*NEW* EXPOSED REVIEW *NEW*

The MAD MOVIE RANTER

exposed

Some secrets are better left buried. A bit like this film, really.

Absolutely bloody dreadful.

A police detective (Keanu Reeves) investigates the truth behind his partner’s death.

A case that unearths disturbing police corruption and a dangerous secret involving an unlikely young woman (Ana de Armas).

Or so the synopsis would lead you to believe. Thank God, Reeves has got John Wick to fall on because this coma-inducing effort would have been a career killer.

If you haven’t heard of this film, then GOOD. You’re one of the lucky ones. If you were thinking of giving it a go, I would strongly advise against it.

Maybe Armas and Reeves shouldn’t work together on a project again. Fool me once, Eli Roth’s horrendous Knock Knock. Fool me twice, this monstrosity.

The opening was creepy enough as Armas loitered around an empty subway. An air of unease uncomfortably set. The Shining

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ROUGH NIGHT REVIEW

Yikes! I’d rather have a rough night than watch this again.

Things go terribly wrong for a group of girlfriends who hire a male stripper for a bachelorette party in Miami.

A highly unfunny opening college flashback didn’t build my hopes up. It was good to see that ScarJo was up for a laugh BUT this was a major step down for the Avengers star.

A shame considering the talent on display; Jillian Bell (22 Jump St), Broad City’s Ilana Glazer and Saturday Night Live‘s Kate McKinnon. Funny people in their own right. BUT as much as they gave it their all; the material was dreadfully weak.

Things fared a little better when the film flash forwarded 10 years later with ScarJo’s Jess running for senate. Her ad campaign was a brilliant Hillary Clinton parody.

The reserved workaholic needing a break from her busy schedule while the rest of the gang were desperate for any excuse to escape their problems.

Popping a champagne bottle delivered a poorly timed airport gag BUT it managed to get a guilty chuckle out of me. That gag pretty much summed up the film.

“The house is everything I hate. I’m gonna take a protest dump”.

There was the occasional funny one liner and the dynamic among the girls was entertaining enough BUT the endless swearing, drug taking, shouting and penis gags got old and got old quick!

Thankfully, Kate McKinnon’s introduction into the mix spiced things up. The awkward new BFF joining the posse.

Upsetting Jillian Bell’s Alice with her very presence. Her eccentric spirit guru (and crazy Nicole Kidman-esque accent) were a much needed presence. Complete with Veggie Mite in tow.

30 minutes in, I was surprised at the dark turn that the film took after Alice’s unfortunate incident with a “stripper”. An act of desperation?

By the end . . . Yes.

It delivered the odd titter BUT the stop/start pace and mismatched tone hampered the piece.

Even the naff subplot with Jess’ effeminate fiance (Paul W. Downs) was a huge misstep. The wine tasting was silly enough BUT the “sad astronaut” gag triggered one drawn out and highly unsavoury sequence involving adult diapers, meth and strange encounters at a petrol station.

It had potential with the Mad Dogs meets The Hangover vibe as the girls’ crazy weekend spiralled out of control with mistaken identity, dodgy coppers and drugged up strippers BUT it just didn’t work.

It tried to be serious with the friends coming to terms that their lives were taking different paths as everything came to blows. It didn’t work.

You had Kate McKinnon somersaulting off a moving jet ski as it ploughed into the beach . . . Meh.

A lechy Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) from Modern Family and naked Demi Moore did nothing to save matters. The sex-crazed swingers next door just killed the already lumbering pace of this hit and miss yarn.

It even resorted to desperate measures with ScarJo busting out some of her Black Widow moves to knock out some burglars.

If any of what I listed above sounded alright then this might be for you.

I watched it to the end BUT that was mainly to see how much worse it was got.

I expected more or at least something passable BUT despite the odd chuckle here and there, I think this is going to be a black mark on the Black Widow’s stellar CV.

Okay, I’m done with the Black Window references.

Take it away Kevin Sorbo Hercules . . .

2/5

THE DARK TOWER REVIEW

The DULL Tower?

With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only the last Gunslinger Roland Dechain (Idris Elba) can defend the Tower from Walter O’Dim (Matthew McConaughey), the Man in Black.

BE WARNED. I’ve never read the Stephen King novels so do NOT murder me for saying that I found this quite watchable. From the scathing ratings on Metacritic, I expected something so much worse.

BUT I’m sure if one of my favourite franchises that span SEVEN books was dumbed down and condensed into a 90 minute film, I might feel completely differently.

The strange opening certainly got things going with the credits explaining about a dark tower protecting the universe from darkness and some guff about only the mind of a child bringing it down.

Cue kids strapped in machines and some weird rodent creatures disguising themselves as humans (No wonder this had a 12A rating). Dark BUT engaging as the film flicked back and forth between “worlds” from Roland’s civil war stand-off to Jake’s apocalyptic nightmares.

I thought Tom Taylor played the role of Jake quite well. I couldn’t stand him in BBC’s Doctor Foster. Bullied at school, plagued by visions of the Man in Black. Paranoia or something more?

Matthew McConaughey lapped it up as Walter O’Dim. What a name! About as bad as his hair: “You will lose that power you have to resist my magics”. Waving his hand around like a Jedi and dispensing commands: “Hate, kill each other, stop breathing”. Creepy.

The pace didn’t really mess about. It jumped from one scene to the next establishing Walter and Roland’s rivalry as well as Jake being the key to  . . . everything. Snore.

It took a good half hour before Elba’s gunslinger (Steady now) was brought into the fold properly. A man hell bent on vengeance. Elba bossed it and worked worked well with Taylor to make that inevitable pairing much more bearable.

The special effects were quite impressive and Rasmus Videbaek’s cinematography was brilliant. Aided by another stellar score from Junkie XL (Mad Max: Fury Road).

The main issue I had with The Dark Tower was that it felt a little too rushed. All that build up and promise for a mad dash finale that didn’t seem to leave much open. If there was supposed to be more sequels . . .

I had so many questions: “What was the deal with the rat things? Was it all magic and sorcery? Why alternate dimensions/realities?”. It took me an hour to realise that there were different versions of Earth. One still dormant in the 18th Century with futuristic gizmos apparently? Wild Wild West, this ain’t.

I was a little disappointed that McConaughey and Elba spent so much of the movie apart. When they were on screen together, it was gold.

Roland’s encounters with “the Earth people” were quite entertaining; “You have forgotten the faces of your fathers”, he solemnly declares to some drunk ladies on a bus as they try to chat him up.

If anything, I wanted more. 90 minutes wasn’t enough and it didn’t make full use of the supporting cast. You had Watchmen‘s Jackie Earle Haley playing such a measly role. BUT not as disappointing as Katheryn Winnick’s role.

You had Lagertha from Vikings at your disposal. Why give her such a weak part? Don’t get me wrong, there was enough emphatic exchanges between her and Taylor to make you feel for the mother and son. BUT again . . . it was NOT enough.

The action sequences were entertaining. I just wish there was a little more inventive gun play.

Considering this was the last Gunslinger who reloads quicker than the human eye, he still seemed a little laboured shooting from the hip . . . No, sorry. The heart. How did that annoying chant go?

There are blockbusters that push for the 120-150 minute mark when they really shouldn’t (*Cough* Transformers *Cough*) BUT I would have been happy to explore this universe a little more.

Shame. And that was someone who didn’t read the books.

DT offered action and entertainment to kill the time BUT it felt like it was afraid to take a chance and flesh out the stories involved.

2.5/5

THE RITUAL REVIEW

If only they could have summoned up a quicker pace . . .

A group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that’s stalking them.

The opening act set the tone as the lads (comprising of a talented and underrated British cast) debated about their next excursion. Lulling us into a false sense of security as they bantered and bickered over locations.

I’ve had the same discussion with my friends many a time about our European outings.

However, a simple beer run soon turned everything on its head as a cowardly Luke (Rafe Spall – Hot Fuzz) hid during a botched supermarket robbery leaving his best friend to face a gruesome end.

Forward six months to a now embittered Luke begrudgingly hiking in Northern Sweden. A man still tortured by his dreams. Living that same night over and over.

The slow burning tempo complimented the piece (To start with . . . ). The air of unease, the eerily tranquil forest setting, Ben Lovett’s incredible and unsettling score.

Andrew Shulkind’s cinematography was brilliant. He managed to make a somewhat grainy outlook picturesque.

The cast delivered. A must when the premise relied heavily on four characters. Robert James-Collier (Ol’ Thomas from Downton Abbey) almost stole the show from Spall.

“Well, this is the house we get murdered in”.

The dynamic worked well and the exchanges were entertaining enough as the film teased us with creepy little tidbits; butchered animals hanging in the trees, strange Blair Witch Project like markings.

It wasn’t long before a blistering storm and an untimely injury for a party member forced the gang to seek shelter in an abandoned cabin. I loved the Evil Dead vibe. The eerie noises. And that demented Wicker Man looking effigy?!

Seriously, I would have endured the storm than stay in that cabin. Sheesh.

By the half hour marker, I could feel my interest wading BUT things took a stranger turn as the gang experienced trippy and demented Hangover style blackouts. Losing all sense of time/space/whereabouts. Straying further from their path home.

I kept wondering why we only saw Luke’s (repetitive and incredibly irritating) nightmares and none of the others? All we had was pure hearsay. Without unleashing any spoilers, I really hoped that the film was going to stray down The Thing territory BUT alas it was not to be . . .

I still loved the fact that you didn’t know what direction this film was going to take right up to the closing minutes as the gang tried to escape their impending doom.

There were a few jumpy bits with some fine moments of perfectly executed suspense and tension. Even when the inevitable bickering and rising body count began.

I also loved how we didn’t know what was attacking them right up until its big reveal in the gripping finale.

The only problem I had with The Ritual was that I thought there might have been a little more to it. After the big unveiling of the “creature”, it rushed to a frantic (albeit nail biting) climax. It just felt a little abrupt after all that build up.

BUT I was pleasantly surprised. A weird, creepy little horror worthy of your time.

3/5 (Just)

*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

*NEW* ISLE OF DOGS REVIEW *NEW*

Did you hear the rumours? What rumours? That Isle of Dogs is pretty good.

Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his lost dog.

Confession time, I’m not the biggest Wes Anderson fan. BUT I loved his take on Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. His quirky whimsical style suiting the children’s book to perfection. I was really excited to see what his next foray into stop-motion animation would offer.

Did it live up to the hype? (Uh . . . You just put it was good).

All barks have been translated into English while humans speak in native tongues or by interpreter/foreign exchange student/electronic device.

I knew what I was getting myself into.

Alexandre Desplat’s grandiose score and Courtney B. Vance’s (American Crime Story) brooding narration helped liven up a crazy prologue titled ‘The Boy Samurai’. A strange fable about a century long vendetta between a renowned Japanese dynasty (The Kobyashi clan) and .  . . Some dogs. Okay then . . .

Flash forward to 20 years in the future and an outbreak of snout fever has spread among canines in the city of Megasaki with a risk of infecting humans. In a hasty measure by Mayor Kobayashi, all dogs are dumped on ‘Trash Island’. Left to their demise.

The animation was fantastic. The detail, the expressions, the set designs. Brilliant. Matching the zany nature of our eccentric director. Come on, even the title spells; I LOVE DOGS.

The dogs really did steal the show. Their Magnificent Seven Western showdown introduction had me in stitches. Piles of litter rolling across like tumbleweed as they fought rival packs for scraps. I loved the cartoony cloud scuffles.

The cast were superb; featuring a mixture of regular Anderson stalwarts and new faces (Well, voices in this case). Edward Norton was a particular highlight as Rex. BUT each dog had their moment to shine from Goldblum’s gossiping to Murray’s meanderings. However, none of them could top Chief.

Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston delivered that Heisenberg tenacity to the hostile hound. A dog that has never had a “master” and refuses to accept one.

That is until one of those said “masters” crash lands on Trash Island looking for his lost dog.

I loved the endearing relationship that developed between Chief and Atari (Koyu Rankin) as the stubborn stray (initially) refused to help. The lost in translation shtick complimented the film.

I didn’t have an issue with the lack of subtitles as Atari raged in his native tongue. The detail in the eyes said it all. The emotion captured perfectly in a wonderful flashback between him and his beloved dog Spots (Liev Schreiber – Ray Donovan).

And luckily when some of the conversations in Megasaki got a little dense, we had the fantastic Frances McDormand and Greta Gerwig for interpretation.

That was the only problem. When the humans were involved, the pace dragged and; if it wasn’t for Gerwig’s hilarious political activist/foreign exchange student Tracy, my interest would have completely waded.

The maniacal Mayor’s canine vendetta and conspiracy to thwart scientists for a cure was dull as dishwater. I just wanted to get back to Trash Island.

“You should see the other dog. I think he was made of stainless steel”.

The crazy canines and their quest to help Atari was full of heart and had all the Anderson quips and humour we’ve come to love.

Even the kanji was translated during a news report with such phrases as: (Sad funeral) and (Tragic disaster).

“Maybe it’s me, I’m not a doctor or maybe it’s the clutch pedal accelerator in the side of his head but . . . ”

Too adult for kids? I think this could leave the little ‘uns fidgeting in their seats.

Don’t get me wrong, the dogs were fantastic and their hilarious convos were comedy gold BUT the student protests in Megasaki and animal rights debates was a tall order even for yours truly.

The journey was entertaining and delivered a few surprises along the way, with a number of eclectic characters popping up from Harvey Keitel’s cannibal crew to Tilda Swinton’s prophetic pug.

BUT this wasn’t perfect by any means. It was tough NOT to make comparisons to Fantastic Mr Fox, which this fell short of.

Scarlett Johansson was wasted as show dog Nutmeg. She had good chemistry with Cranston’s Chief and it teased a little side story that didn’t surmount to anything.

The final showdown was a little flat as Anderson traded robot dogs and quirky humour for haikus and pretentious speeches in a giant conference hall.

I was a little disappointed at how Chief and his band of merry misfits were strangely absent in the chaotic finale. Shame.

It felt like something was missing. I couldn’t fault the charm and heart behind this zany flick and I still smile thinking of certain scenes BUT it wasn’t enough for the talent at hand and the characters that were at their disposal. I was left wanting.

BUT fans of WA and stop-motion animation will not be disappointed.

3/5

THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX REVIEW

The Cloverfield Paradozzzzz

Orbiting a planet on the brink of war, scientists test a device to solve an energy crisis, and end up face-to-face with a dark alternate reality.

Slow, disjointed and disappointing on all fronts.

The agonizing slow opening didn’t build high hopes despite Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s (Belle) best efforts. Drudging through some guff about blackouts and finding a new source of energy.

The visuals effects were impressive enough BUT it took a good 20 minutes before anything interesting actually happened. We watched as the team of cliched characters argued and scrapped after two years of failing to deliver results.

Bear McCreary’s score was wasted on this film BUT it lifted a seemingly bland and hum drum first act.

However, one final test on the accelerator changed everything as the team were inadvertently teleported to another reality (One of vast nothingness apparently).

Five minutes later, one ear piercing Godzilla like shriek and I was intrigued.

BUT instead of getting some gargantuan alien super being, we had an amnesia-ridden Elizabeth Debicki (The Man From U.N.C.L.E) trapped in a wall.

Okay, the mangled time lines and molecular restructuring had its moments as crew members fused into walls and rooms and parts of the ship moved around BUT it wasn’t enough.

I was disappointed at how such a talented cast were given such unmemorable characters.

I mean, come on! You had David Oyelowo (Selma) playing a tortured space captain that spent the majority of the film sobbing in his quarters and Ziyi Zhang (House of Flying Daggers) in one of the most unmemorable supporting roles I’ve seen. What a waste of an actress.

Even when the inevitable body count rose, I felt nothing for them.

It had so much promise BUT just didn’t amount to anything. It could have gone down the Event Horizon route, it didn’t. We could have had a demented take on 2001: A Space Odyssey, we didn’t.

Daniel Bruhl (Good Bye Lenin!) and Aksel Hennie (Headhunters) were the only memorable characters.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Only Chris O’Dowd (The IT Crowd) could get away with making one scene so ridiculous actually work.

The arm! My God. Seriously? If someone’s (perfectly clean) severed arm crawled across the floor like Thing out of The Addams Family; I wouldn’t be standing there pointing.

The best scene BUT also the worst as it established Paradox’s underlying problem. A lack of direction and tone. A chaotic mess. That laughable moment livened up an incredibly dull affair.

Debicki was left to wallow on a bed and reminisce about memories of Hamilton (Mbatha-Raw) from another reality. Yawnnn . . .

I was more interested in what Hamilton’s husband (Roger Davies) was doing back on Earth in the disjointed side story. It beat watching the crew go stir crazy and inevitably betray each other.

Some things are better left unanswered. I think the Paradox team should have learned from the Alien franchise.

I can respect that it tried to be something different BUT apart from that final shot, I couldn’t even call this a Cloverfield film.

It was tough NOT to make comparisons. At least 10 Cloverfield Lane gave some sort of indication that it fit in the same universe. And at least that was an absorbing thriller that made full use of its THREE protagonists.

Where did Paradox even fit in the timeline? Before or after? Was their experiment the reason that giant creature hit the city in the first place?

By the end, I didn’t care. Maybe I expected too much BUT it failed to deliver in tension, suspense and the tone was completely all over the place. It felt like the production company just nicked the Cloverfield title for click bait.

Or maybe this film was teleported from another reality where the Cloverfield movies were dire efforts that went straight to Netflix? Maybe .  . .

2/5