Tuesday, 31 December 2013


So that was 2013. A mixed bag, a year that seemed to start with real promise but which sadly delivered a fairly damp squib of the year. Plenty of mediocre films and not a single 10/10.

Anyway, for those who're interested here's my list of the films of 2013.


TOP 10 FILMS OF 2013
1. Gravity
2. Rush
3. Stoker
4. Zero Dark thirty
5. Hunger Games 2
6. Alan Patridge: Alpha Papa
7. Pacific Rim
8. Cloud Atlas
9. The Life of Pi
10. Lincoln

11. Iron Man 3
12. Thor 2
13. Django Unchained
14. Behind the Candelabra
15. The Impossible
16. Hobbit 2
17. The Heat
18. The World's End
19. The Wolverine
20. Man of Steel

10. 47 Ronin 3/10
9. The Big Wedding 3/10
8. Hansel and Gretal 3/10
7. Bullet to the Head 3/10
6. Hangover 3 3/10
5. Texas Chainsaw 3D 2/10
4. Red Dawn 2/10
3. A Good Day to Die Hard 2/10
2. Idenity Theft 1/10
1. Movie 43 1/10

World War Z
Wreck It Ralph
Side Effects
Warm Bodies
The Sessions
This is the End
The Counsellor
Ender's Game
Olympus has Fallen
Fast and Furious 6
The Look of Love
Last Stand
The Harry Hill Movie
Anchorman 2
I Give it a year
Welcome to the Punch
Jack the Giant Slayer
2 Guns
Despicable Me 2
G.I Joe 2
Secret life of Walter Mitty
The Interns
The Frozen Ground
Escape Plan
Frances ha
Spring Breakers
Oz the Great and Powerful
Les Mis
Now You See Me
The Family
Kick Ass 2
Broken City
Monsters University
Star Trek into Darkness
Evil Dead
Gangster Squad
This is Forty
The Lone Ranger
Only God Forgives
After Earth
Grown Ups 2
Reds 2

Sunday, 29 December 2013


#85 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Starring Ben Stiller, Kirsten Wiig, Sean Penn, Adam Scott and Shirley Maclaine. Directed by Ben Stiller. 114 minutes.

Walter Mitty is a perennial daydreamer prone to blanking out and creating the most imaginative daydreams, to supplement his staggering dull and lonely existence. He works as a Negative Resources Manager for Life magazine and when said mag is sold and the he loses the negative for the final cover he must overcome his long term grief, caused by the death of his father over 30 years previously, man up and head out to hunt down the photographer (the excellent Sean Penn) and locate the missing negative. Along the way his real-life adventures take-over from his make-believe ones and he becomes a fully rounded human being, able to get the girl and succeed as a human being and all it took was three fantastically expensive trips to far away countries and a couple of extreme sports thrown in for good measure.

First off, this isn't the comedy Ben Stiller was touting in the extended trailers and neither is it cramped with fantastical fantasy sequences as implied. This is a much, much smaller film about a man over coming his shyness and bereavement issues to ask out a girl in his office, whom he's stalking.

It's hard not to like this film, being as it is, incredibly none offensive, indeed it wants desperately to be loved. Plus it stars Ben Stiller and he has one of the faces that's difficult to hate (I think it's his big doe-eyed, moist filled eyes that bore into your very soul every-time the camera crams in for a long, lingering close up – don't worry, if you miss one there'll be another along in a minute – and screams LOVE ME!). That said, this is also a film that desperately wants an Oscar, "Haven't I done enough for it?" it pleads as it grabs your heart strings and tugs for all its worth. It sets out with that agenda for glory and it crushes all in its wake to achieve it, from the rousing, indie music to the stunning scenery. This is a film that desperately wants to be loved. 

But scrap away the saddness, the earnestness, the heart-lifting music and the stunning scenery and it's pretty empty.

The film doesn't really have a plot as such just a long rambling, and manipulative journey to self discovery. That said, it does have a touching finale, which I had to say choked me up.

Beautifully shot, with some moving performances and brilliant music. It's this century's Forest Gump but with the mawkish, horrific sentimentality replaced by a vacuum and a rather desperate need to be loved at all costs and it's a rather empty and shallow experience.



#84 The Harry Hill MovieStarring Harry Hill, Julie Walters, Johnny Vegas, Jim Broadbent, Matt Lucas, Simon Bird, Sheridan Smith, Marc Wootton and Julian Barratt. 88 minutes.

Harry Hill's hamster, Abu is dying and has a week to live so Harry and his nan, Julie Walters decide to give him a week to remember with a trip to Blackpool to visit the tower. Along the way two mysterious henchmen, in the employ of Matt Lucas, try everything they can to kidnap Abu for some nefarious purpose.

Usually when a film gets released without any previews it's because the film is such a stinker it's just not worth wasting money massaging the egos of film critics with free bottles of beer, wine, pizza, or nibbles. Sadly Harry Hill was such a film, released a fortnight ago with no fanfare, no advance previews and no good wind.

My kids saw it before me last weekend and claimed it was awful, with Baxter declaring it was almost as bad as Battleshits, but not quite. My daughter, older, much wiser (she's 14 and knows it all!) said it barely rated a 3/10.

Well, I'm here to say that I have no idea what they saw but it certainly wasn't The Harry Hill Movie which had me laughing from start to finish with it's over the top stupidity, nonsense script and silly panto antics. In fact, if you go in, expecting a panto and you'll utterly love it, but go in looking for the next Annie Hall or Anchor Man 2, or Grown Ups and you'll utterly hate it.

This isn't big film making, it isn't clever film making and it's certainly not game changing, what it is is a full-length feature film version of TV Burp and I for one laughed throughout.

It runs out of steam, it's far too silly and bonkers but i liked it.


#83 47 RONIN


Here's a fun quiz everyone can play.

What's worse? Watching 47 Ronin or Ronin 47 times?

Answers at the end.

Have you seen the trailer for this film? It looks jolly exciting, doesn't it? There's the bit where the green–dress wearing, cgi-witch transforms into a dragon, there's that other bit where Neo tells her he isn't scared of her and she says, 'you should be.' Ooh, ooh ooh! Then there's the bit where Silver Samurai from Wolverine 2 explodes! Then there's the clip where a castle explodes, a bit where the field of wheat explodes, and then there's that bit when another bit of a castle explodes too. Ooh, then there's the bit when it looks like Ted from Bill and Ted gets dragged from a hole in the ground. And then beaten with sticks. Then there's that exciting bit where a bald-headed, yellow-robed monk and Johnny Utah fight, and finally don't forget that fantastic bit where a skeleton tattooed villain with the two guns starts shooting - they use him in the poster adverts too, he looks AMAZING! - anyway, it all looks jolly wow! doesn't it? And you start thinking, 'Hey, this doesn't look as shit as it sounds!'

Well, hold on, oh traveller of the silver screen, looks can be deceiving.

So in a nutshell,  Neo from Point Blank - meets Crouching Lizards, Leaping Lions in Feudal Japan where a, less than perfect, cgi, shape-shifting stoat teams up with a cackling, all-in-black baddy to usurp the shogun by marrying some old bloke's daughter, a flowery bint that professional log impersonator, Keanu Reeves has the chaste hots for. Keanu Reeves plays a californian surfer dude called Kia (after the car) who's trapped in Ancient Japan when his time machine breaks down while on a homework assignment to recruit Confucius to take part in his class project on history or something (it's never explained what he's doing there). Meanwhile some old bloke gets framed for a crime he didn't commit, his 46 Samurai get Ronined, his daughter gets betrothed against her will to the baddy and Keanu mopes about re-enacting the opening scene from Rambo 3 and complaining that everybody hates him and it's not fair.

Sounds like fun, right? It's not, really. there's no jokes, or silly antics just lots of non-smiling serious Japanese men and women, being serious and not smiling (unless they're the villain, then they can't help but smile, alot). There's lots of action, men on horses, men running, swords drawn, blah blah blah but sadly the whole thing is as dull as it is bloodless, even when they're committing Serpico. Not a single drop of claret gets spilled in this film, or when the heads of giants gets chopped off. So it's clear that none of the American film makers have ever seen Shogun Assassin!

You feel each and every minute of its 127 minutes running time.

And the answer to the question. Sorry it's a trick, they're both utterly shit for utterly different reasons.

Oh and the fantastic skeleton tattooed man appears in the film once, he says 'who are you?' and that's it.



Same as before, same cast and in some cases the same jokes. It's funny but more structured than the first and it has a message and a thunking, grinding-to-a-halt, third-act momentum killer that's in danger of derailing the fun.

It piles on the stupidity, dollop after dollop and almost loses sight of what's funny and what's not.
But in all honesty none of it has remained with me. The trailer had most of the funny stuff in it and the shark sequence is just stupid but not in a good way.

Alan Partridge Alpha Pappa was much, much funnier.



The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug 
161 minutes

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, picking up where the last one left off. Thank god for that, otherwise it'd be even longer. This is part two of the Hobbit, The half way point, just one more film to go.

Just go to the loo before the start and avoid drinking coke, this is long, very long, one of the longest, if not the longest film of the year. Plus it's in 3D so the glasses become irritating and for some of you it's in the new exciting 48 frame rate!
So, what do you get for you money? Well, lots and lots of dwarfs fighting, arguing, bickering, grumping, running, walking, grumping, bickering, fighting. You get a lot of fighting but since none of our characters are going to die absolutely no threat or jeopady. At no point do our hero's victory seem anything less that assured. And the orcs, jesus, if you thought Storm Troopers were shit you ain't seen nothing! orcs are rubbish, absolutely rubbish, couldn't hit the side of a barn if they were stood with their noses squashed against it. Rubbish they are. It's no wonder Salamander needs so many of them they have a life expectancy of about a week.

So, what of the film. Well if I'm honest I fell asleep twice, but that will teach me to see a film at a midday screening. One of those sleeps happened at during the fantastically long battle sequence that's glimpsed in the trailer, when our drawf friends are in barrels, that sequence went on so long I fell asleep and woke up and it was still going on. The second sleep happened during the also, fantastically long sequence with the dragon, on and on and on that one goes, when it'll stop nobody knows. Actually that's quite true, because without any warning the film just stops and the credits run, this film has no natural ending, it's like when ITV stick on the news at 10 slap in the middle of a film, sometimes in the middle of a senten

ce, just like that. It just ends and it'll be a whole year before we find out if the drawves, Gandalf and the Hobbit win or lose, gosh I just don't know how it's going to end, it could go either way.

Is it any good? Well yes it is, it's far better than the first, the action is better handled and the animation which takes up a good 99.9 % of this film is near perfect. Of the actors Martin Freeman and Magneto are good as is Luke Evans, the others are drawves and they're just bloody irratating.

Good well made fun. 8/10


#48 AFTER EARTH (between 3-18 June)

Shocked to discover I hadn't written a review of this, despite seeing it at the cinema with Baxter and for the life of me I don't know why not.

Oh, wait I do, it was so dull and boring I simply forgot it even existed.

Will Smith turns off his immense charisma and steps aside to allow his plank-like his son to prove the age-old adage that talent skips generations. Thank goodness for his daughter, Willow's simply fantastic, 'I Whip My Hair Back and Forth' to save the family name.

Anyway, Will and Jaden get separated and marooned following a space ship crash on Earth, millions of years after it was devastated by blah blahs nuking the planet and now its inhabited by evolved monkeys and pigeons (hang on, I think this might be a sequel to Tom Cruise's Oblivious). To make matters worse, Will and Jaden's space ship was carrying one of the aliens and now its loose and hunting them. To make matters even worse, Will is slowly bleeding to death and can't move so only interacts with his son via a phone. And to make matters the WORSTEST EVER, it's directed by M. Night Shamalla Ding Dong aka 'One Trick', as his Hollywood buddies call him. A director so useless and dull that all but one of his films are now used instead of anesthesia for patients with needle phobias.

I'd urge you not to see it but frankly if you've not bothered by now, I doubt you will. So lucky you.


#72 - 80(August 22 - Nov 2013) Elysium. Ender's Game. Escape Plan. Thor 2. Gravity. Rush. Hunger Games 2. The Family. The Counsellor.

Annoyingly at the end of my summer holiday I suffered a serious fall and ended up in hospital and then house-bound for three months. As a result my cinema adventure came to an abrupt end and for three months I was incapable of leaving the house. As a film-phile this was the worst of all punishments and no amount of film watching at home could help. As a result I missed a lot of films. 

#72 ELYSIUM - 22 August (last film before the accident)
Starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Murdoch from the A-Team movie, directed by Neilll Blomkamp, the bloke who directed District 9.

I loved District 9, just loved it. What a fantastic debut movie, what a lot of promise to live up to. I really like Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and I really liked the look of the trailer. What a shame this was such a disappointment. A generic, plot-hole ridden chase movie with our cyborg hero chased by an unstoppable killing machine in the shape of Sharlto Copley. Fantastic special effects don't save it from second film syndrome. 6/10

#73 ENDER'S GAME - 27 October
Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Abigail Breslin and Hailee Steinfeld, directed by Gavin Hood who made the truly awful Wolverine Origins.

Not that bad. Looked great! Brilliant realised special effects, a good cast, a great idea but sadly just too serious and humourless. It does have the distinction of having a, now-ubiquitous Science Fiction film, Twist that is actually shocking. 8/10 

#74 ESCAPE PLAN - 30 October
It's Sly and the Oak, Judge Dredd and Conan, Rambo and John Matrix, co-starring for the first time, both - one-time box office leviathans acting side-by-side in a slam-dunking, mano et mano, action film set in an in-inescapable prison! It's going to be EPIC!

That's how the Hollywood script pitch went and the green light got lit.

Stallone takes on the lead role leaving Arnie to steal the film from under him by winking knowingly at the audience and lugging a huge machine gun around with him. Cue lots of punching, shooting, killing and running, the odd one liner and a natural and relaxed relationship between the two O.A.Ps as they move gingerly around the set. Not terrible, just not terribly good. 6/10

#75 THOR 2 - 31 October
Hooray! It's time for my 'You're thore? I'm so thore I can't thit down!' joke. But now I can change it to, 'you're thore, well I'm thore too.' Really liked the first one, really liked this second one. Great looking, great action, great cast. Perhaps a tad long but still great fun. 8/10

#76 GRAVITY - 9 November
Bloody hell, everyone's favourite film until 12 Years a Slave comes along at least. Truly a spectacular film with out-of-this world special effects (did you see what I did there?) Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Loved it, one of my favourite films of the year. the film is a sequel to Speed, this time Sandra Bullock is on a space ship when a mad bomber targets her space ship. If she travels slower than 20,000 miles an hour her spaceship will explode. 9/10

#77 RUSH -21 November
A thrilling, griping, exciting bio-pic about the career rivalry of James 'The Shunt' Hunt and Niki LOUDA culminating in the, now legendary, 1976 F1 season. Absolutely gripping, a fantastic cast lead by Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Alexandra Maria Lara, Olivia Wilde and directed by Ron Howard. An absolute thrill! 9/10

- 24 November
Wow. Just wow. Really liked the first one, really loved the second one. Jennifer Lawrence is just amazing. She carries this film, the rest of the cast are good too and I love anything with Donald Sutherland in it, even Virus (actually I don't) But he is a marvel!

This is the Hunger Games series, Empire Strikes Back, and when it ends you want more! Can't wait for the next two.


#79 THE FAMILY - November
Robert Deniro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Luc Besson, Tommy Lee Jones.
Sounded good on paper, mafia boss and family in the witness protection scheme spirited away to France.
Sadly, this can't decide if it's an action film or a comedy. Trouble is, it works best as a film about a family struggling in an alien country. To complicate matters, there's a totally unnecessary subplot about brown water. Scrap away the pointless and infrequent violence and you're left with some nicely observed bits, Deniro trying to write his autobiography, Pfeiffer's relationship with her two minders, their psychotic children proving nurture over nature and the the best way to deal with the French. Rest of it is shit.


#80 THE COUNSELLOR - November
Saw this over a month ago and I'm still having flashbacks. A great cast including: Fassbender, Pitt, Diaz, Cruz and Bardem, a once good director and a script from Cormac McCarthy. Fassbender - the Counsellor, an honest yet greedy man, makes a deal with some bad people, it goes pear shape and then his whole life falls apart, along with everybody else. Who will die and who will live?

The script is beautifully written (if it were a book, where you can waffle) but utterly unrealistic in a film or real life. It's directed stylishly, the acting is first class and it looks sumptuous but this film is a flat and uninvolving experience. The trailer looked superb and it's a shame the film doesn't live up to it.

All that said, there's one scene you'll never forget, it made the audience I saw it with laugh out loud, me included. It involves as Porsche, a windscreen and a knicker-less lady.


Monday, 19 August 2013


Directed by Dennis Dugan. With Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Taylor Lautner, Salma Hayek and Maria Bello.

Following on a few years after the first film, Grown Ups 2 follows our four all-grown up school boy chums on the last day of school for their children. Along the way they all learn valuable life lessons while breaking children's legs, assaulting and hospitalising teenagers and encouraging drunk driving, drug use, sexually assaulting a series of large breasted women, bathing in and drinking rain-deer urine and abusing the elderly all under a 12A certificate.

I think the biggest shock of this film isn't the fact it doesn't have a plot at all, or the fact that it stars talented actors like Salma Hayek and Maria Bello, it's the fact it credits three different writers for the screenplay. I have to say that again, it credits three different writers for the screenplay. I mean I know what writers do when they're writing screenplays, but seriously what the fuck did these three do? Did they take turns getting the coffees in or was one of them doing that all the time, if so, what were the other two doing, certainly not writing funny dialogue or good gags. I'm assuming they used three because they were hoping for the infinite number of monkeys school of writing but could only afford three? If so, those other monkeys were the lucky ones, not so the poor apes I saw this with.

All that said, there's still stuff you laugh at, not necessarily because it's funny but because you can't believe they've just done what they've done. Most of the humour comes from OTT violent slapstick and prat falls which are always funny, not so the attempts at witty dialogue or well written jokes. no sir, there's no room for that type of thing in an Adam Sandler film, he really does seem to be on a one-man crusade to see just how much shit he can throw at the screen before the American audience finally goes, 'No! No! No, Adam Sandler, enough is enough. And this is enough.'

Like watching a terrible car crash involving a coach load of clowns and circus freaks, you want to look away because you can't believe what you're seeing.


#70 KICK ASS 2

Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Jim Carrey. Directed by Jeff Wadlow running time 103 minutes.

Continuing a few months after the events of the first and vastly superior Kick Ass movie, Kick Ass 2 dumps all the irony, freshness and humour of the first in favour of an unnecessary sub plot involving Hit Girl joining the cheerleading squad and fitting in at school and another about Kick Ass's new fitness regime, while Red Mist re-imagines himself as the Mother Fucker and puts together a squad of super villains to wreck a bloody and brutal revenge on Kick Ass.

It's sad when you see a sequel to a film you really loved and enjoyed and all you can do is sit there wishing you were watching the original again, in stead. Where as the first KA, directed by Mathew Vaughn was a glorious, free-wheeling assault upon super-hero conventions this is just a tired rehash, ignoring rules and instead just featuring an endless stream of dull fights and beatings leading up to a brawl in a wharehouse. 

'Thank heavens for Hit Girls' sang Maurice Chevaier and watching her in action you can see why he did. She, Jim Carrey and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are the best things in this film, while Aaron Taylor-Johnson sadly gets the most boring role in the film and serves merely as an emotional and physical punching bag for the film to arrive at the final showdown.

Some scientists claim that time travel isn't possible, well I don't know if that's true or not but I urge them to examine this film because I have to say this film felt a whole lot longer than 103 minutes, yes sir, it felt more like a 103 hours, so dull and repetitive was the action and surely if they could understand this process they might be able to unlock the secrets of time travel?


#69 2 GUNS

Do you know what makes this film special?

It's not that it stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, it's not because the director is called 
Baltasar Kormákur. Nor is it because it has the always good-for-value, Bill Paxton playing the villain (brilliantly I might add!) And it's not that the film's only female, Paula Patton gets her puppies out. No sir! It's because it's only 109 minutes long! That's a short film these days! It means you can drink a big Cola Zero and not have to sneak out for a pee half-way through. How fantastic is that, a film that doesn't outstay its welcome, this means it's got a director who's happy to be edited, what a delight. I wonder what else this Icelandic actor, producer and director has done? Gosh, that other Marky Mark 'classic', Contraband.

So, what's it about, David? Since you asked so nicely I tell you. It's about these two blokes who both seem to be gangsters (but are they...) who rob a bank expecting a haul of 3 million but end up with a take of 43 in stead. Now it seems that the money belongs not to the Texas drug baron they expected but a very peeved, Bill
Paxton - sporting a very nifty pork-pie-hat as a psycho gangster king pin (or is he...). What follows is twist upon twist upon cross and double cross as our two heroes stumble from one outlandish shoot-out to the next all the way up the food chain to the top via car chases, gun battles and explosions all the while dealing with rogue elements of the US Navy, the ICA and corrupt lawmen.

This is billed as a comedy action film those the use of the word 'comedy' might be over doing it a tad. That's not to say this is a bad film, it's not, far from it! It's great fun thanks in no small part to the terrific chemistry between the two leads, I've not seen Marky Mark this much fun since his turn in the Other Guys. it's a shame he keeps succumbing to the films like Contraband and Broken City, where his himbo persona lets him down, in films like this, where he's having fun he's always a hoot.

This is all sadly let down by a rushed ending and the inability for our heroes to get shot, unless it's by each other.



Starring Steve Cogan, Colin Meany, Felicity Montagu, Sean Pertwee and Tim Key. Written by: Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Peter Baynham, Neil Gibbons, and Rob Gibbons and directed by Declan Lowney. Running time 121 minutes.

North Norfolk Digital gets taken over and to save his own neck, Partridge gets his fellow DJ, Pat fired instead. When Pat goes postal and takes the radio station and the management hostage, Partridge, seeing a chance to rekindle his fame, becomes Siege Face and the hostage negotiator.

An extremely funny, witty and thoroughly entertaining comedy, without doubt the funniest film I've seen all year. Steve Cogan's comic creation just keeps getting better with age, finally growing into his age and look. Cleverly avoiding the pitfall of other British comedy big-screen transfers, Alpha Papa keeps it small and simple by remembering that Patridge is in essence a small and petty man.

If you can't make up your mind to see this then ask yourself a question. 'Have you ever seen any of the many series of Alan Partridge in all of his incarnations (radio sports commentator, News-show sports commentator, Chat-show host, Motor-lodge resident, North Norfolk DJ)?' If you have, then you're in for a delightful continuation of Patridge thanks in no small part to the brilliant writing and Cogan's skill.

However, if you've never seen anything of Alan Partridge, then you're an idiot and I don't care if you see this and don't like it, you wouldn't recognise good comedy it if ran over you in a truck then reversed over you to ask you for directions to the comedy workshop at the local social club.

It's been a good year for British comedy this year, and for the best of it, see this!


Tuesday, 6 August 2013


God might forgive, but I don't.

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Starring Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm and Gordon Brown.

Some grumpy, criminal psycho goes mental and kills a child prostitute so some another bloke, a copper, turns up and lets the victim's dad kill the killer before chopping of the Father's hand with a sword. Then the dead killer's mum turns up, rather annoyed, and orders her other son take revenge on the one-armed father, only he doesn't so she does. A few more people die and the brother and the copper have a fight. Then it ends. To fill the tedium we are treated to three very long karoke sessions.

Self indulgent, snail-slow, empty to the point of ludicrous. Kristen Scott Thomas is superb.

This starts off well but over the course of its incredibly long 90 minute running time, the endless slow, dialogue-empty scenes start to take their toil on your patience and by the end of it you're begging for something to happen. It looks good and the atmosphere of menace it generates is palatable but after a while you just stop caring. The sound track is effective too but even that gets on your nerves after a while. And to get the full Ryan Gosling effect, you really need him to act and do stuff, rather than just have him stand there pouting, which isn't really enough.


Sunday, 4 August 2013


Directed by Noah Baumbach, written by Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig and starring Greta Gerwig and Mickey Sumner. 86 minutes looooong.

When her best friend decides it's time to move on and out of their New York apartment,  scatter-brained, gawky, free-spirit and perennial woman-child, Frances - a 27 year-old apprentice dancer for a second-rate dance company, who's forever scrabbling for the next rent cheque is forced to move from one apartment to another in an ever decreasing spiral of poverty till she's reduced to working as a greeter for the summer at her old college and sleeping in her old dorm room. Along the way she meets a series of well-off people who all seem to find something special in her that for the life of me I couldn't.

What makes this film interesting is that it's a film about a young woman and at no point does she have to have a relationship or have sex with a man to propel it on. It's just a film about a young woman forced to grow up a little.

Sweet, endearing but crushingly aimless and empty.


#64 RED 2

First off I have to warn you, despite the fact there's communists involved and a large portion of it is filmed in Moscow and the Kremlin, this ISN'T a sequel to Warren Beatty's 1981 movie, Reds. This in actual fact is a sequel to the 2010 comedy/action movie, RED. It's important not to get those two confused otherwise you're going to be in for a very disappointing experience. 

Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta Jones, Mary Louise-Parker, Byung-hun Lee, David Thewlis, Tim Piggot-Smith, Neal McDonough, Brian Cox and Steven Berkoff! Directed by Dean Parisot. 

Running time:116 minutes.

There's trouble in the Frank/Sarah household, where the non-violent domesticity is beginning to ruin their relationship. So when Malkovich's Marvin turns up briefly before dying, even more briefly, with news of a coming conspiracy that threatens them all with hit-squads from both the CIA and MI6 and a lethal, unstoppable Chinese assassin, the mis-matched pair are off on a spot of globe-trotting marriage guidance in search of a missing atomic device that ricochets our mismatched band of heroes from America to London, to Paris, to Moscow and back again, and again. And again.

I know, I know, I know what you're thinking. Wow, what an amazing cast! All in one film, gosh that's impressive, good grief, look! It's even got both Hannibal Lektors in it! That's a first isn't it? the plot sounds rightly potty too! More madcap-action, tongue-in-cheek adventure!  The first REDS was great fun so I bet this is going to be a hoot! And the trailer looked like fun too, didn't it? Hopkins acting loopy, somersaulting cars, gun battles, punch-ups, Kung Fu, Malkovich showing off his comedy chops again and Willis at his usual, laconic, laid-back but charismatic best!

Can't wait!

119 minutes later.

Oh. I wish I'd waited for the film makers of this to come up with a stronger story and a better director.

Lack-lustre, rather bland and unexciting really. Everyone's fun in it, apart from Willis who doesn't even bother phoning in his performance, relying in stead on one of those life-size cardboard cut-outs to do his job.

There's a real sense of blandness about this, a lack of danger or a fear that our plucky bland of heroes might fail, that's never in doubt. The villains never shot to kill (unless it's needed to advance the plot), just destroy property and they take turns to shoot while aiming high. The action is constant and repetitive and monotonous. Everyone's game for it, except for Willis who these days seems to show passion only when he's being interviewed after on press junkets for these films. 

It's not all bad, there are some funny moments, any time Helen Mirren turns up (doubly so when Brian Cox shares the screen with her), Marvin and the others discussing relationships and what Frank should be doing with Sarah and the idea that they all talk to Sarah behind Frank's back.

However, this is sadly disappointing and uninvolving. Might be more fun on DVD. 



Saturday, 27 July 2013


The Wolverine. Starring Hugh Jackman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Famke Janssen, Svetlana Khodchenkova and Will Yun Lee. Directed by James Marigold and running for 126 minutes.

Two interesting facts about this film. One, the director, James Marigold's family also invented the washing up glove and whereas this is Hiroyuki Sanada's 64th film, it's also Tao Okamoto's very first!

So what's it about? Well, Wolverine, or Logan to call him by his name, is this mutant with healing powers, an adamantium coated skeleton, and a talent for getting those whom he loves killed. When we first meet him, back at the tail end of the second world war he's saving a young Japanese prison camp officer from dying in a nuclear bomb blast in Nagasaki. But 70 years later, in the present, he's living as a drunken hermit in the woods with only a big old grizzly bear for company when a bizarre-looking, female Japanese martial arts wizard whisks him off to Japan to visit the death bed of prison guard, now the head of an vast industrial empire, who offers Wolverine a cure for his immortality. What follows is a lengthy, dramatic, slow-building, action-packed drama which sees Logan lose his powers, battle a mass of different villains and enemies all with seemingly conflicting agenda all the time trying to protect the grand-daughter of the man he saved back at Nagasaki, while battling his own personal demons and a fork-tongued, venom spitting mutant.

Well, I have to say I went in expecting this to be a drearily, dull, clunker and came out thoroughly satisfied by it. It might not as fun-loving as Iron Man 3, but nevertheless it's a terrifically meaty, surprisingly adult, and entertaining adventure, which felt a lot better in tone than Man of Steel. Hugh Jackman seems as in-ease with the role of Wolverine as Robert Downey Jnr does as Tony Stark. it's a role he's made is own and after six films, playing the cranky Canadian super-hero, it's hardly  unexpected. It's Hugh Jackman's film and on his shoulders it relies, he's in almost every scene and as such he's expected to carry this film alone, so it's a thrill to discover he's more than capable of the task.

With great action sequences a great final boss level and so solid, acting from Jackman, this is everything that Wolverine Origins and the abominable X_Men Last Stand weren't and should have been. 


Two by the ways.

If you're going you really need to sit through, at least half of the credits, you'll know when you can leave.


And James Mangold's (the director) family didn't invent the washing-up glove, that was invented in 1889 by, William Stewart Halsted.


Starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, directed by Paul Feig and running for 119 minutes.

"Okay, so here it comes! Two cops, okay? As different as chalk and cheese, get partnered to investigate a crime, let's make it drug based. One of them is a straight-as-an-arrow, by-the-book, buttoned up square, the other is a rule-busting, balls-breakin' slob. They start hating each other but grudgingly come to, not only respect not only each other, but also their methods. And lo-and behold, they bond! And together they are incredible. And the hook? They're both women!"


And that's how this film got green lit.

When this is just being funny and not bothering with the plot, which is so hackneyed it's hardly worth bothering with, it's a genuinely funny laugh riot, but when the plot kicks in it falls flatter than a pancake. it just doesn't need it. Once again, Melissa McCarthy proves to be the funniest thing in absolute ages and surprisingly Sandra Bullock proves her comedy chops by being an excellent funny, up-for-anything, straight girl.

It's obvious there's a lot of ad–libing going on, which means this is going to work far better on DVD with a stronger cut and all the out takes. But in the mean time, sit back and enjoy because when this is funny it's bloody hilarious. In fact, I think this is the funniest American comedy I've seen in ages and although I thoroughly enjoyed This is the End, this beats it by being more conventional. There's something extremely funny in watching Bullock's character colliding with McCarthy's family and friends.

The all-night pub sequence is worth the admission alone.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013



Directed by Gore Verbinski, starring: Johnny Depp, Arnie Hammer William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, Ruth Wilson, James Badge Dale, and Helena Bonham Carter.

You could travel to Cardiff in that time by train in the time it takes this train wreck of a movie to derail.

Some bad men want to start a war with the local native Americans and another man who's building a railway through Indian territory might be involved with it and a mysterious silver mine. Plus there's a cannibalistic psychopath riding around being chased by a mentally ill native American and an assistant DA trying to bring the baddies to justice under the rule of law while wearing a mask, riding a tricked out horse and being the butt of every single other person's joke.

This film uses a lot of trains to deliver its thrills and like all train journeys the first half hour is fun but the following 2 and a half hours are just a tedious chore, not unlike this film actually.

It starts with an impressive train sequence and crash, then repeats the trick with another epic train sequence at the midway point and then again at the end because you know the old maxim, if it ain't broke don't fix it. Trouble is by the third time, you just don't care and because most of the stunts and action by this point are CGI you just don't care.

The Lone Ranger isn't an out and out bad film or even a terrible film, sure it has awful moments, bad acting, awful special effects, stupid plot points or unnecessary 21st century revisions and it makes the Lone Ranger the butt of all jokes and a bungling idiot but it's main failing is that it's oh so very long,  oh so, jaw-achingly long. Interminably long, long to the point of painful. Long, long, long. Long and oh so very dull, desperately dull, and nothing that happens ever really lifts the dullness.

There's so much wrong with this film, I can't be arsed to list it all. But the truth is, that what's wrong isn't worth complaining about because it's the sheer boredom factor that will get you long before Johnny Depp's over acting, the horrible Lone Ranger (not Arnie Hammer, who's okay) the savage, jarring brutality, the 21st sensibilities, or the 101 other issues get you.



Written and directed by Scott Walker. Starring Nicolas Cage and John Cusack. 105 minutes.

Based on the true story of the efforts of detective, Jack Halcombe (played by Nic Cage) to apprehend the serial killer, Robert Hansen (John Cusack) back in the1980s who terrorised Anchorage for over 13 years.

Nicolas Cage now has two modes of acting, bored or manic. For this role he uses setting one. This isn't a fun film or one you'd own and happily return to for a cosy Sunday afternoon viewing. It's depressing and grim, mainly because of Hansen's methods of murder but also because the film keeps shoe-horning in scenes of nudity and titilation at a lap dancing club, where Hansen's only living victim returns to over and over again to work. Watching the methodical detective slowly trying to piece together the witness testimony with his pursuit of Hansen never rises above procedural and it's not helped by the unnecessary addition of an action sequence and shoot-out between secondary characters and a desperate race against time to rescue the survivor before the killer can catch her again. The film finally comes to life in the final scenes during the interrogation sequence, but by then it's just too little, far too late.

Not a bad film, just not that satisfying or rewarding.


Saturday, 20 July 2013


Directed by Dan Scanton. Voice talents lead by: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren. Running time: 103 minutes.

A prequel to the vastly entertaining and original Monsters Inc. As a small ball, Mike dreams of going to Monster University. He grows up, goes to university to be a scarer and meets his future best friend, although at first they are enemies. Much bonding, growing up and mild hi-jinxs ensue before our frenemies become soul-mates and brothers for life. It could have been called When Mike Wazowski meet James P. Sullivan.

It's with a horribly heavy heart that I write these words, I feel as if I'm stabbing my favourite Uncle to death with a knitting needle. But this is perhaps the most disappointing Pixar film I've ever seen, more so than Cars (which I hate) and Cars 2 (which i loathe), both of those are just bad films, but this should have been something far better, because Pixar are simply better than this! Or atleast they used to be. There was a time Pixar swore they'd never do a sequel unless they could come up with a new story worth telling, as they did with Toy Story 2 & 3, which took a great story and came up with something better and more wonderful each time. But that's no longer the case with Monsters Uni. Now Pixar are in the buisness of making money for Disney and as such, no stone can be left unturned in search of big bucks and no franchise left unrealised.

What this is, is everything that Pixar films should never be – a pointless, lazy cash in, an excuse in milking a cash cow and nothing more. Gone is Pixar's maxim - story, story, story replaced by a tired rehash, of repeated beats and an utterly un-involving story.

The animation is superb, as you would expect. As is the technical skill and rendering, beautiful lighting, fantastic fur and textures. But that's a given and as such don't warrant any credit. What isn't good is the lazy creature design and lack of originality.

I saw this in a particularly empty cinema with handful of children, none of whom laughed that much, including my son who was rather nonplussed by the whole thing. The film has some funny moments and some exciting scenes but ultimately it's just so flat and engaging, there's also an utter lack of threat or scares that made the first film so exciting and original.

Little kids will like it, but older kids will be bored, as will parents, I know I was.


Saturday, 13 July 2013

#58 & 66 THE WORLD'S END

Directed by Edgar Wright, written by Wright and Simon Pegg, and starring  Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Rosamund Pike. 109 minutes running time.

Twenty years after a failed, end-of-school, pub crawl, unhinged and obnoxious, Gary Knight (Simon Pegg) gets his four, much-put-upon, mates to return to their hometown of Newtown Haven to finish off the pub-crawl they failed at in their youth. But much has changed, and not just themselves. Their old home town seems strangely otherworldly and beneath the surface they unearth an alien conspiracy that might just mean the end of the world.

Described as the third part of the Cornetto trilogy - the chocolate mint to Hot Fuzz's original 'blue' Cornetto and Shaun of the Dead's strawberry option. TWE arrives with a lot of expectations, will it live up to sublime genius of Shaun, or will it be a slightly over-baked version of Hot Fuzz, or will it just be be a tired rehash of the previous two with gags revisited and repeated and the same funny cameos? The trailer seemed to hint at the later but it's a relief to discover that TWE is a thrilling, extremely funny and very exciting comedy that might pay a nodding homage to the previous two films but doesn't do it slavishly.  This manages a perfect mix of humour, action and drama, with characters going on well-written story arcs that doesn't sacrifice humour for plot or vice-versa. It helps that the cast is terrific and that the two leads are playing against type, with Pegg happy to be the obnoxious one who never tries to sugar coat what an odious arse his character is, while Nick Frost handles his bitter and angry, tea-total bank-manager character very well.

The film moves at a break-neck speed which successfully avoids Hot Fuzz's over long running time problems and multiple endings. As a director, Edgar Wright just keeps getting better and his handling of action here is just as assured and confident as his handling of the humour and serious bits.

It's sod's law that two end-of-the-world movies should arrive in the same month with almost the same titles and it's sad to think that might have an impact on the box office. The World's End deserves to be seen several times.


#56 & 57 PACIFIC RIM (5.7.13 & 13.7.13)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro. Starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Ron Pearlman and the combined skill of artists at ILM (Industrial Light and Magic).

Apparently it's 131 minutes, but that can't be right, it felt about 20 minutes top.

In the future, aliens from another dimension invade the Earth through a rift at the bottom of the Pacific ocean and unleash gigantic monsters called
Kaiju to destroy mankind. In response humanity unties and fight back thanks to humungous robots called Jaegers that need two, or more, humans mind-melded to fight them.

Luckily all this guff is dealt with pre-credits and then what follows is an utterly jaw-dropping and gorgeous series of astonishing fights between these beautifully designed monsters and robots, plus some behind the scenes dramas and emotional beats. The film is a triumph of design and style and the sheer glee and joy that Del Toro brings to the proceedings is palatable. This film deserves to be seen on the big screen, in fact the bigger the screen the better and even more surprisingly it also benefits from being seen in 3D.

This is everything that the three Transformers movies weren't. Free of Michael Bay's horrible shaky cam you get to see the action and feel the hugeness of everything, the scale is very impressive, perhaps not as impressive and believable as the wonderful series of Toho Godzilla films, but still an absolute treat. Go in expecting a huge, crazy, science-fiction punch-up and you'll leave happy, it even avoids having the baking equivalent of a soggy bottom by not having a sagging middle.

This is, hands down the most exhilarating and enjoyable science fiction action film I've seen in ages! Seen it while you can, where it deserves to be seen, on the big screen!



Directed by Shawn Levy. Starring Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne and Aasif Mandvi. 119 minutes.

Here's how the Hollywood pitch went.

"It's the Wedding Crashers meets Glengarry Glen Rose, but with less sex and swearing. Two expensive watch salesmen, Wilson and Vaughn, get made redundant and discover they're unemployable. Vaughn's girlfriend leaves him and so he lies on an application form and manages to get them onto an internship at Google, much hilarity ensues." 

I went in expecting this to be The In-Turd-Shits and was pleasantly surprised to discover I quite liked it. It's not ground-breaking, it's not hilarious, it's not fantastic, and in line with all American modern comedies, it's not particularly funny. However, by the mid-way point I found it had weevilled it into my psyche and won me over. I doubt I'll ever see it again, I certainly won't own it on DVD, but it was entertaining and it did have a heart, and Vaughn's character wasn't the usual obnoxious, wise-arse know it all he usually plays. The 20-something yoofs are likeable and the 'journey' these two men go on is enjoyable.

Plus I love the fact these two middle-aged dinosaurs teach the young bloods about life by taking them to a lap-dancing club getting them drunk..

Could have done with being shorter.


Monday, 8 July 2013


Directed by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen. Starring James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Emma Watson. Plus plenty of celebrity cameos. 107 minutes.

Jay Baruchel, playing Jay Baruchel arrives in LA to visit Seth Rogen and ends up at a party at James Franco's new house on the eve of Armageddon and I'm pleased to say Armour not gedding out of here!

When this is funny it's bloody hilarious and when it's not, it's a tad slow and ploddy, but at 107 minutes it doesn't outstay its welcome. Despite the involvement Seth Rogen this film stands in complete defiance to the Judd Apatow school of American comedy by actually being very funny. The joy comes in watching well-known American actors saying and doing the most outrageous things, Emma Watson is hilarious, Danny McBride, as the self-appointed villain of the piece, just does his schtick, but dialed up to about an 11! And there's a 3rd act cameo that just about steals the entire film, plus a staggering conclusion made this a thoroughly enjoyable movie.


Sunday, 23 June 2013


Directed by Louis Leterrier. With Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Dave Franco.


'The Closer you look the less you'll see.' runs the ad for this magic trick and Morgan Freeman's voice over. Which is good advice, I'd advise viewing this film from well over 50 miles away, while watching and enjoying something else altogether.

For me the magic trick was wondering why Hollywood bank rolled this bland, generic, dull thunker of a movie in the first place. But since it's been a surprise smash hit it just goes to show I don't have the foggiest idea what I'm talking about. Actually there was a time when this sort of film would have been great, the 1970s before the advent of CGI, but that overused trick pony now makes these sort of films utterly unbelievable.

Four tricksters, con-men and magicians are recruited by a mysterious hooded figure for some nefarious reason that seems to have something to do with a dead magician and another, now ex-magician, who  makes his living debunking other magicians on TV, which might have something else to do with a big banker and a very angry FBI agent with a serious coffee addiction and his French, Interpol, sidekick. 

So, these four young (apart from Woody Harrelson) magicians  call themselves the Four Horse Men and ingratiate themselves with their audiences by giving away millions of dollars in huge Las Vegas staged arena shows.

Hmm, cue lots of 'magic' courteous of the fore amentioned, whinged-at CGI which, in these sorts of films just makes everything look less real and more artificial, but since the staged magic shows don't have a warm up act and seem to consist of one single trick they're already pretty unbelievable in the first place.

There are lots of things wrong with this, the major failings being Jesse Eisneberg, the CGI, the story, the effects, the idea, the utter lack of the ability to dispend your disbelief and the CGI which I don't think I've mentioned yet, but it's really jarring and does nothing to convince you that anything you're seeing is anything other than CGI.

Morgan Freeman,  Michael Caine and Woody Harrelson all phone in their performances and deserve far better than this. Jesse Eisenberg who I thoroughly enjoyed in Zombieland is just grating and irritating in this and I don't know if Mark Zuckerberg is as irritating as Eisenberg, but I bet when he watched the Social Network he said, 'My voice isn't that irritating, is it?'.

The most amazing trick this film pulls off is making 115 minutes feel like 230.

It's utterly unmemorable and pointless but it's not as bad as some of the shit I've seen this year, so who knows you might enjoy it.



Directed by Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud. Voice talent led by Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig. 

Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to find out who's nicked something important. Aided by Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), Gru is forced to go undercover working in a cupcake parlor at a shopping mall in search of a new mysterious super villain.

Gru's a great character and his relationship with his three adopted daughters makes my heart, as a parent, ache. The first film was a refreshing, funny and exciting animated film enhanced by great character design and a French animation studio who gave the film a noticeably different edge than the usual America fare. The first film succeeded in the most part by being fresh and original. Sadly this second film, in an obvious ongoing franchise, never matches its predecessor in humour or inventiveness, but it does come close.

It starts out extremely funny but then sort of forgets the funny and settles down into a fairly generic story for the majority of the film while the plot sort of unnecessary unravels. Luckily the arrival of the final act sees the film re-find its funny bone.

Lovely animation, good music and a great character, there should be stuff for adults and the little ankle biters to like.

Good fun. 7/10

#51 WORLD WAR Z (21.6.13)

Directed by Marc Forster. With Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale.

116 minutes. 

Oh no, it's the apocalypse! The world's ending, it's zombies, a tsunami of them, swamping the world! Oh who can save us? Luckily it's Brad Pitt, sporting a fancy beard and foppish hair, he's a UN Johnny press-ganged back to save us all!

What follows is a whistle stop tour of the world's most exotic and dramatic locations,
Gyeonggi-do in South Korea,  Jerusalem, and er, Cardiff as Brad tracks the tidal wave of living dead back to their  source -Patient Z so to speak.

Based on a hugely popular book which means that the film was doomed to fail before a single second of footage had been shot, the film makers dropped the reportage structure of the novel and it's lack of a single heroic voice by creating one then sending him out to travel the world and save it. Because Brad Pitt is too big now, not to save the world.

It's a tense and dramatic movie which has some superb set pieces, particularly the escape from New York and Jerusalem, but which also features the world's most luckless hero who stumbles from one disaster to the next and seems to be a real harbinger of doom, wherever he goes death and the undead are sure to follow, very, very quickly on his heels. 

Forster, like far too many directors still believes that shaking the camera violently during action scenes will make them very exciting and draw the viewer in. He's wrong, and here not only does it not work, it also makes many of the action scenes unwatchable, particularly those that take place at night. There's one scene in particular which was so confusing that I literally had no idea what any of the shadowy figures were doing, or to whom, or even who they might be and so when it ended with Brad running to the edge of a building and almost jumping off I had no idea why.

This film starts dramatically, expanding rapidly like a balloon, to bursting point then it sort of slowly deflates gently until it ends with a soft wet fffftttppp. But I suppose after such a tense and dramatic opening there's nowhere else for it to go. 



Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. 118 minutes.

Well made, beautifully shot and featuring a career best performance from Michael Douglas this is a warts and all bio pic of the
Liberace and his live-in lover, Scott Thorson (played by Matt Damon) and their 7-year long relationship. Although a superbly well made movie, you'd never guess it was produced for TV, it does feel very one note and I perhaps expected a bit more humour, certainly the trailer seemed to imply it would be funnier.

Because this is a serious film, I left wishing they had gone further and we could have explored Liberace's persona more, he's such an intriguing character and the more you see, the more you want to learn about him. You get glimpses, of a network behind the man behind the Candelabra, and it hints at a far darker and nastier world.

Soderbergh claims he's giving up cinema and this is supposedly the last film of his we'll see on the big screen. I hope not.


#49 MAN OF STEEL (18.6.13)

Directed by Zack Snyder. With Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane.


When I first saw this film, I was swept away by the spectacle, it was huge it was big and it was epic and there were moments that grabbed me and made me love it. Kevin Costner's voice cracking when he talks to the young Clark Kent, the music, the moment when Clark saves the school bus, his first costume fitting and flight, his saving of the oil rig, meeting the military for the first time, many things. And up on the big screen I was swept along and felt it deserved a solid 8/10. The action was great, but

Now i think it's worthy of a 6/10. (7.4.14)

Can't remember the last time a film that's so divided fans and non fans alike. For every fan I've found who loved this film I've found someone else who hated it.

It's an over-wrought and bombastic film, a huge, shouty, big-is-best, super-duper epic and not just in running time. Sadly in the 21st Century, the maxim of bigger = better has never been more evident, nor more over used. And as special effects prove that there is literally nothing that cannot be expressed on the cinema screen it means that Directors, rather than try to make the story number one now just focus on how big they can make the threat how enormous the peril and how much spectacle, very much like the Romans did with the gladiator games. I suppose the theory goes, the bigger the hero the bigger the threat. And so we've got a film where the entire Earth is now threatened with destruction. In the good old days of Super Man it was just California. I used to complain that when Singer brought Supes back the best threat he could give him was Lex Luthor and wasn't it time that the Man of Steel actually fought someone who at the very least matched the Kyrptonian in terms of strength. Well, I've had my wish and I say, that in hindsight, I'd prefer something in-between.

There are many things this film gets wrong, among those failings, the most grievous is Superman's almost total disregard for ordinary people (the number of innocent people killed during that final fight is mind-boggling) as is the utterly bewildering collateral damage that he causes! Why couldn't he shift the fight to somewhere safer? In the comics and previous films Supes would often put himself at severe risk to rescue people, but this time round it seems Supes is fighting under a different maxim, one of 'Go fuck yourselves mankind, I'm busy dealing with the big stuff!' He just doesn't seem to care about anyone other than Lois and his mum. And don't get me started on the Super Man killing!!!!

Snyder, who I loved when he did Dawn of the Dead and Watchmen, but loathed when he vomited Sucker Punch over cranks this one. He uses too much shaky cam (it's not a film on the wall documentary it doesn't make us feel like we're there) particularly in the BIG fight at the end which becomes a shaky, dizzy blur of the best CGI Hollywood millions can produce, but I found myself remembering with fondness the fight in Superman 2.

So, this time round, lots of b/g stuff on Krypton, turns out Supe's dad is a ninja scientist which comes in handy when his Earth dad turns out to be such a wimp. Seriously  SPOILER ALERT! Commiting suicide to prove a point and shame your son seems a bit excessive, talk about passive aggressive! Particularly when your adopted son is clearly struggling with the whole, 'who am I, what am I? Who is my daddy and what did he do?' Talk.

Anyway, this is a huge spectacle and epic in scope. It's very far from perfect but it was enjoyable and had many lovely emotional moments and action.

8/10 (first viewing)

6/10 (repeat viewing)

Monday, 3 June 2013

#47 THE BIG WEDDING (3.6.13)

Directed and written by: Justin Zackham.

Starring: Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, Ben Barnes, Susan Sarandon, and Robin Williams.

Two impossibly wealthy and dysfunctional families gather for a wedding and much hilarity ensues.

Who ordered the shit sandwich with the shit garnish on the side?

Boring, bland, dull and trite.

111 minutes of hackneyed, lazy writing, stupid actions and reactions. See if you can guess the cliches before they happen? I got them all but one tripped me up, I assumed the Colombian mom could secretly speak English, but she couldn't!

It looks nice and there was a bottom, side boob and nipple so this gets...


Sunday, 26 May 2013

#46 HANGOVER III (26.5.13)

Directed by Todd Phillips. Starring Ken Jeong and Zach Galifianakis. 

Co starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham, John Goodman and Melissa McCarthy.

I went in expecting a rehash, again of the first two films, but the 'writers' of this dreadful series did something unexpected. They decided to do something different and came up with a plot. Not that they should have bothered it hasn't helped.

First things first though! The good news - and there's two bits!
  • ONE: This isn't the worst film of the series!
That honour still lies with the second which really was a woeful sac of putrid shit, tied up with string and run over by a truck carrying piss to a vomiting convention.
  • TWO: This third installment in the tired, vile and unfunny series should hopefully be the last.
Like all recent American comedies this one does away with the need for jokes, comedy or anything funny happening and just replaces it with a psychotic drug addict and a manchild on the Autistic spectrum to mine its rich vein of comedy gold. Sadly the only gold here is of the fool's variety and the fool is anyone who pays to see it. Luckily for me, I've already paid for my Cineworld card so this one was a freebie.

The plot has the Wolf Pack hunting for Chow from Mexico to Las Vegas because he's robbed drug baron, Marshall of 21 million dollars. And apparently on that simple sentence, this film got green lit.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a complete laughter free-zone. No sir! There's plenty to chortle at, well actually there isn't, but my mom told me that if you haven't got anything nice to say, try saying nothing.

I did giggle once and smile twice more. And I'm sure I heard someone else in the theatre laugh, although that might have been someone choking on popcorn, or stifling a yawn.

3/10 - don't bother. Not even Melissa McCarthy can save this lazy, tired, bored, laughter-free excuse for humour.

There is an amusing sequence just after the first end credits, which sadly shows you where this film should have started, not ended.

Review of HANGOVER 2

To honour the release this week of Hangover III I thought I'd dust off my review of the second film and post it for you here.


I imagine the two writers of the first Hangover movie, when told they were going to write the sequel sat down and thought long and hard about where they'd like to go on a free holiday and they decided on Thailand.  I get the feeling that was probably the hardest part of this film to come up with, the location. After that, they just pressed Apple 'A', for all, pressed copy and pasted it into a new document titled Hangover 2. Because beyond the change of the location nothing else original happens. This is a complete rehash of the original film, with incredibly even less laughs.

For months we've had the slow marketing burn, building up to the release and rest assured it's not worth it. The best thing about this film is the trailer. It's better than the finished article because it is mercifully far shorter.

This is a lazy, pointless film that only managed to raise the odd smile and two laughs. One involved a monkey chewing on a Buddhist monk's penis, it's in the trailer and the other was at the end and had something to do with the speedboat. There's also another knob gag which didn't get a single laugh but did get a collective gasp of disgust from the audience.

Bradley Cooper happily pisses away all the good will he garnished with Limitless by doing this. Paul Giamatti should know better and Ed Helms deserves better.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

#45 FAST AND FURIOUS 6 (13.5.13)

This is the 6th film in the series. It stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker, Luke Evans, Michelle Rodriguez, Elsa Pataky, Jordana Brewster, Gina Carano, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris. And it's directed by Justin Lin.

What's it about, David?

Luke Evans is a baddie, he runs a crew which is the mirror reflection of Diesel and his posse and they're stealing top-secret McGuffins from all over the world, while hiding out in the East End of London. Dwayne Johnson is so muscle bound he can't stop them, so he tracks down Diesel and asks him to help. Before you can say, 'mirror, indicate, maneuver' practically the whole gang is back and driving around the world faster than you can say vroom, vroom!

Cue lots and lots and lots of fast and furious driving, people shouting into walkie-talkies while driving single-handedly, spectacular car crashes and lots of slap-downs. Every character in this film is contractually required to have at least one fist fight, one car crash, one gun battle, one slow-mo-walk and one earnest, pouting, close-up into the camera.

No dialogue was hurt in the making of this film. Everyone speaks in nifty, quotable, sound bits and cliches. And everybody is mean, moody and magnificent. Over the course of the next 2 hours and 10 minutes, much loved characters will come back from the dead, others will die, more cars will get destroyed than you can shake a stick at and some one performs a cinematic first, something never, ever seen before in the whole history of cinema - a flying head-butt!

This doesn't have the delightfully crazy, light-hearted feel of FATF 5, the film that re-ignited this franchise, it's far too serious and everybody is horribly earnest and sombre. The action is relentless and repetitive, car chase, punch-up, fire-fight, car chase. But then you don't go to a Fast And the Furious franchise installment expecting a period costume drama so shut up, buckle up and enjoy the ride. It ain't, clever, it ain't pretty, but it sure is bloody furious. And fast.

There's a post credit sequence that will leave you giddy with excitement for the next episode!


Sunday, 12 May 2013

#43 & 44 STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (9.5.13 & 13.5.13)

Hollywood's next golden boy, J.J. Abrams's geek fest starring the same crew as last time plus Benedict Cumberbatch and Eve Alice.

After four years, which is quite a long time for these type of things, J.J. has put the old band back together and returned for another go on the star ship Enterprise. This time it's a relentless chase through the galaxy on the trail of an intergalactic terrorist who's just blown up a library in London and murdered a very important parental figure in Kirk's life. So, kid gloves are off, as Kirk played once again by Chris Pine, is sent on a personal, revenge-fueled, top-secret mission to assassinate the terrorist armed with the latest, super-powerful photon torpedoes deep inside Klingon territory. Except almost no one is who they seem. Cue the following template that the film follows from beginning to end. Run, run, run, punch, punch, punch, chat, chat, chat, zap, zap, zap, run, run, run- repeat, repeat repeat.

This film starts in mid-run and just carries on running, very, very fast. Everyone in this movie runs, at full pelt, as if their very lives depended on it, even when just chatting or having a cup of tea.

There's a sequence where Scotty, played once again by Simon Pegg, runs from one end of a star ship docking bay to the other, only to stop, look at something then run all the way back. "See Scotty run, run, run, run." Then there's the bit where Kirk and Spock run through the Enterprise, "See Kirk Run. See Spock run. Run, run run." Or if you like you can watch Benedict Cumberbatch run. He runs very well, very upright and straight, very British. "Run, 'mysterious character with two names', run. Run, run." Hang on do you like watching the women's 100 meters at the Olympics? Well you get to watch Zoe Salanda and Eve Alice run. "Run Uhuru and Dr. Carol Marcus. Run, run, run." They run everywhere in the future and I don't mean a nice healthy jog. No way, not in this future! It's full-pelt or nothing! Second place is not an option!

So, there's a lot of running in this film. A lot. In fact I'm beginning to realise there's probably as much running in this review as there is in the film, almost if I'm desperately trying to avoid having to say anything bad about this film. Almost as if I'm trying to avoid admitting something. Oh my god, I  hear you say, don't tell me it's no good?

Okay, I won't tell you that. But I will tell you the following. If you've never seen the original Star Trek movies or the original Star Trek TV show then worry not, this is a great fun, fantastically entertaining, if utterly empty, action-packed, slam-blam, thank you mam flick (even if there is a little bit too much running in it.) and it gets a quantifiable...






... if like me you've seen the original Star Trek movies and in particular Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan then this film is a fucking insult, a horrible, offensive, lazy stupid insult. Not right from the start, no sir! It's great fun right off the bat and stays that way for a long time. The story unravels very fast as truths are discovered, characters revealed and agendas exposed. The villain or villains are shadowy and overall I thoroughly enjoyed it. That was right up to the third act, then the film starts to unravel and it becomes a mess.

Why couldn't Abrams just make a new Star Trek movie with, say the Klingons, as the threat? Why did he have to rehash Wrath of Khan? Why, what does it add, what's the point? Also, how does it work in this rebooted Star Trek universe where Khan and Kirk have no shared history because Kirk's not set out yet on his 5-year mission to baldly [sic] go when no man has gone before? It's as stupid as when Hollywood's last golden boy, Bryan Singer revived Superman and once again did a story about Lex Luthor on yet another real-estate con. That said, Cumberbatch makes a bloody good Khan.

There is one telegraphed plot point in this new Trek film that is so lazy it's staggering. It takes place in the med lab where Khan's blood is being annalysed and Kirk says to Bones, "Are you still experimenting with that DEAD Tribble?" The camera cuts to Bones prodding said dead Tribble and preparing to inject it with something. "Yes, I'm going to see if Khan's 'amazing blood' can revive it." Explains Bones as he reads off the major plot point from a large autocute just off camera. Gosh, I wonder whether THAT is going to be significant later on, say if someone important were to DIE.

From here on it gets annoying very fast. With the Enterprise disabled and falling through Earth's atmosphere with no power, it falls to Kirk to save the day by entering the warp core and manually re-alining the core by kicking it, which is the future equivalent of banging the top of your TV to get the picture back. So he gets to make the ultimate sacrifice, behind a glass door where Spock on the other side can do nothing but watch his friend die and shout "KHAN!!!!"

In the original film, Spock's sacrifice is a truly surprising, emotional gut punch. It comes at the end of an impressive battle between two space ships and his death scene is deeply moving. This time, it's just one more cliffhanger to overcome before the next, one more dramatic action beat and nothing more, which devalues Kirk's sacrifice and the memory of Wrath of Khan.

Likewise in the original film, it's Kirk who gets to shout out 'KHAN!' with true emotion and rage, but not at Spock's death but at the utter frustration and impotent rage he feels at his opponent who seems to have won. This time Spock does the shouting, but why does he? It's not really Khan's fault that Kirk is dead. That blame lies with the true villain behind the whole plot and he's already dead. Similarly, isn't Spock a Vulcan and aren't they just emotionless logical beings?

Finally, a modern 21st Century, summer, blockbuster movie can't end like the original with a moving, sombre funeral in space and discussion about sacrifice and friendship, no it has to end with one more running and punching fight. This time in midair cos it's exciting. Except by this point it's not. It's just too much.

I started off enjoying this film and feeling it was a satisfying 8/10, the Tribble took it down to a 7/10. Kirk's death dragged it further down to a 6/10 and Spock's Khan cry sunk it with a 5.

I watched it again today to see if I was being unfair. And I'm sorry to report I'm not.

Too much running, too much shouting, too much everything and not nearly enough Star Trek.


Monday, 6 May 2013


Starring Steve Coogan, Anna Friel, Imogen Poots, Tasmin Egerton and directed by Michael Winterbottom. 

The life and lays of Paul Raymond, King of Soho, bad husband, bad, but loving (if you were his daughter), father and excellent realtor.

Some men claim to be leg men, others love a good bum, but I have a thing for breasts, I love them! Which means I loved this film, if only for the sheer volume of naked breasts on display, not a single scene went by without some and for that this film gets a solid 10/10

However, if you want a non-breast bias review then read on.

This is a rather sobering, and sad film which portrays Raymond as a lonely man, seemingly lost in a world where he could have, and did, everything and everyone he wanted.

Normally these types of bio-pic portray men, who have everything, spiraling out of control into an abyss of drugs, sex and alcohol, but not so with Raymond who never seems to spiral anywhere except into bed with another group of eager and willing young women. Seemingly able to control his drug taking to sensible amounts of cocaine and champagne, Raymond's only other vices were an addiction to buying up properties, putting on racy shows farces, protecting his daughter from everything except drugs and publishing a string of hugely successful pornographic magazines.

Following Raymond from the 1950s up to the death of his daughter in 1992 The Look of Love is told in flashback form, with Raymond returning from his daughter's funeral to watch a documentary interview with him and her. Along the way we watch his marriage to Jean Bradley, played by Anna Friel collapse and his relationship Fiona Richmond, Tasmin Egerton take over, while he puts on saucy-nudie review shows, over -indulges his daughter, Imogen Poots, drinks champagne, takes drugs, publishes porno mags, name drops Ringo Star and reminds people he used to be called Geoffrey Anthony Quinn. And that's about it.

While the film remains interesting, the period detail is lovely, it never really engages and you never really connect with Raymond as a character. And it's difficult to know why. Steve Coogan creates a believable Raymond, much in the way he did with Tony Wilson and he never slips into parody or comedy to play the role. Perhaps it's because Raymond never really did anything other than shag, buy property and keep his beloved daughter gainfully employed? 

Overall this film is a bit like a wank, great fun while it's happening but you're left feeling pretty empty once it's over, especially if you've done it right.


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

#39 & 40 IRON MAN THREE (25.4.13)

Directed by Shane Black. Starring: Robert Downey Jnr, Guy Pearce, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Sir Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall and about 400 hundred special effects people.

Evil terrorist, The Mandarin is here teach the President of these United States a lesson, well several televised lessons to be precise, and only one man and 42 suits of Iron Man Armour stand between him and dominance.

This is the third in the Iron Man series and probably the last to feature Robert Downey Jnr, which is a shame because he owns this role much in the same way as Sean Connery owned James Bond. No matter who comes next to fill those yellow and red rocket booties, it'll always be Robert they compare him to. But don't fret he still has one more Avengers movie to do.

It's obvious that Robert Downey Jnr was born to play the role of billionaire, ex-alcoholic, genius inventor and so good is he in the role that you forget the actor and completely accept him as Tony Stark. And believe me there is a LOT of Tony Stark in this movie. It's almost as if, Shane Black wanted to make a Tony Stark movie to such an extent that Iron Man becomes his side kick. However this isn't a criticism, the Iron Man suit is actually the dullest part of Iron Man, it's Tony that's interesting and provides the heart to this movie. So Black orchestrates the proceeding in such a way that Tony's supporting cast, led admirably, but not solely, by Gwyneth Paltrow is successfully side-lined, allowing Stark to be the main focus of the film.

But a super hero is only as good as his super villain and with the Mandarin, Iron Man gets his best villain to date and Sir Ben Kingsley gives us an unique super villain to rival the Joker in memorability. In the past, when a super hero franchise gets up to number three the film makers feel it prudent to throw as many villains as it can at its hero, but Black wisely avoids this, by sticking to just one villain and providing him with a battalion's worth of henchmen to back him up.

This is a very dense film, no flabby middle, just a film packed with incident, action and a proper plot that actually has a beginning middle and, god forbid!, satisfying ending. That said, it's not perfect, the final act showdown surrenders a lot of what went before to the special effects and an over reliance on all 42 suits of Iron Man armour which makes it hard to root for just one, it's also a tad overwhelming visually and difficult, at times to follow.  However, the preceding fight onboard Air Force One, glimpsed in the trailer, is utterly stand out and well worth the wait!

Overall, a thoroughly satisfying and enjoyable experience that ranks up there as one of the best super hero films so far made.


There is no reason at all to see this film in 3D, it adds nothing to film, in fact it just makes it all murky.

Monday, 22 April 2013

#38 EVIL DEAD (22.4.13)

Starring Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas and Elizabeth Blackmore Directed by Fede Alvarez.

Five kids drive deep into the woods to a spooky cabin to take part in a drug intervention. Unluckily for them one of their group, a bearded, four-eyed, hippy teacher finds the book of the dead and stupidly starts reading aloud from it, perhaps not the smartest thing to do when you've found the book in a basement room filled with the rotting carcases of dead cats. After that, it's lights out, Vienna as one-by-one the kids are butchered by demons.

The original is a classic that has stood the test of time admirably, this won't even last the year as a memory.

For some unknown reason, the writers of this modern version have dumped the black humour and tacked on an utterly unnecessary prologue, they've left in some nods to the original to appease the fans and shoehorned in a post credit bonus to really get them whooping. How sad then, that the audience I saw this with had no idea who the man at the end was.

It's a gory, sadistic and vicious film filled with stupid characters doing stupid things. You'll come for the legend, stay for the gore and leave wondering what all the fuss was about.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

#37 & #42 OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN (18.4.13)

Gerald Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Rick Yune directed by Antonie Fuqua. 

The film, in a gun shell. North Koreans attack the white house, capture the President of the United States prison, kill everybody and take control of America's nuclear arsenal. Now only one Scottish bloke with a shit, lisping, American accent stand between truth, justice and the American Way and a global nuclear apocalypse.  

Every now and then you go to the cinema and come out inspired by what you've just seen. For example, when I came out of Starship Troopers I wanted to join the space marines and kill intergalactic bugs and after Mad Max I wanted to be chase down nomadic homicidal brigades in a V8 Interceptor. Now, after Olympus has fallen I want to join the American Presidential Secret Service Security Detail and kill terrorists, in fact, I've already got my Gerald Butler accent down to a 't'.
All the reviews I've read of this film are written by critics too embarrassed to admit they enjoyed it and whinging on about the lack of irony, stereotypes and all sorts of guff as if it's not acceptable to just sit back and watch a balls-out two-hour long action film where a Scottish bloke with a shit, lisping American accent goes about killing 60 odd North-Korean terrorists with an assortment of knives, guns, fists, missile launchers, chain guns and rocket-propelled chainsaws (actually I made that last one up, but wouldn't it be cool if he did! I bet you'd go and see a film where someone used a rocket-propelled chainsaw!) all while spouting out a delight choice of classic one-liners like: 'Let's play a game of fuck off.' and 'I liked your friend. He was funny.'

This is the Die Hard film that Die Hard 5: A Good Day to Die Hard wasn't. If Bruce Willis had made this film instead of that one then no one would be going on about stereotypes, the lack of irony or any other such nonsense and would instead be praising it for being what it is. A big-bollocked, hilarious and gloriously violent, 15 certificate action film which goes from an 8/10 to a 7/10 thanks to the God Bless America bit right at the end.

Exactly what it says on the tin and for the first time in an absolute age a film not ruined or betrayed by the trailer.