re-set in the USA, rather than having English-speaking actors pretending to be Swedish, she would be just another ex-convict being hassled by her Parole Officer. Instead we are meant to side with her against the corrupt socialist institutions that the author Larson himself champions!

    The protagonists are hired to investigate a missing persons case. They stumble across a serial killer - more of a Ted Bundy than a John Wayne Gacy, so it is Fem-Jep instead of gay-bashing. The implication is that this is linked to Nazis and anti-Semitism. In reality, Sweden was one of the LEAST fascist European countries in the 1940s - despite having pro-Nazi dictatorships for all their neighbours, and the spectre of invasion by Stalinist Russia, the Swedes remained staunchly neutral (and thus saved thousands of civilians from the Holocaust). Also, not all Nazis were anti-Semitic (and vice versa). But Larson, ever keen to make political attacks on people he disagrees with, ignores the facts.

    The morals of the story? Freedom of speech is vital, unless you disagree with Stieg Larson's opinions. Big business is corrupt and should be shut down - by an equally corrupt Socialist regime. Rape is horrible and should not be glamourised or exploited - except in stories like this. All in all, self-righteous hypocritical crap.

  • Girl Who Played With Fire, The
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  • Girl Who Played With Fire, The

    Girl Who Played With Fire, The This is a made-for-TV follow-up to the original film. It is in Swedish, with subtitles.

    A Female Supremacist ( Buffy meets Romper Stomper) named Lizbo Salamander ( Noomi Rapace ) takes on the organised sex trade. This is hypocritical, since she pays for lesbian sex herself. A pity that Emma Watson did not get the role for the US remake, because the film would be a great hit if it had Hermione Granger going down on another woman!

    This was written by a journalist with his own political agenda to push, and it shows. His hypocrisy is dreadful. In the book he states that a woman merely experiments with bondage, while he accuses a man who does the same of acting out sick rape fantasies.

  • Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The
  • Girl Who kicked The Hornet's Nest, The
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  • Girl In The Spider's Web, The

    Girl In The Spider's Web, The After the original remake's mediocre performance, the lead roles were re-cast. Rather than continue to remake the Noomi Rapace movies, they decided to start adapting the new spin-off novels. Yes, this is franchise fiction at its worst.

    Lizbo Salamander ( Claire Foy ) may be the richest woman in the world, but she still lives the life of a down-and-out. Somehow she is a wanted criminal, despite having the ability to scrub her own records. She spends her time indulging her sadistic hobby of beating up and robbing rich men. Well, she is really stealing from their wives.

    One piece of work-for-hire she accepts is from a computer programmer named Baldur (Stephen Merchant - Logan (2017) ). He took a job from the American NSA, to create an ultimate code-breaker that can access nuclear weapons codes. Now he wants her to steal his work back, although he has no intention of returning the salary he was paid to create it.

    Lizbo does the necessary, and hacks the NSA mainframe. Now she is the only person with a copy of the most important program in the world. Of course, she thus brings down hell upon herself. Not just from the NSA, who only have a singleAgent to go after her. No, there is a murder-squad with military-grade weapons as well. They also go after Baldur and his autistic son (Martin from Gotham .

    In the second book of the original trilogy, Lizbo took out her father's organised crime network. It was all a bit small-scale and seedy. Now, however, it has been re-activated. Lisbo's albino sister is now in charge. yes, there has been a massive embellishment to her original backstory. Worse, the sister has a massive blond henchman - like a cut-price version of her own brother. Their base is a remote mountainside fortress, more like something from a James Bond movie than anything in the original series. Luckily the walls are made of wood, which comes in useful when it is dramatically appropriate.

    Lizbo also berates her journalist ex-lover, because he wants to write stories about her. She ignores the fact these stories will clear her name and help bring villains to justice.

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  • Jason Bourne Franchise

    The Bourne Identity

    The Bourne Identity Jason Bourne (Matt Damon - The Martian ) gets rescued from the Mediterranean sea. He has a bullet wound and a bad case of amnesia. There is also a clue, a safety deposit box in a Swiss bank.

    Bourne goes to Switzerland, but incurrs the wrath of the local cops. He seeks refuge in the US embassy, which is outside the police jurisdiction. The bad news is that the US Government also wants to arrest him. The good news is, much like Schwartzenegger in Total Recall , he discovers he has a very particular set of skills. Other good news is that he gets a lift with an attractive German woman ( Franka Portente ).

    It turns out that Bourne was a CIA assassin for a unit known as Treadstone. His target was Adebisi (Mr Eko from Lost ), and when Bourne botched the hit his bosses assumed he was a traitor. As a result Bourne has enemies all around him.

    CIA mastermind Chris Cooper ( ) and his henchwoman Nicky Parsons ( Julia Stiles ) send all their other assassins after Bourne. The best is a sniper (Clive Owen - Shoot'Em Up ), who at the time of this film's release was short-listed as the next James Bond .

    The Third Act has Bourne return to Paris and go after Cooper and Nicky.

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  • The Bourne Supremacy

    Bourne Supremacy CIA boss Pamela Landy ( Joan Allen ) is investigating a mole in the CIA. Unfortunately her source is taken out by a Russian assassin (Karl Urban - Dredd ). Urban's handler then sends him to India, where Jason Bourne (Matt Damon - The Martian ) and his girlfriend ( Franka Portente ) have been hanging out south of the Brandt line.

    Bourne is now ready to go on a rollicking rampage of revenge. As soon as he gets to Fortress Europe he pays a visit to Marton Csokas (one of Karl Urban's fellow veterans from Xena: Warrior Princess ).

    Landy is also on the hunt. The CIA Director teams her with a former Treadstone boss (Brian Cox - Manhunter ) and sends her to Germany to catch Bourne. They conscript Nicki ( Julia Stiles ), the only person who has met Bourne and lived.

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  • Bourne Ultimatum

    Bourne Ultimatum The previous film ended after a climactic car chase in Moscow, and had an epilogue set a few weeks later in New York City. This movie starts immediately after the car chase, and shows the events that took place in those intervening weeks.

    A Guardian reporter named Simon Ross (Paddy Considine - Girl With All The Gifts ) is investigating the trail of carnage Bourne has left in his wake. He stumbles across another conspiracy, an upgraded version of Treadstone known as Blackbriar. Unfortunately he mentions it on a phone line, and naturally it is flagged as a keyword on the NSA's Echelon system. As a result, the CIA's murder-squad is running all over London. Luckily, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon - The Martian ) wants Ross to help him track down the men behind Treadstone.

    CIA Director Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn - Silence Of The Lambs ) gets his buddy Noah Vosen (David Strathairn - Alphas ) to take charge of the situation. After all, Vosen is in charge of Blackbriar so they are both deeply implicated in it. Pam Landy ( Joan Allen ) is a rising star because she got credit for the positive result in the previous film. As a result she is pulled into the hunt for Bourne again. Also, she would be a good patsy if Blackbriar were exposed.

    In the second act, Bourne goes looking for the journalist's source. Luckily the person in question has realised the CIA is on the hunt, and has fled south of the Brandt line. Specifically, to the exotic city of Tangier in Morocco. The bad news is that a Blackbriar operative is on his tail. The good news is that Bourne has a familiar face to help him. Yes, Nicky Parsons ( Julia Stiles ) is still in the CIA despite her reluctance to get involved last time.

    The climactic third act takes place in New York. Bourne wants to find Dr Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney - ), the brains behind Treadstone and the new Blackbriar program.

    One of the problems with this is the idea that Blackbriar is regarded as illegal. The reality is that ever since 9/11 the US Intelligence Agency has conducted assassinations, usually using either Special Forces units or drone strikes. If a wet-work operation like Treadstone or Blackbriar were revealed it would not be any more shocking than any real-life CIA operation such as the ones depicted in Zero Dark Thirty .

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  • Bourne Legacy

    Bourne Legacy The first act of this film is mostly exposition. Despite plot points being repeatedly explained in precise detail, the audience still seem to be confused.

    The CIA creates a group of super-soldiers, experts in assassination. It then inexplicably uses them as deep cover agents, where they have to blend in and avoid any of the combat situations they were created for. The assassinations are left to teams of normal agents with norrmal weapons and skills.

    Super-soldier Jeremy Renner ( Avengers Assemble ) is targeted for assassination by his own side, so he goes on the run. He is running out of super-soldier-serum so he needs more.

    The only person who can help him is Rachel Weitz , conveniently a beautiful woman (and thus a potential love interest). They go on the run together, as always happens in this kind of thing.

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  • Jason Bourne

    Jason Bourne This is a return to the original setup of the series. It seems that the spin-off trilogy starring Jeremy Renner ( Avengers Assemble ) has been cancelled, probably because not enough people wanted to see a Bourne movie that did not actually have Jason Bourne (Matt Damon - The Martian ) in it. In order to make up for the previous movie, this film actually has Jason Bourne as the title! Could there BE any more Jason Bourne?

    Bourne hangs out with illegal immigrants in Greece, about as far north of the Brandt line as he can safely go without getting picked up by NSA electronic intelligence. He gets contacted by Nicky Parsons ( Julia Stiles ), who has left the CIA. She has decided to do a Snowdon and reveal the CIA's secret black-ops programs. Bourne gets called in to save her.

    The CIA now come after Nicky and Bourne. Pamela Landy ( Joan Allen ) has disappeared, presumably promoted to Vice President or sent off to run Death Race in a top-security prison somewhere. Instead, the main female in the unit is Alicia Vikander . She looks so young that it seems like she is there for work experience, or perhaps it is Bring your daughter to work day. It turns out that she graduated from Stanford a few years previously, but she must have shot up the ranks to be in such a sensitive job while she is still in her twenties.

    The CIA Director (Tommy Lee Jones - Men In Black ) does not want Bourne brought back alive. He deploys an Asset (Vincent Cassel - Brotherhood of the Wolf ) who is obsessed with killing Bourne.

    Bourne starts to remember his father (Gregg Henry - Just Before Dawn ), a CIA analyst who was blown up in a supposed terrorist bombing. Now, in a gratuitous sub-plot, it turns out that Bourne now has extra motivation. My name is Inigo Bourne, you killed my father - prepare to die!

    The CIA Director is busy with his new master-plan. He wants to use a social media app to harvest everyone's data. This is pretty much the villain's plan in Spectre . If it has now become a cliche, it is because this film reflects public news stories. In real life, Snowdon's revelations indicate that the NSA already uses such techniques. It is useless against terrorists, who do not have facebook profiles, and is only useful as a tool of mass oppression against law-abiding citizens. This movie is basically art imitating life, but in the real world the bad guys have already won.

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