*NEW* SWISS ARMY MAN REVIEW *NEW*

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What the hell did I just watch?

A hopeless man (Paul Dano) stranded on a deserted island befriends a dead body and together they go on a surreal journey to get home.

Now imagine if Tom Hanks in Cast Away decided to interact with a farting corpse instead of a volleyball and . . . you still wouldn’t come close to anything that comes out of this strange but bizarrely watchable piece.

Brought to you by the guys that produced that Lil Jon ‘Turn Down for What?’ music video?! Really?! I think it’s fair to say that this isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea. What drove Daniel Radcliffe to do this? He really wants to shake off that Harry Potter image.

The film that triggered walkouts at the Sundance Festival? Well, that can only mean one thing. Let’s give it a watch.

The dark opening lulled me into thinking that this might be a different movie altogether with a defeated Hank (Dano – There Will Be Blood) getting ready to hang himself. Tired, frustrated and alone. The numerous and increasingly elaborate ‘message’ bottles (or boats in this case) highlighting the time our hero has endured on the desolate sand patch.

And then along came Manny (Daniel Radcliffe). Within 10 minutes I wasn’t sure if I wanted to carry on. Especially when the lead protagonist was riding the corpse like a farting jet ski across the ocean. No joke.

However once I got past the endless fart gags and puerile humour, there was a quirky charm that kept me watching. I don’t think it would have worked at all if it wasn’t for Dano and Radcliffe. They were an entertaining pair and for a moment, I almost bought into the madness of it all.

You could empathize with Hank’s vulnerable loner as he confides in the corpse about his own personal problems. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that Radcliffe/Manny does talk. I was getting worried after 20-odd minutes that Dano was just going to be talking to a demented Radcliffe pulling some serious stroke face for 90 minutes.

The make up was actually pretty good on Radcliffe. He played a corpse well. Yeah, I can’t believe I wrote that either. His movements and facial expressions were pretty bang on.

There were genuine moments where I laughed at the pair as they tackled through the tough terrain of the wilderness to get home. Hank’s crazy creations were brilliant. It teased a little Wes Anderson vibe with all the strange gizmos and props that he made out of wreckage, rubbish and trees.

A particular highlight being a staged bus scene in which Hank simulates his chance encounter with the girl of his dreams (Mary Elizabeth Winstead – 10 Cloverfield Lane).  The only problem is that the joke kind of pushed it when the pair pretended to practice a date with Hank dressing up as her. Things getting ever more uncomfortable when they started holding hands. Eurgh.

The two Dans (writer/directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) subtlety tackled some existential issues (“What is life?”) in between the farts and sex talk as Hank has to re-educate the naive and inquisitive Manny about the ways of the world.

In one scene, it was funny and clever with the journey being a metaphor for Hank overcoming his own fears and doubts and opening up about his troubled childhood. BUT then that would be completely undermined in the next sequence with something stupid and juvenile.

Cue the college humour with the pair discussing masturbation (that carried heavy Freudian undertones) and the discovery of a picture of a bikini model and Manny fighting to control the rigor mortis in his boner. Yup.

“I think your penis is guiding us home. It’s pointing north”. Make of that what you will.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the ingenious ways in which Hank would discover a new use for Manny from dispensing fresh rain water from his gut to shooting out objects like bullets to help hunt down prey. Using his arms to chop wood and his teeth to shave. NO! I’m not making this up!

It was utterly bonkers. Different, original BUT at the same stroke, weird and all over the place. The pace dragged in parts and the finale brought things to a head that left far too many questions.

And the crazy soundtrack by Andy Hull and Robert McDowell?! Was it a joke or master stroke? (Didn’t mean to rhyme). One thing can be agreed, I’ll never listen to the Jurassic Park theme in the same way again.

Winstead was completely wasted in her role. Anyone could have played her. Although her reaction in the closing moments did pretty much sum up my own feelings:

A mixed bag. I mean it got points for thinking outside of the box and its odd style was hypnotic enough to keep me watching. BUT by the end, I wasn’t sure whether I liked it or not. I still don’t know.

If that sounds intriguing to you, then go for it. IF NOT, swiftly move on.

3/5 (Just)

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*NEW* NOW YOU SEE ME 2 REVIEW *NEW*

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And now for my next trick. Watch a franchise that nobody wanted . . . DISAPPEAR!

The Four Horsemen resurface and are forcibly recruited by a tech genius to pull off their most impossible heist yet.

Now You See Me was an enjoyable romp. Hardly ground breaking BUT easy going fun with a group of magicians hustling some rich conglomerates. I didn’t expect the finale and was even more surprised when a sequel was confirmed.

I hoped the next outing would carry that same level of energy and fun BUT this was utterly dreadful. Irritating characters, drawn out pace, a terrible story line, farfetched stunts that pondered all levels of plausible acceptance and really shoddy CGI made this one to avoid.

It’s not essential to watch the first outing. You get the entire plot summarised in the first 30 seconds. The opening showed promise as we explored Dylan’s (Mark Ruffalo) past and the reason behind his rivalry with Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman).

BUT once it flashed forward to the present, the intrigue was lost. Eisenberg’s Atlas was far too serious and sulky. I don’t know whether he was still getting over losing his hair for the shambolic superhero saga that was Batman vs Superman BUT his griping and silly backstabbing antics were dull as dishwater.

We had a new Horseman, person or Female Horseman (Whatever) in Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls). I thought she would be a worthy addition to the mix. BUT she was incredibly annoying. She wasn’t funny and her verbal diarrhoea was insufferable. I think Isla Fisher made the right decision not to come back.

What didn’t help was the agonizing pace. The film should have been cut by a good 30 minutes. Mark Ruffalo (Avengers) was the most interesting character and he was barely in it! Every time Dylan appeared, things happened and I was hooked. I was happy to follow his subplot NOT the Horsemen. Battling to keep his cover under the watchful eye of Sanaa Lathan (who was wasted in her role).

Proof in the pudding when one of the best scenes was Dylan causing havoc in a Chinese street brawl. The fight sequences combined with a series of magic tricks were well choreographed and stopped me fidgeting in my seat.

I have to admit the Horsemen really did infuriate me. Woody Harrelson had been on resurging form with his recent endeavours (True Detective) BUT this was a complete misstep. He went full retard as Merritt’s twin Chase with his Will Ferrell-esque wig and badly capped teeth. An unnecessary character that tested me in every scene.

Dave Franco (NERVE) did his best with his role BUT was lost in the mix. Eisenberg eventually lightened up and delivered his usual schtick BUT it was too little, too late.

You know you’re onto a loser when Morgan Freeman’s dulcet tones are doing your head in. His silky voice couldn’t save this leaden script. If anything, it highlighted the clunky exposition. A revelation about Bradley unintentionally undermined pretty much a good portion of the premise from the first one.

Daniel Radcliffe wasn’t too bad as the weasely Walter Mabry. He played the slimy techno villain well BUT he wasn’t in it enough. NOT even the return of Sir Michael Caine did anything for me. He was laughable. Doing his best Victor Meldrew impression. Dismal.

What made matters worse was that the actual hustle and magic tricks were far too OTT and farfetched for my liking. I know it’s only a movie BUT some of the big reveals defied physics or common sense to work even in a Hollywood universe.

An elongated card flinging sequence took the biscuit. Watching the gang flick a badly CGI’d card in the air and around their torsos to smuggle a computer chip was just plain terrible.

However, the finale delivered a little of what I expected from the get go. The effects actually did impress; especially when Eisenberg disappeared into a puddle of rain. Tense, engaging and watchable. WHERE WAS THIS FOR THE REST OF THE FILM?!

The characters were dull, the pace was too long, the effects were hit and miss and the twists were either too predictable or just plain ridiculous. They even missed a trick by not calling this Now You Don’t BUT if there any rumours for another; my title would be:

NOW, PLEASE STOP!

2/5

*NEW* VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN REVIEW *NEW*

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IT’S A DUD! IT’S A DUD!

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

McAvoy and Radcliffe take on the iconic mad scientist duo to mixed results. BUT with good acting and some decent special effects, it delivered enough fun for me not to care too much.

Told from Igor’s (Daniel Radcliffe) perspective, we see the troubled young assistant’s dark origins, his redemptive friendship with the young medical student Viktor Von Frankenstein (James McAvoy), and become eyewitnesses to the emergence of how Frankenstein became the man (and the legend) we know today.

Look, this sort of movie was never going to win plaudits BUT if it had the right level of ridiculousness and enough monsters then I’d be one happy bunny. The first hour was actually quite entertaining and reworked the origin story quite well.

Apart from needing a good haircut, Radcliffe played the hunchback perfectly. We follow the poor chap as we watch him being beaten and downtrodden by his circus chums. Daniel Mays (The Bank Job) was completely wasted in his role as the lecherous leader Barnaby. Shame. It zipped along and once Frankenstein made the fold, I was pleasantly entertained.

James McAvoy was superb. Producing more saliva than creatures. Seriously, he got a little too passionate with some of the dialogue. BUT as soon as he made his introduction, he stole the show. His mad enthusiasm, the dry witticisms and crazy theorizing was brilliant. He really carried the piece when things seem to drag (Which unfortunately they did).

The special effects and props were disgusting. A scene involving the real reason behind Igor’s “hump” was enough to put anyone off their dinner. The creatures and animal body parts were fantastic. Their first subject; a spliced chimpanzee was devilishly creepy and created a few problems along the way.

There wasn’t as much gore nor as many monsters as I had hoped. The woes of a 12A certificate but the writers certainly pushed the mark where they could. The CGI was generally eye catching. Apart from the scene (Ironically) involving moving eyes which was just terrible.

The bromance between McAvoy and Radcliffe really made the pair shine. I was happy to watch them bicker, banter and squabble as the experiments become more ambitious. BUT of course, they had to throw a spanner in the works. A spanner in the form of Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown-Findlay.

The dull love subplot between Radcliffe and Brown-Findlay was pretty bland. The pair do their best BUT I wasn’t interested in them and neither was the director it seemed as it was skimmed over very quickly. If anything, it wasn’t needed.

She didn’t really turn Igor against Frankenstein or add any humanity to him. You felt for Igor from the moment you saw him abused by the circus. But then again, it was never going to be that sort of film. BUT it tragically slowed down the pace and I could feel my mind wondering as the lifeless luvvy duvvy stuff played out.

Andrew Scott (Sherlock) delivered a memorable supporting turn as the depressing and macabre Inspector Turpin. A man hell bent on bringing Victor to justice before the world and God. His ramblings did go on a bit BUT his theological sparring with McAvoy spiced things up.

He was definitely more memorable than Freddie Fox’s (The Riot Club) Finnegan. He was too weak and flamboyant to be taken seriously. He certainly personified a spoilt rich kid with more money than sense. BUT a maniacal mastermind? I feared Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) more in his small cameo as Frankenstein’s father.

The slow motion Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr/Ritchie) style fighting was disorienting and slowed down the action too much. The film lost its momentum after the 60 minute marker BUT finally (and thankfully) found it again at the 90 minute marker for a deliciously dark and violent finale.

If anything, the finale was a little too quick cut and rushed. I’m sure the literary critics will be shaking their heads at this rehashing of a classic BUT it had enough action, creepy creatures and humour to keep things watchable. The effects on the Creature looked so real. He looked like Martin Skrtel on steroids with a few bolts here and there. Any more violent and they could have kissed that 12A rating good bye. Maybe they should have.

Radcliffe and McAvoy were a dream team. The effects were great. They did just enough to wade through the stocky subplots and overlong pace to make it a watchable little creature feature.

3/5 (Just)

*NEW* TRAINWRECK REVIEW *NEW*

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Was it one big train wreck?

I was a little anxious to see this. I couldn’t get into Girls, didn’t mind Bridesmaids but have always found Apatow’s works a little hit and miss.

BUT it’s always good to be proved wrong. Move over, Miss McCarthy. I have a new lady in my life. Well played, Miss Schumer.

Having thought that monogamy was never possible, a commitment-phobic career woman (Amy Schumer) may have to face her fears when she meets a good guy (Bill Hader).

It’s hardly perfect but I can actually say that I came out of the cinema smiling for the right reasons.

I wasn’t convinced by the opening as we watch a young Amy and Quinn (Brie Larson) being educated by their deadbeat dad (Colin Quinn) after being caught cheating. His analogy using dolls was hilarious.

From that moment, we see the anti-monogamy chants drilled into a young Amy Schumer. 20-odd years down the line and we have our protagonist. Sleeping around, getting drunk, and effing jeffing. I’ve never really found that stuff funny. It got a little repetitive BUT it introduced the selfish and quick witted monster perfectly. Her one liners rolled off a little too fast for me. They didn’t really flow.

HOWEVER, once the film found its tempo, I enjoyed it. Schumer’s improvisation and messing around were generally on the ball. There were patches where she went on just a little bit. There was a moment where Larson and Schumer were looking at pictures of their mother and Amy starts talking about her boobs. It ruined a nice moment and wasn’t that funny.

It’s always a gamble on calling a scene when you’re firing off belters; “Stop walking like the Hulk. I can see that you’re mad”. BUT what helped was that Schumer was assisted by a surprisingly funny supporting cast. John Cena. Words escape me. He was absolutely brilliant. Some of the best acting I’ve seen him do. EVER. Well, since WWE.

He stole every scene from failing at dirty talk in the bedroom to his homo-erotic put downs during an altercation at the cinema. I also loved the short film being played in the cinema scene. The “pretentious” Dog Walker skit featuring Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei got a chuckle. If anything, I wanted to see more of that.

Tilda Swinton as Amy’s boss Dianna was a mixed bag for me. Her put downs and random story telling were bloody mental. BUT I couldn’t get over her raspy Cockney accent. She made the regulars in Eastenders look like Oxford scholars. What was she playing at?

There wasn’t enough of SNL’s Vanessa Bayer for me as Amy’s naive work colleague. LeBron James was very funny. Not all athletes can make the transition to the big screen but he nailed it! From his strop about Downton Abbey to his endless scrimping and bickering over paying the bill. Scrimping? With all those millions? Come on.

It was also good to see Bill Hader playing it straight faced. It was a fresh change and proved the guy can do deadpan and do it well. The crazier moments were certainly left for Miss Schumer. And she most certainly delivered. They had excellent chemistry which really made their inevitable pairing that much more enjoyable.

My main problem with Apatow’s movies is the running length. This is 40 and Funny People were okay films but went on far too long. This film did not need to be two hours long. After the hour marker with the relationship unwittingly taking hold, things did slacken.

It’s all relatable as Amy tries to fight her feelings but it wasn’t very funny. Easygoing enough. I had hoped that the scenes with Brie Larson would have been more entertaining. If it wasn’t for the odd witticism from Schumer, I would have cut them. And things did seem to take a more serious turn.

The subplot involving their dad in a care home never really got going for me. Amy’s character had more than enough flaws to keep things watchable. It felt tacked on and did hamper things. Even if Method Man was his nurse. You read that right.

BUT luckily the film found a second wind as Amy inevitably goes out of her way to complicate matters. The squabbling and tests certainly added an extra depth to the couple. BUT the only problem was that the end result was always going to be the same.

The closing scene was unbelievably corny. I mean it totally fit for all the in-jokes that Schumer and Hader had between each other. BUT at the same time, it didn’t quite fit the overall tone of the film after such a serious middle act with Amy re-evaluating her life. It was all or nothing.

When it’s funny, it’s on fire. When it’s not, it’s a little more testing but certainly watchable. I’ll be more looking forward to Schumer’s next offering.

A trainwreck? Hardly.

3/5

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.

TOP 20 BEST FILMS OF 2014 * PART TWO

SO HERE WE ARE . . . AT LAST. The second month into 2015.

I know, terrible. For those who are still interested, we have the SECOND PART of my best films of 2014. The top 11-20!

Feel free to search through my posts for my top 10. If you want, I can provide them.

The best (or better) ones of that mediocre movie year. My criteria mainly focused on the ones that surprised, intrigued and entertained me. And boy, it was tough. Many have been watchable. Okay at best. What was harder was condensing my 20 WORST films of 2014 (Which will be following shortly).

BUT there were diamonds in the rough sea of bilge that polluted the movie screens last year.

I have had to endure endless entries of mindless drivel regurgitating the same old plot, clichéd characters (even in their 3D wrapped foils) and excruciating acting or dreadful dialogue and to be honest, it’s killed my enthusiasm a little bit.

Now some entries you may question and unfortunately release dates are always different. My argument was films I saw in that year at the cinema. Some may have been released at the end of 2013 but I didn’t see them until early January 2014.

BUT that sums up my argument if they are in here.

I won’t go on too much about each film. That’s what the other posts are for but a quick two cents if you like. Some I hope you will nod in approval. Others you may scroll back and forth hoping that this is a joke. BUT my criteria is based on surprise, entertainment and engagement. So God knows what lies in store.

11. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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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 installment made up for the lumbering opener that was An Unexpected Journey. The pace may still have been a little long at the tooth BUT was certainly the best in Jackson’s second trilogy.

12. Captain America: Winter Soldier

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A Marvel sequel that wasn’t needed but surprised me in surpassing the stuttery original. I felt the first Captain America was rushed to introduce the Cap in time for the Avengers and didn’t really cover as much of the WW2 elements as I had hoped. A superhero fighting in the war had a lot more promise for me. BUT the sequel had a decent story, good action pieces and added depth to the ‘Cap. Plus it gave a lot more screen time to the Black Widow and the legendary Nick Fury (At last!)

13. The Raid 2

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Fast and furious . . . after an hour of droll exposition. BUT it was still the most intense action film I saw that year. The final 45 minutes surpassed the original in suspense and action. Worth the wait. It may not have beat the original overall BUT other films need to use this as the next “How To Make An Action Movie” textbook.

14. St Vincent

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Bill Murray at his best in this easy going indie dramedy. It was funny, well acted with some cracking one liners and an impressive debut from young wunderkid Jaeden Lieberher.

15. Before I Go To Sleep

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A tense, slowburning but well crafted psychological thriller. Memento meets While You Were Sleeping. Even if I had sussed the big twist. The unveiling still took me by surprise. I thought the cast were fantastic. Kidman was on fine form and the last 15 minutes were brilliant.

16. The Maze Runner

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You read that, right? We had numerous teen book bestseller franchises flooding the screens. Divergent, Hunger Games, The Giver and . . . The Maze Runner. I went in, really expecting the worst and for the majority of the film, I was hooked. It’s hardly original but it zipped along and stopped me grumbling.

17. Nightcrawler

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A superb performance from Gyllenhaal. Deservedly earning a BAFTA nomination. Somehow managing to out-Bale Bale in this dark take on the American dream. Satirical, grim and engrossing. If a little predictable with an abrupt ending BUT still worth a gander.

18. The Guest

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Mr Crawley has left the Abbey and he’s kicking ass and taking names. A cracking and charismatic performance in this strange but riveting indie action flick. It felt like a film of two halves. Some may not like how it pans out BUT it certainly took me by surprise. Badass film of 2014? Hell yeah!

19. What If

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What if Harry Potter did an indie chick flick? It would be an easygoing and entertaining affair. That’s what. Radcliffe and Kazan had great chemistry and were a normal and believable couple. I actually cared what happened to them unlike the other umpteen romantic comedies that have wasted my time.

20. Blended

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I told you that I was going to think outside the box. I said surprised or entertained me. It has been a while since I have enjoyed a Sandler movie. And this says a lot from a die hard fan. Hardly die hard BUT I’ve endured them all. Blended certainly isn’t perfect but it felt like a return of sorts. It was certainly a return for Drew Barrymore. The plot is stupid and some gags fall flat on their backside.

BUT when it was funny, it had me in stitches. The family dynamic was dealt with well. The handling with the grief issues was done nicely and was unexpected. I enjoyed it. There’s still hope for the Sandler. I went in expecting nothing and was rewarded with something more. A good comedy. Hallelujah. Has the Mad Movie Ranter lost his marbles?

THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH REVIEW

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Looks like the franchise died before it could even begin.

This hollow (but occasionally jumpy) sequel feels like nothing more than a ghost of it’s predecessor.

As the film came to a close, I had a horrible feeling. Not one of unease or relief but one of disappointment.

Now, I have never seen the theatrical production of the Woman in Black but have been told endlessly to invest (Which I shall!) but I did see the first feature installment.

It was Daniel Radcliffe in his first post-Potter role and was hyped as the must-see horror film of the year. Challenge accepted. And to my surprise, both were actually very good. Tense, atmospheric with a solid British cast and it even managed to make me jump quite a few times.

A success. Quite rightly so. Which meant one thing. A sequel, of course!

So here we are. Dear, oh, dear.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. The opening showed promise. The Eel Marsh house in all it’s eery and (terribly grainy) detail. A heart beating as the camera pans closer and closer. Creepy stuff.

The beats juxtaposed with the air raid bombing was a clever technique. Director Tom Harper didn’t overdo his handling of the Blitz. The panoramic view of the damage of the Blitz on London was subtle but harrowing.

The bombing quickly established a likeable lead in Phoebe Fox. I expect to see more from her. The characters were quickly introduced and sent on their way in one nice package.

I liked the concept of the evacuees escaping to the countryside. That’s what did happen and it made the whole revisit to the manor that much more believable. Plus it allowed for a few more interesting things to happen. I say a few. One thing involving a dummy airfield.

Fox was a strong character and I actually cared for her. Which always helps. A lot of horror films fail to tackle this issue which makes it harder for you to get caught up in the scares. Even if the scares are pretty tame, you still need to care what happens to the characters.

Helen McCrory (Peaky Blinders. A series I strongly recommend) played the stern headmistress as well as she could. Her character Jean Hogg felt too much like a stereotype. Don’t get me wrong, women were strong during the war.

But she seemed a little lifeless behind her “I am hard because I have to be. We are in a war” face. I can relate to it certainly but there wasn’t much else to her sour faced demeanour.

And that was a major problem this time around. Even though the sequel felt like a pale imitation of the first, the characters also felt like ghosts of themselves.

Jeremy Irvine (War Horse/The Railway Man) was incredibly stocky and bland. It was only near the end of the film in which the inevitable fling heated up and some chemistry finally occurred that I found myself interested.

There were only three of the children that got moments to shine. The rest . . . Well, frankly. They didn’t need a class of them. Not even red herrings for the dark menace. I mean, lady.

Oaklee Pendergast (Real name. I know, right) was excellent as Edward Lee, a pupil orphaned by the Blitz. He played the role well and brought the relationship between Fox’s Miss Parkin and Lee to the fore.

George Steel’s cinematography was terrible. Normally I commend an attribute but it was all too grainy and dark. I couldn’t see a thing. In certain scenes, it added to the tension. In others, I couldn’t even see where Parkins was going in the derelict village.

It made it all look so painfully dull. I understand that it was the Blackout and the war time BUT I couldn’t see the demon doing her thing!

There were good portions where the tension and atmosphere built things up well. BUT a majority of the time to no avail.

Don’t get me wrong. There were a couple of jumpy bits that got me pretending that there was something wrong with my chair as to why I moved so frantically.

BUT at the same time, I felt the film had to rely on incredibly loud music to get you to jump. I don’t have a cinema sound system at home and I’m sure if (IF) I watched this again, it wouldn’t have half the impact.

It also relied on the original gags to get your pulses racing. The window, the rocking chair, the noose. All managed to get me twitching and twerking (No, not that twerking) again but it felt a little lazy. Relying on all the things that made the first film so good and not building on or re-working it in any capacity.

Ned Dennehy (Peaky Blinders/Storage 24) did his best to deliver as the creepy blind hermit, Jacob. For some bizarre reason, he really doesn’t want you to look at him. For those who have seen it, you’ll know what I mean.

Adrian Rawlins (James Potter from the HP movies) as the irritable Dr Rhodes had potential but didn’t really go anywhere or . . . come back for that matter.

I had to get a Potter reference in there somewhere. To be honest, I was waiting for Radcliffe to float in and scream, “EXPECTO PATRONUM!” just to get this dull, dreary flick going.

It had a faint whiff of The Others with The Ring BUT it just didn’t reach the heights you’d expect and it all finishes so flatly and predictably that I felt a little miffed. Putting it mildly.

Okay at a push. And that is only because I have seen so many terrible horror movies the last few months that this manages to trump over them. BUT that wasn’t necessarily a tough barrier to break into.

Atmospheric in parts. The odd jumpy moment. BUT it fails to capture the fear, the characters or the gusto that made the first film so good. I fear though that there may be another on the way. If so, whoever takes it on make sure not to slap any old thing together or else that will face an exorcism like this one!

2.5/5