Friday, 10 November 2017

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) - Film Review


Review:

*Originally written November 9th, 2017*

"Choo-Choo"

I've never seen a previous adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express or anything with Hercule Poirot outside of spoof, but this seemed as good a start to this material as you could get. It's not massively new or inventive. It's just an incredible entertaining murder mystery that makes the most of its cast and setting.

Kenneth Branagh does a fantastic job in front and behind the camera. His role as Hercule Poirot is pure pantomime and camp, which worked perfectly with the film. He's funny, smart and endlessly glorious to watch. His moustache is something of majesty. A piece of facial hair every man in the world should grow.

The story at the centre is immensely engaging. It really helped going into this blind. I had no idea who the killer was or why it happened, so it made the reveals that much more effective and surprising. It's rare twists come out and they don't feel forced. It doesn't itself too seriously, the ending is pretty mental, but with fun tone this was going for, it all worked in its favour. 


It's hard to split the run time and fully develop thirteen characters, which is something the film struggled with. That said, everyone gets a chance to shine and have fun with the roles. Willem Dafoe is always wonderful, and I was reminded a little of Tim Roth in The Hateful Eight. It was also nice to see Daisy Ridley outside of the Star Wars series. Johnny Depp was a disgusting and horrible character, so it made it that much more satisfying as he was the victim. Peep Show's Olivia Coleman was a little underused, but it's cool to see her as part of a huge ensemble cast in a film like this. Everyone does fine, if a little under served, but it really is Kenneth Branagh's show. 

Even as a director his work is solid. Orient Express is a fast and flashy film with a lot of style. It's a gorgeous looking film that manages to be creative with its enclosed location of a single train for the most part. Loved the overhead angles and long takes of stuff like Poirot investigating a train carriage. There is some poor CGI and green screen here and there, it's not much, but it is very noticeable.


Murder on the Orient Express won't reinvent cinema or anything, but it's still an extremely fun and entertaining murder mystery with a great cast and a standout Kenneth Branagh sporting a glorious piece of a facial hair.

8/10 Dans

Murder on the Orient Express is out now in cinemas in the UK
Watch the trailer below:


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Monday, 6 November 2017

A Bad Moms Christmas (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written November 6th, 2017*

"Family Christmas"

I don't remember a lot about the original Bad Moms, but I remember it being at least a little better than this. A Bad Moms Christmas walks such a fine line of mediocrity it's oddly interesting. I was amazed at just how little of this Christmas film was memorable. I only saw it a few hours ago and I'm failing to recall what really happened.

It was disappointing to see the three leads spend so little time together. Instead focusing on their own mums (I'm English) who all appear just in time in for Christmas. In all fairness, the new mums introduced for the sequel were the highlight, especially the mother of Mila Kunis's mother played by a sociopathic  Christine Baranski. 



I wanted to see more of what I liked about the first one. From what I remember it was more about how being a mum takes away from the fun of life. Here it's just an obsession about making Christmas good for your kids. Aside from the montage of the mums getting drunk at a mall, there's very little of these characters taking control of their life. It's played very safe, and it's very disappointing. I was just reminded on the outrageous amount of montages used in this. Seriously, there's about 3 too many.

I guess my main problem was just the lack of actual jokes for the most part. I'm honestly not recalling a single time Mila Kunis even tries to attempt comedy in this. It even goes the route of unearned sentimentality towards the end in order to try and earn its place as a Christmas classic. None of it works. I was on the side of these characters pushing their mothers out their lives for good by the end, but no, of course they couldn't have that. So it's a suitably bland and generic happy ending that sets up a potential sequel/spin-off.


I sound like I hated this, but in all honesty, it is very watchable. It just walks its line of mediocrity and never dips into anything atrocious, but never great. There are a couple of genuinely funny moments, but nowhere near enough to call this a recommended comedy. One of the easiest 5/10's I've given this year.

5/10 Dans

A Bad Moms Christmas is out now in cinemas in the UK
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Friday, 3 November 2017

Seed of Chucky (2004) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written November 3rd, 2017*

"Chucky Goes Bananas"

While many believe Seed of Chucky to be the absolute low point of the series, I actually find it to be one of my favourites. Sure, it swaps any actual horror for campy nonsense, but I actually really love the absolute creative insanity on display here as Chucky goes to Hollywood.

This is by far the most crazy and bizarre of the franchise. Chucky gets a child who can't decide his gender, gets caught masturbating into a cup by a photographer, Jennifer Tilly plays herself in an inspired choice, Chucky kills Britney Spears and a lot of other stuff happens. It's batshit bonkers and I loved it.

I'm not massively sure how I feel about Chucky and Tiffany's child 'Glen' or 'Glenda' in a fun homage to that Ed Wood movie I should probably see. He's a character that looks a bit freaky and gets a little annoying. I would like to see him return in a future film though.


Some of the kills are also marred by some of the worst CGI in the franchise (It never hits the lows of the truck kill in Bride of Chucky though). A lot of the kills have good ideas on paper, but the execution looks cheap and a bit rubbish. It's a shame too. This easily feels like the cheapest of the Chucky films.

There's not too much to say about Seed of Chucky. I know a lot of people hate it, but I have a lot of fun with just how mental this film gets. I also prefer it a lot more than Curse of Chucky, which I just found to be a bit boring. Thankfully Cult returned the series to the more campy tone with some gruesome violence. I wish they'd do some truly crazy in the future. Chucky in Space? Maybe.

7/10 Dans

Seed of Chucky is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written November 18th, 2015*

"Spy Games"

Much like most of Guy Ritchie's filmography, The Man from UNCLE is another fun, yet instantly forgettable exercise in style over substance.

Set in the 60's, 2 agents, one CIA, one KGB, are forced to work together to take down a criminal organization working on making nuclear weapons.

First off, the two leads Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, have really good chemistry here and make for all the film's funnest scenes. The two opposing cultures working together is a concept that has been done to death, but of all the things done in mediocre fashion, this is not one of them.

The biggest problem with The Man from UNCLE is just how plain and vanilla it is. Sure, Guy Ritchie makes a stylish film with some fun action-scenes and set-pieces, but nothing really feels like it has any weight to it. All the characters are just fairly bland cardboard cutouts with nothing interesting to say about them. 


I have literally just finished watching it too, and despite mildly enjoying it, I'm having a hard time thinking of any scenes or elements that really stood out. I guess it's just a shame that UNCLE came out the same year as other spy films that were far more memorable like Kingsman, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Spectre and even Spy.

I just don't think Guy Ritchie is that good of a filmmaker. He seemed to have moved on from his British Tarantino knock-off's to largely forgettable blockbusters like the Sherlock Holmes series. It's a shame that UNCLE wasn't handled by a better director, as the spy buddy-comedy thing set in the 60's could have been a really cool idea if it was executed better.


The Man from is UNCLE is what it is, a very forgettable, but enjoyable spy action comedy that there really is not a lot to say about.

6/10 Dans

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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Thursday, 2 November 2017

Geostorm (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written November 2nd, 2017*

"*Geoturd"

Oh, Geostorm. What a fool I was. I was expecting this to be some post-Emmerich disaster-film fun, instead what I got what a boring slog that was poor on near enough every level. I wasn't expecting high art from this, but at the very least I wanted some dumb, trashy fun involving Gerard Butler.

This is a confused film of two halves. The first being a film about Gerard Butler on a space station trying to deactivate a rogue satellite that people have hacked to cause natural disasters around the world (Or something). While the other half is his brother on Earth trying to find out who's doing it and save the president from assassination.

The problem is that none of this silly story works or even makes a bit of sense. I could have accepted this better had it taken itself less seriously, but it doesn't. It's pretty dead-faced serious and even tries to make you care about these cardboard characters, giving you some moments that try to be emotional, but fails miserably.

There's a few odd bits of humour thrown in that are just embarrassing. There's an insane joke referencing the Guy Ritchie film Gerard Butler starred in 'Rock N' Rolla', which was bizarre. Then there was a point where a character shouted "I'm Mexican" which made no sense. I'll admit I did laugh a few times at how bad this mess was a few times. I also loved at what I hoped was an intentional reference to Peep Show when a character kept referring to 'Project Zeus'.


As a disaster film, this was also pitiful. We're teased with some high destruction action, but it's all too brief and kept cutting away from the set-piece. It reminded me of the 2014 Godzilla film, but that at least paid off in the end. There were a few decent pieces of imagery with some decent CGI I'd expect from a film this over budget, but then there were some bizarre shots that looked like a PS1 cut-scene. Including a moment where the frame rate drops and it looked awful. I have no idea where the budget to this went.

Gerard Butler is in his element here, stupid action films, where he completely phones it in. He's a charmless, boring character with a bland backstory and no charisma. Whatever his character here was called was no Mike Banning. The rest of the cast were equally as expendable. Even Ed Harris who plays the villain with some of the most insane motivations I've seen in quite some time.


Geostorm should have been a dumb fun disaster film, instead it doesn't even land in the category of "So bad, it's good", it's just boring. A bland, uninspired and overpriced film that couldn't even deliver on the low promise of dumb fun. It's just dumb and boring.

3/10 Dans

Geostorm is out now in cinemas in the UK
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Monday, 30 October 2017

Monsters: Dark Continent (2014) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written January 16th, 2016*

"The real monsters are the ones who made this"

The first Monsters was a small and touching sci-fi drama that managed to do a lot with it's extremely low budget. This cash-in sequel on the other hand, does nothing. Nothing that made the first one so great is on display here, the acting is brutal, the action is poorly filmed and the story delves into dull war cliches. I don't even know why this was made as a sequel? Apart from the fact the same aliens are in it, there is nothing that connects to the first.

Gareth Edwards was obviously busy doing the Godzilla reboot when they made this, although I'm not sure if he could have saved this terrible screenplay. Tom Green (Not that one) takes over here and this one takes the action to the Middle East and features soldiers. 

The soldiers were all obnoxious douche bags. Warning signs flew at me very early on during a scene where the soldiers were fucking cheap whores. It just rubbed me the wrong way. All the performances are brutal and unbearable.


There wasn't even any decent action. It was all shakey-cam bullshit and poorly filmed. It looked really cheap and ugly too, which is no excuse considering the first had an even lower budget. Aside from the creatures which are sparsely used (The only thing similar to the first), nothing else looked good. The visual style of this film made me want to fucking vomit.


I don't have any reason to recommend Monsters: Dark Continent, it really was cheap garbage that never should have seen the light of day. Everyone involved in this cash-in should be ashamed.

2/10 Dans

Monsters: Dark Continent is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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Thursday, 26 October 2017

Freddy vs. Jason (2003) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written October 26th, 2017*

"KO"

I probably should have picked a better film for my last day of being 20, but nostalgia and the lack of anything else being on Netflix, plus the factor of being round a friends who wanted a horror film, I thought I'd revisit Freddy vs. Jason. A film I LOVED as a child, I watched this on DVD a lot, more than I care to remember. Watching it as an adult... it's... bad. 

The idea of pitting two of cinemas greatest slasher villains against each other is a novel idea, and one that had the potential for a lot of fun, but it's just such a mess. A confused mash-up of both mythologies that end up as a poorly directed slog of a film. It fails as both a Friday the 13th film and a Nightmare on Elm Street film.

This whole thing reeks of a cheap cash-in. It looks like shit. It's so cheap and special effects are laughably bad and outdated. There's a moment where Freddy turns into a slug and it looks like a PS2 game. It's pathetic. The lack of care and effort put into this film is embarrassing. It seems like they thought they'd have a good film just because they had these two iconic characters together. 


There were a couple of grizzly kills that I laughed at. The girl getting smashed into the tree was pretty choice. It's just a shame a lot of it is ruined by the poor visual effects. None of this stuff is creepy either. I'm not massively sure where this fits into either of the series, but each of them seem wasted. 

The brawls themselves are very weak too. We get two punch ups between the two. One in Freddy's dream world, then one in the real world. Neither are satisfying or interesting. It feels like watching someone play Mortal Kombat, but completely lifeless.


It's such a shame when things like this happen. Watching a film you loved as a kid, only to watch it as an adult and realise it's pretty terrible. Freddy vs. Jason is a pathetic attempt at a vs horror film. Made even worse by the fact this is the last on-screen appearance of Robert Englund as Freddy. What a terrible note to end such an iconic character on. Kinda surprised they never went anywhere with the sequel hinting ending though.

4/10 Dans

Freddy vs. Jason is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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Murder on the Orient Express (2017) - Film Review

Review: *Originally written November 9th, 2017* "Choo-Choo" I've never seen a previous adaptation of Agatha Christie&...