Dave Bautista

REVIEW: Hotel Artemis (2018)

Los Angeles 2028. Hotel Artemis is run by the Nurse (Jodie Foster) and it’s a place for criminals to lay low and get patched up. The Hotel Artemis has an important set of rules, including no guns and no killing the other patients. But with riots on the streets and high-end criminals checked in, tensions begin to boil over.

Hotel Artemis does a lot of clever world-building in a very short period of time. There’s riots on the streets over clean water, rich people are desperately trying to place their valuables in the bank to avoid looters and rumours of an all-powerful mob boss. The look of the hotel, how it and the various medial equipment seems to be on its last legs, it makes the hotel almost a character of its own.

Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) is the main character of the hotel guests and thus gets the most development. When it comes to fleshing out the other characters there’s assassin Nice (Sofia Boutella) followed by scumbag Acapulco (Charlie Day). If you’re thinking all these names are a bit odd, that’s because the guests of the hotel are named after the name of their suite. All actors do a good job with what they’re given though it is Jodie Foster who’s the standout. The Nurse holds it all together as she goes from room to room, patching up guests and attempting to keep other people out of the hotel. She’s sweet lady that’s somehow ended up healing criminals, she works in a morally grey area but she’s someone who believes in the rules and is a good person at heart.

Hotel Artemis isn’t particularly an action film. Towards the end there’s a big fight but really, it’s a character driven film and the main plot is about not letting certain characters learn about other characters who may or may not be in the hotel. It sounds more complicated than it is and it would’ve been nice if there were more than one scene where multiple criminals were in the same place at once. That one scene was funny, compelling and tense.

Hotel Artemis does lack a spark of something to make it great. Perhaps it’s because, for some reason, I thought it was going to have the same sort of manic humour as Free Fire. But really while there are a few jokes, most of which come from Dave Bautista’s Everest, it’s a more serious drama about criminals.

With its 90 minutes runtime, Hotel Artemis doesn’t really let up. There’s a lot happening with these characters but the film doesn’t do enough to be memorable. 3/5.

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REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017)

You can read my original review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 from May 2017 here.

The Guardians are using their fame to make money, when Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father Ego (Kurt Russell) arrives in their lives. The Guardians struggle to keep their newfound family together as they attempt to unravel the mystery of Peter’s father.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a bright, fast-paced adventure. The planets, characters and costumes are all vibrant and unique to where they are in the galaxy. This film really does show the scope of the universe these characters are travelling around in as you get a sense of distance between planets, and what it means to jump from one to another.

While there’s still a lot of jokes in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, though not all of them hit the mark, the actual story and insights into these characters is quite sad. This team of unlikely heroes are slowly becoming attached to one another, and so many of them are unsure of how to deal with that. Rocket (Bradley Cooper) pushes people away, constantly having to compete with Peter and antagonising everyone in order to get a reaction. While you knew that Drax’s (Dave Bautista) family had been killed from the first film, through Mantis (Pom Klementieff) you get to see past his stoic appearance and see the pain and sadness he’s constantly carrying around inside him.

There’s so many moments between various characters where as they’re shouting at one another, they reveal how they’re really feeling, and how they in fact care about or understand the other person. These moments give Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 layers as beneath all the colours, jokes and space battles, there’s these broken characters who are slowly becoming a family.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a lot of fun with great action sequences, but perhaps because the first film was such an unexpected delight the sequel doesn’t quite hit the same levels of greatness. 3/5.

REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

My original review of Guardians of the Galaxy, written and posted in August 2014 can be found here.

When intergalactic terrorist Ronan (Lee Pace) threatens the galaxy, an unlikely group of heroes – all criminals of some kind – are forced to work together to stop him.

Guardians of the Galaxy is the first proper foray into space and beyond for the MCU. Each world our dubious heroes visit is its own unique place. The design of each of these worlds and their cities have so much personality and all look like real-lived in places. The special effects make space look beautiful and the whole film is full of colourful worlds, costumes and characters.

The so-called Guardians of the Galaxy are formed of Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) a man who was kidnapped from Earth when he was a child and has grown up to be a thief, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) an assassin, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) who takes everything literally, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) a genetically engineered racoon and Groot (Vin Diesel) a large talking tree. They are an odd mix of characters who certainly don’t get along all the time, but their dynamics are often both compelling and hilarious.

I can’t not mention the soundtrack. Music makes up a huge part of Guardians of the Galaxy and all the songs add something to the action on screen, whether it adds to the humour or to the emotion these characters are feeling. The soundtrack is just as fun as the film is.

The only thing that really lets down Guardians of the Galaxy is its villain. Ronan is your typical bad guy and forgettable one really. It’s other antagonistic characters like Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Yondu (Michael Rooker) who are more convincing adversaries as they both have history with our heroes. Also the plot itself is quite cliché but the way its executed makes it more unusual and entertaining.

Guardians of the Galaxy is so much fun. It’s really a near-perfect mix of humour, action and larger than life characters who each get their moment to shine and who forge a surprising connection. 4/5.

REVIEW: Bushwick (2017)

When Lucy (Brittany Snow) returns home to Bushwick, a neighbourhood in Brooklyn, from college she soon discovers an unknown military force has taken over the neighbourhood. She meets war veteran Stupe (Dave Bautista) and together they fight to make it one block at a time to safety.

The way Bushwick is filmed is really engaging and different to the usual action, shoot-’em-up type of film it is. Bushwick is mostly made up of a sequence of long, tracking shots that follow the main characters. Most of these happen on the streets and this adds to the sense of panic and insecurity as you as the viewer can only see as much as the characters, and sometimes even less than what they see. It increases the tension as gunfire can come from all directions, and it’s difficult to tell who is friendly and who is not.

Because Lucy and Stupe are almost constantly on the move, running across streets and taking shelter in buildings, the film never really lets up. It moves from one action, gun-filled sequence to the next, barely letting you or the characters have time to breathe. There are a couple of moments where Lucy and Stupe have a chance to actually talk to one another, one of which gives Bautista a great monologue.

When you learn more about the invading military force that’s terrorising the streets, it becomes clear Bushwick is a film for these times. It’s about a country that is in some ways divided, but in others is stronger together. There’s a great moment when you learn the invading force thought the neighbourhood would be an easy target because it is made up of a diverse group of people, but they underestimated them and these people who have different backgrounds are instead fighting side by side.

Bushwick is a fast-paced and thrilling action film. It offers some interesting commentary on modern day America which might be a bit on the nose, but the performances are generally good and the action is relentless. 4/5.

REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

The Guardians of the Galaxy are back, working for money, and going off on adventures till Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father, Ego (Kurt Russell), comes into his life.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a lot of fun. Drax (Dave Bautista) continues to be a standout as his brutal honesty and lack of understanding of social queues make many a witty moment. There’s a lot of one-liners and the relationship between this characters is charming and brings a lot of the humour.

There’s a great theme of “found family” running through Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (anyone who knows me know that’s my favourite trope ever) and it was done really well. You got to see how the team had grown closer since the previous film and the banter and arguments between them all is a highlight. The five characters who make up the Guardians of the Galaxy are great and you get new dynamics to the team with Yondu (Michael Rooker) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) who have bigger and more interesting roles this time round.

The actual plot isn’t so great – I won’t go into the plot a great deal as the promo stuff for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 really has shown only about the first 20 minutes of the film. (Well done marketing department for not showing a load of spoilers and climatic moments). It often feels like a series of scenes and funny moments stuck together with no real overall arc for a lot of the characters. For instance, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is a character who often feels short-changed. The film is a bit messy and while I enjoyed the film as a whole, it did leave me feeling it was a good example of style over substance.

Because Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a beautiful looking film. It’s colourful and CGI galore but it works pretty well and looks great. The alien creatures and planets are all different which makes this space opera richer and wonderful to look at. Plus, it still has an amazing soundtrack that will have you bopping along in your seat or smiling to yourself.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a bright, fun addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s funny and entertaining but it doesn’t really leave a lasting mark. 3/5.

REVIEW: SPECTRE (2015)

spectre elenasquareeyesWhen James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) past comes back to haunt him, he discovers a sinister organisation. Meanwhile in London M (Ralph Fiennes) has battle a political programme to keep the secret service alive.

The opening sequence in Mexico was amazing. It really starts SPECTRE with a bang and it’s a highlight of the film. The continuous tracking shots of Bond as he moves from the crowded streets to the rooftops are brilliant and then the helicopter stunts are tense and jaw-dropping. It’s one of the best opening’s to a Bond film and then follows Sam Smith’s theme song which plays incredibly well with the title sequence.

SPECTRE has a lot more humour than the previous Craig-Bond films and it does well in balancing the humour and the tension. The action-scenes are still pretty great but t’s the hand-to-hand fights that are the most impressive. When Bond faces off against Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista) it’s a sight to behold and I loved Hinx, he’s huge and deadly but also smart, definitely a worthy adversary for Bond.

The guy puling all the strings is Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). He commands the screen whenever he appears and he has great chemistry with Bond. Part of me wishes there was more of him in SPECTRE because he was a joy to watch on screen but then I think it was great having this omnipresent character in the shadows, just out of reach and taunting Bond.

Team MI6 were great in SPECTRE. M has his own story and it’s great to see him in a political battle with Denbigh (Andrew Scott). I continue to love Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), Q (Ben Whishaw) and Tanner (Rory Kinnear) and their relationship with both Bond and M, SPECTRE makes Q and Moneypenny seem more like their own characters even though their primary purpose it to help M and Bond.

The main problem I had with SPECTRE is that there’s so many references to previous Bond films. I probably wouldn’t have noticed anything if I hadn’t had my Bondathon this year but watching SPECTRE I couldn’t help but be reminded of various Bond films. Elements from Dr. No, From Russia with Love, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Licence to Kill are all featured in SPECTRE to various extents. In some ways it could be a nice homage but really I found it quite distracting and SPECTRE didn’t really end up feeling like it’s own film.

SPECTRE is a lot of fun and is action-packed but the continuous references to previous Bond films is quite jarring and the ending wasn’t quite what you’d expect for Bond. 3/5.