*NEW* IT REVIEW *NEW*

The MAD MOVIE RANTER

IT didn’t do much for me.

The highest grossing horror movie in box office history? Really?

A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of a clown (Bill Skarsgard), begins hunting children.

For all the hype, I expected something more. Not to say, I didn’t enjoy it.

BUT a horror movie is supposed to scare you, right? Unsettle you, creep you out. Stick in the back of your mind days after viewing. No?

As a kid, I was always creeped out by Tim Curry’s Pennywise. Perhaps if I watched the 1990 TV mini-series now, I’ll probably laugh my arse off.

BUT it didn’t matter how demented Skarsgard’s Pennywise looked, he just did nothing for me.

Now don’t get me wrong. It was very watchable.

The creepy opening sequence was brilliantly executed. Benjamin Wallfisch’s haunting score. That little yellow rain coat. The familiar feeling of…

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AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR REVIEW

The MAD MOVIE RANTER

10 years, 18 films, was Infinity War worth all the hype?

I loved how the Russos made this surprisingly accessible for fans who may not have obsessively watched the entire Marvel backlog beforehand or ever (Sacrilege, I know).

Crucial plot points were covered BUT you would be missing out on a lot of character depth, back stories and little references if you haven’t dipped into the other Marvel movies.

It felt like all the other films had been gearing up for this moment.

As much as I griped about some of the earlier Marvel efforts (Captain America: The First Avenger, Avengers Assemble, the Hulk reboots, Iron Man 2), I never faulted the characters; what they stood for, their journeys and their progression over the years.

I have to say that I was actually excited to finally see all these incredible characters unite against a common…

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*NEW* THE QUIET MAN REVIEW *NEW*

A Ford/Wayne collaboration that wasn’t a Western?

A retired American boxer (John Wayne) returns to the village of his birth in Ireland, where he finds love in the form of a fiery redhead (Maureen O’Hara).

Easy going, comical, perfect Sunday viewing. Is this really from the man who gave us The Searchers?

“This is Ireland, Sean”.

Once I got over the fact that this wasn’t a Western, I was happy to bask in the charming silliness and Winston C. Hoch’s lavish (Oscar winning) cinematography.

The fantastic tracking shots complimenting the picturesque and idyllic Irish countryside.

The use of bright colours really livened the piece. Even in the dimly lit church sequences, you could notice a considerable difference. Adding to the easygoing feel.

It was fun to see The Duke lighten up. Delivering another charismatic performance as he dealt with the eclectic and nosy Irish community. A running gag about the latest fad, “a sleeping bag” delivered the laughs.

The corny exchanges and Victor Young’s cheesy score should have been laughable BUT thankfully it only added to its charm. I mean, give it a break. The film is (at time of writing) 66 years old?! BUT unfortunately NOT all classics can age as gracefully.

Maureen O’Hara (Another Ford stalwart) was brilliant as the fiery but head strong Mary Kate Danaher. A real match for the stubborn boxer. And what a voice as well! Singing several songs throughout the film.

Their inevitable romance was engaging enough. Thanks to fantastic chemistry and an underrated supporting cast as the pair toyed the “Will-they’won’t-they?” spiel.

The courtship sequence was highly entertaining. Especially when they had Barry Fitzgerald’s drunken Michaleen Oge Flynn as chaperone. Hilarious. With a horse in tow that conveniently always seemed to lead him back to the pub no matter where he went.

Despite its corniness and charm, the Ford Western tropes were still very much there; the saloon brawl, the love interest, the bitter feuds, the reluctant call to heroism, the Duke on horseback.

And Ford wasn’t afraid to break the rose tinted atmosphere. Unleashing an unexpected flashback to Wayne’s boxing days (executed in a haunting black and white sequence). Dark and almost out of place. The real reason for his return?

I never realised The Quiet Man featured this infamous kiss scene.

 

A scene that inspired another iconic film . . .

Nerd! I hear you say. BUT nothing like a good meta textual reference to tick the boxes.

The humour was well written. Even if it might have stretched the stereotypes a tad. Most notably on the gambling priest. The opening sequence said it all as a pair of train conductors broke out into fisticuffs after Sean (Wayne) simply asked for directions. Setting the tone, the characters and the fun that lay in store.

BUT of course, it wasn’t going to be that easy as Mary Kate raised the bar every time Sean met her demands and members of the community threw spanners in the works by refusing to sell his childhood home.

However, the themes on community and, most importantly, honour were handled well as Sean had to restore Mary Kate’s reputation and receive her arrogant brother’s blessing.

Leading to one of the longest and most comical fist fights I’ve seen. Seriously, it was like something out of a cartoon with every villager involved at one point!

It may be a little dated and the pace does test in places (Ford spending a little too much time on those beautiful landscapes) BUT it still holds and makes for enjoyable Sunday viewing.

3/5

*NEW* MACHETE REVIEW *NEW*

Ma-sh*ty?

After being set-up and betrayed by the man who hired him to assassinate a Texas Senator (Robert De Niro), an ex-Federale (Danny Trejo) launches a brutal rampage of revenge against his former boss.

Brutal, ridiculous, stupid . . . but oh so fun!

The movie that was spawned from the silly parody trailers thrown in during the “intermission” of the Tarantino\Rodriguez Grindhouse double feature.

Still waiting on Thanksgiving, Mr. Roth. The crippling disappointment still hasn’t left me after the mishandling of the Grindhouse UK release.

Giving them separate releases and blaming the three hour movie length was a BIG no, no! They didn’t even show the mock trailers in the build up to either film?! (Or maybe that was just the crappy cinema I went to).

However once I was able to get my hands on said Grindhouse flick in all its bloody glory . . .

Planet Terror was everything I expected. A proper tribute. Trashy bedlam. Let’s not talk about Death Proof . . .

Okay it wasn’t that bad. Anyway . . .

Rodriguez has always been one to deliver action packed, maniacal, trashy (see where I’m going with this) tour de forces. As much as I loved Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn, they weren’t perfect.

You knew what you were in for from the get go. The ultra-violent opening set the tone as Danny Trejo’s bad ass Machete clocked up the body count within minutes. The silly cliches, the endless bloodshed and the gratuitous nudity. Oh, the nudity.

Seriously, a naked lady pulled out a weapon from a particular hiding spot I didn’t expect.

One delightfully gruesome scene featured our murderous machismo slicing a man’s hand off with the gun still in its possession, only to then use said hand to dispose of another with nothing more than a casual shrug to sum up the encounter. Niiiccee.

Shot in the exact same style as the old Grindhouse flicks. The dated look, the cheesy score, the OTT violence. And of course, those deliberately shoddy quick cuts and badly-put-together edits for good measure. Well, at least I hope that was intentional.

I had to laugh at Steven Seagal as the smug Torrez. Considering this was supposed to be a joke, Seagal seemed to take his role a little too seriously. And was STILL surprisingly wooden.

All the Rodriguez regulars featured left, right and centre. Man, Juni from Spy Kids has grown up (Daryl Sabara. Isn’t he marrying Meghan Trainor?). Anyway, moving on. Made me feel old.

Jeff Fahey lapped it up as the two faced conspirator playing off both sides. An underrated actor that delivered much more conviction than Seagal’s whispery samurai sword wielding weirdo.

“I don’t know what you know but I’m glad I know you”. Quotable one liners and a snappy script from Rodriguez is always a bonus.

The very definition of a Grindhouse flick is a film of “poor quality or low artistic merit”. Only Rodriguez could make something so trashy work so well as Machete made demented nun chucks out of scalpel knives and some bed sheets.

A pointless reference about the human intestine delivered a deliciously revolting and unexpected punchline in a hospital shoot em up.

My main grumble (and where Machete lost points) was the pacing. It took itself a little too seriously in places and it killed a bit of the fun (and momentum). Don’t get me wrong, the themes on immigration were bang on.

Eerily so; considering this film is (at time of writing) EIGHT years old.

De Niro’s evil politician McLaughlin spoke volumes. His “Don’t get caught on the wrong side of the fence” campaign was the very definition of irony. Especially with the De Niro/Trump feud. Replace that electrified fence with a wall and the irony is even more bittersweet.

Jessica Alba’s agent role was a bit nothingy. Stalking Michelle Rodriguez’s Luz and talking in riddles to no avail. Took a good 45 minutes before her path crossed with Machete and for her character to be of any interest. Other than playing on the Wii in yoga pants

What?

Trejo bossed it and once Alba was brought into the mix, the pair made a good duo. Another highlight involved Alba (Hang on . . . ) in hand to hand combat with a Mexican luchador using stiletto heels for knuckle dusters.

Seriously. God knows what Rodriguez was smoking BUT it worked. And of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Rodriguez flick if Cheech Marin didn’t make an appearance in another scene stealing cameo as Padre.

This wasn’t without its faults (Believe me) BUT Machete would fall happily in the “sh*t but good” folder. If you’re a RR fan or in the mood for an entertaining ridiculous bloodfest then look no further.

2.5/5

*NEW* THE SECRET OF MARROWBONE REVIEW *NEW*

A secret worth finding out?

From the writer who penned The Orphanage . . .

I will admit I may have set my expectations a little high. To see a low key period horror pop up during the summer blockbuster season was a shocker enough.

A young man and his three younger siblings, who have kept secret the death of their beloved mother (Don’t worry. That’s not the secret!) in order to remain together, are plagued by a sinister presence in the sprawling manor in which they live.

As their mother crossed a line across the dusty and dilapidated landing, a promise was made: “No more memories. We are the Marrowbones”.

I feared the worst with the nauseating opening act (and Anya Taylor-Joy’s (Split) dreadfully corny introduction) as the kids adjusted to the seemingly peaceful and idyllic tranquility of the Marrowbone estate. Free from their troubled past.

BUT thankfully that didn’t last long. Or else we would have had one hell of a boring affair.

I couldn’t really call this a horror. I felt a little misled by the marketing BUT that didn’t spoil too much of my enjoyment. Especially when the delightfully shady estate lawyer Porter (Kyle Soller – Poldark) reared his ugly head.

If anything, Marrowbone was more of a psychological thriller. NOT to say I wasn’t wincing in places. There were some brilliantly executed moments of tension. It’s funny how several sinister chords and a tattered sheet over a broken mirror could leave me with no finger nails.

By the 30 minute marker, I was hooked. Right up to the gripping finale as the siblings did everything possible to keep up the rouse.

Every time poor Sam (Matthew Stagg) went off for a wander, I feared the worst. Tiptoeing around the house, afraid to wake the ghost. A story to keep young Sam out of trouble? Or something more?

Creepy and unsettling. This reminded me very much of The Others and The Innocents. 

The pacing stumbled in parts and the big reveal of the secret will definitely split people. Some will laugh at the convoluted unravelling, others may be surprised and love the direction it took. I was somewhere in between.

BUT I have to commend the impressively talented and underrated cast; featuring the likes of Mia Goth (A Cure For Wellness) and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things).

I wasn’t sure that George MacKay would be strong enough for the leading role. I was never convinced with his turn in Sunshine on Leith (despite stellar supporting turns in Pride and Captain Fantastic) BUT I have to say I was impressed with his performance. Showing his range in the final third.

Everyone got their moment to shine. I loved the chemistry between MacKay and Joy. Thankfully Joy’s character came into the fold a lot more as everything came to a head.

It wasn’t perfect and its tough not to discuss plot points without spoiling crucial twists.

BUT it was different, killed the time and if you’re in the mood for a low budget creepy little mystery, check it out.

2.5/5

*NEW* DOCTOR STRANGE REVIEW *NEW*

doctor-strange-poster

Strange is right.

A former neurosurgeon (Benedict Cumberbatch) embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.

Fresh, different, throw in a few crazy visual effects and we’re onto a winner.

Ol’ Cucumberbatch nails it as the cynical and quick-witted super doc. Imagine if House had super powers and you pretty much have Steven Strange.

The opening sequence left me in awe. The visual and special effects were incredible. Imagine all the dream welding sequences in Inception and crank that up to 11! It really was a feast for the eyes and that was before Strange got to mess with the dimensions!

The fight sequences were brilliantly choreographed as the masters manipulated time, space and every object possible to gain the upper hand. Twisting and bending skyscrapers to their will.

The film didn’t really mess about. It zipped along. Jumping from one thing to the next. Establishing the egotistical Strange early on and channeling a little bit of Sherlock. Only taking the cases that interest him. Showing off his talented surgical abilities at any opportunity. That was (Of course!) before tragedy struck.

I could feel the pace lagging a little when Strange went through his self-loathing phase before discovering Kamar-Taj; a spiritual Tibetan safe haven that would set our hero on his true calling.

Tilda Swinton (We Need To Talk About Kevin) was on scene stealing form as The Ancient One (No seriously, that’s her name). She rocked the Avatar/Morpheus look.

Frankly, she wasn’t in it enough. I was a little disappointed after having such a heavy involvement in Strange’s training that she just disappeared into the background. Shame.

Mads Mikkelsen was brilliant as the sinister Kaecilius (Even if his name was a little silly-ous). I don’t think you could have had anybody better than Hannibal Lecter to play the maniacal nutter hell bent on summoning a powerful demon to harvest the energy of the planet. Armed in tow with a cult of warped followers (wearing some crazy eye make up); Strange was up for a challenge.

After watching so many Marvel movies, I was worried that I’d get bored of watching another origin story and enduring another training montage BUT Doctor Strange brought something new to the table. All the portal conjuring and space shifting stuff subdued my griping.

There was one sequence in which Strange was having an out of body punch up with another adversary while a doctor was trying to resuscitate him. It was mental. Exhilarating, funny, riveting. I loved it. All aided by another fantastic movie score from Michael Giacchino.

There was the right balance of humour and trippy dimension bending. And that Cloak of Levitation . . . Seriously, it was like Aladdin’s magic carpet. Choosing the stubborn doc as its new host. Coming to his aid at the best time.

Benedict Wong (The Martian) was hilarious as Wong (No typo), the sworn guardian of the Ancient One’s library. I loved the awkward banter as Strange attempted numerous times to make the stern faced monk crack a grin.

Rachel McAdams (Spotlight) was tragically reduced to playing the love interest left waiting on Strange’s beck and call. A waste of a very talented actress.

Tragically, the incredibly repetitive finale with all the timey wimey guff left things on a bit of bum note. Once you’ve seen Strange pulled about into various shapes and sizes through all the multi-coloured shapes and dimensions, I did get a little fidgety.

Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor were a great pairing BUT they didn’t quite get the screen time that I wanted and the 12 Years A Slave actor got a little lost in all the chaos.

However, it was still entertaining, funny and enthralling. Doctor Strange showed enough promise for things to come and is most definitely a welcome addition to the ever growing Marvel movie-verse.

3/5

Now, I don’t want to sound like a school teacher drolling on. BUT it’s a Marvel movie; so what do we do when the credits roll?

That’s right. You park your butts on the seat and wait for the teasers. I won’t spoil any BUT there are TWO! So don’t get up after the first one.

JURASSIC WORLD REVIEW

Jurassic-World-poster-Mosasaurus

Revisiting the monster hit that tore up the box office and . . . Meh.

I loved the original. An iconic piece of film making that I have lost many a Sunday afternoon watching again and again.

It was always going to be hard not to draw comparisons. BUT this was just about en par with the misfire that was Jurassic Park III.

A new theme park is built on the original site of Jurassic Park. Everything is going well until the park’s newest attraction, a genetically modified giant stealth killing machine, escapes containment and goes on a killing spree.

Apart from unintentionally sparking a race quibble with an inappropriately named dinosaur, the film was flawed from the get go. You didn’t know about the little race row? Allow Mobeen and Lamboo to educate you . . .

It wasn’t all bad. I was just a little disappointed. The opening didn’t get things going. Of course, the Jurassic films always had that slow burning build up before the dinos would inevitably break free or unleash mayhem.

BUT it didn’t help that the characters were so cliched and uninteresting. Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins’ divorce stricken brothers were irritating beyond relief.

Judy Greer was reduced to another minor and meaningless supporting role as their mum. However, her only contribution; the best line of the film; “Remember. If something chases you. RUN!”

Chris Pratt. The man of the hour. Was pretty much . . . Himself. Normally, his spiel works BUT his smooth talking snappy one liners didn’t really deliver this time around.

Is the only role the guy can play? Star Lord as a raptor handler should have been a winner. BUT it just didn’t do it for me.

He fared better as the film went on. Especially when it all kicked off. Stepping up and actually trying to be a different character.

The lovely Bryce Dallas Howard was very good as the workaholic aunt hell bent on making Jurassic World a money making business.

It shouldn’t have worked but I liked how she managed to evade dinosaurs, fight raptors and chase after her nephews . . . in heels.

Some of the cornier exchanges were a bit hit and miss BUT Howard and Pratt’s chemistry saw it through.

Vincent D’Onofrio was wasted as Hoskins. He did his best BUT it’s all been done to death with Ingen. It really was the same old predictable guff. We had all the backstabbing and hidden agendas in The Lost World. Dull.

Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi) may have channelled his inner John Hammond with the eccentric millionaire Masrani BUT he did my head in.

And for some reason, he was the only helicopter pilot on the whole island. Seriously? All those soldiers, weapons and dinosaurs. No pilots. Talk about squeezing pennies.

I feared with the overindulgence of CGI in films these days that the dinos would fail to reach the levels that Stan Winston had delivered. When Jurassic World was first unveiled, the iconic John Williams score blared through the speakers, that excitement from my inner fan boy still buzzed.

BUT once the score had subsided, I realised how rubbish the layout of Jurassic World actually looked. I’m not sure whether writer/director Colin Trevorrow was making a statement at how corporate involvement can ruin every aspect. If so, then fair play. If not, then the set designers need a little talking too. It looked like a cheap Dino Disneyland.

The real stars for me were thankfully the prehistoric predators. And they still stole the show. The animation and special effects were fantastic! The chase sequences were tense, exhilarating and racy. Everything I had hoped for.

And the creepy introduction of a new dino demon picked up massive points. The gene-splicing element certainly made things a lot more interesting. A new intelligent species that hunts for sport. Brilliant.

A simple question about what happened to it’s sibling; a cold stare from Clare (Howard) and I was intrigued . . . “She ate it”.

Every time the Indominus Rex (Terrible name, I know) appeared, I felt that same fear as a little kid when the raptors and T-Rex appeared in JP.

The jungle sabotage sequence was superb. A perfect homage to Aliens. The dino camouflaged in the trees. The mercenaries’ life monitors with their pulses beeping in the background. The inevitable outcome reaching it’s nail biting conclusion.

Funny enough as the dinos were unleashed, the two lads actually improved. They worked together and were nowhere near as annoying as Lex and Tim. Trading bickering for resourcefulness. Redeemed.

Jake Johnson (New Girl) didn’t do too bad as the new ‘Dennis’, I mean, Larry. A mad tech geek that really hasn’t got a clue. He delivered the laughs that Pratt and co failed to.

Trevorrow certainly appealed to the JP fan in me. There were a number of nods and references that made me smile (Mr DNA being a particular highlight). It was great to see B.D Wong return as Dr Henry Wu (Wu who? Come on, you remember him. Thank God. Neither did I).

Composer Michael Giacchino delivered another fantastic soundtrack and took on the reins with aplomb.

The special effects were immense (The pterodactyl attack – Words escape me), the dinosaurs stole the show BUT can we have some better characters?

All the naff one liners and cheesy encounters just made me miss Grant and Malcolm. Hell, even Laura Dern’s ear piercing wailing.

Fun enough effort that falls short of the original.

3/5