1000 & 1 Movie Reviews: Die Hard


Die-Hard

No, not greeting the end with an erection, the classic Bruce Willis film directed by John McTiernan. Set at Christmas, the best period for action films (see Iron Man 3), John McClane (badass name) arrives in LA with his wife and go to a party. Then Hans Gruber (badass villain name) played by Alan Rickman (yes, Snape) comes in and poops over the place if you will.

Gruber is pissed at this Chinese business person called Nakatomi and steals his money, Gruber is pretty much a terrorist. Gruber has a squad of cronies that all at some point attempt to take down McClane with names like Franco, Tony, Eddie and Uli. Ultimately, they all fail, but not before Willis cracks some great one-liners.

McClane uses stuff like C4 to blow up floors and the cronies, then some hostages get taken, people get shot and somehow Snape knows Bruce has a wife and children, so he finds her and takes her to the helicopter he demanded that’s at the top of the building. As McClane gets his wife back, he kills more cronies. Eventually Willis is caught in a 2-1 with Snape and his last crony. Laughing at them, Willis stalls for enough time to grab the gun he had taped to his back (as we all do) and shoot them both. Gruber hangs on for dear life but eventually Willis lets him fall to his death. Lovely chap.

The use of Beethoven and his 9th Symphony throughout is superb, and the Christmas setting is strangely charming and serves as quite the contrast to the films motifs and actions. With a thrill every minute, brilliant character portrayals and manages to stay relevant and entertaining to this day, Die Hard is a contemporary classic and will be used as a template for action movies in the years to come.

Not sure about those sequels though…yeesh.

I rate this movie “Never, Snape, never” out of 10.

1 Film, 5 Minutes To Review. More 5 minute reviews here.

1000 & 1 Movie Reviews: Bad Boys


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It’s easy to forget this was a ’90s movie, if the picture quality was better and looked up to par as movies do now, then you’d mistake this movie for a modern ones for multiple reasons. Smith and Lawrence don’t age, the humour is still funny, and everything looks so damn good. Bay, where the hell is Bad Boys III?

While audiences have been treated to 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street, comparisons between the white and black counterparts are made, but while general reviews give the consensus that the modern versions are better, I laughed and enjoyed Bad Boys more than I did 21 Jump Street.

Two buddies, black buddies, with enough chemistry to teach half a small country high-grade science. Beverely Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon and more serve as inspiration for the film, but it’s Smith and Lawrence who make the film what it is. I couldn’t tell you their names, as to me it’s always Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. I couldn’t tell you the plot, something to do with drugs, they’re looking for them, shit goes down.

Director Bay presents us with plenty of gorgeous scenery to look at, and soon enough blows it up. Car chases, guns, murder, loud noises, which, even by ’95 was Bay’s common trope, feels fun and energetic. Couple that with some cracking (but now cliché) one-liners, you’re in for a ride.

You’ve seen this film before, I guarantee you. Films before or after have the same story, the same characters with the same jokes, but there’s something about Bay’s presentation and style that makes Bad Boys feel different from the rest. Pre-Hancock Will Smith and pre-2000 Lawrence aren’t insufferable and play off some sitcom-esque jokes, like explaining why there’s a bunch of pictures of Smith in Lawrence’s apartment (it’s Smith’s apartment, but Lawrence quickly finds an excuse).

To this day the film doesn’t feel dated, neither the sequel (more on that later), there are scenes compiled with implausible situations, but nowadays we know better to expect reliability and reality from Michael Bay.

With high production values with gorgeous set direction in Miami, brilliant chemistry between Smith and Lawrence who make this fun to watch even when it’s not particularly engaging, Bay’s typical tropes scattered throughout, Bad Boys stands the test of time and is enjoyable to this day.

I rate this movie “the start of Bay’s popularity and influx, then decrease in quality perfectly represented by this gif” out of 10.

1 Film, 5 Minutes To Review. More 5 minute reviews here.

1000 & 1 Movie Reviews: Taken


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It’s 2014 and I still hadn’t seen this film, despite there being an apparently poor sequel but before the eventual Taken 3: Taken The Piss. Liam Neeson has always been one of my favourite actors, so I felt obliged to take the time and sit down to watch it.

*Film opens with flashback of daughter’s birthday* Welp, it’s apparently obvious what this film will be about. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) is a dick to her ex-husband Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) so I already dislike her, and that’s even before I remember she butchered a certain X-Men character.

Anyway, on to that famous speech, wow. Out of context, it always seems cliché, but seeing Neeson’s face as his daughter is taken away over a phone in another country, then spout out that speech, that’s a great performance. But moving forwards, the whole analysing thing that happens minutes later requires some suspension of disbelief. No way does a phone carry that good of sound quality to find the town in with a foreign person lives in, no way at all. Then the Sherlock thing where Neeson goes into the apartment and “sees” what happened purely through the medium of sound. Nah mate, that ain’t happening, you’re not that good.

Now Neeson’s trying to find his daughter in France, but he kills the dude he’s chasing, then he decides to piss off another French dude, then he’s driving down a hill and causing more car crashes, how the hell did we get here, wait, now he’s in the city?

Anyway, 20 minutes later English Neeson just shot some retired French Neeson’s wife and is becoming increasingly more badass as the film continues. I’m still not sure whether it’s my man boner for Neeson or his gravelly voice (hey Hayter) or what, but hey, he’s looking good, we can all appreciate good aesthetics.

Moving on, Neeson is checking out some fat asses and he finds his daughter, decides to force a French man to buy her and then gets knocked out by ignoring basic spy skills. Then he shoots dudes, shoots another important dude, finds his daughter, manages to not get shot by jumping around a bit and luckily every bodyguard in France attended the Stormtrooper Academy, so that’s lucky, I guess.

Finally, the movie wraps up about 10 minutes after all that. It feels like an anticlimax but it’s not, maybe a little short but it makes a promise and delivers, you can’t fault the film for that. Pierre Morel does a good job of making what could have been an extremely mediocre film rather enjoyable, and Neeson is the shining star of the performance; without either, this wouldn’t have been the cult classic is became.

I also realise the coincidence of watching this on Father’s Day, so happy Father’s Day dad, I know you probably wouldn’t gun down 100 men for me, but I know you’d want to, in your mind, it’s the thought that counts.

I rate this movie “Liam Neeson speaks gracefully and scares me but makes me sort of horny simultaneously” out of 10.

1 Film, 5 Minutes To Review. More 5 minute reviews here.

1000 & 1 Movie Reviews: Ted


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Give Seth MacFarlane a budget, a camera and some time and he’ll come out with the best shit you’ll ever hear. Unfortunately, it’s not long until you realise, damn, that shit smells, and it’s actually kinda bad. And now you have a shit on your living room floor, no one wants that. It’s hard to get out the carpet.

Family Guy! The show that was made when The Simpsons stopped being funny but the creators realised that the answer was in fact not another cartoon but they still continue to run with it. I’ve enjoyed episodes of Family Guy, there’s one vivid episode where Stewie and/or Brian take drugs and go on a drug trip which particularly comes to mind, but really, the rest of it is just “Hey guys, fat joke”, “Hey guys, racist joke”, “Hey guys, celebrity joke”, “Hey guys, retardation joke”. That and cutaways, I hate cutaways.

But if you do enjoy Family Guy and its particular style of humour, then you’re sure to enjoy Ted. Because I did. It has its moments, and Marky Mark’s (Wahlberg) perfect casting as a thirty years old with the brain of an eight year old fits so well with a computer generated teddy bear and Mila Kunis.

Ted is weird because it requires you to briefly suspended belief in order to rationally process that a teddy bear has come to life through the power of a young boys wish (which, if were true, there’d be a lot more naked celebrities), but then expects you to just roll with the fact that Marky Mark hangs out with this bear all the time and that he or Ted never did anything substantial with their lives despite acquiring an inanimate object that came to life or that there is apparently a drug dealer who gives out drugs to talking teddy bears who as far as I am aware have no circulatory system so the need for which would be made redundant but then again if there’s a drug dealer giving these drugs to a teddy bear perhaps he’s been using his own product a bit too much and might want to consider a change of profession.

Ted is filled with several “Hey guys, here’s a modern pop culture joke that we need to put in because most Family Guy views have no idea who Flash Gordon is” and more are riddled throughout. Its ability to scrutinise almost every social class or group, black, Asian, gay, fat and so, but not itself, the straight white male feels cheap. There’s plenty of jokes right there, hell I don’t doubt for a second that MacFarlane could produce some self scrutinising stuff that would be absolutely top-notch. But Ted gives us a fat kid, an actual fat kid, who’s only reason for being in the movie other than to artificially move on the plot is to be made fun about. Oh, and there’s an Adam Sandler joke, it’s like Ted wants to join you in the audience and watch its own film.

Ted revolves around a kidnap plot, but there’s a worse crime occurring here. The underused characters like Patrick Warburton, Ryan Reynolds, and hell even Mila Kunis, she could have been a far funnier character instead of following the “leads’ girlfriend who is expecting marriage proposal so forces significant other to make a hard decision” trope. If these characters had been used to their potential, the film wouldn’t have felt like such a drag when Ted isn’t on the screen.

Despite all this, I liked Ted. It’s funny, dumb and a laugh. There’s a thousand better films out there, for sure, but Ted doesn’t try to do anything else other than make you laugh.

I rate this movie “Ted gives life affirming advice” out of 10.”tumblr_mlr7vgmZ9A1r8g2gko1_500  1 Film, 5 Minutes To Review. More 5 minute reviews here.

1000 & 1 Movie Reviews: X-Men


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You have to give credit to X-Men, without it, comic book and superhero movies wouldn’t be where they are now. Sure you’d have your Batman films and Superman flicks, but there’s only so many times we can suspend our belief that the entire population of Gotham or Metropolis doesn’t realise that Bruce Wayne is never around when Batman is or that Clark Kent looks exactly like Superman and that glasses are in fact not a good disguise whatsoever.

X-Men is fantastic, while later additions to the franchise may have hit a bump in quality (Days of Future Past remains to be seen), the original holds up spectacularly, no doubt to the excellent casting at the helm. Nobody would know it at the time, but Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Sir Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier, Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto, Famke Janseen as Jean Grey, Anna Paquin as Rogue and Rebecca Romijn as Mystique (with a big help from prosthetics), would redeem and fulfil the big screen roles set by the comics and television animations that came before. Later movies would also beef up the cast (Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde and the entire First Class cast), but the original made some amazing choices.

But what also adds to its brilliance is the original story. Okay, using pre-existing characters and settings isn’t exactly original, but the film’s original ground plot works and that’s no easy feat, especially when your target audience is very particular in details and how their favourite characters are portrayed. Bryan Singer manages to create a world I truly believe in, one that could easily be real, which is something I can’t say for the latest outings from Marvel and DC. While Wolverine’s classic “suit” wasn’t (and still hasn’t) been worn on-screen, it’s a sensible decision and it worked especially when you consider that this film is the first in a trilogy (more on them later next month).

Sure there’s a few inconsistencies, but X-Men has also blurred the line between campy superheroes and political dramas, allowing the two to come together and bring a fresh, unique take on the “super-hero” movie, where justice would prevail and there’s one big bad and one good guy. I’m honestly hesitant to call this film a “comic-book” movie or “super-hero” movie, it stands on its own two legs.

The on-screen chemistry between Xavier and Magneto is unparalleled, just as Jackman manages to portray Wolverine, not too serious but enough to make the point that really, this isn’t X-Men but “Wolverine and Friends“. Coupled with special effects, these actors really do make the idea of mutants having superpowers feel like something entirely plausible.

While I’m still waiting for someone to really make Superman come to life, or Batman, just as Robert Downey Jr. did later with Tony Stark; Jackman, Stewart, McKellen and others were truly the first actors to bring these characters out of the comic books and give them true justice on the big screen. With fun action scenes, slices of humour and a serious plot at heart, X-Men remains as one of the better comic-book movies from the last two decades.

I rate this movie “Jackman more like JACKEDman.gif” out of 10.

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1 Film, 5 Minutes To Review. More 5 minute reviews here.

1000 & 1 Movie Reviews: The Wolf of Wall Street


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I ain’t f*cking going nowhere!

Let me just f*cking preface this five-minute judgement by saying, that at any point in any media, whether it’s TV, film, illustrations and so on, when I see sex of any sort, I do this f*cking thing where I slowly turn my head away, quickly seeing if it’s gone or not. It’s not an embarrassment thing, I’m perfectly fine with nudity, penises, boobs, whatever. But when I see it in media, I just find it f*cking awkward, sadistic, unnecessary or boring.

So, in light of that, I probably watched about one-third of The Wolf of Wall Street. Leonardo DiNoOscaro stars as Jordan Belfort, a f*cking New York stockbroker who ends up briefly entertaining the life of Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby (also starring DiCaprio), who is then taken down by his excessive lifestyle and destroyed by f*cking materialism, drugs, alcohol and women (seriously this is just The Great Gatsby but directed by Martin Scorsese).

Scorsese impresses me, being able to keep me interested for three straight f*cking hours (bar the first 20 minutes) is no easy feat (see: The Watchmen, damn it Snyder), and I really did enjoy the majority of the film I saw. Jonah Hill makes an appearance as Donnie to try to shed the f*cking “fat-buddy-funny-dude” role he’s had in every film since his acting début, but he’s actually bearable in this picture, maybe it was the f*cking drugs (that he takes, not me).

There’s no f*cking redemption, which makes this “black-comedy” all the more original, Belfort’s true story has no remorse, no apologies for what’s happened. And I love it, thank god there’s no redemption arc, instead a conclusion that ends with a whimper and not all guns f*cking blazing, but fresh nonetheless. Getting rich never felt so good, for both me and DiCaprio, who manages to support a fantastic performance throughout, culminating at his “paraplegic” stage.

Some lovely women make their way into the film as you’d expect, though if they’re not a wife of some significant character, they’re a f*cking prostitute of some sort. Cristin Milioti’s Teresa is Jordan’s first wife, then he has an affair with f*cking Naomi Lapaglia (Margot Robbie) resulting in a divorce, then a kid, obviously. Joanna Lumley makes an appreciated appearance as Naomi’s aunt, but has about as much character development as the prostitutes and ends up dead (again, much like the prostitutes, probably).

One of my favourite parts comes as Kyle Chandler’s Agent Patrick Denham boards Belfort’s boat and Denham and Belfort banter about one another; you’re never given a full impression of what’s going on here, do they like one another, do they know the other is f*cking mocking the other, or is it all just jokes? These two play each other off so well it’s a shame it only came once in the play.

Secondly, one of Belfort’s important f*cking cronies, whom of which we hardly see except Jonah Hill’s character, impresses me in the scene he’s introduced in. It goes like this:

Belfort: Sell me that pen? Watch. Go on.
[Brad takes pen from Jordan]
Brad: You want me to sell this fucking pen?
Belfort: That’s my boy right there.
Brad: This Pen.
Belfort: Fucking sell anything.
Brad: I want you to do me a favour, write your name on that napkin for me.
Belfort: I don’t have a pen.
Brad: Exactly. Suppling and demand, my friend.
[Drops pen]

I don’t know if that’s an homage to anything or was made up, but it was fantastic, and neatly called back to later in the film.

Finally, I didn’t think this film would make me feel nostalgic, but it did. I wasn’t even alive for Black Friday or half the f*cking ’90s, but I wanted to be in this world of excess, presented to me with open arms. It looked so clean and wild simultaneously and it’s refreshing to see that after so many films call back to the f*cking ’60s, ’70s or ’80s.

Despite the deus ex machina machine being stuck on repeat and at dodgy starting and ending, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I had considered DiCaprio an overrated actor before but I see where his love comes from now.

I rate this movie “Leo dances to him not getting an oscar but who cares you should see this film anyway.gif” out of 10.

LeoDanGif1 Film, 5 Minutes To Review. More 5 minute reviews here.

What Do You Think Is The Best Strategy For A Business To Adopt When Faced By A Dominant Business In Its Market?


I don’t know how many times I got stuck on a question and ended up Googling it for the answer, so this is giving back to the community.

Q: Tesco is the dominant business in the UK grocery retailing with around a 29% market share. The Co-Operative Group has presented itself as an ethical retailer while ASDA (which is owned by Walmart) has promised lower prices. What do you think is the best strategy for a business to adopt when faced by a dominant business in its market? Justify your answer with reference to Tesco, ASDA, the Co-Operative Group and/or other businesses with which you are familiar. (40 Marks)

Plan: Tesco, Co-Op, ASDA, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s.
ASDA – low prices; how? Sacrifice on product quality?
Co-Op – ethical, moral purpose, why? Good PR? Before being ethical was “required”.
Morrisons – Safeway takeover in 2003 made them big competition.
LIDL/ALDI – Rise in market share over the years; why?
How has Tesco become dominant? Convenience, loyalty, Club-Card.
The question: “business”, how big is this business? Newcomer or established? What viable strategies are there? National/international? Oligopoly? Buying power of customers/selling power of suppliers. Porter, Boston Matrix and Ansoff Matrix.

Answer:
Businesses will need to devise strategies and objectives in order to compete and potentially overtake a dominant business in any market or industry, regardless of service or product. There are multiple strategies these businesses can go through and there if often never one, single strategy that will help them compete with a dominant business.

One strategy is to agree to a merger or takeover; the former being where two firms come together under one board of directors and the latter is where one firms buys the majority of another firm and then assumes full management control over it. One such example was when Morrisons took over Safeway in 2003, allowing Morrisons to then compete directly with other supermarket chains like Tesco, ASDA and Sainsbury’s, forming an oligopoly. However, now that Morrisons had risen into the leagues of Tesco and had significant market share, customers would come to expect similar consumer choices like convenience stores and reward/loyalty cards. So while expanding market share via a takeover is a good way to compete with a dominant business, in this case Tesco, it’s also a very expensive option and a strategy that would need to pay off quickly.

Both ASDA and Co-Op have developed USPs with their brands, which are unique selling points. ASDA offer lower prices and their dedication to low prices has become synonymous with their name, but what must be considered is the trade-off from this. While lower prices are good for the customer, is it good for the business, adopting multiple loss-leaders? Is there a decrease in product quality and will that change consumer perception? Co-Ops “fair trade” range creates a good brand image for the supermarket chain. but what inspired them to do it; moral obligation or pressure from a third party? Developing a USP is important but it’s equally important to consider the consequences of making your chain unique.

It would be wise to observe what the dominant business is already doing and how they have achieved that dominance. Tesco is an established, long running chain and will be sure to have the loyalty from millions of customers, which is something you cannot simply buy. Their smaller stores like Tesco Express and Tesco Metro all offer convenience for customers, offering them later opening times or home products. One of Tesco’s most popular advantage is their club card, which allows customers to save money on certain products and earn rewards. Tesco has become dominant in the supermarket sector by focusing on customer’s benefits and convenience, which should certainly be taken into consideration when planning a strategy to go against a dominant business.

What must also be taken into consideration is the details of the business that’s looking for a strategy when faced by a dominant leader. Is this business new? Porter explains that there are many barriers of entry when a new business starts up in a market that has an established monopoly, such as the high capital start up costs it would take to become big enough to compete with the big four. Also to consider is the selling power of suppliers, do they have an agreement with existing supermarkets to only sell supplies there, creating unfair competition? There is also the potential danger of a new business simply being taken over by a dominant or leading supermarket chain, essentially being bought by the competition.

After taking all these points into account, I firmly believe there is no single strategy that could help a business face a dominant business. What do this want to achieve, what are its goals, targets and objectives? One business many simply want to hold a small percentage of the market share in the industry and offer the lowest prices possible, whereas another business may want to become market leader. Also to consider is whether the business in nation or international, and how big it is in regards to cash and resources. Do they have the ability to complete mergers or takeovers with other firms in order to grow, or will they have to do it organically? There are too many variable laid out in order to give one, definitive answer.

 

Grade: B. 25/40 marks. To improve; mention new entrants like LIDL and ALDI; what have others done in response to Tesco’s USPs, and what has been the response of others to Tesco in general.