Wednesday, 30 December 2015

WORST FILMS OF THE LAST 20 YEARS

For the past 20 years, I've been keeping a digital log of the films I've seen at the cinema, marking the date and score of each film. Presented here is a list of the worst films I have seen over the past two decades. The criteria is that the films have to have been seen at the cinema and not at home, which is why 'The Room', possibly the worst film I've ever seen isn't on this list. Then I took the bottom worst five movies of each year and removed any films that scored a five from the list, leaving behind any memorable mentions. Then I removed the films I had no memory of or were so obscure that I couldn't actually find any information about them, of which there were two, and what is left is a list of the worst films of the last 20 years.

Enjoy, avoid or comment and let me know if you think there's anything missing and what you consider to be the worst of the worst of the very worst of the last 20 years and if I've left off one of your least liked films.

MEMORABLE MENTIONS 


THE PACIFIER 5/10                                                                                2005
Resident Evil 5/10                                                                                 2002
The Time Machine 5/10                                                                           2002
Peter Pan Return to Neverland 5/10
                                                         2002
ALEXANDER 5/10                                                                                  2005
Matrix Reloaded 5/10                                                                             2003
Star Wars: Attack of the Clowns 5/10                                                      2002
POLAR EXPRESS 5/10                                                                            2005

THE LEAST WORST OF THE WORST

 
VALIANT 4/10
                                                                                      2005
Blackball 4/10                                                                                        2003
Men in Black 2 4/10                                                                               2002
Swordfish 4/10                                                                                      2001
Atlantis 4/10                                                                                         2001
8mm 4/10
                                                                                           1999
RIDDICK 4/10                                                                                       2004
THE VILLAGE 4/10                                                                                 2004
Pearl Habour 4/10
                                                                                2001

Christmas With the Coopers 3/10
                                                            2015
Italian Job (REMAKE!) 3/10                                                                    2003
Ronin 3/10                                                                                            1998
Terminal Velocity 3/10                                                                           1995
Paul Blart 3/10                                                                                       2009
Guliver's Travels 3/10
                                                                          2010
Dogma 3/10                                                                                         1999
Bride of Chucky 3/10                                                                             1999

Fantastic Four (2015)                                                                            2015
Bad Boys 2 3/10                                                                                    1995
Be Cool 3/10      
                                                                                  2005
Underworld 3/10                                                                                   2003
Replacement Killers 3/10                                                                       1998
I, Frankenstein 3/10
                                                                             2014

Ted 2 3/10                                                                                            2015
Amazing Spider-man 2 3/10
                                                                  2014
Noah 3/10
                                                                                           2014
Babylon AD 3/10                                                                                   2008
10,000 BC 3/10                                                                                     2008
Mutant Chronicles 3/10                                                                          2008
Righteous Kill 3/10                                                                                2008
Invention of Lying 3/10                                                                          2009
CONAN
(REMAKE!) 3/10                                                                         2011
IMMORTALS 3/10
                                                                                 2011
A million Ways to Die in the West 3/10                                                    2014
Nativity 3/10                                                                                           2009
SUCKER PUNCH 3/10                                                                             2011
SMURFS 3/10
                                                                                      2011

THE THING (REMAKE!) 2/10
                                                                    2011
Eraser 2/10                                                                                          1996
Dumb and Dumber to 2/10
                                                                    2015

Pixel  2/10                                                                                            2015
Mordecai 2/10                                                                                       2015
Taken 3 2/10                                                                                        2015
Screamers 2/10                                                                                    1996
Snow White In the Black Forest
2/10                                                        1997
Blood and Wine 2/10                                                                             1996
The Grinch 2/10
                                                                                     2000
LOONEY TUNES 2/10                                                                             2004
Battlefield Earth 2/10
                                                                            2000
Transformers 4. 2/10
                                                                             2014
HORRID HENRY 2/10
                                                                               2011
GARFIELD
2/10                                                                                     2004
SANCTUM 2/10
                                                                                      2011
Alex Cross 2/10
                                                                                    2012
Cold Light of Day 2/10                                                                           2012
Red Tails 2/10                                                                                       2012
Wanderlust 2/10                                                                                   2012
Texas Chainsaw 3D 2/10                                                                        2013
Red Dawn (remake)  2/10                                                                     2013
A Good Day to Die Hard 2/10
                                                                2013
GREEN LANTERN 2/10
                                                                          2011
The Island of Dr. Moreau 2/10                                                                1996
Little Fockers 2/10                                                                                 2010
Air Bender 2/10                                                                                     2010
Planet of the Apes 2/10  (Mark Walhberg/Tim Burton version)                   2001
Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2/10                                                                  2009
Alvin and the Chipmonks 2.                                                                    2009
The Spirit 2/10 (Frank Miller violation)                                                    2009


DISHONOURABLE MENTIONS

Entourage 1/10                                                                                     2015
LaReine Margot 1/10                                                                             1995
Nativity 2 1/10 
                                                                                      2012
Mission Impossible 2
1/10                                                                      2000
Fair Game 1/10                                                                                     1996
Species 2
1/10                                                                                         1998
Waterboy 1/10                                                                                      1999
Identity Theft 1/10                                                                                2013

THE VERY WORST OF THE WORST
(in descending order):


 #10. Furry Vengence 1/10                                                                  2010
 
#9. Movie 43 1/10                                                                              2013

 
#8. The Happening 1/10 
                                                                  2008

 #7. Batman Forever & Batman and Robin 0/10                     1995 & 1997



#6. Absolutely Anything 0/10                                                             2015

#5. I Know What You Did Last Summer 0/10                                     1997
 
#4. Tomb Raider 2
0/10                                                                     2003

 
#3. Hard Rain 0/10                                                                            1997

 
#2. Blues Brothers 2000
0/10                                                              1998


THE WORST FILM OF THE LAST 20 YEARS:

#1. Vampires Suck 0/10                                                     2010



Tuesday, 29 December 2015

FILMS OF 2015

FILMS OF 2015


So here it is my list of the Top Ten Films of the Year. Followed by my Bottom Ten Flops of the year and then if you're interested where they all ranked in descending order. 2015 wasn't a huge year for me and cinema visits, I only managed a paltry 80 visits of which 7 were multiple viewings of the same films and one was a re-issue of a classic old film and so doesn't rank in the Top Ten because if it did it would be in 6th place.

2015 produced more 10/10 films than any year I can remember and started off fantastically, however the summer proved to be a big disappointment and the year struggled to end on anything truly satisfying apart from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I can't tell you how gutted I am not to use my trademarked slogan: The Farce Awakens which I'd written in anticipation of the film being terrible, much like I did with the dreadful prequels which I christened: The Phantom Denis, Attack of the Clowns and Revenge of the Pissed. Ah well.

Anyway, without further ado, here we go.

2015 TOP TEN FILMS OF THE YEAR.


1. BIRDMAN

2. WHIPLASH
3. THE MARTIAN
4. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
5. JOHN WICK
6. FOXCATCHER
7. SICARIO
8. AMERICAN SNIPER
9. KINGSMAN
10. INSIDE OUT

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

11. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION
12. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
13. ANT-MAN
14. SPY
15. WHILE WE'RE YOUNG
16. SLOW WEST
17. SPECTRE
18. THE INTERVIEW
19. SHAUN THE SHEEP
20. HUNGER GAMES: MOCKING JAY PT 2.

BOTTOM WORST FILMS OF THE YEAR 2015 - IN DESCENDING ORDER

10.  FANTASTIC FOUR
9. GET HARD
8. DUMB AND DUMBER TO
7. TED 2
6. HITMAN: AGENT 47
5. PIXELS
4. MORTDECAI
3. TAKEN 3
2. ENTOURAGE

1. ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING

UN-HONOURABLE MENTIONS

20. TERMINATOR: GENISYS
19. INTO THE WOODS
18. THE LAST WITCH HUNTER
17. SELF/LESS
16. JUPITER ASCENDING
15. WILD CARD
14. SELF/LESS
13. PAN
12. SEVENTH SON
11. CHRISTMAS WITH THE COOPERS

ALL FILMS WITH SCORES IN DESCENDING ORDER INCLUDING RE-ISSUES.

  1. Birdman 10/10
  2. Whiplash 10/10
  3. The Martian 10/10
  4. Mad Max: Fury Road 10/10
  5. John Wick 10/10 
  6. The Terminator 10/10 (re-issue)
  7. Foxcatcher 9/10
  8. Sicario 9/10
  9. American Sniper 9/10
  10. Boyhood 9/10 (released in 2014)
  11. Gone Girl 9/10 (released in 2014)
  12. Kingsman 9/10
  13. Inside Out 9/10
  14. Star Wars: The Force Awakens 8/10
  15. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation 8/10
  16. Ant-Man 8/10
  17. Spy 8/10
  18. While We're young 8/10
  19. Slow West 8/10 
  20. Spectre 8/10
  21. The Interview 8/10
  22. Shaun The Sheep 8/10 
  23. Hunger Games Mocking Jay Pt 2 81/0
  24. Black Mass 8/10
  25. Legend 7/10 
  26. Crimson Peak 7/10
  27. The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron 7/10
  28. Fast and Furious Seven 7/10 
  29. Sisters 7/10
  30. Minions 7/10
  31. Jurassic World 7/10
  32. Spooks: The Greater Good 7/10 
  33. Man Up 7/10
  34. Run All Night 7/10
  35. The Voices 7/10
  36. Big Hero Six 7/10
  37. Trainwreck 7/10
  38. Moomins on the Riviera 7/10 
  39. Victor Frankenstein 7/10 
  40. In The Heart of the Sea 6/10
  41. Pitch Perfect 2 6/10
  42. Big Game 6/10 
  43. San Andreas 6/10
  44. The Age of Adaline 6/10
  45. Child 44 6/10 
  46. Man From Uncle 6/10 
  47. Solace 6/10
  48. Divegence: Insurgence 6/10 
  49. Daddy's Home. 5/10
  50. The Visit 5/10
  51. Bad Education 5/10
  52. Tomorrowland 5/10 
  53. Maze Runner Scorch Trials 5/10
  54. Terminator: Genisys 5/10
  55. Into The Woods 5/10
  56. The Last Witch Hunter 5/10
  57.  The Duff 5/10
  58. Wild Card 5/10
  59. Jupiter Ascending 5/10
  60. Self/Less 5/10 
  61. Pan 4/10
  62. Seventh Son 4/10
  63. Christmas With The Coopers 3/10
  64. Fanastic Four 3/10
  65. Get Hard 3/10
  66. Dumb and Dumber To 3/10
  67. Ted 2 3/10 
  68. Hitman: Agent 47 2/10
  69. Pixels 2/10
  70. Mortdecai 2/10
  71. Taken 3 2/10
  72. Entourage 1/10 
  73. Absolutely Anything 0/10

#80 IN THE HEART OF THE SEA

#80 IN THE HEART OF THE SEA


Starring Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Tom Holland, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson. Written by Charles Leavitt, directed by Ron Howard. Budget $100 million. Running time 121 minutes.

Since this is Christmas, it's time for the annual man tortured for several hours for our cinematic pleasure movie. Last year it was Unbroken, the year before it was 12 Years a Slave, this year it's Man vs Wales in In The Heart of the Sea.

Inspired by the true story that inspired Moby Dick this is the fictionalised account of the sinking of the Essex by a bloody great big whale who later went on to have a successful career as a middle-of-road electronic dance musician much hated by chocolate loving, rapper Eminen.

Using the device of a youthful Herman Melvin interviewing Brendan's survivor of the Essex for his book Moby Dick, this is the tale of the fate of the Essex – a whaler ship that had the great misfortune to bump into the mother of all albino sperm whales, Mr. Dick. Mr. Moby Dick. The great big whale went on to sink the Essex and then harass that ship's three long boat's worth of survivors for the next 90 days forcing the buff handsome Hollywood leading actors to suffer month's worth of starvation diets to achieve the most impressive skeleton chic look.

Directed by Ron Howard, who it has to be said mounts an impressive looking film, this is however a water-logged and dull floater of a movie, which is pretty exciting right up to the bit when the big whale sinks the boat, then the movie, very much like the cast, ends up adrift on a listless ocean of tedium becalmed by the usual flaw of cast adrift movies - they're kind of boring.

It looks good, the boat sailing bits are exciting, as is the hunting, but therein also lies the rub, these fuckers were hunting whales and that just isn't kosher any more, so you can't help feeling they really  got what they deserved. And this is no Master and Commander, none of the characters really endear themselves to us, not even Chris 'call me Thor' Hemsworth who looks great as a living skeleton for all of the 15 seconds we see him as such but pretty much remains a bit of a dick and far too worthier than thou for the most of the film. Also enjoyable is Brendan Gleeson who wisely took the role that meant he could sit down the whole time while being used as a book end and Cillain Murphy who all suffer for their art.

Good special effects, good period detail but ultimately a tad bland and flat and not a great deal to recommend it. Indeed if you only watch one film about old ships then I would recommend the already mentioned Master and Commander.

6/10












#79 SISTERS

#79 SISTERS



Starring: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, John Cena, Maya Rudolph, John Leguizamo, James Brolin and Dianne Wiest. Written by Paula Pell, directed by Jason Moore. Running time 113 minutes, budget $30 million.

They're two of the funniest performers around, they were both leads in their own sitcoms, 30 Rock (Tina Fey) and Parks and Recreation (Amy Poehler) and they've also co-hosted the Golden Globes ceremonies three times. So expectations going in to Sisters, their third movie collaboration, were exceedingly high and so it's somewhat disappointing to say that although this film is funny (and it is) it's not better and that's a shame.

The plot is simplicity itself. Two middle-aged sisters, Maura and Kate Ellis discover their parents are selling the family home and decide to hold one last massive party to recapture their youth and much mayhem, hilarity and soul searching ensues. Maura (Amy Poehleer) is a recently divorced nurse with an obsessive desire to help everybody and a morbid fear of her parents dying, she's controlling and during her youth the designated 'party mom'. Tina Fey plays Kate - the polar opposite sister who shagged and roared her way through life but is now a homeless, failed hair-dresser and nail technician, who's also a single mom to an embarrassed college-aged daughter and for one night only the sisters swap their roles for the party.

They invite all their old friends, plus the handsome next-door neighbour, to the party and discover a few home truths while they indulge in an almost sex-free orgy of drugs, alcohol and wanton destruction of the family home. This is a film of three parts, Pre-Party, The Party and Post-Party. The Pre-Party is the funniest as we get to know the two sisters and they prepare for the party, the Party itself is funny but a tad flat as the stage is set for the final part, the Post-Party part, where the plot finally intrudes and valuable life lessons are learned, home-truths revealed and the whole family move forward for a peeked at better future.

This is a funny film, indeed a laugh out loud funny film, but it's a tad flat at times, the plot barging into the third act is annoying and the obligatory life lessons learned are cringe inducing and unnecessary. The humour is extremely coarse and half of the fun is seeing Fey and Poehler really cutting loose and not being afraid to go for it. And while male-lead comedy films become more and more pedestrian and generic, it seems the women are stepping up and showing how it should be done.

Here's hoping Poehler and Fey's next film project is one they write themselves, it would be awesome. 7/10









Monday, 28 December 2015

#78 DADDY'S HOME

 #78 DADDY'S HOME


Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardelline and Thomas Haden Church. Script by Brian Burns, Sean Anders and John Morris. Directed by Sean Anders. 96 minutes long. Budget $50 million.

Hooray, it's another Will Ferrell movie, his second cinematic release of the year! And I for one am thrilled, particularly after the success of Get Hard – that non-hilarious, laughter-free movie about Will Ferrell being sent to prison for crimes against cinema, in it he played a bland, generic comedic actor forced to perform oral sex and suffer gang rape in a bid to land a role in a new film about a wall street Joe being sent to prison for insider dealing who ends up forced to perform oral sex and suffer gang rape. The film was absolutely devoid of laughter and so the prospect of seeing him in another film in the same year, this time teaming up once again with professional cardboard cut-out Marky Mark Mark Wall-berg was too much to ignore!

This time round, Hollywood's favourite comedic everyman, Will Ferret (replacing Steve Martin for the title) brings his patented genius 'everyman' personna to the role of a radio station executive and loving step-father to two movie brats thus ensuring that not much hilarity doth ensue, particularly when Wall-burg, the brat's real father, muscle rippling bad boy comes into town to steal the love and affection of the two children whose names I can't remember. Then it's a dad off as the two men go head to head in a series of set pieces to show the two children that money can buy love.

Adhering strictly to the 3 act structure so loved by Hollywood, this film remains implausible and ridiculous right up until the final act when Will Fennel is humiliated by Wallyborg and leaves home and Mark discovers that being a dad is hard work and that Will Fertile is actually a good dad, then it's a race to save the day for the female child actor at a daughter/father dance and watch as the boy child actor punches a 4th grade girl to the floor and kicks her squarely in the jewels, just so the dads can take part in a dance off that brings everybody together for the happy ending.

Actually it's only at the end does this film vaguely redeem itself and it manages to lift itself up from a score of 3 or 4 to one of 5 or 6. Cos, oddly enough the end where the two dads are now friends and everything is good is actually quite funny. Not very funny, but quite. You'll feel a twinge of warmth in your heart and will leave with a slight smile. Along the way, you'll laugh occasionally and maybe even chuckle once or twice.

This is by a country mile, the best Wilf Fecal film of the year and he's gone from a piffling 3/10 for Get Hard to a stellar 5/10, that's nearly double! Wow, well done Willy.

5/10











Tuesday, 22 December 2015

#77 CHRISTMAS WITH THE COOPERS

#77 CHRISTMAS WITH THE COOPERS


Starring John Goodman, Diane Keaton, Anthony Mackie, OliviaWilde, Marisa Tomei, Ed Helms, Alan Arkin, Amanda Seyfried, June Squibb and Jake Lacy. Written by Steven Rogers and directed by Jessie Nelson. Budget $34 million.

There's lots to love about Christmas, family, pressies, friends, good food and good will and it's safe to say that Christmas with the Coopers isn't one of them, indeed it's the very antithesis of Christmas, featuring as it does a multi-plot trawl through the four generations of the Coopers, a miserable bunch of shits (with the exception of Alan Arkin) who mope about stealing, divorcing, lying and generally being a bunch of tossers. Goodman and Keaton are the titular Coopers, and the rest either sons, daughters and who cares. They're all just there to offer us a fake scenario for Christmas and to see how it changes them. Along the way, the unseen narrator, one Steve Martin, gives us potted histories or stories about each of these characters and even some NPC ones.

This film is the very definition of bitter sweet. None on the stories have anything happy going for them, but then on the other hand, none of them are that particularly horrible. Jesus, i saw this 3 hours ago and I can barely remember it.

Oh, wait. I remember enough of it to warn you not to waste your time, it's just not worth it, it's too slight and twee to be worthwhile and you'll only find yourself frustrated and realising that you've already squandered two hours and some change of your Christmas break.

So, leave it and spend your time with your family, they're all far more fun than the Coopers.

3/10

Sunday, 20 December 2015

#75 & 76 STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

#75 & 76 STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS



Starring (big breath) John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Max von Sydow, Domhnall Gleeson, lupita Nyong'o and Kenny Baker.

Written by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt. Directed by J.J. Abrams. Budget $200 million dollars. Money taken since it opened three days ago - $250 million!

So here we are. 32.5 years since episode 6 comes Chapter 7, but the big question is 'was it worth the wait?'

It's been a long time since I've seen a film arrive with so much riding on it, with the expectations of so many hanging to its coat tails, and I cannot imagine the pressure that director JJ Abrams must have been living under to make it, nor of Disney who have invested a staggering 4.5 billion dollars into buying the franchise from Georgie boy, they're clearly in it for the long haul. So is it any good?

Well, normally I'd leave a score at the end but on this occasion I'm going to front end it, a little like this film's box office haul. In terms of entertainment, this film is a solid, unapologetic 8/10, no question of it. It's packed with relentless incident, top quality effects, more explosions than you could shake a stick at, some simply excellent characters, great acting and action, action with a capital A,C,T,I,O,N. Boy does it have action, indeed if action were spades and you were playing that great card game Chase The Bitch, then I have good news for you, play to win every hand of this round and you'll walk away, with a score of zero pts and your opponents cursing your name.
 

JJ Abrams knows what a modern audience wants, they want incident and action and the promise that nothing will stop, not even for an old lady crossing the road, because today, action is KING!

From the moment the classic recap caption slowly slides up the screen and ends and the camera tracks down to reveal the ubiquitous planet and a space ship slides into view we're off like a bloody rocket! From then on, characters run into view, shout, interact, shot something, while something explodes and we are dazzled by seamless special effects and ACTION.

Whatever you do don't hope for a quiet part for a quick toilet break, you won't get one, so go before you go, if you get my drift.

The new cast are, to a man, woman and round robot excellent and big thumbs up have to go to both
Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, as our two heroes, Rey and Finn, who practically carry this movie as the main focus. But equally as good are the likes of Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.
But despite all this I have a problem with the film, I wish it hadn't been so referential to the first three, at times the nods and homages to those movies drag you out of the moment, reminding you that you're watching a movie and it becomes a little frustrating ...
 
(THIS NEXT BIT CONTAINS A POSSIBLE SPOILER, ALTHOUGH IT'S UP THERE BIG ON THE POSTER AT THE TOP OF THIS LISTING, SO IF YOU'VE ALREADY LOOKED AT THAT POSTER THEN YOU MIGHT HAVE HAD THE FILM INADVERTENTLY SPOILED FOR YOU, IN WHICH CASE I CAN'T BE HELD RESPONSIBLE, BUT.)

 ... similarly are you telling me that the Empire, or First Order, if you will are so bereft of new ideas that they're going to build a third Death Star type, space-based weapon platform? I mean seriously, they're tried this trick twice before and it didn't work, are the Empire firm believers of the old adage, 'third time lucky'? Is this really the best they can come up with after 32 years? It's like the old Lex Luthor of the Superman movies, constantly obsessed with real estate schemes, try coming up with something new, guys. I mean just logistically speaking the cost of making these vast battle stations must be astronomical, all the rebellion has to do is wait for the Empire to bankrupt itself, a little like the US did with the old USSR in the Star Wars initiative of the 1980s and they'll win the war.

And if you are going to make one of these things then for goodness sake make sure you don't leave some little exhaust port exposed that if shot can cause your entire base to explode, you know armour it or protect it for goodness sake, spend a little of your build budget on defense or perhaps sack the architect and get someone new in.


(RANT OVER, NORMAL SERVICE HAS BEEN RESUMED.)

However this isn't a perfect film, there are things it gets wrong or things that don't work, there's an horrendous bit with some horrible CGI multiple tentacled monsters, and some characters who just disappear for long stretches and then return without explanation. But the main feeling is, and it grows as the film goes on that when all is said and done, this does feel, just a little like, well... well a remake of Star Wars. There I said it. I can't take it back. When all is said and done, this is a 21st century remake of Star Wars.

But I realise that this is the start of a new chapter in the life of Star Wars and as new starts goes, it's not a bad way of doing it. Let's just hope the next film in this new era, Star Wars: Rogue One, comes up with something more interesting than just another bloody Death Star.

Thoroughly entertaining, great fun, huge and exciting but still just a movie and not the second coming.

8/10

Monday, 7 December 2015

#74 VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN

#74 VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, James McAvoy, Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott and Charles Dance.

Written by Max Landis. Directed by Paul McGaigan. 110 minutes. 45 million budget.




It's Fronkensteen for the 21st Century! The monster that just refuses to stay dead, after last year's utterly awful I, Frankenstein and the very good Penny Dreadful comes this, the latest in a never-ending list of films based on that book that no body reads, Frankenstein by Mary Shelly.

And naturally cos it is the 21st Century it's imperative that we have a back story for not just Frankie (James McAvoy) but also his sidekick, Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) originally known as Fritz in the Universal movie. In this throw of the dice, Igor is a circus hunchback/clown/circus-medic whom Frank and Beans rescues when he witnesses the deformed, lisping freak save the life of a trapeze artist following a nasty fall. Sadly the rescue sees the two men wanted for murder and introduces the third player in this saga, Inspector Turpin (Andrew Scott).

Then, once Prof X has cured the hump of Harry (the film's most gloriously disgusting scene), it's a race through the creation of the monster all set in Hollywood's vision of Victorian London - think huge steam powered machines, cobble streets and grime, lots and lots of it, while insanely Catholic inspector Turpin goes slowly insane and he hunts the two men.

Bringing nothing new to the table, this isn't a terrible film, it's alright, a bit silly if truth be told but not awful and certainly not nearly as terrible as I, Fronkenstein, which really was a monstrously awful film.

James McAvoy does his best and wins the day when it comes to acting chops and poor old Daniel Radcliffe struggles valiantly to overcome his handicaps, his little lisp and the fact he's just not a very good actor.

Not a bad film, but it is a 12A which means you can take kids, I did I took my 12A year old and he thought it was okay.

7/10

#73 BLACK MASS

#73 BLACK MASS

Starring Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Cochrane, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sargaard and Juno Temple.

Written by Jez Butterworth and Mark Mallouk. Directed by Scott Cooper. 122 minutes long. Budget $53 million.



After a series of some seriously bad films dating back to 2004, Johnny Depp is back to prove he can act without a novelty hat opting for some staggering jarring electric blue contact lens in this hilarious, feel-good movie about a modern day American Robin Hood who despite being a bit of a rogue loved his mom and carried home the shopping of old ladies in the neighbourhood.

This is the bio-pic of James 'Whitey' Bulger the notorious American gangster who bludgeoned, butchered, and battered his way to the top of the criminal ladder with a little help from his former school-hood friend, as played by Joel Edgerton, who just so happens to be a member of the FBI and his brother, Benedict Cumberbatch, a US Senator.

This isn't an easy watch, Bulger is just an horrific character and his crimes so barbaric, particularly the brutal murder of a teenage prostitute that this becomes a grim and savage film to watch. Lacking the heart or skill of Good Fellas, which these seems to desperately be trying to be compared to, Black Mass is a film about a nasty man and despite the terrific performances and the skill of the film makers leaves a sour taste in the mouth, ultimately Bulger was and is a terrible human being and the attempts to humanise him feel a little grubby, it doesn't matter if he loved him mum or helped old ladies in his neighbourhood if he's chopping up the remains of men who've slighted him.

Depp is a revelation, but the contact lens were a step too far. You'll come for him, but leave feeling the need to have a shower.

8/10

Sunday, 6 December 2015

#72 HUNGER GAMES: MOCKING JAY PART 2

#72 HUNGER GAMES: MOCKING JAY PART 2

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabether Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Syemour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Calflin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland. Written by Peter Craig and Danny Strong.

Directed by Francis Lawrence. Budget 160 million. Running time 137 minutes long (2 hrs 17 minutes)


Bish bosh, job done! That's another YA masterpiece nailed, four films out of three books and Hollywood can sit back and count the coffers, which currently stands at about 1.4 billion dollars, so quids in then for the bean counters and money men, but what about us, the humble cinema fans, how have we fared?

So, this is the 2nd half of the last movie, based on the third book in the series and right off the bat I want to stress that this decision to cut the final book into two movies has nothing at all to do with the greed of those money men but a genuine artistic decision made by a band of artisans and craftsman and women who strive everyday for the purity of their art. And in no way did this decision sap any of the energy and excitement out of the series, no siree, I for one, thought the last film which consisted of mainly the main characters standing around in rubble mopping about waiting for the fourth film to start was excellent. No seriously excellent, I love the idea of an action free blockbuster.

So what of this one, well it certainly isn't cutting you, the viewer any slack that's for sure. With no recap or 'previously' we are literally thrown into the deep end and expected to run like fuck to keep up. Katnip has a nasty throat rash which might be a huge hickey or it might be where her creepy, stalky, off/on, 'boyfriend/beard', Pitta tried to throttle the life out of her. Then there's her other boyfriend the pouting, man-mountain called Gale who runs around pouting and being a man-moutain. After that there's lots of other male characters who have dicussons behind Katnip's back constantly deciding what she's going to do, so much of the plot of this film takes place off camera that what we're left with is Katnip just plodding from A-Z joining the dots to the end. Along the way we get some dramatic, well mounted action scenes, some as always superb acting from Jennifer Lawrence and a final look at the awesomeness of Philip Seymour Hoffman who really was a remarkably good actor. The action builds methodically till then end when Katniss decides to miss the actual capture of Donald Sutherland's President Snow and leave the win to someone else, which really sucks all the drama out of this and robs us of closure.

Obvs we then have a glimpse of what the future holds with a new president courtesy of Julianne Moore's Coin before a soapy happy ending and that's it.

So, worth it or not? Well the first two films were great, the second was exceedingly good but these last two have been a tad flat, well made for sure but just not that much cop, it would be wonderful think what could have been done if the last film had been stretched to three hours and made into one, I think it would have been a far better movie.

So, if you've watched the last three you might as well watch this one too, otherwise you'll never know how it ends (the goodies win the baddies don't).

Well made, glum, grim and gritty. 8/10

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

#69, 70, 71 SPECTRE

#69, #70, #71 SPECTRE



Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinner and Andrew Scott. Written by: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth. Directed by Sam Mendes. Budget $300 - 350 mill (rumoured) 148 minutes running time.

First off I have to say I am a dedicated and utterly committed Bond fan, indeed in preparation for this outing I rewatched the last three back-to-back. So, my feelings for this film might be somewhat biased.


Spectre, the 24th Bond film and the fourth to star Lee Evans, sorry Jug Ears, sorry Daniel Craig and the second to be directed by Sam Mendes. There is a lot riding on this one especially after the extraordinary success of Skyfall, which became the franchise's most successful outing with a global box office take of
$1,108,561,013  – that's a billion, one hundred million! And whereas this one doesn't quite reach the same giddy heights as that it's certainly a lot better than Quantum of Solace and probably as good as Casino Royale.

This is Craig at his most relaxed as Bond, he has a cock-sure swagger that oozes a combination of lethal thuggishness and brutal sexuality. He dispatches villains without a care in the world and shags the ladies with equal abandon, but he's not afraid to bleed and he's most certainly not indestructible, indeed several times during this epic movie, the longest Bond e-ver, he's knocked unconcious, gets tortured and beaten up!

But this isn't all grit and grimness, there's also a strong sense of fun running through the proceedings, as Craig cracks off rye comments and dry quips and several old Bond standards are wheeled out, albeit with a 21st Century polish, if you're a Bond fan you'll find yourself getting more excited as the film progresses and more and more references are introduced.

The story sees Bond going off grid and rogue to complete one more mission for the old M while the new M fends off the attentions of Andrew Scott's 'C', a Whitehall Mandarin with designs of a world without the Double Os and an omnipresence automated security system. Meanwhile Bond ricochets around the world from Mexico to Tangiers via Rome, London, Scandinavia and all points in between as he tracks down Christoph Waltz's
Franz Oberhauser, the sinister mastermind behind all of Bond's misery over the past four films.

There are a lot of characters in this film and it really feels as if Mendes and the writing crew are determined to make sure that everyone has a story, although sadly Poor Rory Kinner doesn't get that much of a look in.

This is a solid, well made, beautifully soundtracked spy romp that references classic Bond but happily updates it for a supposedly more sophisticated 21st century audience. it's a little flat at times but never anything less than entertaining. Craig nails it as the best Bond e-ver and the rest of the cast do their utmost to ensure Craig is well supported.

While it never reaches the peaks of Skyfall and Casino Royale, Spectre is nevertheless an immensely satisfying and entertaining romp!

8/10.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

#68 THE LAST WITCH HUNTER

#68 THE LAST WITCH HUNTER


Starring Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood and Micahel Caine. Written by Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. Directed by Breck Eisner. 106 minutes. Budget $90 mil.

So, boiled-egg-headed action man, Vin Diesel is Kaulder an 800 year-old witch hunter, indeed the witch hunter of the title, and he's the last to boot, which is helpful cos he ticks off both the main points of the movie's title.

He's a loveable, big bear of a man, mellow to a fault and world weary to such an extent that at no point in this film does he ever really lose his rage or cool even when his only friend, Michael Caine whom he calls 'son' dies horribly at the hands of a bad witch...

Caulder works for a secret order of Catholic priests called the Axencross and his job is to police the secret world of witches, who apparently live amongst us in secret and have pinkie sweared not to do magic against humans. He's aided by Micheal Caine's 36th Dolan (a silly title given to a line of priests sworn to aid Caulder till their dying breath). Vinnie spends his days and nights, shaving his head, polishing it till it shines, practicing his gruff Bane impersonation and shagging airline stewardesses. That is when he's not slapping the wrists of naughty young female witches for mixing up their elemental crystals or, if they're male and ugly, smashing in their heads and delivering them to the Witch council for punishment. Naturally the council presides over the only witch prison on the planet built beneath the streets of New York, surely that's not a good idea? I mean keeping all the bad witches in the same prison right under the biggest urban metropolis on the planet, I mean haven't these guys watched Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban. I bet that comes back and bites them on their bottoms at some point in this movie or my name isn't The Amazing Dave!

Anyway, since this movie is the origin story part of a long-dreamed for new franchise for the Disel machine, we get to learn how Vince got to be immortal, it was fighting and killing the Witch Queen who cursed him to immortality with her dying breath. Don't worry that's not a spoiler that happens before the credits. Flash forward 800 years and there's a new big bad witch called Belial as played by Ólafur Darri Ólafsson and he's paving the way for the return of the Witch Queen by killing witches, obviously and taunting Caulder, which both seem like stupid things to do if you're a witch, but what do i know, this might be totally normal behaviour and exactly what you have to do if you're trying to pave the way for the return of the Witch Queen.

This film has a fatal flaw and it's not Vin Diesel, although he runs it a close second, he's sadly let down by a terrible supporting cast that includes Rose Leslie who it seems learned how to act by watching Emma Watson's style of almost crying with every word and Elijah Wood who just doesn't work in anything that doesn't involve big hairy feet and ears. His character  delivers a twist so silly you end up laughing. Only Michael Caine manages to avoid any criticism by brilliantly and literally sleeping through most of the film, thus having to avoid the worst of it.

Incredibly for this sort of thing, a lot of time has been spent developing the back story of this world, which is highly commendable but in doing it seems to have missed something, like a sense of adventure, Caulder is so laid back he never feels in jeopardy and the main threat, Belial is utterly wasted and dispatched with ridiculous ease that it just leaves a final showdown with the Witch Queen, which since he's already defeated her right back in the beginning doesn't make this final confrontation that much of a showdown.

But, it's not a terrible film, nor is it meh, it's just a solid 5/10.

#67 CRIMSON PEAK

#67 Crimson Peak



Starring:Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam and Jim Beaver. Written by Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins. Directed by del Toro. 119 minutes long. Budget $55 mil.

Mia Wasikowska is Edith Cushing, daughter of a rich industrialist, who as a little girl was once a victim of a ghost attack – courtesy of her mum who came to her, just after her death, to scare the living crap out of the little girl and warn her: 'BEWARE CRIMSON PEAK'. Whatever could she mean?

Fast forward 14 years later and little girl all grown up and now trying to get her first novel published, all very Enid Blyton of her, and Tom Hiddleston Sir Thomas Sharpe and mad-as-a-hatter sister, Jessica Chastain, with whom he shares a very close relationship, are in town to raise money for his red clay mining operation at a place called... CRIMSON PEAK. That added to the poster above should give you all the information to work out the rest of the film.

According to Guillermo this isn't a gothic horror film, this is a gothic romance and all that that entails.
It looks sumptuous and very, very, VERY gothic. The performances are totally intense with lots of earnest pouting, intense stares, melodrama and it's all very gothic, very Rebecca, Wuthering Heights and all those other books written by those bints back in the 1630s, you know Emily Hardy, Charles Bronteson and Steve Austin, but Guillermo stresses this isn't a horror film. Oh Sure there are ghosts, ghosts by the bucket load, especially once we finally get to CRIMSON PEAK itself – a ridiculous gothic pile built, for no explicable reason than to look gothic in the middle of a tree-less moor on top a peak, a peak of red clay called: CRIMSON PEAK.

There in the barren, desolate grounds of CRIMSON PEAK stand massive ugly mining machines all failed attempts by Thomas to successfully mine the clay. Obviously this isn't a one man band outfit and so he has the assistance of a man old handiman to help him run the machinery.

The house's most impressive feature is the hole in the roof of the main hall that rains an endless shower of leaves into the main living room of the rotting, insect infested house. The hole has a plaque nailed to it, stating that its been acknowledged to be the world's biggest ceiling hole by the Guinness Book of World Records, seriously how could they let that hole get so big? I mean obviously it would have started with a small leak, they must have noticed? I know the hall is massive so they couldn't have a ladder long enough, but surely they could have sent the mad old retainer up to the attic to fix it before it becomes the hole it ultimately is? Seriously you could drive a bus through it, sideways! And for some inexplicable reason it lets in leaves, tonnes and tonnes of leaves, day in day out, leaves, leaves leaves! But where the bloody hell do they all come from. I mean I saw one tree on that desolate, windy, winding moor and that was an old oak tree all bent and gnarled so I'm thinking it's PEAK leaf making days are behind it, but judging by the amount falling through that roof it must be right up there with the Amazon rainforest in the leave dropping league.

Anyway, I'm ranting. Is this any good? Well yes, but despite of itself, it all becomes a victim of its gothic-ness and the melodrama. The baddies act as if they're hiding something and the heroine knows there's something afoot but can't quite put her finger on it, despite the clues strewn throughout the rotting pile, but the trouble is we've already guessed what's going on way before she does and so we spend the film waiting for her to catch up and while we wait, the silliness and unintentionally funny dialogue start to undermine the good work of Guillermo has done. It looks good, Mia is terrific but it's just a little too silly, it's so in love with the gothic novels it references that it never really becomes a creature of its own design. And CRIMSON PEAK itself is a little disappointing, you want to see more of it and we do see a lot, but it never feels like a whole, just a series of gorgeous gothic set pieces, the bedroom, the grand hall, the kitchen, the attic and the hilarious basement, accessible by a ridiculous elevator and that silly grand hall.

All of the gothic melodrama tropes are in place and if you like you can play gothic bingo if you like, ticking off all the cliches before they arrive - sinister secret in the attic, sinister secret in the basement, haunted bathroom, huge ring of keys, etc etc.

The men, apart of Mia's father, are useless and the secret at the core of this film is signposted right from the offing.

All that said, this isn't half bad, it's by no means terrible and it's well directed, beautifully art directed and entertainingly acted, but it's just a little too silly and it makes the audience laugh too often and after a while that impedes the movie. So, when in the final act the claret really starts flowing and the knives start flashing you've sort of lost the spirit of things.

7/10