Tough to comply with this one . . .

When a prank caller (Pat Healy) claiming to be a police officer convinces a fast food restaurant manager (Ann Dowd) to interrogate an innocent young employee (Dreama Walker), no one is left unharmed.

The film’s theme focused primarily on manipulation and human gullibility. The lengths that someone would go to if ordered by a voice of authority. A frightening concept at first glance. What started off as a tense, atmospheric and chilling thriller collapsed into a flat, strange and questionable affair.

Ann Dowd (The Leftovers) gave a great performance as the baffled manager. Desperate to honour her civil duty BUT weary of the brewing situation. The opening was intriguing as Dowd’s Sandra interrogated one of her employees Becky (played by the lovely Dreama Walker – Don’t Trust the B* In Apartment 23).

Tension mounted when the “officer” in question, played creepily by Pat Healy (Cheap Thrills), was revealed quite early into the mix. BUT for all the promise and suspense, this little prank scene soon went on far too long and became more and more ridiculous as the 90 minute mess trailed on.

Despite a great cast and a creepy concept, I soon found the whole thing very tedious. As much as I pondered the question, “What would you do if an officer ordered to do things in the interest of an investigation?” I could honestly say, I don’t know. Easier said as a spectator. BUT red flags would have been flying when the “officer” requested that I perform a strip search on an employee. Come on.

For all it’s peculiarity, I couldn’t stop watching. Only to see how far the madness went. Once the situation was cross examined in a somewhat flat finale, I was left undecided. If the notion of the Milgram experiment is in fact true, in which a person can be coaxed into doing anything by a simple voice then that is truly haunting.

The revealing stats at the end were the most shocking thing out of this. I can’t believe that this was based on true events. Apparently 70 similar incidents have happened across 30 states. BUT it still remained unconvincing. The opener suggested a Phone Booth scenario BUT by the end Craig Zobel’s (Z For Zachariah) execution disappointed.

This was one to talk about. BUT for the right reasons? I’m afraid NOT.

2.5 /5

Merry Christmas!

I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas. For those who know me and have read my blog, there was only one Christmas song I could put on. Thanks for the views, comments, follows, retweets, etc. I will be on hiatus for the Christmas period but start of the new year, I will be back with a vengeance!

Thank you all and may you all have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year! Health and Happiness x



TOP TEN BEST (Well, more watchable) AND WORST FILMS OF 2013 . . . So far



At last, here it is. After much deliberation, debate and decision making, the verdict on my top 10 best and worst films of 2013.  I tried to make sure to include films that were released this year, but as release dates are all over the shop in different countries, it’s not guaranteed. Apologies for any mistakes in advance. Just let them all out at the same time, it will cut out piracy or at least make people see them before they realize how terrible they are, which has been the case for most of the films this year 😦

Main things I look for in a good film are good performances, story, writing, entertainment and more importantly, would I watch it again? (Or all of them) Which has been the toughest question to answer these days.



  1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  2. Django Unchained
  3. Les Miserables
  4. Monsters University
  5. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
  6. Saving Mr Banks
  7. The Heat
  8. The World’s End
  9. About Time
  10. Star Trek Into Darkness


Criteria for the worst; bad acting, bad writing, poor execution, anger factor, how badly do I want to burn this film? Too much? Thought so.


  1. Old Boy
  2. Only God Forgives
  3. Dark Skies
  4. Spring Breakers
  5. Scary Movie 5
  6. Free Birds
  7. A Good Day to Die Hard
  8. Diana
  9. Stolen
  10. The Counsellor





Was it an Anchorman too far?

Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention. I’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you, to stop what you’re doing and listen. Cannon- No, the verdict is in! The streets, I mean, the box offices will rain with Burgundy’s blood.

A mixed bag. From the get-go, it was random, mental and funny as hell. It ticked all the boxes; the epic voice over, the crazy soundtrack and all the original cast back. But bigger and better? Well . . .

The first 45 minutes were epic. I was worried that this sequel would suffer from a case of “all the best bits in the trailer” syndrome BUT the Winnebago scene was so much funnier than I thought it would be. In fact, some of the trailer tasters weren’t even used. For example when the news anchor team mistake a gay guy for a vampire.

It was always going to be tough to top the original. It was a sleeper hit that, by any standard, shouldn’t have worked. I mean, come on. News anchor street brawls, bear fights and some of the most insane quotes possible! Unfortunately, this time around, it fell short of the hype.

I couldn’t believe it had been over a decade. The cast certainly hadn’t lost any of their mojo BUT once the two hour marker had passed, my smile had gone. That frenetic hilarity of the first half had evaporated into a dull and drawn out affair with the jokes getting worse.

David Koechner’s Champ Kind originally annoyed me in the first one BUT this time around, he was fantastic! BUT Steve Carrell, on the other hand. The legend that was Brick Tamland. He infuriated me the most. He may have delivered the odd moment BUT the dull love subplot with Kristen Wiig’s Chani (Bridesmaids) really spoiled things. It wasn’t what I expected at all.

On paper, the pairing of these two incredibly funny people sounded perfect. Their first encounter was hilarious and the chemistry was superb. BUT it went on far too long and fizzled out very quickly. There wasn’t one quotable gag. Not even an “I LOVE LAMP!”

Anchorman was always ridiculous but enjoyable. Adam McKay and Will Ferrell take this second outing to a whole new level of crazy that just doesn’t quite come off. The outcome of this film will depend on your level of expectation. Some will be left disappointed and peeved while others will love it. BUT for me it’s NOT as good as the original.

There was another news fight brawl and the cameos! My God. I couldn’t believe how many people popped up in those five mental minutes. However, the longer it went on, the sillier it got. It was too much and withered away after a funny if stupidly long build up.

As the film carried on, the gags were very hit and miss. Some were just random as hell and baffling while others had me in tears. There was barely any Baxter this time round. I don’t want to spoil too much BUT it was still very watchable and for a good portion, I enjoyed it.

BUT I wouldn’t hold out for a third outing. IT IS DEFINITELY WORTH A GANDER IF YOU’RE AN ANCHORMAN FAN OR JUST A FAN OF ANY OF THE CAST, JUST DON’T SET YOUR SIGHTS TOO HIGH! (I’m sorry, someone put it in capital letters and an exclamation mark, I thought I had to shout it).




I saw The Darkness and it was great. But how I do I know? Well . . . because I was there. (One for the fans who have seen them live)

Slightly strange for a guy’s blog called the Mad Movie Ranter to be doing a music review. But hey let’s change things up. The review is a little late but alas, I suffered from the dreaded wintery man flu.

Full of cold and a mental week of work, the thought of seeing the Darkness was the last thing on my mind. A warm bed and Horlicks was more ideal (Lame. At 24?! I know). But I had bought the tickets months ago and my friends were already on the way to pick me up.

So glad I shook myself up. Absolutely brilliant. Perfect flu cure. Took a couple of days to get my hearing back. Good fun and a great laugh. The rock gods from Lowestoft are back and on fire. Conveniently, the lads were back at our local venue in Northampton, The Roadmender. A great venue that has had the pleasure of hosting such talents as Jamie T, Hadouken and The Wombats. (Probably not doing them justice with those examples, but first ones that came to mind. Make of that what you will).

Unfortunately missed one of the warm up acts, The River 68s but was able to listen to LostAlone. One to look out. Very good. They’ve been touring since 2007 with two albums already out there but if the new album is anything to go by with the new material that was performed, it should be pretty decent. Check out the single, Hostages.

As soon as the Lowestoft legends graced the stage, the tunes were unleashed and the chaos began. We were awarded with two sets – one covering a number of hits from the second and third albums respectively; some of my favourites One Way Ticket, She’s Just a Girl, Eddie and the incredible Radiohead cover, Street Spirit (Fade Out).

This was all before the legendary second set. That second set in which they would perform from start to finish in all its rock glory, PERMISSION TO LAND. Always will be their stand out album. Mixed reviews came thick and fast on One Way Ticket to Hell . . . and Back. But forever a grower and guilty pleasure for me. Come on, Dinner Lady Arms? A TUNE! Unfortunately, the band were not taking requests, gutted. But none the same, to hear PERMISSION TO LAND in its full live uncensored amp-induced, bass-floor-vibrating awesomeness was enough to suffice. I would list the hits but the whole album is incredible. Most notably Black Shuck, BLACK SHUCK, Get Your Hands off My Woman and I Believe in a Thing Called Love.

The big build ups between the sets were hilarious. From Ed Graham’s hugely anticipated drum solo (hint, hint) to the majestic summoning of the triangle, it was like something out of This is Spinal Tap. Cheap joke, maybe but funny all the same. What may have been drawn out slightly, (although I think the band were trying to catch a breath), was the listing of the number of awards and record sales. Egotistical? Showing off? Absolutely. But you can’t help but think did they really achieve all this? It hurts when people say it must be a fall from grace to be at the Roadmender.

The Darkness are back, alive and kicking. Their lyrics and songs were never going to change the world but their rifts were rocking and the lyrics hysterical. Growing on Me, for example, being a song about herpes. Something I didn’t realise, naively singing out in public, until I was in my 20s. Give me a break they were out in 2003. 2003? That’s right. That long ago already.

It was great to see them back together. You could tell they were having fun. Dan Hawkins and Frankie Poullain nailing those rifts to perfection (Bows, “We’re not worthy”) and as for Mr Justin Hawkins. An entertainer to the end. At one point he made the bouncer carry on his shoulders and walk around the audience while playing a guitar solo. He’s not afraid to banter with the fans and the crowd pumped.

Some would say twat, I say hilarious but Hawkins does not hold back, most notably on his views on new music. He really doesn’t like Bastille (which I admit I do. Rhythm of the Night is a great cover, but overplayed) and poor old Ellie Goulding. Hawkin’s impression was too good, not to smile. Apparently, new music is bad acoustics, a tap of a drum and weird accents. Apparently.

Hawkins may be a menace to work with, which past endeavours led to the band’s inevitable split, but one thing that can’t be knocked is his showmanship, energy and that voice. How can that tattooed, six foot lanky nutter from Lowestoft with his Dickensian villain moustache have such a powerful voice that runs in the vein of the great that is Freddie Mercury? Brilliant. Showing it off at every instance, goading the audience into mimicking him, only for us to fall short. Believe me, I tried.

And of course, the finale. How could they not finish it with Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) with a big old Christmas tree with an angel on top, wearing the face mask of the bass player, Richie Edwards, who replaced Frankie Poullian for One Way Ticket. Nice tribute. Oh and of course, a fat bald bloke throwing presents in a fairy dress, whilst the band rocked out in their Christmas clobber. Christmas well and truly in flow. A great show, good night, not even the six foot knob head in his Crocodile Dundee hat obstructing my view and trying to mosh with me could spoil it. (Wherever I stand, I get the six foot arse! I’m only five foot. A bloody hobbit. And the hat? You’re inside. TAKE IT OFF. RANT OVER! But like I said, didn’t spoil it, nope).

One (one bit too snazzy for a rock review) can only hope they will return shortly with a possible new fourth album? Rumour are circulating and a new single has been released, The Horn. We shall see but get your hands on some tickets motherrrfffuuucckeeeeerrrs (in operatic testicle-squeezing high pitchness).

What is wrong with films this year? Best and worst of 2013? Tough on both counts.

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Had a little rummage through Empire, The Guardian and Time’s best and worst of 2013. Now interestingly, I shared with my friends that I had seen 120 films so far on my Unlimited card. They asked me what was my top 10? And you know what, I actually struggled, not to say I couldn’t do it. But the ones I did finally put in there were not perfect by any means, personally there were only a few I would consider a very good film. Many were good but . . . or watchable if you’re in the mood, I couldn’t give a solid recommendation. Too picky? Don’t be silly.


I can’t help but feel that critics these days are falling for the overindulgent hype that surrounds many films these days. Most irritatingly, however is that this year is not over yet, with the Christmas period being one of the biggest targets to draw audiences with their bigger films. Guessing that The Hobbit, Anchorman 2 and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty will be in there somewhere is not good enough.


In all fairness, despite being heavily plugged and advertised the last few months at our local Cineworld, as an Unlimited member I was invited to a secret screening of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. A truly beautiful, easygoing film with a lot of heart, not without its flaws but a surprise, nonetheless and one of Stiller’s most ambitious efforts.



All this buzz about Gravity. Best film of the year? Certainly not, might just scrape my top 20. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of everyone involved. A stunning visual masterpiece but at its core, a slow-burning drawn out survival story that has been done a hundred times before and much, much better. At first harrowing with Bullock spinning frantically with limited oxygen, it soon got old very quick. Much like Open Water. You could argue I don’t like those sort of films but yet I loved Alive and Buried. Gravity just seemed to be the same rubbish in a beautiful decorated visual wrapper.  It may have taken seven years for Cuaron to make but it took Kubrick twelve years to do Eyes Wide Shut, one of his weaker entries, but it was still more riveting than this.


Certainly not, might just scrape my top 20. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of everyone involved. A stunning visual masterpiece but at its core, a slow-burning drawn out survival story that has been done a hundred times before and much, much better. At first harrowing with Bullock spinning frantically with limited oxygen, it soon got old very quick. Much like Open Water. You could argue I don’t like those sort of films but yet I loved Alive and Buried. Gravity just seemed to be the same rubbish in a beautiful decorated visual wrapper.  It may have taken seven years for Cuaron to make but it took Kubrick twelve years to do


My markers are based on story, performance, pace, interest, and most importantly, would I buy that and would I watch that again? For most of the 120 films, I would find it a chore to endure them again if they appeared on my TV. Granted people have different tastes, but this constant focus on big pictures that fail to impress or surprise is a joke, regurgitating a checklist of sorts. Romance? Sex? Special effects? Needs to be an epic so make it three hours? Wait, guys, what about plot, story and acting? Shut up!


Nothing is original. That is true. But what is important is seeing the same story in a different way, which most of these films haven’t even tried to do. Irritatingly, The Guardian selects films that are of a particular niche or arthouse field. I am unlucky to be in an area where mainstream Hollywood films dominate. We don’t have an independent cinema, as such and if we do, then the choices are sparse and even more expensive to see than the usual 3D turd offering.


It doesn’t help with this current economic climate that Blockbusters have collapsed. It’s now only online rental, which I couldn’t stand in the first place, sending everything I asked for months ago. Or I have to travel 30 to 45 minutes to Milton Keynes or Leicester just to see these “Oscar tipped movies”. Either that or I have to find that them on demand and pay silly amount. There is even another alternative, but I don’t want to go down that path. I want to support this industry.


Conflicting on the three sites about one film, Only God Forgives. Personally, only God will forgive the people that made that movie. Now Refn delivered a sensationally visual feast but couldn’t hide the surprisingly unwatchable Ryan Gosling in a bizarre, stupidly violent, boring, ridiculous affair. Problem, I can see a cult following emerging. You could decipher the religious imagery and connotations but believe me, there are films that have deeper meanings that aren’t as strenuous. In one scene, a bloke is being brutally tortured, I felt his pain by just watching this film despite only being 90 minutes if that. You want deeper readings, watch Blade Runner and Donnie Darko, much better!


Worst films for Time, a few surprises in there. The Hangover Part 3 and Oz: The Great and Powerful? Now, granted. The Hangover 3 was not perfect and I was slightly disappointed and quite a lot of the laughs were revealed in the trailers but I saw a lot worse and liked the darker action-y route that it took and it wrapped up quite well, considering how mental the films were. Oz, on the other hand, very surprised. Franco played the part well, unlike Spring Breakers (Gangsterrrrr!) and Raimi brought a stunning, visual world that was worth seeing in 3D. Granted it was never going to top the original classic. The Counsellor, definitely a poor show. Needed counselling after watching that. (I know, lame, but come on, the chance was there and I took it!).


Grown Ups 2 hardly a surprise. Sandler’s recent endeavours have been a guilty pleasure for my brother and me. Overly panned, these silly films have always managed to make us giggle like a pair of numpties but after a funny hour, the film went downhill badly. Even we wanted to walk out at one point.


What annoyed me with Empire was many of the films I would have considered in my top 10 are ranked in their 30s section of the top 50. Django? Star Trek? Really? Captain Phillips at Number 2? It was a number 2, more like. A gripping opening hour fizzled out in a drawn out two and a half hour affair, felt like I was kidnapped by the pirates myself. Would have preferred it. (No, I wouldn’t). The complaints go on.


It seems film production companies are aware of this decline and instead of investing in new material, they’re going back to the old stuff and rehashing, sorry, remaking it. Oldboy, Total Recall, Robocop, Spiderman, rumours of Lethal Weapon? Why, why, why? Now because of the success of the brilliant Breaking Bad, they are flogging more money at TV shows. Are they going to kill that too? 2014 needs a serious reboot. Provide stories, humour, interest, not the same old crap, at least put a different spin on it. My best and worst will follow once I got rid of the cramp in my hands (Steady now).




The desolation of the competition so far.

A visual cinematic feast for the eyes. Jackson unleashes a beast of a blockbuster. They’ve done it again darker and moodier than ever.

Brilliant storytelling, a great cast and breath-taking visual effects. Film of the year? Saving the best ‘til last? If we got anything to go by with the films this month then definitely.

Now I haven’t read the Hobbit (What?!). However, I was familiar with the original LOTR trilogy and found Jackson faithful in his adaptation. There does appear to be a divide in the critical reception of the Hobbit trilogy. Some found An Unexpected Journey inconsequential. Personally I enjoyed it and saw it as a great indicator of things to come.

Jackson expanded the story and enabled a bigger exploration of the mythology of the Tolkien universe on a much more extravagant scale. From speaking with fans of the book, this installment remarkably remains very faithful, complimenting the source material.

The film carries on from the last with the company being pursued by Orcs. The ring is already starting to take a hold on Bilbo and Gandalf is forced to do some investigating at Dol Guldur.

The cast are back and in fine form. Not to mention some additional characters to the ever-expanding line up and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Hitchcockian cameo from Peter Jackson. The return of Orlando Bloom as Legolas, provided an extra story line which broke up the action. His exchange with Gloin delivered a perfect in-joke for any LOTR fan.

Martin Freeman’s mannerisms and traits were spot on yet again. We were also introduced to a new character Tauriel played by the stunning Evangeline Lilly, who soon becomes embroiled in a love triangle between Kili and Legolas (Yes, Lost fans. Kate is at it again).

Others have found Jackson’s new method of 48 frames per second manic, and at times, nauseating. Undermining the animation and making it appear cartoony. I didn’t find this to be the case. If anything it helped differentiate the trilogy and bring forth a new cinematic style.

The barrel escape was a fantastically riveting and brilliantly executed sequence. This film made me regret the decision to see this in 2D. The special effects and detail on Smaug (performed with perfection by Cumberbatch) was incredible. The minutiae was superb. The golden coins falling like rain off the monster’s metallic skin.

Despite being breathtaking, funny and suspenseful, the pace did test me. And I’m not surprised at a whopping 2 hours 40 minutes. Is there a rule that every LOTR film has to be three hours or something?

I was a little disappointed that more wasn’t made out of the dwarf company. When they were allowed to shine, they delivered. I know it’s difficult with such a big cast BUT the majority of them were either pushed into the background or forgotten about altogether.

Apart from that, an astounding piece of work. I was baffled when I first heard that The Hobbit would be made into a trilogy. I remember ranting about the money hungry production companies for trying to milk a great piece of fiction from a great author. BUT now I cannot wait to see what Jackson has in store for the third and final installment.