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You're Next (2011)
Awful awful awful....
7.1 points on IMDb? You gotta be kidding me! This can only be down to the 'teenage' factor (check any reviews containing the word 'awesome').
Did I say awful? It's probably even worse than that. I walked out 20 minutes before the end because I simply couldn't stand another moment. I had the entire screening to myself, too, which must say something about a reputation that I somehow missed. And the high score on IMDb suckered me in.
Every horror movie cliché is here. Thought they'd all been played to death? Well, someone thought they were worth another spin. On top of that, there were all the usual 'That would be the stupidest thing to do - so let's do it' moments. And as if all that wasn't bad enough, it was filmed with a hand-held camera, which made me feel queasier than the gore scenes. Those, too, were unoriginal. It almost felt like a send-up. But it took itself far too seriously for that.
How does stuff like this get the green light? How does it get funding? How bad does your career have to be that you are forced to 'act' in garbage like this?
Okay. You get the picture by now. Have some respect for your own intelligence and discernment.
Give it a miss.
Denzel does it good...
This isn't a film about a plane crash. This is a film about addiction: the horrors, the lies, the regrets, the distortions, the destruction. And Denzel does it so, so well. Take it from an addict who's been there and who knows.
The symbolism at the heart of the film is at once obvious and profoundly convincing. The plane represents Whip's life, and the passengers are the people he takes with him on that journey to his literal and metaphorical rock bottom. Most survive - but a few die. Such is the life of every addict.
Ultimately, it is the story of redemption following acceptance. That acceptance leads to physical incarceration - but it also leads to freedom of the most important kind: freedom from guilt. The freedom that only comes through honesty and a form of spiritual awakening.
'Who are you?' That's the question asked at the end - the question that the movie sets out to explore and answer. It's the question all addicts - if they survive long enough to embrace recovery - eventually have to ask themselves.
I'm so pleased to have seen this film. It's renewed my own sense of purpose in recovery.
The message of the film is very powerful. It gives me hope.
Well done to all concerned - but especially to Denzel. Here's an actor who knows his stuff.
Olympus Has Fallen (2013)
I don't get it. This guy's delivered us some pretty decent movies in the past. 'Tears of the Sun', 'Training Day', 'Brooklyn's Finest', 'Shooter'.
So, what's happened here? Admittedly, he was hamstrung with a dire, puerile script. But why get involved in the first place? The same goes for the actors. Aaron Eckhart was saying he'd like to be more famous, to have more control over his film choices. I can see why. Anything to get out of doing something this bad. Not even Morgan Freeman can bring the film any much-needed gravitas, even though he's the best actor here.
People talk about the depth of characterisation. Pardon? There wasn't a single believable character in the entire film. They were all cardboard cut-outs and stereotypes.
In all, this was little more than a two-hour computer game. No... it wasn't even that. At least with a computer game, you get a sense of narrative. You also have some control over the outcome. This just hobbled along from one CGI, blood-and-guts set piece to the next with tedious predictability. It was like watching an episode of 'Thunderbirds', though without the tension and intelligence.
If it's meant as a propaganda piece on the prevailing nature of American might and spirit, it fails abysmally. In fact, King Jong Un will be mightily reassured. On the basis of this, America will be a walkover for him.
A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
Is this one of the dumbest movies ever made? Possibly. 'Armageddon' was close. That had something, though.
This had nothing. Nothing at all. Not even the jokes were up to scratch. All the car smashes and shoot 'em ups and explosions - they've all been seen and done before. The plot was as thin as Bruce's hairline, and the script seemed like it was cobbled together by a bunch of teenagers. The whole thing was simply, absolutely awful.
My local cinema is great. Independently-owned, with a massive main screen and excellent coffee. In a challenge to the local multiplex, all their weekday seats are £2.50. That must make it one of the cheapest cinemas in the country. Even so... I felt like I'd been over-charged and short-changed on this occasion.
Wait 'til it comes out on DVD. Then don't buy it.
Simple as that.
Taken 2 (2012)
Taken 2 the cleaners...
That's what it felt like after I'd watched less than half an hour of this risible nonsense. The first one was bad enough, but for some reason I was drawn back for more. The vague expectation, perhaps, that there might be an improvement here. Sadly, no. If anything, it was worse.
Where do I start? Teenager script, 1-dimensional characterisation, clunky acting, clichéd action scenes... says it all, really.
I usually get narked with people who talk and text in the cinema, and there was more than the usual share of both at the showing I went to. But I couldn't blame these people. It got to the point where anything - even checking the latest FaceBook updates - offered a more interesting and rewarding way to spend the evening.
Why does Liam Neeson do it? Surely he doesn't need the money?
Don't get 'taken' like I did. Save a couple of precious hours of your life. Go do some Tweeting or something.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The Dark Knight Rises.... but not very high
I can sum up my view of the film in 3 words: long, disjointed, disappointing. Don't get me wrong - I think Christopher Nolan is without doubt one of the cleverest and most imaginative film-makers in the mainstream industry. This is more a case of franchise fatigue than anything else. Batman Begins was superb: a truly great and rewarding superhero movie which took us away from the previous comic-book adaptations with an intelligence and character depth not seen before. The Dark Knight - the central performances aside - fell a long way short of that initial promise. The Dark Knight Rises takes it up a few notches again... but that's all.
Part of the problem, for me, is that Nolan over-complicates what is, on paper, a very basic story. Too many layers, too many build-ups that don't pay off. And although Anne Hathaway is both a good actress and a gorgeous screen presence - just what, really, was the point of the whole 'Catwoman' part of the film? I don't feel that it added very much. If anything, it over-burdened what was already a cumbersome plot. At one point, just about half-way through, I heard the chap next to me whisper to his partner 'Do you know what's going on?' It seems she didn't, really. If they'd then both turned to me for an answer, I couldn't have given one - and I managed to follow Inception without too many problems.
I gave up trying to follow the plot around this time and just concentrated on the action, of which there was a decent amount - though with long, meandering, haunch-aching gaps in between. Some of that, too, was disappointing. Some of the fight sequences - especially between Batman and Bane - felt really heavily stage-managed: carefully choreographed moves with little hint of spontaneity. It IS all choreographed, of course. The point is, it's not supposed to be obvious.
One further thing that spoiled it for me: it doesn't help if one of your main characters wears a chunky mask over his nose and mouth for the whole movie. The sound quality of the cinema where I saw this was excellent. Even so, many of Tom Hardy's lines were muffled and incoherent. It rather detracted from the invincible image he was supposed to be presenting - like Mussolini giving an address with a handkerchief stuffed in his mouth.
Christian Bale gave his best, as usual. But even with him, there was a sense of his becoming jaded with the whole thing - like he'd played it for all it was worth, and there really wasn't much more to add.
Christopher Nolan has said that he has no plans to take the story any further. So, this looks like being the end. I hate to have to say it, but it's probably not before time.
What's the matter with me? Haven't I learnt by now that whenever the name Luc Besson is connected in any way with a film it's the same as seeing Simon Cowell listed on the credits of some new singer's CD. I guess I'm just always too prepared to give someone the benefit of the doubt.
It's difficult to muster very much to say about this heap of excrescence. It's probably one of the worst films I've seen for many years. Feeble plot, lousy script, a huge bunch of sci-fi/action movie clichés and a cast of clowns - Guy Pearce aside, who made a pretty good job of the sardonic hero with the smart one-liners. His part of the script was the exception. Maybe it was written by someone else. Or maybe he improvised it. It certainly needed it.
The other stupid thing was all the inconsistencies with technology and references. This is supposed to be nearly 80 years in the future, yet they're still using 1990's street slang. They've got space suits advanced enough to withstand re-entry into the earth's atmosphere (and once in, you just pop 'em off and parachute to a nice soft landing), but they still suffer reception problems with the mobile phones that they apparently still use. You'd think that someone with half an imagination might have been able to come up with, oh I don't know... telepathy or something by this time.
Still... the evening wasn't entirely wasted. The Avengers trailer, which preceded Lockout, was good. I should have left after that, really. 1 out of 10.
The Woman in Black (2012)
Harry Potter and The Woman in Black
What else did I expect, really? The 12a Certificate guaranteed that the auditorium was full of giggly, squealy kids, all taking precious time out from checking their texts to sigh 'Oh my God!' and other suchlike things over 'all-growed-up-Harry-Potter' Daniel Radcliffe.
Not that it spoilt the film much. As has been pointed out, the acting was wooden, the 'jump' bits were all so clichéd that you could see them coming a mile off, the structure was a shambles... and it was boring to boot.
Even the always-interesting Ciaran Hinds was out of place.
The upsides? The cinematography was good, the direction was competent, and the Gothic atmosphere was convincingly created.
It was just a shame that the story and characters weren't a match for them.
2 out of 10
Horrible Bosses (2011)
Gosh... I really don't know what to say...
7.1 out of 10 rating on IMDb.
Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Donald Sutherland.
Gotta be good, eh? I'm baffled. I've never been so dumb-founded in my life. I thought even 'The Hangover' had its moments.
But this? I mean... what the hell is it? Why did it cost that much? Why did those actors allow themselves to take part? Do any of them need the money this desperately? Was it really worth destroying their dignity for the sake of this? They say give a group of chimps some typewriters and enough time and they'll come up with the complete works of Shakespeare. Well... this is what happens when you give a word-processor to a teenager who thinks culture is something you find in yogurt (especially if bought from McDonald's) and the fart joke is the high end of the hilarity scale. (Actually, 3 teenagers. 3 people to write this?)
No... it's not very good. 'nuff said, I guess.
The Tunnel (2011)
Firstly, I admit to not being a big fan of the 'found footage' genre. There have been high points - Blair Witch, Trollhunter, Cloverfield - but the over-hyped dross of stuff like the PA franchise and Apollo 18 has always brought the average way down for me.
This is quite different. The production values are high, the acting is excellent, the script is good - and the sense of terror they all serve to evoke is genuine and palpable. For once, it wasn't difficult to suspend disbelief in a horror film. In fact, I found it all so plausible that I almost became convinced that this WAS the real thing.
The big mystery, though, is... why has it only got a 6 rating on IMDb? It's certainly worth a 10 from me.