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Films watched in 2020


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See look, he even ruins that picture.

I've not really written many reviews here recently but I had to pop in just to say how incredibly horrific the latest Charlie's Angels film is. It has to be one of the worst films I've ever seen. Some

The Invisible Man- Leigh Whannell achieved the impossible. He managed to reboot the story of The Invisible Man and make it work for modern times, whilst also crafting a very effective horror film arou

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BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC (2020)
2.5/5 (No spoilers)
 
So they finally made a third film, but was it worth the wait and a most triumphant return? Well despite having the original writers attached it was most non-triumphant. The writers need to be 'melvined'.
 
The plot is wafer-thin and focuses too much on Bill and Ted's daughters (who no one gives a s*** about) who I found to be fairly boring characters with nothing to distinguish them from each other. They act like the younger versions of their dads but come across like a bad impersonation; annoying and not fun. Whenever the daughters came on-screen I just wanted the scene to end quickly so we could go back to their dads.
 
The worst thing about the daughters is that they're just suddenly dropped into the audience's lap and we're expected to just accept them without any kind of proper introduction. I know we saw a glimpse of them as babies at the end of the 2nd film but in the 25+ years since we just jump straight to them as adults. It would have been better to have some flashbacks at the start of the new film to fill in a few gaps to give some characterization so that their presence is easier for us to swallow...but all we get instead is a montage of news headlines of their dad's careers over the years. As it is we know nothing about the daughters except who their dads are.
 
There's not much 'Bill and Ted' about Bill and Ted themselves; very few mention of classic rock bands and not even much air-guitaring. Rufus (George Carlin) is hugely missed and is instead replaced by his daughter who severely lacks in charisma and then there's the killer-robot who just feels like crap comic-relief in a film that is already *supposed* to be funny (but isn't). Even William Sadler back as Death doesn't show up until the third act and doesn't really add much to the plot.
 
The previous two films are obviously far better, this new sequel doesn't even feel like a Bill and Ted movie and introduces too many new and boring characters. Very underwhelming, I wouldn't even say it was 'alright'.
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Bill & Ted Face the Music was a good belated sequel. I've always been a fan of the franchise and enjoyed the nostalgia of this film. It wasn't as good as the first two (Bogus Journey is my favourite) but still a good comedy.

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I seem to be watching too many films. 

Last night I saw Enola Holmes. It was... different to what I was expecting. A fantastic cast all around, but it felt like it just tried to be so many different things at once it tied itself into a big knot. Anticlimactic ending. The main plot got sidelined and never fully resolved or properly explained. It's a shame, it had so much potential but fell flat. I'd still give it a solid 5 or 6 out of 10 though.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Kajillionaire was an interesting drama. It did have some funny scenes and amusing set ups but wasn't terrific. Some good scenes and Evan Rachel Wood was good as always.

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Druk/Another Round

An excellent film that tests the premise: What if you went about your day slightly drunk?  Would you be a better you, more relaxed and open?  4 ordinary teachers with humdrum everyday lives set out to test this idea.

It's a good film and I enjoyed it, it's not preachy, it doesn't hit you over the head with a moral about drinking but it doesn't shy away from the fact that everything isn't rosy in the end for everyone.  It does end on a hopeful note and the final scene is wonderful to watch.

 Another Round' Review: Mad Mikkelsen in a Drama of Drinking - Variety

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4 hours ago, Raylenth said:

Kind of, lots of dancing and drinking was being had :lol:

I think she was asking about the film, not what you were doing while watching it. 

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MISSING IN ACTION 2: THE BEGINNING (1985)

2.5/5 (No spoilers)

I hadn't seen this film since the early 90s when I had it in my VHS collection and back then I just saw it as harmless fun. As a much more mature viewer now its easier to spot its faults. The fact that it stars Chuck Norris and is a Cannon film should already be a sign you're in for a cheap exploitation movie but there are still a few things that could have been avoided; most notably the bad pacing and obvious exposition in the opening scenes. 

The plot is fairly simple; Col. Braddock (Chuck) and co are held captive in a POW camp in 'Nam and try to escape. I guess it's quite a challenge for the writers because they obviously don't want it to be 'just another prison escape film' but the main problem is the scenes seem quite disjointed as we're shown one torture scene after the other without much story going on in-between. It feels like there should have been more focus on the characters and less on action; Chuck has a team but we're not told a great deal about them which is a wasted opportunity. Even Chuck's martial-arts skills aren't much to look at (as ever in his films) and to me he just never had the wow factor unlike the other big Cannon Films star, Jean Claude Van Damme. 

Soon Tek-Oh makes quite a good nemesis for Chuck but he's the only villain that really does anything.  I actually remember liking this film better than the first MIA film though and I enjoyed the 3rd film back in the day too just as much even though they retconned Braddock's wife. I thought Invasion USA (1985) was quite enjoyable and Delta Force (1986) was alriiiight and Delta Force 2 (1990) was oooookay. Oh and Sidekicks (1992) was hmmm. All guilty pleasures at best.

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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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6 hours ago, nicky said:

BLADE: TRINITY (2004)

I'm not gonna pretend this is a great film, but I love it. I know I've said this before but it has one of my favourite lines in film history (and no, it's not that one).

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All My Life was very good. The performances were great and the movie had a good blend of happy and incredibly sad moments :uhoh:. It wasn't always easy to watch but also very well filmed and did involve you in the characters.

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The Craft: Legacy was very good. It was no rival to the original but was a wonderful tribute to it. I won't give away any spoilers but it did deal with more current issues and was a different enough to make it a sequel instead of a remake. Certainly not perfect but a good effort that should satisfy fans.

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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.
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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.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The Shining.  It's been a long time since I've seen it but I wanted to rewatch it ahead of Doctor Sleep just to refresh myself.  What is there to say about it really when it's such a classic.  It's a good film, for the fact that not a lot actually happens :lol:

Doctor Sleep.  I enjoyed it.  I know opinions on it were mixed but I thought it was fine.  It didn't delve into much to do with what happened at the Overlook and glossed over most of it, which was a bit disappointing, but it had to spend the time on it's own storyline so I get that.  I don't usually enjoy franchises where the back stories start getting really complicated and you have to watch this to understand that...but this was OK, the Knot were an interesting concept and I didn't mind their introduction to the story.

Legends Of Oz: Dorothy's Return.  I watched this as it's on my list of films Hugh Dancy has been in, and as a kids film, and a younger looking kids film at that, I wasn't expecting much, but it was an OK film.  Nothing spectacular and probably not something I will ever watch again but not a total waste of 88 minutes.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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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).

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6 Underground.  A Michael Bay film, it's boring and unengaging.  The first 15 minutes of the film is basically a giant advert as brand names are splashed across the screen, the rest of the film, whilst being pretty in places as they use a variety of lovely locations, has nothing much positive going for it.  The characters are boring, Ryan Reynolds is basically playing a less sweary uncostumed Deadpool, and I can't bring myself to care if any of them succeed or die.

I watched an hour before I gave myself permission to stop, but at least I gave it a good go.

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3 hours ago, Raylenth said:

6 Underground.  A Michael Bay film, it's boring and unengaging.  The first 15 minutes of the film is basically a giant advert as brand names are splashed across the screen, the rest of the film, whilst being pretty in places as they use a variety of lovely locations, has nothing much positive going for it.  The characters are boring, Ryan Reynolds is basically playing a less sweary uncostumed Deadpool, and I can't bring myself to care if any of them succeed or die.

I watched an hour before I gave myself permission to stop, but at least I gave it a good go.

I heard that in the second half of that film Hugh Dancy appears waving his winky around.

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