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nicky

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Everything posted by nicky

  1. A QUIET PLACE PART II (2021) 4/5 (No spoilers) I liked the first film but it seemed to simply be an excuse to have some high-tension scenes built around people having to keep quiet while blind monsters hunted them - similar to how the VERY simple plot of JOHN WICK (2014) was also 'just an excuse' to showcase action. A QUIET PLACE PART II is more of the same; its great at tension but weak on the actual story. This time Emily Blunt takes a bit of a back-seat allowing Cillian Murphy to be a great addition. We also learn a tiny bit more about the aliens and what has happened to civilization but overall the sequel doesn't add much - it's just literally 'the next day'. If you watch both films back-to-back it almost feels like a TV mini-series - except there just doesn't seem to be much going on in this film's universe. It's very contained and I'm sure it could quickly be over by Part 3. Having said that this installment does verge on THE WALKING DEAD territory though and so could open up into a similar TV series (a spin-off film is in development). It's a fun film though, probably better than the first but it's short, thin and over with very quickly with not enough plot or dialogue to breathe life into characters throughout. It needs more meat.
  2. THE TOMORROW WAR (2021) 4/5 (No spoilers) After a slew of s***ty straight-to-streaming movies I didn't expect much from Amazon's THE TOMORROW WAR but I was very pleasantly surprised. It's like a good old-fashioned sci-fi action film from the 90s in the vain of INDEPENDENCE DAY (1996) with a hint of TERMINATOR 2 (1991); time-travelers from the future arrive in our present to recruit soldiers to help fight a losing future war against aliens.The action was great, the monsters were cool (the aliens are given purpose!) and the characters weren't the cliches I expected. Sure when I heard there was a father, daughter and grandfather in the story I anticipated there'd be some unnecessary/tired estranged relationship sub-plot going on (we just had that in ARMY OF THE DEAD), I mean there is...but its not as eye-rolling as we're used to (I don't think) and it doesn't get in the way.The film has three solid acts and moves along pretty swiftly (as it should with a 2hr+ runtime) but the start of the film is a little too swift; we're barely 5 mins in before the time-travelers arrive with their HUGE announcement of an alien invasion and we're hardly given any time to get comfortable with the protagonist's introduction or the set-up of the film's universe first. BTW since when was World Cup at Xmas?!Of course there's things that make no sense, the odd cop-out, the ending is horribly cheesy and beats from other sci-fi films are borrowed like THE THING (2011), STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997) and EDGE OF TOMORROW (2014) but the good out-weighed the bad. I know when I'm having a good time when I look at the counter and am glad to see there's still another hour to go. I look forward to the sequel and finding out more about the aliens' arrival.
  3. ARMY OF THE DEAD (2021) 3/5 (No spoilers) I had high hopes for this film following Zack Snyder's excellent DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004) but found ARMY nowhere near as good. It's not a total disappointment but certainly not worth the 14 year wait in development hell either. That's plenty time to improve a script! I absolutely love the premise; a team of mercs is sent into a quarantined zombie-filled Las Vegas to pull-off a heist. However, I found the film to be lacking in consistency as most of the zombie-action (bar the one great tense scene halfway) wasn't seen until towards the end of the film making the structure quite unbalanced. It's a slow build-up including Snyder's signature slo-mo opening titles (that take forever) and culminates in a very rushed climax where things happen too quickly or too easily - the writing, pacing and editing are all quite messy and characters defy logic. Yes, the plot is predictable and some parts were so cliche and reminded me of ALIENS (1986); there's even a tough Latin chick with a red headband like Vasquez and a shady corporate guy. Each character had decent stuff to do though and thankfully wasn't just random fodder but there's always that one annoying cliche person who stupidly endangers everyone else - just like in DOTD. The emotional-arc of the film felt really weak, tiresome and unnecessary like most survival-horror schlock. Overall the film lacked consistency and should have been more concise. Nevertheless it was still mildly enjoyable in a dumb way simply because of the premise and visuals (despite Synder's use of a shallow depth of field looking like vaseline on the lens) - but the ending is so unsatisfying with things left unresolved and questions unanswered, even the zombies' origins are left a mystery and why does the leader wear a eff-ing cape?!
  4. NOBODY (2021) 3.5/5 (No spoilers) While hardly original this was still an enjoyable action romp, it's greatest strength being it's main character played by Bob Odenkirk who has a bit more realism to him than the other middle-aged action men we're used to. I didn't watch the trailer first so was quite disappointed and unprepared for the change in direction the story took after the first 30 mins. The film started off interesting but then after the scene on the bus everything changed, up until that point I was watching something different but then the film rapidly descended into the same old 'John Wick' s***. I really wanted to explore more of the character's reluctance to fight, his rustiness and desire to be a peaceful family-man but this theme was overshadowed by the need to be a straight-out bullet-fest. There are obvious comparisons to JOHN WICK (2016) of course; it's another assassin picking a fight with a Russian gang who's boss wants to avenge their brother/son against a backdrop of nightclubs, basements, techno music and even the same blue/violet cinematography. It's safe to say so if you enjoyed JOHN WICK then you'll like NOBODY. I actually preferred the latter.
  5. MORTAL KOMBAT (2021) 2.5 (Mild spoiler) I was looking forward to this and was quite pleased to see that the fans had generally been positive about it despite many critics hadn't. But then I realized that fans of videogames are generally fans of that medium first and cinema second. In other words, take a film fan's word for it when they say the movie sucks, not a gamer's. The film's opening 10 mins are great but the rest just doesn't live up to the start so it's quite obviously a horribly unbalanced film. The plot is boring; there's all this talk of tournaments and a rivalry between 'Earthrealm' and 'Outworld' but we never see any of it and there's almost no explanation given for why any of this s*** is even happening. It's like the film was made purely with fans in mind so if you aren't very familiar with the property a lot of it will go over your head. The plot lost me quite early on but what's worse is that nothing redeeming made me want to go back and try to understand it. It's a fairly over-crowded film with too many characters squeezed in, they're also pretty weakly-written and feel very randomly placed - its like a messy superhero team movie. Josh Lawson (Kano) has a lot of charisma but his constant plays for comic relief become too much at times (eg. the dinner scene) while Lewis Tan (Cole) feels rather flat as a leading man. Overall, the film feels like a 90s B-movie due to its casting of little-known TV actors and lack of scope - it wants to be a big blockbuster but it feels like the focus on action, violence and fan service is trying to compensate for lack of story.
  6. PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (2020) 4/5 (No spoilers) Carey Mulligan is 'Cassie', a troubled lonely woman haunted by the rape of her best friend years before. What follows is a sociopathic feminist revenge-thriller loaded with creepy-manipulative schemes - think GONE GIRL (2014), FATAL ATTRACTION (1987) and a bit of FALLING DOWN (1993). But unlike those films, I found it hard in this movie to root for our misandristic/'jaded' heroine. The first 20 minutes presents Cassie as a crusader looking for trouble and baiting men; she feigns drunkeness in bars just to teach men a lesson about taking advantage of women - its as pointless as deliberately leaving my wallet on display in an unlocked car just to catch-out opportunist thieves. Whatsmore that plot-point should've been saved for a separate movie all of its own since it served NO purpose to the main plot (except to highlight the film's feminist agenda). It's easy to sympathize with Cassie but equally easy to find her unlikable; sure she deserves justice but she's so calculating and angry like an incel. The plot and pacing is very good and there is a lot of "plotting" going on...but I had a major problem with characters not questioning Cassie's excuses and explanations (or lack thereof) for her schemes. And this won Best Original Screenplay?! Also the love interest (Ryan) is presented as such an embarrassing simp, was this an attempt to satirize or make fun of good guys? The message here was men are either misogynist A-holes or weak saps who beg for dates, either way they're all crap...except your dad of course. There is humour in the film but its awkward (the pharmacy scene was cringey). The production design is colourful and girly in a candy-store way but although the film deals with sensitive political issues, I feel they're dumbed-down by the 'need' to be a commercial hit with its use of pop music and girly colours. The ending was unexpected and brave but I lost all respect and stopped rooting for Cassie completely because she crossed the line and the final plothole here just lost me. This is probably the most feminist film since THELMA & LOUISE (1991). I really enjoyed it but I didn't like the character.
  7. SOUND OF METAL (2019) 3/5 (No spoilers) Describing a film about a heavy metal drummer going deaf as "quiet" is an ironic criticism. But that's the whole point of this Oscar-heavy film as director, Darious Marder, tries hard to make the audience see and hear the story from Ruben's (Riz Ahmed) point of view by using its sound design and (non-use) of subtitles to tell the story.The plot is straight-forward but as often with films with such simple premises, I found myself thinking, "OK so he goes deaf, now what?" I felt similarly about THE FAREWELL (2019) in which a dying grandma's family throw a secretly fake wedding banquet to honour her - like that film, SOUND OF METAL also has a very unsatisfying ending where you're asking, "oh, is that it?" The flat ending also makes much of the 2nd act seem rather pointless OR very relevant depending on how you see it. What should have made the film is how Ruben comes to deal with his condition and forms friendships within the deaf community and its inhabitants - the film focuses on this for a while and you start to feel glad for Ruben's progress but the 3rd act just changes everything and so its easy to feel betrayed by our protagonist.Of course without much sound or music in the film the audience's patience will be tested as the pacing of the film is compromised. The sound design has been praised for being 'inventive' but when you see the film, isn't it an obvious choice to let the audience hear things from Ruben's point of view? The use of sound design and subtitles here is hardly rocket-science and shouldn't be a surprise at all.I really wanted this film to be about the triumph of the human spirit or over-coming great odds - I think the film wants to be those things but I don't think it really hit the nail on the head. What we get instead is a story about a man wanting to fix himself. Like Joe, the deaf community leader says in the film, "We're here to fix this (*points to forehead*), not this (*points to ears*)."
  8. GODZILLA VS. KONG (2021) 3.5/5 (No spoilers) I didn't care much for the Monsterverse apart from KONG: SKULL ISLAND (2017) so was happy to see King Kong back again compared to Godzilla who I always felt lacked characterization. But despite Zilla's short-comings, GODZILLA VS KONG didn't disappoint although it did feel like chunks were missing and Big G was quite side-lined. I quite liked the plot - everything felt justified but it was obvious we were skipping-over what Kong had been doing since his last film set 50 years prior. Similarly, there's a backstory involving Alexander Skarsgard's dead brother and another with a little mute girl that Kong has bonded with - both of these plot-points could've been expanded to make the humans more developed but they're reduced to just a couple lines of exposition. The same goes for the sudden discovery of the Titans' home and ancestral history - it was fascinating to learn about their origins but again, it needed more time spent on it. The fights are the best thing here; they look spectacular and we're treated to many bouts and not just with Big G or Kong. The rumbles are everything you'd want from giants like these easily surpassing similar scenes of destruction in the TRANSFORMERS or PACIFIC RIM films. Furthermore, Godzilla and Kong finally facing-off actually feels like the grand historic cinematic event that other 'VS' films should have been. The battles look gorgeous and its easy to see why the finale is set in Hong Kong with all those lights but the close-ups of Godzilla's face looked a bit too "man-in-a-suit" and unintentionally funny. The film could easily have been a mess since there's three narrative threads running; one for Kong, one for Godzilla and another for the three human conspiracy theorists which the film could've omitted since they took the focus off the monsters. The "Journey To The Center Of The Earth" was by far the most interesting part of the film so hopefully we'll see more of that in future installments but now that the two big bads have finally fought I'm not sure there's much more story to tell in this franchise.
  9. MONSTER HUNTER (2020) 2.5/5 (Mild spoiler) The holy trinity of Paul W.S. Anderson, Milla Jovovich and Capcom returns once more for yet another videogame adaptation. And this one was surprisingly fun...at least for the first hour as we're presented with a cross between STARGATE (1994) and HELL IN THE PACIFIC (1968) but after that things take a drastic dip and the film never recovers making this an uneven mess. The film introduces a bunch of soldiers complete with typically cheesey macho banter but like a lot of Anderson's films the side characters are basically doomed random monster fodder leaving Jovovich to showcase her cartoony one-man-army skills. Tony Jaa shows up, probably tempted by the fact he doesn't have to speak English in the film but I can't imagine what the appeal for Ron Pearlman was. Once again the fanboy in Anderson borrows from the action films of the 80s/90s he grew-up with most notably the soldiers vs bugs carnage of STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997) and the gunpowder self-surgery of RAMBO III (1988). The ending feels pretty rushed and a desperate attempt to set-up a sequel. The cliffhanger ending doesn't work as not enough story or characters have been introduced so far for anyone to give a s*** including the giant bipedal CGI cat! Milla's reaction says it all. I can tolerate a lot of Anderson's films but when the cat showed up I just lost it.
  10. RIP. Met him at LFCC 2004 when he appeared with Veronica Cartwright and they did a talk together. Apparently he was one of the actors in the running for Picard before Patrick Stewart got it? Live & Let Die Alien Midnight Run The Running Man Movies of his in my DVD collection.
  11. COMING 2 AMERICA (2021) 2.5/5 (No spoilers) The 1988 original is a classic so this new sequel was always gonna be a tough act follow and even more so without John Landis directing. But what was missed even more was the adult tone and F-bombs which made up most of the jokes previously.COMING 2 AMERICA is ultimately an unashamed retread and one big homage to the previous film with not-so-subtle winks at every turn. PREDATORS (2010) was like that too but C2A takes it much further. If C2A spent more time trying to be its own film and less effort constantly reminding us there was another (better) film before it, it may have been more tolerable. Even the romance in the story feels more like a sub-plot and feels very rushed and unconvincing.The jokes were NOT funny, they were cringey and so too are the musical sequences ('Gett Off') which border on fantasy/surrealism. Leslie Jones was quite funny a couple of times but Murphy just doesn't feel like the same charming Akeem we once knew, even his accent has changed and he's more of a supporting character. And Wesley Snipes was just irritating especially with that stupid walk. They tried to cram in as many of the old characters back in as they could too, making this more of a fan-service event rather than a sequel/story worth telling.Eddie's done worse but C2A is only watchable thanks to nostalgia. Its a missed opportunity and both lazy and arrogant of writers to think they could get away with just using fan-service and repetition (making it predictable) to carry the film. It's "Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull" all over again but at least its better than that other recent 30 year sequel, BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC (2020).
  12. WRONG TURN (2021) 4/5 (No spoilers) Following 5 schlocky straight-to-DVD sequels I was expecting this reboot to be s*** but was very surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I don't remember much about the original 2003 film except it was only OK but this entry was a vast improvement and tried new things. There's a shift in tone as the reboot seems to take itself more seriously and is less slick but it also seems to borrow quite heavily from films like HOSTEL (2006) and GET OUT (2017). And although it's an engaging film there are quite a few plot-points that seem either wasted or don't really make much sense but the thrills and kills were enough for me to look beyond them. It's a fairly drawn-out film and in places seems quite rushed particularly the 3rd act. Its also quite choppy and probably could have benefited from better editing and tighter writing but for some reason it still remains intriguing. I did think it was unrealistic though that a gay couple would be going on holiday with two straight couples...even in a dumb horror film.
  13. ARCHIVE (2020) 3/5 (No spoilers) This could have been a great cyber-punk thriller if it wasn't for the poor and often confusing editing. ARCHIVE tells the story of an isolated widower (Theo James) secretly working on resurrecting his dead wife's conscience (Stacy Martin) in an android-body. Basically its BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) fused with a whole bunch of other A.I. thrillers. DON'T go into this film knowing nothing, watch the trailer first, because the set-up is not clear; you need to understand the wife IS dead from the start. But the biggest hurdle I had in this film was getting over the idea that a deceased's person's conscience could be temporarily stored in an "archive" after death. This concept was previously explored in CHAPPIE (2015) except in that film they actually spent time trying to rationalize the idea and get us used to it instead of just dumping it into our laps. The delayed use of flashbacks really didn't help the narrative either; it would have been much simpler if those plot-points were shown at the start so we're not constantly asking "WTF?" and then thinking, "Oh, I get it now" later on. The film evidently could have been made much more straight-forward and some scenes could have been cut out but as it is the film feels like a feature-length version of THE OUTER LIMITS only with added "symbolism". The running theme of robots getting jealous over newer models was a nice touch but it got quite laughable at one point until I remembered they're VERY highly-advanced A.I. Its a very cold, somber and isolated film much like Alex Garland's EX-MACHINA (2014) matching even the Kubrickian-style cinematography. ARCHIVE's script, similar to Garland's film, plods along equally as slow but thankfully feels much less pretentious - the script does however feel like it's one gigantic set-up for the final plot-twist. It's a great twist though and almost worth the 90 mins before it but getting there was a bit of a chore. Better than EX-MACHINA but not as fun as UPGRADE (2018).
  14. All the films I watched that were released in 2020: 1) BAD BOYS FOR LIFE - Seen it twice, still a solid action film. 2) #ALIVE - Outstanding original Korean zombie film focusing on isolation. 3) THE INVISIBLE MAN - Amazing the first time and full of suspense but admittedly slow the 2nd time once you know everything. 4) EXTRACTION - Solid action piece but spoiled by weak characterization. Still no idea why/how 14 yr olds go to niteclubs though. 5) TRAIN TO BUSAN: PENINSULA - Not as bad as they say despite the hokey climax. Unfairly compared to the first film. 6) DA 5 BLOODS - Enjoyable Spike Lee adventure, could have done with less of his usual race politics angle though. 7) EUROVISION: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA - Harmless fun if somewhat messy pacing/narrative and unfunny jokes. 8) MULAN - Looks great but overly-Americanized and relies too much on fantasy to explain the impossible. 9) THE OLD GUARD - Fun but naff and felt like a TV show, missing the big budget of a feature film. 10) UNHINGED - Good premise and decent Crowe performance but missing solid writing to justify his character's actions. 11) BORAT: SUBSEQUENT MOVIE FILM - Disappointing sequel with too much focus on the daughter and story-line instead of the pranks. 12) ALL MY LIFE - Small film with good performances but doesn't really go anywhere. I doubt it would've been made if it wasn't a true event that made the news. 13) WW1984 - A joke of film with a shoddy, dumb, goofy script that takes it audience for idiots. Its the only big 'summer' event movie we got so suck it up. 14) BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC - Weak attempt to recapture the magic of the previous films ruined by their boring daughters. 15) BLOODSHOT - Crappy Vin Diesel vehicle with another straight-to-DVD feel. 16) UNDERWATER - Basically a fanboy homage to Alien and by-the-numbers creature feature but worse. No wonder it wasn't released for ages. 17) BIRDS OF PREY - Pretentious bollocks from a screenwriter who somehow fooled the studio into buying her all-over-the-place dull as dishwater script. NOTE: 1917 and PARASITE were officially 2019 films so I didn't add them despite having their UK theatrical releases in January/March. They would have been on my 2019 list instead.
  15. KINGDOM (season 1&2) This Korean historical period horror series is one of the best things to ever happen to the zombie genre. The King has secretly turned into a zombie...but The Queen and royal officials declare he is merely sick and keep him hidden and locked away from everyone. Suspecting he's being lied to, the king's illegitimate son; The Crown Prince, defies The Queen and commits treason by leaving the palace against her will in search of the truth and in doing so uncovers a plot to rule the kingdom and the beginnings of a terrible plague. KINGDOM is a clever blend of zombie-action and political conspiracy locked in a historical battle for the throne. What makes the show different is its period setting, superb writing, social-commentary on class and an intriguing in-depth analysis of the plague's dubious origins and on-going discoveries in the zombie's behavior; something most entries in this genre miss. Its also wonderfully shot with great sets and costumes giving a very epic feel. There's 12 episodes over 2 seasons so far with a pretty slow start which will take some patience but the show explodes half-way into episode 2 with its first of many massive action scenes. I highly recommend it. And yes, its much better than THE WALKING DEAD.
  16. WONDER WOMAN 1984 (2020) 2.5 (No spoilers) WW84 was 2020's last hope for a big Hollywood hit but being the only big 'summer' event movie we'd get Warner Bros basically kicked us in the balls and told us to suck it up . It's a joke of film with a shoddy, dumb, goofy script that takes it audience for IDIOTS! Firstly, it's too damn long. Why does it take 2.5 hrs to tell such a simple story? Even the first two AVENGERS films were shorter. The pacing here is really off with some unnecessarily-long sequences and redundant scenes including the pointless prologue followed by an action scene in a mall staged very 'self-aware' much like a musical. From there things go a bit quiet as WW's alter-ego Diana (Gal Gadot) turns detective as she trots around the globe in her civvies with her old boyfriend who's sudden ability to return in the sequel could make a whole other movie on its own. There wasn't much to make this a story unique to Wonder Woman either, it almost could've been ANY generic superhero in her place apart from the lasso. Her action scenes were also very lackluster as she spends too much time in the air swinging around on said lasoo - the VERY obvious wire-work here makes her look like she's floating. That gold suit she wears does NOTHING but remind you of Brian Blessed in FLASH GORDON (1980) and now she can do things she never did before in BvS (2016) and THE JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017) despite WW84 being set before those films. An important ingredient that made the first film enjoyable was the strong-female/anti-violence theme...but that message the first film carried seems to be forgotten here and instead replaced with a crappy adventure story with a gajillion unanswered questions. There is however one feminist scene which seemed to play out every man-hater's fantasy which made me feel quite uncomfortable. A lot of the film doesn't make sense and you will be asked to suspend your disbelief like never before - that's a big ask and unforgivable of 'professional' screenwriters (these are the clowns amateur writers are up against?!). Its hard to see how director Patty Jenkins claims to have made a "masterpiece" or even how anyone could like this film. Maybe they're in denial and desperate to like it after how s***e 2020 has been. The cameo at the end was dumb too.
  17. #ALIVE (2020) 4/5 (No spoilers) Now showing on Netflix is this Korean zombie-thriller which can only be described as 'CASTAWAY (2000) with zombies'. It tells the story of Oh-Joon (Yoo Ah-In), a young man trapped alone at home while hordes of undead surround his apartment complex. With telephone lines down and no internet, isolation starts to kick in along with lonliness and hunger making this film especially relevant in Covid times. With its intelligent themes this is not your basic zombie action movie like TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016). Although there IS a lot of action in #ALIVE its more than that and includes an exploration of one's mental state. While watching the film you may feel that "Alone" would have been a better title but that was actually the name given to the American version of the film (also from 2020) which had the same writer, Tom Naylor. This Korean version #ALIVE, originated from the same screenplay as the American version but was further developed and adapted (and improved upon) by the Korean film's director, Cho Il-hyung. This film is thankfully devoid of the usual cliche of emotional sub-plots seen all too often in survival horror films; Oh-Joon isn't 'coincidentally' suffering from some personal past trauma or an old argument with his family or some other unnecessary nonsense in a bid to flesh-out the character. He's just a dude trying to survive zombies, nothing more. If TRAIN TO BUSAN: PENINSULA (2020) disappointed you then #ALIVE may restore your faith in K-zombies. Its fun, exciting and taut with enough action and scares to keep genre fans happy topped-off with a spark of originality in an over-saturated arena. #ALIVE is the best horror film of 2020. As ever, with these foreign language films the English dubbing is awful so watch it with English subs.
  18. Cobra Kai: season 3 was alright. Not as good as the first two seasons IMO but I may be in the minority.
  19. DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990) 4/5 (No spoilers) Saw this at the cinema back in the day and it bored the s*** out of me. Caught it again on TV recently and thought it was really good. I watched the 4hr special edition version this time and although the film isn't as boring as I remember I can certainly see there was plenty of stuff to cut out. It's quite a poetic film with its sweeping landscapes, joining of two cultures and the story of a man "finding himself" so its easy to see why it won Best Picture. At the time Costner was mocked for having made a vanity project but it all worked well in his favour in the end as it won him Best Director in addition to 6 other wins.
  20. Da fuq?! Birds of Prey??!!! That's one of my top 3 worst. As for Parasite, I get that foreign language/art-house isn't everyone's cup of tea but that's still pretty low down the list. I see people didn't mention Extraction, Bloodshot or The Old Guard? I'm still waiting for Wonder Woman 1984 before I do a list.
  21. UNHINGED (2020) 3/5 (No spoilers) Here's a cat and mouse thriller with Russell Crowe on top menacing form playing a deranged road-rager. It's a little film under 90 mins with a modest budget and reminded me of THE HITCHER (1986) and FALLING DOWN (1993) only nowhere near as good. I was actually surprised an actor of Crowe's calibre would agree to this film. Although Crowe's performance as the antagonist is good (despite having no emotional range) the writing especially for his character seems to be lacking; this was quite frustrating because with so little known about the antagonist's motivation or history it makes some of his actions difficult to swallow. There are some things that Crowe's character does in the film that are a direct response to the heroine's (Caren Pistorius) actions but they appear SO extreme and unrealistic because we know almost nothing about him to back them up. This ultimately is where the film fails. Take for example FALLING DOWN; we know Micheal Douglas's motivation is getting home to his daughter but what was Russell Crowe's motivation in UNHINGED other than simply being pissed off? Its an enjoyable enough watch and a tight-thriller that keeps you engaged with a simple "it could happen to you" message going on but its not really the character-piece or horror film it could have been (or wants to be). I also feel that the film might have served better if it had embraced its grind-house feel more. Such a shame as the premise is pretty good.
  22. LAST CHRISTMAS (2018) 3/5 (No spoilers) When the trailer came out for this film it seemed everyone had guessed what the twist was so it goes without saying, avoid the trailer if you can. It's a Christmas romantic-comedy and that's all you need to know. Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding make a decent couple and have good chemistry but there's also a lack of intimacy between the two beyond simple flirting. As a result I found the story to not quite be as romantic as I had expected - if you know the twist then you will realize why. I also found that the leading couple weren't necessarily the main focus of the film but rather Clarke herself as we follow her around London with her career/family/health woes which reminded me a lot of JOKER (2019) especially once the twist is revealed. Golding appears to be more of a supporting character rather than a romantic leading man while Michelle Yeoh pretty much steals the show. And Emma Thompson being in it just reminds me of LOVE ACTUALLY (2003) but its not as soppy as that at all. The film is also a product of the "woke" generation; there seems to be an obvious inclusion of a mix of ethnicities, gay couples, interracial couples and a not-so-subtle and pointless political theme around Brexit and immigrants. Neither of these things ruined my enjoyment but the focus on Brexit didn't add much to the plot either. And I didn't buy the happy Christmas ending either with everyone burying the hatchet (especially one particular couple).
  23. TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS: PENINSULA (2020) 3.5/5 (No spoilers) The original TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016) was very entertaining and one of the best zombies movies in recent times so obviously the sequel had a lot to live up to. Many people thought this new film was disappointing and a total shift from the original but I enjoyed it. The sequel was never gonna be like the first film cos you can't repeat the same "trapped-with-zombies-in-a-confined-space" scenario all over again. This time the story takes place in the quarantined and zombie-infested South Korean Peninsula where a group of survivors have been sent to retrieve a truck full of loot. With this new premise you immediately lose the claustrophobic "stuck on a train" tension the first film had that made it so popular. Whilst I applaud the writers for bringing us an actual plot this time (the first film was simply 'dodge the zombies'), they fail to bring us new archytypes. The characters from the first film don't return but the story treads familiar family ground with another guilty dad, another protective mum and another selfish A-hole. It seems the writers took what made the first film's character's great and tried to repackage them in a kind of feature-length version of THE WALKING DEAD even going as far as to put less emphasis on the zombies and make it more about warring communities just like the popular TV show. Some might not like the 3rd act's chase as it gets a bit Micheal Bay-ish and feels more like a regular action film rather than horror. On the plus side the film does what a sequel should; it evolves and expands on the TRAIN TO BUSAN universe giving us something new and shows us what has become of the world in the aftermath. From a science-fiction perspective, this film feels more post-apocalyptic than the first one in a MAD MAX/ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK kind of way so its not just another simple zombie movie like the original films was. It definitely isn't the great disappointment people have made out. As a stand-alone film it is perfectly watchable and entertaining if you stop comparing it to the first film. Thankfully the film doesn't feel like a cash-grab nor does it recycle the same thing again with zombies on a boat or bus this time instead of a train. It's just the repeated family characters that spoiled it for me.
  24. BORAT: SUBSEQUENT MOVIE FILM (2020) 3/5 (No spoilers) I never thought we'd get another Borat film so I was happy to see him return - but I wondered how Sasha Baron Cohen's best character as a Kazakhstan journalist could once again go undetected in modern society now that the whole world knows who he is. With this tricky dilemma, I wasn't expecting this new film to be as good as the first but it still has some stand-out moments. What's impressive about this film is that it was shot only recently this past summer 2020 and uses the current state of the world as a well-timed backdrop while cleverly incorporating certain aspects into the story (and even the film's poster). Both Covid and the US presidency are wisely used as a way for Borat to conduct his interviews so it seems the film has more of a mission and purpose than the previous film. But having said that its obvious this film will quickly become dated and lose its appeal. This time Borat shares the screen with his daughter, Tutar (Maria Bakalova), which may alienate some fans more used to seeing Borat (and Baron Cohen) work alone. The father/daughter team-up works like a comedy double-act as they act-out scripted dialogue in front of members of the public oblivious to their pranks. There are also many scenes that don't even feature Borat and just involve Tutar with the public and for me this is largely where the film fumbles; Maria Bakalova is an actress, not a comedian, so she's just not as funny or skilled in improvisation or even as confident going undercover unlike Baron Cohen, who as a true comedy talent and has been trolling the public for years. Script-wise, there is a lot more focus on actual plot than the first film and it tries hard to tell a story and so feels rather "forced". The fun of Baron Cohen's spontaneity and improvisation is somewhat lost as a result and without his daughter in-tow, Borat would have had much more freedom to shine and do his thing. Furthermore, the film itself could have done without the family-drama angle or the sentimental cliche ending TBH. Overall, it's not a hugely disappointing sequel, but I do believe it suffers because Baron Cohen has to share the screen with a side-kick and inject new things to avoid his character being recognised.
  25. BLADE: TRINITY (2004) 2/5 (No spoilers) It's well-documented that this was a troubled production largely thanks to Wesley Snipes's behaviour and his disapproval of the newly re-written script despite him being a producer. But if you watch the film you can already see that a lot of the film's criticism has to fall on David S. Goyer's bad direction; he should have stayed in the writer's chair for what was already a bad script, having him direct as well just made it worse. One of the biggest criticisms about BLADE TRINITY is Ryan Reynolds; his jokes are just irritating and do not belong in this film and neither do his ridiculous PS2 light-guns. The main villain is Drake (Dominic Purcell)- an Eastern European vampire with an American accent who dresses like Jim Morrison but lacks any of the late singer's charisma or impact. The rest of the baddies just look like fashion-victims at a goth convention and are so cardboard and incompetent unlike Stephen Dorff's Frost or The Bloodpack from the previous films. Even Blade himself (who does not look good in red) seems more like a supporting character in his own movie with the stage set too much for his unnecessary sidekicks, Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel (she listens to her iPod while fighting FFS). It's an over-crowded film and we've never seen Blade with this much help from others before and what's worse is that we know he doesn't need it. Also the action scenes are weak and the scares are overly-played out and try so hard to build tension but are just tiresome (the blind hacker wandering in the dark). It's a boring film and evidently the work of an inexperienced director. I have high hopes for the MCU reboot and am keen to see what Mahershala Ali does with the character but I do fear fans will miss Snipes in what he made such a unique role. And of course, I hope the reboot will stick to its R rated horror roots and maybe even tempt original BLADE (1998) director Stephen Norrington back out of early-retirement. Maybe even one day we'll eventually get to see David S. Goyer's originally rejected post-apocalyptic BLADE III script after all too.
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