*NEW* A QUIET PLACE REVIEW *NEW*

Shhhhh— Shocking.

BUT for the right reasons?

A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.

A tight, taut little thriller.

Looks like Jim from The Office USA has a prosperous career in directing with his first foray into horror.

AQP reminded me very much of M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs BUT instead of alien beings with a water allergy attacking a planet predominantly made of water; we have blind blood thirsty creatures hunting down prey in rural America through the medium of sound.

A nail biting opener established the premise and set the tone. Gripping, tense and unsettling as the Abbott family foraged for supplies. The silence perfectly executed and (despite my grumblings about some of the silly giggly people in the cinema) effective.

It really complimented some of the “jumpy” bits (which there were many) and packed a punch! Krasinski leading us into a false sense of security at every corner. Only for a slight movement; a creaky step or a stupid toy putting you on tenterhooks . . .

The special effects on the “creatures” were impressive. The detail, most notably, on their intricate sonar abilities.

Marco Beltrami’s gripping score delivered when the characters reluctantly broke the sound barrier for survival.

BUT the real credit must go to the cast. Flawless. And essential as the film revolved primarily on the family unit. Naturally, there was great chemistry between husband/wife team John Krasinski and Emily Blunt. A couple doing their best to survive and protect their children.

Normally, I find that kids in horror films (Well, the majority of them) are a recipe for disaster BUT Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe were brilliant as the siblings. Most notably, Simmonds. She stole the show as Regan.

I have to commend Krasinski for hiring a deaf actress to play the role. I loved the father/daughter dynamic as Lee tried to correct his daughter’s impairment. Their fractious relationship provided an extra depth to the piece.

However, it wasn’t perfect. The pacing did test in places (Despite the 90 minute running length) with a little too much indulgence on the tip-toeing around for me.

And I couldn’t help BUT laugh at the fact that Evelyn and Lee would even considering bringing another child into this post-apocalyptic world; knowing that their area is surrounded by these things?!

BUT there wouldn’t have been much of a movie otherwise. And it wouldn’t have allowed for some of the most suspenseful moments of the film as Evelyn hid in a tub from said creature while in labour.

And I know that there’s nothing wrong with a little mystery BUT I wanted to know more about those creepy entities. It didn’t spoil anything by all means BUT I wanted more.

The finale brought it home and was brilliant. Even if I felt a little short changed with the outcome. BUT I couldn’t help BUT walk out of the cinema, impressed.

A gripping premise delivered by a talented and underrated cast.

A indie horror that delivered thrills and tension by the bucket load. Worth a watch.

3.5/5

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*NEW* DEATH WISH REVIEW *NEW*

I must have had one watching this tripe . . .

Well, that was what I thought I was going to say.

Regardless of what I think of the man, Bruce Willis can still hold his own in this violent revenge flick.

Dr Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is an experienced trauma surgeon, a man who has spent his life saving lives. After an attack on his family, Paul embarks on his own mission for justice.

After the ghastly ratings, I expected something really dire. Being a fan of the original cult crime classic, I wasn’t the happiest to hear of a remake. I mean who could top the icon that was Charles Bronson?! BUT I found this latest rehash surprisingly watchable.

The rapid opening sequence (with a fantastic panning shot) riddled with reports of shootings all over Detroit spoke volumes. Finger on the pulse stuff for a generic shoot-em-up. Especially with what’s been happening with gun crime in the US.

Willis’ robotic introduction didn’t give me high hopes . . . At first. He was always going to have a tough act to follow. BUT it added a degree of cynicism to the surgeon as he apologised to the copper whose partner he couldn’t save. And then moved over to the next bed and saved the monster who killed him.

The family melodrama was incredibly cheesy BUT easy going enough as we waited for the inevitable to happen.

The pacing did leave a little to be desired BUT I wasn’t bored. I liked the fact that Kersey didn’t turn into a stone cold killer straight away. A slow burning montage showed a gradual transformation as this down beaten man grew frustrated with the system and his psychiatrist (Wendy Crewson – Air Force One).

Dean Norris was literally playing Hank from Breaking Bad as Detective Raines. Tied by the rules and hoping for the best.

It took a good 40 minutes before Kersey began his vigilante spree. Donning his Unbreakable hoodie and terrorising the streets.

I was a little sceptical that the tone felt as muddled as its message. It may have raised debates about gun crime and vigilantism BUT it was a bit hard to be taken seriously when Willis would then shoot a drug dealer to a bloody pulp in the next frame.

A scene between Kersey and his father in law (Len Cariou – Blue Bloods) was incredibly hammy as the old boy fended off some poachers and preached about “a man defending his own”. Yawn.

The mismatched song choices killed off the seriousness of certain scenes. Using YouTube to learn how to shoot and assemble guns to AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ spoiled what could have been a satirical boiling point.

However, the consumerization of gun culture was brilliantly encapsulated with Bethany, the sales girl at the Jolly Rogers’ gun emporium: “Easy forms to fill, nobody ever fails gun safety class, 100 per cent American made”. Talking about weapons like they were new cars. Kersey’s smirk at such hypocrisy said it all.

The vengeance spree was violent enough as the vigilante ‘honed his craft’. Working his way through the food chain. Looking for the ones who tore his family apart. An unsavoury interrogation with a shady car mechanic did not make for easy viewing after just eating a big ol’ bowl of spaghetti. That’s all I’m saying.

To be honest, I was more surprised at how ‘tame’ this really was. Especially when the director at the helm was Eli “Hostel” Roth. Normally the master of disgust BUT I was relieved to see that NOT everything was taken from the original i.e. the unsavoury rape scene.

It is what is. A violent actioner. Willis held his own and carried the film. It killed the time and deliver what I expected.

It wasn’t perfect and the kills were hardly memorable. I still remember Bronson’s newspaper kill (No, he didn’t kill a guy with a newspaper). BUT nowhere near as unmemorable as Wendy Crewson’s psychiatrist or Vincent D’Onofrio as Kersey’s useless (and incredibly annoying) brother-in-law. Nothing more than a meaningless red herring.

You could pick at the fact that if the police were looking for a vigilante in a dark hoodie, you wouldn’t walk into a public nightclub in said garb with pistol in tow. Come on!

BUT despite the muddled politics and mismatched tone, did we really expect this to be anything other a bloody shoot-em-up?

I just wish that cheeky trigger pose didn’t come off so tacky. Sorry, McClane. Charles Bronson, you ain’t.

2.5/5

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD REVIEW

All in the money in the world can’t hide how mediocre this crime biopic really was.

The story of the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother to convince his billionaire grandfather Jean Paul Getty to pay the ransom.

A glorious opening sequence (encapsulated by Dariusz Wolski’s beautiful cinematography) summed up the movie in a nutshell as Charlie Plummer’s (Not a relation) John Paul Getty III drunkenly stumbled along the busy and lively streets of Rome like something out of Roman Holiday.

Style over substance. Like most of Ridley Scott’s movies of late.

Don’t get me wrong, it was watchable. BUT with the cast involved and the subject matter at hand, I expected more.

It’s hard not to talk about Spacey’s absence. I was a big fan of the actor and I felt the scandal has been used as a PR piece to flog a flailing film. I couldn’t help but imagine how he would have handled the role. Injecting that House of Cards menace.

BUT at that same stroke (and for all the hype), John Paul Getty wasn’t really in this film as much as you’d think or hope. So God knows how Spacey was being nominated for an Oscar before the scandal.

I don’t want to take anything away from Christopher Plummer. He was a charismatic and engaging presence that delivered a worthy performance. Even more so if he did the re-shoots in just NINE days.

He really excelled (as did Michelle Williams) in a compelling scene involving the handling of Gail’s divorce. Absurd, brutal and jaw dropping as Getty dictated the terms. Using the children as nothing more than collateral in a business transaction.

Williams’ expressions and stern demeanour during that entire sequence was worth an awards nod alone. I just wish there was more of that fire and friction BUT Williams and Plummer spent too much of the movie apart. Shame.

The slow burning tempo kept my interest (at first) as it flicked back and forth from the kidnapping to Getty’s past as he worked his way up.

The lessons in money and value weren’t surprising. Despite the small sequences that Getty featured in, it still spoke volumes. “You’re not a person anymore. You’re a symbol”. The fact his name alone made an 11 dollar statue turn into an 11 MILLION dollar one said it all.

“A man who has children gives hostages to fortune”. 14 grandchildren encourages 14 kidnappings. Shrewd and grotesque. You couldn’t help BUT laugh at the tycoon.

There was a sickening irony to Getty’s ruthless rationalizing as a number of countries claimed they had Getty’s grandson. And yet he can barter over rare paintings instead of his own grandson’s life?

Despite an engaging introduction, I found that Mark Wahlberg’s hostage negotiator Fletcher Chase grew increasingly passive and unnecessary as the film progressed.

I know Getty hired him for appearances with no intention of paying BUT Chase seemed genuinely concerned at bringing the boy home and proving the billionaire wrong. And yet sitting by the phone and stating the obvious seemed to be his key priority.

And the chemistry and strange flirting between him and Gail felt forced. Another cook spoiling the broth.

And once Williams was able to get into the fold, she took over his role (and purpose) anyway. Finally putting her foot down. Williams was a good lead BUT she spent too much of the film in the background. Only really getting to shine in the final third.

My main issue was the pacing. It felt 30 to 45 minutes longer than it should have been. The story felt stretched and there were only so many beautiful locations and capitalist quotes I could take.

I was engrossed in the grandson’s kidnapping and his estranged relationship with his handler Cinquanta (Romain Duris). And dare I say, I was more impressed by Duris’ performance as the conflicted Cinquanta than the stellar leads.

Both victims in a game with no winners. All for a bit of the green (No, not that green. Money).

I felt the rest of the supporting cast at Scott’s disposal only had generic roles to work with. It was good to see Timothy Hutton. Even if it was in a tragically minute role. And Andrew Buchan’s surprising (albeit blink and you’ll miss it) turn certainly delivered.

However, the finale was tense and riveting. A cobbled street chase sequence finally got everybody involved and delivered more of what I had expected from the get go.

I don’t need action 24/7 BUT I want the scenes to go somewhere. This should have been a brutal commentary on corporate greed BUT it was too disjointed and complacent.

It wasn’t a complete waste and there were moments to be had BUT for all the hype in the world, that was it. Moments. Despite the best efforts of a talented cast.

2.5/5

ANNIHILATION REVIEW

Different . . . But worth watching?

A biologist (Natalie Portman) signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don’t apply.

An intriguing concept hammered by a meandering pace and a disappointing finale.

It was a little annoying knowing that the main story arc was being retold by Lena as it killed off the mystery that was to come. BUT the fractured time frame kept things engaging with the questions flying in thick and fast as the scenes flicked back and forth.

Portman delivered a sterling turn as the grief-stricken Lena. Struggling to move on from the loss of her partner Kane (Garland stalwart Oscar Isaac) who went MIA on his last expedition.

That was until he strolled into the house. Dishevelled, disoriented and unaware of the lost time.

The suspense set. My curiousity peaked. Alarm bells ringing. I was getting as confused and clueless as Kane.

The slow burning tempo complimented the first act as special ops intervened on Lena’s strange reunion. Whisking her away to a secret facility.

A religious event? Extra terrestrial activity? All we know is that they call it, “The Shimmer”.

Jennifer Jason Leigh’s hard ass psychologist quickly established the premise for our heroine. A meteor crashed into a lighthouse unleashing an expanding rainbow coloured mass (No, this isn’t the plot for The Blob).

The cause of Kane’s absence.

The middle act was where I was rewarded. A creepy unsettling visual feast as Lena and a team of female scientists embark on a journey for answers.

No compasses, no co-ordinates, no concept of time. 3 days had passed and the team had no recollection other than passing through the dreaded bubble.

The animation and special effects were fantastic. Despite my grumblings with the pace, I was left on tenterhooks as the team delved deeper into ‘The Shimmer’.

Just as I felt my patience was waning, there would be a new development. Be it a disturbing video message left on a memory stick. Or a new demented cross-breed.

Tessa Thompson’s encounter with a mutated gator with shark-like teeth was a particular highlight.

There was an air of unease throughout as well as a couple of jumpy moments (That got yours truly).

I loved how Garland and co. kept their cards close to their chests. Did Kane and his team go insane or was it something more? Why is this mass even here? Is it sentient? (Word of the day)

I was a little disappointed at Isaac’s minuscule role. Merely emerging in flashbacks and video clips. I also expected a little more from Tessa Thompson’s character.

However, this did allow more screen time for Jennifer Jason Leigh and gave Gina Rodriguez the opportunity to deliver a stand out performance.

The all-female dynamic worked well. My main complaint was that the characters lacked depth. I liked the tension as Lena chose not to share the fact that Kane was her husband as the team found footage of his expedition.

And before I could moan too much about the lack of character development, the team unwittingly fell prey to another mutation. Nail biting, to say the least.

A bear that wails with the cries of its fallen? Seriously, that thing will stick with me for some time. And don’t even get me started on those creepy plant scarecrow things. Yikes.

Annihilation seemed to fall apart when the team did. The paranoia and backstabbing was only a matter of time and once each member was picked off in one way or another, it all got a little predictable.

The drawn out and ambiguous ending left things on a flat note. Ex Machina was one of my favourite films of 2014 and I knew the finale was never going to be that easy.

BUT despite all the theories and existential discussions, there was only one way Annihilation could go. That final shot should have had me talking BUT I saw it coming and it just didn’t deliver after all that promise.

Despite sharing echoes of Sphere with a hint of The Edge (Great films. Cannot recommend enough), I felt the hype and lumbering pace spoiled something that could have been so much more.

By all means, if you’re still curious, this is still an unsettling and well-acted sci-fi thriller worth a watch BUT it just whether that final act will leave breathless in awe . . . or disappointment.

3/5

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE REVIEW

*NEW* MOTHER REVIEW *NEW*

Oh MOTHER! That was bad.

A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

I guess I wasn’t as big an Aronofsky fan as I thought. The very epitome of a Marmite movie.

For some, an existential dissection of life through religious allegory. For me, a meandering mess split into two agonizing halves that failed to deliver.

To be honest, it didn’t help that the marketing and posters suggested something more horrific. Now don’t get me wrong, Mother! is a modern horror . . . Of sorts.

BUT I was expecting a demented take on Rosemary’s Baby (Like it wasn’t demented already). And there was an echo of that in the closing act BUT this just didn’t go in the direction I hoped at all.

Seriously, pay attention to the first five minutes. The path is established pretty early on.

And if I didn’t have this ridiculous rule of seeing a movie out to the end; I would have joined the several people that walked out 30 minutes in.

This isn’t the worst film I’ve seen (BUT could be for this year).

Credit where it is due. The cast all played their parts well.

The first half of the film was slow burning BUT intriguing as Him’s (Bardem) writer’s block took its toll on the couple’s relationship. Jennifer Lawrence carried this film as much as she could as Mother. Doing her best to be a supportive wife.

Giving Him space and revamping an old country house in a wonderfully tranquil (yet strangely eery) pastoral setting.

I felt for Mother’s frustration and confusion; especially when the mysterious Man (Ed Harris) made his introduction.

A diversion for Him. A disturbance for Mother. The question’s mounting as Him welcomed Man into their home with no hesitation. Drinking and chatting rubbish. The paranoia setting in. Why is he really here? Why now?

Things took an even stranger turn when Man’s wife Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) turned up.

Inventive names, aren’t they? Lazy or clever? I’ll leave that to you (LAZY!). I had to suspend my disbelief and remember this was a movie. There is no way that I would let my partner invite a strange couple we’ve only just met into my home. No-se-re.

I loved Psycho-Pfeiffer. It was great to see her back. Showing Lawrence how it’s done. She played the crazy doctor wife brilliantly. Mind games well and truly in flow. Like a cat playing with a mouse (And yes, I totally meant the Catwoman reference).

The pace was agonizing BUT I was still wanting to see where this was going. BUT the second half of the film completely ruined all that build up. So much so that by the end, it made that story line (almost) completely irrelevant.

Aronofsky really did pull the wool over my eyes. He completely turned the film on its head. I expected this domestic psycho-thriller to unfold into something else. BUT not this!

With more and more people turning up to see Him, I thought something creepier was going to happen.

Especially with the haunting sequences in which the house appeared to be “speaking” to Mother. A bleeding heart in a toilet was an unexpected image I won’t forget any time soon.

I mean it was unsettling BUT it was such a bloody visceral mess and not in the good kind.

I could see what the director was trying to do. Delivering social commentary and satire. BUT there was only so much religious imagery and mayhem that I could take!

The finale unravelled his true intent and I was surprised. I just didn’t like the end result. It wasn’t worth the two hour slogfest.

I didn’t enjoy it (Not that it was ever going to be a movie for “enjoyment”).

Okay granted, it has a been over a month since I saw Mother! and the experience is still fresh in my memory.

BUT I think that was only because of the sheer disappointment. It was torturous. I felt like I was going through this chaotic hell ride with Mother. A ride that I wish I hadn’t taken. Even with the surprising cameos popping up in the mental and sporadic closing minutes.

As much as I have had time to discuss plot points and themes, I still didn’t think Mother! was that special.

Bravo, Mr Aronofsky for pulling the wool over my eyes. You won’t be doing it again.

2/5

*NEW* WIND RIVER REVIEW *NEW*

Tense. Breath-taking. If a little slow in places.

A veteran tracker (Jeremy Renner) helps an inexperienced FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) investigate the murder of a young Native American woman.

I love it when you go into a movie not knowing anything. All I had was the endless #WindRiver hashtags filling my Twitter feed. My curiousity peaked.

Thank God for Twitter. A riveting and well-acted thriller.

As soon as I saw, “Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan”, I knew I was in for a treat. The man responsible for Hell or High Water. One of my favourite films of 2016 (Has it really been a year, already?)

Now helming a new favourite for this year.

Jeremy Renner was brilliant. I’ve always felt he was an underrated actor.

The role of Cory Lambert was perfectly suited for him. A man desperate to keep himself to himself BUT also wanting to do the right thing.

The pace was set on the slow burner with Sheridan teasing titbits of Lambert’s past. The questions already mounting; Why the outback? Why is he so good with that rifle? Why does he have such a strained relationship with his ex-wife?

The awkward atmosphere and idle chit chat as the pair force conversation while Lambert waits for his son.

A man plagued by his own demons. Punishing himself with a life in the wilderness. That was until he discovered a body in the snow . . .

Olsen was excellent as the inexperienced agent Banner. Her arrival summed up the character perfectly as she stood in the snow ill-equipped with a trouser suit.

The only available agent in the area. Sent all the way from Nevada. BUT despite her naivety, Banner’s determination to crack the case and deliver justice for the victim sparked something in Lambert.

The Avengers duo were fantastic together. They had great chemistry and made the dynamic really work.

“We have six people covering an area the size of Rhode Island”.

Sheridan was even able to throw in some social commentary at the hypocrisy of the law enforcement.

Banner’s heated debate with a coroner spoke volumes. Refusing to class the crime as a homicide. The outcome determining how much support the FBI would provide. Mental.

Ben Richardson’s cinematography was brilliant. With one frame, he made the snowy outback look beautiful and inviting. BUT with the next; deadly and haunting.

You couldn’t hide that Neo-Western feel. The Wind River reservation nothing more than a place of a desolation full of lost souls and dangerous ones.

The isolation and loneliness being the real killer.

A simple enquiry turned into a mad shoot out with a group of small-time meth-heads. Nail-biting.

I liked how Sheridan tied in the Native American community as the Crowheart clan struggled to come to terms with the loss of their daughter.

Heartbreaking. Banner’s attempt to console the mother delivered an unsettling scene as she walked in on the poor woman cutting herself. That bleak feeling of helplessness.

BUT as much as I was enjoying the film, the case itself felt a little generic and tame. I kept wondering what all the hype was about.

That was until the final act. The last 20 minutes. Just . . . Woah. No spoilers.

Heart in mouth stuff. My grumbling was soon put on hold as everything came to a tense and exhilarating climax.

There was even a stellar cameo from Jon Bernthal that came out of the blue. Another underrated actor bossing another supporting role.

As much as I picked at the pacing, (ironically) this film could have been longer.

If anything, Wind River could have done with fleshing things out a little more. Especially with Olsen and Renner’s partnership. I loved how Banner’s presence brought out Lambert’s anguish. Finally cracking his hard shell and allowing him to share his pain. Not enough!

The sombre finale hit home and delivered some shocking statistics on the number of missing Native American women in the States.

Fans of Hell or High Water or gritty bleak thrillers will enjoy this all the same. It wasn’t perfect BUT a rewarding effort all the same.

One I actually liked (I know, I bet you’re thinking. Jeez, he picked at this and he liked it?)

3.5/5