Saturday, 31 December 2016

FILMS OF 2016

Hello people and welcome to this year's
TOP AND
BOTTOM

TEN MOVIES
OF 2016!

2016 hasn't been a great year for movies, indeed only one film this year managed to garnish a 10/10 particularly summer blockbusters which on the whole were pretty unimpressive, sure things like Captain America were great and Deadpool was funny and different but the less said about Batman Vs Superman the better! Oh and then there was X-men Age of Apocalypse. We had dozens of sequels that all failed to inspire, none more so that the shockingly piss poor Independence Day II which was so bad it almost made me cry. Then there was a new Jason Bored movie, the new opening chapter of the next Harry Potter franchise and huge budget blockbuster of a successful video game, which despite tanking in the US has been guaranteed a franchise on the strength of its Chinese box office takings alone.

So, here we go, in descending order the Top Ten films of the year.

TOP TEN.

10.  CREED
9.  SPOTLIGHT
8.  NICE GUYS
7.  ZOOTROPOLIS
6.  KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
5.  THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS
4.  CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
3.  THE ARRIVAL
2.  HELL OR HIGH WATER



1. ROOM

http://seeingfilmssoyoudonthavetoo.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/10-room.html
A stunning and deeply powerful film that I utterly fell in love with. Just left me staggered to my core. If you've not seen it then give it a go, it'll leave you sobbing and moved.

BOTTOM TEN
10.  TRIPLE NINE
9.    BEN HUR
8.    POINTBREAK
7.    JASON BOURNE 

6.    ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
5.    THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER'S WAR
4.    DAD'S ARMY

3.    GODS OF EGYPT 
2.    GRIMSBY 

1. NOW YOU SEE ME 2
http://seeingfilmssoyoudonthavetoo.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/47-how-you-see-me-2.html

This was a difficult result, the bottom five films were staggeringly shit, truly god awful, but Now You See Me 2 truly took the biscuit. A sorry, sad and dispicable sac of putrid shit, which had not one iota of enjoyment in it, I can't remember why I gave it a score of 1/10 maybe because I've actually seen worse than this.

ALL FILMS IN DESCENDING ORDER
  1.  ROOM 10/10
  2.  HELL OR HIGH WATER 9/10 
  3.  THE ARRIVAL 9/10
  4.  CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR 9/10 
  5.  THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS 9/10
  6.  KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS 9/10
  7.  ZOOTROPOLIS 9/10
  8.  NICE GUYS 9/10
  9.  SPOTLIGHT 9/10
  10.  CREED 8/10 
  11. STAR TREK BEYOND 8/10
  12. 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE 8/10 
  13.  EDDIE THE EAGLE 8/10 
  14.  WAR ON EVERYONE 8/10 
  15.  THE ACCOUNTANT 8/10 
  16.  ROGUE ONE 8/10
  17.  PASSENGERS 8/10
  18.  BLEED FOR IT 8/10
  19.  MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN 8/10
  20.  BRIDGET JONES'S BABY 8/10
  21.  THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN 8/10
  22.  HARDCORE HENRY 8/10
  23.  FINDING DORY 8/10  
  24.  DEEPWATER HORIZON 8/10
  25.  SAUSAGE PARTY 8/10
  26.  PETE'S DRAGON 8/10
  27.  THE REVANANT 8/10
  28.  KUNG FU PANDA 3 8/10
  29.  THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN 7/10
  30.  HATEFUL EIGHT 7/10
  31.  CRIMINAL 7/10  
  32.  THE LEGEND OF TARZAN 7/10
  33.  BASTILLE DAY 7/10  
  34.  BLOOD FATHER 7/10
  35.  FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS 7/10
  36.  MONEY MONSTER 7/10
  37.  LONDON HAS FALLEN 7/10
  38.  X-MEN: APOCALYPSE 7/10
  39.  MIDNIGHT SPECIAL 7/10
  40.  DEADPOOL 7/10
  41.  HIGH RISE 7/10
  42.  HAIL, CAESAR 7/10 
  43.  ALLIED 7/10
  44.  FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM 7/10 
  45.  DON'T BREATHE 7/10 
  46.  JACK REACHER: DON'T GO BACK 6/10
  47.  BAD MOMS 6/10
  48.  GOOSEBUMPS 6/10
  49.  GHOSTBUSTERS 6/10
  50.  WARCRAFT: THE BEGINNING 6/10 
  51.  MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES 6/10
  52.  INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE 5/10
  53.  JOY 5/10 
  54.  MORGAN 5/10 
  55.  THE MECHANIC: RESURRECTION 5/10
  56.  WHY HIM? 5/10
  57.  INFERNO 5/10 
  58.  OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY 4/10
  59.  SUICIDE SQUAD 4/10
  60.  BATMAN VS SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE 4/10
  61. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE 4/10
  62.  ZOOLANDER 2 4/10
  63.  THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANCE 4/10
  64.  NOCTURNAL ANIMALS 4/10
  65.  A BIGGER SPLASH 4/10 
  66.  TRIPLE NINE 4/10 
  67.  BEN HUR 3/10
  68.  POINTBREAK 3/10
  69.  JASON BOURNE 3/10
  70.  ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS 3/10
  71.  THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER'S WAR 3/10
  72.  DAD'S ARMY 2/10
  73.  GODS OF EGYPT 2/10
  74.  GRIMSBY 2/10 
  75.  NOW YOU SEE ME 2 1/10 
 Re-ISSUES
  1. IRON GIANT (re-release) 10/10
  2. BARRY LYNDON (RE-ISSUE) 10/10 
  3. PASSPORT TO PIMLICO (re-release) 10/10 
  4. LAVENDER HILL MOB (re-release) 10/10
  5. INDEPENDENCE DAY LIVE 10/10
  6.  BRIDGE OF SPIES (2015) 9/10

#87 WHY HIM?


Starring Bryan Cranston, James Franco, Zoey Deutch, Megan Mullally, Griffin Gluck and Keegan-Michael Key. Written by Ian Helfer and John Hamburg. Directed by John Hamburg. Budget $38 million. Running time 111 minutes. Certificate 15.

Bryan Cranston is Mr. Blah Blah, he's the 55 year-old CEO of a print works that's over $300,000 in the red and sinking fast! He's got a 21 year-old daughter called Thingie, a 15 year-old son called, probably Jnr but I don't remember he's only there to provide awkward jokes and asides, then there's his wife, Mrs. Blah Blah the wonderful Megan Mullally who is criminally wasted in this 'film'. Finally there is Laird, played by Franco Nero, he's Thingie's boyfriend who just so happens to be a billionaire tech genius with no social boundaries who says and does whatever he thinks or feels, whenever he wants regardless of consequences, he's the living embodiment of the millennial generation. He's got an omniscient computer voiced by Kaley Cuoco and a sidekick/bodyguard/estate-manger called Gustave played brilliantly by Keegan-Michael Key.

The plot sees Bry, Meg and Sco head to California to meet Ste's boyfriend Laird for the first time at Christmas, gosh I bet that's not going to go well. I bet there's going to be a clash between father and future son-in-law which will see them smack heads in a series of increasingly disastrous and embarrassing incidents before it all comes good in the final act!

Well, amazingly and get ready for this! It all goes off fine. Within minutes of meeting Ned Flemming (Bryan Cranston) and Laird hit it off and from then on it's 100 minutes of the two nervously bonding and accepting each other, despite their differences, learning a few very gentle life lessons before the happy ending when Laird and Steph decide not to get married but to wait until she's finished college. Oh and Bry's buisness is saved by his future son-in-law.

Meandering along at a gentle putt-putt speed of let's say a Love-Boat ride or a half charged golf cart, this film has precisely two funny sequences, one involves a toilet and a lack of toilet paper and the other involves a recurring gag where in Laird's estate manager, Gustave launches surprise attacks upon his boss to enhance his parkour and fighting skills and before you can say, hey Pink Panther! Don't worry, the film knows this and explains very carefully that this sequence has been ripped off by those earlier better films starring Peter Sellers and Burt Kwouk by having the three characters discussing the Pink Panther films which they decide are racist.

Apart from all that hilarity, there's a telegraphed joke about a piece of modern artwork which involved a dead moose suspended in a giant fish tank of its own piss, a guest appearance of the joke rock band Kiss and a really creepy party that sees Megan Mullally wants some Little Cheese.

Less than mildly funny but utterly unoffensive and lacking so many teeth that it doesn't even make your blood boil or your bile rise. Indeed this ends a year of Meh with a satisfying and resounding meh.

5/10

Sunday, 25 December 2016

#85 PASSENGERS


Starring Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Micheal Sheen and Lawrence Fishburne and Andy Garcia. Written by Jon Sapihts and directed by Morten Tyldum. Budget $110 million. Running time 116 minutes. Cert 12A.  

(WARNING... WARNING... WARNING. THE FOLLOW DESCRIPTION CONTAINS SPOILERS. THE WRITER HAS TRIED HARD NOT TOO REVEAL TOO MUCH AND YOU COULD PROBABLY READ THE FIRST PARAGRAPH WITHOUT FEAR OF DAMAGING THE PLOT OR REVEALING TOO MUCH. HOWEVER THE SECOND PARAGRAPH, ALAS, SORT OF GIVES IT AWAY, BUT NOT GRATUITOUSLY.)

When the starship Avalon is seriously damaged in an asteroid strike 30 years into its 120 mission to the planet Homestead II it triggers a series of system failures that starts with the malfunction of mechanical engineer Jim Preston (Chris Pratt)'s sleep pod and ends with a race against time to stop the sleeping spaceship exploding thus killing the other 5000 odd passengers. For a good hour of the film, we are in the single company of Pratt as he comes to terms with being marooned on an intergalactic flying desert island traveling at half the speed of light with only a robotic barman for company. He becomes fluent at speaking Japanese with the sushi restaurant's robot staff, claiming the top 100 best dance off high scores on the 3d video game, plundering the vast stocks of resources and growing a beard while going slowly mad.

In an act of desperation, Preston makes a terrible decision that will have a profound effect of everyone onboard the ship, none more so than for Jennifer Lawrence's Aurora Lane, a writer on a return trip to write a book about the sort of people who make the trip. Over the next year the two grow close and fall in love and then on the anniversary of her awakening, she discovers Preston's terrible secret and their worlds collide.

However the ship is severely damaged and the two years worth of 'cascading' failures that have blighted the trip finally fatally spiral out of control leading to the forementioned race against time to stop the ship from exploding and our two star-crossed lovers are forced to work together to save the day.

SPOILER WARNING OVER

This type of film succeeds or fails on the chemistry and charisma of its leads and in this case the film makers have shrewdly cast two of the most beautiful and charismatic actors of their generation to carry the film and carry it they do. They have a nature ease with each other and they're pretty easy on the eye too. There's not much to say about the plot of the film, apart from the terrible emotional dilemma at the heart of it, the rest is just watching two people slowly falling in love while their spaceship slowly falls to pieces around them. After that, there's the requisite 3rd act race against time action sequence and a subtle, sombre ending as we watch the ship glide off into deep space.

Along the way though we have a slow, subtle film about a relationship and isolation set onboard a beautifully designed futuristic IKEA spaceship and featuring a wonderful soundtrack.

I have to say I found this immensely engaging and engrossing, I'd have been happy without the necessity of the action element of this film, it plays like a live action remake of Wall-E, without the cute trash compactor, crossed with Silent Running and I don't mean that in a negative way. With stunning special effects and superb set designs which throw out nods (indeed more than one such nod to the cult horror/sci-fi movie, Event Horizon) to dozens of other movies from The Shining to Titanic and 2001 a Space Odyssey. The interesting thing about this film is that you can actually see where the plot itself changed during the films making and there are several distinct places where it could have gone in utterly different directions. For example, with a subtle rewriting, this so easily could have been a chilling thriller or horror film and the ending could have been one of many, including one that could have ended in a far more dramatic way.

My family rated this from 7/10 all the way up to 10/10. Me personally, I was hooked, and not just because I love Jennifer Lawrence and want to marry her, nor that I have a bit of a man crush on Chris Pratt.

This won't be everyone's cup of tea as the varied reviews have thus far proven, but for me I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to seeing it again. This is at times moving, funny, entertaining and exciting and helped in no small part by the fact it's two stars are just so goddam hot!

But be warned, this is the very definition of a slow burn movie, despite the ship itself traveling at half the speed of light the pace is staggeringly slow and languid but after a diet of relentless action films this felt like just a breath of fresh air in the cold vacuum of space.

8/10

Saturday, 17 December 2016

#84 & 86 ROGUE ONE


Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. Written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy based on a story by John Knoll and gary Whitta. Directed by Gareth Edwards. Budget $200 million. Running time 133 minutes. 12a Cert.

Featuring the single worst poster ever produced for the Star Wars franchise comes Rogue One, the first stand-alone movie in this all-new, George Lucas-free era of Star Wars movies. This acts as a prequel to A New Hope (or Star Wars I: A New Hope if you'd prefer, or if you're a Star Wars hardcore fan Star Wars IV: A New Hope). So, as a result it takes place after Revenge of the Sith (Star Wars III Which sort of makes this one either Star Wars IV, or Star Wars XIII or Star Wars IIIa. Or if, like me, you dislike the prequels and don't watch them, then Star Wars -I. Look, either way it's a Star Wars movie, so you should know what to expect, action, space ships, laser blasters, storm troopers, wonky-faced aliens, bizarre hints of incest and the Force.  

It sees a band of rebels lead by permanently frowning, and on the verge of tears, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) the daughter of the man who designed the Death Star, team up with pocket-sized Spaniard, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his hilarious battle droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) together they battle against incredible odds to steal the plans of the Empire's terrifying new weapon the Death Star. What follows is a dizzying, whistle-stop tour of 10,000 stupidly named planets as our wise-cracking, rag-tag team of loveable rogues including Kung Fu master Donnie Yen bounce around the galaxy in a mad-cap race to the finish line on a tropical planet while Ben Mendelsohn as the universe's worst project manager, Orson Krennic, does his best Dick Dastardly and waggles his gauntlet enclosed fist and tries but fails to thwart them.

It would be churlish of me to reveal much more but if you've ever watched Star Wars No.1: A New Hope you'll already know that "many Bothans died to bring us this information."

This starts slowly and the first third isn't all that, but then once everyone's been brought together it kicks it up a gear and starts to become something we've never seen in a Star Wars movie before, a war film because once we've seen the Death Star do what it does it's a barrage of relentless, non-stop action. This film doesn't pause for anything, like wit or well-written dialogue and just lets rip. And in the letting rip league this film is certainly up there near the top. It's a blistering action-packed movie that looks simply stunning. It's extremely well directed by Gareth Edwards, the visual genius behind Godzilla, and the cinematography is superb. The effects are seamless and overall this was an exhilarating rambunctious romp that didn't move me more deeply than that. It's surprisingly grim and ultimately is a science fiction remake of Saving Private Ryan, but with more wonky-faced aliens and space ships.

It's not all positives, mind. The soundtrack was very jarring, slight hints of John Williams followed by something different.

It's Star Wars Jim, but not as we've known it before.

8/10

P.S. The following contains spoilers


This film is filled with wonderful nods and Easter Eggs to Star Wars, like the two 'My friend Doesn't like you' aliens and the exact same firing sequence of the Death Star main weapon as well as dozens of other visual nods including the CGI recreation of two rather iconic characters one of whom is a representation of Peter Cushing which sadly falls into the uncanny valley for me. There's also cameos from many,  much-loved, characters and then there's the return of a certain rather iconic asthmatic and boy he doesn't disappoint, indeed he's simply terrifying.

P.P.S REVIEW OF SECOND VIEWING

Perhaps I should have waited longer before rewatching this but second time round, this gets a 7/10. It starts off very clumsily with far too many planets with stupid names visited but with no involvement, none of the planets seem that important and dont' add anything to the plot. The film really kicks off when we get to the planet with the besieged religious city and the final act attack on that beach planet are awesome. Great special effects and action, plus the cgi Peter Cushing is freakin' amazing.


Monday, 5 December 2016

#83 OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY


Starring Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, Jennifer Aniston, T.J. Miller,  kate McKinnon, Courtney B. Vance, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Baye, Rob Corddry, Sam Richardson, Randall Park Jamie Chung, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Karan Soni, Matt Walsh, Oliver Cooper, Adrian Martinez, Andrew Leeds, Da'Vine Joy Randolph and Fortune Feimster. Written by  Justin Malen, Laura Solon and Dan Mazer, based on a story by Jon Lucas, Scott Moore and Christopher Dowling. Directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon. Running time 105 minutes long. Cert 15.

The words 'all-star cast' used to mean something, it was a sign of greatness, think Towering Inferno, Earthquake or even When Time Ran Out, although those were all disaster movies, which is ironic cos this too is a disaster, but for utterly different reasons.

T.J Miller is the hopless CEO of a failing tech company, Jason Bateman is his loyal right hand man, Olivia Munn is the woman he's secretly in love with and Jennifer Aniston is Miller's sister who's just closed down the office. In an act of defiance and in the hope of securing a 14 million dollar buisness deal, Miller throws the most outrageous Christmas party of his life in open defiance of his ruthless sister. After that it's a less than hilarious gentle saunter through a series of mildly linked skits and situations strung together in the vain hope no one will notice there's no plot or story.

Far less funnier than the trailer and considerably less funny than it should be, this is a film that from the very title should be as outrageous and outlandish as is humanly possible. Sadly this isn't, it's a gentle, sweet natured little movie with a heart-warming centre and a happy journey of redemption that sees two of the characters overcome their decades old animosity and become best pals by the end of it. Not only that but the company is saved by a technological Macguffin that stretches credulity.

Sure I laughed, as will you, but it was only occasionally and that's not enough. If it wanted to be considered to be a Christmas movie then it needs to be warmer and have more Christmas spirit. However, if it wanted to be remembered as this generation's Animal House, as a raunchy, bawdy comedy then it's not rude enough, outrageous enough or simply funny enough. In a nutshell, it just needs to be better.

4/10








Sunday, 4 December 2016

#82 MOANA


Starring Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherizinger and Alan Tudyk. Written by Jared Bush. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. Budget $150 million. Running time 103 minutes. Cert PG.

A prologue explains how, in the beginning, the heart of the island goddess, Te Fiti is stolen by the demigod, Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and lost in the ocean.

A thousand years later Moana Waialiki (Auli'i Cravalho), the daughter of a Polynesian island chief sets out on a quest to force Maui to help her return the stone heart to Te Fiti and thus restore her island paradise to its former glory. And that's it, plot wise.

This is a breath-taking beautiful movie to look at, truly exquisite. The attention to detail is perfection as is the portrayal of the Polynesian people, who are never shown in anything other than a glowing light. This seems to my ignorant eyes to strenuously avoid stereotyping either its heroine or her people and the relationship between the chieftains daughter and the demi god is built on grudging friendship rather than love and that's a welcome addition. Similarly when Maui tells her to stay behind while he deals with a situation isn't because she's a girl, but that she's only human. Likewise, we never have to suffer watching Maui become a better person or learn any valuable life lessons.

Fantastically entertaining, beautiful to look at and only marred by a selection of songs that feel jarring, particularly Jermaine Clements and his turn as a giant crab. This was a charming and wonderful movie that left me with a warm glow and a spring in my step.

8/10

Saturday, 3 December 2016

#81 THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN


Starring  Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner  and Hayden Szeto. Written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig. Budget $9 million. Running time 99 minutes. Cert 15.

Hailee Steinfeld is 17-year old Nadine Franklin heroine of this 'coming of age' movie who is still struggling with the death of her father three years previously and trying to come to terms with impending adult hood. Her friendship group extends to one single solitary confident, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) who has been her loyal friend since 2nd grade. However, when Krista starts a relationship with Nadine's older brother, Darian (Blake Jenner) - school jock and all round good guy  she feels like she's hit rock bottom and decides to try and take control of her life with hilarious and truly cringeworthy results. Seeking constant guidance from her long-suffering english teacher, Mr Bruner (Woody Harrelson), Hailee decides to let the boy of her dreams know her feelings with a truly inappropriate text message while ignoring the nice guy in her class who genuinely seems to like her.

Offering nothing new to this particular genre, this was nevertheless an extremely funny and rather moving movie. Hailee Steinfeld is a very likeable star and her nature ease in front of the camera easily rises this generic movie to something rather enjoyable and entertaining and despite the fact it has the classic third act redemption for our heroine you'll still find yourself smiling and feeling warm inside.

Maybe not ground breaking, but nevertheless a satisfying and, at times, very funny little film with a great little soundtrack to boot, plus some lovely performances and chemistry, particularly between Harrelson and Steinfeld. Perhaps it helped seeing this with my own 17 year-old daughter but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

8/10

#80 BLEED FOR IT


Starring Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart,  Katey Sagal, Ciarán Hinds and Ted Levine. Written, produced and directed by Ben Younger. Running time 117minutes. Budget $8 million. Cert 15.

This is astonishing true life story of Vinny Pazienza, the world champion boxer who broke his neck in a car accident and went on to win, not one, but three world title belts!

Starring Miles Teller who's proving to be his generation's Robert Deniro with his commitment to the method. This is a straight forward, chronological bio-pic with excellent performances, particularly from Teller and Eckhart, as Kevin Rooney, Vinny's former disgraced trainer. Solidly written and directed by Ben Younger this is the perfect example of the Ronsil movie, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Offering nothing new or different to the usual boxing flick, which isn't an issue really since the subject is so fascinating, this is nevertheless a very engrossing and satisfying movie. Lacking any shmaltz, or morkishness and bordering, almost, on being a fly on the wall documentary, albeit one with actors playing real-life people, this was a deeply satisfying and enjoyable experience. Seriously,  watching the commitment of Vinny to come back from such an injury to reclaim his past glory  is simply breathtaking to behold and deeply inspiring too.

All that, plus a wealth of naked boobs.

8/10

Saturday, 26 November 2016

#79 ALLIED







Starring Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard and Jared Harris. Written by Steven Knight. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Budget $85 million. Running time 124 minutes. Cert 15.

Apparently when this script was circulated around Hollywood the film's working title was: Is She or Isn't She?

Set in WWII, Canadian super spy, Brad Pitt aka Max Vatan (cos he's a spy and spies need cool spy names), parachutes into the middle of the desert, walks out dressed like Lawrence of Arabia but in awesome sunglasses so he's far cooler. Then, in the middle of literally nowhere, he hops into a passing cab and arrives outside a glamorous nightclub in Casablanca where he exits in a white snazzy suit before walking in and snogging Marion Cotillard aka Marianne Beausejour (who's posing as his wife), then in the morning he kills a German SS officer with a lump of bread. Because you know, he's a super spy.

Then it's a slow build as these two staggering attractive spies pretend to be married, attend parties and succeed in gatecrashing the biggest social event of the year, an one-off gig by the German Ambassador. This they achieve by blagging a couple of invitations off an SS Nazi officer. Then it's a big shoot out and explosion before Max Vatan (super spy), whose face throughout this film never seems to move an inch, except when he's raising a single eyebrow, ala Roger Moore, asks Marianne to come back to England with him to be his wife. Then the film proper opens on a street scene in London as Brad, now in his RAF uniform walks into the home of Universal Exports and we finally get it. Rob Zem has only gone and remade On Her Majesty's Secret Service but set in WWII and without a bald bloke with a cat fetish. If only Robbie had done the bit where we, the audience, look down the barrel of a gun as Brad walks onto the screen dressed in a tux before spinning and shooting his gun. Because this feels as if we've just sat through the longest 'pre-credit' Bond sequence in history.

A montage and a caption that reads: 'One Year Later' quickly shunts things along and we find James and Tracy now raising Bond-edette in Hampstead and it's happy families. Or is it...

No, of course not. Because that wouldn't make a very exciting story would it? Two ex-spies now married, with a kid, trying to readjust to civie life in WWII London while an an army of irate German spies hunt them down for revenge. Actually that would make a pretty good movie.

Instead poor Max Vatan, super spy, is told his wife of a year isn't who she says she is - a French super spy with awesome skills but more than likely a German super spy with equally awesome skills pretending to be a French Super spy with awesome skills. Max is told he has 72 hours to prove his wife's innocence or to shot her in the face to prove his innocence. And after that, he's off to find out the truth.

To say anymore would probably ruin this film.

This is a good looking, well art-directed movie, the attention to detail is lovely (check out the paint work on the banisters), the use of CGI is great, the chemistry between Brad and Cotillard is okay, it's not as electric as Brad and Angelina was in Mr. And Mrs. Smith but it's okay and Jarred Harris is terrific, if only there was more of him. The first part of the film, the pre credit sequence in Casablanca is entertaining, it's certainly the most exciting but it's also frustrating, it all feels so surreal, other-worldly, not helped by the distinct lack of other people populating the world, it all feels strangely vacant. Also, the whole Casablanca sequence races at speed leaving some minor plot holes in its wake. Similarly, when the action moves to good old Blighty, there are scenes that sit uncomfortably and stretch credulity and also leave holes. Brad's character has a sister who is also in the spy biz who has an opening gay relationship which seems unrealistic given the era. Likewise the surprising sex and drug party that kicks off at the super spies' house feels strangely out of place too. And once again everywhere seems bizarrely empty, except for the hill top picnic scene, which in complete contrast seems to be hosting an outside party for the whole population of the London.

At its core is the question 'is she or isn't she' but we're just not given enough information to make our own mind up, sure there's one telegraphed nod, when someone is clearly not who they say they are, but apart from that the film just followed the emotionless Brad as he stumbles around looking for evidence to prove his wife's innocence or otherwise. Perhaps if more time had been spent on Brad's investigation we would feel more involved, but there just isn't time and so we don't. So the whole thing poots along at a vigorous pace until the ending when the truth is finally revealed.

This isn't a terrible film, however it's oddly un-engrossing and there's definitely a sense that something is missing, although what that is, isn't easy to say. On one hand it's very old fashioned, it feels like a British film for the 1940s, but then on the other hand it's trying too hard to be relevant for the 21st century. It throws red herrings at you that might not be red, nor even herrings and some plots points are heavily sign posted then discarded. Still, this wasn't a wasted evening. It most certainly has its moments and Brad is still an actor you can't help but watch, it's just overall it's just not that engaging.

7/10

 

#78 FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM


Starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantah Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Ron Perlman and Colin Farrell. Written by J.K Rowling. Directed by David Yates. Budget $180 million. Running time 133 minutes. Cert 12a.

Newt Scamander, Eddie Redmayne, arrives in New York in the 1920s with a battered old suitcase and promptly collides with wannabe baker Jacob Kowalski, Dan Fogler and his own suitcase and before you can say, 'gosh, what are the odds of two men from different sides of the pond both having the same suitcase meeting on the same day in the same bank for completely different reasons?' the poor old Kowalski has unleashed a world of terrifying monsters on the, er world, like some sort of portly, male, Jewish Pandora. Meanwhile Samatha Morton's Mary Lou Barebone, who's the head of an anti-witchcraft cult and her adopted son, Ezra Miller are ranting about mysterious goings on in and around old New York and various members of the New York magical community including Colin Farrell's Percival Graves, Katherine Waterston's Tina Goldstein and others fill out the cast of thousands with their own agendas and missions.

After that, it's monsters, magic and muggles (here called No-Majs) all running round the city while Eddie, whispers and gurns through it all pointing his pointy stick at things and muttering oh so quietly.

This looks great, the special effects are superb and very well realised but I'm afraid i found the whole thing less than magical and a lot less enjoyable than the Harry Potter movies. And the main reason for this is the lack of wonder, or children and it makes you realise that what made the Potter films so enjoyable was the children battling against incredible odds in an adult world. Here in FBAWTFT all we have is wands that shot magic like bullets out of a machine guns and lots and lots of action. The magic community in NY like their European cousins strives to keep the real world from knowing about them for fear of war, however by the end of this epic half of NYC stands shattered and smouldering and with real human casualties strewn around including the son of a very extremely powerful man. But never mind, cos the non-no muggles, sorry Majs have a magic spell, that isn't shot out of gun, that can erase everyone's memories at the end so that the status quo is restored which only goes to negate what we've just watched. However what about the father for the forementioned dead son, what about him?

The cast, apart from the whispering Edgy Deadpanye, is great, particularly Dan Fogler who is the true heart of this film and Colin Farrell who reminds you how magnetic he is as a screen presence and not forgetting Ezra Miller who just devours the screen. But I'm sorry to say i found the whole thing rather dull and a little boring, the effects just became repetitive and the presence of Eggy Redsnapper just made it more and more tedious. Why doesn't he try a different sort of acting schtick? You know, something that isn't just tilting his head to one side, while his eyes glisten with pre-tears and he gurns with his huge, lop-sided, ear-to-ear, gaping maw. I found his physical performance utterly jarring and it actually made me want the bad guys to win.

This is the start of a new J.K Rowling franchise and I have to say, that I for one, probably won't be back for more, not if Edgar Breadbain is going to be the lead. That said, if Dan Fogler is brought back I might just come back.

Not that fantastic if I'm honest but not a disaster. Kids of a certain age will love it as will many adults, especially those who like the acting stylings of Freddy Beadbin.

7/10

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

TRAILER TIME #3: KING KONG

Oh squeak! Now this is a trailer. It looks like we've now arrived in the era of 'don't tease, show!', which for Kong makes utter sense. We want to see our hero and see him we do in this rather exciting trailer. I know I'm going out on a limb, but I can't help thinking 2017 might be quite a fun one.

https://www.facebook.com/KongSkullIsland/videos/374409676230787/

Sunday, 13 November 2016

TRAILER TIME 2: GHOST IN THE SHELL

Starring Scarlet Johannson and based on the acclaimed Japanese anime, this is the live action, high budget film which will probably end up being another case of style over content, but nevertheless, the trailer looks intriguing and glorious. Although how much of that is down to SJ wearing a skin tight costume is up for discussion. This sadly continues the current trend to make live action films out of classic animated films.




Anticipation level: High

Saturday, 12 November 2016

TRAILER TIME1: VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS

It's occurred to me that one of my favourite parts of going to the cinema is watching the trailers before the movie, this extends to the internet too. Indeed sometimes the trailers can often be far better than the finished film.

As such, I've decided to draw your attention to new trailers for future films and have decided to share them with you.

The first trailer I want to share with you is this:



Based on the extra-ordinary French Sci-fi comic book series Valérian and Laureline, written by Pierre Christin and drawn by Jean-Claude Mézières. The film stars Dane DeHaan as Valérian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline. They play a pair of temporal agents who guard the Earth from threats both intergalactic and time-based and judging from the trailer we can expect something which at the very least is visually breath-taking.

It's directed by Luc Besson, the genius behind 5th Element, Leon, The Last Battle, Nikita, Subway, and the Big Blue. I have high hopes that this is going to be wonderful and glorious!

The film is scheduled for release on 21 July 2017


#77 THE ARRIVAL


Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forrest Whitaker and Michael Stuhlbarg. Written by Eric Heisserer and directed by Denis Villeneuve. $47 million dollar budget. 116 minutes long. Cert 12.

Typical. Just like buses, you wait ages for an Amy Adams movie and two turn up in the same week!

This is an extraordinary gripping, moving and thoughtful movie about first contact between mankind and an utterly alien life-form.

The film starts with cunning linguist Louise Banks, Amy Adams, thinking back about the birth, and all too short life and death of her daughter due to cancer before she's recruited by US Army Colonel Weber, Forest Whitaker, to work along side theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly, Jeremy Renner. They've been called in to decipher the language of a pair of alien cephalopods called Heptapods who've arrived in a giant shell-shaped space craft, that along with 11 other ships have taken up hovering positions above key locations across the world. But are these strange alien visitors your usual 'we come in peace' invaders, or are their intentions actually beneficial? It's up to Adams and Renner to find out before mankind gets itchy trigger fingers and blows them all to hell.

And that's all you really need to know about it, plot-wise. It's far better you go in knowing as little as possible about this exceptional film.

This is a truly satisfying and engrossing film that plays out subtly and slowly. With stunning cinematography, beautiful soundtrack and some fantastic performances, this was a joy to behold from beginning to end and just goes to show what a solid, adult science fiction film can achieve. Please sir, can I have some more?

Catch it on the big screen if you can, it's really worth it!

9/10

#76 THE ACCOUNTANT



Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Benthal, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow and Cynthia Addai-Robinson. Written by Bill Dubuque, directed by Gavin O'Connor. Budget $44 million. 128 minutes minutes long.

In a surprising twist, particularly since the poster and the trailer seemed to imply that Ben Affleck played an autistic accountant who was also an assassin. This film is actually the day in the life story of an  ordinary accountant, played by Ben Affleck, as he helps small businesses to file their taxes in time for the July 1st deadline. The highlight of the film arrives when Ben discovers that is red biro is out of ink and he has to go and find a shop with just 5 hours left before closing time.

Why the poster features a big gun is beyond me and while the trailer seems to suggest copious amounts of action is baffling too. Since Ben spends most of the movie neatly writing out columns of numbers and then studiously adding them up.

Nah, I'm just twisting yer melons.

This is the story of an high functioning autistic assassin who's also a forensic accountant who specialises in uncooking the books of organised crime syndicates in search of embezzlement who one day decides to take on a job in the real world for a bit of a change. He ends up investigating John Lithgow's tech company and unearthing a 60 million dollar fraud with the help of nerdish accountant, Anna Kendrick. After that a sinister private covert, black ops security firm lead by Jon Benthal is dispatched to clean house to hide the fraud before Lithgow's company goes public. Meanwhile, special investigator J.K Simmons and analyist Cynthia Addai-Robison are on a mission to discover who the mysterious accountant is. This all plays out in a very satisfying and entertaining way, as the film reveals the story of Affleck's past with his unusual father and lovingly loyal brother and his relationship with a criminally underused Jeffrey Tambor. It's also surprising to note at the end of the day that none of the characters in this film can be considered to be 'good guys'.

Jumping from his childhood, to adult-hood, via his father's unusual childrearing, this is an engrossing and ultimately silly action film that makes for a satisfying and entertaining thriller. The cast is strong, the plot is elaborate and enjoyable and the action meaty and solid. Sadly some of the action sequences are rendered almost unwatchable due to shaky cam and jarring editing.

Here's hoping this leads to a short series, if only to see Affleck and Jon Benthal's relationship develop further.

8/10

#75 NOCTURNAL ANIMALS


Starring: Lois Lane, Donny Darko, General Zod, Kickass and The Lone Ranger. Written and directed by Tom Ford. Budget $22.5 Million. 116 minutes long. 15 cert.

"Look mummy, the Emperor is naked!"

Yes, welcome to yet another Emperor's new clothing film, a film that critics are lauding as 'Superb', 'extraordinary', 'intoxicating', 'electrifying', 'exquisite' 'winner' and '5 star'. It's a film art directed to within an inch of it's, oh-so painfully exquisitely angst-ridden life.

Providing us, the audience with no explanation, the film throws us right in at the deep end, with Lois Lane having given up on the journalism in Metropolis to run an art gallery in LA. Her marriage to the Lone Ranger is failing, although what happened to Superman is never explained. It turns out that Lois used to be married to Donny Darko but she divorced him for the Ranger, because Donny's short stories were a bit boring. So he gets his revenge by spending the next 20 odd years writing a book called Nocturnal Animals and dedicating it to her. It's the story of how a loving husband and father deals with the brutal and savage abduction and murder of his wife and daughter and teams up with General Zod to exact a satisfying revenge on Kickass. Confused? You won't be.

What starts out as an exciting new comic book inspired movie about what comic book characters get up to when they're not fighting crime, this soon deteriorates into a turgid, topor inducing plod through the lives of utterly tedious 1st world people who seem to think their crushingly empty lives amount to more than a hill of beans.

Offering us three story arcs, one: the book played out, two: Lois and Donny's early life together and three: the Lois and the Lone Ranger's story. Of the three, the best part, which is also the part without Lois, sees Donny and General Zod fighting Kickass.

Everyone acts their little cotton socks off, and Tom, 'oh my god, he's amazing!' Ford directs the proceedings by picking out the best lamps and furnishing and framing every conversation piece as a head shot and reaction, over and over again. Never do we see the two characters talking in the same shot.

I've been told the film is beautifully shot and sure there are loads of scenic shots of the beautiful countryside of Texas, but in the same week when I also rewatched Ryan's Daughter, this just looked like a bloke given 22.5 million dollars and told to piss it up a wall.

Boring, tedious, self-indulgent and utterly pointless.

Stay at home and watch Ryan's Daughter instead. It's a David Lean film from 1970 starring Sir John Mills, Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard and Sarah Miles. Now there's true art direction and cinematography wrapped up in a small personal story of genuine pathos and tragedy, not this sweaty old ball-bag of balls.

4/10

Sunday, 30 October 2016

#73 & 74 DOCTOR STRANGE



Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt and Scott Adkins. Written by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill. Directed by Scott Derrickson. Based on the character created by Steve Ditko. Budget $165 million. Running time 115 minutes. Certificate 12A.

Doctor Strange marks Marvel's 14th cinematic release, as well as this year's seventh super-hero movie and the third to feature Marvel characters. It's arrival brings magic and multi-dimensions to the already rapidly expanding Marvel universe but the question is, does this over egg the pudding or bring a whole other dimension of wonderment to the proceedings?

The plot sees genius, but arrogant, brain surgeon, Dr. Strange (Bendydick Cucumberpatch) survive a violent car crash that destroys his hands and thus his career leaving our driven doctor to embark on a quest to restore his genius. Along the way he stumbles across the legend of Kamar-Taj and heads off to Kathmandu in Nepal to find a cure. There he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and is enrolled into a school of witchcraft and wizardry where he rediscovers his mojo, learns kung fu and discovers alternative dimensions, so far so typical for an origin story. But what about the threat, where's our supervillain (because every superhero movie needs one of those)?

Well fret not, true believers, cos coming round the corner of a folding skyscrapper is...

Medium sized villain, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a one-time disciple of the Ancient One who has been seduced by the dark side offered by huge baddy, Dormammu and stolen pages from an exceedingly old spell book belonging to the Ancient One and is determined to unleash a huge spinning vortex of doom on the world, so far so every other super hero movie. After that, the film follows the traditional template of superhero films by giving us the training montague, the suiting up scene, the self doubt and self discovery sequence followed by the 'end of the 2nd arc' dilemma before we're rocking towards the ubiquitous big Earth shattering slap down between Strange, Kaecilius and Dormammu before the credits and the mid and post credit sequences and The End.

And that's Dr. Strange. The wackiest Marvel movie since Guardians of the Galaxy. The cast is terrific and Carrotpatch brings a quipping, ironic twinkle to the proceedings. He's helped in no short measure by the most surprising, non-speaking sidekick you've ever seen, but I don't wish to spoil who or what it is. Let's just say 'he' gets all the best line(ing)s!

As always with these things, the casting is superb and extremely good actors and actresses elevate the nonsense to a higher level (perhaps Marvel's best secret). The script is funny and entertaining, giving us some emotional depth and drama as well as slam-bang action. The special effects are truly special and there's a superb sequence, glimpsed in the trailer, that's almost vertigo inducing, it's most certainly dazzling as buildings fold in on themselves like machines. Although the best sequence sees Strange defending a Sanctum from a full-out magical attack all on his own!

However, all is not perfect in the garden of Dr. Strange. The 3D makes this a murky, dark and gloomy spectacle and after the initial delight of it soon loses its thrill. The villains ultimately just want to destroy the world and it's frankly becoming boring, although Dr. Strange actually has something different up its sleeve by ways of dealing with it. But the biggest problem I  have with this film is with the change in the Marvel Universe Logo at the beginning of the film. It's been changed from the flickering images of artwork taken from the original Marvel comics for footage from the Marvel movies and that really grates with me. It feels as if Marvel is betraying its comic roots.

Overall, this is a fun romp of a movie, one of Marvel's lightest in touch and tone and that's fine in my book. Apart from the generic baddie's motivation and the now almost ubiquitous spinning vortex of doom threat this is another example of how superhero movies should be made.

It's pleasing to say that Marvel's strangest film to date has managed to pulled off a neat trick by passing its medical with flying colours.

8/10

Sunday, 23 October 2016

#72: JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK


Starring Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh and Patrick Heusinger. Directed by Edward Zwick. Written by Richard Wenk, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herkovitz. Budget $60 million. Running time 118 minutes long. Certificate 12A.

5'6" tall Tom Cruise is the 6' 5" Jack Reacher, ex-military police Major and drifter, Smulders is his  staggeringly beautiful replacement at the 110, framed for espionage and locked up for a crime she didn't commit. And Danika Yarosh is Reacher's 'might be' 15 year daughter who's along to give emotionally dead behind the eyes Reacher someone to care for and act as the damsel in distress.

This is the second Jack Reacher movie based on the excellent, in my opinion, series of Jack Reacher books by Lee Child, that sees the ex-military police major stroll into yet another vast global conspiracy that'll see him resolve it by getting his retaliation in first, running very fast, talking very little and punching really, really hard. After that it's a join the numbers type of crime thriller actioner that Cruise does on, errr, cruise control.

He's pretty consummate at this type of film and could probably do it in his sleep if pushed but that said, this isn't that gripping or thrilling and nowhere near as good as his first outing as Reacher in the 2012 film, Jack Reacher. It's okay while it's on but it's very low key and the investigation, which reads so well in the books, seems perfunctory at best in this outing. The introduction of a daughter is a nice touch, as is a female character as strong as he is, but that is also oddly enough one of the film's downfalls, because since she is easily as good as he is, he almost becomes redundant in his own film. Meanwhile, the villains couldn't have been more villainous if they'd actually worn black capes, top hats and twiddled their mustaches, while cackling evily. In deed they're as evil as they are utterly inept, but perhaps not nearly as inept as the cops are who only show up in this film to get killed or to help frame poor Reacher for something he didn't do, which brings me to a major plot flaw in the Reacher novels.

Just how the hell is he able to kill so many people with such impunity? Surely he'd have to answer for some of the murders he commits? I mean, I realise the people he literally beats to death with his bare hands are all baddies, but surely they would have wives and families who'd demand to know who murdered their husbands, fathers, boyfriends or brothers? But no, it seems he's allowed to carry on slaughtering all those he deems naughty or crippling them permanently regardless of the law. Ah well as he's apt to say, Reacher likes to get his retaliation in first.

Not a bad film, just a bit bland, if truth be told, which is a shame cos I quite like the Cruiser and I really like the Reacher novels.

6/10







#71 INFERNO


Starring Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Omar Sy, Ben Foster, Sidse Babett Knudsen and Irrfan Khan. Directed by Ron Howard. Written by David Koepp. Budget $75 million. Running time 121 minutes long. Certificate 12a

Ben Foster is the young, billonaire genius with a plan to save the world by killing off 50% of the population. Tom Hanks is the nerdy, middle-aged scholar who's good at solving cryptic-clue crossword puzzles out to stop him and everyone else is just there to cloud the waters, chuck red herrings and briefly take turns taking the center stage as the villain (or are they) until the end gently rolls to a stop and we all go home.

Sustaining a completely horizontal level of excitement from beginning to end and offering nothing but red herrings, this is a film that takes us on a whistle stop tour of Florence, Venice and Istanbul while Hanks' Robert Langdon tries to solve the clues that'll lead the goodies to a bomb that if detonated while release a man-made plague called Inferno. All Langdon has to go on is the help of once child genius, now English surgeon Felicity Jones, ex paramour Sidse Babett Knudsen and an assortment of other characters who might not be all they seem.

This just putted along until ending, drip feeding us information, despite the fact that we, the audience, have already arrived at the ending well before Howard and his crew of film makers.

Bland and surprisingly flat, this was an adequate enough affair that mildly entertained while it was on but then promptly disappeared from your memory the moment you'd left the cinema.

5/10










#70 WAR ON EVERYONE


Starring Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Peña, Theo James, Tessa Thompson and Caleb Landry Jones. Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh. Budget unknown. Running time 97 minutes. Certificate 15.

This is without doubt writer director John Michael McDonagh's attempt to remake Freebie and the Bean for the 21st Century. War on Everyone follows two cops, Alexander Skarsgård's alcoholic, with a damaged past, Detective Terry Monroe and Michael Peña's philosophical and happily married  Detective Bob Bolaño as they go after English crime lord and arch hedonist, "Lord" James Mangan, Theo James. Along the way they both act incredibly badly, stealing money from crimbos, doing drugs and generally acting just two degrees better than the baddies they're supposed to be bringing to justice. Not necessary corrupt, but definitely on the take these two cops take no prisoners in their pursuit of the real criminal while robbing the minor ones blind. Along the way, one of the two men discusses obscure European philosophers with his wife, while bringing up two kids, while the other tries drinking himself to death to drown the memories of a dark past, before finding salvation in a genuinely touching relationship with a beautiful young exotic dancer.

The plot sees the two corrupt cops discover a major heist in the planning stage and decide to steal the robbers blind unwittingly stumbling under the gaze of the big bad villain, Lord James a powerful crime lord with some truly appalling tastes, who decides to wage a war against the two cops.

With surprising slapstick violence, a streak of black as coal humour and a superb script, this film would make a perfect double bill with the Nice Guys. It's blissfully short and the performances of everyone is terrific.

Superbly directed by McDonagh, who also directed the equally brilliant 'The Guard' and 'Calvary' and featuring an excellent sound track and a great cast this was an immensely satisfying and funny film, that won't be everyone's cup of tea.  But me, I bloody loved it.

8/10

#69 BLOOD FATHER



Starring Mel Gibson, Erin Moriarty, Diego Luna, Michael Parks and William H. Macy. Directed by Jean-Francois Richet, written by Peter Craig and Andrea Berloff, based on the novel by Peter Craig. Budget $ million. Running time 88 minutes. 15 certificate.

Mel Gibson starts his comeback tour with a low key, low budget, Liam Nesson style old-man actioner, showing off his gruff, buff bod and his new drink-free life style as he rescues his wayward daughter from a gang of bad Mexican drug dealers. And so begins Mel Gibson's re-introduction to Hollywood, not with a huge blockbuster but a small little gritty actioner just to remind us just how damn good, old mad Mel can be. This is a nice little thriller that sees  ex-biker, ex-con, ex-alcoholic trailer-park tattoo artist refind his mojo to save his daughter from her big bad boyfriend and his gang of gun happy drug runners.

These sort of films Mel could do in his sleep and still come out of it looking good. With a staggering amount of charisma and screen presence, Mel gives a master class in action movie making and elevates what should have been a straight to video b-movie to a satisfying and solid action thriller. With the odd flash of humour and some meaty action scenes as well as several touching emotional  beats as Mel's John bonds and reconnects with his daughter, Lydia (Erin Moriarty). This makes for a good Saturday night in flick.

Mel's not mad anymore. 7/10

Sunday, 2 October 2016

#68: MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN






Starring: Asa Butterfield, Eva green, Samuel L. Jackson, Terence Stamp, Allison Janney, Ella Purnell, Chris O'Dowd, Rupert Everett, Dame Judi Dench, Lauren McCrostie, Cameron King, Pixie Davies, Georgia Pemberton, Finlay MacMillan, Milo Parker, Raffiella Chapman, Hayden Keeler-Stone and Joseph and Thomas Odwell.

Written by Jane Goldman, directed by Tim Burton. Budget $110 million. Running time 127 minutes long.

As far as I could work out the plot is as follows, Asa Butterfield is Jacob Portman a 16 boy whose grandfather (Terence Stamp) dies in his arms, in mysterious circumstances and without his eyes, and who, with his dying breath urges his grandson to find Miss Peregrine who he tells him is located somewhere in a Welsh children's home back in 1943. So Jacob and his father – work-shy twitcher and writer, Franklin Portman (Chris O'Dowd) travel to Wales as part of Jake's grieving process and before you can say, 'Jesus, aren't films involving multiple time lines confusing', Jake is traveling back and forth through time portals and getting embroiled in a school filled with a half-dozen children with incredible, dare I say peculiar powers. There they live the same day over and over, frozen in time, as they dodge German Luftwaffe bombing missions, eyeless, tentacle-mouthed monsters roaming the countryside and a mysterious, white-eyed baddy called The Baron, played perfectly by Samuel L. Jackson. Naturally he's hunting the peculiars for his own hideous reasons, which might or might not have something to do with the eyeball missing thingie. Added to that lot are a slew of convoluted plot points that takes 2/3rds of the film to explain ending just in time for the final act and the showdown  in Blackpool of 2016 between the peculiars and the Baron's 'hollow' men who are invisible to even the Baron. Then it's time for a huge, bewildering fight between the kids, whose numbers are bolstered by an army of skeletons brought back to life by one of the Peculiars and the Baron and his Hollow Men.

The critics have been cruel to this film, probably due to the fact that once media darling Tim Burton has so obviously lost his mojo having not made a good film since 1994's Ed Wood.

However despite that, this is a beautiful to look at film, with some simply superb art direction. and a very likeable young cast lead by Asa and Allison Janney. The actual peculiar kids are a treat each demonstrating  unique and interesting peculiar abilities and much praise must be given to just how impressively and truly scary this film is. But be warned, this film is a 12A for a reason. Seriously very young kids are going to be scared witless by at least three of the nightmarish sequences, in particular the scene where the eyeless Hollow Men devour, with relish, a literal pile of human eyeballs plucked from the corpses of peculiar children.

Although this is also what makes this film so impressive, it's not afraid to scare its target audience and it'll be the parents to balk first, kids will love the gross out, blood-free gore, and the nightmarish images nearly all of which are refreshing new. You'll find yourself slowly sucked in to this wonderful and grotesque world of lovable freaks.

It's not a perfect film, as already said it's a film that spends at least the first 80 minutes establishing not only the world it's set in, the plot and the plans of the villain who, to be honest, isn't introduced properly until the start of the third act.

And it's actually in the third act when the film sadly loses momentum and you find yourself gasping and groaning in frustration at the actions of Asa's Jake who proves to be a truly inept hero, several time you feel like shouting at the screen as he bungles and stumbles through situations. Likewise the film which has so carefully avoided being too childish falls for a Saint Trinians style battle with the Hollow Men armed with only snowballs, candy floss and some jelly snakes which just stops short of being cringe-worthy.

My kids loved this both of the scoring it an 8 and overall this was a very entertaining and enjoyable YA romp which for once didn't feature a dystopic, post-apocalyptic world filled with chaste, unrequited love and pale faced vampires.

Defo worth a look. 8/10




#67 DEEPWATER HORIZON


Starring Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Kate Hudson. Written by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand. Directed by Peter Berg. Budget $156 million. Running time 107 minutes.

Based on a New york Times account of the world's biggest environmental disaster, Deepwater Horizon is the story of that disaster as told from the perspective of Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), an engineer onboard the rig, Jimmy 'Mr. Jimmy' Harrell (Kurt Russell), the oil rig manager,  Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez) pilot of the doomed rig and Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich) as the BP executive who ignored safety warning in the name of greed and pleasing his corporate masters.

The subsequent catastrophic blowout on board the semi-submersible drilling platform, Deepwater Horizon lead to a deep-sea oil leak that flowed for 87 days, releasing approximately 4.9 million (or a 130 million gallons) barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and took five months to finally cap. It cost the lives of 11 workers, whose bodies were never recovered, and resulted in BP paying over $54 billion in environmental and economic damages and penalties! And guess what, not a single BP executive, especially Vidrine was ever charged, although a couple of low level executives were sacrificed to appease the media, but not the relatives of those 11 men who died.

The film sets the scene by introducing our main characters and making them seem like ordinary men and women with home lives and families before dropping them on the oil rig just 12 hours before the disaster. From the word go though it's obvious that all is not good on the rig. It's in desperate need of a serious overhaul, there's a list of hundreds of problems that need fixing and the rig is 54 days late in completing its mission. Meanwhile behind the scenes Mr. Jimmy is battling the BP suits over safety concerns. It's a slow build up, mirroring the building pressure of oil, silt and gas deep beneath the ocean floor building to the 'final' safety check that sees all hell break loose as the rig is ripped apart by the most cataclysmic fireball you've ever seen!

After that it's a mad, frantic dash through the slowly melting and sinking rig as the survivors fight to survive and be rescued. Before the truly tragic photo montage of the men who lost their lives and the depressing final trawl explaining what happened, or didn't happen next.

This is unlike most disaster films, being that it's based on a real life disaster. The cast is surprisingly good, particularly Walhberg who doesn't grandstand the role and Russell who is simply superb as Mr. Jimmy, oh how you long for him to don that iconic eyepatch one last time. Indeed I kept thinking you could imagine a disaster film where Snake escapes one last time from the world as it finally explodes in a huge fireball.

But I digress. This was a powerful and intense film, marred by mumbled dialogue which meant that for most of the film you don't really know what's going on. It's carried by some truly terrifying special effects and believable and honest acting from the cast. This is well directed by Peter Berg, who for the most part ignores the hateful practice of shaky cam. I found sitting four rows from the front helped greatly, immersing you very directly into the action.

And talking of Peter Berg, this is his second disaster movie, the first being Battleships in 2012 which was a disaster for a whole different reason.

Unfortunately though, the film, is nearly all build up because once the explosion happens the survivors, as in real life, only objective is to get off that rig PDQ! There's no time for sequences of heroic problem solving, like doing the monkey bars over a sea of fire, or hanging from the outside of an elevator dangling from a helicopter, because that didn't happen. Instead, there's just some very frightened, blackened faced individuals trying their damnedest not to die all set against the extra-ordinary sight of an oil rig fire.

So for most of the film's very brief, for this sort of film, running time of 107 minutes we get to witness the mundane, lives of the rig's crew and the day-to-day running of the rig. But this is also one of the film's major fascinations, we the audience know that shit is about to get real, and you find yourself watching as the men go about their jobs with a certain lazy routine and you find yourself thinking, 'No! Don't do that, take more consideration! No, don't look down that pipe! Or no, for god's sake don't light that cigerette!' type of thing.

Malkovich as the baddy is also worth the ticket price as he chews up the role giving us a particularly unpleasant and slimy executive who lives to see the result of his actions.

Sadly, the fact that this is a true story makes this a much harder film to thoroughly enjoy as, let's say if it had been pure fantasy from the Roland Emmerich school of disaster movies, here you're all too aware that these are real people and as such their lives cost far more than a group of stereotypes emoting at the end of the world.

This was a dramatic, terrifying and solid, if too brief, 8/10.



 

Friday, 23 September 2016

#66 THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Fulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett and Peter Sarsgaard.

Running time: 133 minutes. Budget $108 million dollars.

Written by Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk. Directed by Antoine Fuqua.

Another month, another Hollywood remake, however this time i don't have as strong feelings as I did for the abomination that was the Ben Hur remake, because not only was the original 1960 Magnificent Seven itself a remake of a 1954 film (Seven Samuari) but it also spawned its own sequel factory with not one but three sequels, Return of the Seven (1966), Guns of the Magnificent Seven (1969) and the Magnificent Seven Ride (1972) and even a short lived tv show which ran from 1998 - 2000. So, in my mind, this new film is just another sequel to the original and as such can be happily enjoyed as such, rather than a terrible attempt by Hollywood to pointlessly and toothlessly remake yet another classic.

The plot, you won't be surprised to hear, especially if you've seen either the original Japanese movie on which the Magnificent Seven is based upon, or even if you've only watched the sublime 1960 version directed by John Sturges, sees a terrorised small town hire a rag-tag team of gunmen to take on a criminal who is holding the town to ransom. The bad guy in this case is Bartholomew Bogue, a corrupt, capitalist psychopath (Peter Sarsgaard) who's systematically attacking the townsfolk of Rose Creek, a small town situated directly over Bogue's gold mine operation in an attempt to take over the land. After a particularly brutal attack upon the church of Rose Creek which sees the death of nearly every adult male, widow Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) sets out to recruit a team of mercenaries to kill the bad guys. Luckily she strikes lucky on her first go by securing the services of Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) a bounty hunter with a score to settle. He quickly recruits the other six members of the seven starting with jolly drunk card-shark Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt), each of the subsequent seven gets their own little back story as they're recruited with absolutely zero difficulty and this sequence is the most rewarding in the film. Once the seven arrive for the third act showdown, the film sort of loses its sense of humour and momentum and settles down for one extremely long and protracted gun battle that sees Bogue's huge army of baddies decimated in a series of skirmishes until the final mano a mano showdown between Chisolm and Bogue who naturally share a very unpleasant history.

Surprisingly enough playing the guess who lives and who dies game might surprise you as none of these characters is safe from a serious dose of lead poisoning.

Lacking the gloriously slow pace of the original as well as the devastatingly iconic cast, this sequel isn't terrible, it's certainly far, far better than any of Hollywood's recent remakes and should provide a violent, but not bloody, noisy and fun night out. Chris Pratt continues to prove he oozes charisma and the whole cast is great, particularly the double bill of Ethan Hawk, playing the Robert Vaughn role, and his knife-throwing Chinese buddy, Byung Hun Lee, as well as the whispering man-mountain, Vincent D'Onofrio.

Offering nothing new, director Antoine Fuqua still delivers an entertaining protracted shoot out movie with a good cast and a satisfying lack of cringe-inducing relevant updates.

7/10










#65 INDEPENDENCE DAY - LIVE


Starring Jeff Goldblum, Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Robert Loggia, Randy Quaid, Margaret Colin, Vivica A. Fox, james Rebhorn, Harvey Fierstein, Adam Baldwin, Brent Spiner and Harry Connick Jr. Written by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. Directed by Roland Emmerich. Budget $145 million. Running time 145 minutes.

The plot, as if it needs re-iterating, two days before Independence Day a humongous alien space ship takes up a parking orbit above the earth and dispatches more than a dozen city sized flying saucers which then take up positions above all of Earth's most recognisable landmarks before destroying them all. Then the Earth and a rag tag band of heroic fighter pilots lead by the President of the United States of America, a cable repair man and a failed astronaut fight back and save the day on, as luck would have it, Independence Day.

Originally released back in 1996, this game changing blockbuster went on to take a staggering global box office total of $817.4 million dollars and spawned a slew of global disaster movies which continue to until this day, including the woefully inept and utterly unnecessary sequel of this year in the guise of Independence Day: Resurgence.

This performance, a one off event at the Royal Albert Hall, featured a live score performed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and was introduced by the composer David Arnold.

This was an absolutely extraordinary performance that enhanced this already superb movie to a whole new level, you simply have no idea how exhilarating a live orchestra can be unless you've experienced it yourself and if you ever get the chance to go, you absolutely must! It's a truly extraordinary experience!

10/10

Sunday, 18 September 2016

#64 BEN HUR

If you want a quick answer to the question, 'Is the 2016 remake of the 1959 classic any good?' then look no further than the posters. Here's a poster released after the 1959 Ben Hur won 11 Oscars, including Best Feature and the British Academy Award too!





And for a comparison, here's the 2016 version.





Even the 1959 poster is better than the 2016, piece of shit, Photo-shopped poster.


Starring Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Rodrigo Santoro, Nazanin Boniadi, Ayelet Zurer and Morgan Freeman. Written by Keith Clarke and John Ridley. Directed by Timur Bekmambetov. Budget $100 million. Running time 123 minutes long.

When the classic Charlton Heston Ben Hur came out in 1959 some sarcy critic was alleged to have said, 'loved Ben, hated Hur.' I can't tell you how much I was hoping to be able to update that by saying of this new remake of that glorious classic, Hated Ben, Hated Hur. I mean FUCKING HATED HUR! Really, really fucking hated this pointless, toothless, spineless and gutless remake. But I'm afraid, in all honesty, I just can't. But i can say this: Ben Meh. Yes, it's another 100 million dollar dollop of Meh from the mighty Hollywood hit machine. Hopefully this is the final nail in the coffin of the Summer of 2016, as far as blockbusters go at least, and what a staggering disappointing year it's been for movies. In my report to Hollywood's parents I'm going to write: 'C- could do better'.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure I have to say that I LOVE the 1959 Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd and William Wylder movie version of Ben Hur, with which this utterly unnecessary remake shares the same title and some of the same characters, in name alone. The 1959 version is a film of true scale and is more than worthy of the phrase it helped coin, EPIC. The only thing epic about the 2016 version is just how epically Meh it really is, perhaps the most meh film of all times.

I was also determined to review this remake on its own merits and not compare it with the infinitely superior 1959 version, but I'm afraid it's just not possible. It's so clear that the film makers of this lazy dirge fast fowarded through the classic version, cos they didn't have time, to watch it, you know all the way through and just stopped when they came across something they thought they could do better with cgi, which is why we get the sea battle and of course the chariot race. But before we get there we have to sit through the 'modern, relevant' stuff. You know, the strong, sassy women folks shoe-horned into the proceedings, the peace-loving, super-rich hero, the cringely chemistry free love story between Ben Meh (Jack Huston) and Ester (Nazanin Boniadi) or indeed the central relationship between Ben Meh and Masalla (Toby Kebbell). Then there's the discussions Ben Meh has with various members of the Popular Peoples Front of Judea and the People's Popular Front of Judea. And not forgetting the badly miss-used Morgan Freeman.

Everything about this film is just so middling, it lacks bite, it lacks scope and it lacks scale. The best bit in this film is the sea battle, but even then we never see anything of the ship except of the rowing bit.

The whole thing plods along, getting Ben Meh to the chariot race, but doing away with all the amazing stuff from the 59 version, you know saving the life of the Roman General, becoming a citizen of Rome, becoming a chariot racer and finally returning home restored to greatness. This time round he takes the Gladiator route and ends up near the end of the film for the big showdown with Masalla for, you know, revenge. But not before he's taken a few chariot racing lessons from Morgan Freeman.

So, oh boy here we go! It's the chariot race, surely this will be good! Well, I'm thrilled to say the chariot race is amazing, the true beating heart of this film. It's simply an amazing, dialogue-free 10 minutes of taut, CGI-free, stunts and amazing editing, plus it's looks and feels genuinely bone crushing! God, the way, Charlton Heston claws his way up through the field to finally confront Stephen Boyd's Masalla is astonishing, heart in the mouth type of astonishing, just amazing! And when Masalla is mortally crippled by his own horses at the race's end, it's truly horrific. As is his agnosing death. Yes, I'm pleased to say that the chariot race from the original 1959 version of Ben Hur starring Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd and directed by William Wyler is still peerless and yet to be bettered, particularly by this thrill free dressage trot around the arena.

Plus, without wishing to spoil the film, this version has a happy ending with everybody who might once have been friends, but then became ideological enemies, before discovering forgiveness through the power of love can finaly bond and literally ride off into the mother fucking sunset together.

Seriously, what was the fucking point of this remake? Why waste 100 million dollars remaking a true classic, what did MGM hope to achieve from it? Why couldn't they spend the money doing something new?

Listen, I can't lie to you, if you've never seen the original and feel the urge to go and see this, don't. Watch the original instead, sure it's longer but it's so massive in scale and scope that you won't mind and you'll end up watching something that will never be bettered.

This gets a middling 3/10.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

#63 DON'T BREATHE



Starring Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto and Stephen Lang.

Written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues. Directed by Fede Alvarez. Budget $9.9 million. 88 minutes long.

Three scumbag Detroit youths, Rocky (Jane Levy) her boyfriend, Money (Daniel Zovato) and love-sick friend, Alex (Dylan Minnette) get their kicks breaking into rich people's houses and stealing make the wrong choice by breaking into the house of a blind war vet (Stephen Lang) in search of a six-figure payout they've heard he hides in his house. The money, we discover, was paid to him as a settlement for the death of his daughter following a traffic accident caused by a rich man's daughter.

However, once the three utterly unlikeable yoofs are trapped inside the the house with their blind victim they find out he's far from the vulnerable disabled old man they were expecting but a  highly capable ex-marine hiding a secret in the basement so nasty it turns from him from victim to villain in the blink of an eye. Indeed once we've lost him as victim we lose the only likeable character in this film and are left to try and feel something for either the supposed heroine or her love-sick friend. Trouble is they're both deplorable and explaining that Rocky is only doing the robberies cos she's saving up to run away from her abusive mum and taking her little sister with her doesn't quite do it.

The film, a member of the survival horror film genre, focuses on the kids trying to escape the house or at least survive for the full 88 minutes. It ticks all the boxes including having the killer coming back from the dead, or at least managing to escape from seemingly impossible situations and popping up in the most unlikely of places when you least expect him. It's practically devoid of dialogue, which is impressive and survives on an edgy soundtrack of jarring, nerve jangling sounds and strings, and some good editing.

Can't say that horror films are still something I can enjoy. I used to go loads, particularly during the wonderful stalk and slash era of the 1980s but after a while they sort of lose their charm so I have to say I found this quite frustrating at times, although perhaps that's considered to be a good thing in this current day and age.

Either way, this was brief and silly and managed to ratchet up the tension while keeping the stupid jump shocks to a minimum, plus it has Stephen Lang as the villain and he's always worth the price of a ticket.

7/10








#62 BRIDGET JONES'S BABY


Starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Patrick Dempsey. Written by Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson. Directed by Sharon Maguire. Budget $35 million. Running time 123 minutes long.

Following a typically depressing 43rd birthday, Bridget spends the weekend drunkenly getting her grove back at a music festival with her new bestie, Miranda (Sarah Solemani) and getting knocked up by charming American billionaire Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey) and then one week later at a christening by ex-old flame/boyfriend Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). Trouble is 8 weeks later, Bridget finds out she's up the duff, but unsure of who the father is, and much hilarity ensues as the three of them struggle to come to terms with her dilemma.

Actually this turned out to be an extremely funny and enjoyable film. Renee Zellweger does a pitch-perfect English accent and brings a real and highly likeable easy charm to a role she's now played for 15 years and three films. I have to say, I didn't think this was going to be my sort of film, but I thoroughly enjoyed it! Genuinely funny, well acted and just a fun night out. It might of helped that I saw this with my wife on our 27th wedding anniversary, but even beyond that, I had a hoot with this one and left the cinema with a smile and a spring in my step.

I've seen all three of these films, I remember liking the first but disliking the second. This one though was a bloody good laugh.

8/10

#61 THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS



Starring Gemma Arterton, Sennia Nanua, Paddy Considine and Glenn Close. Written by M.R. Carey and directed by Colm McCarthy. Budget £4 million. Running time 111 minutes.

WOW. Just wow. A new twist on the zombie movie that does away with the traditional zombie electing instead to feature an endless horde of fast-moving fungus infested, flesh-eating crazies who've brought the human race to the very brink of utter extinction. Now, in one of the last-remaining military installations a weary scientist, Glenn Close frantically experiments with dwindling resources to find a cure for the infestation before humanity is overwhelmed.

This fresh take on the zombie movie sees a young hybrid human/zombie girl (Sennia Nanua) who might just hold the cure to the plague, her favourite teacher (Gemma Arterton), battle weary soldier (Paddy Considine) and the forementioned scientist (Glenn Close) head off to reach the safety of a command centre in the heart of London when their base is fatally overwhelmed by the fungus infested 'hungries' as these zombies are called. 

Written by M.R. Carey and based on his own best-selling novel, this was an immensely satisfying and at times genuinely scary and gruesome take on the zombie holocaust genre that offers some great new ideas, a great cast, some brilliantly mounted action sequences,  a real sense of palatable dread and a poignantly bleak ending. All in all, a gripping and exciting night out and when you think the whole thing was made for a paltry £4 million it just goes to show what can be done when you focus on story over style. 

This one was dead good! 9/10