Reviews written by registered user
Matt_Layden

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653 reviews in total 
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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
"The Earth will literally crack and you will feel it on the East Coast.", 6 April 2016
6/10

Where are all the ugly people? San Andreas puts a beautiful family front and centre of this disaster film and it leaves me wondering that only beautiful people can survive disaster attacks. You have a handsome well built leading man played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. You have his gorgeous wife, played by Carla Gugino and their hot hot hot daughter, played by Alexandra Daddario. Even the suave and Welsh Ioan Gruffudd has a small role here. I guess you can label Paul Giamatti as average or even below average and guess what role he's got here? The smart guy.

The plot line for the film is flimsy, so much so, that there is almost no plot at all. We have a basic outline of a story where we find our characters in the location where a giant Earthquake will take lots of lives and destroy lots of buildings. Johnson plays a rescue chopper pilot, we see his skills in the opening sequences where he has to rescue a young blonde woman who's stuck in her van falling down a cliff. Our hero, front and centre, rescues the poor girl and goes back home to find divorce papers waiting for him. His family is falling apart due to a horribly tragic accident that cost him the life of one of his daughters. His other daughter is alive and well, they seem to get along, so we have no daddy issues here. Except his wife wants to move on and move on with Ioan Gruffudd. He seems like a nice guy, when circumstance don't call for him to save another persons life or anything. As soon as a character like this pops up on screen, you can almost guarantee that they will do something dickish, which will push the wife back closer to her soon to be ex husband. What does this guy do? Leave her daughter to die while she is stuck in a car. This switch was almost instant. He was likable up until that point, then he becomes a total dick to everyone. When one's life is at stake I guess....

Anyways, I digress. San Andreas wants to entertain you with the abundance of special effects it throws at you. 2012 style effects which sees building collapse left, right and centre. People running through the streets, destroyed in seconds. Yet, our main characters always seem to be okay even when running on a building that is falling beneath them. Thrilling? I'm not so sure, since we've seen these scenes played over and over again in every other disaster film. San Andreas has the added bonus of looking completely fake when we have our characters dead centre in the action. Seeing both Johnson and Gugino is a boat roaming San Fransisco is hilariously awful. Nothing about this film feels genuine. The special effects look like special effects I see everywhere else. This film feels like 2012 lite. Centred around one family and their attempt to escape this destruction.

The cast is serviceable to their roles, which entails a lot of screaming, running and nothing else really. I couldn't help but roll my eyes in disbelief numerous times throughout the film. Let me ask you this: Both Johnson and Gugino decide they must find their daughter amidst this chaos. So they go to San Franciso, communications are down, tens of thousands of people are dying and more are looking for salvation. Will they find each other? This is after a tsunami has hit too by the way. What are the chances that they will be wandering around looking for their daughter and she will magically appear right behind them? I think it's pretty plausible....at least this film wants me to believe so.

San Andreas offers nothing new and it feels like rehashed material. I guess if you like disaster films check it out, or just watch 2012 again, it's almost the sam damn movie. At least in that one we get to see the destruction on a much bigger scale.

Unfriended (2014)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
"Who would hack into a dead girl's account?", 6 April 2016
4/10

I recently reviewed a film titled Open Windows, which stars Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey. That film is similar to Unfriended, in that it is told only through a computer screen or cameras. The differences is that Open Windows seemed to be a bit more ambitious with the gimmick, following Wood in his car as he's left the hotel and his computer. Any video source was used, dash cams, cellphone cameras, street cameras, you name it. Unfriended stays within the one girl's bedroom and her laptop. While still being ambitious enough to tell an entire story only within the confines of a computer screen, the real story here is how the film reflects the current issue of cyber bullying and the traumatic effects it can have on a teenager.

While there is no real plot to the film, there is a story. It's pretty simple, but effective for a horror film. A year to the date of their friends suicide, a group of teenagers are harassed online to deadly results. There, simple enough, now give the film the unique angle of being only filmed "online" and you have yourself a marketable horror film. The real life issues of suicide and cyber bullying are just presented enough to get a conversation going. The fact that the message of the film is drowned out by the horror aspects, might be an issue.

As I mentioned with Open Windows, this would work better a short film. But the pace of Unfriended is brisk enough to make it feel like one. During the conversation the friends have, there is an unknown account, which they later find out belongs to their dead friend from a year ago. They each get messages from her and one by one they each die. The film takes on a supernatural tone from here and works enough for the target audience, which is the young teenage crowd. Anyone over the age of 25 will probably not get much from this film.

It's not really scary, the opportunities are there but are missed. If I were in their situation, I would have left the computer screen entirely. They try to address this issue early on, if you leave you die, but it's not clear enough to feel like a real threat in the film. Without any real star power, these actors feel like the age they are suppose to be, yet they also manage to fit those oh so typical horror character clichés. The fat friend, the hot friend, the jock friend, etc, etc. Each character seems like a normal kid at the start and our "main" character is Blaire, a good-girl who wants her first time to be with her boyfriend at prom. As the film progresses, their secrets are unraveled and they slowly begin to hate and resent each other. This aspect of the film was surprisingly good, reveal your secrets or die. These people no longer have our sympathy once the truth is revealed.

Unfriended is one of those horror films that is forgettable once you turn it off. i would only recommend it to a straight up horror fan who has nothing to watch on a Friday night. A female teenage horror fan with nothing to watch on a Friday night.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
"Crazy is building your ark after the flood has already come.", 6 April 2016
8/10

The trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane dropped on everyone, 2 months before the film's release. No one knew about it. Everyone went nuts over how this film could have been made, in this day of the internet, and no one know about it? The answer to that is because this film is in no way connected to the original Cloverfield film. Sorry to burst the bubble for those hoping for some kind of sequel, but this film is NOT IT.

Michelle wakes up, chained to a wall, in an underground bunker. Her captor, a man named Howard, informs her that she was just in a car accident and that the world is under some kind of attack. She doesn't believe him and desperately tries to get out...but is the unknown on the outside more safe than what she knows lies within?

The filmmakers have repeatedly stated that this film is not a sequel, nor does it take place in the same universe as the original. So what the hell is it exactly? There seems to be a bit of controversy over how the film came to be. One person says one thing, another says something else. Then you watch the film and you question both answers. Did the studio think they had a really well crafted film on their hands and wanted more people to see it? So they decided to throw the name Cloverfield onto it in the hopes of getting butts in the seats? What we DO know is that the original script, The Cellar, had nothing to do with Cloverfield. It was later crafted to be somewhat similar. Or maybe it wasn't. According to some interviews, they didn't really change anything. After watching the film, some people may find that hard to believe.

So how am I suppose to feel about this film? I'm struggling with that entire dilemma. Whether the last ten minutes or so of the film was tagged on for the Cloverfield vibe, or if it was always there, it does not really belong in this film. It doesn't flow with everything that came before it. Goodman played Howard, a conspiracy theorist who decided to build a bunker for when the world went to the dumps. In his mind, true or not, the world is going to the dumps. He just happened to save a young woman along the way. Goodman's Howard is kind, dangerous, sensitive, crazy, smart and destructive. The man is prepared for anything and everything, but is he right? That's the question that Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, needs answered and so does the audience. The film has a lot of fun going back and forth with the answer to this. You'll jump back and forth questioning him and his motives and the film is paced perfectly in peeling back the layers of the mystery surrounding the plot.

Winstead is refreshing with her take on Michelle. She's not helpless, despite her situation, she's resourceful. She's not some emotionless bad-ass either, she has many moments of uncertainty and fear. John Gallagher, Jr. plays Emmet, another man inside the bunker. He's there on his own free will, he injured himself trying to get in. This further cements Howard's claims about the outside world. Emmet isn't the smartest person, but Gallagher plays him in an innocent way that makes him instantly likable. Although, it is John Goodman who delivers a stellar performance, maybe the best of his career. His unhinged Howard will make you trust him and fear him within seconds. I can now say that I am officially scared of John Goodman.

90% of this film is off the wall intense. Everything within the bunker is an excellent film. Everything outside the bunker is bunk. I won't spoil anything that happens on the outside, but I honestly believe that it belongs in another film. Regardless of whatever half assed set up they try to pigeonhole in the dialogue. I believe this ending will split the audience, but I simply cannot talk about it any further without divulging information that in all honesty, needs to be kept secret.

10 Cloverfield Lane is at times unsettling and nerve-racking. I looked over to my wife at one moment and she looked terrified. The intense sequences are enough to make you grip your arm chair tight and in a perfect world, John Goodman would be nominated for an award. Sadly, we don't live in a perfect world and that will never happen. So please, see this film and judge it on its own merit. Do not expect or compare it to Cloverfield, you'll be disappointed and expect more anthology type Cloverfield films in the future.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Obnoxiously annoying., 6 April 2016
5/10

As authentic as the paper towns the characters speak of, here is a film fooling itself into thinking it is something it is not. Paper Towns, much like the character of Margo, has no idea what it wants to be. Is it a coming of age film? A mystery? A high school comedy? Or is it a road trip? It simply has no idea so it throws as many genres to the wall and sees what sticks. In an age where YA novels are being filmed at a rate faster than Taylor Swift goes through boyfriends, Paper Towns is a quick cash in on the success of the author's previous effort, The Fault In Our Stars.

Quentin, or Q, because giving him a cool nickname somehow gives him character development, falls in love with the new girl across the street, Margo. It's love at first sight, but don't tell him it's lust because it's LOVE DAMMIT. They instantly become friends, but as they grow older, the drift apart. High school hits and Q is still in love with Margo, only she barely gives him the time of day. Instead she'd rather build up the 'mystery' of Margo. One night she climbs in through his window and convinces him to help her with a night a debauchery. Much to his surprise, it's one of the best nights of his life and he's never felt closer to her. He hopes that tomorrow will be different for them, but there is no tomorrow for them. Margo has disappeared, no one knows where she is. Q convinces himself that she has left clues for him and goes on a mission to find her.

One of the aspects of the film that instantly put me off of it was the portrayal of Margo as a too cool for school hipster who spits out eloquence that seems out of place. The moment I knew I did not like her character, or how she was written was when she declared her love of random capitalization because the rules are unfair to the letters in the middle. It's distractingly annoying and it doesn't help that Cara Delevingne isn't particularly likable in the role. The alternative mysterious role has been done before and a lot better in my opinion. On the flip side of things, Nat Wolff is Q, the helpless loser who finally steps out of his comfort zone to pursue love. Again, something that has been done before. Wolff does fine here, he doesn't distract from the role or the material. His two best friends fill their clichéd high school roles well enough. The sex crazed friend (Dude, your mom is so hot, I want to have sex with her) and the token black friend whose whole character depth involves his family collecting black Santas. He has a girlfriend and they want to have sex too, but want to wait until prom. That is something I'm not sure has ever been done in a high school film before.

If Me Early & The Dying Girl came off as pretentious, this film comes off as desperately wanting to be but never finding the right balance of talent to pull it off. One third of the film is good, that's when they decide to take a road trip and the film veers into yet another direction. The best character interactions happen during this sequences and I would have preferred the film to be solely about that. Instead we are stuck with a soulless piece of YA fiction that will be drowned in the sea of countless others. The film wants you to think it has a message, that people are not who you want them to be. That life is NOT like the movies and not everything goes your way. Paper Towns is so deep with its understanding of young adults wanting to fit in, not wanting to fit in...then it has a gag about pissing in a coke can then spilling it on another character. What?

It's a little too late for any of it to take. By the time Q decides to go after her, I was checked out, heck I was probably checked out well before that. Paper Towns is...I hate to say it because I'm sure I'm not the first one...a paper thin film.

What do people expect?, 22 March 2016
3/10

I could accuse Adam Sandler of sleepwalking through his roles as of late (Pixels, Grown Ups 2), I could even accuse him of purposely hiring beautiful women to be his leading ladies (Brooklyn Decker, Kate Beckinsale) or how he seems to only do films where he hangs out with his best friends (Grown Ups, The Ridiculous Six)...but I won't.

Sandler has been a punching bag for a lot of people lately and deservedly so. The man hasn't made a good film in years and it looks like he doesn't even care to anymore. Simply watch his "performance" in Pixels and tell me otherwise. He's made his money, his lazily making more and laughing at us while he does so. Now he has a 6 film deal with Netflix and the first film to come of this is The Ridiculous Six, which has had words such as horrible, travesty, garbage, and racist thrown its way. All of which...are warranted.

The Ridiculous Six has Sandler playing an outlaw, raised by Natives who discovers he has five brothers. Together they decide to track down their father and save him from whatever mess he's found himself in. I can't stress how painfully unfunny this mess of a film is. The film is loaded with "stars" such as Vanilla Ice and Blake Shelton. Among the usual players of course.

Am I getting too old? Is the humour in this film the same as his previous films? I don't think so. Old Sandler had a certain charm. Love him or hate him, he actually had faith in those projects and wanted to succeed. Well, he has and no he doesn't give two craps. He never changes his face once this entire film. He shows no emotion, no range, no acting abilities.

Writing this review is painful because of how boring the film is. Stupid gags involving donkey feces, decapitation and stupid native names. The film plays out as set up gag after another with no real sense of story. I did find one redeeming factor here and I want to thank John Turturro. The scene in which we see how baseball was invented was humorous and I would have loved more scenes like this.

Skip it, even if you're a fan of his work. This is a sorry excuse for a film that deserves to be burned.

Deadpool (2016)
3 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
"Daddy needs to express some rage.", 15 February 2016
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Deadpool, aka "The Merc With A Mouth" made an appearance in Wolverine: Origins, played by Ryan Reynolds. The bits with Reynolds had him without a mask, but still the sassy attitude. He later appeared near the end, a bastardization of the character, this time played by Scott Adkins. This guy was known as Weapon XI, the next evolution of Wolverine? I'm still not sure because that film was a mess of epic proportions. The use of Deadpool in this film is a travesty and fans were obviously upset.

Reynolds, who has been a champion of the character for years now, has tried and tried again to get a Deadpool feature film going. He has finally succeeded and now we have a 'proper' version of the character, one that fans seem to love and Reynolds is actually happy with. Deadpool is not your ordinary comic book character, for starters, he knows he's a comic book character. The film version knows he's in a film, he knows about the previous version of Deadpool and even the previous comic book character Reynolds played, The Green Lantern. I feel that some people may have had enough with the super hero genre, but Deadpool, much like Guardians of the Galaxy, is just unique enough to breathe some fresh air into an already bloated genre.

Wade Wilson, Reynolds, is a mercenary for hire. While at his best friends bar, he runs into a beautiful woman, Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin. They instantly hit it off and fall in love. He pops the question, expecting a long, loving life with the girl of his dreams. Things don't seem to work out for him though, as he is unexpectedly hit with cancer. Hitting the liver, lungs, prostate and brain. Not wanting to drag her through the heartbreak of watching him die, he vanishes. While gone he is presented with a new experimental program that could cure his cancer and make him super. Experiments never go accordingly to plan and Deadpool is now born. A mutant with healing properties, enhanced strength and scarred skin making him one of the ugliest men alive. Now he's out for revenge, to get the man who did this to him and hopefully make him right again.

Deadpool had an uphill battle, a hard R rating, an unknown character outside of fanboys and Ryan Reynolds, a guy who desperately needs a hit. The film only got the greenlight due to an extremely positive reaction to leaked test footage, which has made it into the actual film, and it seems even more people want to see the film because it is doing extremely well. Does this mean we'll eventually see an influx of r rated super hero films? Maybe. But I doubt any of them will have the pure fun and energetic charm that Reynolds brings to this picture. Reynolds is a perfect Deadpool, he brings the character to life with the spot on comedic timing and self awareness. He brings his usual improv swagger to the role, if you're familiar with his comedic roles prior, it is on all cylinders here. With the R rating, he's able to let the risky profanity filled one liners fly. Some might feel it's a bit too much at times, others will say it fits the tone of the film perfectly.

That R rating is well deserved as well. The film is full of profanity, nudity and extreme violence. People are decapitated, skewered, burned, crushed, blown-up and pretty much anything else you can imagine. This film is not kid friendly, despite the fact that there were a few children under the age of 14 in my showing. Despite the violence in the film, it is indeed very cartoon-like. Deadpool cuts his own arm off, cgi blood sprays on the face of another character, then he eventually grows a new arm. Most of the film sees bad guys simply be shot, with precision from the man in red.

With a somewhat modest budget, for a superhero film, of only 58 million, the film waits to use the majority of that budget for the last act. The film jumps back and forth between the present and the past. As for as origin stories go, it's pretty run of the mill. Experiment gone wrong and hero seeks revenge. Seems almost like Wolverine and a lot of others. The familiarity of the film didn't bother me because it had a lot of fun with it. A lot of films feel held back by their origins story, Deadpool isn't one of them.

Despite some of the juvenile humour, Deadpool is a lot of fun. A lot of bloody, violent, profanity filled fun.

Spotlight (2015/I)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
"If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse them. That's the truth of it.", 9 January 2016
8/10

If someone were to sit me down and ask me what my most anticipated films of 2015 were. I would say that Mad Max was it, beginning and end of list. Then I saw a trailer for a film called Spotlight. My list immediately grew to two.

A new editor-in-chief from Miami comes to work at the Boston Globe. His first big action while there is to question why no one has investigated the claims of a priest molesting kids. After some pushback, he finally decides to hand it to 'Spotlight', a team of four journalists who tackle in depth investigative projects. They make it their mission to expose not only the disgraceful actions of a few priests in their neighbourhood, but the system that tried to cover it all up.

For some reason, films that deal with newsprint appeals to me. I don't get why, they just do. One of the more underrated films that falls into this category, is coincidentally another Keaton film, The Paper. Maybe I had that in the back of my mind when I decided I needed to see this film, but I'm glad I saw it because it deserves to be seen.

Spotlight isn't afraid to tackle a serious and touchy subject matter and it does so with careful precision and thought. What makes the film relatable is that is never leaves the current situation of the neighbourhood. We see the story through the eyes of the journalists and the streets of that neighbourhood. We don't get these grand aerial shots of the city of Boston, because we are confined to the horrors that live on those neighbourhood streets. Spotlight isn't a showy film, save for one scene; it's mostly static shots of people talking. Yet I was glued to the screen.

One of the biggest things going for Spotlight is how well the cast works together. There are some heavy hitters here: Michael Keaton, straight off his career high with Birdman, delivers another knockout performance of Spotlight team leader Walter Robinson. The real Robinson would go on to say that it feels as is Keaton has "stolen his identity, that's how weird it was to watch him become me". Mark Ruffalo is reporter Michael Rezendes, who goes to great lengths to make sure the story is told, no matter what the consequences are to them. Ruffalo has the grandiose scene where he breaks down about wanting to print the story immediately, but is being told no. He conveys the right amount of emotion without going over the top. The lone female of the group, Sacha Pfeiffer is played by Rachel McAdams. She is able to hold her own against more heavyweights and has one of the most uncomfortable scenes in the entire film when she confronts a priest who admits that he molested children, but sees no wrongdoings in it. That scene in the film took place in real life.

I could go on and on about how excellent the cast is here, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d'Arcy James, Stanley Tucci are all excellent, with Tucci having the more underrated performance of the film. He's a lawyer trying to fight the good fight, being the voice of the victims, when others looked away. He has a line that he delivers to Ruffalo about being an outsider, which strikes everything home.

I did find myself being a little emotional towards the end of the film. There are some emotional moments scattered throughout, specifically one involving victims recounting the abuse. Spotlight is a magnificently crafted film that soars due to the cast and the horrific nature of the content. Seeing the names of the cities at the end of the film left me in shock as to how close some of them are to me. One of the best of the year.

20 out of 41 people found the following review useful:
"I ain't afraid to die anymore. I'd done it already.", 9 January 2016
8/10

Fifteen minutes into the film, right after the Native attack that opens the story, two people next to me got up and left the theatre. It was about ten minutes after that that I looked over to my wife, she seemed bored out of her mind. As the credits rolled, I asked her what she thought. She went on to list off all her problems with the film, mainly the length and how 'boring' she found it. I on the other hand, found it utterly visceral in the unrelenting grittiness that bathed over my eyeballs.

After a vicious bear attack, Hugh Glass is left battered and beaten. His men try their best to help transport him back to their settlement, yet the harsh environments and tracking Natives on their heels make it near impossible. Three men, including his son, decide to stay behind with him, while the others venture forward. One of those men is Fitzgerald, who only volunteers due to the promise of extra money when they return. Fed up with waiting, Fitzgerald takes matters into his own hands, leaving Glass behind to die. Fueled by revenge, Glass is determined to stay alive, crawl 200 miles and kill the man responsible for leaving him in the dirt.

There's been a lot of talk about the behind the scenes drama surrounding this film. Multiple crew members quit mid production over the shooting conditions, which included harsh cold weather, dangerous stunts and only using natural light. The trials and tribulations of those who created this film, benefits us, the audience. The film is absolutely gorgeous and should undoubtedly win Lubezki a third straight Oscar for the cinematography, a first in the Academy's history. There were multiple moments where I simply sat in awe at some of the beautifully painted pieces of nature that both Lubezki and Iñárritu give us. There were many times during this film that I felt like I was watching a Malick film, which makes sense since Lubezki shot The New World, which feels similar to The Revenant.

There's been a lot of buzz around Leonardo DiCaprio's performance, how it might finally earn him that alluding Oscar statue. Honestly, he deserves it. The man ate raw meat and he's a damn vegetarian. Most of his performance, which is brutally savage, has him fighting for his life. He doesn't say much, it's hard to talk after having your throat slashed by a bear. DiCaprio always delivers great performances in my opinion, this one took him to his utter limits. It's hard to see another performance this year that deserves it more. I pass equal praise to Tom Hardy who stars as Fitzgerald, the "villain" of the picture. Hardy always seems to disappear into his roles, this one is no different. He's equal parts menacing and rough. DiCaprio is strong and you need just as strong a performance to support him, Hardy does this in spades.

I'm sure there are people out there that will have the same reaction as my wife. The film isn't perfect, it has some issues. There are numerous sequences that showcase DiCaprio's dead wife, these elements stall the already lengthy film. Had these sequences been cut out completely, or even down to one scene, it would have helped significantly. The film clocks in just under two and a half hours. That is a long film about a fur trapper slowly making his way across some rough terrain. Add on top of that the long take shots that Iñárritu loves to show off and you have yourself a film that feels long. Iñárritu loves to showoff his fancy camera work, he did this almost obnoxiously with Birdman a film I did like. He does it again here, sometimes to great effect, sometimes to annoyance. The camera gets so close to the actors at times that their heavy breathing literally fogs up the lens of the camera. It takes you out of the experience and reminds you, this is a film....

...but what a film it is.

6 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
"One of them fellas is not what he says he is...", 21 December 2015
8/10

After a leaked script of Tarantino's next project, The Hateful Eight, he swore that he would not film it. Instead he did a live read and it got a lot of applause. This apparently gave him enough reason to shoot the film anyway...and in 70mm no less. With The Hateful Eight, Tarantino finally steps out of the revenge theme that has steered his career since Kill Bill. This is a welcomed change of pace, but he still succumbs to things that plague his recent output of films, mainly self indulgence and a lengthy running time.

A bounty hunter is travelling to Red Rock with his bounty, a woman by the name of Daisy. Along the way he encounters two men stuck in a blizzard and unenthusiastically gives them a lift. They reach shelter where there are other men shielding themselves from the freezing cold. Yet something seems odd, are these men really who they say they are? Is one of them lying? Will anyone make it out of this cabin alive? For the first time since Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino dives back into a little bit of mystery. In Reservoir Dogs, someone was a cop, here, we have no idea what it going on or who is who. This perfectly amps of the tension and in typical Tarantino fashion, he lets us stew in it for a really long time. It's not a Tarantino movie if there is not a long winded, yet well written and cool monologue that will undoubtedly end in blood shed. This film delivers that in spades as the blood does indeed shed and everyone has their chance to give a few quips here and there.

One thing Tarantino always seems to hit the nail on the head with is his casting. This film is no exception. Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Madsen, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Bruce Dern and Demian Bichir all play their roles perfectly well in this slow burner that feels more like a stage play than a film shot in 70mm. Tim Roth's character reminds me so much of a role that Christoph Waltz would play that it was hard NOT seeing Waltz in this film. Roth stands out in the crowd with a more exuberant character in line with Waltz's Dr. Schultz. Leigh is also on the bit eccentric side and deservedly should be recognized come awards season. Always being a fan of Kurt Russell it's nice to see him back in the Tarantino fold after Death Proof, which Russell was the best thing. Goggins is also a stand out, but if you've followed him enough than you'll know that this is not a surprise. He's always one of the best things about whatever he is in. Dern and Madsen aren't really given too much to do and Madsen in particular seems to be on auto-pilot. Not that the man gives great performances, but Tarantino usually gets a bit more out of his actors.

The opening shots of the winter landscape look glorious, of course. Then we are subjected to interior shots of people talking for almost the rest of the film. Which makes one wonder why bother shooting or even seeing this in 70mm. Tarantino has said that after he's done making movies he'd want to direct a stage play. So far, this is the closest he's gotten to it. Most of this film is merely interactions between people within a log cabin. The interactions are wonderful and show us the talent of Tarantino and those on the screen. Even at 2 hours and 47 minutes, the film never really feels like it drags in any parts. That was the biggest surprise to me. I felt engaged the entire time. Maybe on repeat viewings this will die down a bit, since most of the tension and suspense will be gone, but imagine the basement bar scene with Fassbender from Inglorious Basterds, only extended to a feature length film.

There are two sequences that took me out of the film and it's one thing that happens twice. Tarantino did the same thing with Inglorious Basterds, where random narration pops in to tell us exactly what we are seeing on the screen. Adding insult to injury...it's Tarantino himself narrating the events on the screen. I was confused more than anything. Why include this bit of storytelling randomly? If you want narration, give it at the start, not two random scenes, it makes no sense.

Tarantino falls back on his chapter storytelling element here. Much like Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds, the film is split up into chapters with scene headings. Also, like his other films it also includes flashbacks, this has become a staple in his films and I feel like his uses the same font every damn time. Again, like Django Unchained, the film contains a lot of racist remarks from the characters casually throwing around the n-word. Something that has become too common in his films. Small quibbles aside, The Hateful Eight is exactly what one would expect from Tarantino. It's violent, it's talkative and packs one hell of a cast. Hateful Eight finds itself in the middle road in Tarantino's resume, it's nowhere near his best, nor his worst.

2 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
"It's true. All of it. The Dark Side, the Jedi. They're real.", 19 December 2015
8/10

If there is one film that cannot and will not live up to the hype that surrounds it, it is this one right here. Much like Episode I: The Phantom Menace, there is simply too much riding on it and people will tear it down regardless and there are some people out there doing that right now. Some of their complaints are warranted, others are simply fan boys being idiots.

30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi things haven't been all peachy for our heroes. Luke Skywalker is currently in hiding, being the last remaining Jedi. Everyone is searching for him, the Resistance, led by his sister Leia and the First Order who have a powerful Sith on their side. With word that there is a clue on the planet Jakku leading to his whereabouts, everyone scrambles to find it.

Some of the biggest complaints about this film is how it closely resembles A New Hope. The similarities can be off putting at times and this is no doubt, Abrams and co simply giving us some fan service, but the film holds its own and it one entertaining thrill ride from start to finish. How closely does this film feel? We have secret information being stored in droids, who must find others to relay the information. We have an orphaned junk trader who lives on a desert planet being thrust into something she cannot handle, yet seems destined for greater things. A giant planet destroying death ray that has weaknesses that X-wing fighter pilots try to exploit and destroy. A villain who covers his face with a black mask while using a lightsaber and the force. A plan is set in motion to rescue someone being held on a ship and a few more little things here and there. Some people can chalk this up to an admirable homage to what started this whole thing, others will cry foul about unoriginal writing and rehashed plot points. Me? It didn't bother me too much. A few times I sat there thinking that I've seen this all before, but that did not stop my enjoyment of it.

Abrams has successfully rebooted two sci/fi franchises, some would say duelling franchises, but can't we all just have some fun? As a fan of the films growing up, he put on the screen what he thought we would want to see. For the most part, he succeeds. This is a film for the fans of the series. It sets up new characters well enough to want us to continue this adventure with them. Daisy Ridley's Rey, is a welcomed strong female addition to a series that lacked one. John Boyega plays Finn, a conflicted stormtrooper that just wants to do what is right. Oscar Isaac is the Resistance best pilot and he enjoys nothing more than being up in the sky. Those are our new faces of heroes. Joining them are the familiar faces of Ford's Solo and Fischer's Leia. Ford has the most screen time out of the returning cast members and his sharp tongue hasn't left him. He may be older, but he's still fighting the good fight, even if he doesn't want to. Fischer on the other hand seems stale. Her performance is one note and phoned in. Was she not happy with her lack of screen time? It didn't really feel like the same character to me.

Driver's villainous Kylo Ren is not like Vader. He's younger, more prone to violent mood swings and still hasn't grappled the full powers of the force. Yet he is a dangerous weapon and one to fear. Driver does well enough behind the mask, yet there are moments when I had a hard time taking him seriously when it was removed. I guess it's because I've seen him in too many comedies to fear the likes of his ugly mug.

Yes, the effects are great, this we all know. The story, while familiar is still engaging enough for us to care. I enjoyed the new characters and want to see their arcs progress. I want to know what is going to happen next and they do a good job of leaving us wanting more. The film isn't perfect, but it's a spectacle to see on the big screen for sure. Don't go in expecting the second coming of Chirst, go in being a kid again. See old friends and believing in the magic of movies again.


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