Saturday, 23 September 2017

Leatherface (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written September 23rd, 2017*

"Texas Chainsaw Begins"

Did we need a prequel about Leatherface's teenage life? Probably not, but hey, it's probably the best Texas Chainsaw Massacre film since the first. It's at the very least better than Texas "Do you thing, 'cuz" Chainsaw 3D.

A perfectly serviceable road-movie-horror-slasher with some really grizzly practical gore and some decent performances. Also, I bet everyone who watched Iron Fist and Defenders wished Finn Jones suffered the same fate in those as he did here. 

I did enjoy the fact it was more a road movie about a group of people going on a killing spree after escaping from a mental asylum. I wish there were more scenes of them hanging out, but the diner scene was pretty choice. It gets really nasty at times too. 

There's not a lot to say. It's just perfectly average, yet a step in the right direction for the series. It's a shame that Texas Chainsaw has been reduced to VOD, but I can't really say I'm surprised considering aside from the original, they are all extremely terrible.

In terms of continuity, the Texas Chainsaw has taken a lot of liberties, but I'm pretty sure this is a direct prequel to the original and ignores a lot of the sequels and Michael Bay's remake and its prequel. I've only just noticed what a mess the timeline of these films are. I've not mentioned it before, but I've always liked the way there's never been some convoluted supernatural backstory to Leatherface, he's just the result of inbreeding, which is probably more terrifying than anything fantasy can come up with.


I wont remember this later. It just was what is was. Completely unoffensive, had some good gore and fun characters. Which is far more than I even expect from this series by now.

5/10 Dans

Leatherface currently has no release date for the UK
Watch the trailer below:

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Friday, 22 September 2017

Killing Gunther (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written September 22nd, 2017*

"Kill Me"

Oh, dear. I will watch anything Arnold Schwarzenegger is in, that's a given. I was kind of excited for Killing Gunther (Previously: Why We're Killing Gunther), the thought of Arnie playing an egotistical hitman who his hunted by his peers after they finally get sick of his shit is a novel idea and had the potential to be a lot of fun. 

Then the trailer happened, and I got worried. Arnie seemed to have slipped into self-parody and the film reeked of cheap, straight-to-DVD garbage. The mockumentary aspect didn't rub me right either. Everything just seemed off and it was not what I wanted or was expecting.

The film itself is now available, and it's a pathetic mess or poor and shoddy film making. A bland, uninspired piece of VOD trash. Nothing about Killing Gunther landed for me. The documentary aesthetic could have worked, but it just made for annoying camera work, and in a film with such fake and embarrassing special effects, the documentary look worked completely against it.

As an action film, it fails miserably. Annoying shakey-cam, on-the-fly style that lacks any kind of visceral impact. The poor and laughable CGI blood looks like some college student did it with Windows Movie Maker, it's pathetic, everything about this reeks like a student film that somehow managed to rope in Schwarzenegger.


Speaking of the big man himself, it's a complete insult that Arnie doesn't make an appearance into the film until about 70 minutes in, and even then he's only in it for around 10 minutes. It's such false marketing to have Arnie front and centre in all the marketing, despite his role being nothing more than an extended cameo. Arnie is still the most fun thing about this, but it's sorta just sad to see him reduced to these self-deprecating roles where he's just regurgitating  lines from his glory days for a cheap laugh.

I would be less insulted by the lack of Arnie if the rest of the cast were at least fun to watch, but they're all just horrendously annoying. All the assassins trying to kill Gunther have some lame quirk or gimmick that is the only kind of identifiable trait of character. I can't remember a single name of these characters. I just remember them as "The Main One", "The One With a Robot Hand", "The Tech One" "The Woman" "The Fat One" "The Asian One That Acts Very Effeminate" and "The Two Annoying Tourists". 

The film tries its hardest with humour, I wasn't surprised to see this was behind some Saturday Night Live minds. It feels like a stretched SNL sketch. The jokes are lame and uninspired, even the darker humour around the deaths I was just completely left cold by. Nothing worked. Even at under 90 minutes this film felt long, it drags its premise out to past breaking point. 


Killing Gunther is one of my biggest disappointments of the year. a bland, boring and cheap piece of VOD trash that is just an embarrassment to watch. Arnie's getting old now, I don't want the end of his career to be making garbage films like this. Complete garbage.

2/10 Dans

Killing Gunther currently has no release date for the UK
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The Neon Demon (2016) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written February 12th, 2017*

"Beauty isn't everything. It's the only thing"

Nicolas Winding Refn’s previous film ‘Only God Forgives’ was critically slammed and hated by most, while I didn’t hate it, it was definitely a huge step down from the likes of Drive and Bronson from the Danish director. 3 years later, Refn has learned from his mistakes and made one of the most visually beautiful, compelling and most well scored films I’ve ever seen.

Ditching the macho male fuelled fantasies of his previous films, this time he tells the female led story of a young aspiring model who moves to Los Angeles and quickly becomes the next big thing because of the her special “thing” she has. As her ego gets the better of her, a group of jealous models stop at nothing and go to extreme lengths to possess her beauty.


This film is as abstract as they come. The story is thin and moves at a snails pace, moved along by increasingly beautiful modelling shoots that really do display Winding Refn’s eye for beauty, colour and visuals. While the story is arguably thin, it’s the usual tale of a young girl consumed by the horrors of a shallow and vapid industry, it is no less compelling.

It is purely made for its visuals and music, which are truly incredible. This might be the best looking film I’ve ever seen. I’ve watched it twice now and each viewing I was sucked in for 2 hours of hypnotic visual nirvana. Every frame is a beautiful painting, filled with meaning and metaphor. While the story is thin, everything else is dense and full detail that has more than meets the eye. This is a film that will only improve on rewatches as you notice more and pick up on the little things.

Along with the visuals, where The Neon Demon also succeeds is in its music. Every track of the score is something of ’80s feeling electronic beauty composed by Julien Refn and Cliff Martinez. It made the opening titles some of the best I’ve scene, I even got a bit a “The Thing” vibe from it, bringing such an unsettling feeling that set the tone for the rest of the film.

The cast are all great. Elle Fanning leads as Jesse, the model who soon lets her own narcissism and ego get the best of her. Jena Malone was the standout of the cast, she did some things that you can really only say “Wow, you really did that. Bravo”. The male cast are sidelined to really creepy characters, but they were all memorable, especially Keanu Reeves as the sleazy motel owner who brings some black comedy to the mix.


While it is slow, it builds to its natural conclusion well, and while the balls out the bath insanity of the last 20 minutes seem to come out of nowhere, there are a few hints of what’s to come littered throughout the film. Oh, and when I say insanity, the last scenes of this film are truly some of the most grotesque and disturbing content I’ve seen in a while. It goes places I know a lot of people won’t be able to stomach. It’s disgusting, but it’s fitting and feels like the only place this film could have gone.


The Neon Demon will no doubt straight disgust some people, while others it might just bore, but for me it connected and I was in a hypnotic state for the whole run-time. A true masterpiece and form of creative expression. Refn, you are a genius. I think he might be my favourite director currently working. I am far more interested in what he has coming than Tarantino or Scorsese right now. My film of the year for 2016.

10/10 Dans

The Neon Demon is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
Watch the trailer below:



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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written September 20th, 2017*

"Manners still maketh a man"

Kingsman: The Golden Circle was one of my most anticipated films of the year. The first was one of my biggest surprises of 2015, and with Vaughn returning to direct this follow up and the same crew also returning, I was pretty excited. I was a little disconcerted by the mixed reviews and the response on Letterboxd all seemed to range between 1 and 2 stars. That, said, I had a fucking blast with The Golden Circle, it was more or less everything I could have wanted or hoped for, while not topping the first.

Taking place a year after the first, The Golden Circle finds Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) seeking help from the American counterpart to Kingsman, the 'Statesmen' after an attack from an organisation called 'The Golden Circle' led by Poppy (Julianne Moore) a '50s obsessed megalomaniac.

I'll get the bad out the way first. There's no denying this sequel is overstuffed, even with its long run-time, they still pack a bit too much into this sequel. Some characters are massively under served. If you were hoping for Roxy from the first film to get an expanded role, then you will be massively disappointed. Channing Tatum's cowboy spy is also brushed aside for a huge chunk of the film, resulting in his role being nothing more than an extended cameo. It also follows a lot of the sames beats as the first film, with just a bit of tweaking.


Aside from that, this sequel is some of the most fun I've had in the cinema all year. It's a balls to the wall, violent, funny and just a fun time at the cinema. It knows what it is and unapologetically runs with it. It's gory, brutal and filled with crude humour, but at the same time it has genuine heart and feels like another loving letter to the spy films of the Roger Moore era.

Taron Egerton feels much more comfortable in his chav turned gentleman spy role. His character is much more refined and it explores him balancing his personal life and spy life a lot more. It was a nice touch to keep the princess he saves at the end of the first film as his girlfriend, especially after that misguided anal sex joke (Which they reference again). It would have been easy to just start fresh with another girl he could sleep with at the end of this film, but keeping the same one was a nice bit of continuity and subverted the norm of these types of films.

There was a big question at how Colin Firth would return as Harry Hart this time rounded, especially considering he suffered fatal gunshot wound to the head from Samuel L Jackson. The way they bring back is fine, I guess. It's not a massive surprise, but they had to get him back into the fold somehow. Anyway, his relationship with Eggsy was the heart of the first film and they did some nice stuff with it here. His character is a shell of his former self thanks to amnesia, but he still manages to have some great moments, especially during the final assault, but they never even try and top the church scene from the first, which is probably for the best.

Speaking of the action, there is a lot more set-pieces than the first and Matthew Vaughn has certainly improved as a director since the last time. The action chaotic, cartoony and brutal, but still so much fun to watch. There might be some not so great CGI mixed in, but the camera flows with action, making it kinetic and breezy while seeming like some long single takes with computer imagery enhancement. Like I said though, nothing comes close to the church scene from the first, but it didn't need to. The set-pieces stand on their own as fresh, fun and inventive, especially that final battle.

Julianne Moore is also clearly having a blast as the '50s obsessed villain with an agenda for making drugs legal and tries to do so by holding the world at ransom. It might be a bit similar to Richmond Valentine, but Moore is so much fun, with her '50s like always fake smiling mother who likes to grind people into hamburgers as punishment. She also has two robot dogs and a kidnapped Elton John (playing himself) for entertainment. 

The other side characters also leave an impression. Halle Berry's Ginger is the most shortchanged out the new cast, but they open her role up for a more substantial role in the sequel, but she has some nice moments with Merlin. Mark Strong provides a surprisingly more meaningful role and gets some field work this time around and his story resolves with a genuine emotional punch. Pedro Pascal also has a lot of fun as a Statesmen agent with a lasso and an electric whip. He was definitely one of the coolest new additions of the sequel, I kinda wish they did something different with his character by the end though.


There is a scene in this that has been causing some controversy in the same vain as the anal sex gag from the first, but I didn't have as much of a problem with it, at least it served the plot this time and progressed the film. I guess you should probably know what you're in for at this point, at least it's a step forward from the first overall in that department. Probably could have done with a stronger and not wasted female role in Roxy though.


Kingsman: The Golden Circle might not be as fresh or new as its original, but it doesn't need to be. It's just fun enough to hang out in this over-the-top world with these characters again. I hope Vaughn continues with a third film to conclude this series, because these two films are some of the most fun cinema has ever been.

9/10 Dans

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is out now in cinemas in the UK
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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Love Actually (2003) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written September 11th, 2016*

"What the fuck?"

I am speechless. I don't know what words can do this justice. Love Actually is Richard Curtis's Pulp Fiction. The man is a genius.

He has made a film so openly broad and so obvious that it had to be a spoof of the genre, but played it so straight, it works. I could not believe the events that were unfolding on screen. I was in shock. 

It is so clearly made by a man that knows how to manipulate the masses. Some of the characters were horrible, some were so overly nice you wanted to punch them, while others were annoying. Liam Neeson was fantastic though, his tears at his wife's funeral were the closest thing Love Actually had to something that wasn't artificial emotion.

I have not been in so much shock over a film since I watched Neil Breen's Fateful Findings or Tommy Wiseau's The Room. Horrific and terrible on so many levels, yet I loved every single moment. This film is 130 minutes long, but I wish it was longer.


Richard Curtis single handedly trolled every single person in the world by making what is essentially the Tango and Cash of romantic comedies. A mash up of everything that came before, but so off its tits in cliche and cheese that you sorta gotta watch it in fascination and take it all in. He obviously snorted a kilo of cocaine while watching several TVs at once that were all playing romantic comedies then proceeded to write this screenplay.

10/10 Dans

Love Actually is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Room (2003) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written August 11th, 2017*

"The peak of cinema"

My previous half star rating for my first viewing of The Room was a severe miscalculation. The Room is a powerful, funny and tragic romantic drama. Tommy Wiseau steals every frame he's in with his performance which is as unique as it is subtle. Cinema has yet to see a performance match the quality of Wiseau.

As a writer and director, Wiseau is a revelation. Subverting the melodrama with intentionally funny moments to put the audience off guard and not prepare them for the heartbreaking ending which will have grown men crying more than Terminator 2 and Logan did.

I wish Tommy Wiseau was my dad. He's a genius. A madman. A god. A king. All the above put into a blender and served to you in a messy drink that goes down easy. I cannot wait to see this man storm the film industry with his inevitable comeback.

The Room is pure cinema. Everything done wrong in a combination that has become one of the most fascinating and unforgettable cult hits. After you see The Room, it will never leave you. Tommy Wiseau will slowly become a part of you, and you don't want it any other way. 


Can we get a release date for The Disaster Artist in the UK, please?

10/10 Dans

The Room has never had an official release in the UK, but The Prince Charles Cinema in London frequently show it (Often with Tommy Wiseau in attendance)
Watch the trailer below:

The whole film is also available to watch on YouTube. Please watch below:


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Monday, 18 September 2017

The Ritual (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written September 18th, 2017*

"The Blairy Bunch"

There's not a massive lot to be said about The Ritual, a low-budget British horror film about four friends who find themselves lost in the woods being taunted by a monster after they go on a memorial trip after their friend dies in a store robbery.

It's all just fairly serviceable and stuff you've seen before, there's clear inspiration from The Blair Witch Project, and to be honest, this is still a better Blair Witch film than last years remake disguised as a sequel. There is also a fairly intriguing mystery at what the monster is and where that goes at least.

Where The Ritual shines most is easily in its lead character. Luke (Rafe Spall) is a man haunted and guilty after the death of his friend, his arc of facing his demons (Both metaphorical and literal) is easily the most compelling part. Spall manages to hold his own in a horror film, he's always an actor I've liked, even from his days in the vastly underrated Channel 4 comedy 'Pete Vs. Life'. 

It's a shame that the rest of the cast are very under served an one not. I honestly can't remember the name of a single one of them, and I wasn't too bothered when any of them were killed off. That said, I was surprised at how funny this could be at times, the cast all had great chemistry together, it's just a shame their characters were so bland.

Being a 90 minute film really helped too. Things went by really fast and before I knew it, I was in the middle of a very surprising and decent final act that none of the trailers spoiled at all. It changed from horror into something else (It also made me realise I need to finally watch The Wicker Man. Not the Nicolas Cage masterpiece, the original).

We don't get a lot of answers as to what the monster is directly, but it was pretty easy to work out. I also liked the design of the creature, it's hard to explain other than "A horse mixed with a Jawa from Star Wars". There's also a lack of jump scares and extreme gore, which I'm getting tired of, the film gets its tension from mystery and atmosphere, which I always appreciate.


The Ritual might be far from the best horror films of the year in a very good year for the genre, but for what it was, it's a perfectly acceptable lost in the woods horror that might make up for that terrible Blair Witch remake.

6/10 Dans

The Ritual is out October 13th in cinemas in the UK
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Leatherface (2017) - Film Review

Review: *Originally written September 23rd, 2017* "Texas Chainsaw Begins" Did we need a prequel about Leatherface's te...