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Film Review: Death Wish

“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.

Overall Score: 4/10

Catch-Up Film Review: Rings

 “I Keep Thinking About This Story. There’s This Video That Kills You. Seven Days After You Watch It…”

Blah, blah, blah. Whilst there is nothing new in the notion of American remakes, the category in which really grinds my gears is the one filled to the rim with English-speaking “re-imaginings” of foreign language horror movies, with absolute classics in the form of A Tale of Two Sisters, Let The Right One In and Ju-on: The Grudge all being mashed up and reproduced in the flight of gaining a quick yet tainted blood-stained buck on the account of the butchery which tends to happen when foreign movies are translated onto an audience which is primarily English speaking. Of the many horror franchises which has roots well and truly set in the minds of more intelligent filmmakers, Rings, directed by Spanish filmmaker F. Javier Gutiérrez, is yet another entry into the Ringu canon which began all the way back in 1998 with Hideo Nakata’s terrifying cinematic take on the Koji Suzuki novel of the same name, and whilst the third American entry seems to begin with an element of interest, Rings unfortunately, yet unsurprisingly, ends up being yet another wasted opportunity, with it not only coming across as incredibly offensive to horror fans across the world, effectively spits on the shadow of its’ former self with its’ sheer and utter dreadfulness.

With a leading star who carries as much charisma and interest as an ASDA bag for life, Rings begins with a narrative which looks as if it is set to offer some new light into the world of spooky water-covered teenagers with long black hair by delving into a somewhat underground network of shady college preps who view the infamous killer video tape as a reason to get up in the morning, using the threat of Samara as a messed up type of adrenaline rush alongside a basis for Johnny Galecki’s character’s thesis on the mystery of her existence. Whilst this interesting notion covers roughly the first fifteen minutes of the movie, the following 90 minutes is essentially a cheap re-telling of a story in which every single person in the cinematic world is now bored to death with, trading real elements of threat and suspense with cheesy dialogue and awful jump scares which rely on the power of the cinema’s sound system in order to actually come across as worthwhile. News alert; they don’t. Ending on a supposed twist which offers up the idea that the franchise is set to continue into the future, Rings is the type of cinematic face-palm which you really struggle to understand its’ existence. If you’re thinking of buying it on DVD, don’t.

Overall Score: 3/10

Film Review: CHiPs

“Go Undercover Within The Department? That’s Awesome…!”

Burdening themselves with the prospect of attempting to distinguish themselves from simply being yet another terrible excuse of a film which classifies itself as a comedy, CHiPs, written, directed and starring Dax Shephard, is based primarily upon the American television drama series of the same name which aired on NBC between the years of 1977 and 1983, and within a week in which Power Rangers has surprisingly succeeded in whinging a modern-day adaptation too, the penultimate week of March can only be classed as the week in which two of the most pointless and utterly undesired methods of entertainment have somehow had the 21st century treatment and had the nerve to grace the big-screen. All negative preconceptions aside, CHiPs, co-starring the undeniably likeable Michael Peña, whose back catalogue includes End of Watch and Ant-Man, as well as the most recent incarnation of Wilson Fisk from Netflix’s Daredevil, Vincent D’Onofrio, CHiPs is indeed the type of movie in which you begin to wonder about the mindset of those who have played a part in creating it, with the main driving force in the form of Dax Shephard being primarily to blame in successfully creating one of the most vulgar, idiotic, mindless and utterly offensive movies in recent memory.

Featuring a supposed array of so-called jokes which offend everyone and everything from the professionalism of the police community to the LGBT community and the disabled, CHiPs is a textbook example of one man attempting to boost his egoistic capabilities by taking hold of a TV blueprint and throwing as much awfully constructed action and comedic set pieces at it as possible in order to overshadow how poor the movie actually is. Unfortunately for Shephard, the ridiculously unfunny narrative and sloppy direction only enhance the shoddiness of the overall finished picture, a picture which shares similar elements with the vile back catalogue of Adam Sandler in regards to how retrograde it comes across towards sex and the treatment of females in a “I can’t believe they actually made this” kind of fashion. Whilst the response from fans of the original show has reportedly been less than positive, I would go as far to say that everyone who goes to see CHiPs will come out smiting the air in a retrospective feeling of contempt towards a film which is just so, so awful from start to finish. AVOID.

Overall Score: 2/10

Film Review: The Magnificent Seven

“I Seek Righteousness. But I’ll Take Revenge…”

As with the release of Ben-Hur only recently, Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven can easily be regarded simply as a 21st century take on the 1960 classic, itself a re-imagining of Akira Kurosawa’s epic Seven Samurai, with Fuqua’s latest perhaps only having a sole purpose of making a quick buck rather than attempting to do something interesting and ultimately different than its’ 1960 counterpart. Swapping the likes of Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson for the current crop of A-List stars such as Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke and Chris Pratt, The Magnificent Seven ultimately does not live up to its’ titular superlative, arriving at an all-too familiar plot, one with a rafter of genre cliches and a lesser developed crop of characters than its’ predecessor, albeit being a movie which indeed features some good all-round direction, particularly in its’ final explosive act which saves the film from ultimately being just another dull Hollywood conveyor belt of a movie.

Replacing the distinctive figure of Yul Brynner from the original, we now have Denzel Washington in the leading role, one again teaming up with Fuqua after Training Day and The Equalizer, with the former of course giving Washington his second Oscar win, and whilst the pairing have tasted success in the past, it is almost certain that their latest venture will indeed hit the box office for a time being and then simply fade into nonexistence like many previous cinematic attempts to reinvent classic Hollywood pictures. With the famous theme playing out during the end credits, The Magnificent Seven plays out no attempt at all to indifferent itself from the 1960 version aside from a few minor character changes in the titular band of killers, and whilst the touches of nostalgia are cute, it simply reminds you how much you actually might as well have been watching the original. For the newly converted however, Fuqua’s latest may indeed be a successful action thriller, yet for those with previous knowledge of the story, The Magnificent Seven is yet another taste of remake mediocrity. The blowing up stuff scenes are pretty cool though.

Overall Score: 5/10

Triple Whammy – Jurassic World – Does it have enough teeth?

Dan – In terms of childhood memories, particularly those of a cinematic pedigree, the Jurassic Park series was one that I never wholly took to and thus never really had a set place in my heart like other childhood films such as Back to the Future, Star Wars and even Lord of the Rings, a trilogy of movies that did, and still does, have a secure place in my love of cinema. Sure, I recall watching Jurassic Park and even remember watching Jurassic Park III in the cinema as a child, but the sheer wow factor of the “dinosaur dystopia” in which Spielberg and co. had created never really excited me in ways that other films did. I recently watched the trilogy once again after years of them being in the category of just “seen it”, in order to discover whether my childhood had in fact been a complete disgrace, yet my feelings still remain the same. From a a much more mature and critical standpoint also, it was clear to see that the first Jurassic Park was clearly the best out of the trilogy, with it to this day still having moments of pure excitement and tension, but it then all being spoilt by its’ predecessors The Lost World and Jurassic Park III which were, let’s just say, nowhere near as good. So now, 22 years after the original movie, we have Jurassic World starring Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy), Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-Man 3), Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil) whilst being directed and partly written by Colin Trevorrow of Safety Not Guaranteed fame. Before entering my local multiplex, I was cautious of Jurassic World maybe carrying on the torch of another mediocre dinosaur film but as soon as the credits rolled it was clear to see this was definitely not the case. In fact, its’ almost as good as the original. Almost.

When scientists at the world famous Jurassic World theme park, located on the Isla Nublar, disobey rules clearly laid out in the first three Jurassic Park films such as DON’T MESS WITH DINO DNA, their new creation, the aptly named Indominus Rex, decides to go AWOL, leading to mass panic and mass murder on the island, forcing park manager Claire (Dallas Howard) and trainer Owen (Pratt) into finding a solution to prevent the death of not only themselves, but the 20,000 tourists stuck on the island with them. Seems like a pretty straightforward Jurassic Park style plot doesn’t it? And it most definitely is, but one of the things that I loved about Jurassic World was that it didn’t stop long enough for you to really care about the weakness of its’ plot with it constantly ramming up the dinosaur action up to eleven, leaving you continuously with a sense of breathlessness and feelings I probably should have felt when I watched the first film as a child. Not only does the tension hit home due to the surprising amount of bloodshed and death on-screen throughout, but also due to the expertly crafted dinosaurs that we are faced with. Each and every scene in which a dinosaur appeared was genuinely jaw-dropping and deserves a round of applause for the amount of precise detail that those tasked with the creation of such have adhered to. Top marks.

Of course, the film does have weaknesses, and weaknesses that have been current in the franchise from the start such as having quite a few incidental characters whom are used simply as cannon fodder for death-by-dinosaur on screen, and having an annoying tendency for making human beings seem actually quite stupid in the line of fire, but these weaknesses are glossed over by the sheer spectacle that is presented, with likable leading characters in the form of Pratt and Howard also doing well in solidifying Jurassic World as one of the forerunners in the 2015 blockbuster race. In a nutshell then? Miles better than the two previous Jurassic Park entries but maybe just below the original in terms of quality, Jurassic World is a bigger, bolder and cooler entry into an inevitably ever-growing canon of movies. Jurassic World, you have my endorsement.

Dan’s Score – 8/10

 

Josh – When I first watched the trailer for Jurassic world I was psyched. I had a lot of hopes for this film. Little did I know that what I was watching was the bloody highlights of the film!  Which did partially spoil the film. Yes this is done so often nowadays and I will always rant about it.Jurassic World

Yes being a Jurassic park film you can immediately tell the plot of the film, dinosaurs get loose, people get eaten, as the cast try to escape the island. That’s just what the films are about fair enough it’s good, however when it gets to the point you can tell who is going to get eaten  and by what it just loses all of the thrill and almost horror side which made the previous films all so enjoyable.

You would think after all the deaths and accidents from the previous films they would make more safety precautions to deal with the protection of guests. nearly all the way through the film I was face palming, if there was a desk I would be slamming my face into it I mean the stupidity of  characters its like they don’t realise that the dinosaurs eat people! Yes I can see them lowering the intelligence of the human characters in an attempt to make the “indominus rex” and the Raptors seem smarter but not like this! Also they know clearly state that the “indominus rex” can see thermal heat yet they still try hiding 2 inches away from it *face palm*. Also, little side note, Bryce Dallas Howard’s character, Beth somehow manages to cross all terrain from muddy grasslands to concrete while running faster then a T-Rex in high heels now I don’t wear high heels (in public) but I’m quite sure this is actually impossible. There are a lot more weird plot holes but I weld be here all day to mention them all.

Honestly I feel the whole kids characters to be slow and pointless and an attempt to copy the kids from the first movie. Also the character development was relatively poor to non-existent I mean the Nick Robinsons charter Zach’s whole thing with him staring at all the girls at the park was ridiculously boring and brought no plot development and if anything made him seem creepy. And the whole their parents getting divorced was already used in Jurassic park 3. It all just seems recycled. I will give it props to relating to the first movie at some parts to the film with the kids finding the old Jurassic park banner and driving the old Jeeps.

Though I do agree with Dan in that the first was by far the best out of the previous trilogy, however I would disagree with him in that Jurassic world is on par with the first. If anything I would say that Jurassic world has made Jurassic park look even better and they should have created more suspense in being hunted or made it seem more like a thriller.

So far I have been biting chunks out of this film, but I did enjoy it aside from all the plot holes and annoying characters it was good to watch. As mentioned by Dan when the dinosaurs were on the screen it was amazing to watch. The detail and action scenes were superb and thrilling to watch with impressive use of the surrounds such as the use of the holograms in stalling the Raptor. The magnitude of the dinosaurs are impressive and that’s exactly what I came to see, so much so I would actually like to watch it in 3D.

Josh’s Score – 6/10

 

Pete – Josh and Dan both bring very valid points to the table. I myself sit on the fence. As I was raised on these movies, they have a special place in my heart. They are so fondly remembered that I can’t help but watch them whenever they’re on. So perhaps my view of the latest is one of a spoilt critic with an expectation of greatness. Jurassic World lacked. It lacked the tension and the heart pumping excitement that made the classics, classic but it had throwbacks to the past that gave the sense of nostalgia. Yet here I am, with my ass on a white picket fence.

Jurassic World 1It lacked the tension for many reasons. The build was not long enough and the pay-off was a generic, predictable mess and happened instantaneously. It feels that the movie is a children’s one with an attempt to keep their minds focused on one thing for more than a few seconds without them pulling out their Iphones and playing Candy Crush. The need for the instant gratification ruins exactly what Jurassic Park is known for. Sure, the originals were PG but at the time, they were legitimate, scary thrillers. Now we have a 12A which sparks no fear or excitement. In many years time, I will show my kid(s) all of these movies and I could almost guarantee that the 4th will fade into their memory without a second glance. The only scene to really make me recoil was the abuse the kid’s guide got from a multitude of dinosaurs which was actually over zealous. Although the CGI was on point I would enjoy seeing more practical effects throughout.

Josh rightly pointed out the issue with the plot holes and this is really significant. Things are happening everywhere, but we never really finish anything up. No one talks about the women murdered by the Mosasaurus or the fucking owner of the park! The group that try to weaponise the creatures are whisked in and the need to classify information from the owner just confuses the plot even more. By claiming they have to use other creatures DNA to breed the dinosaurs, why is it that the hybrid has Raptor DNA? and why do I need to know about the childrens parents getting a divorce, how does that change anything and why is this child so fucking annoying? Among a host of continuity errors, I find myself mad that this happens so much and it was let out of the gate. Its either that the cut way to much, or more likely, they never finished. With production being back and forth for years, many ideas have floated about and some genius had the idea to smash them all into one and hope it did something. The general production suffers, not only the visuals but also the script and the music. With a script written by a child and music probably crafted prior to the film, nothing fits. Its all disjointed and doesn’t flow or create something magical and special.

I may be attacking this like a rabid dog but the reality is, this is a movie that has been created for the commercial reasons. They may claim its for the fans with a short appearance of the T-Rex but rather than targeting the original audience, you bombard them with more product placement than the Super Bowl ad break and pander to the child market so you can squeeze more money from the merchandise. Its feels cheap. As if they no longer value the franchise and want to abuse it like its into some sick dino BDSM.

There were parts I’m okay with. It was a blast to the past. It was something that I was raised on and the it has Chris Pratt in it. The rest is just a bit meh. Its one of those films that don’t stick. It lost its edge and for the love of god, stop using child actors whose character and acting suck. I feel too generous awarding it a 7 so I feel that a 6 is far more appropriate. Bring on the Lego game!

Pete’s Score – 6/10

Overall – 6.66/10

Jurassic World 4