Monday, 27 October 2014



Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed and Bill Paxton. Written and directed by Dan Gilroy. 117 minutes long.

When we first meet Jake Gyllenhaal's wild-eyed, gaunt-looking, Lou Bloom he's stealing chain link fencing and manhole covers to make a living, he's a strange loner who'll do anything to make a buck. So, when one night he discovers there's money to be made from filming crime scenes and accidents he takes it like a duck to water, buying a cheap camera and a scanner and off he goes clawing his way to the top using business savvy he's learned off the internet and scamming and blackmailing anyone to make it happen, even if that means tampering with crime scenes or even worse.

This is a superbly black-humored film that's both gripping and funny in equal measure, with fantastic performances, none more so that Gyllenhaal who occupies each and every scene and brings a magnificent menace to his role hinting at something truly evil at the core of his character, but he's not alone and the supporting cast, particularly Russo and Paxton are also top notch! It's a film that in hindsight feels slight in structure but that's not a problem because it has a real sense of barely contained frenzy, as if at any moment Lou might just lose control of his demons and kill everyone while filming it.

A fascinating and utterly engrossing film, well worth seeing.




Starring Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Ed Oxenbould, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey and Bela Thorne. Written by Rob Leiber, directed by Miguel Arteta and only 81 blissfully short minutes.

So what do we have? A typical nuclear family, you know the type. Stay at home dad, who are now known as a Fammy these days, played by Steve Carell, his beautiful, much younger wife, Jennifer Garner, - a editor-in-chief of a publishing company on the brink of her next big children's book that's going to be printed, launched and published on the very next day, quite a feat. Then there are their children, eldest boy on the brink of the prom where he's going to be named, along with his beautiful girlfriend (the best looking girl in the school) as Prom Duke and Dutchess, eldest daughter - a terribly precocious teenage acting protegy who's got the starring role of Peter Pan in tomorrow's school play. Next but one, the new member of the family, Trevor the baby - addicted to his dummy. Which can only leave Alexander, the boy for whom every day is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, day. So, it's hardly surprising that on the stroke of midnight on the day he turns 12, his brother's prom and driving test, his father's job interview, the launch of his mother's new children's book and the most popular boy in the school's own 12th birthday, Alexander makes a wish and it's everyone else's turn for the worst day of their lives while he can only look on and weep at the horrific orgy of violence and karmic retribution his thoughtless wish unleashes!

And what a day it turns out to be, with a gang rape of their eldest son after the most awful Carrie inspired Prom night I've ever seen, the self immolation of their daughter - after a terrible review, a painfully shocking circumcision that ends in search for a female version of Trevor's name and an interview that leaves Carrel paralysed from the neck down! I hadn't quite expected the payback to be quite so shocking as it was but it came as a blessed relief I have to say, I'd been dreading the thought that it might have ended with a series of silly pratfuls and slapstick moments mingled with mild life lessons and some minor jokes along the way as the family come to realise that they're at their very best when faced by the very worst life can throw at them.

The funniest line came from Garnier in the car and it's a dozzy! The rest of it is a gentle romp that didn't leave me hating.



'Starring' Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate and Ice Cube. Written by Jorge Gutierrez and Doug Langdale and directed by Jorge Gutierrez. 95 minutes long.

This film is produced by Guillermo del Toro and it's utterly impossible not to see his fingers in each and every aspect of this animated film. It's a insanely detailed 3D world of such originality and much, much, MUCH texture and detail that it soon becomes quite impossible to take it all in and sadly that's the same with the rest of this film. It's just all so dense, the story and plot, which is still unwinding well into the third act never gives you time to take it all in.

For the film to get up and running properly, we first have to start in the present to meet a sassy group of rebel school kids on a tour of a boring old museum who get taken by a freakishly-big-eyed, sexy tour guide to a basement and tells them a story, using wooden dolls. Every now and then we cut back to them to see what sort of emotional reaction we should be feeling at that moment of the film. The story they're told revolves around two guardians of the underworld having a wager on who will marry whom in a love triangle, as witnessed one night during the Mexican festival of the Day of the Dead. With three of the main characters introduced as children it's time to watch them separated, grow into adulthood before they all reunite and become embroiled in the aforementioned love triangle, that will see one of them sent to the World of the Dead to fight their way back before the newly introduced Mexican bandit king can raise their old hometown to the ground. And still that's not the whole story! I've not even mentioned the double cross, the incredible bull fight, the medal of invincibility or the million and one other things that Del Toro has crammed into each and every frame of this film. The end result is that all the six main characters can do is run, shout and sing and above all, keep running everywhere, least our attention wavers. It think this is a film for the ADHD generation.

In fact, there's just so much going on that that you can never just sit back and enjoy it. Despite it's  superbly rendered world this has none of the elegant pacing or plotting of Pixar, indeed even at its worst (Cars 1 & 2, Monsters University) Pixar still rules when it comes to understanding how to structure and tell a story properly. Perhaps it's time for Del Torro to learn that the maxim, 'less is more'. It's never been more apt than when applied to an animated genre.

To complain about this film too much would be pointless, kids will love it, and there's enough for parents to enjoy too, but sadly I found the whole thing too relentless and too overblown. Still, it looked bloody lovely.


Sunday, 12 October 2014



Starring Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon. Written by Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless. Directed by Gary Shore, 92 minutes long.

Right then, that's Dracula's origin story told, excellent, well I for one feel far better understanding that the Prince of Darkness is an okay guy who only became a vampire in the first place to save his wife and son from the dastardly Turks. Phew! And here I was thinking he was some evil, mysterious count with a passion for virgins and wolves
. No, no it's much better he's a tortured individual who only sacrificed his soul to save others. Much better. Maybe now he can date Malificent, she's another misunderstood baddy.

So here we go, Universal's attempt to re-imagine the horror greats of old for the 21st century, so get ready for a re-imagined Dracula, Frankenstein and his monster and The Mummy, hopefully if they work their way through their old back catalogue we should get Abbot and Costello before the year is out, can't wait to see what their origin story is.

Not scary, not particularly engrossing and not that terrible either, the actors do their jobs adequately, Charles Dance seems to have the most fun but sadly Dominic Cooper just doesn't cut it as the big bad villain, oh and Luke Evans as good as he is, is no Christopher Lee. The fight scenes are fun, the reliance of CGI becomes repetitive and bland to boot and that's about it. Not terrible, but not that good either.

Naturally the film ends in the present and sets up the obligatory sequel. Horay.


Saturday, 11 October 2014



Starring Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner and some stunt men. Written by Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec and Evan Daugherty. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, 101 minutes long.

The plot sees New York under attack from a group of evil baddies called the Foot Clan lead by some bloke called Shredder. Luckily there's an urban myth about a group of teenage, mutant, ninja turtles out there to protect us all, an urban myth that hot sexy reporter April O'Neil, as played by Megan Fox - the daughter of a murdered scientist who used to own four pet turtles as a kid is out to prove. Plus there's a millionaire science/buisness man, as played by William Fichtner who used to work with Megan's dead dad but now is helping the police to bring the Foot Clan to justice, if he's not a baddy I'll eat my pet turtle. If this film seems very familiar then that's because it borrows its entire last act from The Amazing Spider Man film, you know the one with the lizard. You know the bit where the lizard decides to poison New York city by spraying the city with a virus from the top of his radio tower built on top of a sky scrapper, well this is the same story, right down to the antidote, and the falling radio tower and just as boring.

 This is a dull and bland movie with nothing new to offer and whose main benefit is that it's not that long, especially if you leave as soon as the credits begin, you'll be out in under an hour and a half. It's a film where the camera never stops, it constantly moves, even when characters are just talking. The turtles aren't played in the brilliantly realised Jim Henson designed turtle suits of the original Turtles film, they're played by pixels, wearing coloured-coded domino masks to help us tell them apart. Don't worry, it doesn't make the blindest bit of difference, you'll never know which of the four turtles are which and frankly it just doesn't matter. There's no jeopardy, no drama, no excitement or anything of any real merit, although there are lots of pixels hitting other pixels, just like Transformers 4, another Michael Bay movie and it just becomes uninteresting. It's impossible to care for the giant 6 foot 4 green turtles, they're invincible and impervious to everything thrown at them. They can ignore the laws of gravity and physics whenever it suits them and can't be hurt by anything. The henchmen are limitless and without motivation, their leader, Shedder becomes another pixel creation dressed in a silver samurai suit and defeats the turtles over and over again until the final fight when he's finally defeated... Or is he? And finally there's Megan, who's not as foxy as she used to be, who is forced to carry the movie and frankly she's just not up to the job. Her relationship with Arnett borders on embarrassing, such is his awful school boy crush, but that's nothing compared to the frankly creepy lusting that one of the turtles does over her. At one point he's pulled off. Yuck.

This is such a generic movie you can literally tick off the tropes from a movie cliche-bingo card.

Please sir, can I not have another?




Starring Dylan O'Brien, Will Poulter, Thomas Sangster, Ke Hong Lee, Aml Ameen, Blake Cooper, Kaya Scodelario and Patricia Clarkson. Written by Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers and T.S. Nowlin. Directed by Wes Ball, 113 minutes.

Adapted from the four Maze Runner books, the film set in a post apocalyptic world sees a group of boys living, or is that surviving in the centre of a huge maze within a walled wilderness. Every day the maze opens up and the boys send out runners to explore the labyrinth beyond to try and find a route out, before the maze door slams shut when the sun sets. That's when the Grievers (mysterious bio-mechanical spiders) are unleashed to roam the maze in search of anyone trapped in the maze after dark. Once every month an elevator from deep below rises up with supplies and a new boy, with a wiped mind. This time, a young man called Thomas arrives and over the next three days he will bring about a total collapse of the boys' precarious world order, well him and the first girl - eevver to arrive in the glade.

Yet another month and yet another YA movie adaptation, this time more geared towards boys rather than girls and once again offering another post apocalyptic, despotic world filled with children dying horrible and painful deaths. Hollywood seems to love watching these young people dying. Last month it was The Giver before that, Divergence and then there was Ender's Game, which at least wasn't set in a post apocalyptic world but this time it's boys and one girl living and trying to survive in a world filled with giant metal spiders and a humungous constantly changing maze, will Thomas find a route out or will everyone die horrible deaths before the end thus making any sequel impossible? Well, I doubt it'll surprise anyone to hear a sequel is coming out next year, so chances are some of the kids, those not killed horribly by giant metal spiders, will make it through the maze, rather easily in the end, and live to fight another day in some sort of Hunger Games sort of way, especially since there are four books, which means there'll be at least five fucking films, Jesus H. Pigging Christ on a stick.

This is the sort of film where if only the characters would just stop, listen carefully to each other then answer the questions fully they'd avoid so much heart ache and grief. Seriously, at one point Thomas is marched out into the forrest and when he asks, naturally enough, 'where are you taking me?' is told, 'You'll see.' Why, not just bastard well tell the sorry little shit where the fuck you're taking him! Also why must you constantly push him over and shout in his face, seriously how is that going to engender you to him? Or why not actually tell him why you cry when you see him and tell him he's to blame but not the whole story. So, annoying. I seriously think that Hollywood must have used up its budget of ellipsis in the script. 

Anyway, this is quite entertaining and intriguing, even if ultimately the maze seems to be defeated rather easily in the end. Nice effects good acting particularly from Thomas Sangster and just enough to make me come back for more.


Thursday, 9 October 2014



Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens and Tyler Perry.

Written by Gillian Flynn and directed by David Fincher. 145 mintues long.

A tricky film to talk about too much without spoiling it and although this is a film that doesn't have a twist ending, saying too much will spoil this film for anyone who hasn't read the book. On the morning of his 5th wedding anniversary, Affleck's Nick Dunne comes home to discover his wife, Amy Dunne is missing - seemingly the victim of an abduction. He calls in the police and soon becomes a person of interest when evidence surfaces that seems to implicate the husband in his wife's violent abduction and possible death. The film flashes back and forth from the present to five years earlier, through Amy's journal, and the start of the Dunne's relationship. And where as the present is told through Nick's eyes, the past belongs to Amy's. But is everything as it seems or is someone hiding something?

A thoroughly dark, involving, engrossing and intriguing film with spot-on performances from, not only, the two leads but also the supporting cast too. Never short-changing the audience this is a fascinating and chilling film that is an absolute delight from beginning to end, although it's the end that costs this film a perfect 10/10, lacking as it does a satisfying ending. I wanted a solid full-stop but all I got was an

Directed with precision and skill by David Fincher this is a film that is never less than utterly engrossing and it no doubt helps that the screen writer is also the writer of the novel on which this film is based. Simply one of the best films I've seen this year.




Starring Aubrey Plaza, Dan DeHann, Anna Kendrick, John C. Reily, Mathew Gray Gubler, Paul Reiser, Molly Shannon and Cheryl Hines. Written and directed by Jeff Baena. 89 minutes long.

It's that age-old romantic trope. Boy meets girl, girl dies, boy grieves, girl comes back to life, boy gets girl back, world engulfed by zombie apocalypse.

With a silly set up that never bothers, or needs, to explain how or why the dead have returned to life, the film is more interested in the relationship between Beth as played by Aubrey Plaza and her boyfriend Zach, played by Dan Dehann and her parent's determination for her not to find out she's dead. But as the days pass, Beth's behaviour starts to become more, zombie-ish and even the mellow charms of dinner jazz can't save her and all the while, her dotting boyfriend just wants to reconcile himself with her or die trying.

Joining the list of ZomRomComs that have seen Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland - Life After Beth isn't as polished or as funny, it's more slow burn  and a little uneven, although it is nevertheless entertaining and funny. There are times when it feels a little like a dream, the sort where you can't turn a corner you want to go down and instead are taken somewhere else, which is frustrating, because sometimes the story we watch unfold doesn't seem as interesting as the glimpses we're offered of this bizarre world as thousands of the undead rise from the grave to return to their former lives and homes and bicker with relatives. We've had slow zombies, shambling zombies, running zombies and now anger-management zombies.

With a great indie soundtrack and some great performances this is a twisted and entertaining little flick.