Review-Freaky

It’s weird that as I type this, I realise there has never been a terrible body swap film. There have been some that are better than others, sure. But even the ones that fall a little flat are entertaining. This is in the latter camp.
Directed by Christopher Landon (“Happy Death Day”) ‘Freaky’ is a low-budget high-concept supernatural slasher, that tells the tale of Seventeen-year-old Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) who spends her days trying to survive high school and the cruel actions of the popular crowd. She’s “Hollywood ugly”. But when she becomes the latest target of the Butcher, the town’s infamous serial killer, her senior year becomes the least of her worries. When the Butcher’s mystical dagger causes him and Millie to magically switch bodies, the frightened teen learns she has just 24 hours to get her identity back before she looks like a middle-aged maniac forever.

Written by Michael Kennedy, the script is incredibly formulaic. Kennedy pays so much homage to the predecessors, that it often falls into the trappings that bogged those down.

There is some laugh out loud moments of comedy, watching Vaughn swivel his hips like a cheerleader, whilst flirting with Millie’s crush (Uriah Shelton), is funny. For about 15 minutes. Whilst the entire cast bring energy to these roles, they can’t stop the premise running out of steam.

The main problem is that Millie is so ill-defined as a character. She’s the school mascot, so she’s a loser. But she still looks Kathryn Newton. At one point, a sneering football player calls her a “but-her-face” implying she’s ugly. Her friends are also written to be just as paper-thin, there’s the black one and the gay one. “You’re black and I’m gay! We are so dead!” Josh (Misha Osherovich) shouts at one point. That’s about all the character they’re given.

I guess it could be argued that Kennedy was in fact writing a pastiche of tired old Hollywood cliche’s, that by making the characters so paper-thin, they would come full circle and actually be the most well-defined characters in cinematic history. But, I doubt it.

Review-Greenland

If you’re in the mood for a distraction from COVID-19, or 2021. Then perhaps a world-ending disaster movie is just what you need.
I’ll admit, I laughed when I first saw the trailer. I remember the day well. I’d gone to see Tenet with my fiancée, and my best friend. This trailer came on and the three of us erupted with laughter. It looked awful. It looked like a paint-by-numbers, generic Gerard Butler disaster movie. This is a disaster movie, but one that may surprise you. It certainly surprised me, now. It’s not a great film. But it is far better than the trailers made it look.

John Garrity (Gerard Butler) is a Scottish structural engineer living in Atlanta, Georgia with his estranged wife, Allison (Morena Baccarin), and their diabetic son, Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd). He returns home from work to reconcile with his family and prepare to host a party with their neighbours to watch the passing of a recently-discovered interstellar comet, named Clarke.
Whilst at a trip to the supermarket, he receives a Presidential alert inviting him and his family to be evacuated to Greenland. He returns home, gets his family and they head to the airbase. However, on arrival, they discover Nathan’s diabetes excludes him from being allowed on the plane. After some confusion, the family get separated and we follow them each, as they head to Allison’s father’s house. Then try to make their own way to Greenland.

The story ditches the normal end of the world cliches and instead, plays around with themes of human survival. This slightly different take can make for some immersive and uncomfortable viewing. The family encounter people who are terrible, people who are opportunistic and, people who will go above and beyond to help. This leads to a very realistic feel to proceedings, which oddly reflect the very early stages of the Covid outbreak. You know, when you couldn’t buy toilet paper?

Morena Baccarin and Gerard Butler have some wonderful chemistry, they feel authentic as a troubled couple, doing what they need to save their son.

As I said earlier on, the trailer is slightly misleading. Some might find this a slow-burn. Perhaps the fact we’ve all just experienced a global crisis, which has shown the best and worst of humanity, made me project more on to this film that I would have otherwise. However, I was pleasantly surprised and found it to be a more nuanced take on the genre.

Greenland is available on Prime Video from 5th of February.

Review-Stan & Ollie

I adore Laurel and Hardy, I remember the first time I discovered them-age 10, in 1992. I was captivated, I would memorise scenes and try to get my friends to act them out with me. It’s clear that the team behind “Stan & Ollie” love them even more.

The film opens in 1937 with Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) making the classic ‘Way our west’. The duo are at the height of their careers. They’re popular, happy and enjoying a good-natured chat about alimony, filming schedules and attending a party with Clark Gable.

We then flash forward 15 years with the pair reuniting after a creative break-up, hoping to use a series of live performances to generate interest in a film they want to make.

The tour doesn’t get off to a good start, they’re staying in a second-rate hotel, whilst the youngster on reception tells them how much her mum loves them, highlighting their fall from grace. The audiences is sparse and their tour manager is more interested in promoting Norman Wisdom.

Steve Coogan and John C Reilly both put in tremendous performances in this ambitious film.

Coogan has Laurel’s mannerisms down to a T, he even sounds like him. Switching between an American accent when filming and a transatlantic accent when not (Stan Laurel was originally from Yorkshire). Reilly brings a light touch to Oliver Hardy and captivates in every scene. Watching the two of them re-enact classic sketches is an absolute joy to see.

Nina Arianda and Shirley Henderson star as Laurel’s and Hardy’s wives-respectively. They hold their own throughout and are portrayed as equal partners, as well as the most important people in either man’s life.

Stan & Ollie is a wonderfully sweet film, a proper love letter to true Hollywood icons. See it on the big screen.

Stan & Ollie will be in cinemas, 11 January 2019.

Film review: The Woman in Black

What makes Woman In Black so refreshing is that it is old-school psychological horror,  complete
with an isolated, haunted mansion, rocking chairs, beheaded dolls, random screams, mysterious deaths, untold secrets, dangerous silence, suspiciously-hostile locals, a hallucination sequence and horrifying consequences.

A few eyebrows were raised when Daniel Radcliffe was announced as the leading man; other than the Harry Potter franchise he had only done one drama called The December Boys. Let’s start by saying Radcliffe is amazing: his performance is captivating. A lot of the film focuses on his character alone in a haunted mansion and he manages to hold your attention throughout. Continue reading Film review: The Woman in Black

Blu Ray review: Red State

Three virgin, high-school friends think they’re on to a sure thing. One of them has found a woman online, that will sleep with all three of them, but they are soon caught in a trap by Pastor Abin Cooper and his Five Points Church. Albin Cooper is based on the real-life head of the Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps.

Five Points protest at funerals with signs saying “Anal penetration, equals eternal damnation” etc.  But Cooper believes that homosexuals are sinners and must be wiped off the Earth.  In its first half, Red State is almost horror film. A gay man is murdered, quite brutally and the three high-school boys are next.  However, half-way through, it turns from a horror film into a shoot ‘em up, action movie. The transition doesn’t really hurt the film.  What hurts the film is that the tension that Smith created, in the first half, completely vanishes in the second half. It’s almost two different films. In the first half, Smith showed incredible restraint in not adding much comedy, but in the second half, during the middle of the shoot out, characters start cracking jokes and asking for tea. Which is a shame, the tension could have been cranked up a bit. By far, the first half of the movie is the strongest part.



Now Red state is a massive departure for Kevin Smith. You could even argue that it’s his first grown-up movie. The visuals are stunning, which is really impressive for Smith, he has never been known as a visual director.  He’s been criticised in the past, for static camera shots and simple lighting.  But, with Red State, Smith has created a style that works incredibly well, for the movie. Shaky camera-work is nothing new, but it is a huge step forward for Smith. The film has no background music, which really makes it more atmospheric, all we get is the sound of bullets and Cooper, singing hymns.

This is easily Kevin Smith’s best work as a director. It’s something different; it doesn’t feel like a Kevin Smith movie. We are seeing him mature here. But, he seems to be lacking the confidence, he needed for this. The introduction of five points isn’t handled in the best way. We learn about them, in a classroom and it’s just too much exposition. John Goodman’s character exists only for exposition, which is a waste of the actor’s talent.

Overall the film is good, it’s just not great. But, it is great to see Smith break away from his comedy roots and try something a bit more ambitious. It’s a shame that Smith, has announced that his next film, Hit Somebody, will be his last, as Red State is such a huge step forward for him, it would be interesting to see what else he could come back with. Let’s just hope, that Red State and Hit Somebody is such huge, global hits that he’ll change his mind and come out of retirement.

Video
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Audio

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (less)

Subtitles

English, English SDH, Spanish
English, English SDH, Spanish (less)

Discs
50GB Blu-ray Disc
Single disc (1 BD)



Film Review-Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol

The IMF is shut down when it’s implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization’s name.

I was curious to see this movie, as it’s the first live-action film from director Brad Bird. Bird has previously only worked on animated movies, so I approached this with intrigue. Visually the film is stunning and the locations are beautiful. The beauty is amplified by the fact that the movie was partially filmed with IMAX cameras, which gives it added ‘sex appeal’. You really need to see this on an IMAX screen to feel the full benefit. As with all the films in the franchise, the action scenes are completely breathtaking, the standout scene is undeniably the moment Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) scales the outside of the Burj Khalifa tower, in Dubai. Which just so happens to be the tallest building in the world. Tom Cruise performed this stunt himself, which just adds to the realism and completely engulfs you in the moment.

The performances all round are great. Tom Cruise is on top form and is leading a new team, which includes Simon Pegg (Benji Dunn). Pegg had a minor part in Mission Impossible 3 but has now been promoted to full-on co-star. Unfortunately, Ving Rhames only has a small cameo in this film, but it’s a nice nod to the fans as he and Cruise are the only cast members to have appeared in all of The Mission Impossible movies. The film has a few little industry in-jokes as well. Ethan Hunt’s code number is “A113”. A113 is a frequent Pixar in-joke based on one of the room numbers for the animation program at Cal Arts. The director has worked for Pixar, and he has worked an “A113” reference into every one of his films. Lost fans are in for a treat, as Josh Holloway (Sawyer) makes a small appearance.



The only thing letting this down is the storyline, it could have been better there is a noticeable dip in certain parts and my attention wandered elsewhere. There were also some errors that I couldn’t overlook, almost too many to list maybe I’m just being a bit too pedantic, but The Nuclear Launch Device used by Hendricks has a Russian keyboard, but the Interface Screen is in English.

All in all, I would say the film is worth watching and will keep you mostly entertained throughout.

.Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is out in the UK on Boxing Day.

Film Review-Another Earth

Another Earth is a great little gem of a movie, written by Mark Cahill and Brit Marling. Marling also stars as the main character of the film, Rhoda Williams.
Rhoda has recently been accepted to MIT and she goes out to celebrate with friends and drives home drunk. On the drive home she listens to a news broadcast on the radio about an approaching planet that looks just like Earth, she looks out her car window and crashes into another car, putting John Burroughs (William Mapother) in a coma and killing his wife and son.

Rhoda is sent to prison and after serving her sentence she tracks John down and decides to take care of him. Rhoda learns that there is a lottery to win a trip to the mirror Earth. She hopes that her other self didn’t make the same mistake and applies for a place.

Although the title and premise make this sound like a sci-fi movie, it is far from it. Another Earth is clearly a metaphor for a second chance, something we all desire. The only misstep this movie took, was having Rhoda and John become romantically involved. The relationship could have been a lot more touching if it hadn’t been romantic.

This is easily the best movie I have seen this year and shows indie cinema at its best. Had this been a blockbuster the mirror Earth inhabitants would have been evil versions, with goatee beards and WMD’s. I can’t recommend this film enough, this deserves a lot of praise. I would love a mini-series follow up exploring the consequences of another Earth being so close to ours and also to see what was happening to the inhabitants on mirror Earth.

Another Earth is in cinemas, nationwide.



Film Review-Puss In Boots

A Puss in Boots spin-off has been in development since he made his first appearance in Shrek 2 way back in 2004. Now that DreamWorks have milked the Shrek franchise for all its worth, it is finally time for the cat to have his day.

This is essentially an origin story. It’s set way before Puss met Shrek, Fiona and Donkey. Since Puss is the main character, he needs wacky, funny characters around him. The love interest is a feline named Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) is Puss’ best friend from childhood. Puss and Humpty Dumpty were once as close as brothers until Puss became famous. Humpty soon became jealous of Puss and betrayed him by tricking him into a bank robbery. Years later, Humpty tracks him down seeking forgiveness, as well as help with a new scheme. The scheme involves stealing some magic beans from an out-law couple, Jack and Jill. The magic beans will send them up the famous beanstalk to the golden-egg laying goose.



The first half of the movie is better than the second half. I think this is due to it being such a busy story, the ending is little anti-climatic, but strangely unlike most children’s CGI movies, it isn’t bogged down by the over-preachy moral of the tale. The performances are all solid, but special mention must go to Antonio Banderas, he manages a performance that is consistently amusing as well as moving. The moment he sees his heartbroken mother staring at him is gut-wrenching. Visually the film is a treat. The 3D works well but adds little to the overall experience. The film would still be funny, enjoyable and moving in 2D. Puss in Boots is not a great film, but it is an extremely good film.

Puss In Boots opens in the UK on December 9th 2011.

DVD REVIEW-Cars 2

I didn’t care much for the first Disney Cars film when it came out in 2006, however, since then I’ve had a son. He adores Cars and has just about every piece of merchandise with Lightning McQueen on it. He has watched the DVD so many times that the disc now sticks and requires replacing. Over the multiple viewings, it’s grown on me and I’ve even learnt to love Mater.

We went to see Cars 2 in 3D full of enthusiasm and excited to see the latest instalment. It was a letdown, my son got bored and wanted to run around and I wanted to go back and see the far superior Rio.

The story this time involves Mater being mistaken for a super-intelligent spy. Visually it is up to the high quality you’d expect from Pixar, but plot and story-wise it’s extremely poor. It’s a parody on a Bond film that we’ve seen done a thousand times. To me this movie was Pixar apologising to Disney for making Up, a film they couldn’t sell toys about. The best thing on this disc is the Toy Story short that is on the extra features.

A third instalment is inevitable, due to it being a huge cash-cow. Let’s just hope they actually have a story instead of a toy commercial.

DVD extras:

  • Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation
  • Air Mater

Cars 2 is available on DVD and Blu Ray



Review-Super 8

Well as we all know that Super 8 has been out a little while, so I thought I go and check it out…

Well, I do have to say that J.J. Abrams and Steven Speilberg do make a cute couple as the pair puts their heads together to come up with this awesome Film. The storyline is brilliant and it does leave you feeling tired, waiting to flatline, but it also doesn’t leave you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next, but it is quite entertaining. but if you are into sci-fi, then this is a film to see.

I wouldn’t mind waiting for it to come to DVD, to see the extras and see it on my HD screen to see how it plays, on the small screen, rather than the large screen.

What I do suggest is watch yourself and then let us know what you thought of it.