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Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
Another Good Film by Mel Gibson
Hacksaw Ridge is a really enjoyable but slightly cheesy film. It's split into two parts: the pre-war era when we get to know the characters, their upbringings and love interests, and the subsequent battle of Okinawa and Hacksaw Ridge, but it's only at the very end of the film that it truly gets going with Private Doss's amazing heroics, which were quite emotional to watch. Mel Gibson directed the finale very well.
It's a good addition to Mel Gibson's resume, but not quite his best picture because of its lack of grittiness (which is an odd thing to say considering the inclusion of extremely graphic scenes of dismembered limbs and spewing intestines). It was too awkward and self-conscious in places and could have done with less 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' fantastical heroics - being pulled along by the medic, on a blanket-on-wheels, fast enough to get away from the pursuing Japs, but steady enough to still rain down hell with a machine gun (even though his legs were riddled with bullets). Slightly ridiculous, and Full Metal Jacket or Saving Private Ryan this film is not, but it's still a good watch in a strangely gentleman-like way.
What Mel Gibson does really well is to paint the picture of the messiah, a true hero that everyone hates at first but comes to revere over time, and that's why I've rated this film an 8 instead of my initial 7, because of its stellar ending.
An enjoyable film which grabbed 95% of my attention, especially at the end. It's nice to learn new historical facts about WW2 battles and the people involved, so if you know nothing about Desmond Doss and his heroics, and enjoy war-time films with a dollop of moral pie, look up this film. Recommended.
The Hateful 8 (I mean 7) out of 10
Arrival wasn't what I was expecting and I understand how some people are rating it as a dud, but even though it played at quite a slow pace it was still engaging throughout and reminded me of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and other similar films.
The aliens invading earth scenario was a side-show to the past/future/present life of the lead character played by Amy Adams, which was a cheap trick actually to make a sedate film seem more interesting, and only really served to give the film more punch than similarly fantastical moral-dilemma films like Tree of Life or The Fountain, which failed even more than Arrival did. Arrival was much better than those, but not a sci-fi film in the traditional sense of the word.
Arrival is, however, a film you can watch a second or third time from an entirely different perspective because of what you didn't know at the beginning or during the film itself, and with retrospect it enables you to appreciate the acting and aspects of the film you'd overlooked before.
Even with retrospect, Arrival isn't a fantastic film because there isn't enough going on and there are too many repeat build-up scenes which makes it plod, but it's still a good watch for the patient viewer who likes to think about their material after the final curtain closes.
The haters are out in force though so this review is going to get '0 out of 10 people found this useful', I suspect. Then again, I think Solaris is a wonderful film, so what do I know?
I just don't care...
So there's a community of witches living in the woods who feed off baby's blood to keep themselves young (cheesy) and who get their instructions through a black billy-goat masquerading as the devil in the family shed? Really?
The dialogue was miserable and the acting not that good, regardless of what other people say.
There are some merits to this film, and it's definitely good enough to get a sarcastic review, but don't think this is going to be a gripping horror/thriller - it's not.
Getting back to the 'scintillating' plot; after being isolated, hungry and cut-off from the rest of society, the family end up accusing each other of evil, fighting in-house as to who's the most evil (you decide), culminating in the prettiest being the only survivor of the devil-induced family feud, serving the sole purpose of her having a warped enough mind to lead her into madness and willingly join the coven of witches in the woods.
I didn't see a flash of inspiration to suggest that the girl could be or become one of the witches, just that she ended up being one after all. It's nothing more than a mish-mash of rather unimaginatively implemented folk-tale ideas.
Hell or High Water (2016)
'Starred up' about this film
What a great film, I absolutely loved it.
The makings of a top quality film are how much you just sit there and enjoy it without getting distracted - a film that was as good, if not better, than No Country For Old Men - what a wonderful surprise, and the best film I've seen in several months.
With its sense of humour, subtlety, beauty, easy-listening music and very likable characters, and its excellent plot - a nothing of a film at first that went full circle and became very much something - I'd say it's easily one of the best films of 2016.
And this is the first time a director has taken Ben Foster's on-screen madness and turned it into something endearing and likable, instead of the crazy loon Ben Foster usually plays in films like Alpha Dog and 30 Days of Night. And the rest of the cast is impeccable, and I didn't even recognise 'Captain Kirk' until I checked the credits at the end.
What a wonderful piece of entertainment. I went to bed with a big smile of satisfaction on my face after watching this film.
Saul fia (2015)
I didn't feel the pain
I had to rack my brains on this 6/10 rating - I honestly didn't know where to rank the film. It was good enough not to be bad, if you know what I mean? The camera-work cheapened the entire film for me. Perhaps it was because of lack of financial budget, but filming everything in POV and blurring the background meant that we didn't get treated to a proper feature film and had to mostly use our imaginations for what was going on in the background. Frankly, I found it quite tiresome. It reminded me a little bit of a Lars von Trier film in its sense of hopelessness. bit without the spiky twist.
I'm sorry my negative attitude towards this film - it wasn't awful at all, but the 'plot' wasn't interesting enough to hold an entire film. As an onlooker, I could sense right at the beginning that the boy wasn't Saul's real son, through his lack of reaction to the suffocation scene, so I had to work out for myself that Saul was obviously totally desensitised and quite deranged.
Again, I have to admit how sorry I am for wanting more entertainment from this film, and not getting it. I feel a huge compassion for all the people involved in the real-life horror of concentration camp Nazi Germany, especially as a father myself and the thought of losing my own family in this way, but this still doesn't make the film an entertaining viewing experience, even for the sick kicks I was looking for.
I need something more visual and spectacular I'm afraid, like Schindler's List or The Pianist.
And perhaps this film deserves a second or third viewing to fully appreciate its horrors, but do you really want to watch it again?
Hits hard, perhaps too hard, but nothing wrong with that...
I'm guessing the low 6.2 overall rating for this film is due to the amount of 'unnecessary' violence which turned some people off, but if you're looking for an invigorating and hard-punching British gang/police flick, look no further... it's a very enjoyable film.
The main issue is the film's degree of realism, and would this plausibly happen in real life? The answer is yes, it's very plausible in an exaggerated sort of way, with only a few plot-holes to keep the pace moving.
I'm also guessing the stereotypical Albanian hit-man and his bad-fitting track suit combination could make a few people reel away from this film - it adds nothing new, granted, but if you like violent British films like 'Starred Up' or 'This Is England', you're equally going to like this.
It's seedy, mildly depressing, bleak, hopeless, very violent, graphic... extremely hard-hitting - what's not to like about this film if you enjoy the genre? A heads-up if you've been put off by the negative reviews. Recommended.
The Guest (2014)
Comedy is not the same as comical
It's pretty obvious reading through the latest comments for this film that there's a group of people voting against negative reviews, and upvoting everything positive. So be it. But that's why it's necessary to write this review; not to slate the film as rubbish, but to give a balanced opinion.
My rating went from 8 down to 5 as the film progressed. Why? Because the first 45 minutes were almost excellent - a tense, edgy, sexy and very enjoyable film. And most of all, entirely plausible, but the remainder of the film descended into pastiche... and the final 20 minutes were almost unwatchable.
Some people will say it was the Director's intention to turn a very serious movie into a parody without any warning, making it retro and throwback to the 80s, but that's not what the director had in mind, I assure you. The script or storytelling simply ran out, and the film turned into a trashy A-team or 70s kung-fu movie. Quite bizarre, and not in an intentionally bizarre, twisted, strange way, like Mulholland Drive for example, but in a rubbishy lack of content sort of way.
Shall I go into some of things that really bothered me, like the squad of inept, but fully armed and armoured military police, who actually machine gunned through the bed the protagonist was hiding under, only for him to roll out and shoot the assailant with his pistol. And a heavy calibre machine gun totted from the back of the truck, riddling the entire house with bullets across several rooms while the 'hero' chats to the 'mom' on the kitchen floor...
I don't want to go into the film's flaws in too much detail, just to reiterate my disappointment at turning a very good film into a progressively bad film through inept directing and storytelling. What happened to the director half-way through this film? Did he feel as though he'd already done enough? I don't understand how this film transformed into two such distinct halves - really good / really bad.
There you have it. Worth a watch and quite entertaining, and still worth a 5/10, but don't listen to the 8/9/10/10 people out there, or even the 1/10 people. The film isn't THAT bad, just badly ruined in the second half.
John Wick (2014)
Worth a watch but pointless and exasperating
I found the film increasingly predictable and tedious as it went along, but it was still worth a watch in a noire/surreal sort of way, just to see what sort of stunts the director would pull off, but these comments are posted just to let you know that John Wick isn't half as good as it should or could have been.
The film didn't quite work. It didn't have enough tongue-in-cheek ridiculousness in it to classify it in the same breath as Kill Bill, and there wasn't enough technical believability to make it into a valid Matrix clone.
The film seemed to be centred around Wick (Neo) being the 'one' and having some sort of super power that made him bigger/better/faster than everyone else, but whereas I could believe that in other films, I couldn't believe it here. All he did was brood! Keanu Reeves didn't even look the part, nor tough enough, nor capable of half the things he did.
It was too far-fetched to be enjoyable, and even though credit goes out to the director for knowing the film was too far-fetched and playing to those strengths, but it wasn't original, cheeky or tongue-in-check enough to make it shine as anything other than an average and unrealistic Rambo/Commando type of action flick. Even the Russian gangsters were corny and clichéd.
We've seen it all before, and if you want to make a ridiculous film like this work then you have to approach it in a completely OTT manner like Kick-Ass! Here they kicked Russian butt and kicked it some more, and it was ridiculous, and please remind me why John Wick even did it? Something to do with a puppy from his dead wife being killed and having interrupted the grieving process.
In the end it mildly insulted my intelligence in a Fast-and-the-Furious sort of way, but I'm still giving it 6/10 for its valiant attempt.
What a strange film! I've seen some great war films and some dire ones, but also some strange ones too, just like this. And what to make of it? Some of the battle scenes were pretty good, especially the battle against the German Panza tank, which was directed quite well, but other battle scenes were bonkers unrealistic. The final battle was ridiculous. Will someone please fire one of those RPG/Bazooka shells out of the box? Will you stop rushing the tank with bayonets, for God's sake, and so on... And then the lad escaping through the lower hatch, getting detected and not being rooted out, punched to little bits and killed by the mad angry Germans who had just lost an entire battalion. I don't know why film directors sometimes treat their audiences like wozacks, but this one did in droves.
There were some really good bits though. All the soldiers looked battle-hardened and up for it. The scenery was great, as well as the costumes and other effects being very realistic, but then we're treated to the clichés, the odd scenes of potentially-about-to-be-raped German girl falling in love with the boy soldier because he plays piano music and beds her very nicely, I guess, and all the other bizarre scenes and other bits taken from Saving Private Ryan, but not done too well, I guess we've got to take it with a pinch of salt. And see the humour in it.
And then, the bizarre cinematography, switching between a boys face, an overhead burning tank, the boys face again, and so on... much like a TV sitcom, badly switching in and out due to lack of camera panning options. It felt really cheap and badly done. It bemused me. And not forgetting the Star Wars laser fire, with streams of pink and blue light emitting from various gun emplacements and entrenched battlements. So weird.
The final battle scene should have been a parody, much like the German war propaganda featurette involving the sniper, from Inglorious Basterds, but this isn't a Tarantino film, but dead serious! And when all the Germans regularly fire and miss, even at close range... forget it, it's not worth your money, time, etc.
The overall ratings for 'Fury' are obviously rigged, because this film isn't anywhere near a 7.6 out of 10. But it's still quite entertaining, sometimes in a Battlefield Earth, so awful it's quite good sort of way.
It just wasn't a very exciting film.
It's not that I didn't like it or watch it all the way through, except that by the time the final credits rolled I was at my least emotional point. I didn't care for it. The guy suffered in various ways, through being shot down in a plane and losing most of his mates, being stranded on a raft for 45 days, abused in prison for an extended period of time, and then abused even more in an even worse prison - and then the film ended and we're supposed to feel what, exactly? Elated, by the Coldplay song? I felt flat, that's all. It should have been called 'Misery' by Stephen King.
It's war. Some people get captured, wounded or killed. But above all, it's pretty miserable!
I'm not going to write a long review because I didn't get emotionally hooked into it. It was on a par with any standard POW movie, like Stalag 17 from 1953, for example, but without any of the camaraderie, subtle humour and hope.
It had all the ingredients of a really good film, but wasn't.