Movie Review: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Movie Review: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

G.I. Joe: Retaliation opens this week to renew our love of unrealistic action adventures built around comic characters and buff heroes. “Easy”, you say as you wonder how hard I’m going to come down on this comic adventure. Well this might be a mixed review covered by a Dad and his 13 year-old son who together saw the 3D version from Step Up director Jon M. Chu.

With a line-up including Channing Tatum, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Bruce Willis you have a feel that this won’t be a thriller for the mind. To his credit I think Jon M. Chu caught the essence of the G.I. Joe character as more action comic than serious drama. The costumes, explosions and gun size all contribute to a not so real ride. While most of the stunts give a sense of martial arts wow factor some of the effects were so unreal you felt back in comic book mode.

Hasbro must be over the moon with the extra publicity their plastic super doll gets out of the G.I.Joe movie franchise. Even if its not quite targeted at a 7 year-old boy’s birthday party present list, the 28 year-old fathers and 52 year-old granddads will probably be buying all the right toys for the children and grand-children.

Our story follows a betrayed G.I. Joe division trying to recover from an event that depletes its numbers of super soldiers. In the backdrop this was all part of a plan by Cobra to put the safety of the world at risk and due for annihilation unless the leader’s of the nuclear world bow their heads to the evil overlord. All of the betrayal is washed in murky waters due to an evil President in part played by Jonathan Pryce with a psychitzo performance. World Leaders are running around with their heads cut off while the boys and girl in camouflage khaki renew their armoury from the kitchen cupboards of retired General Joe Colton played by Bruce Willis. Out of the kitchen and into the fire, the G.I. Joes start the road back to freedom and save the day.

The cast is dressed up by some ‘beautiful people’ performances from D J Cotrona as Flint and Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye. Elodie Yung as Jinx and Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow give us the martial arts performance and its the reliable Ray Park as Snake Eyes who gives us the strong silent type.

Be prepared to ask ‘Why’ when lead characters don’t last the distance. It was a reminder to me of when a lead actor on the movie poster left ‘Executive Decision’ in the first 15 minutes to keep an audience going… ‘What Happened!’ Equally another supposed lead actor might have had 30 seconds of screen time and half of that was as a photo on a computer screen. I’d love to know how much their paying for appearance money these days.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a mixed bag. The 3D is well filmed and plays right into the comic book style setting. The story isn’t strong but its always hard to write a script with seven one-liners and four explosions per page. All up it was a fun night out for a 13 year-old who said it wasn’t as good as Avengers but it was good!

3 out of 5 popcorns

Getting Married – Flying on the Trapeze

Pitchford Wedding

Today many couples say that they want to ‘try out’ the relationship first before getting married. Their rationale is that by living together they want to ‘try before they buy’ so they don’t make the mistake of marrying the wrong person. On the surface it seems logical. After all, why not measure twice and cut once? But what is lost in the equation is that they’re losing sight of the difference between flying on the trapeze with a safety net and flying without. It’s a unique aspect of life that kicks us into a higher gear where we perform with greater commitment and our brain, stamina and heart lift to a higher level. I don’t know if you’ve seen the cartoon with the pig and the hen. The hen is telling of its wonderful eggs made available to breakfast plates of bacon and eggs everywhere when the pig jumps in. He cuts to the chase saying, “Huh! For you it’s a contribution but for me its total commitment!”

In my work in the media we can now pre-record audio and video before we broadcast the production. Somehow in the brain that lets us off the hook as a presenter to make a few mistakes, delete the recording and do it again. I know from personal experience, whether on stage or behind the microphone that I’m actually better when its live. You know its got to work and you draw on all your training and creativity to make it a success. The one thing I’ve learned in our marriage is that it’s not a dress rehearsal, its a live performance.

These days it seems we’ve scared a lot of people out of the joy of marriage by the horror stories of divorces gone wrong and mismatched personalities. Sadly they’ve had more publicity through TV soaps, movies and the 6 o’clock news than the successful stories of loving marriages. Why do we only hear about marriage success if a couple makes it to 50 or 60 years? One thing I love about our church is that every Sunday you can go up the front for a free Crunchie chocolate bar if you have something to celebrate from getting your driver’s licence to the arrival of your first grand-child. Every week married couples go up celebrating their wedding anniversary. I love hearing that a couple are in their 14th, 29th or 40th year of marriage and then to see them go up and walk back hand in hand. We seem to have a generation that thinks they will last longer in marriage if they wait till they’re older and yet I would say I’ve seen a majority of young love marriages be the ones that last to say they started strong and finished stronger.

Cheryl and I have known each other for 24 years and we will soon be celebrating our 22nd Wedding Anniversary. This year we are heading away for a weekend at a beach. We probably can only afford to do this kind of thing every 4-5 years but it’s always worth it. I know that through those years we’ve had moments where we wondered how we could keep going. Sometimes it was a big problem but more often than not our pride stumbled on a small stone in the road. I’ve often found we can resolve the issues pretty quick its the part where we have to humble ourselves that actually is the hardest piece of the puzzle.

The best advertisement for marriage is marriage. The photo above shows my stunning babe on our Wedding Day when she was 19 years-old. We still speak of her as my ‘China Doll’, she looked so stunning. We’re a happily married couple with four beautiful kids who we love dearly. As our children are in the 13 to 20 age-group we are starting to enter a new phase of life as we have more adult life experience conversation with them. This is adding to our marriage and giving us a great privilege as Mum and Dad to be involved in our kids life decisions. This is also a pivotal year as our eldest daughter is engaged and preparing for getting married later in the year. What an incredible opportunity for us as parents. We can be inspired by their young warm smitten love and at the same time be able to grab the moment to model a marriage worth pursuing.

We are so proud to have brought them into this world and as I look at the photos around our house of our lives together I can see what value there is in a marriage built without a safety net. We haven’t relied on divorce as an out, or a prenuptial agreement as an exit clause but instead we’ve flown high on the trapeze. We’ve enjoyed the view and the thrills knowing that we need to keep our eyes on God as our ‘catcher’ for this amazing experience. I know we have friends and family who have had to walk through the pain of divorce and we know it isn’t a path they wanted to choose. The life lesson that has kept me honest to the man in the mirror is that I can’t let myself have an out if I’m going to be the best husband, lover, Dad and friend to my wife and family.

Tell your family and friends about what has inspired, taught and challenged you as your marriage has grown. You never know who is looking on and thinking of getting married. And guys, lets not leave it to the ladies to tell the romantic stories to the next generation. A happy bloke is a husband who feels secure with his wife and isn’t afraid to sneak a kiss in front of the kids.

Movie Review: Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies is the genius comedy hit of 2013. Who would believe we could get the sarcastic wit and lovable charm from an American production filled with hungry moaning, stumbling zombies!? Writer/Director, Jonathan Levine has taken a couple of poles apart genres in Zombies and Romantic Comedy and meshed them together in such a way that we’re all going to be watching out for the one we want to eat.

Thrust into a post-apocalyptic world we find the last untouched humans are trying to protect their dwindling numbers behind high battle hardy walls in a small sector of the city. Their leader Grigio played by John Malkovich is bent on shooting Zombies in the head as fast as he can. His daughter Julie is in the front line with scouting teams that head out into the city for regular missions looking for medical supplies that may have been left behind by the undead. Australian actress Teresa Palmer is the right mix of beauty and self-sufficiency for this role playing just enough “I’m scared and need a hero” and a little bit of “I’m not afraid of the big bad zombie”.

The undead are caught in their own rat race with many living out at the airport terminal caught dragging their feet around each day killing time as it won’t kill them. Young Zombie ‘R’ played by Nicholas Hoult provides a brilliant narration of Zombie ‘thought’ to go with his ‘Mmmms’, groans and mutterings. It’s enough to give you a heart for the life of the those who can’t sleep but then you see what becomes of a Zombie who wastes away. Once they transform into ‘Bonies’ there is no return and these killers need to be stopped.

Our story changes when Julie and R meet in a head on collision of missions. With the Zombies out for dinner and Julie’s team collecting rare medical drugs and supplies it was never going to be pleasant with everyone being introduced in a small room with gun fire. In the midst of the Zombies picking off a dinner partner R sees Julie and floodgates of 80s love songs fill the air. It’s from here that R saves Julie by smothering her living scent with a few smears of Zombie bodily fluids in order to take her home to meet the folks. There’s a lot more to the story that will give you those ‘Aaah’ moments that are normally ‘Aaaargh’ in a Zombie movie.

While you may not be a big “Scare me silly with the Zombies” kinda movie goer, Warm Bodies may just change your thoughts. It’s hilarious in dry wit, great visual humour that may come from just a look and some brilliant lessons in comedy timing. Kudos goes to the very busy Rob Corddry who plays fellow Zombie ‘M’ and leader of the Zombie resistance.

Warm Bodies

It’s a shame this wasn’t out in time for Valentines Day but take your loved one as soon as it hits the theatre. Nicholas Hoult’s performance as a conflicted Zombie killer with a heart starting to beat again is epic but his paced counter Zombie intuitive narration is actually a highlight in itself. Watch carefully for some subtle ironies and social commentary that are woven in. Touching in a quirky and funny way, Zombie love exaggerates all the stupidity of courtship and makes you hope that Zombie Boy ‘R’ gets his girl. I’m giving Warm Bodies a 4 out of 5 popcorns because it’s simply a unique production, well delivered and the vinyl sound track was just the creamy icing on the cake.

Here is the Trailer as well as a full 4 minutes of the opening of the movie to entice you.