John Davis

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Ferdinand Review

Good

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in 1936 and first adapted for the big screen by Walt Disney in an Oscar-winning 1938 short. Thankfully, that warm, funny story is preserved in the middle of this animated feature, stretched out with lots of the usual slapstick and action mayhem. So while the silly, pointless mayhem will keep children giggling, it's the story's big heart that makes it worth seeing.

Ferdinand (voiced by John Cena) is a young calf growing up on a ranch in Spain, being trained to become a fighter in the bull ring. But he's far more interested in smelling the flowers. So he escapes and is adopted by Nina (Lily Day) on her quiet farm, growing up to be a gentle-giant bull. The problem is that the local villagers are terrified of his behemoth size, and he's captured by animal control and taken back to the ranch. Now he's competing with his childhood cohorts (Bobby Cannavale, Anthony Anderson and Peyton Manning, plus David Tennant as a Scottish Highland bull) for a spot in a big upcoming Madrid bullfight. But Ferdinand just wants to get back to the flowers, so he enlists the help of goofy goat Lupe (Kate McKinnon) to escape again.

The central point about being true to your nature is important and moving, played with just the right balance of humour and sentimentality, especially as it makes a strong comment on choosing love over violence. But this message is somewhat watered down by the rather corny zaniness that fills the screen, including several massive action set-pieces that not only make very little sense but feel like scenes we've seen before. The characters are colourful enough to keep us smiling, but while the animation is technically adept it's not hugely original (see also director Carlos Saldanha's Ice Age movies), and it makes virtually no use of the 3D.

Continue reading: Ferdinand Review

Joy Review

Extraordinary

After Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, mercurial filmmaker David O. Russell reunites with Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro for an offbeat biopic about the woman who invented the Miracle Mop. It's such a quirky movie that it's destined to divide audiences, but there's magic in Russell's loose, inventive filmmaking style. And this lively story has a lot to say about the tenacity required to achieve the American dream.

Joy Mangano (Lawrence) is the only sensible person in her family, so she's been running the household most of her life. But now things are getting a bit too complicated, as her father Rudy (De Niro) moves back into the house after his second marriage fails, Joy's mother Terry (Virginia Madsen) does little but watch her favourite soap opera, Joy's ex-husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez) lives in the basement pursuing his dream of becoming a pop star, and her sister (Dascha Polanco) undermines everything she does. As Joy cares for her own children, it's only her grandmother (Diane Ladd) who has any confidence in her. And when she has a flash of inspiration and creates a self-wringing mop, getting it on the market is an uphill battle. Finally, she catches the attention of Neil (Bradley Cooper), who runs a brand new shopping network called QVC.

The story spans some 40 years, during which Russell gleefully parallels Joy's family chaos with the lurid soap on Terry's television. Of the people around Joy, only Grandma, Tony and her childhood buddy Peggy (Elizabeth Rohm) believe in her. So even though her dad's new girlfriend (the fabulous Isabella Rossellini) invests in her mop, no one thinks she'll achieve any real success. This means that Joy's journey is a series of sometimes outrageous obstacles both within and outside her immediate circle. And of course the biggest barrier is her gender, because almost no one accepts the idea that she might be a genius.

Continue reading: Joy Review

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Review

Very Good

Adopting a deliciously groovy vibe, Guy Ritchie turns the iconic 1960s TV spy series into a flashy action-comedy. There's absolutely nothing to this frothy romp, but it's packed with hilarious characters and lively action scenes that continually surprise the audience with inventive twists on the genre. And it just might turn the suave, fast-talking Henry Cavill and the brooding, engaging Armie Hammer into A-list stars in the process.

It opens in 1963 East Berlin, where ex-con CIA operative Napoleon Solo (Cavill) is trying to help sexy mechanic Gaby (Alicia Vikander) escape to the West, chased by his nemesis, KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Hammer). Gaby's father is a nuclear scientist on the verge of selling his secrets to a rogue Italian billionaire couple (Elizabeth Debicki and Luca Calvani) so, even though the Cold War is raging, the CIA and KGB decide to cooperate on the mission. This means that rivals Solo and Illya must work together as they travel to Rome with Gaby, making contact with British agent Waverly (Hugh Grant) and Gaby's creepy uncle (Sylvester Goth). And of course, there are unexpected wrinkles along the way.

As always, Ritchie cleverly subverts each set-piece, letting chase scenes unfold in carefully staged but enjoyably inventive ways, often putting the real action in the background while the characters act as if they're above all this nastiness. As popcorn entertainment, this is first-rate, with a cast that's more than up to the challenge. Cavill is particularly smooth, a Bond-style spy who seems unable to resist seducing every pretty woman he meets. Hammer's role is pricklier, since Illya never quite relaxes, although his petulance makes him just as likeable. Their interplay is snappy and often very funny but, unlike Ritchie's similarly toned Sherlock Holmes movies, this strains to avoid being a bromance. Solo and Illya continue to spy on each other right to the end, maintaining their Cold War distance even as they team up to save the world.

Continue reading: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Review

Carmen Nebel, Milli Vanilli, Fab Morvan and John Davis - German ZDF live TV show 'Willkommen bei Carmen Nebel' at GETEC Arena at GETEC Arena - Magdeburg, Germany - Saturday 16th May 2015

Carmen Nebel, Milli Vanilli, Fab Morvan and John Davis
Carmen Nebel, Milli Vanilli, Fab Morvan and John Davis
Carmen Nebel and Andreas Gabalier
Carmen Nebel and Andreas Gabalier
Carmen Nebel and Andreas Gabalier
Carmen Nebel and Andreas Gabalier

John Davis - 'RAW for the Oceans' - Long-term Collaboration Between Bionic Yarn and G-Star Turning Ocean Plastic into Denim - Press Conference - Manhattan, New York, United States - Sunday 9th February 2014

John Davis

Chronicle Review


Extraordinary
Taking the found-footage thriller to a new level, this film throws real-life teens into an extraordinary story while deepening the characters and providing exhilarating action. Even Cloverfield seems unimaginative by comparison.

Andrew (DeHaan) is a nerdy teen videotaping his life in an attempt to liven it up. His hip cousin Matt (Russell) thinks he's nuts, but goes along with it, inviting him to a student rave. There they team up with the coolest guy on campus, Steve (Jordan), to explore a strange hole in the ground. When they emerge, they have telekinetic powers that grow stronger the more they use them.

But they quickly discover the scope for danger, creating a few rules that Andrew privately bristles against.

Continue reading: Chronicle Review

A Little Bit Of Heaven Review


OK
Shot in the style of a bland Hollywood rom-com, this film is actually a weepie drama with a bit of magical realism thrown in. It's such an odd hybrid that we're never sure whether we should laugh or cry. So we do neither.

Marley (Hudson) is a high-flying New Orleans advertising exec who doesn't believe that romance is necessary. Although she does have loyal friends: ditsy colleague Sarah (Punch), happy family woman Renee (DeWitt) and cheerful neighbour Peter (Malco). On the other hand, she tries to avoid to her estranged, warring parents (Bates and Williams). Then during a medical test, she has a vision of God (Goldberg), who grants her three wishes before she dies of cancer. But she certainly isn't seeking the love that grows between her and Julian (Garcia Bernal), her doctor.

Continue reading: A Little Bit Of Heaven Review

Eragon Review


Weak
Christopher Paolini began writing Eragon, a fantasy novel about dragons, elves, and a farmboy who finds out that his destiny is to destroy an evil empire, when he was 15 years old. Those themes may sound familiar to you, and that was perhaps an important part of the book's success: It became a bestseller.

I could have written a similar book (though perhaps not when I was fifteen) but I never guessed that the Tolkien estate and Lucasfilm would have given permission to use all of their ideas. As one of Paolini's characters says, forgiveness is easier than permission, and everyone seems to have forgiven Paolini (up to a point -- we''ll see how well the movie does). That's good, because every major plot point in Eragon is ripped off from The Lord of the Rings or the Star Wars series (with occasional ripoffs, probably subconscious, from other sources, like The Wizard of Oz). In fact, Eragon is so derivative it's surprising that it even got published. Or it would be, if publishing houses still had standards.

Continue reading: Eragon Review

The Thing Called Love Review


OK
The routine story of four scrappy Nashville newcomers who hope to make it as country music stars, The Thing Called Love wouldn't hold much interest if it weren't for one important fact: a clearly deteriorating River Phoenix stars as one of the four, and this is the last film he completed before his 1993 death. Director Peter Bogdonavich was probably excited by the prospect of working with the gifted Phoenix, but the resulting film is a record of his struggle to get something -- anything -- out of the incapacitated star.

In reality, the movie centers not around Phoenix but around Miranda Presley (Samantha Mathis), who lets everyone know she's "no relation" to The King but has similar musical dreams. She meets up with southern beauty queen and songwriter wannabe Linda Lue (Sandra Bullock with a rather unfortunate southern accent) and the hunky Connecticut cowboy Kyle (Dermot Mulroney), whose instrument of choice, strangely enough, is the cello. They all hang around the Bluebird Café, which hosts Nashville's most promising open mike night, the place where aspiring songwriters come to show their stuff.

Continue reading: The Thing Called Love Review

Paycheck Review


OK
Sci-fi fans will see clear similarities between John Woo's action/thriller Paycheck and Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall (1991). Both deal with memory and identity, as adapted from stories by author Philip K. Dick. Both star thousand-watt Hollywood celebrities (Ben Affleck here, Governor Schwarzenegger in Recall) in roles that ask little from them. And, most disappointingly, both shun an intellectual and sturdy drama that would fit the subject matter perfectly, choosing action and cornball dialogue instead.

"My life is nothing but highlights," confesses Mike Jennings (Affleck), a genius computer hacker who trades big cash for small chunks of his own memory. Jennings gets rich by dissecting massive programs and passing the goods onto rival companies - at which point, all recent activity is erased from his brain.

Continue reading: Paycheck Review

The Last Outlaw Review


Bad
Whoa, Steve Buscemi in a western? With Mickey Rourke, too!? Sadly, crazy casting is just about the only thing of note in The Last Outlaw, a sad, sad excuse for a western. After a botched bank robbery, the film quickly degenerates into one long bloodbath, with the bad guys being killed by each other and/or the law. In the end, only one will survive? Which one? Who cares.

Predator Review


Bad
The scariest thing about Predator is that its lead actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is currently serving as governor of California. I'm not questioning Schwarzenegger's leadership or intellectual abilities, but it does worry me that the he-man who, in this movie, swings from trees, rolls in mud, and mumbles lines like, "If it bleeds, we can kill it," is leading the most populous state in the country. Beyond Schwarzenegger's startling career change, Predator offers little else that's remotely frightening. Unless you are still sucking your thumbs and cuddling with teddy bears, Predator offers only laughs, not chills. If you're mature enough to cross the street by yourself, you're far too mature to find Predator scary.

Yet, Predator does exhibit a few morsels of potential. Given the effective atmosphere and pacing of the film, it is evident that more capable minds could have molded this thriller into an ageless, unrelenting struggle between man and beast. Unfortunately, instead of penning a daring, original plot, writers Jim Thomas and John Thomas recycle formulas from movies like Rambo and Alien. It goes without saying that Predator brings nothing new to the table, and lacks both surprise and suspense.

Continue reading: Predator Review

John Davis

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John Davis Movies

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Joy Movie Review

Joy Movie Review

After Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, mercurial filmmaker David O. Russell reunites with Jennifer...

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movie Review

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movie Review

Adopting a deliciously groovy vibe, Guy Ritchie turns the iconic 1960s TV spy series into...

Chronicle Movie Review

Chronicle Movie Review

Taking the found-footage thriller to a new level, this film throws real-life teens into an...

Mr. Popper's Penguins Movie Review

Mr. Popper's Penguins Movie Review

Yes, this movie is just as silly as it looks, with Jim Carrey pratfalling all...

A Little Bit Of Heaven Movie Review

A Little Bit Of Heaven Movie Review

Shot in the style of a bland Hollywood rom-com, this film is actually a weepie...

Gulliver's Travels Movie Review

Gulliver's Travels Movie Review

Jonathan Swift's 1726 novel is given the Jack Black treatment in this lively, colourful romp,...

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Predators Movie Review

Predators Movie Review

Stylish direction and an above-average cast help lift this noisy action sequel above the fray....

The Heartbreak Kid (2007) Movie Review

The Heartbreak Kid (2007) Movie Review

While sibling filmmakers Bobby and Peter Farrelly have done enough over the years to sustain...

Garfield: The Movie Movie Review

Garfield: The Movie Movie Review

At the very least, Garfield: The Movie explains why Bill Murray wore such a long...

Eragon Movie Review

Eragon Movie Review

Christopher Paolini began writing Eragon, a fantasy novel about dragons, elves, and a farmboy who...

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties Movie Review

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties Movie Review

Some movies don't require a review. Watch a commercial for Garfield: A Tail of Two...

When a Stranger Calls (2006) Movie Review

When a Stranger Calls (2006) Movie Review

"The call is coming from inside the house!!!!"It's a line that's frightening regardless of whether...

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