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402 reviews in total 
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Deadpool (2016)
10 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Irreverent, hilarious and ballsy. Just awesome., 12 February 2016

Kick-starting 2016's superhero season with a bang, this adults-only comic book adaptation is ballsy, irreverent and hilariously cheeky. Think a Kick-Ass flavoured X-men movie, but even filthier. Wisely opting to forgo the typical U.S. PG-13 rating the vast majority of blockbusters aim for (in order to widen their audience reach), Deadpool doubles down on its brain-splattering violence, vulgar jokes and disgusting potty mouth, all to great effect. There's also the unique tone to separate it from other comic-book flicks; not only is it subversive and amusingly juvenile, but it whole heartedly embraces its fourth-wall-breaking and meta humour roots. Wolverine and Hugh Jackman: beware. Screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick earn praise for more than just the snappy dialogue and pitch-perfect gags though, for they have crafted a franchise starter that evades the usual origin story pitfalls by messing with timelines and genre tropes. Working with a relatively low budget of $58m, debutant director Tim Miller puts every dollar to work to ensure the action sequences are inventive, exhilarating and high calibre, augmented with CGI as good as anything you'll see in the MCU or DCCU. None of this would be possible, however, if it wasn't for Ryan Reynolds. Having pushed for this film incessantly over the last seven years, Reynolds finally gets his wish to properly portray the smart-alec character he was born to play. After the debacle that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine – where his Merc with the Mouth was idiotically sidelined and silenced – Reynolds relishes the opportunity to finally give the titular antihero, and alter-ego Wade Wilson, the spotlight he deserves. The support is top notch too: Morena Baccarin is game for anything as Wilson's tough-as-nails fiancé, T.J. Miller gives good comedy relief, and Ed Skrein and Gina Carano are suitably nasty as the merciless villains. Holding absolutely nothing back, Deadpool is a rip-roaring movie that will have you squirming, cheering and laughing… possibly all at once.

7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
What a shame., 12 February 2016

Die-hard fans of the ridiculously good-looking Derek Zoolander and his so-hot-right-now supermodel buddy Hansel, brace yourself for disappointment. For this sequel is an almighty dud that tries its hardest to tarnish the hilariously silly awesomeness of the original. With more flat jokes and unintentional cringe-worthy moments than a typical Adam Sandler flick, this belated follow-up not only fails to recapture the idiotic glory of its predecessor but also struggles to muster more than the odd half-hearted giggle. Where the bone-headed jokes of the original were ripe for beer-assisted laughs, here they're stale, try-hardish and painfully unimaginative, relying too heavily on aping old gags instead of bringing Derek and Co. into 2016. Ben Stiller (as the eponymous male model), Owen Wilson (as the laconic stud Hansel) and Will Ferrell (as colourful megalomaniac Mugatu) commit 100% to their fan-favourite roles, yet their admirable efforts can't elevate the pedestrian script. There are cameos galore but majority of them are misplaced and forced – with a brief appearance by Sting offering the only glimmer of entertainment – whilst a bizarre CGI-face-replaced character is unfathomably pathetic and epitomises all that is wrong with this sequel. It doesn't quite reach the comedic lows of say Ted 2 or The Campaign, however Zoolander 2 is an embarrassingly weak movie that dissatisfies deeply.

Steve Jobs (2015)
Invigorating and engrossing., 5 February 2016

Considering last month featured The Revenant, The Hateful Eight and Spotlight, this quasi-biographical picture has snuck up out of nowhere to claim my first five-star rating of 2016. It shouldn't necessarily come as a surprise when you take into account the talent involved. From Aaron Sorkin penning the script, to Danny Boyle helming and Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet starring, the standing of cast and crew is firmly at genius level. Already bagging himself a Golden Globe, Sorkin's screenplay is as whippy, quippy and engaging as his very best work; his dialogue as clever as ever but with the snark and pretension dialled down in order to explore the psyche and emotional drive of a very complex human being. With each act following Jobs backstage before pivotal tech launches – Macintosh in 1984, the NeXT computer in 1988, and finally the iMac in 1998 – it seems on paper that Boyle doesn't have much to do except point his camera and let his all-star cast go to work. Yet much like Fincher was the perfect director to bring Sorkin's story of Zuckerberg to life, so too is Boyle ideal to flesh out this dramatically complicated tale on screen, employing all manner of techniques to build tension, plumb emotional depths and create a truly immersive experience. If it wasn't Leo's year, Fassbender would surely be frontrunner for the Oscar, delivering a powerhouse portrayal of a man whose towering brilliance was matched only by his enormous ego and ultra-difficult personality. If Jobs is the brains and attitude of the film then Joanna Hoffman – his long-time assistant both in profession and in life – is its beating heart. And in the capable hands of Winslet, Hoffman is a fiercely intelligent confidante that proves the saying that behind every great man is an even greater woman. Steve Jobs is an invigorating and engrossing peek inside the life of a unique and controversial figure in the tech industry, and already rates as one of 2016's greatest movies.

Spotlight (2015/I)
Captivating, insightful and gut-wrenching., 28 January 2016

This journalistic drama recounts a pivotal 12 months of an investigative research team from the Boston Globe, who uncovered decades of systematic abuse against children by the Catholic Church. With subject matter so infuriating and gut-wrenching, it would have been easy for writer-director Tom McCarthy to create a good versus evil arc and give the audience a clear-cut bad guy to despise and deplore. But McCarthy opts for a more intelligent route and keeps the individual offending priests faceless (barring one unsettling and revelatory scene), instead homing in on the atrocities committed by the institution. Unravelling like a journalistic thriller sans the glee, Spotlight is an insightful, methodical and utterly compelling film that provides a window not only into the earth-shattering monstrosities at its core, but also into the mechanics and minutiae of old-school reporting. Understanding that the interactions between the key players is critical to maintaining a level of reality in what would otherwise seem completely unbelievable (despite being true), McCarthy keeps his direction unflashy, allowing the high calibre cast to flourish. Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Brian d'Arcy James, Live Schreiber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci are all at the top of their games with fleshed out and layered performances that favour subtlety over grandstanding. Spotlight is a brilliantly told true story that captivates from beginning to end, deserving each of its six Academy Award nominations and a place on everybody's must-see list.

2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Tarantino is at it yet again., 22 January 2016

As Kurt Russell's bounty hunter meets Samuel L. Jackson's ex-military man on the snowy road to Red Rock, he warns him to slowly move forward, "molasses-like". Which is the perfect description for Quentin Tarantino's eighth motion picture. This is arguably the filmmaker's most languid flick, and at 167 minutes (the 70mm extended version lasting 187 minutes and including an intermission) the theatrical cut of this leisurely-paced western, which largely takes place in one room and a stagecoach, is a slow burning treat to be sure. Those with a high tolerance threshold for Tarantino's trademark pretentiousness are likely to enjoy on a much deeper level, as he pushes his (once again eminently quotable) dialogue to controversy-sparking extremes in purposely protracted conversations. That these prolonged scenes never bore are testament not only to QT's innate ability for razor sharp and uniquely-delivered dialogue, but also to his unsurpassed skill for producing memorable characters both on paper and, through his keen eye for casting, on the screen. The pick of the bunch is a four-way tie: Russell's John "the Hangman" Ruth is both tender and tough, Jackson's Major Warren is endearing and vicious, Walton Goggin's Sheriff Mannix is excitable and wormy, and Jennifer Jason Leigh (nominated for an Oscar) is rough as guts and just a little deranged as captured crim Daisy Domergue. As a once-proposed sequel to Django Unchained there's a similarity in tone and atmosphere to QT's previous movie, which is a small shame considering the usually drastic changes in setting and genre we have come to expect movie-to-movie. It's hard to complain about that too much though, especially when we're treated to Robert Richardson's sumptuous cinematography of a blizzard-encountering post-Civil War Wyoming and Ennio Morricone's Golden Globe-winning score that harks back to his classic spaghetti western scores of the 1960s. Sitting in the bottom half of his ridiculously impressive and consistent body of work, The Hateful Eight isn't the film that will garner Tarantino new fans, yet for everyone else this just another reason why the ultra-talented filmmaker is one of the finest of his generation.

Goosebumps (2015)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Not memorable, but great in-the-moment fun., 19 January 2016

Rather than adapting a single entry from the enormously popular book series, this film cleverly pays tribute to the novels by embarking on a new adventure that employs a plethora of R.L. Stine's monsters. New kid on the block Zach (Dylan Minnette) and geeky tag-along Champ (Ryan Lee) find their way into a kooky house with a mysterious bookshelf full of locked manuscripts, all of which belong to grumpy recluse R.L. Stine (Jack Black). After Zach and Champ inadvertently unlock a couple of the books, despite the best efforts of Stine's daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush), all hell breaks loose when Stine's collection of written nasties come to life. The plot itself is weak and the jokes are hit and miss, however this spooky yarn is more concerned about spending time with our quartet of heroes as they go into an urban battle against all manner of eerie enemies, à la Gremlins. There's the odd fright here and there to keep the younger audience members on their toes, but it's relatively tame even by PG standards. The main antagonist Slappy, a malevolent ventriloquist dummy, is wonderfully creepy though. The array of monsters on display – including a werewolf, giant ant, abominable snowman, evil clown, vampire poodle, devilish gnomes, ghouls and a haunted car – are predominantly realised in CGI, completed to a satisfactory standard without ever being amazing. Squarely focused on offering cheap thrills for pre-teens and post-toddlers, Goosebumps is an enjoyable in-the-moment escapade.

0 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Poignant, evocative and deeply rewarding., 12 January 2016

Backing up from last year's Oscar winning Birdman was always going to be challenging for director Alejandro González Iñárritu, but he's unleashed an almighty wallop of a film that surpasses his previous effort in every way. Tracking 1820's frontiersman Hugh Glass as he endeavours to survive against inhospitable natural elements, merciless Indians and treacherous allies, this intense saga explores how strong the human spirit can be, even in the face of certain death. It's not an easy viewing experience, with Iñárritu displaying Glass' compounding problems in lengthy, uncomfortable sequences that prioritise grim reality – in all its brutal detail – over a more palatable form of entertainment. It's a bold choice, but one that ultimately pays off; the meticulous visual presentation and stunning cinematography combining with the immersive sound design to create a raw adventure that is both horrific and beautiful. Iñárritu's persistence with long, unbroken tracking shots continues on from Birdman, however he has taken it up a notch here, capturing whole sequences – including a vicious bear attack and the heart-pounding opening battle – with jaw-dropping ingenuity. Portrayed with poignancy by Leonardo DiCaprio, Glass is a stoic survivor who pushes through his physical struggles and emotional turmoil with gritty determination and powerful inner strength. Golden Globe down, Oscar to go. For those willing to spend two and a half hours in the harsh wilderness on a ferocious journey, both physically and mentally, The Revenant is a deeply evocative and rewarding experience.

Inside Out (2015/I)
11 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
Gorgeous, emotional, intelligent and funny., 10 January 2016

Up there with the very best of Pixar, this clever family film is entertaining and affecting for everyone from young kiddies to grandparents. Centred on an 11-year-old girl's internal struggle between joy and sadness, with a bit of anger, fear and disgust thrown in for good measure, this gorgeously animated effort is sweet, smart and often hilarious. Anyone who manages not to be swept up in the bundle of melancholic sweetness of Sadness has a heart of stone. It took Pixar years to fully realise their physical interpretation of a human's inner workings, and the enormous amount of time, effort and thought they dedicated to it was worth every second.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Impressive action sequences let down by almost everything else., 4 January 2016

A Gen Z update to Kathryn Bigelow's 1991 cult classic, this remake is essentially an episode of Fast and Furious in which the vehicular exploits have been replaced with an assortment of extreme sports sequences. Constructed with an alarming amount of real footage and physical stunt work, the numerous action set pieces are rather impressive; a high octane wing-suit gliding scene and the tension-building rock climbing finale topping the list. Yet the impact of these daredevil stunts is wasted on a film that fails on almost every other level. Stemming from Kurt Wimmer's truly awful screenplay, every second not spent traversing a mountainside, soaring through the air or surfing a mammoth wave is cringe worthy and/or yawn inducing. Wimmer's dialogue attempts to be philosophical and Zen-like, but with clichéd stinkers like "the only law is gravity" and "everyone dies, it's just a matter of how", it's nothing short of unintentionally hilarious. Replacing the eternally cool Patrick Swayze was always going to be tough, however Edgar Ramirez does a solid job as charismatic eco-warrior Bohdi. The same can't be said for low-budget-Chris-Hemsworth hunk Luke Bracey though, who is so wooden as Johnny Utah he makes Keanu Reeves look like Daniel Day Lewis. This modern update boasts a handful of genuinely fantastic action sequences, yet they're not enough to warrant a recommendation in what is otherwise a limp and incoherent thriller.

4 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Lesser Pixar., 28 December 2015

Pixar's form has been mixed of late. For a long time they couldn't put a single foot wrong, yet in the last few years it seems that for every hit (Toy Story 3, Brave) there was a let down (Cars 2, Monsters University) just around the corner. Now, only a few months after the sublime Inside Out, comes this incredibly light and often meandering effort that lacks the wit and ingenuity present in most Pixar feature films. The movie follows an always-frightened Apatosaurus, Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), as he treks through the wilderness to return home, facing his fears and forming a bond with human "critter" Spot (Jack Bright) in the process. The premise is extremely basic even for a kid's flick, with the story offering very little in the way of surprises or originality. Disappointingly, the layer of adult-targeting amusement is absent and there's a dearth of humour in general. My God it looks amazing though. Boasting phenomenal CGI environments that blur the line between animation and real life, the photorealistic vistas partially compensate for the narrative blandness. The Good Dinosaur isn't a complete flop, but it sits squarely in the lowest tier of Pixar productions.

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