Ma

Definitely falls into the category “So bad it’s good”

I haven’t lost my marbles, I know Ma is terrible but it’s also a little bit hilarious and it’s got Octavia Spencer as the severely unhinged Ma so you could do worse. We’re in a bit of a lull period at the moment and sure you can go see this month’s mediocre blockbusters Godzilla 2 or Dark Phoenix or see a mediocre horror/thriller/doesn’t really know what genre it wants to be and see Ma instead.

Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer) is a bit of a loner, a little bit strange but when asked by a group of teenagers to buy them alcohol not only does she help them but she gives them a chance to drink in the “safety” of her basement. This quickly becomes the new hotspot for all the local teenagers to party and drink and Ma is loving the attention and new friends, and that’s right around the time her behaviour starts to become a tad bit obsessive and erratic which then starts to descend into psychotic, batshit crazy and roll credits. I would expect nothing less of Octavia Spencer, she brings her A game to a film with a generic and predictable plot and I can’t say the same for anyone else. Ma is only mildly better than your average painfully annoying teenager horror flick (Truth or Dare & Unfriended immediately spring to mind) and honestly that’s only down to Spencer’s performance. She single-handedly carries this movie into watchable territory so at least I came out of Ma not feeling like I wasted the last hour and a half. Another bonus is Luke Evans and Allison Janney, in what is essentially a cameo role, I’m not sure why they’re even in this film to be honest but hey I’m not complaining. The film itself does not offer anything new into the horror/thriller genre. It’s painfully dull at times but for some of you it should give you a few laughs for all the wrong reasons. Recommended for the horror fans who have nothing else to see at the moment.

★★★☆☆

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Rocketman

The musical biopics are still going strong, with the immense success of Bohemian Rhapsody it’s no surprise Elton John has hopped on the bandwagon and this is just the beginning. Give it a few more years and there’ll be a biopic for every major artist, wait for it. I’ve nothing against these fairy tale biopics, though it would be nice to have a few documentaries to go along with it. We know a lot of Bohemian Rhapsody was made up or at the very least a lot of the more risky aspects of Freddie Mercury’s life were either downplayed or left out completely. Although Rocketman doesn’t hold back in many ways it also appears to be a work of fiction, entertaining yes but accurate? I doubt it.

You can let that bother you or you can just make the decision to get over it and accept what Rocketman has to offer. I didn’t believe half of it but it’s still very entertaining, for me it wasn’t quite as enjoyable as Bohemian Rhapsody (Yes I loved Bohemian Rhapsody, get over it) but Rocketman plays a lot more like a musical, a fact I did not know beforehand so I was surprised when the entire ensemble breaks into full musical numbers at every opportunity. Once the shock of that is over you eventually come to expect this every fifteen minutes or so. Dexter Fletcher did well to take on Bohemian Rhapsody and he was the perfect choice to direct Rocketman. It’s also not just about the song writing process but uses as many songs as possible to move the plot along, it’s very much incorporated into the film and it works because who doesn’t love a bit of Elton John? One thing is certain, Taron Egerton knocks it out of the park. I was more than sceptical when I heard he was using his real voice and not miming but those fears melted away very quickly and no doubt they’ll be some Oscar buzz around his performance next year. Or at the very least they should be sure to give a nomination to the fabulous costumes, some of which are used for only a moment, I can’t imagine all the work that went into that. The musical biopics will always do very well because of one simple reason, the music. Queen, Elton John, choose the right artist or band and as long as you have a director who knows what he’s doing, a cast who are passionate about the project then there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be a massive success. Recommended for all the Elton fans.

★★★☆☆

Aladdin

I really need to stop seeing these live action remakes, I’m only torturing myself

Alright Disney you got it right with The Jungle Book, well done it made a bucket load of money and now you just can’t stop can you? It’s like an addition, Beauty and the Beast was fine but it was still just a shot for shot remake, Dumbo was not fine and it was somehow worse than a shot for shot remake and now the Disney remake parade continues with yet another classic Aladdin. Remaking a movie into live action almost shot for shot, what is the point? I mean I know its Disney and it’s for kids and all that jazz but honestly is it too much to ask for something a little less PG. What has it added? Nothing, sure it looks pretty, the costumes and the set pieces are fantastic but it’s not better, it’s nowhere near better. Re-release the original animation for the kiddies and remake something a little different for everyone else and not just a bunch of fluff. Aladdin 2019 is painful, specifically the singing, the singing is a cringe inducing auto-tuned, failed attempt to recreate something magical.

I’m just going to go ahead and presume you’ve all seen the original animated version, it’s the same story again only more dragged out. The lovable street rat Aladdin (Mena Massoud) finds a magic lamp containing a Genie (Will Smith) and cue wishes, songs and a magic carpet. Also featuring Jasmine (Naomi Scott) who not only has more lines but her own song too yey! And Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) who I’m sorry is so bland he manages to be upstaged by a CGI carpet. Aladdin should not have been remade, the result is bland and unnecessary. That isn’t just because of Robin Williams although that is a major part of it. Williams as the Genie is a universally loved performance, it’s iconic and it’s hilarious so Will Smith had some big shoes to fill. Is he terrible? No, he’s honestly the best thing about this remake. He put his own stamp on it and does his very best to add comedy as much as he can. It doesn’t always work but he’s trying his best. He certainly looks like he’s having a good time and I can’t really say that about anyone else.

There’s only one way to stop this laziness of Disney remaking their entire back catalogue because it must be too much trouble to pick up a book and make something original for a change. I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again if we stop seeing them they’ll stop making them yet Dumbo is still in the box office top ten and why should Aladdin be any different? I know a losing battle when I see one. Aladdin is going to dominate for the next few weeks because a film aimed at children and suitable for all ages will always make its money back and then some. Recommended for the die-hard Disney fans or anyone wanting to entertain their kids for a couple of hours for everyone else Aladdin is a definite skippable movie.

★★☆☆☆

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

And the award for most broken glass in a motion picture goes to John Wick 3

Picking up very soon after John Wick Chapter 2 and John (Keanu Reeves) for anyone not familiar with this franchise, is on the run, excommunicado from the elite hitman’s guild and with a $14 million bounty on his head he is on absolutely everyone’s hit-list. What else do I have to say? You know what you’re getting with a John Wick movie and if you don’t have you been living under a rock? Get ready for the most over the top action movie you can handle. Mission Impossible and James Bond are one thing, they’ve got rules but John Wick has no rules, it’s all about the entertainment factor. John Wick, the legendary assassin who once killed a man with a pencil is back to kill even more people in more creative ways possible so settle down for 130 minutes of adrenaline fuelled madness.

And he’s back, more guns, more fights, more dogs, more blood, more everything. I remember seeing the first John Wick in the cinema, not expecting anything more than a generic action flick but it went beyond that. A simple revenge driven plot, with fight scenes expertly choreographed and filled to the brim with bone crunching action. And now with two more movies under his belt, John Wick is the franchise that keeps on giving. Endless ultra-violent fight scenes that will have you squirming in your seat. Everything so clear you don’t miss a thing, I can’t tell you how many action movies are ruined by bad camera work. Shaky-cam particularly to hide the violence, normally in favour of getting a lower age rating yes I’m looking at you Bourne 5. As soon as this happens I immediately lose interest but the John Wick franchise has raised the bar and increases the stakes with every movie. John Wick Chapter 3 brings everything to a new level. You don’t go to a John Wick movie for the acting, or the plausibility, for one thing a lot of the characters appear to be bullet proof, knife proof, sword proof. They’re borderline cartoon characters at this point but do we care? Hell no! We came to see Keanu Reeves kick ass and he certainly doesn’t disappoint. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but it’s everything a great action film should be and more because it’s Keanu Reeves that’s why. If I’m going to bother ranking these films I’d put John Wick Chapter 3 as not quite as good as the first one but better than the second. Highly recommended for all you Keanu fans out there.

★★★★☆

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Do yourself a favour and see this in a cinema

The rising obsession with true crime stories continues, now in the form of a movie starring none other than Zac Efron as the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is told from the point of view of Ted’s long term girlfriend Liz Kendall (Lily Collins). You’ve seen the documentary and maybe you even read one of the many books on America’s most notorious serial killer. Well I have anyway so I had a certain expectation for Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile and other than the title being unnecessarily long (it’s a direct quote from the judge but honestly it would have been easier to just call it Bundy) I felt this told the story in the best way possible.

It’s no secret that I would not have rated Efron much as an actor, The Greatest Showman and High School Musical was enough for me to steer clear of his movies so when he was initially cast as Bundy I had more than a few doubts. Yet when the set photos started emerging I felt hey not only does he look the part but he might just surprise us all and that’s exactly what happened. Bundy was a monster and Efron became that monster before our very eyes, his performance is so accurate it’s scary. I forgot I was even watching Zac Efron to be honest so Zac I’m sorry I doubted your acting abilities, I was wrong. He has received a bit of grief for taking on this role but the real Ted Bundy was charismatic, a charmer and well liked guy. So many people, particularly women just couldn’t imagine him committing these horrific crimes because you expect a killer to look like a killer, you imagine a monster and to a lot of people Bundy didn’t fit. Efron does bare an uncanny resemblance to Bundy and he went all in, and I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision to take on this role, most actors wouldn’t be rushing out to play a role like this. Credit where it’s due, his portrayal of Bundy is chilling.

It would have been very easy for this film to fall into the trap of a typical serial killer movie, but it doesn’t. In fact there’s very little graphic violence, there’s references particularly during the court case but we’re not seeing it which was the right decision. The crimes themselves are enough to give anyone nightmares and seeing it on the big screen would be insensitive to all his victims. I don’t feel Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile could have been told any better than this. It follows Liz, when she first meets Ted, falls in love with him, and becomes caught up and blindsided by his lies. We only start to learn the details of his crimes as she learns them. Though considering a lot of this is condensed for a film length if you’re looking for something with more content then the documentary might be more suited to your tastes, that is if you haven’t watched it already. Recommended for all you true crime fans out there.

★★★★☆

Dragged Across Concrete

If the sound of someone chewing sends you over the edge then maybe give this one a miss

Brett (Mel Gibson) and Anthony (Vince Vaughan), two hard and gritty police detectives get suspended when a video of their unconventional methods appears all over the internet. Short on cash and fed up with their treatment for doing their job they take an opportunity to earn some extra money and end up involved in the criminal underworld in order to get what they feel they deserve.

I really liked the idea for this film I just wasn’t happy with the execution. The pacing was much too slow. I wanted the tension to build the whole time and although there was a lot I liked about this film I just didn’t feel like it came together. It really felt like it wanted to take on more issues and subplots so perhaps a mini-series would have suited this story better. I just couldn’t get invested in the story because every time I did something else happened that just killed the atmosphere. It also isn’t afraid to hold back on the violence without being uber-violent for the sake of it. Another issue that I couldn’t get over was the fact that the sound effects were cranked up to one hundred. At one point Vince Vaughan eating a sandwich for what felt like an eternity was driving me absolutely insane, I just wanted to run out of the screen and not come back. And yes I understand why this was happening, two detectives on a stake out, they’re going to be getting on each other’s nerves and we’re supposed to feel this too but it was pushing me over the edge. Whether these extra loud sound effects was done on purpose to create a more gritty feel to it or it was a genuine mistake, either way it wasn’t working for me, it started off quite funny but quickly moved to annoying and eventually infuriating. The story and the acting was there, Gibson and Vaughan make a convincing pair though I really found it hard to empathize with their characters so I really wasn’t rooting for anyone in this film, honestly I was glad when it finally ended. If this is your first time with Director S. Craig Zahler then I wouldn’t recommend you start with Dragged Across Concrete, perhaps try Brawl in Cellblock 99 and go from there. Recommended for fans of the director’s previous films.

★★★☆☆

Avengers: Endgame

22 movies, over 10 years in the making and we’ve finally reached the Endgame

A film that really needs no introduction, all us superhero fans have been waiting for this moment for so long and it’s finally here. I still remember seeing the first Iron Man movie in the cinema and I never would have thought it would bring us here. As always this is a spoiler free review but I do recommend avoiding all reviews until you’ve seen Avengers: Endgame for yourself. Honestly you should avoid all reviews and social media in general because not all of us are adhering to the #DontSpoilTheEndgame request by the Russo Brothers. So if you’re the type of person who would intentionally spoil a film like this for someone else you’re the type of person who deserves to be wiped out with a single snap of the fingers.

Set immediately after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, the universe is trying to come to terms with the devastating effects after half of the universe have been wiped out. The remaining Avengers are determined to do whatever it takes to try and undo Thano’s actions. I wouldn’t be a huge fan of all the Marvel movies, Age of Ultron and Civil War for me had a lot of problems yet what saved them was the characters and what drives Endgame is the characters we’ve come to know and love over this long journey. I loved Endgame, my heart was racing, I was on the edge of my seat. All the previous films have led up to this moment and no time is wasted diving straight in. With a three hour running time it’s not the type of film you want to buy a giant bucket of coke for unless you’re prepared to leave the cinema to use the bathroom, because don’t let these so called online bathroom guides fool you, there is no part of Endgame worth missing. I can’t speak for everyone but those were the quickest three hours of my life. Despite that I did feel a certain few characters were not given the screen time they maybe deserved, though I understand it would be difficult to give everyone their moment with a cast this big, even with the lengthy running time it just isn’t possible. Though maybe we could have done with a little less of the Hulk eating lunch and a little more Okoye, whatever I’ll get over it.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll cheer along with the film. There’s nothing better than being in a packed cinema screen with die-hard fans of the franchise. A spectacular cinematic achievement with a very satisfying ending. A real sense of closure, yes that means no post credits scene so feel free to make a mad dash for the bathroom if you’re not a blubbering mess by the end.

It may go without saying but yes you really do have to have seen most of the other Avenger movies, if you haven’t you really won’t get much out of Endgame. Highly recommended but honestly I don’t need to recommend this one do I? You’ve already seen it, it’s made over 1 billion on it’s opening weekend and will continue to break all the records.

★★★★☆

Hellboy

hellboy

The Best Worst movie you’ll see all year

To all you movie buffs out there who just love a movie so terrible it’s good, well then buckle up for the best worst film of 2019 because I don’t see anything else threatening that title this year. So leave your brain at home, get your massive bucket of popcorn and coke, sit back and enjoy this entertaining rubbish.

Open with a huge exposition piece narrated by Ian McShane, King Arthur uses Excalibur to destroy The Blood Queen, Nimue (Milla Jovovich) and scatter her body across the corners of the land so she doesn’t come back and unleash a deadly virus that will destroy mankind. Fast forward to modern-day and Hellboy (David Harbour) is working with the B.P.R.D. to make sure Nimue isn’t pieced back together by a hog like beast and take her revenge. Maybe early on the development of this adaptation of Hellboy they realised it was going to be terrible so the decided to go fill on with everything. The violence is ramped up to the max, the script is hilariously terrible. There’s only one sequence that really worked for me, featuring a grotesque witch Baba Yaga, this scene shifts the tone of the whole film away from cartoonish comic book violence to dark and horrifying and then moments later Hellboy is back with the fairies and all other madness.

I’ll give it one thing, I was never bored. But don’t get me wrong, this Hellboy remake is awful, it could not be more of a mess but despite that I was still entertained. What it lacks in almost everything, it makes up for in pure violent enjoyment. I was part of the group that wanted one more Hellboy movie from Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman, just one more, finish the story and then reboot the whole thing. Well that didn’t happen and the whole thing has been remade because that’s all that ever happens now and the result is interesting to say the least. I feel Hellboy was always going to suffer without del Toro but with new director Neil Marshall who has made Dog Soldiers and The Descent I thought hey maybe this guy knows what he’s doing. I’m not quite sure who to blame, him or the writer, it’s someones fault so one of you has to take the blame. I’ve never read the Hellboy comics but from I’ve heard this film does them no justice. Which is a real shame because I love the idea of Hellboy, I loved the first adaptation by del Toro the second one not so much yet they’re both better films than this remake. David Harbour is as good as Ron Perlman, I wasn’t ready for the role to be recast but honestly they could not have gotten anyone better. Harbour does a great job, unfortunately the rest of the film doesn’t live up to that standard. Recommended for those who want a movie so bad it’s good, just make sure to go to it with low expectations and an open mind.

★★☆☆☆

Shazam!

shazam

It’s like Big but with Superpowers

Alright lads we are well overdue a good DC film, it’s been too long, maybe some of you out there actually liked Batman v Superman or Justice League and all I can say to that is I don’t understand it but whatever floats your boat. I haven’t forgotten Wonder Woman, it had a lot going for it but I can’t say it’s a great film, it should have been but we can only hope that Wonder Woman 1984 will up the standard. Shazam on the other hand is a great, hilarious and heartfelt film that I never expected to be quite as good as it was. Who would have suspected a comedy would have brought DC out of its rut. No seriously, comedy isn’t exactly DC’s forte I mean the last time they tried too hard to be funny we got Suicide Squad and I think I speak for almost everyone here when I say we all wish we could erase that one from our memory. Well done DC for gifting us with a lighthearted superhero film that delivers on the action and the comedy.

Fourteen year old Billy Batson (Asher Angel) becomes every kids dream when he suddenly acquires a vast range of superpowers by simply shouting the word SHAZAM, turning him into an adult superhero (Zachary Levi). Shazam is having a great time testing the limits of his new-found abilities with the help of his friend Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) but quickly realises he’ll need to figure out his true potential if he has any hope of fighting his arch nemesis Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong). Pure fun, incredibly entertaining and very funny with more than a few laugh out loud moments. You can see the entire cast having a great time with this film, Levi’s infectious and charismatic performance shines through and you can’t help but enjoy yourself. Mark Strong may be typecast as a villain at this point and why shouldn’t he be? He always plays a villain role to perfection. The chemistry is simply electric, DC normally chooses wisely with its casting and the same can be said for Shazam. It’s a film suitable for all ages, you can just sit back and enjoy. Although a little on the long side, and would probably benefit from losing about ten minutes. If you need a Superhero fix before Endgame then Shazam should be your choice, highly recommended.

★★★★☆

Pet Sematary

pet

“Sometimes dead is better”, you said it John Lithgow, sometimes dead is better

Alright lads Stephen King’s IT was such a raving success Hollywood might just have caught on to the fact that done properly, King will rake in the money. So let’s bring out the endless stream of remakes, next on the list is Pet Sematary. Arguably King’s darkest book, I know if it could give me nightmares then it has to be terrifying and after seeing what they’ve done with IT then Pet Sematary should take its place among all the other great horrors. The 1989 original wasn’t anything special and it has not aged well but now there should be no reason why this remake can’t be a terrifying horror, so can someone please tell me how in 2019 they got this film so spectacularly wrong?

Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and two children move from the big city into rural Maine. And in proper horror movie cliché fashion they discover a mysterious burial ground deep in the woods near their new home and tragedy ensues. Now the trailer may have shown the next series of events but I’m not going to mention it as I consider it a spoiler, all I’ll say is avoid the trailer if you haven’t already. What can I say about Pet Sematary? It’s not scary, it has no atmosphere and I hated the ending. The acting isn’t terrible but that’s about the only good thing I can say. John Lithgow can do no wrong, Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz are doing their best but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a horror movie that won’t scare you. The jump scares are endless but you can see them coming a mile away, so not once did I actually jump. Part of its failure has to be due to the movies own trailer. You know that tiny preview that’s supposed to give you a taste. A TASTE of what the film is about. Not a giant chomp of the film. Not every major plot point, twist, and death. I don’t know enough about the process to know whose job this is but whoever you are, damn son you messed up. Far too many movie trailers are guilty of showing too much, to the point where many people avoid trailers altogether, although this isn’t always possible. Believe me when I say if you’ve any interest in seeing Pet Sematary at all (but maybe you should reconsider that decision) and have yet to see the trailer, avoid at all costs because it’s essentially a summary of the entire film.

There are some books that just won’t translate well onto the big screen and maybe Pet Sematary is one of them. The first adaptation wasn’t great and this is somehow worse. I know a lot of King’s films have not been adapted well but I also know that there are exceptions to this and Pet Sematary 2019 should have been one of them. A giant disappointment, not recommended, read the book instead.

★☆☆☆☆