Tuesday, 28 July 2015



Starring Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Kevin James, Josh Gad, Michelle Monaghan, Sean Bean and Brian Cox. Written by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling. Directed by Chris Colombus. 105 long minutes.

In 1982 a space probe is launched into space with footage of a video arcarde tournament. 33 years later a bunch of aliens come to Earth and wage war on us, using giant versions of video game characters and only the US President, Kevin James, uber gamer Adam Sandler and Peter Dinklage can save us. What follows is a series of ball-achingly uninteresting and uninvolving battles where the aliens win the first two matches and we win the next three, culminating in a giant game of Donkey Kong.

A genuinely dull and un-involving piece of crap, with terribly miss-cast roles, seriously Kevin James as the President and Adam Sandler in anything? This takes an absolute age to get going and when it finally does, vehemently remains in first gear for the remainder of the film, there are no ups or downs, just the same old dirge of tedium from beginning to end. Events happen, but nothing's explained, the aliens are never seen, the rules work when they have to then are conveniently ignored when necessary. Actors are wheeled in for some shits and giggles and then wheeled off. Brian Cox gives one of the worst performances I've ever seen, while Sean Bean reaches new heights of banality. But it's not just the Brits who do themselves no favours. Adam Sandler does his creepy 'smarmy' thing, where he gently convinces everyone to love him, while Kevin James pulls out his loveable, but dim, fat man routine and the rest of the cast are just vile.

To think this was directed by Chris Colombus, who wrote the Goonies, Gremlins and Young Sherlock Holmes and directed two Harry Potters, two Home Alones and Mrs Doubtfire. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

I sat there stoney faced through out the entire film and didn't laugh once, unlike the audience I saw this with who howled through out, laughing at every single joke, which surprised me cos I don't think there was one.

Sadly I went in expecting a total train wreck of a movie, and all I got was a delayed service due to an earlier late running train. Oh and don't bother with the 3D, it'll just give you one more dimension to be disappointed in.



Sunday, 26 July 2015



Starring:Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling , Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan and Kaitlyn Dias.

Story by Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen. Screenplay by Pete Docter, MegLeFauve and Josh Cooley. Directed by Pete Docter. 94 minutes long.

So, it's time for another animated film, the sixth so far this year, following closely on the heels of Minions, but will it be any good?

Well, Duh, it's a Pixar film!

...would have been the old cry, but after the horrendous, 'just for the money', generic, by-the-numbers and bland Monsters University (quite possibly the worst Pixar film ever), the just above average, Brave and the woeful Cars 2 that law is no longer as immutable as it once was.

So it's a delight to report that Inside Out, Pixar's 15th animated feature is a wonderfully written, exquisitely animated, candy-coloured, 'out-of-the-ball-park', thing of wonder beauty. A 94 minute journey into the mind of a young girl that puts Pixar back where it deserves to be, at the top of the pile!

The story sees 11 year-old Riley and her parents relocate from Minnesota to San Fransisco through the eyes of the Numbskulls in control of Riley's emotions, Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust and Saddness as played by Amy Poehler, Lewis Black, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling and Phyllis Smith. Joy, Riley's first emotion, is in control and manages to control the other emotions for most of the time, but when Sadness inadvertently alters a core memory, changing it from one of joy to sadness, she sets off a chain-reaction of events that sees both her and Joy locked out of the control room and lost in Riley's vast memory and forced to journey, Apocalypse Now-like through her young mind, with the help of Riley's long forgotten imaginary friend, Jangles the candy-floss elephant clown back to the control booth before Fear, Disgust and Anger screw the pooch and destroy everything.

Using the age-old trope of the quest as its story driver, this is a rich and satisfying film that utterly gripped me from the opening and kept me engrossed till the very final frame.

BUT, despite all the fantastic animation, wonderful design, the fantastic invention, the subtle humour, the clever gags, this Pixar doesn't quite reach the giddy 10/10 heights of - The Incredibles, Up, Wall-E or the Toy Story Trilogy and it's hard to work out why? For some reason, some small, niggling reason, this doesn't quite light up all my rockets, it's missing something and for the life of me I can't tell you what that is. Maybe I wanted less adventure and more of the emotions in control, or maybe it's because I wanted to see what other people's control centres where like, or maybe the use of the quest as it's driving force just felt a tad too generic, but for whatever reason, and no matter how wonderful this is, it only feels like a 9/10 for me.

Still, as 9/10s go, this is certainly up there with the best of them! Go and see it and just marvel at the splendid of it all.

Sunday, 19 July 2015



Starring Ryan Reynolds, Ben Kingsley, Mathew Goode and Natalie Martinez. Written by David and Alex Pastor, directed by Tarsem Singh. 116 minutes long.

Back in 1966 John Frankenheimer directed a superb little thriller about an unhappy, late-middle-aged advertising executive called Arthur Hamilton who is approached by a shady organisation called The Company and given the opportunity to a second life through extensive reconstructive plastic surgery and mental and physical reconditioning. His life has become mundane, his marriage just a memory of itself, his daughter now grown up has long since flown the coup and he doesn't see that much of her anymore and his life is boring. So his death is faked and the old Arthur Hamilton becomes a 'reborn' and is transformed into Tony Wilson a wealthy, successful Bohemian painter and so begins a life of hedonistic excess as Arthur/Tony begins to live a life he denied himself the first time round. But sadly he begins to miss his old life and in particular his wife and old life and so he breaks the rules of the Reborn and tries to reconnect with his old wife.
He tries to break free and the Company is forced to act, they apprehend him, take him back to their top secret base and an intense conversation between the head of the Company, Tony and the man who originally suggested him for the procedure discuss what happens next. Tony having rejected his Second life asks for another and the film ends with one of the most genuinely terrifying sequences I have ever seen. One that leaves you numb and shaken to the core.

Self/less is the utterly unnecessary 21st Century remake of that superb and vastly superior film. This time round, cancer-ridden, business tycoon and billionaire, Damien Hayes, Ben Kingsley is approached by a shady organisation and given the opportunity to a second life through a body transplant and mental and physical reconditioning and he is reborn as Edward Hale (Ryan Reynolds), a financially and independently wealthy young man and so begins a life of hedonistic excess as Damien/Edward lives a life he denied himself the first time round. But sadly he begins to tire of his new life and he starts to reject his new body leading to an action-packed chase across the country as he discovers his new body was actually someone else's and that that someone had his own life including a wife and child. Now the shady organisation has unleashed its army of killers to kill Edward. Luckily, Edward was once a superb US Navy Seal/Marine/whatever who, just when he needs it remembers his past life including perfect ninja/shooting/killing/driving skills and so we can have a nice action-packed third act. All before the soapy ending that leaves you meh to the core.

Directed by Tarsem Singh who used to be a really interesting and visually dazzling director this is a generic/homogonised gloop of a movie with nothing beyond the obvious to recommend it, guns, car chases blah blah blah. So interesting ideas/issues are given over to guns/flamethrowers and action. There are a couple of attempts at something more but those are soon smothered.

Give it a miss and watch the infinitely superior Seconds, sure it's in black/white but boy it'll give it's got a kicker you'll still be thinking about months after you've watched it, whereas you forget about Self/Less's kicker just as soon as the credits start.


Friday, 17 July 2015

#47 & 49 ANT-MAN

#47 & 49 ANT-MAN

Starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll and Michael Peña.  Written by Paul Rudd, Edgar Wright, Adam McKay, Joe Cornish. Directed by Peyton Reed. 117 minutes long.

Paul Rudd is Scott Lang, a cat-burglar with a conscious who's just trying to go straight having just finished a spell in San Quentin. All he wants is to reconnect with his young daughter and lead a good life, but fate and Michael Douglas's genius inventor, creator of the Ant-Man technology, and retired super-hero, Hank Pym has other ideas. Together with his estranged daughter, Hope Van Dyne he's trying to stop his former protege, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from perfecting his own rival Yellow Jacket miniaturization technology, which he's hoping to sell to Hydra. Framing Rudd to take up the mantle of Ant-Man, it's up to Lang, a crew of friendly ex-cons and an army of ants to thwart the nefarious plans of Cross.

Boy, I gotta say i went into this expecting a trainwreck of a movie and left with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. What a thoroughly enjoyable romp this was. Usually with these sorts of films, the laborious montage leading to the donning of the costume the hero has to take seems to be the weakest part of the super-hero film, but not so with Ant-Man, half the fun of the film is watching the training Scott Lang has to go through to become the hero he is and it's also the most enjoyable and fun aspect of the film. Paul Rudd is so easily likeable that he's the first super-hero to feel really human and, oddly enough, plausible.

If this film has any major niggle it's the lack of a serious threat, the villain isn't really much cop, but it's only a niggle because it has something all other super-hero films don't have, it has Michael Douglas who is an utter joy to behold, his Hank Pym is such an entertaining character that you relish the time we spend with Pym and Lang. Douglas effortlessly matches Paul Rudd for easy likeability.

There are so many delightful sequences in this film, but not wishing to spoil any surprises I don't want to mention them, but I can talk about the battle on the Thomas The Tank Engine since it's in the trailer, and I will say it's a belter of a fight!

Ant-Man heralds in the start of Marvel's Phase Three in it's Cinematic Universe mega plan and if the rest of the films in this phase are as much fun, then Marvel's movies here to stay for a very long time!

Those expecting this to be Marvel's first major misfire will have to carry on waiting, cos Ant-Man, sure as shit, ain't no misfire, indeed it's also one of the few super blockbusters this year not to seriously disappoint.

BTW, this has TWO post credit sequences.


Monday, 13 July 2015



Starring: Sandra Bollock, Sam Hamm, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan and Geoffry Rush. Written by Brian Lynch and directed Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda. Just 91 minutes long.

It's the prequel to Despicable Me and Despicable 2. It's origin story of those adorable, game-changing, little yellow, banana-loving, gibberish-speaking, evil-lovin' henchmen first seen in the 2010 Despicable Me. Starting with the birth of life, we follow the course of the evolution of the Minions from single-cell thingies to the two legged variety, through the age of the dinosaurs and the birth of man and ending up in the year 1968, as three of the bravest Minions, Kevin, Bob and Steve head off into the big bad world to find a boss they can hench for before the rest of the tribe succumb to a deadly case of ennui. Their search takes them to Orlando and Villain-Con where they fall under the spell of the world's first evil, female genius Scarlet Overkill who takes them to London to help her in her quest to steal the crown and become Queen of England. After that, things start to go a little crazy.

This is a relentlessly silly film, and very much like this year's Penguins of Madagascar relies on manic slapstick rather than plot or story to propel it along, so whether you'll like it or not comes down to your attitude towards the silly. It's a fun ride but like all the best cinema snacks it's also an empty one, there's nothing beyond the gags and jokes, this isn't a Pixar film where a strong story runs deep, this is a glorious, empty-headed sugar-rush of a movie full of stupid characters doing stupid things and once it's ended you'll probably forget about it instantly. And as much fun as the Minions are, you sort of find yourself missing Gru, Minions are fun but perhaps this sort of fun should be in small doses?

Still, while it's on it's a hoot and the ending and final showdown are great. That plus a groovy sound track, some lovely animation and gags, and some funny characters make this is an entertaining and funny film but nothing more, although perhaps this should be enough?


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

#45 TED 2

#45 TED 2

Starring: Mark Whalberg, Todd Macfarlane, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, John Slattery, Jessica Barth and Morgan Freeman. Written by Todd Macfarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. Directed by Todd Macfarlane. 115 minutes long.

Good news and bad news. Good news first. Terminator Genysis, or Turd-menator Genypiss as I like to call it, you are no longer the worst film of the summer. Bad news, sadly Ted 2 is. Yes siree, the worst film of the summer has arrived, a tired, boring, mean-spirited film filled with very little, apart from broad humour, most of which is front ended. 

The story, for there is one, just. Ted gets married, has marital problems decides to have a child, tries to find a sperm donor, then discovers his wife is sterile, because she's destroyed her reproductive system with too many drugs. Tries to adopt but is rejected because both he and his wife have convictions for drugs. Then discovers he has no civil rights, loses his job, has his marriage annulled by the state, hires a stoner lawyer to win him his civil rights but is declared legally to be property. And so tries to convince a top human rights lawyer to defend him in a court of law. Meanwhile a psychotic man kidnaps Ted and tries to murder him with the help of the CEO of Hasbro.

In between that barrel of comedy gold the following happens, but not necessarily in this order.

Jokes about black-men, jokes about their penises, other dick jokes, jokes about pedophilia, jokes about porn, jokes about smoking pot, doing drugs, jokes about nerds, jokes about sex, jokes about dick-shaped bongs, sperm donors and marital abuse. Then there's the aggressive physical comedy against nerds at New York Comic Con, where a line of innocent young men are physically bullied for no apparent reason.

This isn't a funny film, but don't get me wrong, you will laugh, but not with it, but in spite of it, and mostly because you can't quite believe they've done that joke, that said there are some, just not many, laugh out loud funny bits. Trouble is, in between is mainly just the three main leads smoking pot, over and over again. 

Whereas the first Ted film was fresh and funny whose only fault was to have a plot which was entirely unnecessary, this tired, been there, done that, sequel is just more of the same. Hats off to both Whalberg and Seyfried who make the best of a shit script and to Seyfried who is the butt of several very mean-spirited jokes. In fact, mean spirited sums this film up perfectly.

This seems to start well and the opening credit homage to the Zeigfield dancing films of the 30s is glorious, but after the 'One year later' caption card, things start to roll down hill pretty fast, until by the end of it you'll gasping as the, what seems genuinely desperate ending.

So, with a hit rate of 1 to 3 Macfarlane is going to have to pull something pretty spectacular out of the bag next time round before he's used up all his credit at the Hollywood bank.


Saturday, 4 July 2015



Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jai Courtney, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarkeand J.K. Simmons. Written by Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier and directed by Alan Taylor. 122 minutes long.

This is the bit in my reviews where I try to write a summation of the plot, without revealing too much and trying to be as succinct as possible and if I could I would, but I can't, so I won't.

The fifth entry in the Terminator series, following a failed reboot with Terminator Salvation sees the old adage of: "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality by offering, not a reboot, a re-imagining or a remake but a greatest hits compilation with all your favourite bits taken from the first two films with the other two deliberately ignored, despite the fact the third one is quite fun. So, if you liked the bit in T2 where the liquid metal robot emerged from the fire, here it is again! And if your favourite bit was in Terminator where the naked Arnie asked Bill Paxton for his clothes then, well now you can relive that bit too, or the motor bike chase from T2, or the helicopter bit, or the good Arnie robot with a hilarious line in put downs and blah blah blah, all served with a twist that it's not Sarah Connor played by Meilia Clarke who needs saving, it's Jai Courtney's Kyle Reese playing the damsel in distress who needs the strong arms of a feisty, strong, strong-willed, sassy, self-sufficient and independent woman to save him from fire and the big bad robots, like all good re-visionary action flicks, it's a lesson they learned from watching washing ads on TV where the men are fucktards and all the women are smart.

Doing away with the need for a coherent plot, this film offers a bewildering and relentless bounce around the Terminator time line with stop off in various times to catch up with old dialogue, which means that most of this film's best lines were written by James Cameron.

Genisys is a film that, recognizing it's audience needs to be spoon fed the plot, story and motivation, carefully, makes sure it takes gentle baby steps all the way, with characters, stopping what they're doing to turn to the camera and in a soft, non-threating tone, explaining everything carefully before moving onto the next action sequence. and if you might spot a mistake you'll be cheerfully distracted by the next cg bloated action set-piece featuring loads of guns and lots and lots of bullets.

As the film progressed my enthusiasm waned, it started high and I found myself quite enthralled by it, but once we'd meet up with Arnie and then naffed off into the future from the past I was beginning to get a little bored out by it. Plus the bit that's revealed in the trailer where John Connor has seemingly gone bad then I'm sorry to say I'd had enough and from then on it just became a stupid silly film with stupid justifications and stupid rules invented to support the bloated, bewildered and stupid plot which has nothing to say and then chooses to say it very loudly.

BTW, you'll need to sit through the credits otherwise you'll miss the mid credit clip that sets up the possible sequel.

So sit back, and just ignore the stupidity of characters and the 101 other things that make this just another Jurassic World but with robots not dinosaurs and you'll be fine, it's entertaining in a way, if you like your action fast and flashy, your explosions big and fiery and your battle field gore minimal and non bloody.

However, go in expecting something as fresh or original as the Terminator and you'll sadly come out depressed by the lack of vision that seems to pollute all modern Hollywood blockbusters. Indeed just add this to the growing pile of films that leave 2015 marked out as the year of Meh and wait in line for the next summer blockbuster, perhaps that one will be better.





Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit Mcphee, Ben Mendelsohn, Caren Pistorius and Rory McCann.

Written and directed by John Maclean. 84 minutes long.

A beautiful looking, slow as molasses, revisionary western, with excellent performances, a superb sound track and some extraordinary scenery, but which alas ultimately falls a little flat. The story sees Kodi Smit Mcphee's Jay Cavandish, the young son of landed gentry traveling to the new world in search of his first true love, Rose Ross, and her father, who fled to the new world following a terrible tragedy that sees the pair with a $2000 bounty on their heads. Jay falls under the protection of Michael Fassbender's bounty hunter, Silas Selleck and together the two men travel slow west, along the way encountering shocking violence, surreal vignettes and the crushing ennui of a long slow trek across the new continent.

Although offering nothing new, script wise, save for a Hipster sentimentality and the classic 21st century passion for American independent films about nothing, this is a film that slowly unravels its tale of young love with a terrible secret and the bonding of two men, apparently polar opposites who come together over the course of their long slow slog west. It's the sort of film where the journey is of far more interest than the destination, which when finally reached ends exactly as you were expecting and it all feels a little bit obvious and totally expected, and that's a little bit disappointing, although it doesn't make this a bad film, indeed far from it.

By using New Zealand as a substitute for America was a shred move on behalf of John Maclean as it gives the film a freshness you've not seen before in a western, there are no recognisable landscapes or features, which helps to make this land feel and look bizarrely alien in the extreme, adding yet another layer to the feel and style of this film.

This a stunning looking movie, slightly stymied by a rather obvious story.