*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* BRIDGET JONES’S BABY REVIEW *NEW*

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Third time’s the charm?

Bridget’s (Renee Zellweger) focus on single life and her career is interrupted when she finds herself pregnant, but with one hitch . . . she can only be fifty percent sure of the identity of her baby’s father.

My initial reaction when my mum asked if I would take her to see the latest offering of Bridget Jones.

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However, grumbling and jokes aside, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. An easygoing and very entertaining affair. Probably the best one out of the bunch. Has it really been 12 years since the shambolic sequel that was The Edge of Reason?

I actually didn’t mind the first film. It was silly BUT fun. The second one, however, was terrible. It was overlong, OTT and did exactly the same thing as the first BUT with much weaker results. And now we join Bridget in her 40s and starting all over again.

The first time that Zellweger didn’t put on the weight. Controversial? It hardly made a difference as she still nailed it as the bumbling singleton desperate to get her life in order. Finally reaching her ideal size and having fun. Cheesy BUT watchable.

Of course the questions came flying in; what happened with Mr Darcy? Where’s Hugh Grant? (I mean obviously, I wasn’t thinking that. Cough. Moving on . . . )

Colin Firth is looking old BUT he still delivered the charm as Mark. He had great chemistry with Zellweger yet again as the pair must awkwardly face each other within their social gatherings. It wasn’t long before the old feelings came back. Although you could sense the inevitable coming, it wasn’t quite as straightforward with the pair’s reunion also opening old wounds.

Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy) certainly made one of the cheesiest introductions as Bridget’s new Prince Charming (I’m sure the Enchanted fans got a laugh out of that reference in the film. BUT not me. Because I haven’t seen Enchanted. Cough). Rescuing her from the muddy swamp of a music festival.

The festival sequence served up an unexpected cameo from a certain red headed musician that just won’t disappear BUT entertaining none the less.

Dempsey played the part of the sickly sweet Jack well. A bi-polar opposite to the robotic Mr Darcy. He had good chemistry with Zellweger as a new romance blossomed between the pair.

Emma Thompson was on scene stealing form in her (tragically) small supporting role as Dr Rawlings. I had to laugh when she had to announce the sex of the baby to both “fathers”. Her enthusiasm wading with each encounter as Bridget desperately tried to hide the truth from the pair.

The sparring between the two “fathers” was quite entertaining with both desperate to win Bridget’s affection. I’m sure there were Team Jack and Team Darcy divides going on through out the film. It made for some heartfelt drama and genuine laugh out loud moments. Especially during the pregnancy sequence. I was in stitches. They must have had fun filming that.

I haven’t read the books so I can’t say if the film stayed true to the material BUT it may relieve fans knowing that author Helen Fielding was involved heavily in the screen adaptation with the aid of writers Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson. That’s probably why this sequel worked a lot better.

Fielding and co. brought back a lot of the old faces and everybody got their moment to shine. “Oh my God, you had a three way?!” I wish Gemma Jones (Sense and Sensibility) and Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter) were in it more as Bridget’s parents.

Typical parents. Unable to work technology; their FaceTime phone chat would have been something my parents would have done. BUT always there to help in their strange way. Jones’ overreactions cracked me up. Afraid that Bridget’s unwed pregnancy would cause scandal over her local council election.

We were also rewarded with some new faces. Sarah Solemani (Him & Her) was brilliant as Bridget’s new BFF and partner in crime Miranda. Their news room shenanigans and in between live shot conversations delivered all sorts of cringe-inducing moments that delivered the laughs.

I wasn’t bored and was quite engaged in the love triangle. Wondering who Bridget would choose in the end. Would Mr Darcy fail again? Was this Jack too good to be true? I liked the fact that they left you guessing right up to the very end on who was the father?

There were moments that were a little too corny and OTT for my liking. BUT it was always going to be that sort of film. Kate O’Flynn (Happy-Go-Lucky) was really annoying as Bridget’s new boss Alice. I’m sure that was supposed to be the point as the cutthroat boss looking to throw the old out for the new (which delivered an all too realistic generation clash) BUT she wasn’t that funny and got on my nerves.

It was easygoing fluff that delivered enough charm and drama to crack a smile from this cynical movie goer. I wondered why they bothered with another sequel that nobody asked for (Like most these days) BUT fans will love it and I have to say that even the skeptics might want to take a chance.

You might be pleasantly surprised.

3.5/5

*NEW* KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE REVIEW *NEW*

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From the people who brought you Kickass. You should know what to expect. A riotous action flick of ridiculous proportions. More please.

A spy organization recruits an unrefined but promising street kid (Taron Egerton) into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius (Samuel L Jackson).

Kingsman hooked me from the get go with an explosive opener as we watch a Middle Eastern compound detonate to the beat of Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing.

Taron Egerton will certainly be one to watch for the future. He delivered an impressive movie debut as the anti-social Eggsy. This is certainly one of the better films I’ve seen this year. Fun, frantic and relentless.

I always felt Colin Firth could have been a Bond. Now he’s get his chance. Sort of. He was superb. Didn’t do too bad in the fighting sequences either. Who said old dogs couldn’t learn new tricks? He was every bit as charming, charismatic and funny as the 007 counterpart. He worked well with Egerton and made the perfect mentor.

We follow the conniving chav as he endures the intensive but enthralling Kingsman program. The ‘test’ sequences were tense, action packed and flippin’ fun as Eggsy must fight tooth and nail against the more ‘acceptable’ candidates. The class wars in full flow and brilliantly personified in the ultra snobby spies.

For the first hour, it ticked all the boxes from the cracking soundtrack, the manic car chases to the adorable little pug JB.

You couldn’t pick a better villain. Sssssamuel L (The L stands for Motherf**ker) Jackson was brilliant as the maniacal music mogul hell bent on dealing with the Earth’s overpopulation. Even if he is afraid of the sight of blood.

He was the ultimate scene stealer (Isn’t he always?). You couldn’t help but smile at the speech impediment ridden sociopath. His tet-a-tet with Firth was worth watching alone.

A brilliant mockery of every confrontation that Bond ever had with a villain as the pair wined and dined on a McDonalds Happy Meal. You read that right. “Is this the part where I tell you my plan and you escape in a cool way with some gadget?”

I was impressed with the supporting cast. The alluring Sofia Boutella (Street Dance 2) was a perfect henchwoman as the amputee assassin Gazelle. Disposing of any threat with some killer moves.

It took me a while to realize that one of the red herrings was played by Luke Skywalker himself. Mark Hamill was almost unrecognizable with his trampy beard and posh Swede accent. Great to see him in something other than Star Wars.

Michael Caine nailed it yet again. BUT I was surprised at how little there was of him. However, I was happy to see more of the talented Mark Strong. Finally earning a bigger part as Eggsy’s trainer Merlin.

The plot was mental. If anything, it reminded me of a even more messed up take on the hit Channel Four TV series Utopia. The satire behind the influence of media and technology was spot on. The running gag of missing celebrities that refused to comply to Jackson’s demands was hilarious.

HOWEVER, as much as the cast and one liners were on fine form; Kingsman wasn’t perfect. The pace did dip in parts. Especially during the middle act. Some of the ‘revelations’ were far too predictable. That’s not to say that the writers weren’t afraid to take risks.

BUT even when the pace dragged, we were soon rewarded with another chaotic punch em up. The church sequence should offer enough carnage to cure anyone’s blood lust. Trust me.

BUT as the film drew to its ridiculous close, it soon became too much for me. It was too fast, too frantic and that delicate balance of silliness was soon tipped right over.

Despite its flaws, I came out smiling. It was manic, funny and highly watchable. If you loved Kickass, I’m sure you’ll love this.

BUT if you love Bond, I think it will be down to what sort of mood you’re in to see it ripped to pieces.

3.5/5

MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT REVIEW

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There’s a little bit of magic in the cast BUT apart from that the moonlight just revealed all the flaws with this dated affair, old sport.

Not my best summary.

Despite the age gap, Colin Firth and Emma Stone have good chemistry and make this easy going and predictable 20s flick more than watchable.

So what is it about? An illusionist (Firth) is brought in to help unmask a possible swindle with a young “spiritualist” (Stone). To make matters worse, he might be falling for her.

I will admit that I’m not the biggest Woody Allen fan. I really feel that his work is overrated.

That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed some of his films. I actually didn’t mind Match Point and Vicky Christina Barcelona. But did Woody Allen use my love for ScarJo against me?

Colin Firth was superb as the deluded egotist and illusionist Stanley.

His quick quips and sarcastic commentary certainly made him a monster cut from the same cloth as Blue Jasmine (Another Allen flick I enjoyed).

Allen and cinematographer Darius Khondji capture the look and feel of the 20s perfectly. Magic In the Moonlight is rich with that nostalgia for the classics.

It’s good to see Simon McBurney getting more screen time. I’ve been a fan of him for some time. His performance as the Arch Deacon in Rev being a particular highlight.

He sweeps into the scene with his sly grin and slithery charm in the form of an old university colleague, Howard Burkan.

Setting Stanley on his journey with a wager. A wager to try and expose Sophie the spiritualist as a fraud.

It’s all rather tame, easy going and delivers the odd chuckle as Stanley goes out of his way to upset the fools that celebrate this so-called spiritualist.

Hamish Linklater played the love struck and incredibly gullible Brice Catledge brilliantly.

Marcia Gay Harden (The Mist/Flubber) was a little flat. She has proven in the past that she can play a strong supporting role and play it well but her mother figure was highly unmemorable.

Eileen Atkins (Doc Martin) was very good as Stanley’s Aunt Vanessa. Providing a little more depth and understanding to her heavily armoured nephew.

BUT it’s all so predictable which makes it all a little drab.

The beautiful sunshine and the picturesque French coastline is still a sight to behold. Instantly making me want to go on holiday and distracting me from scribbling on my critical clipboard.

Firth delivers enough charisma to carry the film. Until he meets Sophie.

The spiritual sessions are entertaining enough as you sit there with Stanley trying to work out if it is a con or real.

The effects aren’t that bad either but this is essentially a theatrical piece.

The whole philosophical debates about the afterlife was interesting enough for twenty minutes and made for some fiery exchanges between the two leads.

BUT after a while, that’s all they do. Talk and bicker about life, death, love and beliefs.

I can see what Allen was trying to do but it just got a little irritating, long winded and a bit pretentious for me.

At first glance, I thought that only a friendship was going to blossom between the pair because of the steep age gap.

I don’t think it helped that Stone’s outfits made her look a little too young. I’m not sure whether that was Allen’s intention.

The change in tone as their relationship transforms to possibly something more came off a little uneven.

Stone and Firth did enough to make it believable. But if I’m honest, it wasn’t necessary and it made the final outcome so predictable and cheesy.

Stone is in very high demand and for the majority of her performance, I could see why. There were moments where her little spiritual tricks went on a bit and she did begin to get on my nerves.

She can’t dance. Well, jive anyway. Her improvised moves in a jazz club had me cringing.

The ending was very much like the classics. And that was the problem. The dated and corny moments we laugh at now with the oldies only added to their charm.

However, when you try and rekindle that in a modern reworking, it just doesn’t come off quite as well as you hope.

The final moments were very hammy. That charm coming off a little tacky. I tutted and shook my head. A guilty smile sneaking across my face for the attempt.

An easy going, charming little time filler with two stellar performances. Just don’t expect too much.

2.5/5

THE TOP 20 WORST FILMS OF 2014 – PART ONE

Did you walk out of a film feeling angry, disappointed, baffled, confused?

Did you walk out of a film for that matter?

Did you sit in your car (or at home) reeling? Questioning, debating, pondering how on Earth it even got through the pitching process?

Then, welcome.

I think I’ve already compiled my worst films of 2015 which doesn’t bode well for the year that lies ahead.

BUT let’s (finally) review the worst films of 2014!

My criteria; Basically films that destroyed all excitement and anticipation or failed to deliver anything (Acting, talent, story, suspense . . . a movie).

Films that made me cry a little, scream with RAGE or just say, “I don’t think I’m going to bother anymore” . . . With the cinema (Woah, let’s not get too down now).

So for a change, let’s start from 20 – 11, followed by PART TWO with 10 – 1

SCALE: 20 DISAPPOINTED! – 1 WTF!

I’ll stick a few comments with each crappy film title accordingly. Enjoy . . . OR NOT. In fact, you won’t with these 😦

 

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20. TAMMY

Melissa McCarthy failed on every platform. An interesting story line? Nah. Good characters? Well, Susan Sarandon wasn’t bad. Jokes? Bar the fast food restaurant robbery, zilch.

I like McCarthy. I normally find her hilarious BUT she tried to deliver the same old loud mouthed, slobby monster with a heart spiel and it failed to keep me intrigued, interested or laughing (The ultimate crime of all).

Thoroughly disappointed. It was that flat, I have no energy to make any other comment. Check my review if you like.

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19. LUCY

How the hell this stayed at Number 1 in the UK for so long baffled me more than the finale?!

A racy opening had high hopes with the alluring ScarJo kicking ass and taking names whilst gaining higher intelligence. Check, check, check. I was ticking all the boxes.

BUT the endless scientific mumbo jumbo and ridiculous CGI kicked all tension, pace and fun out of this bonkers flick.

Not even the smooth dulcet tones of Morgan Freeman could save the day.

His character really had no idea what to do and was completely pointless and the finale?

WTF? I haven’t felt that confused and annoyed since I watched The Matrix Revolutions.

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18. THE DEVIL’S KNOT

If not for the two (normally) talented leads, this would have been nothing more than a TV movie that you’d expect to see late at night on Sky Atlantic’s twilight scheduling.

A harrowing opening showed promise BUT what we got was an overlong court yarn that was never really resolved.

A harsh twist BUT in terms of film viewing . . . DISAPPOINTING!

The constant repetition of the same old facts and the endless witness testimonies just numbed me into a little coma.

It just didn’t go anywhere in terms of suspense, performance or story. It felt like one of those American crime docudramas that are on the Crime Network all the time.

The only person who might come out unscathed was the legendary Colin Firth. He did his best and delivered a sterling Southern accent BUT it didn’t hide the fact his character was quite dull.

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17. OCULUS

That image above was my face coming out of the cinema after seeing this.

Karen Gillian and Brenton Thwaites did their best BUT Oculus was such a slow and tedious affair.

Evil mirrors? Really. Just lock it away if it can’t be broken. Job done.

The constant flashbacks coinciding with the present just mirrored (Ba-dum-tssh) what the pair were doing.

When it did finally get going, it got a little more watchable. BUT it just ended. Quite abruptly and SO predictably.

If I wasn’t so bored by the end, I would have been wild with rage. Meh.

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16. HORNS

Hell hath no fury like a horny Harry?

I wish. It was terrible. Radcliffe does his best to keep this watchable BUT the story is so weak and uninteresting that even when the weird stuff does kick in.

And it does. I could feel the Devil taking away my patience and interest.

It took an hour before anything of worth really happened. And the whodunnit was so obvious, I was saying out loud. It’s that person. Right there!

All we got was a sulky HP moping around some woods while people told him their darkest secrets.

Things get interesting for one moment when HP finally goes dark . . . BUT then he goes back to skulking around. Even with those ginormous devil horns and super devil powers? Lame.

And the ending was laughable. From the people who made this.

Haha. You sat through this. Infuriating, boring and just plain awful.

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15. OUIJA

This poster freaked me out more than the film.

I said it before and I’ll say it again. I wish they could have used the Ouija board to summon up something better than this.

Predictable, naff and unoriginal. This managed to make Long Time Dead a horror classic by comparison. And that was pretty shit.

Don’t get me wrong, there were a couple of jumpy bits. BUT it was hard not to when the music was so damn loud.

The scares reeked of desperation. The only shock I got was that this wasn’t filmed in a shaky handheld found footage format.

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14. GODZILLA

God help the sequel. How did this make money?

The film is called Godzilla. So why did we have a 90 minutes of giant moth mutants trying to get jiggy?!

The iconic monster only really surfacing for 15 minutes. Mindless exposition with bland characters. Aaron “Airhead” Taylor Johnson as the lead character.

I did my rant a long time ago. I can’t do this again.

BUT please watch this incredibly accurate Honest Trailer clip of Godzilla. It’s perfect. Unlike this monstrosity!

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13. ROBOCOP

I wouldn’t buy this for a dollar.

A completely unnecessary remake. Making this a 12A didn’t help matters.

There could have been an opportunity to poke fun at the social media, the iPhone. Anything that hadn’t been covered in the 1987 original. BUT no!

We got the same old guff. Just less violent, less satirical and . . . I forget my point.

Joel Kinnaman was terribly mechanical. Before he even donned the Robo get up.

Not even Samuel L Jackson could save the day. In fact he made it worse. I think he was trying to do his best (or worst) Ron Burgundy impression. Either way, it didn’t work.

Dead or alive, I wouldn’t bother watching this.

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12. I, FRANKENSTEIN

I can’t believe I sat through this.

If it wasn’t so laughable, I would have walked out.

It didn’t help that the cast, especially Aaron Eckhart, took it so seriously when the premise was so ridiculous and far fetched.

This could have been a fun B-movie mickey take BUT it was just a droll, cringe worthy disaster.

The 15 minute gargoyle battle in the closing half kept me quiet for that duration BUT it was hard to be that interested when you had no idea who was fighting.

Plus the characters were that unmemorable that you couldn’t give a monkey’s.

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11. MRS BROWN’S BOYS D’MOVIE

What da feck?

Now, I will admit. I am a fan. BUT O’Carroll really did take the biscuit.

Slapping any old thing together for a quick buck.

Applying the studio audience sitcom format to a movie? No, no, no!

The impromptu outtake in between the story line didn’t work and felt disjointed.

BUT the main issue is that it just wasn’t funny! I sighed, I fidgeted.

For a moment, I thought I was watching a foreign film without subtitles because everyone else was laughing.

For shame, Mrs Brown. Naff plot, naff characters and naff jokes makes this viewer one MAD RANTER.

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP REVIEW

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Before I Go To Sleep . . . I must tell you to go see this crafty little thriller.

A woman (Nicole Kidman) wakes up every day, remembering nothing as a result of a traumatic accident in her past. One day, new terrifying truths emerge that force her to question everyone around her.

From the opening, it felt like a cross between Memento and 50 First Dates. Especially when Christine’s (Nicole Kidman) husband Ben (Colin Firth) had to introduce himself and explain her condition.

I loved the fact it got straight to business. Presenting a dozen questions and leaving you just as baffled as the protagonist. It established the set up quickly and set the game afoot as Christine tried to piece together her memories.

The initial sequences in which Kidman is re-told the same story, only for her to forget again were a little repetitive. BUT you felt for Christine and also her husband. Reliving the same thing day after day. Thankfully, things picked up when Dr Nash (Mark Strong) made an introduction. Strong delivered a sterling supporting turn in the minute role.

Providing Christine with a video camera to record her thoughts at the end of each day, hoping to improve her memory (Pretty much like Memento minus the Polaroid. Ironically, snapshots were plastered all over the bathroom wall). As she digs deeper, little flickers and images trigger more memories.

With thrillers, it’s always a tough one. To get characters you care about. Mysteries that intrigue. Twists that make sense. And an ending that doesn’t spoil it all. The cast were superb. Nicole Kidman was finally given a better character with a far better story to work with. Delivering another underrated performance. She had great chemistry with the scene stealing Firth (Reunited after their fantastic turns in The Railway Man).

The premise was hardly original. BUT the unravelling and mystery element of the film was highly watchable as Christine gets closer and closer to the truth. Director Rowan Joffe (28 Weeks Later/The American) excelled in delivering the suspense and tension.

The only problem however was that with a small (if incredibly talented) cast, there wasn’t enough red herrings in the story. A lumbering middle act did hamper the pace and some parts were predictable and quite easy to guess

Once the BIG TWIST (Don’t worry, NO SPOILERS) was revealed, I still found myself surprised. The twist may have been slightly obvious but it was HOW that twist was revealed that won me over. Earning its plaudits. It also allowed for a tense and nail biting finale.

This was never going to top Memento. An exceptional thriller. BUT this film certainly made my contender list for the top films of 2014. A well acted and taut thriller that makes this one not to forget.

3.5/5

TOP 20 FILMS OF 2014 SO FAR

So here we are. What films have surprised, intrigued and entertained you this year . . . so far? Now I’ve waffled on about having pretty much a season ticket pass to the cinema. So far I’ve seen 85 films this year which . . . isn’t a lot in comparison to my last year’s total of 144 (Yep, crazy) and that is because I have found it harder to enjoy films lately. I have had to endure through endless entries of mindless drivel regurgitating the same old plot, clichéd characters (even in their 3D wrapped foils) and excruciating acting or dreadful dialogue.

To be honest, it killed my enthusiasm a little bit. I see a trailer and have doubts. I have to talk myself into going, simply hoping that it will at least be watchable (which most of them are) but enjoyable? Well . . .

Now some entries you may question and unfortunately release dates are always different. My argument is films I’ve seen this year. Some may have been released at the end of 2013 but I didn’t see them until early January and it says it all if they are in here because I have found it difficult to fill my top 20. I had to pick films that surprised for not being a complete blunder or just for keeping my attention. BUT here we go.

The top 20 films of 2014 . . . so far

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1. The Dallas Buyers Club

A film that certainly surprised me. I went in not knowing what to expect and was rewarded with a different story, engaging characters that were done to justice by two actors that had seemed to be pushed into the movie wilderness. McConaughey was launched back into the limelight and rightly so, beating Ejiofor to the Oscar. I still couldn’t believe Jared Leto’s supporting role. More to him than just a singer from an emo-rock-pop band.

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2. 12 Years A Slave

A visceral and haunting film that delves into the human condition of one man’s plight into slavery. Steve McQueen certainly delivered one of his most ambitious, if slightly overhyped, projects to date. A harrowing story expertly acted by a fantastic cast. Ejiofor was unlucky not to win but he has certainly proved he can handle the leading role. This was all helped by an Oscar-winning supporting turn from newcomer Lupita Nyong’o and a sinister one from Michael Fassbender.

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3. August: Osage County

An underrated drama. A perfect showcase in acting. Meryl Streep proving yet again why she keeps getting those Oscar nods. A simple story revolving a family feud. But with a family of well written characters with a huge ensemble of talented characters made this one to watch for me. Its abrupt ending may have lost marks but it didn’t ruin great performances. Shame none of the contenders won this time round.

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4. The Book Thief

Now I will admit that I haven’t read the book but if the film is anything to go by, then I really want to read it. An endearing, if slow burning war drama that is shown through the eyes of a little girl who finds solace in stealing books. A great performance by Sophie Nelisse. It’s always a gamble with kid actors, especially when they are the main characters. But a great performance that is aided by a fantastic supporting cast consisting of Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson made this an engaging and highly watchable affair with an inevitable but emotional ending.

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5. 22 Jump Street

My name is Jeff! Yes, conforming to the masses but if when a blockbuster is this funny, who cares? Hill and Tatum are back pretty much doing the same thing which worked the first time round to better and bigger results. I laughed from start to finish. The very purpose of a comedy for me. It’s big, dumb and stupid but so funny. Invest.

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6. The Guardians of The Galaxy

Another Marvel movie is unleashed. But what a film. James Gunn manages to make an enjoyable romp of a space opera with the same old predictable guff of intergalactic rogues turned superheroes spiel. However, I actually cared about these rogues and cannot wait for another inevitable sequel. This is all helped with a great script, fantastic cast and an awesome soundtrack. So good I saw it twice.

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7. The Inbetweeners 2

The boys are back but this time they’re going down under. If you’re a fan then expect the same old dirty smut that still manages to have you heaving and laughing all the way. They may be reaching their thirties but the cast were still very much on form, making this instalment surpass the movie, not quite the series. Get on it, my movie fwends. Fwend, aww.

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8. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Now I am actually reading the book. This film lost marks for stretching out its source material to the max. However, Jackson still manages to deliver the goods by harvesting a special effects extravaganza of a movie. This slicker, darker follow up to An Unexpected Journey has left me awaiting for the final installment of the prequel trilogy. But does it really have to be three hours again?

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9. X-Men: Days of Future Past

X Men Give to Ya. A return to form from a franchise that had lost its way BIG TIME. Mixing the old with the new cast along with a time travelling plot device made for some twists and turns and a little spring cleaning as Singer made his return to the helm. With that we got an action packed restoration to former glories, near enough.

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10. The Raid 2

Despite lacking the pace and tenacity of the original and leaving us chomping our nails, waiting impatiently through the monotonous set up after a gruelling opening sequence, The Raid 2 finally delivered the goods with an all-out explosive lets-crank-this-to 11 adrenaline pumped finale with some crazy cult characters and memorable fight sequences.

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11. Captain America: Winter Soldier

A solid sequel that improved tremendously on its rushed predecessor and allowed to flesh out the ol’ Cap and some of the supporting characters that we only really had little cameos. Nick Fury, I’m looking at you. The introduction of new characters helped provide a more interesting environment. The whole adjustment to the modern era was a nice touch and gave Cap a little more dimension. If more films are to follow for the Cap, I await with anticipation.

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12. How To Train Your Dragon 2

It may not have topped the original but it still entertained the masses with terrific animation, an easy going plot and great characters. Definitely one of the better family movies out this year. I cannot wait for the next one.

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13. The Railway Man

A endearing, well acted war biopic that received such a panning, I feared the worst. However, although a little slow burning, I thought Colin Firth was incredible and was snubbed an Oscar nomination for his performance. Nicole Kidman may have been wasted in this role but the final confrontation between Firth and Hiroyuki Sanada was emotional and gripping. Worth a watch.

 

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14. Last Vegas

It know what is was from the get go. A group of old talented screen icons lapping it up in Las Vegas. It’s corny, OTT but left me smiling coming out of the cinema. Let’s be honest not all old boy movies hit it off. Wild Hogs and Space Cowboys (cough cough). The fact a sequel has been green lit, says it all.

 

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15. Begin Again

An unexpected treat. A feel good summer movie if ever there was one. Not without its imperfections. The flashing back and forth stuttered the opening and it may have ended a little abrupt and too open for my liking. BUT the songs were catchy. The cast were fantastic and Keira Knightley can sing. Oh my goodness.

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16. The LEGO Movie

How could I not? Everything is AWESOME! It’s funny, bonkers and blew the box office away. A talented voice cast boost a bunch of crazy but memorable characters with jokes and puns to entertain both kids and adults.

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17. Frozen

What? Losing movie cred. Entertaining, funny supporting characters, catchy songs. Disney returning to form and going old school with this icy escapade of a musical.

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18. The Wolf of Wall Street

Now despite complaining about the length and the hype, it was still a visceral tour-de-force of a drug induced thriller. Leo was unstoppable but did anyone else feel he tried too hard? Slight bias for me as I’m a Scorsese nut but it was still intense, funny and satirical to the max.

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19. Cuban Fury

I was torn between this and Edge of Tomorrow but despite seeing Tom Cruise killed 200 times, it was hardly original. Now, I know Cuban Fury isn’t original either but its easy going, funny and it was great to see Nick Frost come to the fore. The dance off sequence with an unexpected cameo was worth seeing alone.

 

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20. Delivery Man

Yep, you read that right. I’m going for the outsider. I read so many negative reviews that I dreaded watching this. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Now when it first started with Vaughan shouting and yelling in Spanish, I feared the worse. However, this soon turned in a dramedy and Vaughan was able to show that he can still act and be funny at the same time with an easy going story. And plus a scene stealing supporting turn from Chris Pratt as Vaughan’s useless lawyer pal made it all the better.

 

Feel free to share your top 20, debate my selections, all skip the post altogether.

COMING UP MY 20 WORST FILMS OF 2014. This will take me a whole lot longer to decide because there are so many choices!