“One Day The Sun Will Set On My Time Here, And Will Rise With You As The New King. Remember…”
As per the norm of contemporary blockbuster cinema, the magnificent movie monopoliser that is Disney Studios once again returns to the big screen this week with yet another big-screen re-hash of one of, if not, the, definitive animation story in the form of The Lion King. Following on from the gush of non-existent, if slightly colourful, air of Guy Ritchie’s middling stab at Aladdin, Disney’s decision to remake a film which positively affected an entire generation of children, parents and extended families, is arguably the biggest stab in the dark yet, begging the immortal question once again of, “what’s the bloody point?” With 2016’s similarly revived version of The Jungle Book placing director Jon Favreau in the holy graces of Disney forevermore, with a healthy balance of critical and commercial success always a banker for career enhancements, the Iron Man and Marvel Universe star returns to helm a strangely lifeless, annoyingly pointless big screen regurgitation, a movie which is the Disney equivalent of the criminally overrated, Gravity, with it being a movie which yes, looks absolutely stunning on a visual and technical level, but fails to tickle, let alone pull with any force at all, at the heartstrings and leaves you with a violent urge to remove it from your memory as soon as possible.
With a central narrative which as everyone knows has a strong basis in William Shakespeare’s, Hamlet, the 1994 original version of The Lion King was undoubtedly Disney at its’ storytelling best, a child’s movie which managed to blend Bambi-esque levels of heartbreak with notions of power, greed, redemption and of course, the “circle of life”, and with the new version adding thirty more unnecessary minutes to proceedings, the storytelling this time around is much more arduous then it needs to be, and whilst I’m all for development of character in any film, the fact remains that it is extremely hard to bond with animated characters who show simply zero range of expression or emotion, resulting in you viewing the movie in a fashion akin to popping down to your local zoo and deciding to sneer at caged animals whilst doing made-up voices within your own head. With the film on a technical level absolutely breathtaking at times to behold, with the photorealistic computer animation making every single living creature look one hundred percent conscious and breathing, the visual splendour is effective for a period but still at the end of the day, animation, no matter how much nonsense Disney can spread about this version being “live-action”, and when a movie’s only good parts are the ones simply nabbed from the original, Disney’s latest movie is absolute sacrilege, but at least a technically proficient work of sacrilege.
Overall Score: 5/10
“At Kaslan We Believe That Happiness Is About More Than Entertainment. It’s About Being Known, Understood, Loved…”
Whilst sniffy critics in the past have balked at the idea of “classic” horror movies being brought back to the big screen in either a spin-off or complete remake capacity, with the most pointless and offensively bad cases come the turn of the century undoubtedly being the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and A Nightmare on Elm Street, it’s fair to say that 1988’s Child’s Play is a movie which isn’t exactly held in the same esteem as classic works from the likes of Wes Craven or Tobe Hooper, hence an almost absence of complaint following this week’s release of the similar titled remake/reboot. Directed by Norwegian director, Lars Klevberg, in his big screen directorial debut, Child’s Play couldn’t come at a more ironic time, arriving side-by-side with Disney’s Toy Story 4, yet obviously not the type of film to take your small children, and with a particularly impressive cast including Aubrey Plaza (Ingrid Goes West, Legion) and Tyree Henry (Widows), the latest reincarnation of the kill-crazy toy is actually a rather highly enjoyable, dare I say it, guilty pleasure.
With central idea of Child’s Play essentially being a Goosebumps style, late-night nightmare with R-rated violence, the many sequels which followed the 1988 original didn’t exactly manage to set the world on fire, with the series sort of matching the Puppet Master franchise for baffling levels of endurance, but with a improved financial backing and the likes of Plaza, Henry and of course Mark Hamill (Star Wars) as the voice of Chucky himself added into proceedings, there is no doubting the ambition of the movie to try and break into the mainstream sector once again after falling by the wayside and on straight-to-video. With juicy moments of exploitation violence, a justifiably naff script and enough tonal irregularities to make your head pop, Klevberg’s movie follows on from the likes of Brightburn only recently by being a movie which knows both its’ limitations and weaknesses and plays heavily to both, resulting in having just enough quality to appease hardcore horror fans and lay audience members alike, particularly thanks to the new design of Chucky which manages to tap into contemporary concerns about the growing rate of technology. Hereditary it most definitely is not, but if you’re after cheap, Friday night horror violence, then Child’s Play circa 2019 is indeed the movie for you.
Overall Score: 6/10
“You Stumbled Upon An Opportunity. I Can Make You Rich. Rich Enough To Impress A Princess…”
Acting as the second Disney backed money making exercise of the year so far, with the likes of The Lion King and Lady and the Tramp still to come, Aladdin follows hotly in the footsteps of the critically trashed and solidified box office bomb, Dumbo, by once again “treating” audiences to a live-action “reimagining” of the 1992 animated classic of the same name which to many, is the ultimate Disney adventure thanks to its’ outrageously memorable and Academy Award winning soundtrack and of course, the iconic dulcet tones of the late, great Robin Williams as Genie. With Aladdin circa 2019 therefore, the transition from animation to live action brings in the cinematic enigma that is Guy Ritchie (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) as director, a bold and overly baffling decision considering the Brit’s recent back catalogue, and whilst sometimes such clashes bring forth works of brilliance, it comes at no surprise that Ritchie’s take on the animated classic begs the question yet again of why such a remake is necessary in the first place, and whilst Aladdin does feature some interesting and well orchestrated set pieces, all the positive elements seem to be those cherry picked from the original to an uncanny exactness with the tacked on additions only damaging a picture which falls into the same category as Dumbo; absolutely pointless.
With an opening forty minute act which ranks almost as mind numbingly dull as that seen within Dumbo, the screenplay from Ritchie and John August (Dark Shadows, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) swiftly introduces us to the main players of the piece, with Mena Massoud (Jack Ryan) handed down the titular lead role as the kind hearted, street rat who soon falls deep in love with the glowing beauty of Naomi Scott’s (Power Rangers) Princess Jasmine, and whilst Scott undoubtedly has talent to burn, singing voice and all, it’s ironically Massoud who nearly sinks the ship completely, with his performance devoid of all charisma or charm and supported by a vocal capacity which challenges Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia! for worst contemporary evidence of on-screen karaoke. With the first act almost sending me to sleep, I almost resorted to prayer at the sight of Will Smith (Bad Boys, Independence Day) as he finally marks his appearance on the big screen, and whilst his own take on Genie is undoubtedly a cross between the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Nicolas Cage after snorting contaminated cocaine in Mandy, the remaining eighty minutes seem to be no longer directed by Ritchie at all, with the film’s choreographer instead enhancing the movie into a pretty fun ride, albeit one seen exactly before in the 1992 version, but with the noose already tightened and added inclusions which really don’t work and only seek to stretch out the already tired runtime, Aladdin is fine but pointless and a remake which just happens to have Will Smith as the clear ace in the pack.
Overall Score: 5/10
“We Faced Every Threat There Is, And Yet You Take Me In. You Made Me A Goddamn Weapon…”
Adding itself onto the esteemed list of cinematic remakes which not one single person in the entire galaxy ever asked for, the “re-imagining” of the stump-headed, Hellboy, hits the big screen this week, offering a fresh interpretation of the charismatic, blood-red superhero famously first seen on film thanks to the now Academy Award winning, Guillermo Del Toro, back in 2004 and again in its respective sequel four years later. With the project beginning life back in 2014 and first propositioned once again to Del Toro who ultimately turned the chance down to return to directorial duties, the reigns have been handed down to Newcastle-born, Neil Marshall, whose early excellent exploits in the form of Dog Soldiers and The Descent, both interesting and memorable B-movie splatterthons, resulting in the Geordie moving onto the likes of Game of Thrones among other high-profile projects. With a new director comes too, a new leading star, with the magnanimous Ron Perlman being replaced with Stranger Things star, David Harbour, who gleefully takes up the chance to embrace the lead role, and whilst Hellboy circa 2019 takes a more bloodthirsty and radically adult approach to the infamous spawn of hell, Marshall’s movie is not just one of the worst remakes ever to be plunged into existence, it is undoubtedly one of the tackiest, cringe-laden so-called “blockbusters” I have ever had the displeasure of fidgeting through in recent memory.
With an opening monologue which attempts to add a semblance of backstory as we are introduced to Milla Jovovich’s (Resident Evil) poorly designed and not so threatening Blood Queen, the deep-voiced dulcet tones of Ian McShane (John Wick) actually made me wonder whether what I had voluntary walked into was actually a massive Hollywood April fools joke which just happened to be just over a week old. Unfortunately this clearly was not the case, with the sudden appearance of Harbour’s hairy Hellboy proving that instead, what Marshall has created is an cinematic abomination of scarily hilarious proportions which can only be described as Pan’s Labyrinth meets Gods of Egypt as directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. With awfully timed humour, bare-bones level digital effects and a sense of immature rankness which takes pleasure in needless levels of exploitation gore, Hellboy in other, sensible hands may actually have been a semi-decent R-rated, nerdgasm-esque guilty pleasure in the ilk of Deadpool or the more serious and memorable, Logan, but with a central script featuring pig-headed demons with terrible scouse accents, zero sense of threat and attempts at characterisation which hit new, unprecedented levels of awfulness, Marshall’s decision to remake a well regarded supernatural superhero franchise clearly should have been prevented from the offset, and with an ending which points at the possibility of a sequel, the fact that Hellboy was the closest I have ever come to completely walking out of the cinema means that such a dream will most definitely not be coming true anytime soon. Absolutely dreadful.
Overall Score: 2/10
“Hi, Baby Dumbo, Welcome To The Circus. We’re All Family Here, No Matter How Small…”
With the world currently in a cinematic state of affairs where Walt Disney Studios have decided to take it upon themselves to remake every single famous animated classic from the past century or so, one could argue that the impact and timelessness of the originals means re-hashing them again for live-action cash grabs isn’t exactly worth the hassle. However, with the excellent Cinderella, the very good The Jungle Book and the middling solidness of Beauty and the Beast showing that sometimes remakes or “reimaginings” do ultimately work on a critical level, here we are once again with Dumbo, the latest big screen adaptation of the 1941 film of the same which famously came into fruition in order to recoup the financial losses of one of my favourite Disney releases; Fantasia. Directed by the Gothic wackiness of Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Batman) and featuring a screenplay from American screenwriter, Ehren Kruger, whose eclectic back catalogue unfortunately contains the likes of Transformers: Age of Extinction and The Ring Two, Dumbo circa 2019 follows a very familiar holding pattern to the live-action predecessors that have come before it, a movie which is obviously designed to open a new generation into the well-versed tale of the large-eared elephant but a movie too which is undoubtedly the weakest example of the Disney remakes to grace the big screen thus far.
With Burton’s last movie in the form of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children one of the most tonally awkward films in recent history, the American’s approach to Dumbo sort of falls upon familiar ground, where although the basic storyline from the 1941 original remains the same, the decision to add on nearly an hour of running time results in expansion for the sake of expansion without any real depth or substance to any of the major characters aside from the titular elephant who through the miracle of digital effects is rightfully cutesy and undeniably adorable. With the film managing to come off more depressing than fun for the majority of the action, the simple fact remains that not one human character manages to evoke any sense of sympathy throughout the drama, with the dwindling accented Colin Farrell (In Bruges) and Eva Green (Casino Royale) both left to hang by the one dimensional waste-side, the young actors not entirely captivating nor memorable, and the rather geeky reunion of Michael Keaton (Birdman) and Danny DeVito (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) after their work together on Burton’s, Batman Returns, ultimately a massive let down. Decent digital effects and a couple of giggle-inducing comments aside, Tim Burton continues his dwindling career path with a remake which is neither interesting or worthy of existence. At least the racist birds aren’t there this time.
Overall Score: 5/10
“The Only Voices I Heard Were Joan Rivers And Tupac. And They Did Not Get Along…”
Acting as a wholly unnecessary and unwarranted “loose” remake of the Mel Gibson led What Women Want from 2000, Hairspray and Rock of Ages director, Adam Shankman, directs What Men Want, a terribly handled and woefully inept attempt at some form of comedy which sees Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures) take the lead role as Alison Davis, a successful sports agents who is left by the wayside after failing to be accepted for a work promotion in favour of her annoying, mostly white, big-headed colleagues. On the subsequent night out used to rid herself of her man-hating anger, she soon takes cues from Amy Schumer in I Feel Pretty by being the subject of an accidental injury which after a swift overnight recovery, leaves her with the ability to read the mind of every male she comes into contact with. Whilst I’m all for trashy comedies which regardless of their overall quality actually manage to make me laugh in the ilk of Bad Moms, Shankman’s latest is unsurprisingly a woefully inept, painfully unfunny two hours, one made worse with obvious notions of grandeur which attempt to tap into the #MeToo generation and ends up landing face down in a burning bit of awfulness as it crawls its’ way to the credits and offers you salvation away from what is one of the worst remakes there is and ever will be.
With a fundamental false step from the outset as the movie attempts to introduce Henson’s supposedly charming, lead character, the fact that I nearly left the cinema after being in her company for only twenty minutes didn’t exactly bode well heading forward. Whilst I appreciate a movie led by a female in a position of power, for some unknown and bizarre reason, Shankman’s direction allows Henson to become a screaming, irritating black hole of annoyance in the ilk of Lucas Cruikshank in Fred: The Movie as she literally bellows her dialogue from the far reaches of her annoying mouth for pretty much the entirety of the film’s opening act. As the movie moves more into the mystical aspect, the word cliche doesn’t even cover it, and as we stumble through the inevitable hook-ups and notions of deception cooked up by Hanson’s Davis, her character becomes even more despicable after she takes advantage of the one saving grace in the movie in the form of Aldis Hodge’s (Hidden Figures) Will, a thoughtful, calmly spoken single father who for some reason finds Davis absolutely irresistible. Whilst I am aware that What Men Want doesn’t exactly have myself in mind when it comes to the desired target audience, with (massive stereotype incoming) the film primarily designed for drunken female sleepovers and bachelor parties, such a point doesn’t shy away from the fact that Shankman’s movie was an utter drag from start to finish. Woeful.
Overall Score: 3/10
“There’s Been Whispers Of A Thief. He’s Got Our Commoner’s Looking Up, Seeing Hope…”
With the unintentional hilarity which ensued during last year’s dire attempt to recreate one British legend in the form of Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, in which a cameo from David Beckham was one of the better aspects of the movie, Hollywood’s obsession with re-hashing well versed tales of adventure and heroism continues with yet another adaptation of Robin Hood, succeeding Ridley Scott’s mediocre 2010 version as the most contemporary telling and one which utilises the talents of Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Golden Circle) in the titular role. Directed by Otto Bathurst, a British filmmaker famous so far for his acclaimed work on the likes of Black Mirror and Peaky Blinders, and based on a debut script from Ben Chandler and David James Kelly, Robin Hood circa 2018 somehow manages to leapfrog in front of Guy Ritchie’s work of nonsensical silliness with relative ease in terms of cinematic woefulness, channelling an off-kilter tonal mix between Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and Monty Python and the Holy Grail as it attempts to redefine the age-old tale with a strange stylistic decision which seems to cater particularly for audiences who are simply after a slice of mindless fun. Unfortunately for Bathurst and co, Robin Hood isn’t a movie which can be branded with such positivity, bordering instead more on the edge of being totally irredeemable as it slogs its’ way through a two hour incoherent mess featuring awfully slim characters, a laughably bad script and feeling that once again a supposed future cinematic franchise dies spectacularly with its’ first attempt. Whoops.
Opening with a cockney-geezer voice-over which instructs its’ awaiting audience to forget everything they know about the tale of Robin of Loxley and be amazed at a fresh new take of the historic legend, hilariously, such a statement is ultimately completely contradicted almost immediately thanks to one of the most lazily constructed and cliched scripts not only this year but in living memory. Introducing our central hero as a toffee-nosed, obnoxious ruling class beefcake who quickly chooses to swap allegiances after four years of war, Egerton is charming to an extent but ultimately feels wickedly miscast as he is simply directed to portray a hooded version of his character from Kingsman, awful accent and all, and therefore loses all sense of belief in a performance which at times crossed into the realm of on-screen pantomime. Joining him on this list of miscastings, Jamie Foxx’s (Baby Driver) role as a dodgily accented prisoner of war turned teacher is the American’s worst on-screen appearance in recent history, whilst joining in on the pantomime sensibility of the film is surprisingly Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One), an actor who aside from slowly being typecast as the turn-to Hollywood sneering villain, pulls off the most OTT and overly camp lead villain performance since Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending. With woefully directed action set pieces which include a jaw-droppingly misjudged opening scene set in a Iraqi inspired third-world war zone, automatic crossbows and all, and a penchant for utilising the “art” of slow-motion to paint over the pants choreography which seems directly inspired from similar tactics used in King Arthur, the latest version of Robin Hood isn’t just bad, it’s a lazy, pointless and amateurish so-called “blockbuster” which makes Guy Ritchie look like the reincarnation of Stanley Kubrick. Avoid like a CGI arrow to the chest.
Overall Score: 3/10
“When You Dance The Dance Of Another, You Make Yourself In The Image Of Its Creator…”
Considered as one of the staple examples of horror cinema since its’ release in 1977, Dario Argento’s Suspiria continues to bewilder, bemuse and bewitch audiences both observing for the first time and avid returners still hooked in the enchanting spell cast by the Italian, with the iconic neon colour palette utilised for the film’s signature style and the extravagantly overblown score by Goblin the standout elements forty one years on. Whilst I can consider myself a stern admirer of the Argento classic, repeat viewings have failed to alter my opinion that even with all the outstanding elements within its’ genetic makeup, there also sits a few major ills, particularly in its’ longevity regarding certain special effects and awfully hammy acting, and whilst the thought of ever treading on such sacred ground for a remake, reboot or re-imagining seems fundamentally blasphemous, Suspiria circa 2018 is project which I have been gleefully looking forward to since the first whispers surfaced into the ears of cinema fans across the world. Directed by fellow Italian, Luca Guadagnino, (A Bigger Splash, Call Me By Your Name) who refers to his latest project as a homage to the Argento original rather than a fully blown remake, Suspiria sees Dakota Johnson (Bad Times as the El Royale) as Susie Bannion, a seemingly repressed yet mysterious American dancer who travels into the heart of a war torn West Berlin in order to be admitted into the world renowned Markos Dance Academy and fall under the wing of Tilda Swinton’s (Doctor Strange) lead choreographer, Madame Blanc.
Taking place in 1977, the release year and setting of the original, Guadagnino’s interpretation follows Argento’s original screenplay only to particular extents, using familiar characters and settings only in name as the Italian reunites with A Bigger Splash screenwriter, David Kajganich, for a script which is determined to offer something completely radical as it plunges headfirst into an array of themes and mythological exploration, setting the tone for a remake which doesn’t care how much you may love the original as it seeks to present a subversive, differing tale of events which sits at the opposite end of the cinematic spectrum in terms of its’ filmic genetic makeup. Of the more obvious changes, Guadagnino completely strips the neon embers of the Argento version for a more traditional, classic horror movie aesthetic, choosing to gloss the film in a grim, grainy colour palette and incorporating familiar B-movie genre tropes including quickfire camera zooms, schizophrenic editing and detailed facial shots similar to the likes of Don’t Look Now and more crucially, Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby. Whilst the original thrived on the central twist regarding the secretive coven of witches embedded within the heart of the school’s grounds, Kajganich’s script openly embraces such a fact from the outset, presenting the presence of evil as somewhat natural as we see Johnson’s Bannion quickly become the centre of a scheming plot to sacrifice her bewildering power to the unseen force of the school’s titular matriarchal figure, Helena Markos, and whilst the openness of such evil forces seemed a strange narrative choice heading into the movie, the decision does ultimately make absolute sense, saving an even bigger reveal for its’ own terrifying final act and understanding that most audiences heading in are original Suspiria fans anyway and therefore already well versed with the film’s central horror.
Synchronising deliciously with the purposeful intention to oppose pretty much everything within the original, Thom Yorke’s score beautifully and hauntingly glides hand in hand with the story, utilising a primarily piano led catalogue of tracks which matches the best work produced by Yorke both in a solo capacity and with Radiohead, with lead track, “Suspirium”, particularly impressive, encompassing the radical difference to the rather barmy but highly memorable Goblin score utilised in Argento’s film. At two and a half hours, the run-time does seem rather off-putting for some audiences who will undoubtedly find the slow burn nature of the pacing tortuously boring and irksome, but in a similar vein to Blade Runner 2049, the slower pace never felt much of an issue, building up dramatically to flashes of brutal, stylistic violence and a final act which when arrives feels particularly well earned. Among the many standout set pieces, the central dance sequences are incredibly well choreographed, with Guadagnino’s version emphasising the art of movement much more then the original ever did, and with added thematic notions regarding motherhood, the effect of war and a rather contemporary commentary on the abuse of power, Suspiria circa 2018 almost falls into the category of epic cinema, even when particular narrative arcs seem slightly tacked on to the extent that they either could have been shortened or removed completely. With Johnson and Swinton both absolutely superb in the central roles as they willingly buy into the vision created by a director they have both worked with in the past, Suspiria is a bold, beautiful and at times, genuinely unnerving work of art-house cinema which took the genetic code of a horror genre classic and redefined it from top to bottom.
Overall Score: 9/10
“Almost Every Single Person Has Told Me They Like The Way I Sounded But Not The Way I Look…”
Synchronising spectacularly with the transformation of cinema across both the twentieth and twenty first century, A Star Is Born, the fourth adaptation of the well versed tale first brought to the screen by William A. Wellman in 1937, sees Bradley Cooper both star and take the director’s seat for the very first time for a contemporary adaptation of the source material which follows Cooper’s (Silver Linings Playbook) alcohol and drug dependant rock and roll star, Jackson Maine, and his discovery of Lady Gaga’s (American Horror Story) equally talented Ally, a live-at-home dreamer whose musical career consists of drag bar shows and refusals from music executives who see her solely from the surface without understanding her true potential. Whilst one familial generation may fondly remember the 1976 version of A Star Is Born starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, another generation may go even further and recall the 1954 remake starring the one and only Judy Garland, and whilst it can be easy to dismiss remakes of classic Hollywood pictures before they even arrive onto the big screen, the fact remains that when done right, contemporary adaptations can explore fresh new ideas and offer the chance for younger audiences to experience a tale that they may have never witnessed before.
In the case of Cooper’s vision of A Star Is Born, the American’s directorial debut is a modern musical masterpiece, a deeply emotional and thoroughly engaging piece of cinema which revels in the passion of the film’s central relationship between a desperate, troubled musical star and the doe-eyed freshness of another who swiftly begins her journey into fame and fortune under the watchful eye of her mentor and lover who soon realises she may just outpace his own success with relative ease. With the first quarter of the movie primarily focusing on Cooper’s Jackson, his constant alcohol abuse and apparent mental health issues caused by a fractured family upbringing results in laboured live performances and the constant need and support from his older brother and father figure, Bobby Maine, as played by the ever magnanimous Sam Elliott (The Big Lebowski). As soon as Jackson drunkenly stumbles across the enviable talents of Gaga’s Ally however, the narrative becomes obsessed with portraying the most believable and stunningly acted on-screen romance since Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land, and with Cooper managing to brilliantly balance directing with acting duties, A Star Is Born is the American’s finest on-screen role to date, a performance riddled with inner turmoil and self-loathing which is perfectly balanced by the equally stellar Gaga, who although is not exactly new to the world of acting, with credits most famously on the likes of American Horror Story, gives it her absolute all to a character in which she obviously relates to on a human level, resulting in a performance which is expressed on-screen in, let’s face it, award winning pedigree.
Blending raw, hotly charged emotion with brilliant realism, Cooper’s movie isn’t just happy with portraying the central couple alone, with deep thematic contemplations on the effect of mental health and substance abuse threatening to suffocate both Jackson and Ally as the latter attempts to build her own career out of Jackson’s spotlight, and with a superb level of pacing which lets the characterisation flow and expand freely, Cooper’s understanding of when and where to guide the narrative’s path is truly remarkable for a debutante director. Add into the mix a simply wondrous and immediately catchy soundtrack, with each track seemingly performed fully from the depths of our stars’ heart and soul, the music is enhanced by the insistence from the cast that the tracks be performed live, and with the added brilliance of cinematography from frequent Darren Aronofsky collaborator, Matthew Libatique, the audience becomes transfixed on both the audio and visual splendour as we follow our leading duo travel across the world, from America to the immediately recognisable flag-filled horizon of the Glastonbury crowd, with each performance bearing the same riveting energy which made Straight Outta Compton so gloriously entertaining. With a sombre, heartbreaking conclusion which will result in even the toughest audience member reaching for the nearest pile of tissues, A Star Is Born is everything a remake should be, fresh, invigorating and contemporary, and whilst award buzz is inevitable for everyone involved, Oscar’s are only the start to appreciating how good A Star Is Born really is. Cooper, you’ve done good.
Overall Score: 10/10
“How Did Faith Work Out For Those People..?”
Acting as a more than unnecessary reboot of the Michael Winner 1974 film of the same name, torture porn aficionado, Eli Roth (Hostel, Knock Knock) takes control of Death Wish, a ridiculously mainstream B-Movie attempt which swaps Charles Bronson for Bruce Willis as Dr. Paul Kersey who wreaks havoc on the criminal fraternities of Chicago after his wife and daughter are caught up in a robbery gone violently wrong. Forged around a screenplay by Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces, The Grey), Roth’s latest is a strangely inert and viciously edited piece of nonsense which although fails to live up to perhaps the levels of incompetence many would suspect, is still a cliched and generously predictable ninety minutes with a Bruce Willis on hilarious form with arguably his worst on-screen performance in his entire career thus far. With vigilante justice a mainstay of cinema and television alike, with John Wick: Chapter Two and Netflix’s thoroughly entertaining The Punisher released in the past year, albeit one delayed due to questionable murmurings regarding its’ violent tendencies, the argument for whether yet another film depicting the horrors of U.S gun control in a day and age ripe with high profile massacres and murders is simply one I tend to stay away from, with instead focus directed primarily on the film as a work of cinema, rather its’ place in the overriding social stratosphere.
Unfortunately for Roth however, his decision to focus wholly on the power of violence and delights of retribution without any flip-side or depth to the film’s leading character is where the movie ultimately fails, with Death Wish oh so quickly falling into a pattern of an on-screen violent murder followed by minimalist discussion through random radio off-cuts and then quickly back to yet another violent death without any real sense of purpose or character development other than just Willis’ Kersey simply acting as cannon fodder for the film’s plodding progression. For example, in a remarkably misjudged scene, Willis’ Kersey enters a gun store with a busty, flirty female sales assistant happily flouting the power of the many weapons on show with Kersey questioning how easy it is for him to purchase such weapons, a question which I, and perhaps the entire audience, assumed would then proceed to satire the sordid state of affairs American gun control is currently in. Shockingly however, this discussion then leads to a scene later in the movie when Kersey returns hand in glove with a desire to purchase everything and anything in order to violently massacre whom he sees fit, showing that in fact, Roth’s view of the American weapon fascination is only for the greater good. With the film so obviously edited to fit under the umbrella of the 15 certificate that at times the picture jumps frames so violently you feel as if you’ve been shot yourself, Death Wish is still not exactly terrible and at just over ninety minutes, is sort of bearable to some degree, but with lazy decisions and a god-awful Willis, Roth’s movie is still utter nonsense.