THE RITUAL REVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3/5 (Just)

A UNITED KINGDOM REVIEW

A Very Good Film.

Two stellar turns and a surprising true story makes this one to watch.

The story of King Seretse Khama of Botswana (David Oyelowo) and how his loving but controversial marriage to a British white woman, Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), put his kingdom into political and diplomatic turmoil.

Hazaar! Rejoice! A film I actually enjoyed!

The film chugged along at an easy going pace as the couple first met and the inevitable romance ensued. Dancing the night away and playing jazz LPs.

It wasn’t long before Seretse revealed his royal bloodline and put Ruth in an impossible position. I really felt for the pair as they suffered abuse, judgement and ridicule from their friends and family. And that was just from Britain!

Danny from Spooks has come a long way. I’ve always found Oyelowo an underrated actor BUT if he keeps delivering performances like this, it won’t be long before he bags an Oscar.

That speech alone with the kgotla (a public meeting, community council or traditional law court of a Botswana village) was something else. Goosebumps. You really felt for him. A man torn between the love of his life and his duty to his people.

“You belong with the whites and even they don’t want you”.

In all fairness, you felt just as much for Ruth as she faced public scrutiny on both continents. Even the South Africans refused to help her during a particular difficult period of her pregnancy after collapsing in the shanty town.

I couldn’t believe the red tape and hypocrisy of it all as Seretse battled exile and banishment by the British government from his own country.

And who better to play the slimy hypocritical British bureaucrats than Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) and Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean?! Jack Davenport was particularly brilliant as the delightfully smug diplomat Alistair Canning.

Accusing the pair of sabotaging the plans of the British Government. Plans that involved illegal mineral digging!

There was a decent supporting cast at the helm. I couldn’t believe ol’ Rodders Nicholas Lyndhurst was in this as Ruth’s intolerant father. Laura Carmichael (Little Edith from Downton Abbey) played the shy little sis well.

It helped that Oyelowo and Pike had fantastic chemistry as Seretse and Ruth’s relationship was put to the test. The racial tension could have been cut with a knife. I couldn’t believe how many times Seretse was called back and forth to Britain to stand trail for his exile leaving a heavily pregnant Ruth struggling in Botswana.

I was mortified at how Churchill (Well, his “advisors”) handled Seretse’s situation. Promising to send the troubled king home if the party won the 1951 election; only to banish him from returning home after winning office.

Of course this is a drama and you have to take the facts with a pinch of salt. BUT this story made me want to know more.

I was engrossed and engaged. There was even a little lump in the throat when Seretse missed the birth of his own child and had to talk to his baby over the phone. The tide turning as Seretse’s uncle publicly shared his disapproval of Ruth. Demanding that he abdicate.

Everything riding on one speech. One last chance to prove his dedication to his wife, to his uncle and his people. It was a nice touch in the closing credits when archive footage was shown of the pair.

I can’t believe this nearly slipped my radar. I’m surprised that there wasn’t more of a buzz around this film. Shame.

It wasn’t without its imperfections BUT you can’t fault an endearing and wonderfully acted little drama. Worth your attention.

3.5/5

*NEW* A STREET CAT NAMED BOB REVIEW *NEW*

teaser-a-street-cat-named-bob

An easygoing feel good flick with stellar turns from the two leads.

Based on the international best selling book. The true story of how James Bowen (Luke Treadaway), a busker and recovering drug addict, had his life transformed when he met a stray ginger cat (Bob).

Ironically, despite that synopsis, I didn’t realise until the opening credits that this was based on a true story. The grim opening sequence gave a hard look into life on the streets with Bowen busking for his next meal (or his next fix).

We watched him sleep rough on a sheet of cardboard in the pouring rain. Rummaging through skips and bins for scraps while fighting back the withdrawal from his drug addiction.

There was even a cringe inducing scene in which the poor chap literally sang for his dinner in a cafe. Just because he was 12p short.

Luke Treadaway is an underrated actor. I enjoyed his turn in Fortitude. It was good to see him get a leading role. He played the part well. He hadn’t got a bad voice either. A cross between Frank Turner and Mumford & Sons.

BUT there wasn’t as much singing as I thought. I expected something a little more in the lines of Once. However, Satellite Moments (Light Up The Sky) was a catchy tune and stand out track.

Director Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies) and writers Tim John and Maria Nation got the right balance. In all fairness, if it wasn’t for the overdose sequence, this could have passed as a PG. It wasn’t graphic or violent BUT still hit home.

Darren Evans (My Mad Fat Diary) was quite good as Baz. The relentless junkie desperate for another fix. It was a surprisingly dark opener as Bowen overdosed in a stolen car.

However, our troubled hero gets a second chance in the form of a ginger mog.

There wasn’t enough of Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey) as Val. The social worker taking a big gamble on the stumbling drug addict. Refusing to accept Bowen’s excuses BUT desperate to see him make the program.

The film delved into the housing benefits scheme and provided a better insight into the workings behind the Big Issue sellers. I didn’t realise the rules and the various territories. Eye opening.

It was a little cheesy once Bob was thrown into the mix BUT they made an entertaining pair as they both got into all sorts of scraps.

The POV perspectives from Bob did get a little silly. It may have lightened up the serious tone of James’ rehabilitation BUT we didn’t need to see everything James was showing Bob. A friendly visit from a mouse delivered a fitting nod to Tom and Jerry.

The introduction of Bob also introduced aspects of James’ life that he thought were done. Most notably in a blossoming romance with the ditsy super vegan Betty (Ruta Gedmintas).

It was a bit of a change from slaying vampires in The Strain for Gedmintas. She was very good as the enthusiastic veggie. Desperate to help all creatures. Volunteering at a local vet despite being allergic to animals. The pair had great chemistry.

I just wish there was more exploration of James’ relationship with his father (Anthony Head – Buffy the Vampire Slayer). You felt sorry for James as he tried to keep clean and build bridges much to his step mother’s disapproval.

BUT of course, the road to recovery is never easy. This had more of a TV movie feel to the piece BUT it had just enough heart and charm to stand on its own two feet (or paws). Especially after some of the entries hitting the Xmas schedules (Say no more).

It wasn’t quite as hard hitting as I had expected. By all means, it was still very watchable with some endearing moments as we went through the highs and lows BUT if you were expecting Inside Llewyn Davis meets Trainspotting, you might be left disappointed.

Ruth Sheen (Another Year) was completely wasted in her role as Elsie, the friendly passer by who becomes a fan of Bob.

I still can’t believe this was a true story. It was a charming little film that left a nice message and a cheesy smile (Including a passing cameo from Bowen himself).

If that sounds like your cup of tea, check it out.

3/5

*NEW* THE COBBLER REVIEW *NEW*

The-Cobbler-Movie-Poster-2

What a load of cobblers. And that’s coming from a Sandler fan. Just when I thought he couldn’t sink any lower.

A cobbler (Adam Sandler), bored of his every-day life, stumbles upon a magical heirloom that allows him to become other people and see the world in a different way.

I have to agree with the fan who said that this was terrible. Even for a Sandler movie. Too many ideas. Failure to pick a tone and poor execution makes this one messy movie.

A dull and highly unfunny opener did nothing to get things going. It took a good 20 minutes before Sandler’s mopey shoe cobbler found the magical ‘stitcher’ that would put him on his journey to . . . God only knows what?

A film that grossed only $24,000 dollars at the US box office? You could blame poor distribution. BUT this was pretty bad.

Laughable for all the wrong reasons. I watched it to the end so it wasn’t as horrific as people made out. I was hardly pent up with rage or proclaiming the death of the film industry. So by that analogy . . .

The concept was intriguing on paper. To walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. BUT how could it go so wrong? It took too long to get to the shoe swapping and when it finally did, they really shouldn’t have bothered.

A scene that should have been an endearing moment between Max (Sandler) and his mother (Lynn Cohen – Hunger Games: Catching Fire) came off a little awkward, to say the least. Transforming into his father and taking her on one last “date”. Yikes. A little cringe-inducing. I could see what they were trying to do BUT the cuddling and closeness was just weird.

The same could be said for when he transformed into Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens. Close to pulling his girlfriend in the shower until he realised he had to keep the shoes on. The moral implications if Max had succeeded would have made this a different film altogether.

The only supporting character that stood out was Method Man as the typecast street thug. That really isn’t saying much. Steve Buscemi did his best with the role of the buddy barber next door BUT it was such a weak character. A revelation about him in the closing act came as no surprise. Or interest, for that matter.

With all the possible gags and directions this could have gone down, it still failed to reach any level of expectation. Sandler changes into a transsexual, a dead decaying customer and an overweight kid. Trust me, I’m making it sound better than it sounds (Or not). A hammy and uninteresting subplot with Melonie Diaz’s (Be Kind Rewind) protester brought nothing to the mix.

And when the shoe swapping and face changing finally got going, it was done so badly and clumsily. In a ploy to stop Ellen Barkin’s dreadful Russian Mafiosi disposing of unwanted tenants for property development, I struggled to keep up with who was who BUT most importantly by the end, I didn’t really care.

Dustin Hoffman delivered more charm and charisma in his highly unnecessary and disappointing cameo than Sandler did in the whole film. The last act showed a little of what I had expected from the get go. BUT alas, it was NOT to be.

Sandler’s works were never going to win plaudits BUT were generally easy going and funny affairs. His latest offerings have been lazy, sloppy and dreadful. Ironic that he picks a project penned by somebody else and it’s even worse.

A couple of chuckles and an intriguing premise. BUT a mish mesh of ideas with NO tone, direction or gags, well . . .  Sandler better put his best foot forward and move on from this mess. God have mercy on the writer’s soles.

1.5/5

*NEW* VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN REVIEW *NEW*

victor-frankenstein-poster

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)

SELF/LESS REVIEW

Selfless-new-poster-Ryan-Reynolds-2015-2

Pace less BUT for all the negative press, I still found this quite watchable.

A dying real estate mogul (Sir Ben Kingsley) transfers his consciousness into a healthy young body (Ryan Reynolds), but soon finds that neither the procedure nor the company that performed it are quite what they seem.

It may have been cliched, plot hole ridden and a little patchy in places BUT the action sequences were fast, fierce, racy and Reynolds was on fine form. AND for a good portion of the film, I was entertained.

The opening act was slow burning but intriguing. A slick and ruthless Kingsley delivering DeNiroesque gravitas to the role of the ailing billionaire. To be honest, I would have been happy to watch his normal life as the dying mogul. His lesson with a young rival was compelling stuff.

BUT the sloppily put together relationship with his estranged daughter? Not so much. It’s great to see Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery popping up in more movies. But not in such weak supporting roles. Dull, cliched and boring. A waste. And a pointless character by the closing credits.

We follow Kingsley wallowing in his highly extravagant and isolated apartment as he must come to terms with his own mortality. The one thing in all his years he hasn’t been able to conquer. Until now.

Cue the slick but incredibly smarmy scientist Dr Albright. Matthew Goode was brilliant as the mysterious mastermind. The concept of body swapping/mind swapping was quite interesting. Can you put on a price on life? Would you do it?

BUT we know he does. Or else there wouldn’t be a movie. Tragically that means there is one massive Kingsley-sized void when the deed is done. BUT have no fear. Reynolds is here. He played the role quite well. Good to see him doing it seriously. The guy can be hilarious but I’m fed up of the fast talking douche.

The premise was handled with the right balance. A slight hint of believability. Or enough to make you buy into it. It was a nice touch seeing Reynolds in the early stages of his ‘infancy’ as he must learn to walk again.

It did require a little patience. You get the sense of his struggle within two minutes not twenty. BUT it did make a change to see him having to adjust and look like he’s actually gone through an experiment. Unlike Face/Off. Quick laser zap here and voice alter there. Done. (I love Face/Off. Man, I want to watch that right now. Anyway . . . )

I loved the one liners, “It still has that new body smell”. Cheesy but it did the job. Of course, once Reynolds has adjusted; he does what any elderly billionaire would do with a shed load of cash and Ryan Reynolds’ body! Get smashed, drive fast cars, get jiggy with the ladies and play basketball.

It chugged along. BUT it did lull. Luckily, not everything is as it seems. Strange fits and random memories of someone else’s life start plaguing the mind of our playboy. And thankfully, the film finds it’s stride . . . in places.

Damian soon realises that the “vessel” may not be all it cracked up to be. It’s all rather predictable as he asks too many questions and threatens to reveal the organisation to the public after discovering he has taken someone away from their family.

Cue an action packed race (Hmm) as Damian must fight to save his life and whoever the hell he has in his mind and his family.

Natalie Martinez (Under The Dome) did what she could with the role as the confused wife. BUT she was too whiney and mopey. The scenes with her and Reynolds were way too cliched for you to really care. It didn’t help that she kept asking the same monotonous questions. After Damian clearly says repeatedly, “I have no idea”.

Empire’s Derek Luke didn’t do a bad job as Anton. I just wish his henchman wasn’t so bland and unintentionally comical. Once the body/mind swapping ploy is introduced, he keeps popping up as a new face in every scene. It should have been sinister but it just showed how easy he is to dispose of. Wiped out every time he clashes with Reynolds. Oh dear.

Oh yeah. I forgot to say. Lucky for Damian that he’s managed to take the body of a highly trained marine whose skills conveniently kick in every time danger is afoot. The action scenes were quick, furious and quite violent. Apart from the bad body double punch up in the kitchen, I was impressed.

It was the much needed catalyst to get this film going. And it picked the film up every time the corny story line or pace seemed to linger. The final 20 minutes were actually quite good.

It was certainly watchable as Damian has to make a choice. To save this family and the mind of the body he took or . . . NOT. There was a good portion in which I thought things would take a darker turn as he tries his utmost not to help. BUT the end result was tragically predictable.

Matthew Goode was a dastardly villain. BUT he took the back seat for too much of the film. Only reappearing for the finale. A waste of a good character. And for all his secrecy, he was picked apart quite easily.

Things did get unbelievably corny in parts and killed the little tension that the film could muster. There was one scene. Hardly spoilerific. BUT while in hiding, the adorable Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen asks the man possessing her daddy’s body to teach her to swim. Wow. What do you know? There’s a pool round the back. And they must have remembered to pack her little bathing suit while being shot at. Delightful.

facepalm

Victor Garber was fantastic as Kingsley’s closest friend and business partner. His likeable supporting character actually gets a little subplot. Well, minuscule. BUT it only manages to pierce more holes in the flimsy plot as a “revelatory twist” ended up asking more questions than answering them.

Now did anyone else this but after seeing all the posters that maybe Kingsley would reappear in some other capacity? I thought that every time Reynolds would look in the mirror, he would see Kingsley. Or better yet have Kingsley talk to him. BUT NO! Missed a trick there. Gutted.

Watchable enough. Helped by a charismatic lead in Reynolds. Good action set pieces. BUT too many cliches and a questionable two hour running length spoil something that could have been so much more.

2.5/5

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

the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug-CD

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

captain-america-the-winter-soldier-poster-cast-2

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

the_raid_2_0

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

St-Vincent-Movie-Poster

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

Before-I-Go-To-Sleep-Poster-Crop

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

maze-runner-poster

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

iBzw3pl

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

THE GUEST

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

what_if_movie_poster

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

blended-movie-logo-y4taiyut

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?