Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

Another Jumanji film following on from ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’. The avatars of Dr Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart) and Professor Shelly Oberson (Jack Black) have returned.

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You would think that a sequel of students going into a video game would feel repetitive and overdone. However, ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ is extremely clever in changing enough efficient things for this film to feel separate from its prequel. Instead of the original four, Spencer, Fridge, Martha and Bethany becoming the main four avatars in the game; Dr Bravestone is taken by Spencer’s Grandpa Eddie (Danny DeVito) and Mouse Finbar the zoologist is now embodying Eddie’s old friend Milo Walker (Danny Glover). Martha remains with Ruby Roundhouse, although Fridge ends up with Professor Shelly Oberon. Additionally, the map is completely different. The avatars find themselves once again in the forest to be then flown into a desert. This is further differed by a different map, a different villain and jewel, and different levels to be completed with even worse animals than before. The film does feel refreshingly original from the first, but still with some comic elements reflecting from ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’.

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One of the perfect things of this film has to be the actors. We are graced with some phenomenal stars on screen, the best are the ones would embody the characters we have begun to know so well. Dr Bravestone is not the same Dr Bravestone from the original film, instead he is a grumpy old man whose saying is “getting old sucks”. Mouse Finbar isn’t Fridge anymore, but now engulfed by a man who takes forever to get to his point, talking slowly and adding way too much information so the avatars die before they know what they need to about the crazed animal in front of them. Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson’s chemistry is always great on screen; this film wasn’t any different. Although, I liked that they weren’t the centre of the film as much, because the time they were on screen was comical however Karen Gillan and Jack Black were perfect at centre screen. Jack Black is brilliant as always by becoming different characters and again holds a lot of the comedic elements, but also is excellent as he sulks about the character he has become. Awkwafina also makes an appearance and her characters are magnificent. Furthermore, I do love the avatars character descriptions of strengths and weaknesses as new ones are added from the film before.

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‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ is a super sequel. It does help to the watch ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ first as some comedy values may be lost and the understanding of the changed map would definitely be misunderstood by the audience. Nevertheless, the mass of differences makes the film very enjoyable, full of comedy, action and adventure. The different levels are fun and new, the characters should be enjoyed by the audience and the steps to completing the game is only harder than before but more exciting with more action-packed plots. This film does feel a lot darker and menacing than the original, but it only adds to the idea of the game being broken and harder to complete. I would definitely recommend ‘The Next Level’ as it isn’t a let down in the slightest!

Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw (2019)

Yet another Fast and Furious film crashes onto our screens. Although, leaving the original franchise a new spin-off results in just Hobbs and Shaw in the centre. Hobbs and Shaw have already shown us the hatred between each other from ‘Fast and Furious 8’, but they are forced to reminisce and work together when the world is about to come to another end in this film.

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Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham return as Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw and have to work together when a new threat has risen. Everything went wrong in a mission to collect a secret virus when they were interrupted by the “bad guy” aka Brixton (Idris Elba). Instead, in a panic, one of the agents injects herself with the virus to stop Brixton from getting his hands on it. Although, it’s too easy for Brixton to spin the story, claiming that she is the one who has killed her own team and she is the enemy. This sounds like a lot of potential in a storyline, but actually once Hobbs and Shaw are on team, it all seems extremely easy to track the agent down and ultimately know she is of course not the baddy of the film!

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I did love this new addition of this agent, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby). She was a brilliant badass agent on screen, which was great to see against the “alpha males” constantly bickering. Something they definitely put a lot of effort into was these bickering squabbles between Hobbs and Shaw. There’s a clear hatred on screen straight away, although forced a little. The comedy seemed to play within these bitchy comments back and forth. I didn’t think it was hilarious, although some did make me giggle. Moreover, I loved the addition of two stars who grace the screen, which I’ll leave unnamed as they make a happy surprise.

Overall, I do think the plot was a bit weak, it felt a bit confused and all over the place. The main problem I found was that it tried to fit in a lot of backstory of both Hobbs and Shaw. This meant it spent a lot of time trying to explain all the pasts of these characters, which wasn’t so necessary and meant the film had a lot of confusing backstories.
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‘Hobbs and Shaw’ is just what it is – an action movie. With that, it does have a lot of action. From car chases with motorbikes, fancy skids under moving lorries, to fight scenes, with fists or guns, and explosions. Explosions are obviously a must in an action film such as this one, right? With this action comes a lot of slow-motion mid-action shots. Perhaps too many, but I quite enjoyed the action it was explosive and packed. As an action film, it’s enjoyable. There’s not much wrong with the film, it was ok and the action is where it is supposed to be, present and fiery. Not the best, not the worst.

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Well even before the title I was absorbed into this third impossible mission. We start with a flashback, where things have clearly hit their peak in a mission that seems to have gone incredibly wrong, then were back in present time where things are at it’s happiest for Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), he’s engaged! Let the mission begin: what started off as a search and rescue becomes a lot more than that. Plus, his fiancé knows nothing of his spy tales.

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This Mission Impossible may have just topped the first and second. This third movie of the series is jam-packed with so much action, it’s even more explosive, there’s more fights, it’s non-stop action –there may be 15 minutes throughout the whole movie that isn’t. This really is a brilliant action movie, the plot was interesting, the villain was fantastic, the action was explosive and the twists were shocking. A lot happens in this film, like the others there’s layers to build the action in the plot, but this one seems to have a lot more to it with action in every section.

Played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, the villain of the film is the best one so far! It doesn’t seem like the mission is easy, because this man doesn’t hold back. His sadistic twisted ways portray Ethan Hunt at his most desperate. We see as there are helicopter chases, missiles fired, arrests and jumping out of windows and off roofs. Additionally, Simon Pegg is in this movie and he does make me giggle even at a time of peril for Ethan Hunt.

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‘Mission: Impossible III’ is a brilliant action movie. I’ve enjoyed this one more than the other two. So far (as I’m watching them in order for the first time), I would rank this one top, the first second and the second last. It was nice to see Ethan Hunt in a different light of a normal family life, but always returning to his spy ways and this film just brought bigger and better explosive action. Obviously, with the excellence of the use of faces alike to the first two films, but this time we get an insider peak of how they are made.

Mission: Impossible II (2000)

Another impossible mission. The second delves into pharmaceuticals, the advancement of biotech. A deadly virus has been stolen and it’s up to Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team to take it back before it’s sold. Additionally, Luther (Ving Rhames) is back in his hacking duties excellent as ever.

‘Mission: Impossible II’ builds the tension really well once again. Everything seemed to connect better in this film, everything you watch will be linked in. Where the first ten minutes of the first ‘Mission: Impossible’ seemed irrelevant, this one interweaves much more nicely. Although, I do think that the first film has a better plot. Not that this one is bad, because it isn’t, it’s interesting and things definitely don’t go well for Ethan Hunt – things do not go to plan. This second film brings explosions and an action-packed plot. Oh and it’s very dramatic.

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The villains do seem to have swapping accents, it does become a bit annoying, although maybe I’m thinking about it too much. It’s not that much of a problem. You definitely tend to watch these films for the action plots anyway rather than the talking. And what’s important is that the action plot was there. There were lots of moments of long fighting scenes although still remain investing, car chases and more of Ethan Hunt’s acrobatics. Furthermore, ‘Mission: Impossible II’ has another new character in the mix, Nyah (Thandie Newton), who’s a great addition. A character Ethan is sent to hunt down for the beginning of the film, unknown to him why and what his mission actually is. Nevertheless, the romance wasn’t necessary, it escalated rather quickly…

I did enjoy this second Mission Impossible. So it’s not the most amazing action film I’ve ever seen, but it’s still enjoyable. Maybe more could have been put into the plot, but as I’ve said it’s one of those films for the action thrilling scenes. The use of faces makes you second guess everything, just like their use in the first film. The use of these is very clever. On the other hand, there’s a lot of slow-motion moments and I’m not sure if all of them actually hold the action value they are supposed to – it did become a bit silly with them. Regardless, it remains an action-packed film with twists and turns throughout. A solid action film – it is what it is! Not a fan of Tom Cruise’s haircut though…

Mission: Impossible (1996)

The beginning of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise). ‘Mission: Impossible’ is what is says on the tin, although impossible when Tom Cruise is in the mix? I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of Tom Cruise, although he is what he is, a great action star and this is proven by this series of missions impossible.

1996 brings the original ‘Mission: Impossible’ where a mission has gone terribly wrong and Ethan is the only one left alive – but now he’s suspected as the traitor in the CIA. But I don’t think him calmly explaining that he isn’t the mole will solve the issue; of course a fight is ahead of them, a mystery to be solved, uncovered, who is the true traitor? And the only way to do that? Apparently by stealing the highly secretive information he’s been wrongly accused of stealing…
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Tom Cruise does execute the action in films excellently, there’s no denying that, even if I’m not his biggest fan. The storyline is really good, it’s very enjoyable and exciting to try and uncover the real culprit of the mission going wrong. Meanwhile, Ethan Hunt gathers a new team together to steal the real disk drive from the CIA. This is where we meet new characters, ex-spies Krieger (Jean Reno) and Luther (Ving Rhames). Krieger brings tension in the group, but fundamental to the mission where Ethan hangs in suspension in a room sensitive of everything (a truly great scene). Luther is a great addition, he’s funny and an enjoyable character to watch with expert hacker skills. We also see the actors Vanessa Redgrave aka the lovely innocent Claire from ‘Letters to Juliet’ and Henry Czerny the hated Conrad Grayson from ‘Revenge’!

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After watching the first ‘Mission: Impossible’, I think I’ll make it my mission to watch the others. This one was enjoyable and action-packed. Although, I’m still at a loss with the first ten minutes of the film, I haven’t got a clue what that has got to do with anything else. Additionally, with only the films moving into the present the special effects are only going to get better; to be honest for a 1996 film the effects were actually quite good already! There were moments that weren’t up to scratch, so don’t expect perfection. However, it is easy to get over and it doesn’t ruin any part of the film, it’s still enjoyable for an action film with a great plot. There are some great scenes, some twists and turns, powerful action and an interesting mystery. Is there much more needed?

Salt (2010)

An Angelina Jolie action spy film – I don’t think I can think of a film that isn’t good with that particular phrase. Angelina Jolie has to be one of the best action actresses, she is phenomenal in executing all parts of the film. What action movies aren’t great with her? ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’, ‘The Tourist’, ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’ – all brilliant, including ‘Salt’. 

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‘Salt’ follows a CIA agent accused of being a Russian sleeper agent. Once this is declared, everything goes awry for Agent Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie), she ends up on the run from the CIA and we have no idea what is actually going on. You become so intrigued into the mystery of the whole film, constantly wondering what is going on and what the hell Salt thinks she’s doing!

This action is non-stop explosive action throughout the whole film. The audience are warped into this action lifestyle of spies. It’s an extremely interesting plot from start to finish. I was hooked from beginning to end, glued to the screen. It’s explosive and action-packed, with some excellent fighting scenes and a brilliant plot to be absorbed into. What more do you need in an action film?

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I would definitely recommend this film. Watch and try to discover who Evelyn Salt is. Watch as the mystery unravels itself, but you’re not entirely sure until the very end. With action such as car chases, jumping down elevators and scaling buildings, it really is non-stop and exciting all the way through. Besides it’s Angelina Jolie!

Die Hard (1988)

One of the classic action films, right? I’ve finally watched it! After watching five series of Jake Peralta in ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ claim this is the best cop movie, thought it was time to see if I could understand what he was going on about in all the references. Is that sad?

At Nakatomi Plaza on Christmas Eve, a party is underway celebrating the holidays and the recent success of the business. An New York Police Officer is caught up in the night when he goes to visit his estranged wife. A night that goes terribly wrong when terrorists claim the building theirs, including the $600 million in a vault. Hostages are taken, the officer goes under the radar, leaving it to be him against all the terrorists, one man against the world.

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You probably know that the main character, the police officer, John McClane, is the one and only Bruce Willis, in one of this most famous action movies. He is brilliant in this film, his acting down to a T as you wouldn’t expect anything different. He is a character that talks to himself a lot, random things too. His enemy of the night, the lead terrorist played by the excellent Alan Rickman. Although, I feel his accent was a bit jumpy from English to German… But never going to say anything against this brilliant actor.

The plot is an interesting one, and I have different opinions about it. Firstly, the action scenes are classic, they are fun and exciting, there are also many tense moments. Although, there are many talk moments, moments slow and a bit wishy washy. It’s quite a slow beginning to actually get going with the plot. This goes along with it being quite a long film, it’s over two hours, so there is a lot of talking moments. We, as the audience, definitely know the most on screen. By the end, it actually feels like quite a clever plot, the storyline does get creative by the end. It’s definitely a plot that paints the ‘good guys’ are quite negative, it’s John McClane and John McClane only.

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I stand by this film not being a Christmas film. Just because it is set at Christmas doesn’t mean it’s a Christmas film. It doesn’t reach Christmas day, the whole film is on Christmas Eve, and there are the few Christmas songs. I would personally just say it’s an action film, one classic from the 1980s. And it’s not terrible, obviously it’s not. I just felt I was caught up in the action with exciting scenes, and the wishy-washy talking moments just felt like they dragged. But overall, it wasn’t bad!