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

#60 KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS



Starring the vocal talents of Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei and Matthew McConaughey. Written by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler. Directed by Travis Knight.

$60 million budget. Running time 102 minutes.

Set in ancient Japan, the story sees Kubo (Art Parkinson) the one eyed grandson of the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes), hiding with his emotionally damaged and physically scared mother (Charlize Theron) in a cave to avoid the deadly attentions of his two evil aunts (Rooney Mara) who want to steal his other eye as a gift for their father, who took Kubo's other eye when he was just a baby. Kubo spends his days entertaining the inhabitants of the nearby fishing village with an extra-ordinary puppet shows featuring origami creations magically manipulated by the tune of Kubo's three stringed lute. The tale he weaves is one without an end, describing the never-ending battle between a samurai warrior and a monstrous dragon. During the night, Kubo tends to his traumatised mother and hiding from the ever searching glare of the moon.

However one night, Kubo who longs to learn more about his father - Hanzo, stays out too long in a hope to talk to his long-dead father and is seen by the Moon King who sends his two daughters after him. Kubo's mother gives up her life, using the last of her own magical powers to save him and sends Kubo off on a quest to find his father's magical armour. Along the way, Kubo is aided by a powerful magical monkey and a dim-witted but heroic beetle who team up to find the three items of armour that will protect Kubo from his evil Grandfather, leading to a showdown that is touching and visually staggering.

This isn't your usual CGI animated movie, this is model animation of the most breath-taking kind created by the animation studio Laika who were also responsible for equally visually beautiful Boxtrolls, Para-Norman and Coraline. It gives the film a wonderfully unique feel that is never less than astonishing.

From an artistic point of view this is a simply fantastic movie, one of the most beautiful I've seen in years, the skill of the animators and artists is peerless and elevates this movie into a different class. If this doesn't win an Oscar next year for Best Animation then I'm a Dutchman's Aunt.

Sadly, the story doesn't quite match the visuals, the quest it's young, one-eyed hero is sent off ends up being an extremely easy one to achieve and doesn't really offer that much of challenge, while the plot feels ill-defined and there's a sense that something is missing from the story. However the relationships between the main characters and the bizarre family dynamic that exists at the core of this film is refreshingly unique and fascinating.

One of the most visually arresting films I've seen in a long time, this was an immensely enjoyable film which only loses one point because the story felt a little flat.

My kids and I loved this, as did the audience of mixed aged kids who seemed genuinely captivated by what they saw. A superb visual experience that deserves to be seen on the big screen. Go and see it if only to see just how extraordinary model animation can be. In a word, breath-taking.

9/10

#59 HELL OR HIGH WATER



Starring: Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Gil Birmingham. Written by Taylor Sheridan. Directed by David Mackenzie.

Budget $12 million. 102 minutes long.

The story of two sets of brothers, one paternal, one fraternal and their inextricable date with destiny and death. Playing out like a modern day western this sees poor as dirt brothers, Toby and Tanner Howard (Chris Pine and Ben Foster - one an ex-con, the other a divorced and unemployed father ) carry out a spree of small-scale bank robberies across West Texas in order to pay off the debts left behind by the death of their mother. The brothers have a week to pay off the banks or risk them foreclosing on the failed family farm, which it's been discovered is sat on a huge oil field.

Choosing only small banks in deprived areas and only taking small bills from the tills, their crimes fail to interest the FBI and so it falls to, soon to retire, Texas Ranger, Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his, much put-upon, partner, native American Indian Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) to stop the bank-robbing brothers. Marcus who's just been handed his retirement papers takes up the chase, seemingly as a way to put a full-stop to his career, or perhaps to die heroically in a hail of gunfire, thus avoiding the slow death of an aimless, empty retirement. As the two pairs of brothers lazily drift into each other's paths, this film slowly takes its time, building character and subtly exploring motives and relationships until the inevitable showdown and a poignant conclusion that's both satisfying and  open ended.

Wrongly accused of racism and sexism by the more sensitive and easily offended members of the viewing public because of the lack of significant female characters and the brotherly verbal abuse of Gil Birmingham's Alberto Parker by Jeff Bridge's Marcus Hamilton, this is an utterly superb film, indeed one of my favourite films of the year so far. Each of the four main characters give layered, nuanced performances, the sound track by Nic Cave and Warren Ellis is evocative and moving and the cinematography is beautiful. Directed with real skill by David MacKenzie who also gave us the incredibly claustrophobic Starred Up this was a deeply satisfying and extremely enjoyable movie and well worth seeing, particularly if you're as bored shitless as I am by the current glut of big, bloated, bland, generic, hollywood popcorn movies that have stunk up this summer's movie theatres.

Do you self a favour and go and see this, one of this year's best movies.

9/10






Friday, 16 September 2016

#58 BAD MOMS




Starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Annie Mumolo, Jada Pinkett Smith and Christina Applegate. Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.

 Budget $20 mill. Running time 100 minutes.

An impossibly well-paid, over-worked, young mom (Mila Kunis) rebels against juggling the insane demands of  her ludicrous and unbelievable job of a sales rep for a hipster coffee company, her home life with cheating banker husband and her over achieving children's school's PTA and it's uber dictatorial president (Christina Applegate) who controls the school. She teams up with two fellow yummy mummies, in the guise of Kristen Bell and Kathryn Khan, and decides to run for the post of 'PTA President', against the power mad Christina Applegate. After that much, well some hilarity ensues.

This is a fun and funny film, but not a hilarious one. There are three superb stand-out moments, the three heroines in the supermarket, the fantastic women-only house party and the first time the three women go out for a drink. Actually, come to think of it, whenever these three women get together it's hilarious. They share an easy, very likeable chemisty and are bloody funny to boot. The only thing that lets this film down is the very lame, generic plot that putts along doing nothing beyond joining the dots in an orderly fashion. It's a shame a film like this doesn't have the guts to be really raucous, because there is nothing more glorious then watching these women being very funny. Stand out is Kathryn Hahn who is a wonderful, fearless comedienne.

The only niggling thing I had about this film is Kristen Bell's character who is clearly in a verbally abusive relationship, her husband is shown as very controlling and manipulative. However rather than confront and deal with this situation the film ends with their roles literally reversed and Kristen now the domineering and bullying partner.

Anyhoo, this isn't a bad film, it's just that it doesn't have enough oomph.

There's a lovely bit at the end where the six actresses talk to their actual mothers about their relationships.

6/10 

Sunday, 4 September 2016

#57 MECHANIC: RESURRECTION





Starring Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Yeoh. Written by Philip Shelby and tony Mosher. Directed by Dennis Gansel. Budget $48 million, 98 minutes long.

God, my third film of the day, the second to star Michelle Yeoh and the first feature the Stath. Now I like the Stath, I try and see all his films and used to think he had real potential, but now I'm beginning to worry.

Mechanic: Resurrection is the sequel, no one actually asked for, to the 2011 Mechanic movie, which itself was a lackluster remake of a sub-standard Charles Bronson vehicle from the 1970s originally directed by Michael Winner.

The story sees Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) enjoying his retirement, running a boat yard in Rio, who is forced to come out of retirement to perform three assassinations when his girlfriend (Jessica Alba) is kidnapped and used as leverage. What follows are three ridiculously convoluted 'hits', each more outlandish than the last before the final boss-level showdown on a luxury yacht with a ticking time bomb as motivation.

And that's it. The trailer was fun, the film not so. I used to love watched the Stath in action, but I'm beginning to get a little weary and fear his decent into Steven Seagel/Dolph Lundgren straight to video fare can't be too far behind, which is a shame because Stath is a good actor and can often project a likeable warmth, sadly missing here. Added to that, some dreadful acting, some terrible plot holes and some genuinely shoddy CGI effects and you've got a film that if it was a car wouldn't so much need a good mechanic as utterly scrapping into a cube of crushed metal.

Could do so much better. 5/10















#56 MORGAN


Starring Kate Mara, Anay Taylor-Joy, Toby Jones, Rose Leslie, Boyd Holbrook, Michelle Yeoh, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Paul Giamatti. Written by Seth Owen and directed by Luke Scott.

Budget $8 million and 92 minutes long.

A trouble shooter for a corporation, Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) arrives at a remote research facility, populated by a ragtag team of scientists, somewhere deep in a beautiful forest, with a hidden gun, a sharp set of trouser suits and a no-nonsense haircut to conduct an investigation into an incident involving a genetically created 'human' codenamed Morgan. Morgan, as played by Anay Taylor-Joy. Morgan is a 6-year old, adult-sized genetically enhanced human who, one day blinds one of her minders in an unprovoked attack and is placed into lock-down pending the result of Weather's investigation, who might be hiding a secret of her own...

As a series of interviews takes place between Weathers and the scientists, and with Morgan herself we learn of the relationship between the scientists and Morgan and the events that led up to the attack, which all culminate in an incredible showdown between Morgan and Paul Giamatti's Dr. Alan Shapiro - a behaviour psychologist, that takes a turn for the worst and leads to Morgan escaping from her glass box prison and wrecking revenge upon those who have imprisoned her.

This looks stunning, which thanks to having Ridley Scott as your father, is hardly surprising and features a terrific cast of actors. It also starts off well, creating a sense of menace that nicely builds until it's all blown on the totally generic, monster on the loose 3rd act where all the mental jousting is dumped for gun battles, fisti-cuffs and monster hunting that leads to a totally surprise free twist ending which you worked out in the opening scene.

This feels like someone watched the infinitely more superior Ex-Machina and said, 'hey, d'you what would make that film better? A monster chase!'

As stated, it starts well and reaches its peak with the extremely uncomfortable interview between Morgan and Dr. Shapiro, but after that, it's just a badly staged monster hunt and feels like Luke is paying far too much homage to daddy's Alien.

Nowhere near as good as Ex machina and ultimately disappointing, but it looks beautiful and the performances particularly Jones, Giamaatti, Leslie and Yeoh are excellent. it's just a shame it's all so generic and features one of the worst set up 'surprise endings' since Oblivion.

5/10






#55 SAUSAGE PARTY


Starring: Michael Cera, Kristen Wigg, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader,  Edward Norton, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Salma Hayek and Seth Rogen.

Screenplay by Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldbert. Directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan.

Budget $18 million. Running time 88 minutes.

Set in a supermarket on the eve of July 4th, the film follows the adventures of Frank a frankfurter (Seth Rogen), his girlfriend, Brenda, a bun (Kristen Wigg) and a gang of similar food stuffs who set out on a quest to discover the truth behind the myth of the Great Beyond, believed to be their version of heaven. Along the way they team up with a bagel (Ed Norton), a taco shell (Selma Hayek), a Lavash (David Krumholtz) and a deformed frankfurter called Carl, played by Johan Hill.

The plot isn't really that important, it's just there to mix some amazing off-colour jokes, with staggering innuendo, offensive smut and some gloriously obscene sex jokes and visual gags, including the most incredible sex  scene I've ever seen outside of Team America, which is a good comparison. If you liked that you'll love this. Along there way there are also two fantastic scenes, one set in a kitchen and the other in a slacker's squalid flat that mix the horrific truth of the food's terrible situation and the some truly gory gags together for some superb effect. Playing as an anti-Pixar movie, this might hopefully lead to some more 'adult' animated movies.

I laughed, I gasped and I squirmed, but that had more to do with the fact I watched this with my 17 year old daughter, who laughed at all the jokes I had hoped would go over her head. Some lovely animation, some really nice ideas and far funnier than most of Hollywood's regular 'R' rated comedies we're subjected to. Plus it ends with a simply staggering sex orgy that will have you weeping.

Anyway, there's nothing big or clever about this, and if you like Seth Rogen's brand of comedy you're going to love this. Also, don't feel the need to sit through to the very end, there's nothing there.

8/10













Friday, 2 September 2016

#54 PETE'S DRAGON

Starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence and Robert Redford.

Written by David Lowery and Tony Halbrooks. Directed by David Lowery Budget $65  million running time 102 minutes.

A remake of the 1977 live action/animation kids film about a boy and his green dragon. This 2016 remake sees Pete orphaned in a vast wood following a car crash and then raised by a large green dragon whom he names Eliot. Later a plot involving a logging company, a skeptical ranger, her boyfriend who also happens to be the manager of the logging company and her dad, Robert Redford who swears blind he saw the dragon when he was a young man. Anyways, Pete is found living in the woods and brought back to civilisation and then promptly tries to escape back to the loving embrace of the jolly green giant and mankind in the guise of Dallas Howard and Karl Urban try to stop him and capture the dragon for their own purposes. Cue heart string tugging, mild adventure, some jeopardy and a thoroughly warm glow once it's over.

This is a Disney film so they know how to manipulate you. Don't fight it, go with the flow, this is a non offensive and enjoyable film that doesn't outstay its welcome. With some fab effects courtesy of Weta and some good acting particularly from the young boy lead, Oakes Fegley. This was an enjoyable feel-good family film, that somehow avoids mawkish sentimentality. Not sure we needed another remake of an old classic animated film but it wasn't half bad.

8/10

#53 MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES


Starring:  Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick, Adam DeVine, Aubrey Plaza and Stephen Root. Written by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien. Directed by Jake Szymanski.

Budget $33 million. Running time 98 minutes long.

Saw this back on August 14th, cannot remember a thing about it. Plot sees two boys, one a passive aggressive psycho and the other a mentally challenged halfwit, both perennial manchilds forced to find 'nice' dates for their sister's wedding. They end up with Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza's Tatiana and Alice, a pair of equally dangerous fun loving girls who pretend to be nice to get the free holiday. Queue a sweet, but rude, romantic comedy where the boys and girls discover their inner feelings, grow as people and bond, while at the same time, doing drugs, getting pissed and strangely avoiding the beast with two backs. They also destroy their sister's marriage before the final act where they save the day and everyone goes home happy.

Not terrible.

6/10

#52 BARRY LYNDON


Starring: Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Kr├╝ger, Diana Koerner and Gay Hamilton. Written, produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. Based on The Luck of Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray.  Budget $11 million. Running time 187 minutes.

The rise and fall of a young Irish boy, Barry Lyndon as played by a never better Ryan O'Neal.

Originally made in 1975, and released again last month, although I'm not too sure why. This was utterly and totally satisfying. 187 languid, slow, thoughtful film making, beautifully shot, exquisitely acted and sumptuous. This was the perfect antidote to a summer of utterly dirge. I loved every slow moving minute. Deep, subtle and delicate. There was one whole scene that was played out with looks along. Cannot fault this film.

10/10.