*NEW* KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE REVIEW *NEW*

Manners maketh the ridiculous sequel

When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsmen’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.

Stupid, bonkers, OTT and yet . . . Still highly entertaining.

The Kingsman are back BUT better? Well . . .

It would help to watch the first one. BUT if you haven’t, it’s not the end of the world (Although YOU MUST! It’s rather bloody good) as quick plot points are skimmed over anyway.

I mean, my mind drew a blank in the opening sequence as Charlie (Who? Thankfully there was a quick flashback) ambushed Eggsy (Taron Egerton) in a mental cab chase punch up.

I was a little anxious with the frenetic opening. It was too chaotic and, dare I say, silly for my liking. The frantic camera work, the over-indulgent CGI, I feared the worst. The soundtrack was on point though as Eggsy and Charlie punched the living daylights out of each other to Prince. Nice.

BUT once the pace settled down and the humour kicked in, I was still happy to be caught up in this crazy mess.

Egerton ran the show yet again and carried the film (when it tragically dragged).

Julianne Moore had a tough act to follow after Ssssssamuel (One for the Kingsman fans) L Jackson’s stellar turn in Secret Service BUT she played the psycho Poppy really well. If anything, I was disappointed at how small her screen time was.

Beneath the smiley Desperate Housewives persona lied one twisted individual. Don’t eat a burger from her. That’s all I’m saying.

I liked the idea of the Statesmen. The Kingsman’s American cousin. All the satire ripe for the picking. BUT after a fun introduction and some punny wordplay on their operative names; Tatum, Berry and Bridges were all left watching from the side lines. By the end, I wondered why they even bothered. Shame.

Thank God for Pedro Pascal’s (Game of Thrones/Narcos) laser lasso throwing cowboy Whiskey.

Colin Firth was a welcome return. Even with his ridiculous (but surprisingly plausible in a “Kingsman” way) revival. A much needed presence. The camaraderie with Eggsy was the heart of the first movie.

His presence made up for some of the messier parts of the movie. The only problem was that once Harry was back, Merlin was designated to Q status. A shame as up until that point; Mark Strong (The Brothers Grimsby) had been on scene stealing form. Benched (with the majority of the Statesmen) right up until the explosive finale.

My main quibble with The Golden Circle was that where the original got away with poking fun at James Bond (and the spy genre in general); this really did take things up to 11. A bit like Kick Ass 2. Funny, messed up BUT pushing its luck.

The middle act dragged and a reconnaissance mission at Glastonbury took the biscuit for me as Eggsy “planted” a bug into a model’s (Poppy Delevigne – Yup Cara’s sis) orifice (Nope, you read that right).

Now don’t get me wrong, the original wasn’t perfect. And to say, this sequel was silly by comparison is . . . silly in itself.

Especially when you had Sofia Boutella’s lethal Pistorius blade combination, Jackson’s blood phobia and THAT church scene . . . (My God! Pardon the irony) I will never listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd  in the same way again!

I just wasn’t caught up in it as much this time around.

Bruce Greenwood’s cameo as the President of the United States was mental. He reminded me of a similar world leader (with no concept of empathy or thought. Make of that what you will). His unique hostage negotiating skills spoke volumes.

BUT the real scene stealer was Sir Elton John. The Rocketman was bloody hilarious. He really didn’t give a damn, wasn’t afraid to poke fun at himself and was surprisingly agile for an ailing musician 😉

Despite the relentless CGI, the malingering pace and some mad plot holes, K: GC was still crazy fun with some entertaining and delightfully bloody and visceral action sequences.

A fun time filler if nothing else that won’t disappoint Kingsman fans too much.

3/5

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*NEW* LOGAN LUCKY REVIEW *NEW*

Is this really the movie that drew Soderbergh out of “retirement”?

Meh.

Two brothers attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina.

Ocean Eleven goes Deep South.

This had all the Soderbergh traits. The dry humour, the stylish look, the crazy characters.

I enjoyed the Ocean movies BUT always felt they were a little overhyped (Sacrilege, I know).

BUT despite the director’s best efforts and ol’ Mike trying to work his magic, this crime caper just didn’t quite work.

A real shame as I was looking forward to seeing what these guys could do.

  

What? Hehehe. Moving on . . .

The pace was a real drag. The opening 30 minutes was a real bum-number. The slow style didn’t help matters despite Jimmy’s (Channing Tatum) luck fading fast. Battling unemployment and a possible custody battle.

Tatum delivered a sterling turn and carried the film as much as he could BUT it just wasn’t enough.

I was disappointed in Jimmy and Clyde’s fraternal relationship. Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Tatum had good chemistry BUT they spent too much of the movie apart.

Riley Keough, I’m in love. What? She was heavily underused as the other (resourceful) Logan sibling.

“I know all the Twitters”.

The soundtrack was decent and the script did deliver some funny quips. Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson were hilarious as the dim-witted Bang brothers. I think the movie focused on the wrong family. Seriously, I’m not even joking.

The actual heist was okay and made for an entertaining and silly middle act. My grumbling was subdued and there were some suspenseful moments BUT it all felt a little too easy.

The strangely disjointed subplot (if you can call it that) with Sebastian Stan’s (Captain America: Winter Soldier) frustrated racer was terrible. It bared no significance to the plot and felt like a poor interlude between the heist sequences. It didn’t work for me. I would have preferred the flicking back and forth focusing on the actual protagonists instead.

Speaking of terrible? What was the deal with Seth MacFarlane’s dreadful Mockney accent? You can normally bank on the Family Guy comic to deliver the goods BUT he really got on my nerves as the pretentious British racing tycoon.

I was happy to see James Bond take a complete change in role as the eccentric Joe Bang. BUT despite a reasonable performance, Craig just wasn’t as good or as funny as I’d hoped. From the trailers, I expected something more. Wasted opportunity.

His heated debate with the Logan brothers over explosive ingredients (mid-heist) was entertaining enough.

I just wish there was more of that. Sarcastically doodling chemical compounds while making a bomb out of blue tack and gummy bears drew a titter from me.

There was too much smoke and mirrors guff that (despite preaching boredom) I was actually getting a little lost in what was going on.

BUT thankfully the unravelling of the mad robbery redeemed a real droll affair.

I knew things were getting desperate when Soderbergh threw in a cheeky Ocean’s Eleven reference to get a laugh (Admittedly it did get a guilty chuckle from yours truly).

Hilary Swank was completely wasted in her role. She literally appeared in the final act. Promising so much and giving us absolutely nothing. To be honest, her character’s frustration mirrored mine as she scratched her head at this ludicrous heist. I really hoped her hard ass FBI agent would bust some balls and pick up the tempo. BUT alas, it was not to be.

The female roles were pretty weak in general. Katherine Waterston’s (Alien: Covenant) character was reduced to nothing more than a forced cheesy romance that felt tacked on. Katie Holmes’ scornful ex wasn’t too bad BUT again more could have been made out of her.

And that’s my review in a nutshell. More could have made out of this. It wasn’t quite as gripping, funny or as clever as it could have been.

It passed the time, delivered the odd quip and had the odd moment. BUT there was something missing.

Watchable but memorable? If it wasn’t for this review, I probably would have forgotten it already. Unlucky.

2.5/5

*NEW* 50 SHADES OF GREY REVIEW *NEW*

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I’d rather look at 50 different shades of grey than endure this again.

Well, that’s what I thought I was going to say. Yeah, I can’t believe I watched it either. What did the Mad Movie Ranter make of the highest earning controversial adult movie of 2015?

In a nutshell, I didn’t mind it.

Literature student Anastasia Steele’s (Dakota Johnson) life changes forever when she meets handsome, yet tormented, billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan).

After all the negative press, Twitter bashing and that massive Razzie collection, I kept thinking to myself “Am I missing something here?”. I found this kinky little love story quite watchable. The two leads had great chemistry. The soundtrack was excellent.

Seamus McGarvey’s cinematography was hypnotic and director Sam Taylor Johnson dealt with the subject matter tastefully. And no, I’m not being sarcastic.

Scandalous? Outrageous? Not at all. Was that the problem?

I will admit I’ve never read the books. And I don’t intend to. I made the mistake of buying them as a gift for my mother completely unaware that they were essentially “book porn”. A mistake that will forever haunt me. However, 50 Shades bookworms (and Mum) gave me a little context as I prepared myself. And to be honest, it wasn’t what I expected at all.

I thought Dakota Johnson played the naive and impressionable Anastasia perfectly. Her first encounter with the mysterious Mr Grey made for watchable viewing. I wasn’t sure if Jamie Dornan would deliver (after all the rumoured names attached to the role) BUT he handled it with plenty of charm and charisma. I was only familiar with the chap from his killer role in the BBC hit show The Fall. Considering he has a thick Irish accent, he mastered the American twang brilliantly.

At its core, it was a typical cheesy love story. BUT I’m happy to watch a movie like this if the couple are engaging enough. Luckily the pair’s chemistry kept things very watchable. The whole girl falls for wealthy businessman spiel has been done to death BUT of course, there was a slight twist on it all. Because Mr Grey has a secret. Hidden in the many rooms of his lavish penthouse suite.

“I want to show you my playroom”. An odd request from the mysterious millionaire. An innocent response from the naive Anastasia, “Like your X-Box and stuff?” and I was intrigued.

I thought the S&M stuff was handled delicately as Grey shared his seedy secret. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy) and writer Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr Banks) slowly introduced it into the mix as their romance blossomed. Hardly controversial or sordid. Is that why people hated it because it wasn’t rude and filthy enough? There were some raunchy moments as Anastasia was blind folded and strapped up. And Miss Johnson certainly wasn’t that shy in getting her kit off.

It was an interesting contrast seeing Anastasia’s naivety of the situation. Finding Grey’s obsession a mere game. Not fully understanding that he’s only giving her a taster. The contract meeting to keep their relationship undisclosed was laughable in its own right. BUT the fact Anastasia doesn’t take it that seriously can only spell disaster.

Apart from the odd sex scene, their romance chugged along as Grey shared his rich lifestyle with Anastasia and even introduced her to his foster family. My main quibble was that the supporting cast were wasted. A shame considering the talent; Marcia Gay Harden (The Mist), Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty) and Callum Keith Rennie (Memento).

Their characters were far too weak and merely there to break up the pair fooling around. I’m aware that they may feature more in the upcoming sequels. BUT they didn’t really make much of an impression for their first outing and Rita Ora looked like she was in the wrong movie.

Apart from that, I wasn’t really bored. The pace didn’t test. The soundtrack was great (Something else somebody bought for their mum). Featuring chart hits from The Weekend and Ellie Goulding. The closing moments certainly spiced things up as Grey’s inability to share and connect, along with his kinky fixation, continued to forge cracks in their fragile relationship.

I know there was a little backlash regarding a scene involving a slap BUT I thought it raised an interesting argument between the pair and attempted to question this S&M taboo. If anything, I was a little bit annoyed because we were starting to unearth a little more into Grey’s past, the pair had a massive fight and then it just ended. Rather abruptly.

Of course, more is to follow. And despite such low ratings, it was one of the highest earning R-rated movies of the year and earned a sequel. One I might actually be tempted to see. I don’t think they could have made the film any cruder because then it would have been a different kind of adult movie altogether. If you know what I mean.

I felt the pair had better chemistry than Kunis and Tatum in Jupiter Ascending and to be honest, in comparison to the other films that were nominated for the Razzies, this was a much better effort. Surprised, to say the least.

3/5

MAGIC MIKE XXL REVIEW

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Too many problems but somehow (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) it wasn’t all that bad. In fact, you could say it was . . . Alright, alright, alright.

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Three years after Mike (Channing Tatum) bowed out of the stripper life at the top of his game, he and the remaining Kings of Tampa hit the road to Myrtle Beach to put on one last blow-out performance.

I never expected to enjoy a film about male strippers and I didn’t. The first time. I finally mustered the strength to see Magic Mike a week ago. I didn’t expect to be impressed by the gyrating movements of Tatum’s torso but I was hoping after all the hype for something a little more.

It was boring. Reprieved by McConaughey’s Dallas and some entertaining song and dance numbers. Everything else was far too tame, corny and drawn out.

BUT of course, I’m a movie masochist. My vow to try and review as many films as possible biting me on the backside. So a second helping of stripping. Greeaaaattt.

However, I actually enjoyed this a lot more than I expected. A vast improvement on its predecessor. I laughed a lot more (For the right reasons) and didn’t find myself half as bored. BUT it doesn’t get off the hook that easily.

Credit where it’s due. The film got straight to business as we follow Mike struggling to make ends meat. A quick phone call. A few passing comments explaining the absence of three characters. Bye Bye, Dallas, The Kid and Cody Horn’s Brooke. And we were good to go.

To be honest, Horn’s absence was a relief. I found her acting terrible and she lacked any real chemistry with Tatum. The endless staring and mumbling did my head in. McConaughey was a missed presence but it did give Joe Manganiello a chance to step up. It was a shame that Pettyfer didn’t return but rumours suggested that he and Tatum didn’t get on during the filming of the first one.

For those who haven’t seen Magic Mike (How can I say such a thing?), it isn’t crucial for the sequel. There are just little bits that might skim over your head but somehow I don’t think this is the sort of film where plot is imperative.

Within 15 minutes, the gang were all back together! So it made the finale of MM a little pointless really. But there are no guarantees for success in life. Plus Hollywood really wanted a sequel. For the first half hour or so, it zipped along. The camaraderie and banter (That appealed to me the first time round) was very much on fine form.

Tatum can dance. Unfortunately Step Up hasn’t been top priority on my movie list. What? Anyway, he delivered the charisma yet again and you could tell he was having fun doing it. His reaction when his trade mark stripper song Ginuwine’s ‘Pony’ came on the garage radio said it all. That inevitable dance imminent as soon as the beat dropped. It was like something out of Flashdance.

Tatum had good chemistry with the lovely Amber Heard but her character was a little weak. I feared a retread of the Horn disaster with the pair muttering and mumbling away. However, despite their improv going on for too long, they still delivered enough charm to keep it watchable. Just.

Matt Bomer’s character Ken was a bit shady to start with. Jealous of Mike’s return. I was hoping for some of that heated tension that Dallas and Mike shared in the closing minutes of MM. Plus let’s not forget that Ken wasn’t that squeaky clean.

But it was resolved far too quickly. A quick slap with some wood. Hang on, let me rephrase that. A testosterone/drug/drink-fuelled stand off in a beach with a log of wood and a jab in the gut and the pair were all smiles. Boy, Bomer can sing though.

Jada-Pinkett Smith may be rocking it at 44. Even if she might have had work done. BUT I found her character Rome very annoying. Every scene involving her went on far too long. It was obvious within 30 seconds that Mike and Rome used to work together. I didn’t need 30 minutes of mindless chatter in her strip club with a shirtless Childish Gambino doing some long winded rap that wasn’t that good.

I can’t believe I’m writing this but the strip dance offs in Rome’s club were the only redeeming moments. Childish Gambino fared better when he just sang.

The dance routines were actually well choreographed and quite entertaining as the gang decide to jazz up their stale material. The ladies will definitely love them. Manganiello’s set pieces had me shaking my head. And not just out of jealousy for his toned bod. His attempt to woo an attendant at a gas station was ridiculous but hilarious.

Kevin Nash (Kevin Nash? WWE Kevin Nash?) can’t dance to save his life but at 6 foot odd, the 50 something former pro wrestler gave it a good old go. The final 20 minutes was cheesy but fun enough. I got a smile. I know the ladies certainly were. The gang must have had a good laugh while filming this.

I couldn’t believe the cameos that popped up in this. Elizabeth Banks? Andie MacDowell as a bitterly divorced MILF?

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It’s flawed beyond belief and that’s not coming from a jealous heterosexual but it was a vast improvement from the original and wasn’t all bad. Don’t expect too much in terms of character development and plot but I’m sure that the audience, it’s aiming at will not care one little bit.

2.5/5

JUPITER ASCENDING REVIEW

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The only place this film is ascending in is my Worst Films of 2015 list.

Messy Matrix effects + a moody Mila = one moaning movie goer.

I always felt the Wachowskis never could reach the bar they set with The Matrix. The sequels; Reloaded and Revolutions were superb in visual and action set pieces but pace and plot? Meh.

I admired their execution of Cloud Atlas even if it was a bit of a mess. The pace and the disjointed story lines didn’t deliver for me.

Now we have Jupiter Ascending. The thought of a Matrix reboot may not be so bad if the guys will stop doing films like this.

A little harsh. It certainly zipped along for its 127 minute length BUT the story made no sense and had more holes than a sponge. And the cast?! My God. They must have been paid a lot of wonga to take on these poorly written characters.

*WARNING* RANT MAY CONTAIN POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

So what’s it about? In a bright and colourful future, a young destitute caretaker (Mila Kunis) gets targeted by the ruthless son (Eddie Redmayne) of a powerful family who lives on a planet in need of a new heir, so she travels with a genetically engineered warrior (Channing Tatum) to the planet in order to stop his tyrant reign.

What?!

From the corny opening, I could feel myself wincing. Maria Doyle Kennedy (The Tudors) and James D’Arcy (Broadchurch) had enough chemistry to make it bearable as they fall in love. Inevitably leading to Jupiter’s conception.

It is only as the film concluded that I realised that the first 10-15 minutes were completely unnecessary and contributed nothing to the story. Only why Kunis’s character is called Jupiter.

D’Arcy’s father figure was prepared to risk his life with some ultra-violent burglars for a golden telescope. The relevance of said telescope in the film? A cryptic map to the universe? A weapon? No, just something really nice and shiny.

The whole ironic illegal “alien” and actual alien status surrounding Jupiter was a nice touch. We soon get a sense of her hum drum routine as a fed up maid. While in a galaxy far, far – No, Saturn. We have the intergalactic royal siblings (played by Douglas Booth, Eddie Redmayne and Tuppence Middleton) squabbling over their inheritance. Their inheritance being planets of the solar system. The most precious, of course, being Earth.

After his Oscar winning turn as Stephen Hawking in A Theory of Everything, I had high hopes for Mr. Redmayne. BUT boy, oh, boy. This is a step down. Razzie well and truly deserved. He must have been trying to do his best (well, worst) Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg impression from The Fifth Element.

Certainly got the haircut. His gravelly gangly master villain was something I expected to see in a pantomine. His volatile behaviour was laughable. At one point, he has a fit of rage that mimicked Delia Smith at that infamous Norwich game.

And she still delivered that with much more gusto. Granted she had way ti many martoonis. To make matters worse, he was virtually absent throughout the film, dispensing his Paul-esque alien henchmen to do his bidding or shrieking on a sofa.

The squabbling royal family had heavy Shakespearean undertones BUT it was hard to take it seriously with Booth and Tuppleton camping it up to the max. The whole solar system as their playground subplot seemed to dampen what could have been a darker affair.

There was a revelation halfway through the film that made things a little more interesting BUT there were still too many issues.

Channing Tatum did his best as the mystery genetically spliced bounty hunter. I’m sure ladies will be happy to see him roller blading in anti-gravity boots with his shirt off for nearly half the film.

There was little chemistry between him and Kunis BUT I got to admit I found Kunis quite weak in the leading role. I know it didn’t help with weak jokes and hammy dialogue. BUT she didn’t deliver any of them with conviction. Too laid back and flat for my liking. I mean her reaction when she is surrounded by bees was worse than Marky Mark talking to a plastic plant in The Happening.

BUT she did look stunning in a bin liner. No, seriously. She wears a dress that looks like a bin liner. Must have spent the budget on the lavish sets. Because it weren’t on the clothes or the writers.

The special effects were, to be expected, superb. The 3D was a little lacklustre for the ticket price. I’m surprised cinemas are still bothering with this silly little gimmick.

The chase sequences were intense. However, they seemed to go on far too long and there was too much going on that it was a little disorienting. And by the end, the animation was so cartoony that it killed off some of the action.

It may have looked good BUT the story was a mess. For every question I had, it was eventually explained but the answer was so ridiculous that I had even more questions. BUT by the end, I couldn’t care less.

I mean there were scenes in which the siblings were controlling ships from their bathing pools? Why? Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s big ears? What up with that? Sean Bean’s space cop and, for some reason, bee keeper mumbling some mumbo jumbo about the history of the universe.

Or should I say, Sean Bee-n (A-ha! I’ll get my coat). Why the bees? Some rubbish about bees detecting royalty. WHAT? The more Sharp explained, the more I switched off. It just got sillier and sillier that it killed the fun and made me a little numb. I was more surprised that Bean managed to survive his movie curse!

Even Tatum’s back story surrounding the origin of his albino werewolf alien hybrid just put me into a mini coma. It just felt that it had too many ideas meshed together with none of them really working.

The creatures that featured in the universe (Well, Jupiter. I think it was Jupiter? And Earth) were brilliantly constructed. An action packed crop chasing sequence that rivalled Signs silenced my nagging voice until a lame punch line involving crop circles was delivered.

The bureaucracy segment in which Kunis must register her “royalty entitlement” in an intergalactic DMV with a robot that could trump C-3P0 in a robo-camp off just didn’t fit with the tone of the film and went on far too long.

The only explanation I could find for it was the surprise cameo from the legendary Terry Gilliam. A sight for sore eyes. Wachowskis trying to do a Brazil reference? If so, don’t do it again.

I know these sort of things are done with a level of exaggeration BUT it helps to have characters you care about. That’s half the battle. The other stuff could be as stupid as you like BUT alas, it was not to be.

It was all rushed and resolved so cheesily and predictably. Hinting for another like all the endless teen sci-fi flicks. But hopefully no one will take the hint.

2/5

FOXCATCHER REVIEW

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Tough, slow and frustrating. I’d rather watch “What Did The Fox Say?” for two hours than endure this over-hyped ensemble piece again.

Watching this film made me feel like I had been in a wrestling match. Tired, achy, drained and frustrated.

When I first saw the trailers, I had high hopes. I went in ready to see a trio of talented actors take on what was potentially a game changer.

To be honest, it still was BUT the hype really did hinder!

So what’s it all about? The greatest Olympic Wrestling Champion brother team (Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum) joins Team Foxcatcher led by multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont (Carrell) as they train for the 1988 games in Seoul – a union that leads to unlikely circumstances.

Channing Tatum was very good as Mark Schultz. It has been a strange but interesting transition for the actor. I remember watching Fighting and thinking to myself, “Why is everyone going on about this guy?” An inaudible accent. A slacker posture. Was he trying to do a really bad Stallone impression? Is this a joke?

BUT he has progressed so far from that. Appearing in a range of films from Side Effects to 22 Jump Street. And I have had to eat my words. The make-up and prosthetics certainly changed his face but Tatum embraces the character perfectly.

His posture. His caveman dragging of the heels. Little things that make a big difference.

You feel for Schultz as he attempts to escape from living in his brother’s shadow. Feeding off what little scraps his brother David gives him. Metaphorically, of course. Giving him school visits that he doesn’t want to do, etc.

The sparring sequence was a perfect example of the brewing tension between the two brothers. A simple training exercise soon becomes a full-on brawl. Subtly, slow burning but tense. I expected more of this.

Instead, I just got slow, slow, slow!

Mark Ruffalo was fantastic but I’ve always rated him as an actor and felt he had that versatility. There wasn’t enough of him and I can see why he has earned that Best Supporting nod. He lifts every scene he is in and works really well with Tatum.

Steve Carrell was fantastic. The prosthetic certainly added to his creepy demeanour but his performance made all the difference. I couldn’t believe it was him. His presence haunts every frame.

Carrell has certainly proved that he can adapt and adapt well. If Carrell can keep this up, it will be a while before he returns to the comedy circuit.

If Norman Bates was a multimillionaire wrestling coach, then you would have an accurate depiction of duPont. Desperately seeking fame from his wrestling team and recognition from his reclusive mother.

Vanessa Redgrave was good in the small part she had. Sienna Miller . . . well, she had the easiest gig going. Anyone could have played her to deliver the three unmemorable lines of dialogue.

I didn’t even realise until the end of the film that Anthony Michael Hall (The Breakfast Club) was DuPont’s bodyguard.

It really is a SLOW burner. If you have the patience then you may be rewarded. BUT for me, the reward just wasn’t enough for the 129 minute length.

I’m prepared to endure with a film but the journey should be worth it. I could feel my eyes wondering to the little hands on my watch.

The slow talking, the endless staring and fox catching montages. I can understand the point of the imagery and the commentary BUT it seemed to go on.

Tatum’s breakdown was an unexpected but brilliantly acted scene. The pent up aggression released on one poor hotel room.

To be honest, I was a little lost in what Bennett Miller was trying to do with Foxcatcher. In one instance it felt like he was trying to make a commentary on the decaying ideal of the American dream; greed, money and power.

BUT on the other hand, it seemed like an examination but on who? The paranoid mummy’s boy millionaire? The fame seeking wrestler? His profit driven brother?

Schultz’s descent into darkness was a mixed bag. Mind-numbingly droll in one instant, tense and strange the next. The hold that duPont held over him was creepy. His play thing. A new toy.

The impromptu wrestling sessions in the middle of the night. DuPont’s constant craving for appraisal. A relentlessly long scene in which duPont keeps making Schultz pronounce the same phrase over and over to get it right was a perfect example of his relentless ego BUT it also bored the hell out of me.

I got it in 10 seconds NOT 10 minutes! “Philanthropist, philateler and ornithologist, Philanthropist, philateler and ornithologist” again and again.

It didn’t help that the film was about wrestling. The fight sequences were okay BUT if they haven’t got The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin or a steel chair then it’s going to be a little flat (What?).

The last 20 minutes I did find myself more engaged as the tension mounted. A cat and mouse game for Schultz’s sanity finally turned the heat up on this slow cooker. The closing moments finally got my attention but was it too little, too late?

This could have been cut by 30-45 minutes and been just as effective for it. The finale may have been shocking and sombre viewing BUT it just wasn’t enough.

Miller was responsible for Capote. A film I felt was incredibly overhyped. Hoffmann was outstanding but the film itself just wavered along. Overlong and overhyped. (See where I’m going).

Bennett Miller certainly delivered a story of jealousy, paranoia and greed with some fantastic performances that justify their Oscar nominations BUT pace, tension and story felt like mere afterthoughts.

2.5/5

Take it away, Hercules!

THE BOOK OF LIFE REVIEW

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There’s life in the animation. Shame there isn’t any in the story.

Definitely one for the little ‘uns but adults may find themselves fidgeting. Fidgeting towards the exit door.

Brought to you by Guillermo Del Toro. Meaning; He has nothing to do with it. Other than having a production credit.

The honours go to animation director Jorge R. Gutierrez.

So what’s it all about? Manolo (Diego Luna) is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart (Awww . . . Yuck). Before choosing which path to follow, he embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds where he must face his greatest fears.

3D is not essential. It certainly would have made the animation more prominent but not a must.

It’s all a little slow to start with. An elongated subplot with a tour guide (Christina Applegate) that introduces the love triangle was all a little unnecessary. The boring spiel of a group of detention kids forced to go on a museum tour just broke up the real story. It felt like a lazy plot device just to explain why the characters are made of wood.

The flicking back and forth may have allowed the detention kids to deliver some funny one liners but the end result could be seen a mile away. Dreadfully corny.

The animated worlds are nearly worth the ticket price alone. Nearly. Especially with the Land of the Remembered. The colours, the detail. Breathtaking.

The love story very much focuses on three friends; Manolo (Luna), Joaquin (Channing Tatum) and Maria (Zoe Saldana). The cast at Gutierrez’s disposal is fantastic. Diego Luna doesn’t do a bad job but his singing leaves a little to be desired.

Some of the songs that he covers sound a little flat i.e. Mumford and Sons – I Will Wait but his cover of Radiohead’s Creep was an unexpected surprise. To be honest, Luna seemed to grasp and sing the songs made for the movie better than the covers.

Tatum was brilliant. If anyone can play a deluded chughead, it would be him. Saldana does her best but her character is so bland and unmemorable. Merely the fire to spurn the contender’s passion.

The whole “love wager” between the rulers of the Lands of the Forgotten (Xibalba – Ron Perlman) and Remembered (La Muerte – Kate Del Castillo) was a little corny and didn’t really get as dark or as interesting as it could have been. Betting on which man Maria will fall for was done so lightly that any real conflict or tension is quickly disposed of.

Whoever lost would be forced to rule of the Land of the Forgotten – a desolate dull landscape whether the wandering spirits are left to disparate. You get an indication of what tone to expect by the fact the tour guide describes how Xibalba is made of tar and all “the icky stuff of the world”. Yeah . . . it’s that sort of film.

I understand it’s a children’s film but there was a moment in how Manolo crosses over to the Land of the Remembered that suggested something a little more macabre. I was hoping it might sneak into the Nightmare Before Christmas/Coraline territory but it’s all dealt with a little too cheesily and surprisingly quick.

So pace certainly wasn’t an issue. Something I always complain about. I couldn’t believe how many stars popped up in this. (Well, their voices). Hector Elizondo, Danny Trejo, Placido Domingo, Cheech Marin and . . . Ice Cube.

Ice Cube surprised me the most. The others I knew would be up for a laugh but it made a change to hear a different tone in Cube’s voice. His Candle Maker character looked strangely a lot like Zeus from Disney’s Hercules. Ron Perlman. I should have known he would pop in a Del Toro (produced) pic. He was delightfully OTT as Xibalba. A proper panto villain in this supernatural pantomine.

The gags are little hit and miss. The overenthusiastic singing nuns were incredibly irritating. But where one lot were irritating, another group were . . . really irritating. No, more mildly entertaining. The Mariachi band (led by Marin) brought the odd giggle, especially with their cover of Rod Stewart’s Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?

It zips along, brings a few chuckles but despite it’s beautiful animation; the characters are dreadfully cliched and the story is oh so predictable. There’s enough to keep the little ‘uns occupied for 90 minutes but the adults might be caught kicking the seats.

2.5/5