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Film Review: What Men Want

“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

Film Review: Ralph Breaks the Internet

“And Now For The Million Dollar Question: Do People Assume All Your Problems Got Solved Because A Big Strong Man Showed Up..?”

Continuing on from 2012’s highly entertaining animated spectacle, Wreck-It Ralph, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ latest venture sees the return of the titular well-meaning and reluctant arcade game villain, voiced once again by the one and only John C. Reilly (We Need To Talk About Kevin), who continues his blossoming relationship with Sarah Silverman’s (Battle of the Sexes) bubblegum racing princess, Vanellope von Schweetz, in an adventure which follows the atypical cliche of most movie sequels by offering something bigger, bolder and particularly in the case of Ralph Breaks the Internet, a movie which thrives on being rather quite barmy. Directed by the working couple of the returning Rich Moore and Zootropolis screenwriter, Phil Johnston, the second installment in the Ralphverse pretty much continues on from where its’ predecessor ended, with Ralph, Vanellope and the motley crew of arcade game characters carrying on with their wildly colourful existence within the confines of a universe full of retro throwbacks and particular designs which seem to make certain fanbases in the world giggle with utmost joy when seeing their favourite characters appear on the big screen. Wowed by the introduction of the unpronounceable “WiFi” plug which is brought into the arcade by the aged, behind-with-the-times owner, Ralph and Vanellope soon journey into the the new area after the latter’s game, Sugar Rush, is unplugged due to an accident indirectly caused by Ralph himself.

Whilst the central storyline to Ralph Breaks the Internet undoubtedly fails to be as straightforward, streamlined and easy to follow as its’ predecessor, moving from one plot point to another and then to another again in the spirit of George Lucas at his insufferable worst, the most surprising aspect of the movie is the almost uncanny similarity to the truly awful, The Emoji Movie, with varying familiar themes regarding on-the-nose product placement and the darker, seedier side of the world wide web all bringing to mind how terribly wrong everything involved with that particularly movie ultimately became. Fortunately for Ralph and co, Disney’s attempt proves much more successful, blending the wide range of internet-based notions to a much more effective degree which even manages to suppress the annoying factor of the obvious advertisement, and with crisp, well designed and admirable animation to soak up, Ralph volume two is rife with astronomical levels of detail including numerous, off-centre comedic asides which in a similar vein to The Lego Batman Movie, will undoubtedly require subsequent viewings in order to locate every single easter egg on offer. With effective guest voice actors including Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) as a Death Race inspired, super-cool racing driver and Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures) as a social media obsessed entrepreneur, a trippy final act filled with animation spectacle at its’ finest and a particular scene involving Disney Princesses which is the finest animated comedic set piece since everything involving Jack-Jack in The Incredibles 2, Ralph Breaks the Internet is a more than adequate sequel which ticks all the boxes for all-round family friendly animated adventure.

Overall Score: 7/10

Film Review: Hidden Figures

“Just ‘Cause It’s The Way, Doesn’t Make It Right, Understand?”

As per expected this time of year, the ramble of releases which preempt the final preparations regarding Oscar season can become somewhat overpowering at times, with cinephiles across the globe attempting to squeeze in all the real hitters before the madness all begins. From the easily accessible Best Picture nods to the not-so easily found Foreign Language picks and across to endless repeat viewings of the work of the selected cinematographers, Oscar season is definitely one of a kind, and with the confirmed nominations for the ceremony now being released to the world, three remain to be seen by us here at Black Ribbon in their vow for supremacy in regards to the best the year has had to offer, beginning ever so swiftly with this week’s release Hidden Figures and concluding with Fences and Moonlight in the coming weeks. Following in the critical success of St. Vincent, director Theodore Melfi brings the true tale of NASA’s 1960’s space program to life, highlighting extensively the importance of the groundbreaking trio of engineer Mary Jackson and mathematicians Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughn, all of whom were integral to the success of the space race in a time in which racial prejudice was inherently rife, an element of which plays an key part of Melfi’s latest, an uplifting drama which effortlessly tells an important tale without ever seeping from its’ addictive sugar-coated sweetness.

If it wasn’t for the absence of the prestigious gates of Disneyland preceding the beginning of the movie, Hidden Figures could be excused for being just another Disney-fuelled historical drama, with the film being a solid example of a movie which seeps so strongly and unashamedly from the cesspool of classic film-making, you wouldn’t necessarily be smirked at for suspecting the world had travelled back to the 1960’s itself. Whilst Hidden Figures gets the job well and truly done without any sense of real adventure or expansion into organic territory, Melfi takes the classical approach to the material by giving us a interesting non-fiction tale and ramping up the elements of racial tension to the extreme in order to successfully add another level of drama to a proceeding of just over two hours. Whilst the Oscar nod in terms of acting has ultimately been handed to Octavia Spencer for her supporting role in the movie, the real winner of the picture is obviously Taraji P. Henson for her portrayal of the mathematical genius Katherine Johnson. yet any recognition at all is undeniably deserved for a movie which although is indeed a dramatic success, ultimately isn’t as dynamic or memorable as those figures of history it attempts to portray.

Overall Score: 7/10