Reminiscence

Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson have teamed up again to star in a neo-noir style sci-fi drama that is reminiscent of other movies like Strange Days, Inception and Blade Runner. Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) is a private investigator of the mind, navigating the alluring world of memories and nostalgia. His life changes forever when he meets a new client, Mae (Rebecca Ferguson). What begins as a simple case soon becomes an obsession for Nick after Mae suddenly disappears and he desperately tries to learn the truth and if she really was the woman he thought she was.

It’s entertaining and enjoyable to watch in the moment. There might be a bit of a missed opportunity here as there is a lot going on and perhaps the most impressive thing about Reminiscence is the world building it has created. Set in a dystopian future where due to the devastating effects of global warming many parts of the city is either underwater or badly flooded. The city only opens up at night due to the extreme heat during the daytime, this very much adds to the neo-noir theme. The ultra-rich have built dams allowing them to live comfortably in the drylands, leaving the poorer members of society to live in the flooded remains of the city. There’s enough storylines here about class division and corrupt police to expand on but it’s limited to a two hour movie. I liked it but the main story does feel like something we’ve seen before. From a technical point of view Reminiscence is very impressive and clearly in the hands of a director (Lisa Joy) who knows what she’s doing. The fight scenes are well done and very clear, no shaky cam anywhere which is always a bonus. Also added to the cast are Thandiwe Newton and Cliff Curtis, both giving impressive performances. I’m not surprised to see Jackman and Ferguson appear again in another movie after their onscreen chemistry in The Greatest Showman. However, unlike The Greatest Showman Rebecca Ferguson actually has the chance to show off her impressive vocals in Reminiscence. The soundtrack is worth listening to, both for Ferguson’s seductive singing and Ramin Djawadi’s original score.

I felt nostalgic watching Reminiscence, which considering the film’s topic is very appropriate. Recommended for the Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson fans.

★★★☆☆

Pig

Alright Nicolas Cage fans, this is the moment we’ve been waiting for. It’s 2021 and Pig is finally here, if you haven’t heard of this film until now where have you been?

Rob the truffle hunter (Nicolas Cage) lives an isolated life deep in the Oregonian wilderness. He is forced to return to his past in Portland when his beloved truffle pig is stolen. Clearly Rob has a mysterious past and once he starts searching for his pig in the city he must face some past traumas. I don’t believe I’m alone in thinking Pig was going to be something along the lines of John Wick but with a pig. Despite the warnings Pig really isn’t the film you expect and that’s not a criticism. We all know Nicolas Cage has a wide range of performances, from exceptional to exceptionally terrible. You don’t always know what you’re going to get but Pig is without a doubt one of Cage’s best performances. It’s not full on Nicolas Cage (eg. Mandy) it’s a much more subtle performance and unexpectedly emotional. The story itself may seem a little slow at times and honestly I’m glad of its short running time as I don’t think it needed to be any longer. It carefully and quietly deals with themes of loss and death and honestly takes a lot of unexpected turns. It may not be for everyone so any of you expecting John Wick may want to skip this one. Pig is one of those films to remind us all why we should love Nicolas Cage.

A certain cinema chain isn’t listing any showings for Pig surprise, surprise. So you may have to travel past your local cinema to see this one but don’t let that stop you. Highly recommended and a must see for all the Nicolas Cage fans.

★★★★☆

Candyman

Candyman 2021 is a direct sequel to the original 1992 Candyman and ignores the other sequels. It gives enough backstory to introduce a new audience and it’s not essential to have seen the original beforehand. I had high expectations, but unfortunately Candyman did not meet them.

Set in present day Chicago, years after the last of the Cabrini Green towers was torn down. Anthony McCoy’s (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) career as an artist has been waning but he becomes reinvigorated after an encounter with a Cabrini Green resident who retells the horrific story behind the Candyman. Anthony begins to explore the ghost story of the supernatural killer who can be summoned by anyone daring to say his name five times while staring into a mirror. The more Anthony delves into the true story behind the Candyman he unwittingly opens a door, and unleashes a terrifying new wave of violence and horror. Candyman, directed by Nia DaCosta was one of the few horrors I was looking forward to this year. I’m sure DaCosta will go on to make some great movies, because despite my disappointment it’s well directed and has a lot of nice, artistic visuals. It starts off promising, creates the right atmosphere and keeps a similar tone to the original Candyman. I really did like the first half but unfortunately the second half morphs into a different movie and completely falls apart. It felt like those cheap generic horrors that I’ve seen again and again. There are far too many scenes of people standing in front of mirrors saying Candyman over and over again. I thought the trailer was overdoing it but that was just a taste of what the film has instore for you. One scene specifically stands out, set in a high school, and appeared so out of place it honestly feels like it was added in from another movie altogether. I felt Candyman was two movies forced together, a great horror spliced with a really bad one.

Perhaps my expectations was too high but this really should have been a lot better, I know a lot of film fans will be seeing this one and most likely it will do very well at the box office. Having said that, it might be best to lower the expectations in order for those of you who haven’t seen it to enjoy it a lot more than I did. Recommended for fans of the Candyman franchise, but honestly you’d be better off watching the 1992 version.

★★★☆☆

Don’t Breathe 2

Don’t Breathe was a film about a blind man who fights off a home invasion, well apparently some genius decided this movie needed a sequel. For anyone wondering I can safely tell you that Don’t Breathe did not need a sequel and there is absolutely no point in Don’t Breathe 2 at all. None.

Set a few years following the home invasion, Norman Nordstrom (Stephen Lang) lives a quiet and isolated life until his past catches up to him. The first thing to note is Don’t Breathe 2 is rated 16 for a reason, the fight scenes are brutal and gory. But that’s about all it has going for it, the gore. I loved the first film but this doesn’t come close, not everything needs a sequel but it seems some films need to learn that lesson the hard way. This had none of the horror and suspense of the first film. You’re not on the edge of your seat holding your breath, you’ll instead find yourself slumped in your chair, bored and glancing at your watch waiting for this ordeal to be over. And in proper horror movie fashion you’ll think it’s finally over only to have an “oh wait it’s not quite over yet” moment. Taking Lang’s character and half-heartedly attempting to turn him into some sort of anti-hero did not work at all. Another issue is because most of you will remain disinterested and bored you can’t help but feel many of the injuries sustained by the main characters don’t stop them from getting back up again like cartoon characters and carrying on as if nothing happened. Yet the same or lesser injury will happen to a clearly disposable character only for it to be more than enough to keep them down or kill them. This is not the kind of thing I should have been thinking about or noticing but I couldn’t help it I was not invested in the film at all which left me with plenty of time to overthink everything. I’m not going to criticise the acting. It’s not their fault to be honest, they’re doing the best they can with what they were given. The film shouldn’t exist and the story doesn’t work on any level, there’s really no getting away from that.

Don’t Breathe 2 is nothing more than a cash grab. I’m all for supporting cinemas especially during this difficult time but believe me when I tell you there are better films out right now that you should see instead. Not recommended, unless you’ve absolutely nothing else to do and you’ve seen all the other movies in the cinemas then by all means go ahead.

★★☆☆☆

Boys From County Hell

Boys From County Hell is set in a small rural Irish town that claims to have been traveled by none other than the author of Dracula Bram Stoker. This turns out to be quite good for encouraging tourism for the local bar conveniently named “The Stoker” and if the tourists are feeling brave enough they can venture out into the fields and visit the alleged grave of Abhartach, a legendary Irish vampire and quite possibly the inspiration for Dracula. Eugene (Jack Rowan) and his father Francie (Nigel O’Neill) begin construction work on a new road and disrupt Abhartach’s grave which unfortunately for the town accidently awaken the ancient Irish vampire. Eugene, his father and the construction crew must try to survive the night and the horrors they’ve brought down upon the whole town.

I know what you’re thinking, another vampire movie, has this not been done to death? Well I always appreciate when a film tries something different with the vampire genre. It may not be your conventional vampire film but I don’t mind when they change the rules a little, of course that’s not the same for all vampire movies (yeah I’m looking at you Twilight). Boys From County Hell has a simple story that wastes no time getting to the blood and gore. It also puts in time early on to develop the characters enough so you’re invested and care about them when the inevitable bloodbath starts. Sure it won’t exactly have you laughing like Shaun of the Dead but it does find a nice balance between horror and comedy, although it’s more horror than comedy but that didn’t bother me anyway. Yet you should be aware that the trailer might possibly make Boys From County Hell look funnier than it actually is. That being said, it’s great fun, highly entertaining and definitely worth your time to check out, particularly the horror fans. I understand not every cinema is showing this for some reason but if you have the opportunity to see Boys From County Hell either in the cinema or later on DVD be sure to check it out. Recommended for all the vampire/horror fans.

★★★★☆

Stillwater

You could be forgiven for thinking this is one of those Liam Neeson-esque movies where he punches his way through all the bad guys in order to rescue his daughter/wife etc. Stillwater is a much more toned down movie than the trailer would have you believe.

Bill (Matt Damon) flies out to Marseilles to visit his estranged daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin) who is currently in prison for the murder of a college student she was sharing an apartment with. Allison is insistent she did not commit this crime and is trying to get the investigation reopened. Bill is determined to prove his daughter’s innocence and starts some of his own investigation into a possible new lead. He soon realises that as an American navigating his way through Marseilles with the language barrier and culture shock is more difficult than he imagined. If you feel this idea rings a bell, it is very loosely based on a real life case, there are some similarities but Stillwater has no “based on true events” quote at any point nor does it claim to have any connection with real life events.

There’s a few themes running at once, and it’s drifting between family drama and legal thriller. Damon’s character particularly as the out of place American going through a journey as he spends more time in Marseilles and develops a friendship with Virginie (Camille Cottin). Bill could have been a difficult character to pull off and have the audience sympathize with and care about. With a different actor it could have been a disaster but Damon was 100% the right choice. I liked Stillwater for the most part but at almost 2 hours and 20 minutes, it’s far too long for this type of film. It’s very drawn out and a bit dull in places. There was no need for it to drag on so much and could have easily lost 20 minutes. That aside the performances from Damon, Breslin and Cottin are the strongest thing you can take from Stillwater and really hold the film together. Recommended.

★★★☆☆

The Suicide Squad

Well everyone the Suicide Squad are back for more suicidal missions and if you thought the first one was mental you ain’t seen nothing yet. Alright, don’t shoot me but I hated The Suicide Squad, it’s bad, very bad, and not even Margot Robbie is enough to save this mess. Supervillains Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena) etc. are led by Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to take on a top secret mission on the remote island of Corto Maltese. There’s a whole bunch of new characters whose names you probably shouldn’t try to remember because you just know a lot of them are going to die in some horribly gruesome death, so no spoilers but don’t get attached to anyone.

This is not a sequel but it’s not quite a remake either, there was no way to continue on from the first Suicide Squad so they’ve essentially started again. One of the main issues I had with Suicide Squad was the unnecessary supernatural elements that I couldn’t buy into, witches, Killer Croc etc. I felt this kind of movie would have been better more grounded in reality and I hoped The Suicide Squad would rectify that. Well after the trailer it was obvious that wasn’t happening and they’ve gone even more in the ludicrous direction. I can buy into it for Guardians of the Galaxy but this…seeing King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) chomping his way through this movie like he got lost and wandered off the set of Aquaman just feels so wrong. Sure the CGI and the effects are impressive to look at but that’s not enough. The plot is absolutely bonkers and I don’t mean that as a compliment. Sorry guys, I did not enjoy this. Every single scene is so jam packed with failed jokes it’s tiresome. I’ve never seen a movie try so hard to be funny, almost every line is trying to make you laugh and so many of the jokes just fell flat. It can’t just be me, the cinema I was in wasn’t laughing either. Aside from a few sniggers it was generally quiet. I can tell you sitting there for 2 hours with so many jokes being thrown at you in a desperate attempt to cause the cinema to erupt into fits of laughter was embarrassing. Yet in an unexpected turn of events the last 10 minutes of The Suicide Squad was the most watchable thing about it. But still, that’s 2 hours you gotta get through first and no matter what I ain’t getting those 2 hours back.

I went to see the first Suicide Squad mainly because of Harley Quinn, and I went to see this for the same reason and you know what Margot fans, you’re better off with Birds of Prey and skip The Suicide Squad. If there’s one positive I can pull from the wreck of this utter mess is that director James Gunn set out to make a movie and the finished product is the movie he wanted, creatively he got what he wanted to make and just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean others won’t. In fact there is a substantial fanbase already and a slightly suspicious amount of positive critic reviews. But whatever, it is what it is. David Ayer however did not get the same courtesy. Studio interference practically butchered the movie he set out to make and we got an absolute disaster and I don’t believe anyone was actually happy with the first Suicide Squad. I really hope we’ve now gotten to a point where if a film studio hires a specific director for a movie they’ll trust their vision, let them get on with the damn movie and stop interfering. Gunn made the movie he wanted and there’s a lot of fans who enjoyed the hell out of it, I’m not one of them but that’s ok. I’ll get over it. I won’t hold this against James Gunn, despite this experience I’m looking forward to the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie but one thing’s for sure, I never want to see another Suicide Squad movie again, they can make as many as they like but I’m done. Not recommended.

★★☆☆☆

Riders of Justice

Riders of Justice is an insane thrill ride of emotions, packed full of action and darkly comedic. Director Anders Thomas Jensen has given us a wonderfully odd film that I urge all of you to see.

Markus (Mads Mikkelsen) must return home to his teenage daughter Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg) after his wife tragically dies in a train accident. While only beginning to deal with the shock and grief of this horrific accident, mathematics geek Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and his two colleagues Lennart (Lars Brygmann) and Emmenthaler (Nicolas Bro) show up and strongly believe that this train crash was no accident and there is a far more sinister reason for the incident. Ok the genre for this is a little strange and a wonderful mix of everything, cleverly juggling many different themes at once. For the most part it’s an action, thriller and if you happen to have quite a dark sense of humour then it’s got more laughs throughout than most apparent “comedies” being made these days. Hard as nails Mads Mikkelsen acting alongside the socially awkward mathematical nerds is a surprising mix that really works. The deadpan delivery is done expertly, it’s funny one minute and completely serious the next. Riders of Justice is a brilliant story and perfectly finds the balance between action, drama and humour.

Right film fans the selection at the moment hasn’t exactly been wonderful right now what with the year that’s in it but Riders of Justice is not to be missed. Your local multiplex may not be showing it, at least mine isn’t but that’s no excuse, find a cinema showing Riders of Justice and thank me later. Highly recommended.

★★★★★

Old

The lesson you can all take from Old is if you find yourself en route to a secluded location and your driver is M. Night Shyamalan maybe you need to rethink your decision and get the hell off the bus. I’ll give it one thing, I definitely wasn’t bored.

A family travel to a tropical island for a holiday and discover that the secluded beach they are relaxing at for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly. Naturally everyone freaks out and tries to find a way off the beach before they literally run out of time. I think I can speak for most people when I say the aging process is a real fear many of us have. No one wants to get old. So to base a movie on the premise of aging rapidly is a scary concept. Well at least I thought so. Based on a graphic novel, M. Night has taken an already scary idea and ramped it up to the max. When Prisca (Vicky Krieps) and Guy (Gael García Bernal) realise their children have aged by years in just a few hours panic ensues. It’s ridiculous, cringey and the dialogue seems disjointed and a bit like everyone is just reading their lines. There’s also the strange editing and close ups that just start to annoy you after a while. I feel Old has a great idea and it’s well executed to a point but the more it drags on the more silly it becomes. It doesn’t have the same “oh shit” moments that some other M. Night films have. There are a few laughs scattered throughout, only I’m not sure if you’re really meant to be laughing at them. I didn’t love Old but I didn’t hate it either. It has its moments but overall it’s not great. The performances from most of the cast seem bland and wooden. I feel this was close to being top tier Shyamalan but Old ends up being somewhere between The Happening and Split.

Shyamalan is one of those film makers who really divides audiences, most of you will either love or hate his movies. Old isn’t exactly his best but it’s not his worst either. Look you get what you expect, the trailer sets it all up so all you have to do is get yourself into a nice air-conditioned cinema, sit back and enjoy this intense thriller. And if you didn’t like it, that’s fine, and if you loved it that’s also fine. Like I said, Shyamalan’s movies can be hit or miss, the only way you’re going to find out is if you see it for yourself. Recommended for all the M. Night fans.

★★★☆☆

Black Widow

Black Widow finally has her own movie, and although it’s not the greatest superhero or even Marvel movie you’ll ever watch it’s about time we got a solo movie about Natasha Romanoff. It only took two Captain America movies, two Hulk movies, three Iron Man movies and three Thor movies, but hey, better late than never.

Set just after the events in Civil War and before Infinity War. Natasha must confront her dark past as a spy before she became an Avenger. I have to say I’ve never once questioned Black Widow’s abilities in any of the previous Marvel movies, she is highly skilled and a deadly weapon but still only human yet she fit in among the other avengers effortlessly. Yet in Black Widow she seems to be elevated to superhuman strengths. On more than one occasion I couldn’t help drown out that voice that said “they’d be dead after that”, “no way anyone is surviving that.” I tried to drown out that voice I really did but I just couldn’t. Many of the characters in Black Widow seem to be able to withstand just about anything, they’re bullet proof, knife proof, and explosion proof. I tried not to let it bother me but it kept taking me out of the movie. It’s difficult to maintain any kind of drama or suspense when all the characters can withstand anything and get right back up and carry on as if nothing happened. I don’t believe Black Widow needed to be this over the top, with a strong first half it became more over the top as it progressed and by the time you’re in the third act it really started to feel like a video game. I wish I wasn’t saying this, I wish I liked Black Widow as much as Captain Marvel but it’s just not quite there. Despite some of the issues I have with it there is still a lot to enjoy. The strongest thing about Black Widow is its characters, I always enjoy watching Scarlet Johansson as Black Widow and finally seeing her in a solo movie is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I liked the addition of Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz. Also adding David Harbour as the Red Guardian aka Russia’s equivalent to Captain America was just a bonus and he does manage to steal most of the comedic spotlight. Johansson and Pugh really make a great onscreen pair. They are clearly having a great time kicking ass and that is the best thing I can take from Black Widow.

I really wanted to love this movie, I tried harder than I would with most movies but it’s not at the standard it should have been. So yes I’m a little disappointed but Black Widow is definitely recommended for all the Marvel fans.

★★★☆☆