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Everything posted by nicky

  1. Yeah, those were the same complaints everyone else had when the 2 films first came out. Personally I didn't mind AVP or the sped-up incubation periods - I knew it was necessary for the plot to move forwards swiftly and as a fan I was just thankful we were finally getting the film after waiting since the comics in 1989. People slated Paul W.S. Anderson when it was announced he was directing but I think we were lucky to get a known director EVEN if it was him - there's no way an established/respected A-list director would've touched the film (as much as fanboys wanted Scott/Cameron/Verhoeven), they didn't need to. AVP:R was awful yes, I've only ever seen it twice and its easily the worst film in the Alien/Predator franchise; it was already a crap script to begin with way before the even crapper directors were added so it was never gonna be good. It's no wonder Fox couldn't get a director attached and had to settle for two dozy SFX guys instead. I hated the "Predalien" and the fact it was able to impregnate people with multiple chestbursters - it was a stupid creature and idea. I have hopes that the Disney/Fox merger will one day give us a new and better film but I can't see it happening TBH...at least not live-action anyway.
  2. PAST LIVES (2023) 4/5 (No spoilers) Celine Song's directorial debut is a touchingly sentimental romantic-drama with a difference; here the romance is only suggested and not actually brought-out into the open thereby brewing a special kind of tension. It's not a glossy, cheery, Hollywood rom-com at all but a bittersweet story of paradise lost and misaligned destiny. It's one of the most refreshingly realistic romantic films you'll ever see. The writing, acting, cinematography and sound (and even the silent parts) are all great with the story itself focusing on people re-connecting after years apart and how they've changed - it's a simple romantic tale everyone can relate to which will leave you wondering about your own life. BUT the lack of a real plot hinders the film, instead what we get is a display of emotion with the two leads constantly wondering "what if?" which makes for the central driving force of the film as well as making the viewer constantly ask, "will they get back together"? The ending is beautiful much like this year's THE WHALE (2023) and thankfully it didn't end up being a fluffy cop-out just to 'please' the audience (unlike THE FAREWELL) - its different from the usual finale you'd expect from a romantic drama. Overall, it's an incredibly powerful and beautiful film about lost romance and destiny but at the same time cleverly subtle in its delivery. It's touted by some as the best film of the year, I'd agree it's up there and certainly my favourite of the recent wave of Asian-lead American films.
  3. NO HARD FEELINGS (2023) 2.5 (No spoilers) This is nothing new; a teen sex-comedy featuring a typically mismatched couple who's relationship is based upon a lie in a similar vein to SHE'S ALL THAT (1999) and CAN'T BY ME LOVE (1987) only this new Jennifer Lawrence film is desperately unfunny and just awkward much of the time. The plot goes, Maddie (Lawrence) is hired by a rich couple to date their awkward teenage son so that he may build up his confidence before going to college. It's a fairly predictable story as you wait for the inevitable scene where the son discovers the truth about his new "girlfriend" and her defensive claims that she actually has real feelings for him. It's a simple enough story but suffers from bad jokes, disjointed editing and some crappy acting from the supports - it feels like a streaming movie and not a good one. There's also some redundant characters (the male nanny) that go nowhere which could otherwise made some interesting plot-points. Jennifer Lawrence is also mis-cast in this role and you don't really buy that her character would do some of the stuff she does in the film. If they wrote her as some mentally-unstable nutter then it would've made sense but I was left feeling confused about whether she was meant to be a bitch or not - I certainly didn't root for her or feel any sympathy and I certainly don't think comedy is her thing (but that may have been the script's fault, not her's).
  4. MEG 2: THE TRENCH (2023) 3.5/5 (No spoilers) It's a fun, dumb, summer action sci-fi sequel and much more entertaining than the first film. Yes, it's ridiculous but it knows it and doesn't take itself too seriously but I think that's where a lot of the humor and fun is. The plot goes Statham and co use their fancy new submarines and diving-suits to explore The Trench, the place deep beneath the sea where the Megs (and other sea monsters) lurk but they soon discover human baddies are also down there and s*** happens. Statham goes into "Fast and Furious" mode here a bit too much for my liking as he fights his way through various henchmen but thankfully it doesn't over-shadow him battling the beasties. I only wish we could've seen more of the giant octopus and less of the velocirapter-things cos it started to feel like JURASSIC PARK. The Trench itself however, isn't in the film long enough and despite the film's title isn't quite the main focus as the latter half of the film changes environment and basically repeats the Chinese beach attack we already saw in the first film. They even repeat the same pet joke again.
  5. JOY RIDE (2023) 3.5/5 (No Spoilers) This is another comedy about friends on a journey in the style of THE HANGOVER, (2009), BRIDESMAIDS (2011) and ROAD TRIP (2000) but with the added identity crisis of CRAZY RICH ASIANS (2018) in which adoptee Audrey (Ashley Park) is sent on a business trip to China only to wind up on a search for her birth mother. With Seth Rogen producing you know what kind of comedy to expect but the humor is also very Todd Philips (THE HANGOVER and ROAD TRIP). A lot of the laughs are almost surprising in fact, not quite gross-out, but its a style usually seen in male-dominated comedies and not a "chick-flick" let alone one filled with East Asians so it's possible the agenda was to break stereotypes of the good, submissive Asian woman. It actually does everything CRAZY RICH ASIANS failed to do and Adele Lim (who wrote CRA too), does a great job at making the script a search for one's indentity while injecting jokes only East Asians would get. Although the laughs are very good, the story itself is a bit disjointed as the plot's trajectory changes too suddenly from at first going to China to try and make a business deal to then trying to find Audrey's birth mother thus forgetting about the real reason she flew over. The business deal is actually a sub-plot but it's introduced before the birth mother search and left hanging and forgotten.
  6. INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY (2023) 2.5/5 (No spoilers) Is it as bad as the last one? At first, no, but after repeated viewings I reckon I'll prefer the previous entry. The luke-warm box-office speaks for itself; who wants to see an old man trying to be an action hero after the last disappointment and with Disney's knack for destroying IPs? Disney were clearly overly-confident in this brand name as demonstrated by the weak script. James Mangold has made far better action films eg. LOGAN (2017). Despite the ropey de-aging of Ford the films starts off good and the opening certainly feels like part of the original trilogy (unlike the last film). But it comes to a grinding halt when the first shot of Indy we see in the "present day" is of him getting out of bed in just his boxers with his saggy torso looking as old as one of his relics - exactly what we didn't want to see. Then his annoying god-daughter shows up (Pheobe Waller-Bridge) looking for the Dial and nowhere is it explained HOW some ancient Greek scientist somehow managed to create this science-defying device or why. In addition to the god-daughter we also get this other kid tagging along and although he's not as annoying as her he's still an unnecessary addition - so is the return of Sallah (John Ryhs Davies). Gotta feel sorry for Boyd Holbrook as the lead henchmen too, he played a similar role in LOGAN (2017) but had more to do there, then he was the leading man in THE PREDATOR (2018) but here he's reduced to being a typical, nameless lackey. The finale itself should've book-ended the film's opening scene making it come full-circle - what we get instead is interesting but I don't think its what fans wanted to see. It's a bland installment and there's nothing here that makes it a personal story to Indy; no (re)connecting with family or friends like the previous films, just Indy on another adventure - there's something at the end but it's not enough to cover the already too long 2.5 hrs. That's the worst thing about the film, it feels like a story that didn't need to be told as we learn nothing new about Indy, Disney thought we wouldn't mind that.
  7. THE LITTLE MERMAID (2023) 2.5/5 (No spoilers) I've not seen the animated version so can't compare but I will say I found this film to be too long especially for kids and a bit meh. The songs were quite good but the Prince (why must it always be a prince?!) can't sing and I'm surprised he even got cast, WTF? Melissa McCarthy was just like any other evil Disney villainess (except more annoying) but her motivation left me feeling confused; if Ariel fails her mission the Queen will "have her"... BUT what does that mean?! The worst thing about the film is it felt like I was watching SLEEPING BEAUTY, CINDERELLA and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST rolled into one (but with a mermaid) because of all the same recognizable formulaic tropes we've seen before; humble girl, her little animal friends, Prince Chad, someone's under a spell, evil queen, worried father etc. Even Javier Bardem as the father was a bit bland. Thankfully the underwater scenes were kept to a minimum and the talking while submerged didn't distract me unlike AQUAMAN (2018) but overall the film was very much a case of seen one Disney princess movie, you've seen them all.
  8. TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS (2023) 2/5 (No spoilers) I've only ever liked the first film so I'm not sure why even bothered with this one - they're pretty much all the same. It actually started off surprisingly kinda OK thanks to the the lead human character but this was short-lived as the film went on. Yet again we get another MacGuffin; first it was the All-Spark and now it's the Transwarp key...I'm sure there were other devices in the previous films but can't remember them - in this universe there's always something new that everyone is chasing after it seems. Anyway the timeline is confusing now, weren't the robots new to Earth in film #1? Also characters die but you know they're not really dead cos this is a prequel. These films are about big robots fighting each other though and that's it, story comes second - they even repeated the same ol' boy/girl and robot friendship (Bumblebee and Shia LaBeouf/Haylee Steinfeldl) from at least 2 of the previous films. I'll probably watch the G.I. Joe crossover though if it happens.
  9. SISU (2023) 3/5 (No Spoilers) Another stunts-heavy action film with feather-light story...but instead of the usual Eastern-European gangsters we have the ever-so-reliable Nazis as the villains. SISU essentially belongs to the tired "you-messed-with-the-wrong-guy" action sub-genre similar to FIRST BLOOD (1982) but is also a reverse version of THE BEAST OF WAR (1988) in which here a tank pursues our hero over desolate ground in search of retribution. The plot goes; an old miner just happens to dig-up some gold - whilst crossing the Finnish wasteland to bank his find the miner encounters an English-speaking Nazi death-squad who steal it from him and he has to steal it back. Of course the old guy turns out to be a legendary ex-commando and for added hardness is a man of very few words. Blood, carnage and missing limbs go flying while very little depth comes out of the the story along with soulless characters, inappropriately over-Americanized dialogue and cheesey rock guitar. To its credit the first couple action scenes got me quite excited for the rest of the film but as the film went on it became more and more ridiculous with one cop-out followed by the next (underwater, hanging and pick axed plane scenes). Although the action is good it didn't make me forget about the lack of story or characterization (unlike EXTRACTION 2). It should've at least had the Nazis speaking in German and the Finnish in their own language too, not modern-sounding Americanized-English.
  10. EXTRACTION 2 (2023) 4/5 (No spoilers) To say the EXTRACTION films are probably some of the better streaming films out there isn't really saying much but thankfully this latest offering is better than I expected and very entertaining. The first film was fine but film no. 2 really amplifies the action and spectacle and is something to behold...despite basically being "just another mission". There is a 'but' of course... As expected there's plenty of LONG one-take action sequences here of which some are kinda video-gamey (shooting down helicopters with big hand-held machine-guns) however these action scenes shouldn't be the main draw of the movie, it ought to be the story of course. There are ATTEMPTS at a story but it's fairly thin and misses the opportunity to really do something with the characters and their relationships in particular building a story-arc between Rake (Chris Hemsworth) and the kid and the overarching themes of family and loyalty. The film is basically more of the same as the first but bigger and louder and with Rake's team-mates joining in the action this time. Neither the story or characters justify a sequel and the plot is book-ended with a continuation of the exact same 'tortured past' emotional beats from the first film which just goes to show that action is the only card up the director's sleeve. The film ends with a lame segue into a third film - hopefully we won't be subjected to Rake's 'tortured past' yet again when that comes out.
  11. THE FLASH (2023) 3.5/5 (No Spoilers) This is my favorite DCEU movie so far so its a shame that it's bombed. I thought it was a fun, simple story with some good emotional beats and action and of course the return of Micheal Keaton's beloved Batman. But was Batman's inclusion that crucial to enjoy this movie? No! Keaton doesn't actually show-up until mid-way into the film and so everything before that has Ezra Miller as The Flash carrying the film remarkably well on his own. There are of course appearances by other DCEU characters but they don't distract from The Flash being the lead except the 'other' Flash. Supergirl however doesn't really feel like she's used much and even less so General Zod so you have to be sure to see MAN OF STEEL (2012) beforehand to fill in some blanks. The action is good, the humor on point but it could have done with shortening (baby scene) and better CGI. Also The Flash's need for food could've been a great plot point but it's hardly used but other than that there isn't much to complain about except for maybe the lack of explanation of just how Flash's time-travelling works.
  12. EVIL DEAD RISE (2023) 2.5/5 (No spoilers) Why is this getting such good reviews?! I was excited to see this but it quickly lost me and ended up such a disappointment. This is the 5th movie in the franchise but nothing new is offered bar the environment. The movie is just gore, gore, gore, the odd shock and scare...and no story. You know the drill; the Necronomicon is found, passages are read out and Deadites are summoned to possess the living and a battle for survival ensues. What's new? Sweet FA. The characters are boring and have nothing interesting about them - even the typical estranged relationship the sisters have going on in the background is weak and adds nothing. Furthermore, the whole pregnancy thing was POINTLESS. I thought family would be a prominent theme here judging by the poster but nope, it's weak. Worst of all there's no resolve to the story; there's a beginning and a middle but no end, what we get is unsatisfying and hardly resolves the events before it. The protagonists are not even instructed what they must do to be rid of The Deadites and so there is NO GOAL to drive the plot FORWARDS other than "just try to survive." There's no, 'must find blood of a virgin', 'must send evil back in time' or any kind of 'must do XYZ' to save yourself. Nothing. I think even the makers KNEW they had a s*** ending cos they book-end the film with random scenes that lead into a sequel with completely different characters. I can't see why they don't make a prequel film showing the origins of The Necronomicon; who made it, how and why, the battles fought over it and how it ended up lost. They could even link it back to ARMY OF DARKNESS (1992). Why instead are we getting this s***?!
  13. (2023) 1.5/5 (No spoilers) Jesus, what a s*** film. It wasn't funny, just annoying right from the very start. It reminded me of that other s*** unfunny vampire film, DAY SHIFT (2022) with Jamie Foxx. However, RENFIELD at least has Nicholas Cage as Dracula who's performance is kind of fun to watch BUT only because we're so used to Cage being made fun of on social media now. The love story is so weak you'd be forgiven that there was actually supposed to be one - I'm not even sure why Renfield (Nicolas Hoult) falls for Awkwafina (WTF does that name even mean?!). I also think Hoult is miscast in this; he's way too much of a pretty-boy to be playing a Servant of Evil and his white-washed floppy hair look just screams 'boyband'...he's like a suped-up parody of Robert Patterson from THE TWILIGHT SAGA. The film also has this horrible green filter/lighting to it much like THE MATRIX (1999) but is totally unnecessary. The human baddies are irritating and lead by a cardboard cliche female mob boss...just like DAY SHIFT and yep, Renfield fights like an MCU superhero. An absolute travesty of a movie.
  14. AVATAR: WAY OF WATER (2022) 3.5/5 (Mild spoilers) The first film wasn't amazing and after 14 years did anyone still care for a sequel? I didn't hold much hope but I actually liked this film a lot more than the original but James Cameron's big sequels have always been good and he's always been a better writer than director IMO. Yes, its long and could probably have done with a few things cut out. But what I disliked the most was that the focus was on the kids and not the adults - Jake and Neytiri (Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana) take a backseat here especially Neytiri. However, this time the villain Quadrich (Stephen Lang), gets more to do and he's a much more rounded character - he's the best thing in the film by far but I think more time could have been spent on his relationship with his estranged son and filling the audience in. Whatsmore the whole father/son thing was a bit 'Star Warsy' and even more so when Sigourney Weaver shows up as an Obi-Wan style Force-ghost. The CG is a definite improvement particularly the Na'vi and I loved the marines and there's a couple stand-out action scenes but there also seems to be a lot of future seeding of plotlines for the sequels which wasn't very subtle nor was the "save the wales" theme. There were also a couple of characters that seemed redundant too like Jake's youngest daughter but I guess she'll be saved for the sequels. I'm excited for the next film but I struggle to see what else they can offer with three more sequels to go - why do the humans keep trying to fight the Na'vi and take the planet?!
  15. THE WHALE (2022) 3.5/5 (No spoilers) Now this was an Oscar performance worth raving about, forget Joaquin Pheonix. Brendan Fraser does SO much in his role as Charlie; an obese gay divorcee who works from home as an online English teacher trying to re-connect with his angry estranged teenage daughter (Sadie Sink) despite her best efforts to resist him. It's a film about people; about love, forgiveness, honesty and reconnecting - real things people can relate to and none of this fluffy superhero s***. It's beautifully done but also rather depressing (like I hear other Darren Afronofsky films are). The film is set in one location; Charlie's home, so its no surprise that the screenplay is actually adapted from the play. I think that's why I didn't like it more as its easy to get bored of the same environment so its important for the characters to really shine and carry the film since it's all dialogue. Some of the characters I didn't like such as the daughter and the missionary (Ty Simpkins) and I wish there was more backstory or glimpses into who Charlie's dead boyfriend was. But Fraser really carries this film and its such an intelligent insight into obesity and isolation and it's affects on others. Not only that but the LGBQT angle actually felt really natural and had purpose. I loved the film's emotional ending and how it connected all the dots - throughout the film you're thinking "what's that all about?" and then suddenly it all becomes so clear giving the build-up beforehand some meaning and insight into the film's title. I'm surprised it's not up for Best Adapted Screenplay.
  16. WHITNEY HOUSTON: I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY 2/5 (No spoilers) I was looking forward to this coming from the writer of BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (2018) but was very disappointed. It may not have been totally the filmmaker's fault though but more so because Whitney didn't really have that much of an interesting life to begin with, at least that's how it comes across in the film. Yes, she had a rocky relationship with Bobby Brown and struggled with drugs but those parts of her life are not given the emphasis they deserve. It's a long film and out-stays it's welcome especially the over-stretched boring finale. The filmmakers try to fit a lot of plot-lines into the film but the script annoyingly never really spends much time on each individual line beyond more than one scene - the film plays very much like one random event after the other without having much connection. There's not much of a story really here at all and instead the screenplay is just a bunch of stuff strung together. Biopics should have an angle and stick to it but this film has none of that, it feels like a bit of a cash-grab because I can't see how this appeals to anyone but Whitney's fans. I didn't like the casting of Naomi Ackie as Whitney either - nevermind her not looking like Whitney but not even being anywhere near as attractive as her was distracting. Whitney was known for her amazing looks and its mentioned a lot in the film but you never buy it cos you look at Ackie and think "Whaaat?!" - especially the scene when her dad's HOT secretary compliments her. The title is horrible too, should've just called it "Whitney". Stanley Tucci though was very good as her manager.
  17. PLANE (2023) 3.5 (No spoilers) Gerard Butler has always been an underwhelming action star so you'd be forgiven for thinking PLANE was another mediocre thriller, even more so with such an oddly imaginative title. However, the film is surprisingly entertaining, filled with good action and some interesting characters but it's biggest flaw is it doesn't use them and so ends up treading closely to being "just another dumb action movie". At best it's a good straight-to-DVD/streaming movie. The plot makes the mistake of not focusing on the characters; what we have essentially is the hero-pilot (Butler) teaming-up with an extradited prisoner (Mike Colter) to save hostages after their plane crashes in hostile land but there's no tension or anything between the two; no bickering, no banter, no building respect or forming a friendship like other 'buddy movies'. Plus half-way into the film you soon forget the prisoner is actually a threat or concern to anyone - its as if the writers just decided to ignore he was a prisoner since its hardly mentioned as the film goes on. It's definitely not like Connery/Cage in THE ROCK (1996) or even Nolte/Murphy in 48 HRS (1982) or even ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976) (the director of PLANE did the remake) so PLANE is a wasted opportunity to have chemistry between the two opposing leads. The premise is good but the plot is so thin and the ending feels quite rushed - I thought, "Is that it? Is that all they had to do?!" It's a quick simple 90 mins action romp which could have had much more meat added to it if only they focused on the prisoner and not the situation. They really wasted the potential to do something with the hero/prisoner team-up and the baddies just seemed to be baddies for the sake of it without giving them much motivation other than them being just scum.
  18. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT 3/5 (No spoilers) Its easy to compare this Oscar-heavy WWI drama to 1917 (2019) and every other war film before it but of course AQOTWF has the uniqueness of showing us the story from the other-side. What we have here is a story about a young man's journey into the German army and how he goes from raw recruit to experienced killer and the life-lessons he learns along the way - in that sense its similar to PLATOON (1986) but AQOTWF is a much more political film with the soldiers' stories sharing the run-time along with the anti-war message and negotiations for peace. The first 45 mins are great and the cinematography is really something special (particularly the opening scene) - I really enjoyed the story of Paul entering the army, making friends and experiencing war for the first time and for a while I actually thought we were getting a story about friendship and Paul's group of friends going to war together but this wasn't the case at all unfortunately. The rest of the film kind of dwindles a bit as Paul's story momentarily takes a back-seat as the script darts in and out focusing on the military's negotiations for a cease-fire. The battle scenes throughout are great.
  19. True. I was actually specifically talking about killing and the taking of human life.
  20. THE FABELMANS (2022) 3/5 (No spoilers) This is basically Speilberg's version of CINEMA PARADISO (1988) in which we follow a semi-autobiographical tale of a boy's love of film-making while dealing with family drama and adolescence. The core theme here seems to be family getting in the way of art and vice versa - something that the Uncle Boris character (Oscar nominee Judd Hirsh in a 10 min role) make a huge point of halfway through the film. It didn't really feel like a story worth telling but rather an excuse for Speilberg to make a film loosely based on his young life - that's probably why it bombed. It's long and although not completely boring it still struggled to keep me invested until about half way into the film so it certainly feels inconsistent. The latter half of the film is much better as we follow Sam (Gabriel LaBelle) through his journey into high school but even then it starts to feel like a basic teen-drama. But in general the film seems to be more focused on being a pretentious ode to film-making rather than telling an interesting story about people although it does have that familiar Speilbergian trait of a broken-family. Michelle Williams as the mum is very good and my bet is she'll win the Oscar, possibly Judd Hirsh too but the rest of the film is pretty bland and not quite the romantic portrayal of cinema that Speilberg had hoped for.
  21. (2022) 3.5 (No spoilers) Another killer-doll? Don't we have enough of them already? We just had the updated A.I. doll in CHILD'S PLAY (2019) so what could M3GAN possibly offer that we haven't seen before? The answer is, nothing much - even the 'robot learning to love a human' angle has already been done to death in TERMINATOR 2 (1991), A.I.: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001) and BICENTENNIAL MAN (1999). I actually enjoyed the film more for it's science-fiction elements (rather than horror) such as the idea of humans relying on technology for emotional support - this would have made a very interesting film on its own but of course this has to be about the killer-doll. I also liked the tug-of-war the robot and the aunt (GET OUT star Allison Williams) had over the kid but again, this was sidelined in favour of horror. It's a bit of a slow-burn which isn't good for a 90 mins film; it took too long before the robot was actually brought home and the build-up wasn't that great. I didn't like some of the supporting characters either like the boss (Ronny Chieng) who tries to inject his humor but isn't really funny at all - in fact a lot of the humor throughout was lost on me so I was surprised to find out later this was labelled a horror-comedy. The choices of music in the film I didn't find a good fit either especially the end credits. It's not original of course but it is at least a fun little horror and I preferred it to CHILD'S PLAY (2019) but mostly due to its science-fiction angle. Having said that, if these domestic robots are SO advanced why is it so difficult to teach them the difference between right and wrong and why are they always made so strong and indestructable?!
  22. THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN (2022) 3.5 (No spoilers) This Oscar-heavy contender is perhaps one of the most simple films you'll ever see - there is absolutely nothing more to the plot other than one friend (Brendan Gleeson) suddenly deciding to end his friendship with the other (Colin Farrell) while being a subtle metaphor for the Irish Civil War going on in the background. This simplicity can be seen as both a good and a bad thing but it was certainly a lot better than Martin McDonagh's previous film with Farrell and Gleeson, IN BRUGES (2008) It's well-written and the dialogue is sharp and funny but since the story is so straight-forward it could easily have done with editing-out a few redundant scenes. There are a couple of great supporting characters (eg. the town idiot played by Oscar nom Barry Keoghan and his abusive father) but sadly they don't really have a lot to do in the story apart from supporting the two leads and adding colour to the film - also their stories are kind of left in mid-air. Kerry Condon, as the sister, also ultimately suffers from this "gap" in the writing. It's the characters and witty dialogue that really makes this film, even more so hearing it in thick culchie Irish accents with a 'f€ck' here and a 'sho!te' there. Also events in the story (particularly Gleeson's behavior) slightly draw from the absurd and extreme in a random Monty Python-ish way which makes you question what kind of a world this is set in. Lastly, the final act was a little underwhelming (and sudden) and could have done with more weight.
  23. VIOLENT NIGHT (2022) 2.5 (No spoilers) Imagine if DIE HARD (1988) was an actual Xmas movie and instead of John McClane on the loose in Nakatomi Plaza you have Santa running around a mansion. BUT in order to avoid accusations of ripping-off such a classic action film the filmmakers instead try to pass if off as a homage to HOME ALONE (1990). Yep, VIOLENT NIGHT is sh!te. David Harbour is Santa - a tired, reluctant hero with a strained relationship with those close to him. Sound familiar? Elsewhere John Leguizamo is the leader of a machine-gun toting gang of European mercs intent on robbing a vault. Deja vu. Familiar even more was the constant use of walkie-talkies between the hero and another character (who of course loves HOME ALONE) offering encouragement which was just going too far. It wasn't original of course and throughout all I could think of was DIE HARD only this was obviously weak in comparison. It's very unfunny especially the supporting characters who are annoyingly cardboard including comedy veteran Beverly D'Angelo as the cliche and overdone foul-mouthed grandma. The overall plot is also just thin. Even the action, from JOHN WICK's David Leitch, was messy.
  24. BARBARIAN (2022) 4/5 (No Spoilers) The less you know about this film, the better - I didn't watch the trailer, I just knew it was about an Airbnb house where one tenant (Georgina Campbell) arrives to find someone else (Bill Skarsgard) already in it. It's very original, surprising, tense, scary and filled with suspense - it's what every horror film should be without relying on gore, cheap shocks or a nasty villain to do the work. It's solid horror ruined only by its plot-holes and an annoyingly unsatisfying ending. Director Zach Cregger does an excellent job keeping you on edge and maintaining mystery through-out but the writing suffers not only due to plot-holes but also redundant character backstories. It's fine to have backstories but it often feels like they're only there to pad-out the 100 mins runtime despite how great Justin Long is in the film. I really wanted to know more about the antagonists and their backstories and why this s*** was going on because what we are told is just a bit weak. Also as ever with mystery-suspense thrillers, once you know everything it takes the enjoyment out of future viewings and gets boring very quickly with each watch. DON'T BREATHE (2016), THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS (1991) and even RESIDENT EVIL VII (the game) are other trapped-in-a creepy-house stories that reminded me of BARBARIAN but unlike them this film puts much more emphasis on mystery which it excels at - it had me guessing all the way through just who was the villain (is it Bill Skarsgard or not?) and what was happening. I'm hoping for a prequel.
  25. WEIRD: THE AL YANKOVIC STORY (2022) 2.5/5 (No spoilers) Who asked for a movie about this guy?! OK maybe he was huge in the USA but in the UK I seem to recall only 3 one-off novelty music videos and his cameo in THE NAKED GUN 33/3rd (1994). Of course I wouldn't mind if the movie was good but it sucked, never-mind weird. The core message of the film is, "just be yourself and do what makes you happy - even if you're weird" but it's not done very well - there isn't even an interesting story here let alone one of struggle like other biopics. There's heavy emphasis on Weird Al's longing for his dad's acceptance but its hard to take seriously when the film is a comedy - what's worse though is it isn't even funny. The film isn't really a biopic because it shoots off on massive tangents with so many events that you know obviously DIDN'T happen (Eg. the origins of 'Eat It', the Pablo Escabar incident). Evan Rachel Wood is good as Madonna and Jack Black makes a great appearance as Wolfman Jack. Radcliff is fine but does he have to be ripped to play Weird Al??!! I get that he chooses these low-key/lo-fi films and plays odd characters (like Johnny Depp does) to get away as far as possible from his Harry Potter image but in this one he just ends up looking like a Scouse - I just kept waiting for him to say, "Alriiight, alriight, cam down, cam down!!"
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