Saturday, 27 May 2017

#47 PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN 5: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES


Starring Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally and Geoffrey Rush and Paul McCartney. Written by Jeff Nathanson. Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg. Budget $230 million! Running time 129 minutes. Certificate 12a

Hateful sac of shit, tied up with string and run over by a truck carrying liquid shit to a vomiting convention.

This is the fifth of these stupid, bloated cinematic equivalents of an all-you-can-eat-buffet. The first one, as I remember was a delight, so different and packed with great ideas and freshness, after that the series rapidly started floundering and by the last one I think we all signed a collective sigh of relief that we'd seen the last of Captain Jack Sparrow.

But sadly not. Cos here comes the fifth attempt to squeeze yet more money out of the corpse of a  creatively dead franchise. Johnny Depp is Captain Jack Sparrow, Javier Bardem is Salazar, the cursed baddy, Brenton Thwaites is the son of Orlando Blooms cursed character and Kaya Scodelario is a female astronomer, looking for her father and Geoffrey Rush is Captain thingie and they're all looking for the mythical Trident of Poseidon, which can break any curse. That's the plot, in a nutshell.

What follows is a dull, plod where characters are introduced to either progress the plot along or die, so the regular ones don't. For example, we're introduced to an interesting tattooed witch who then disappears never to be mentioned or seen again. And all the while Johnny Depp shows us what a fantastic actor he is by pretending to be drunk in every scene. And the awesome power of the CGI pixels are spewed across the screen in wave after wave of bloated excess, cos, as Hollywood knows, as long as the effects are special we don't care about anything else. And if you find the Fast and Furious franchise a little fast and easy with the laws of physics you ain't seen nothing yet. This film has so many logical holes it's infuriating! Can anyone explain how the pirates manage to lift a one tonne safe onto their ship - for example. Or, for that matter, why anyone would think that buildings when they are built can be ripped away from their foundations and dragged by horses through the streets?

Dead men Tell No Tales is a staggering banal film saved only by the superb special effects on Javier Bardem and the zombie sharks.

And that's it. I hated this film and hope I never see it again.

2/10

#46 BAYWATCH



Starring Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexndra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Priyaka Chopra, Jon Bas and Ilfenesh Hadera. Written by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, from a story by Jay Scherick, David Ronn, Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant. Directed by Seth Gordon. Budget $69 million. Running time 119 minutes. Cert 15.

Crap.

A laugh free, exercise is the laziest film making I have ever seen. With not one iota to recommend it to anyone. Seriously do not go and see this, it is truly dreadful. The Rock, usually so dependable is on auto pilot and cruise control at the same time, and still phones his performance in from a secret location while he's counting his fee. Meanwhile, walking muscle, Zac Efron decides the best way to act is with his super-hot bod and so he spends 99% of the film with his guns, pecs and abs out and boy that does that get boring quick. In fact, he's so toned that it actually starts to look ugly. He plays a 2-Gold Medal Olympic swimmer who signs up for Baywatch after he botched the relay race in the Olympics. You see, he's so arrogant he can't think of others, only himself.

The generic plot that was brought off the peg from the bargain bucket in an old run-down  Script-R-Us shop is so banal it genuinely beggars belief. It sees a ruthless female drug lord, who actually says during the film, "I'm not a Bond villain, well not yet." aim to flood the Baywatch area with a designer drug from her new beach front exclusive club. In the meantime, Dwayne and Zac bond but only after they've gone through the whole 3 stage Bro-romance thang. You know,  first enemies, then grudging respect finally best brahs.

I have to say I walked out after an hour. I laughed once, and that was out of embarrassment when the token fat kid (he's on the right of the poster) gets an erection and jumps on a slated sunbed thus trapping his meat and two veg between the slats. Laugh, well yes, but then as the scene progressed and all the Central Casting bikini babes and hot bros started mocking him and filming it for YouTube the jokes soon became uncomfortable. In fact all of the jokes in this film soon become uncomfortable and ugly, like the morgue scene and the dripping 'fat-people fat'.

The thing that finally did for me and caused me to say, out loud, 'Right, that's me. I'm done.' and then walk out of the preview screening was a terrible fight scene in a child's bedroom that saw the Rock dump a full diaper bin over the head of a baddie and then punch him out of the window into the family pool, where he floats, bin on head and full nappies all around him. Looking down from the shattered window, the Rock bellows, "Take a bath, shit-head!"

I don't know if it suddenly got better from there on, I doubt it.

I know I only have myself to blame, no one forced me to see this piece of shit, but frankly if that's the best Hollywood can do then I think they should just stop making films. I have a friend, a movie producer who told me recently that no film maker sets out to make a bad film and they all do the best job they can.

Well, I'm sorry to say that if this is the best job that Dwayne, Zac, Seth Gordon and the six writers it took to make this $65 million dollar piece of sorry shit then they should fucking ashamed of themselves, and if they're not then I am on their behalf.

0/10

Saturday, 20 May 2017

#45 COLOSSAL


Starring Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell and Tim Blake Nelson. Written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo. Budget $15 million. Running time 110 minutes. Certificate 15.

Boarder line alcoholic Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is an unemployed writer, mooching off her frustrated, soon to be ex-boyfriend Tim ( Dan Stevens) and about retreat back to her empty family home in Mainhead after one too many nights out with her worthless friends.
With no income and no hopes, she returns to her old home town where she bumps into an old school friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who happens to run the local bar. It soon transpires that he has something of a crush on her, but more because she made something of her life, or at least managed to escape to the Big Apple. And while she's come home feeling she's failed and has nothing to show for her time in NY, He feels the same because he stayed behind and has nothing to show for his life except for a huge amount of clutter and emotional baggage that fills his home.

He quickly offers her a part time job at his bar and slowly the two of them begin to relax and open up to each other and she makes friends with Oscar's two bar chums, Joel And Garth. Together the four of them spend their evenings drinking in the bar, and their nights drinking until dawn, that is until one day when Gloria wakes up to discover that the previous night a giant monster materialised in the middle of Seoul and went on a drunken rampage. She is even more shocked to discover that the monster and her are somehow linked and that its actions mimic hers. But how is this possible?

Things then take a turn for the worse when Gloria and Joel's relationship becomes romantic, and Oscar reveals a hidden side to his personality that becomes progressively more aggressive and ultimately dangerous. The situation only becomes worse when Tim arrives in town and tries to rekindle his relationship with Gloria. 

So far, so small indie film about failed relationships and second chances, but what makes Colossal so unique and different is the addition of, at first, the giant monster who is soon joined by an equally giant robot. Both materialise in Seoul one night and then every night at precisely the same time, inadvertently wrecking havoc. But what are their connections to Gloria and Jason and a nearby children's play ground?

This is a genuinely fascinating and extremely entertaining movie, well written and very well acted, particularly from Hathaway and Sudeikis. In fact Sudeikis in particular reveals a serious side to his usual comedy schtick that is a revelation.

None of the men come out of this film well and it's a delight that Hathaway as our heroine is never rescued by any of the men and is left to resolve that situation in an utterly satisfying way.

While this isn't a broad comedy that is suggested by the trailer or the poster, it is still a thoroughly entertaining, satisfying and unexpected movie.

8/10

Sunday, 14 May 2017

#44 MISS SLOANE


Starring Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alison Pill, Jake Lacy, Sam Waterston and John Lithgow. Written by Jonathan Perera and directed by John Madden.
Budget $13 million. Running time 132 minutes.

Set in the world of the Washington political lobbyists, the films follows career lobbyist Miss Sloane (Jessica Chastain) as she takes on the impossible task of securing a win against the gun lobby on a controversial imminent gun control vote. Defecting from a powerful right-wing lobbying group, Sloane is headhunted by Mark Strong's Rodolfo Schmidt to help him and his left-wing lobbying company secure enough support to win the vote - she has 70 odd days to win the votes of 45 floating Senators. Sloane is an obsessed and utterly driven career woman who has a laser-like drive that forces her to succeed at any cost, and that's exactly what she does here. She has no family, no friends and pays for the services of a male escort. Plus she suffers from insomnia and pops pills to stay awake.

The film is beautifully written and powerfully acted by all, but most noticeably by Jessica Chastain, who is in every single scene, and Mark Strong who both give a masterclass in acting. They are a total delight to watch and once again prove they are superb actors of real quality and class.

The film is a behind the scenes glimpse of the world of political manipulation and lobbying and it's utterly engrossing, right up to the bit when it stops being a serious political drama and becomes something totally different than what the preceding 128 minutes had lead us to believe. And that includes a fantastic sequence where Sloane reveals a secret about one of her colleagues during a live TV debate that is genuinely shocking and shows us the true depth of her obsession to succeed.

However, what this story twist, so late in the day does, is to dramatically lessen the drama of the entire story as it dumps the glorious political intrigue for a classic, 'under-dog' type story where our hero beats the big bad man with a cunningly plan of incredible complexity, which when it is revealed in the final court room showdown just drags what could have been a solid 10/10 down to an 8/10. And it also stops this film from ever becoming considered a modern classic. Still it's an odd thing to say that a film that gets an 8/10 could be considered to have failed.

Entertaining, intriguing and dramatic but sadly hamstrung by the need to make this like a John Grisham novel adaptation and have a last minute court-room revelation that frankly stretches credulity.

8/10

#42 & 43: ALIEN COVENANT


Starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir. Written by John Logan and Dante Harper. Directed by Ridley Scott. Running time 123 minutes. Budget $111 million. Cert 15.

Flushing the foul taste of Alien Prometheus into the cold vacuum of space comes this, Alien Covenant, the 6th official film in the Alien franchise, the third to be directed by Ridley Scott and the second in the proposed Alien prequel series.

Learning his lessons from Alien Prometheus, well almost, Ridley has cleverly given us what we want, more xenomorphs more, scares, more gore and more action. Also by doing away with the writing 'skills' of Damon Lindelof in favour of John Logan and Dante Harper, Ridley is able to deliver a far more satisfying and vastly less stupid movie than its predecessor. That said, it still seems that in 100 years time, humans are far more stoopider than they are now, since they do insist on doing really stoopid things on alien planets, of which more later.

The plot, set ten years after the Prometheus mission went missing, joins android Walter as he pilots and maintains the colony ship Covenant on its long seven year journey to a distant planet with a crew of over 2000 sleeping colonists and crew members. When a freak interstellar neutrino flare sees the ship damaged and its hibernating captain incinerated Walter is forced to revive the flight crew to help him repair the ship. And it's while reparing the ship, one of the crew members, Tennison intercepts a
strange distress call and the ship decides to investigate the signal which leads them to explore a massive type M planet within weeks of their location rather than the seven years of their proposed target planet. And so the ship, now under the captaincy of Billy Crudup decides to investigate.

The new planet is swiftly reached and an expedition team dispatched. It's there on that strange, utterly silent planet (no animals, birds or insects exist on the storm lashed planet) that the shit finally hits the fan, over and over again and a survivor from the Prometheus is discovered living alone on the alien world, that we soon discover is the home planet of the Engineers. But why is it now silent, what happened to the population and just what the hell are those giant egg things down in the dank basement..?

Damn Ridley Scott is a satisfying director, his skill at framing shots, establishing tension and directing action is almost peerless, it's a shame he seems less concerned about his scripts. And while this is a vastly superior movie to Prometheus, it's still has supposedly intelligent characters doing stupid things to push the plot along.

But this is nit-picking and as I'm loathed to say endlessly about other films, this isn't real and it certainly isn't a fly on the wall documentary. It's a bloody satisfying and entertaining science fiction action/horror film that delivers a thoroughly entertaining, stylish and well-directed slice of schlock that doesn't skim on the monsters or gore. while also giving us some fascinating interplay between Michael Fassbender's Walter and the sole survivor of the Prometheus that form the core of the movie. The other human characters take a back seat to their shenanigans but that isn't a bad thing. Apart from the aliens, the androids are far more entertaining than the human characters.

This is a very obvious sequel with nods to all your favourite bits plundered from earlier films while new twists on old tricks are wheeled out to some gruesome effect.

Not half bad! 8/10


REVISED
I bought this when it came out on blu ray and sat down to eagerly reunite with this and boy what a disappointment it turned out to be. The thing you take away from this film is that the entire plot works purely because every single character makes and does really stupid things just to get it's sorry carcass on to the next plot point. I don't know why I wasn't that bothered by that the first two times I watched this up there on the big screen, maybe cos it looks so gorgeous. But this time round I found the stupidity too much to bear.

Astronauts or don't follow orders, like 'close the airlock till we return'. Others who explore without survival suits or wearing protection. These fuckwits don't even bother scanning the planet's surface before landing, thus ignoring the massive cities that litter this planet. Astronauts who don't bother to tell each other when things happen, who enter quarantine with little regard. Oh god I could go on but I can't. If it wasn't for David and Walter I would lose it with this film as it is they just about save it, but boy if those two androids could see how fucking stupid the humans were they'd team up and kill every one, Aliens included.

Rewatch 5/10 




Friday, 12 May 2017

#41 KING ARFUR: LEDGE OF THE SWORD

Starring Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Berges-Frisby, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Jude Law, Eric Bana and David Beckenham. Written by Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram and Joby Harold. Directed by Guy Ritchie. Budget $175 million. Running time 126 minutes.

Well, it was bound to happen sooner than later. Obviously inspired by the notion of fusion cuisine, you know those restaurants that mix up different foods from around the world, like Thai and cheese fondue, well top-geezer Guy Ritchie has only gorn and created Fusion Flicks, ain't 'e? That's right, guvnor. Good old Guy ('e's a card) Richtie 'as mixed British gangster flicks from the 1990s and the Hobbit to create this - the first part of his planned six movie saga based on diamond top bloke, King Arfur, 'e what beat the Saxons, 'eralded in the age of chivalry and inspired the vastly superior Monty Python's The Holy Grail.

So, if you've wondered what Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels crossed with Game of Thrones without the nudity and sadism looks like? Well look no further, cos your man, Guy Ritchie 'as done it!

The story, as old as time, sees Arfur, the young son of King Uthar, orphaned one night by his uncle, who's turned to the dark side, which in this case means the weird octopus lady living in his basement. Poor Arfur is sent down the river, Moses like, to be found and bought up by a gang of loveable tarts wiv 'earts and brought up in their bridge brothel.There he stays for the next 20 years until he's grown up to be Charlie Hunnam and been trained to fight by the local mixed martial arts Kung Fu master who just so happens to be running his dojo next door to the huge colosseum built in the heart of London. Then Excalibur resurfaces, all men of a certain age are brought to try and pull it free, and Arfur is 'rescued/recruited' by the rebels to fight. Naturally, he's reluctant (cos all heroes have to spend 2/3rd of a movie saying they're not the hero everyone else tells them they are) before finally, in the third act, he stop fighting, picks up the sword for the showdown with his uncle, Jude Law. Then there's just time for Arfur to get crowned king of England,  knight all his mates and sets the table (round) for the next film. God help us all.

Filled with all of Guy Ritchie's favourite little camera tricks and story telling tropes, like rewinding the film to rewatch a scene, multiple times, irritating voice overs, cockney actors giving it all that and a host of other things makes for a somewhat jarring experience. He also does himself no favours by rendering all the fight scenes totally unwatchable thanks to violent camera shakes, oh and there's also a 3D version, but whatever you do. Do NOT see this in 3D, never have I ever seen a more useless 3D movie than this.

Best bits are the beginning and the very end. In between we spend a vast length of time with a lead character who refuses to accept his fate, which is bloody infuriating since we know that he's going to finally do the right thing, so why waste time watching him go 'oh no, not me' over and over again. That coupled with all the scenes where someone says they're not going to do that, before we cut to the next scene where they're doing what they just said they wouldn't.

Whilst never boring, this is nevertheless utterly un-engaging, mostly down to the fact that film isn't interested in the plot or story, all it wants to do is feature a band of cockney wideboys getting one over on the baddies. Poor Jude Law, who is always on the verge of being awesome spends the entire film just waiting for the showdown with his nephew. The film doesn't seem interested in developing a plot or should I say spending time with the plot and it seems to be there just so we can barrel along to the next action beat.

Rather than creating a cinematic version of fusion cuisine, Richie has instead taken two genres and done a Cut and Shut job, as he badly welds together two utterly different genres together to create something genuinely clunky. That said, this isn't a total disaster, due mostly to the cast who give it their all, but their efforts are rendered useless because Richie is determined to throw everything he's got up there too and doesn't seem to have any restraint.

5/10

#40 UNLOCKED

Starring Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, Michael Douglas, John Malkovich and Toni Collette. Written by Peter O'Brien and directed by Michael Apted. Running time 98 minutes.

Noomi Rapace is Alice Racine an ex-CIA interrogator taking a time out following a terrible terrorist attack in Paris she was unable to prevent that's left her somewhat broken. She's now working, undercover for MI5 boss, Toni Collette in the local council housing department, that is until a plot to unleash an imminent biological attack in London against an American target is uncovered. Naturally, cos Alice used to be the 'best' at that sort of thing, she finds herself forcibly re-recruited back to the ranks of the  CIA to interrogate an 'redacted' courier who might just have important information that could save the day. What follows is your usual frantic, chase/race against the clock to save the day while every spy thriller cliche is ticked off the bingo card, herrings are painted red and plots, counter-plots and conspiracies are unearthed quicker then you can shake a stick at and far too many crosses are doubled. Along for the ride is an cast of excellent supporting actors and Orlando Bloom. Michael Douglas turns up as Alice's ex-CIA Section Head and surrogate father-figure, Eric Lasch, John Malkovich plays permanently angry CIA boss Bob Hunter and Orlando Bloom, sporting an cockney accent worthy of Dick Van Dyke plays Jack Alcott, an ex-marine burglar path crosses with our plucky, oddly accented, CIA heroine. But which one of these talented actors, and Orlando Bloom isn't what they say they are and what is really going on...

Not a bad film, certainly entertaining, despite Apted's best efforts to render each and every action sequence almost unwatchable with his dreary, patented technique of shaking the camera violently whenever there's an action scene. A word to wise, THIS DOESN'T MAKE US THINK WE'RE WATCHING A FUCKING FLY ON THE WALL DOCUMENTARY! IT JUST JERKS US OUT OF THE MOVIE AND MAKES US FEEL A LITTLE NAUSEOUS.

Apart from that, always good to see a kick-ass heroine, kicking ass and taking names. This was a nice bit of fun that was pleasantly reminiscent of Spooks and its London location made for a nice change from the usual gritty streets of New York city. Rapace, Douglas and Malkovich are always good value for money and best of all its blissfully brief running time means it doesn't outstay its welcome.

7/10

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

#39: SLEEPLESS


Starring Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, David Harbour, T.I, Gabrielle Union, Scoot McNairy. Written by Andrew Berloff. Directed by Baran bo Odar. 95 very long minutes. Budget $30 million.

I really don't know if I can be bothered. I mean, I've seen some shit films in my time, I mean really shit, films that leave you angry by their utter ineptitude. Then there are those shit films that become good because they are so bad and then there are just those films that are shit, with a lower case 's', those films that boring, which in my opinion is the worst crime a film can commit. 

And this is one of those films, a pointless, dreary, dull and staggeringly boring crime film that leaves no crime cliche unchecked. Do you want your hero to be an undercover cop, pretending to be bad? CHECK! Do you want him to have an ex-wife who's on the verge of moving her new boyfriend into the marital home? CHECK! How about the hard-boiled female cop with a chip on her shoulder determined to prove she's just as hard-boiled as the men? CHECK! Did you want to have the 'which member of Internal Affairs is crooked'? CHECK! If you asked for an estranged teenage son then don't worry cos there's one of those in this too. In fact if you can spot a single new idea in this film you're a better man than I, Gunga Din.

The plot sees Jamie Foxx's character, I can't be arsed to name him, and his partner, T.I (who in his spare time is a drug mule for the baddie, Scott McNairy accidentally rob the wrong man of his 25 kilos of drugs. In revenge the 'wrong man', Dermort Mulroney kidnaps Foxx's son and demands the return of the drugs or his son will die. Meanwhile Michelle Monaghan disfigured by a horrific 5mm scar on her face is the angry Internal Affairs agent who is convinced that Foxx is corrupt and just won't let it lie, while her partner, David Harbour is far too helpful and nice for his own good. I bet he's up to no good.

So then all these stupid characters arrive at Dermot's casino, some of them punch each other, some of the shoot each other, Foxx's son gets kidnapped and rescued three or four times. One of them reveals themselves to be corrupt, while another isn't and our hero can survive being stabbed, shot and beaten up with nothing more serious than a gently bleeding wound that only inhibits our hero when he remembers. And then it's just time for the ex-wife, a nurse with a gun to arrive in the casino's multi-story car park just in time to save her ex husband in yet another pointless shoot-out.

Oh then, in a act so desperate it actually beggers belief the really big baddie behind everything, a man only name-checked but never seen is shoe-horned into an end coda that actually begs for a sequel, I mean seriously. But it's a pathetic effort and does nothing to drag this film out of the rancid pool of shit that it wallows in. This has nothing of any merit to recommend this shit fest. Seriously,  not one single goddam thing. It's just a great big 95 minute experiment in lazy, tedium. The director who starts off ripping off Se7en, seems to get just as bored as us and gives up. God, I wish I had.

A veritable shit sandwich, with a shit pattie and two slices of shit as bread with a sprinkling of shit pretending to be salad and served with a dollop of liquid poo.

2/10 but I can't think of why this isn't lower, maybe cos I didn't hate it.