Pacific Rim: Uprising – Review

by James and Ava Van Dyke

Pacific Rim is one of the most polarising action films. Directed by Del Toro, the original saw humanity create battling robots named Jaegers in order to defend the world from Kaiju aliens invading. The film has many detractors, often citing boredom or silliness as their reasons for criticism, but here at We Make Movies On Weekends, we adore the film for its inventive action sequences, gun-ho scrappy characters, and a heart-filled story at the centre of it.

With anything remotely successful, a sequel will eventually be developed. Despite Del Toro initially wanting to direct, the mantle fell to director Steven S DeKnight and leading man (and producer) John Boyega to continue the Pacific Rim legacy with Uprising.

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Set ten years after the events of the first film, the film revolves around Jake Pentacost. Consider the son of Idris Elbra’s heroic captain in the original, Jake makes a living selling Jaeger scraps on the black market. A shadowy Shao Corporation develops a Jaeger drone program, combing technology and Kaiju biology that would eventually make pilots redundant. However, when the Jaeger’s start going rogue, it’s up to Jake and amateur Jaeger pilot Amara Amani to save the day, with the guidance of Mako, Jake’s adopted sister.
Fans of Del Toro’s work in the first film will be sorely disappointed to find the movie is more Michael Bay than innovative action garb. Here, the action is the biggest highlights whilst the characterisation and plot fall short of anything truly gripping. There’s a pretty tight plot and the pace never slows, but that is detriment to us caring too deeply about the characters. In the first film, Riley and Mako were spirited centres that grounded the film in realism and heart. Despite Boyega’s best efforts, it’s hard to care too deeply about all involved.

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That being said, Boyega has enough charm to carry the film. Even though there is a bit of a gap with Charlie Hunnam’s Riley no longer being part of the universe and even with the issues of action over story, Boyega’s presence is ultimately an improvement on the one-faced heroes of the original. Boyega is a movie star: His charisma fills up the screen every second he is in it. There is a lot of confidence in Jake and Boyega is able to make him a lovable hero not dissimilar to his work with Star Wars’ Finn.

Newcomer Amara Amani is a great counterpart to Boyega and, despite the sluicing down of the material, Amani is a strong female character to match Boyega. It may be dumb, but the cast are clearly having a fun time with it all and that kinetic energy comes off the screen.

Pacific Rim: Uprising is alright. It’s neither ground-breaking, necessary, or surpasses any of the countless other action sci-fi films out there. However, there’s enough in the spirited cast and some impressive fight sequences that’ll keep you entertained at the very least.


Pacific Rim: Uprising is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

The Best Of…Hugh Grant

Let’s face it: We’ve all been embroiled in some sort of crush on Hugh Grant. I mean, look at him: Foppish fringed hair, bright white smile, and handsome British awkwardness. Hefty sigh.

Yep, back in the nineties, Grant had his own legion of fans but admits controversy and film failures, we sort of lost our way with him and he faded to the background somewhat.

Years before he came on the seen in British romantic comedies, the performer from Hammersmith was a dashing young man in James Ivory’s stunning British romantic film Maurice. To celebrate it’s return to cinema, we’re looking at the Best of Hugh Grant!

Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists (2012)

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I truly believe that Aardman brings out the best in actors and, arguably, this is Grant’s best role. You can fight me on that.  He stars as Pirate Captain in an almost unrecognisable voice casting. As the lead character competes for Pirate of the Year, Pirate Captain isolates everyone around him including his crew. But he soon comes across a dastardly plot and will rise to be  the hero he’s always dreamed of. Portraying a hapless pirate, Grant is genuinely hysterical and funny but strangely endearing too. It’s also a seriously underrated Aardman film so please watch it – it has the best use of a Flight of the Concords song!

Notting Hill (1999)

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It was a toss up between Four Weddings and a Funeral or Love Actually. But seeing as Notting Hill was the first ever Grant film that I saw as a kid growing up in 1990s Britain (that, or the countless VHS ads for Mickey Blue Eyes I still remember,) it will always be the most compelling to me. Here he plays William Thacker, a small book shop worker in the titular place who happens upon famous movie actress Anna Scott and starts a secretive affair with her. Grant has oodles of chemistry with Julia Roberts  and really plays the lovelorn character well here, with the dazzling blue eyes, charming British nervousness, and plenty of “whoopsie daisies.”

Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001)

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When Grant appeared on the posters for the timeless comedy Bridget Jones’ Diary we all had the same collective thought; “Oh great, not again, he plays the sappy love interest.” But that’s where the film turned on it’s head: He wasn’t the nice guy, he played the swarmy posh twat Daniel Cleaver who, despite having feelings for Bridget, treats her like shit. As Daniel Cleaver, he is understandably attractive but damn, he is a flirtatious, womanising dickhead. He also has the best on screen fight with Colin Firth’s Mark Darcy.

About A Boy (2002)

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Introducing the whole world to Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Grant became an unexpectedly father figure in this brilliant and lovable role. He plays a single man who has never had to work before thanks to the Christmas song his father wrote. When he winds up part of a young depressed mum’s life, he unwilling befriends her son. Grant manages to grow his character from cheap womaniser who’s shirked responsibility all his life into a compassionate man with this weird but loving friendship.

Maurice (1987)

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Before Call Me By Your Name, James Ivory tackled unbridled gay romance in the stirring movie Maurice. The film, based on a novel by E.M. Forester, and stars the titular character who goes through his life in Edwardian times figuring out his sexuality (whilst it still being a crime.) Hugh Grant plays  Clive Durham, Maurice’s college sweetheart who is more fearful of his true nature coming about. In an intimate performance, Grant captures the tenderness of youthful romance coupled with the anguish of a force hetero-sexual relationship in an amazing supporting role.

Paddington 2 (2017)

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If you’ve never seen Paddington 2, I think you should really re-evaluate your life choices.  I will even allow you to walk away after you’ve read this exact word in order to go watch it. You are about to witness one of the greatest things you’ve ever seen Hugh Grant too. As Phoenix Buchanan, he plays a very on the nose role as a has-been actor turned criminal mastermind when he kidnaps Paddington’s beloved pop-up book meant as a present for Aunt Lucy. As this swarmy and egotistical character, Grant tackles this role with such a gusto and glee that he steals the entire show. FROM PADDINGTON BEAR. That’s an almighty feat. Please stay for the credits though because you will not be disappointed!

BONUS:


Maurice is back in cinemas now! 

Maurice – Review

It’s a shame that only 30 years on from its release that Maurice gets its fair due. A Merchant Ivory release, and although a critical darling at the time of release (it swept through Venice Film Festival) it made little money upon release and maintained rather unseen. And still, even with its – now – starry cast, it feels as if its only just making the waves it so rightly deserves.

It helps that James Ivory earned himself an Academy Award for his work on the heart wrenching Call Me By Your Name, giving way for retrospective viewing of a film he so clearly was indebted to.

A sweeping love story set in early 20th-century England; it finds James Wilby’s Maurice Hall falling in love with the wealthy Clive Durham (a young Hugh Grant). The two embark on a hushed, although non-sexual affair with which Durham believes would diminish their relationship. When friend Lord Risley is sentenced to six months hard labour having been caught soliciting sex from a soldier, Durham feels it appropriate to leave Maurice and marry a rich girl to appease his widowed mother.

James Ivory, in apt Merchant Ivory fashion, rings the relationship for all its worth. It’s all deliciously melodramatic, drawn with broadest of strokes against a backdrop of glacial British countryside’s and grandiose manners.

There is a certain sense of repression in Ivory’s portrayal of Maurice’s relationships. Sex sequences are kept to an absolute minimum, but Ivory creates palpable tension – both emotional and deeply sexual – in Maurice’s yearning for Grant, and in particular waif like Alex Scudder (a young Rupert Graves).

The archaic stigma of homosexuality runs through Maurice, but Ivory keeps it to an absolute minimum. The occasional stare of a passing cyclist, or the suspicious looks of a maid is as far as Ivory allows the concern to go. It’s only the appearance of Ben Kingsley’s doctor who asks Maurice as to whether it would be sensible to move away from repressed England to somewhere where “his type” would be accepted, that their sexuality is discussed as being somewhat fraught. The obtrusive eye to their affair is something that still feels refreshing.

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Performances across the board – as expected in a Merchant Ivory production – are all exceptional. Wilby is stunning as Maurice, boyish and oft immature, infatuated with the idea of Durham and lost in the adoration. Grant too, sewing the seeds of his future heartthrob title.

It’s the late appearance of Rupert Graves that reignites the affair. At 140 minutes, it drags in places, but the moment Graves appears, the whole thing pops once more. Graves and Wilby bounce off one another with absolute charm.

The re-release of Maurice is a welcome reminder of what should be a genre classic and its return to the big screen is to be celebrated.


Maurice returns to cinemas 27th July 

The Best of…Tom Cruise

I know what you’re thinking: How can anyone sluice down over forty decades of over fifty films into a compact five movie list? True, the dazzling white teethed Cruise has been the epitome of Hollywood stardom for years and years, producing countless amounts of movies, and running in a hell of a lot of them.

I also know what you are thinking: Here we go, another list of Rain Man, Top Gun, and Days of Thunder. But that is where you are WRONG! Because in celebration of the release of yet another Mission: Impossible film, we’re going to try an attempt a list of different movies that may not initially spring to mind when you think of Cruise.

But then again…if you are film lover, this may be the movies you spring to anyway…

Collateral (2004)

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White-haired and stoic, Tom Cruise took the role of Vincent, a hired hitman who uses a taxi driver (Jamie Foxx) to cart him around, committing his killings. Cruise had rarely been a villain in films (more on that later) and his turn as the brutal, and coldly cool killer that has no qualms bringing in an innocent driver into the fold. It’s a chilling performance set against the seedy backdrop of Los Angeles.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

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One of Kubrick’s last films and such a brilliant drama film. The movie follows Dr Bill Harford as he embarks on an erotic and sexual night-long adventure after he finds out his wife is having an affair. Pairing Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise together, the film is an intense and layered movie about humans and their relations to love and sex. The performances are intricate against a beautiful backdrop and an alluring story. It is definitely one of the best films that Cruise has ever done.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

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While it may be a joke that Cruise has become Hollywood’s running man lately, there is something genuinely enjoyable about his work in Edge of Tomorrow. Why? Because his character sucks. Not in a “it’s a bad character,” but in the sense that he’s a character who has no idea what he is doing. Playing public relations officer in a war against aliens, trapped in a time-loop dying over and over again, Cruise’s performance is about having to survive and figure out why he is caught up in this. All with the help of the ultimate heroine…Emily Blunt.

Magnolia (1999)

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Paul Thomas Anderson is one of our greatest filmmakers. He is able to move audiences with intense art and craft some impossibly brilliant movies. From Boogie Nights to Phantom Thread, his work are masterpieces and any actor who happens to be a part of them. Earning Cruise an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, Cruise played a misogynistic public speaker tackling his issues with his estranged father. In a nuanced performance, Cruise reminded us of what a spectacular character actor he could be.

Interview with a Vampire (1994)

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On a personal note, this is my ultimate favourite Tom Cruise performance. Taking on Anne Rice’s infamous and dark vampire Lestat, Cruise transformed himself to a blood addicted animal all with the camp air of 1791. In our cinematic world where the actor has turned into a one note action-star playing pretty much the same character, it’s intriguing to see him play the beguiling vampire that attracts people into his murderous frenzy.

BONUS –  


Mission: Impossible – Fallout is out in cinemas today! 

Final Score – Brand New Trailer!

Ah man, I’m kinda in love with Dave Baustista and his brilliantly awful movie choices like this…Final Score. 

The film revolves around at football (or soccer) match that is invaded by terrorists for reasons I do not quite understand.

From the over the top Russian Accents to the Terrible Premise, Final Score looks about as likely to be a good film as England are at winning the Word Cup…

… Oh no, too soon?


Final Score is out 7th September! 

Mid90s – Brand New Trailer!

Grune music, baggy jeans, and skating, there are a lot of things that capture the brilliance of the Mid90s.  And director Jonah Hill looks to be capturing that in his directorial debut.

The movie revolves around a young boy Stevie as he…skates through life…literally.

From the A24 logo in skateboards to the subtle colour grading, the 90s aesthetic is impeccable here. We’re excited to see how Jonah Hill has developed this swansong to the era. What do you think?


Mid90s has no UK release date!