Monday, 21 August 2017

Movie Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Over the last several months, I’ve probably shown every conceivable pre-conception that a person can have for a movie. Whether it’s down to my own weird tastes or just how surprising this year’s releases have turned out, I’ve gone into the cinema with some odd ideas about what it’ll be like. Well, today’s film will likely represent my absolute worst expectations for a film: I want this film to be bad. Now, as much as I’ve talked about the therapeutic power of cinema, I don’t actively like watching bad movies; I rarely if ever want films to be bad, and it’s even rarer that I would want a film to suck to prove a “point”. Basically, after the clusterfuck that went down in the wake of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which I still maintain is a genuinely good movie despite some definite flaws, learning that the guys behind what is properly the worst film I’ve ever sat through would be behind the next Spider-Man reboot seriously pissed me off. It even got to the point where, and I wish I was joking, I made this claim on Reddit last year:

Just so we’re clear, this is how badly I not only didn’t want to see those numbnuts get rewarded for their lack of effort, but how badly I wanted some hubris to kick in after the honestly OTT reactions ASM2 got. But as I’ve already established, I’m a bit of a fanboy for comic book movies and I’m usually a lot kinder to them than I probably should be; I may not be happy to be proven wrong in this instance but I definitely get that the possibility of it happening here is pretty high. Anyway, enough waffle, let’s see where my cold-hearted cynicism gets me as we look at the latest iteration of the New York Webslinger. This is Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Movie Review: A Monster Calls (2017)

With how many times the average person comes across it in a standard day, we tend to underappreciate the strength of storytelling. With the right words and imagery, something as mundane as what a person had for breakfast can tell some poignant things about the human condition. Or, at least, I’m assuming that’s the case; quite frankly, I can’t think of another reason why people seem to be so intent on sharing every single meal they ever have on social media. But even that easy target, how people use social media, itself is a form of storytelling. Sometimes, it’s just to provide snapshots of a person’s life that might a few disparate thoughts into place and help things make a bit more sense. Other times, it’s to completely detach from the real world for a time, absorbing one’s self in the fantastical and frequently loopy details of fiction. But there are times when we tell each other stories, and even tell ourselves certain stories, because the reality that they represent is a little too confronting to take on without some form of filter. That particular situation will be the subject of today’s film; as someone who prides cinema as a highly effective method of storytelling, I’ll admit that I’m quite curious about how this will turn out. Time to dig in and find out: This is A Monster Calls.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Movie Review: Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (2017)

Back in 2013 when I first started out on this kick of watching any new film I could get my hands on, I for some reason decided to watch a little film called Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. Aside from being yet another kids film that doesn’t have much value for adult audiences, it is also one of the biggest examples of White People Problems I’ve yet encountered in a modern release. Yeah, bit rich coming from someone who is white himself, but the air of privilege and minor inconvenience that so permeated the entire film can’t really be summed in any other way. That film was meant to be the final installment in a trilogy, and since none of the other films fit my purview, I considered that series closed up for business and something I wouldn’t have to bother myself with again. Then the trailers and posters for today’s film started surfacing and I went all Michael Corleone from Godfather III: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in”. The sooner I get this over and done with, the sooner I can pull myself back out again, so let’s take a look at this latest installment and see how, somehow, it’s even worse than what came before it. This is Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Movie Review: The House (2017)

I don’t really have anything to preface this. Combining disappointment with apathy doesn’t make for the best material, especially in response to something, but as I’ll get into, that’s about the extent of this film’s level of engagement. Time to board the “Will Ferrell, what are you even doing anymore?” train once again: This is The House.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Movie Review: The Circle (2017)

Technology is an amazing thing. With a single click and a few keyboard taps, you can communicate with people on the other side of the world. Decades ago, we made jokes about how everyone thought virtual reality was the big new thing; now, I can just walk into my local game shop and pick up a headset for myself. Medicine, computing and just human invention in general have taken massive leaps and bounds and it’s only getting bigger with time. However, technology is also a very scary and potentially lethal thing. With enough know-how, that same person on the other side of the world can bring a SWAT team to your house just because you did better than them in Team Deathmatch. Decades ago, we made jokes about how the government is trying to monitor every little action we do; now, thanks to social media, we’re all pretty much giving up our every movement for public consumption willingly. Medical advancements continue to be challenged, destroying a person’s life is as simple as having the right computer program, and human ingenuity continues to reflect how flawed humans still are. With all this in mind, how does today’s techno-thriller do at discussing such issues? This is The Circle.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Movie Review: Cars 3 (2017)

For as illustrious and ground-breaking as Pixar’s legacy has been, the Cars franchise will likely always serve as the black sheep of the company paddock. Brought into existence by Pixar head honcho John Lasseter, Cars operates far more as a toy-centric marketing vehicle (heh) than as strict narrative. The first film is just okay; plenty annoying and rather plainly written compared to its contemporaries, but it’s at least serviceable for kids. The sequel, however, is a bit more complicated. I say that because it is both leagues better and leagues worse than the original. Better, in that its Michael Caine-starring spy plot is visually inventive and quite engaging; worse, because it took the most annoying supporting character from the original (Tow “I will never forgive these people for this shit” Mater) and made him the lead, boosting the Southern hick annoyance levels tremendously in the process. Still, for as inconsistent as it is, I still like it just a little bit more overall. So, a little over a decade since the original careened into cinemas, we have a threequel to deal with. Normally, I’d be rather worried about where this is going but, as I’ll get into, this film is in pretty safe hands. This is Cars 3.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Movie Review: Baby Driver (+ Q&A with Director/Writer Edgar Wright)

I briefly got into this when I went over Ant-Man, but it bears repeating: Edgar Wright is made of stone-cold awesome. Making his name with a penchant for cross-breeding genres like a cinematic alchemist, from the zombie-horror/romantic-comedy Shaun Of The Dead to the social sci-fi/martial arts action/restyled Arthurian legend of The World’s End, Wright is easily one of my all-time favourite filmmakers. In fact, I almost feel bad for first mentioning him on this blog during Ant-Man, given the rather dubious circumstances in which he left the project; knowing how good this guy is, the last thing you should hear is him being dropped over “creative differences”. Nevertheless, the man is back with a vengeance with a film that has somehow managed to outdo Get Out in terms of explosive hype; the trailers for it over here boasted a full 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, something that has since changed because nothing is perfect, and barely any films even get to that point during the press lead-up. Since this is another occasion where, even if I never picked up this critical gig, I’d still be compelled to watch his latest effort. So, how good is it? This is Baby Driver.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Movie Review: Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)

Of all the cash cows for critics of bad films, no franchise can compete with the lumbering juggernaut that is Michael Bay’s Transformers series. From the rampant idiocy on display throughout to the frequent moments of sexist, racist and otherwise crappy behaviour in the characters, right down to his widely-lampooned visual overload style of direction, Bay has been a walking target for at least a decade by this point. And finally, after showing sympathy for the guy’s more recent efforts as director and even producer, I have an excuse to get involved in this whole mess myself. To date, I have seen all the previous Transformers flicks in the cinema, and I can hardly recall a series with so many immediately and hilariously terrible moments as Bay’s ode to the adolescent boy in us all. And apparently, judging by initial press reactions, this seems to be the worst entry yet. How in the hell is that possible? Let’s dive right in and discover the extremely depressing answer. This is Transformers: The Last Knight.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Movie Review: A Quiet Passion (2017)

Well, this is awkward. As some of my more frequent readers may have noticed, I’ve been a bit out of commission for a while now, far longer than even my biggest slumps to date. This is a result of easily the most bizarre month I’ve ever had, being sick with one thing or another with severe overlap between them, to the point where I’m actually typing out this introduction from a hospital bed. Needless to say, I’m pretty bummed right now. Seeing as how trying to get back into my usual routine with a bad film didn’t work out so well last time, let’s see if I can change that with some proper cinematic soul food. Seriously, just thinking about this film is already putting me in better spirits and, by the end of this review, I hope you’ll understand why. This is A Quiet Passion.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Movie Review: Rough Night (2017)

Scarlett Johansson is one of the greatest gifts to the SF umbrella that any self-respecting geek could ever ask for. Even if the merit of the works can be debated to the ends of the Earth like Ghost In The Shell and Under The Skin, her turns as part of the MCU stable and even Lucy have secured her place as an actress who is right at home with genre films. She’s even gone beyond live-action work with some honestly unprecedented voice work for Her and The Jungle Book, giving truly amazing performances in both; very few actors are able to translate that talent this effectively. To put it simply, I have gotten to the point where I am truly excited to see whatever new film she’s attached to, knowing her verging-on-legendary pedigree over the last few years. So, how does she fare today when she steps out of that comfort zone into a ‘dark comedy’. Brace yourself for one of the most unfortunately apt titles of any film this year: This is Rough Night.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Movie Review: Despicable Me 3 (2017)

I think I owe Illumination Entertainment something of an apology. For the longest time, I always judged them mainly off of their take on Dr Seuss’ The Lorax, which still stands as one of the single worst films I’ve ever sat through in so many ways. However, that is honestly an outlier of their work: The rest of their films, in one way or another, have tapped into a sense of nostalgia for the olden days of animation and translated it quite remarkably for today’s audiences. Whether it’s the 2-D throwback of The Secret Life Of Pets to the tribute to all things musical with Sing, Illumination has secured its place in the industry as the most retro-minded studio working right now. And the crown jewel of their work to date, the series that put them on the map, is Despicable Me. Or, more specifically, the Minions that have now taken a life of their own and, whenever a new film featuring them comes out, you will doubtless see them everywhere. So, in light of the studio’s pedigree and my admitted sensitivity to overblown marketing, how does this latest installment turn out? This is Despicable Me 3.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Movie Review: The Promise (2017)

Even without getting into the premise of today’s film, this has the kind of main casting that is designed to make audiences froth in excitement. You’ve got Oscar Isaac, a true rising star who has been attached to critical and audience darlings for several years straight at this point and has even entered meme status thanks to his… interesting dance sequence from Ex Machina. Next to him, there’s Charlotte Le Bon, whom I’ll admit hasn’t exactly wowed me with her latest features, but quite frankly, she’s more than due for a proper-good production. And then there’s Christian Bale, the modern king of method acting who is well-known by this point for how seriously he takes his work. As much as I know better than I’d like how easily a promising cast can be cut down by a wasteful story, rest assured, this isn’t one of those occasions. This is The Promise.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Movie Review: All Eyez On Me (2017)

No matter how timid I may come across in these reviews, I know that talking about ideas and concepts in relation to films is still less risky than statements concerning other forms of media. Like, for instance, rap music. I will always consider myself a hip-hop head first and foremost when it comes to music, but the amount of outrage that gets generated in those circles over the most minor shit really doesn’t make me all that willing to admit to such things in public. I bring this up to help cushion the blow of what may be one of the more inflammatory statements I could make within that context: I’m not that massive on Tupac. I have respect for the guy’s place in the industry, and I certainly like some of his music, but in oh-so-popular discussions over who is the greatest MC of all time, I’m far more likely to suggest The Notorious B.I.G. than Tupac. However, with that in mind, Straight Outta Compton showed that biographical cinema and rap music intersecting could lead to great results (possibly less great than I initially thought when first watching it, but that’s a discussion for another time) so, even without absolutely loving the subject, hopefully we’ll get something similar here. Key word being “hopefully”. This is All Eyez On Me.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Movie Review: My Cousin Rachel (2017)

Oh, this is going to be a tough one to talk about. What makes that statement weird though, considering I’ve reviewed a wide spectrum of releases on this blog before, is that it isn’t even for any of the obvious reasons. I’ve mentioned how old-timey costume dramas really aren’t my thing for some reason, and writing about them isn’t something I find easy, but that’s not it. I’ve shown a certain verging-on-dickishness when discussing feminist-centric notions, something that makes those topics not exactly my favourite thing to talk about, but that’s not it either. Today’s film is a story involving incest between cousins, and to cut a potentially long and aggravating story short, I found out rather recently that apparently people still need to be convinced that incest isn’t exactly the most ideal thing to be doing with one's time. And yet, even that isn’t why this is going to be a tough review to get out there. Rather, it’s because when all three of these areas intersect with this film’s approach to framing its story, it results in a very all-over-the-place kind of production. Let’s get started and, hopefully, I’ll be able to explain why. This is My Cousin Rachel.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Movie Review: The Mummy (2017)

With Marvel sweeping in box office hit after box office hit, it seems that everyone and their backyard sound stage want to get in on this ‘shared film universe’ trend. Sure, Marvel didn’t exactly invent the idea; filmmakers like John Hughes and Kevin Smith both filled in their films with little threads that tied them together for those willing to pay attention. However, those guys did it more in passing than anything else, whereas Marvel has officially turned it into a new blossoming branch of the Hollywood franchise system. From DC’s attempts to match their graphic novel rivals to Legendary Studio’s increasingly-promising big monster franchise, even individuals like M. Night Shyamalan who seems to be setting up his own comic book-inspired world off the back of Split, this is basically the big new thing in Hollywood right now. So, naturally, it seems that Universal Pictures wants to get in on this trend as well, using today’s film as a springboard for a shared universe based on their classic cavalcade of movie monsters. Of course, if the rest of the entries in the Dark Universe series are anything resembling this, we may be in for a very bumpy ride over the next several years because this film is something truly special. This is The Mummy.

The plot: Mercenary Nick (Tom Cruise) and his partner-in-shady-dealings Chris (Jake Johnson), while searching for treasures in war-torn Iraq, uncover the tomb of Egyptian would-be-queen Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). After accidentally releasing her from her imprisonment, Nick is brought to the attention of his ex-flame Jennifer (Annabelle Wallis) and her employer Henry (Russell Crowe), who is on a mission to rid the world of monsters. With Nick being under Ahmanet’s influence, he must work together with Jennifer and Henry in order to stop the Mummy from destroying the world and bringing the Egyptian god Set into the mortal realm.

“Let’s remake this over-10-year-old film! We’ll get Tom Cruise to star in it!” sounds like the set-up for a bad joke about how little actual creativity is going on in Hollywood, so you can imagine how well it turns out when that is actually what they did here. Don’t get me wrong, Cruise was a great choice to play this very dickish soldier of fortune, but the way he’s written, his charm falls through the cracks of the asshole that is his character. To make things weirder, it seems that his attitude on set was rather in keeping with his egocentric “I can get away with anything” on-screen persona, if Jake Johnson and the myriad of on-set stories are anything to go by. And speaking of Johnson, he’s a decent match with Cruise in terms of their character dynamics, but his comparable ability with unsavoury characters doesn’t manage to outweigh not only how annoying he can get but also how out-of-place he becomes as the film drudges on. Wallis could have become one of the biggest setbacks for female supporting roles in blockbuster films with how regressive her character is, but fortunately, she’s way too unengaging for that to be a possibility. Boutella as the big bad Mummy is alright, I suppose, but once again, I chalk her okay-ness up to the writers not really knowing what kind of villain they wanted her to be. Crowe is probably the best actor here but that’s only when he lets his darker side loose. *SPOILER* warnings now, because this review will likely be full of them: He’s playing Dr. Jekyll. Seriously. And even though it last for only 2-3 minutes, his turn as Hyde is the single best part of the film.

The writers for this film are David Koepp, whom we last checked in with last year’s abysmal Inferno, Christopher McQuarrie, the man responsible for one of the highest points of Cruise's entire career with Jack Reacher, and Dylan Kussman, largely known for his acting role in Dead Poets Society with this as his first film script. I bring all this up because, between them all, they have sizeable experience in the industry and should have a pretty good idea on what makes a working script. Unfortunately, you’d never guess that just from their efforts here because, dear God, this is one of the dumbest films I’ve seen in a very long time. This is almost classic stupid, as it has all the usual hollow bells and ear-shredding whistles of your standard idiot plot blockbuster, something we honestly haven’t gotten that much of of late (at least from what I’ve seen). The characters are written solely in terms of how they can progress the plot, resulting in character actions that make little to no sense compared to their other actions or even the context of the scenes they take place in. I mean, when you’re at the point of a character visibly dying, coming back to life and stabbing the main character’s superior officer and all without anyone noticing on-screen, you know you’re in prime shitweasel territory. What’s more, the ridiculousness of how much the film doesn’t make sense with itself only seems to accelerate once we get to the final reel, building and building until we hit a truly baffling open ending, resulting in the kind of hysterical “what the fuck did I just watch?” reaction that I haven’t experienced since Pan.

And you know what? I would perfectly fine with all of that. With how the titular Mummy’s powers manifest themselves, this is basically a dumb zombie movie with some mild Egyptian undertones; I have a real soft spot for the stupid exploits of the undead, and I have a real fascination with Egyptian theology. Unfortunately, for as goofy as this mostly is, it also has some serious tonal issues on top of that. On one side, you have Cruise (let’s not bother with character names by this point; you’re all just going to refer to him as ‘Tom Cruise’ anyway) being messed around with by the Mummy, being taken on a head trip that has him questioning what is actually happening to him. And on the other side, you have Cruise and an undead Johnson arguing in a women’s public bathroom about just letting the Mummy do with Cruise what she wants. These two halves don’t fit together; in fact, you can almost smell the cheap Clag glue used to try and hold them in place. Amidst the original-Xbox-era special effects at work and the limp action beats, there’s this lingering feeling that underneath the layers of idiocy is a potentially decent movie. Of course, it’s buried far too deep to be of any use, with the filmmakers instead going for weak jokes off the back of incredibly unlikeable and brick-headed protagonists intercut with scenes featuring the Mummy that we’re apparently meant to take seriously. Sorry but, no matter how much you try and bandage up this mess of a screenplay, it’s still dead and slowly decaying before our very eyes.

So, between the shit writing and the weak visuals, this film is already pretty bad on its own. But how is it as an introduction into the Dark Universe? Wait… Do you hear that? That faint sound in the distance as you’re reading this? That’s me laughing my head off because, even without considering its competition, this is an embarrassingly weak start to a franchise. Let’s get the small things out of the way first: This film’s lack of knowledge about Egyptian gods is matched only by its apparent lack of knowledge about Jekyll and Hyde because they manage to screw up pretty critical details in both. The film keeps bringing up Set as the Egyptian god of death, and yeah, I’m gonna be That Guy on this: Anubis is the god of death, not Set, and I learnt that from the bloody Yu-Gi-Oh movie! If a cartoon about a world-ending children’s card game can get simple details like that right and your movie can’t, you need to rethink things, especially if you’re dealing with something as reliant on minor details as a cinematic universe. But that’s small potatoes when you realize that, since Jekyll and Hyde are also in this movie for a time, they can’t even get the Universal monsters right. Like, it is weird how much they completely miss the mark with Dr. Jekyll, turning a story about the dual nature of humanity into a yarn involving catching evil like a disease, all in the space of a single on-screen conversation. I mean, I get the idea of retooling stories we all know to keep them interesting, but when said retooling involves missing the entire point of the story you’re retooling, it ceases to make any sense why they even bothered in the first place. Oh wait, they bothered because name-brand recognition and “give us money, please!”; nevermind. But here’s the real kicker: Outside of those two instances and the introduction of Jekyll’s monster hunting organization, that is literally all we get in terms of world-building. Nothing set in stone, nothing tantalized to keep audience’s attention outside of a couple vampire skulls and what I think is a scale from the Creature From The Black Lagoon and nothing that ultimately makes it seem like this universe has that many places to go from here.

All in all, this is the new Battlefield Earth. Think about it: Lead actor with heavy ties to Scientology who made the entire film his own passion project, woeful production values, rock-stupid writing which still carries traces of Scientologist doctrine (treating human evil as a foreign element that can be removed with the right ‘treatments’) and attempts at grandeur and scope that fall hideously short; the only thing missing is the legendarily awful camera work and this would tick every box possible. Hell, say what you will about Dracula Untold, the last attempt by Universal to kick off this sort of franchise, but it looks like Iron Man compared to this thing.

But the weirdest part of all this is that I’m not even mad; I’m certainly bewildered and holding back laughing fits as I type this out, but I’m not mad. Because this is the kind of film that film critics, particularly those on YouTube et al. whose bread-and-butter are bad Hollywood movies, are going to be very happy with. Give it about a year, and I guarantee that you’ll see video reviews for this popping up in a lot of places; films like this, where the review material is practically gift-wrapped, are very rare and those that have that quality usually go down into bad movie legend. This is one of those films and, honestly, I wouldn’t mind the Dark Universe going ahead if they’re as consistently dreadful as this. With online film critique as a profession being particularly volatile right now, it’d be nice to know there’s a steady stream of work out there. This ranks lower than Table 19, which may have been far duller than this (and this film definitely gives you your money’s worth in unintentional hilarity) but it is far more competently-made as a film. Budgets exceeding $100 million shouldn’t look this cheap. However, with that spike of hysterical enjoyment I got at this film’s expense in mind, this wasn’t any kind of serious letdown for me; honestly, I didn’t have any real expectations going into this. As such, this still ranks higher with me than A Cure For Wellness, which still continues to piss me off.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Movie Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

As a means to contrast the enduring sense of dread I had in the lead-up to the release of Baywatch (you know, before I ended up liking it), today’s film has been a long and steady process of chanting “please don’t suck” over and over again every time I saw the marketing for this film. Knowing what DC is capable of in terms of stories, and how much their recent efforts have been underwhelming (I didn’t give nearly enough flack for the whole Granny’s Peach Tea insanity from BvS: Dawn Of Justice when I first reviewed it), I seriously wish that they would stop falling under their own strain and just make the DC Extended Universe worth watching. The closest we’ve gotten so far is Suicide Squad, and even then it ranks up there in terms of the most bewildering fanboy rage quits in recent years; it honestly seems like I’m one of the few people who was willing to give that film a chance. So, in the wake of this film’s alarmingly warm reception, am I going to join the crowd for once or am I going to be the lone jackass wondering what the hell everyone else is seeing? Only one way to find out: This is Wonder Woman.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Movie Review: Churchill (2017)

Outside of a few pop culture appearances, the urban legend of his conversation with Nancy Astor and a Robin Williams skit about who truly wrote his greatest speeches, I honestly don’t know that much about Winston Churchill. So, rather than continue to pretend that I have anything of note to say before digging into the film, let’s just get into this thing already. This is Churchill.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Movie Review: Baywatch (2017)

If you’ve been following my other reviews this year, you’ll notice that I haven’t made it a secret about how surprising a lot of this year’s films have been so far. I honestly don’t know if it’s directly because of my own expectations or if a lot of filmmakers this year have been getting better at left-hooking the audience, but I am getting less and less confident about films actually matching up with general audience anticipation. And yet, even with that in mind, this is the one film that I was looking forward to the least out of everything expected to come out this year. What’s more, as each piece of marketing revealed more about it, the worse it ended up looking. It’s quite a feat to take the teaser poster, with just about the least subtle dick joke I’ve seen in quite a while, and somehow go further downhill from there but that’s how this thing looks. By this point, I think my expectations for this are at their absolute lowest; unless we end up with another perplexingly offensive offering, which isn’t exactly out of the realm of possibility, there’s no way this could be as all-time awful as I’m expecting it to be. Could it? This is Baywatch.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Movie Review: The Shack (2017)

This film isn’t getting an introduction. It doesn’t deserve an introduction. And hopefully, by the end of this review, you’ll understand why because a shocking lack of people seem to see this film for what it truly is. Let’s get this shit over and done with because I am legitimately getting more pissed the more brain power I have to devote to it. This is The Shack.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Movie Review: King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword (2017)

While a lot of the music-loving world still adheres to the idea that Yoko Ono cost us one of the greatest bands to ever touch an instrument, I subscribe to a similar but far less recognized notion. Namely, that Madonna cost the art of cinema one of its potential legendary filmmakers. Guy Ritchie, as has been discussed on this blog before, was responsible for one of my all-time favourite films with Snatch. After that feature, and hooking up with Madonna, Ritchie took one of the biggest stumbles of any filmmaker still working today. Between the star-vehicle-cum-wrong-headed remake of an Italian classic with Swept Away, to the equally wrong-headed attempt to merge Ritchie’s British crime sensibilities with the teachings of Kabbalah with Revolver, the man found prominence in Hollywood from then on but he never managed to recapture that flame he once had. However, even considering the story we have today, it seems that he has indeed gotten back to his roots… in the single weirdest way possible. Let’s get started with today’s film and I’ll explain how. This is King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Movie Review: Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Out of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe we have gotten so far, from the politically-driven thrills of Captain America to the Objectivist musings of Iron Man, 2014’s Guardians Of The Galaxy still stands as my personal favourite of the lot. Hell, my defence for Suicide Squad likely came from how much it reminded me of Guardians in both tone and intent. Apart from what people have come to expect from a modern Marvel film, like the pitch-perfect casting and the industry connections to some of the greatest effects wizards working today, it also opened the gates for a more bizarre and kitschy brand of superhero story, one that director/co-writer James Gunn was more than apt to tell. Despite how late this review ultimately is, with the film in question being out for quite a while before I finally got around to it, I was definitely eager to see just how it would measure up to the original that I hold in quite high regard. Once again, this is the year that sees fit to kick audiences square in their expectations, so here’s hoping for a solid project. This is Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Movie Review: Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

Pirates Of The Caribbean is the classic tale of a studio wanting to make a film based one of their most successful theme park attractions that, through one of the single greatest casting decisions in the history of the medium, became one of Hollywood’s hottest properties… at first. It seems that, between the increasing goofiness of the stories being told combined with the increased budgetary requirements (The third and fourth installments in the franchise currently hold the top two spots for the most expensive films ever made), interest in the series is starting to wane. Hell, while I found quite a bit to like about Stranger Tides, it did give the impression that this is a franchise that is starting to beach itself. So, with another spin of the director’s chair and a few returning faces in the cast, maybe this will rejuvenate the series back to its former glory. While I fiddle around with my Blogger settings to make a large enough font to put enough emphasis on the word “maybe”, let’s get started with today’s offering. This is Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

2014’s John Wick, one of the first films I covered on this blog, is one that I didn’t give nearly enough credit to the first time around. Largely due to my own inexperience in the art of critique and not knowing how to properly articulate what I think makes for good action beats (neither of which may or may not have improved all that much since), I didn’t end up giving that film its fair due in how stone-cold brilliant it is. From the sharp-as-a-razor writing that I still struggle to believe isn’t directly based on a pre-existing work, to the excellent fight choreography, the finesse behind the camera, the acting, even the lighting; it is a bona-fide classic film and it finally gave main star Keanu Reeves mainstream recognition that has been long overdue. Needless to say, I was eagerly anticipating this although I honestly don’t know how it could improve on the first attempt. Well, they found a way. This is John Wick: Chapter 2.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Movie Review: Snatched (2017)

In lieu of trying to make a useful prologue to all this, which would probably just result in a thousand-character sigh on the page, let’s just get into this trash already. This is Snatched.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Movie Review: Meri Pyaari Bindu (2017)

For as much as I’ve railed against certain conventions of the genre, I can’t say I have any real issue with romance films as a whole. The genre exists for the same reason any other does, in that it’s a type of story that people want to see, and when done right, it can make for some truly powerful cinema. Whether today’s film fits that mould, I’ll get into in due time, but suffice to say, we’re in for a treat this time around. This is Meri Pyaari Bindu.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Movie Review: Lahoriye (2017)

Given how this film marks easily the most distracting and obnoxious audience experience I’ve had to date, this review is going to be one of the hardest I’ve ever had to write. Kind of difficult to analyse a film when you can barely hear the bloody thing over drunken hollering from the back row. Still, I’m not about to let the Seat Of Shame Lifetime Achievement Award get in the way of my work so let’s do this thing already. This is Lahoriye.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Movie Review: Deadfall (Reader Request)

Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting this. Apparently, one of my followers on Facebook cared enough about my uneducated opinion on films that he asked me to review today’s subject. Now, being outside of my usual purview (films made in 2012 or earlier), I was a bit sceptical about this. But, considering the still-prevalent Hitler meme that this film spawned and how comparisons to Hitler are still coming thick and fast from all sectors of the political spectrum, I figure this would at least be interesting enough to warrant my own brand of analysis. Strap yourselves in for some good old-fashioned depression fuel: This is Downfall.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Movie Review: Table 19 (2017)

Even with the amount of hatred I’ve been able to generate over the pretty awful films I’ve covered over the last few years, I have rarely if ever been ungrateful for having sat through them myself. I say that because even the worst films still have enough good grace to give me things to dissect and write about. In fact, it is usually the bad ones that give me the most material, as blind fury is often an easier feeling to express than anything pleasant. This entire blog exists because of my own love for film and writing about film, so I'd be a bit stupid if I was entirely ungrateful for the films that give me the best material to work with. Hell, I'd even go so far as to say that some of my best work has come out of the more egregiously awful films that I've sat through. However, every so often, there comes a film that is so bland, so dull, so not engaging that I am left struggling to properly articulate how I truly feel about the work. We’ve unfortunately got another one of those today so, as you read this, understand that every single word on this page was wrung out of my brain with quite a bit of effort. tl;dr Sorry if this review turns out too boring to slog through. This is Table 19.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Movie Review: Get Out (2017)

This is one of the highest-rated films of the last few years, hyped beyond all rational limits, to the point where any showing of dissent and differing opinion is met with vitriolic overreaction. Yeah, Armond White acted like an entitled douchebag in response to criticism of his own criticism, but that was in response to people losing their minds because the guy they all expected to think differently than them on what they love did exactly that. Hell, I’m actually thankful for his negative opinion because I can’t be the only one who is somewhat confronted whenever I see 100% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes; it makes me feel like I’m being pressured into liking something, and the reactions to White’s comments only solidify that fear. You might be wondering why I’m even bothering to address any of this. Well, since it seems to be a yearly tradition that there’s at least one film that generates just plain stupid behaviour from moviegoers, I figure it was at least worth mentioning. That, and it should bring some levity to what is ultimately a very, very confronting feature. This is Get Out.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Movie Review: A Dog's Purpose (2017)

Even though I have a dog at home myself, I’ve never really gotten the “point” of having pets. I see ordinary life for your standard human as complicated enough to get through without needing to simultaneously take care of a living thing that just barely counts in terms of intelligent life. I mean, people seem to take care better of their dogs than they do themselves; they certainly dress their canines better than themselves sometimes, I’ll tell you that for a fact. However, that’s not to say that I’m against it or anything like that; there’s a reason why cute pet videos still dominate the Internet to this day, and some of them are legitimately heart-warming by showing just how much animals mean to their owners. Such a shame that film never really seems able to translate that properly, with the box-office curse that is the talking animal movie still very much in effect. So, as I continue dreading the point where I end up watching last year’s chatty-cat failure Nine Lives (or Mr. Fuzzypants as it was retitled over here, because fuck knows that I’m not embarrassed enough to watch the bloody thing as is), let’s take a look at this recent shaggy offering. This is A Dog’s Purpose.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Movie Review: Battle Of Memories (2017)

Have you ever had an experience that you wish never happened? Of course you have; we all have. Would you want to erase it completely from your mind? That question’s a little trickier to answer. Must be why memory manipulation has been a science-fiction trope for as long as it has, dealing with the many implications and philosophical musings attached to it. Now, as I’ve made mention on this blog before, I see memories and the long-lasting effects they have on personalities to be a fairly inherent thing; I’ve been through some rather awful events in my own life, and yet I wouldn’t dare touch any of it in my own mind because, for better or for worse, they helped make me who I am today. Given how part of that includes my attitudes towards media and the real world, feel free to question whether or not that’s such a good thing. For right now, though, we have another psychological thriller to get through; hopefully, my natural affinity for the genre will make this at least worth watching. This is Battle Of Memories.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Movie Review: Going In Style (2017)

When actors get older, they usually end up as either characters related to the lead or mentor figures that are meant to guide the lead; senior lead actors aren’t exactly the most popular thing in the mainstream. Well, to a point, at least. I say that because, more recently, we’ve been seeing older respected actors getting lead parts in recent films… except it’s usually done to appeal to younger audiences. This means that we end up with these established names basically sacrificing their dignity at the altar of ‘It’s funny because it’s old people doing it”. Ignoring how I just don’t get the automatic comedy that’s supposed to arise from such an idea, I can’t be the only one who thinks that it’d be a nice idea if this wasn’t the go-to characterization that filmmakers go to for older actors. Like, at least some stable sense of variety in-between the hard-drinking and weed-smoking seniors would be appreciated. With these preconceptions in mind, is this film going to stick to the status quo or are we going to get something at least a little bit different? This is Going In Style.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Movie Review: Noor (2017)

Even though certain statements have only grown in relevancy over the last few months, feelings of real discontent with one’s surroundings have existed for as long as we have. Whether it’s down to the nigh-on impossible task of being a true populist or just voter’s remorse, no matter how much we try to back the people who have our best interests at heart, there will always be irritation at how the higher-ups run the world. Raging against the machine is a thriving industry, bleeding out of the real world into all forms of art or really anything that involves creative input. Journalism, in one form or another, fits into this category as well, giving people that single bullet to blow the kneecaps off the world as they see fit. I bring this all up because that idea of voicing dissent against the injustices of the world is a major aspect of today’s film. So, with that in mind, how does this fluffy rom-com turn out? If that sounds out of place, it’s only because it is. This is Noor.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Movie Review: My Pet Dinosaur (2017)

It’s once again time for an Aussie indie production, except this time we’re revisiting an old friend. Well, ‘friend’ is probably overreaching considering we’re talking about filmmaker Matt Drummond. That name may not mean much to most of you, but it’s one that I will not be forgetting any time soon considering he’s the guy who gave us Dinosaur Island, which is still one of the more perplexing cinematic releases I’ve covered on here. Perplexing because its only real positive is how unintentionally hilarious it is due to its very shoddy production values. I’ll admit that I didn’t instantly put two and two together when first watching it but, after reading up on the film and finding out that the same guy was behind both films, it makes a little too much sense. Time to take another trip down the long and winding road of ironic entertainment: This is My Pet Dinosaur.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Movie Review: The Fate Of The Furious (2017)

Okay, time to once again address a certain… pattern I’ve been noticing with my last few reviews. Since the GG meltdown, and I swear that this wasn’t intentional, the last three films I’ve covered on here have all involved some form of feminism. Whether it’s the showing of strength in Begum Jaan and Smurfs: The Lost Village, or the misogynistic bullshit of CHiPs, it seems that I subconsciously made a bit of a theme. Time to change that up, with a look at the latest installment of the most macho film series running today: The Fast & The Furious. Now, there are very few film franchises nowadays that I would consider myself be an out-and-out fanboy for; the MCU is the closest I’ve gotten so far, and even then it’s more surface level. Fast & Furious, on the other hand? Since Fast Five, I’ve been strangely vibing with this series; I say strangely because, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m really not into car-centric action beats. And yet, between the unabashed and self-aware silliness of the action, the solid character interaction and even a few instances of legit emotional impact, this is a series that I have a lot of respect for. Keep that fanboy bias in mind as we get into the latest installment of the franchise that restraint forgot. This is The Fate Of The Furious.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Movie Review: CHiPs (2017)

Many times over the last few months, I have found myself defending what most call separating the art from the artist; basically, the idea of ignoring an artist’s real-world transgressions when it comes to discussing their art. Most of the time, I bring this up as a result of people (particularly when it comes to YouTube, I’ve noticed) performing mass subscription exoduses in response to something or other to do with racist comments. The reasons why, I think, are fairly obvious: Their work has nothing to do with politics or race, so why should it be judged on those terms? Of course, this mindset gets a little trickier when a person’s real-life mentality spills into their art, meaning that separation between the two is pretty much impossible. Why do I bring this up? Well, for the first time in quite a while, I find myself compelled to look into just what exactly this film says about the guy who made it. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is CHiPs.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Movie Review: Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017)

I probably have the worst first impression of the Smurfs possible, as my first full-length encounter with them was through the 2011 film. Directed by the numbnuts that gave us the ever-popular comedic classic Beverly Hills Chihuahua, the live-action Smurfs film is easily one of the hardest films I’ve ever sat through. Thankfully, it didn’t fall into my purview for reviews, because I’m fairly certain it would’ve just been “fuck this movie” repeated 300-some times. I completely skipped the sequel, wanting to keep what little sanity I have left, and then the trailers for today’s film hit… and you cannot possibly imagine how much relief washed over me when I saw that this was not only a full CGI production but that it was a reboot of the series. Going against what most would consider common sense, those two prospects combined with the phenomenally low bar the Raja Gosnell films set for the IP actually made me hopeful that this would be good. Given how this is the year that has audience expectations in a 24-hour shooting gallery, I can only hope that my optimism isn’t proven worthless. This is Smurfs: The Lost Village.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Movie Review: Begum Jaan (2017)

After my explosion while looking at one of the worst made films in the history of the medium, I figure I’d just get right into today’s film and try and get back to the good stuff. Whether or not this film will actually deliver said good stuff, though, is another matter. This is Begum Jaan.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Movie Review: The Sarkeesian Effect: Inside The World Of Social Justice Warriors (2015)

At the start of my catch-up this year, I promised what would be the single worst film I could ever cover on this blog. Quite frankly, I can think of few things that are dumber than discussions surrounding one Anita Sarkeesian. I’ve voiced my own issues with her in the past, equating her to a rock band that wants to push hardcore political discourse but are completely inept when it comes to writing actual music. Just so we can be clear on this point, and I don’t get morons trying to twist my words, I’ll state my full opinion on her here and now. Sarkeesian’s main goal, that being opening the lid on certain sexist tropes and attitudes prevalent in video games, is commendable in and of itself and I applaud the fact that the discussion was being made at all.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Meta Month: Catch-Up Part 4: Angry Video Game Nerd, Bennett The Sage and Linkara (2017)

Well, this month hasn’t gone quite as I expected. In lieu of a lengthy pity party for one (you know, the kind of shit I tend to write on here too much as it is), I’ll just leave it how, by both design and unfortunate accident, this month isn’t nearly as in-depth as last year’s. Just to be clear, the videos I’ve highlighted so far are just the ones I happened to watch over the last year; this is by no means definitive. Still, these are people I feel are worth lauding over, so let’s get this all wrapped up with the final part of this year’s Meta Month catch-up.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Meta Month: Catch-Up Part 3: Diamanda Hagan and the Rap Critic (2017)

Diamanda Hagan is honestly the person I have to thank for me doing this whole catch-up thing in the first place. Back in November, Hagan sent me this tweet:

Monday, 24 April 2017

Movie Review: Personal Shopper (2017)

I wish this didn’t need to be reiterated, but the fact remains: Twilight is long since over and done with. Everyone attached to those films has long since moved on to (mostly) better things far removed from it. However, even with that said, I keep getting the feeling that people aren’t giving Kristen Stewart, the most memorable part of those films for all the wrong reasons, her fair due. Maybe it’s because, in the dungeons of comment sections and web forums, jokes about Bella’s utter uselessness and unintentionally malicious behaviour still ring out. That association is hard to break, even if you’re fortunate enough to unironically like those films. The shame in that sentiment furthers once you realize that, since 2012, Stewart has not only kept fairly busy but also done some genuinely fantastic work like with American Ultra and Clouds Of Sils Maria. It’s hardly a surprise that this film, written and directed by the man behind Clouds and who got Stewart to give one of her best performances to date, would be on my radar. But does it continue her winning streak (ignoring that Billy Lynn ever happened, as I’m sure most would want to do) or does it add a chink to the chain? This is Personal Shopper.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Movie Review: A Silent Voice (2017)

Previously on this blog, I have discussed certain aspects of my own film-watching philosophy, in that I consider cinema to be an inherently emotional art form and that it should be perceived and commented on as such. However, I understand that there are parts of that mindset that contradict others. Emotions are far from being simple things, considering we rarely if ever experience just one of them on their own. By contrast, I tend to treat the films I review on here in rather simple terms; this is why films like Moonlight are as difficult to pin down as they are, since they actively go against my usual ‘one and done’ methodology. And sure enough, we have another example of that today with quite possible the most perplexing emotional post-film reaction I’ve gotten yet. Petulant anger, holding back tears, relief that came seemingly out of nowhere? I barely know how to process these feelings in real life, let alone writing about them at length in connection to fiction. Nonetheless, let’s press forward with this incredibly odd feature. This is A Silent Voice.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Movie Review: Beauty And The Beast (2017)

The 1991 version of Beauty And The Beast, to put it simply, is fucking perfect. Yet another classic film that took a modern reimagining for me to check out in the first place, I can scarcely recall a supposed ‘classic’ that made me fall head-over-heels in love as quickly as that film did. The animation, the music, the sharp characterization, the voice acting, the morals; it’s rare that I’ll ever define a film as being beyond improvement but, quite frankly, that’s how hard I fell in love with this thing. Yeah, I’m late to the party but I’m sure as hell not leaving in a hurry. Now, I would ordinarily get a bit anxious in the face of this because, well, remaking this film seems like a bad idea on the surface. However, given the quality standards of the recent string of Disney live-action remakes, I have at least some faith that this film will at least be entertaining. I’ve been making it a habit of talking about how most if not all of my expectations for this film’s releases have been proven categorically wrong… and now, it’s time to see the absolute nadir of that effect. This is Beauty And The Beast.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Movie Review: The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

Even though it’s only a little over three years old now, it is quite possible to understate the impact that The LEGO Movie had when it first came out. Aside from being one of the two biggest surprises of 2014, the other being Guardians Of The Galaxy, it also latched directly onto the audience mindset like very few films before it have managed. Starting out as a project where audiences had no real idea what the film would even be like, it resulted in an incredibly astute satire of the Hollywood blockbuster formula as well as being a very entertaining action-adventure in its own right, complete with an acknowledgement of the creativity that made LEGO the household name that it is. Me personally, while I did enjoy it immensely, I was somewhat off-put by the quite literal and jarringly realistic turn it took during the final reel which ended up souring it a bit for me overall. Naturally, when news hit of a spin-off film coming out, this time helmed by LEGO Movie head animator and Adult Swim legend Chris McKay, all the petty misgivings in the world couldn’t stop me from watching it. Computer batteries to power, keyboard to speed; this is The LEGO Batman Movie.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Movie Review: Dance Academy (2017)

Since I’m in the middle of my traditional Autumn/Winter rut and I’m starting to fall ridiculously behind with my review output, I don’t think anyone will mind if I skip the pleasantries and just get into the film already. This is Dance Academy.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Movie Review: Loving (2017)

Introduction: Racism, much like any other identity-based prejudice, has never made that much sense to me on a fundamental level. I understand man’s inherent distrust of whatever is different to themselves, but at the same time, the idea of considering someone else to be lesser than myself based purely on something about them that they were born with or are otherwise unable to change is ludicrous. Call it a side effect of living most of my life with numerous labels that immediately had me pinned as being different from everyone else, but I never saw the point in any of it. Of course, just because I don’t understand it, that doesn’t mean that I am blind to its existence in the real world; far fucking from it. As such, films like this could be released at any time of the year and it will always be timely. While you ponder how depressing that is, let’s get into today’s film. This is Loving.