*NEW* BAD NEIGHBOURS 2: SORORITY RISING REVIEW *NEW*

ho00002981

“We’ve been Cosby’d!”

Bad. Just bad!

When their new next-door neighbours turn out to be a sorority even more debaucherous than the fraternity previously living there, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) team up with their former enemy, Teddy (Zac Efron) to bring the girls down.

Pretty much the exact same thing (just with a sorority) BUT a lot less funnier! Yikes.

I was surprised that a sequel was even green lit in the first place?! The first outing was watchable (At best) and delivered the odd laugh BUT it wasn’t that great.

As you could tell, I was a little skeptical before watching and the opening 20 minutes was actually quite funny and, for a moment, I wondered why people had torn into this? It was never going to win plaudits BUT it was silly college humour with all the old faces coming back.

However, it wasn’t long before my smile became a scowl as we drudged through the same old guff. You could relate to Shelby (A reasonable turn from Chloe Grace Moretz) and co as they conspire against the traditional sorority system. Creating their own society where anybody can join and do what they want.

Cue some silly spiel about sororities not being able to host parties (Google it! No, I didn’t either), a perfect property on the market, some crazy neighbours and we have . . . a dreadfully mediocre comedy.

Zac Efron didn’t do too badly and delivered the (little) laughs. Flashing his ridiculous six pack at any chance and not giving a fook.

It was great to see the old frat pack pop back up in this. Just a shame that it came with a silly subplot. As well as having to deal with the same old frustrations of not achieving any life goals, Teddy must come to terms with Pete’s (Dave Franco) “coming out” and impending marriage.

Look, I hate to be a stickler BUT didn’t Pete sleep with Teddy’s girlfriend in the first film as part of Mac and Kelly’s revenge ploy? Either way, his big gay wedding didn’t work and was lazy and unnecessary. You could understand Teddy’s childishness and refusal to grow up BUT we had all that in the first one.

Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad) was funny yet again as Mac’s retarded pal Jimmy. He stole the show every time. The only problem was that once he was united with Paula (Carla Gallo – Bones), he soon got on my nerves.

Her unfunny introduction wasn’t needed and brought nothing to the mix other than dropping a disgusting gag involving a baby foetus foot (Yep, you read that right).

Speaking of bad gags, the airbag gag died a death in the first movie. Bringing it back for a second time? Really? Come on! Cue another badly CGI’d Efron/Rogen flailing about in a car garage. Terrible.

Kelsey Grammer was great in his tragically short cameo as Shelby’s dad. Dr Crane knows how to get the laughs. Even Phoebe from Friends (Lisa Kudrow) got a titter with her “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” appearance.

BUT things must have been getting desperate as I was actually pleading for Hannibal Buress (Daddy’s Home). I couldn’t stand him in the first film. He wasn’t funny and overstayed his welcome. This time around, I wanted more. The role reversal with the black police officers seizing white drug dealers was an unexpected satirical dig that delivered.

And if I’m not mistaken, I’m sure there was supposed to be more of him from the trailers. Well, none of it featured in the actual film.

Rogen and Byrne weren’t really in it as much as I thought. BUT don’t worry. They haven’t changed one bit (No, really. They do the exact same thing). It was a nice touch having the same child actors playing the adorable Stella. I couldn’t believe how much they had grown up in 2 years.

The sorority delivered a somewhat mixed response. Kiersey Clemons (Dope) and Beanie Feldstein were actually quite funny BUT I just wish the pranks were.

The girls dressing up as Minions and fumbling about like their Dreamwork counterparts? AWFUL! Making bold statements about sexism when performing an equally revolting gag compared to a fraternity doing the same thing? Surprisingly entertaining.

Prank calling Mac so he flies over to Sydney looking for his wife?

fhvw_g

It really was miss more than hit with a finale that was a complete retread of the first. The drug and sex gags just didn’t cut it. I mean they only just got away with it the last time! And it ended so cornily that . . . I lost the brain cells to think of a clever insult.

BUT I’m sure it would have been better than this bilge. Hopefully there won’t be another.

2/5

Advertisements

DOLPHIN TALE 2 REVIEW

Dolphin-Tale-2-12

Two stars for the main mammals (the dolphins, that is)

Yep. You read that right. I watched Dolphin Tale 2. (Against my better judgement).

I’ve been feeling for some time that films just haven’t reached the levels that they used to. Going for the easy option. Predictable, lazy, cliched stories with badly written characters that rely heavily on star factor to put bums on seats. No surprises. TV has excelled where cinema has left me disappointed.

HOWEVER, family movies are normally bang on the buck with the little ‘uns (and some parents) being the toughest critics to win over. As I’ve said before, Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks have excelled at making films that have something for everyone.

Unfortunately, not this time round. Now, don’t get me wrong. This is a very watchable and easy going film but memorable? Not so much. I mean some of the Free Willy sequels that inevitably reared their ugly heads had a bit more going on than this. BUT I have found lately that films I write off normally surprise me. This was nowhere near as corny as I expected . . . until the closing moments.

It would help if you like dolphins. Duh, right? The opening sequence in which a dolphin is rescued by the aquarium certainly zipped things along. I didn’t expect to be bombarded with a number of dolphin facts. A few of which I did not know. It was informative without being pretentious. Unlike the Walking with Dinosaurs Movie. It kept things moving along and I found my cynical demeanor cracking a little.

You don’t need to see the first film to know what’s going on. If not for the obvious number tagged on the title, I would have thought nothing less (Tragically, it didn’t make me want to chase up its predecessor).

After all the recent SeaWorld controversy and the harrowing Blackfish documentary, it was only a matter of time that a schmaltzy, rose tinted view was taken. BUT skeptic views on animals captured and raised in captivity aside, at the film’s core is a story about a boy’s relationship with his fish (No, not like that).

This is helped with a likeable lead in Nathan Gamble (The Mist). He delivered a solid performance as Sawyer. Cozi Zuehlsdorff (No, I didn’t lean on the keyboard) was a little irritating to start with but once I got used to her character, she soon grew- became tolerable. She nailed the smiley SeaWorld instructor host with aplomb. The pair worked well together.

The real scene stealers were inevitably the animals. The scenes in which Gamble interacts with Winter the dolphin are well done with a mixture of real, CGI and model sequences. All which work really well. Just right. Not too cartoony for a change. The fact that Winter had a prosthetic tail made things a little bit more interesting.

There were some endearing moments in which Winter has become a mascot for amputees. A little corny but nicely done. A meeting with a war veteran and celebrity surfer Bethany Hamilton hit home.

Another notable scene stealer was a pesky pelican. One that didn’t even belong to the aquarium. Popping up at impromptu moments and delivering the laughs. I was more interested in the subplot involving the pelican assigning himself the role of guardian to a sea turtle. It shouldn’t have worked but it got me.

There is a great supporting cast at the director’s fingertips but not much was really made of them. Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr play their parts as well as they can but they are merely the supporting parents. A shame. I couldn’t take Connick Jr seriously as the father figure. Kris Kristofferson was in a rather subdued role and boy has he aged all of a sudden. I knew he was old but . . .

Morgan Freeman played his role without a care in the world. A legend in my eyes. His limited presence does make an impact when he gets the chance. The whole I have stuff older than you jibes were great to start with. But soon got old really quick. You may have blagged it in Last Vegas, Mr. Freeman. A second time? Shame on you.

The story didn’t have enough going to keep fidgeting bums in seats (and that’s just the adults). I couldn’t help making Free Willy comparisons and realizing that the content was very much a TV movie at best. The constant pressure from the corporate bigwigs in the initial opening was a harsh and all too real commentary.Concern for the animals taking second fiddle to advertising and merchandise deals.

But it all ends so dreadfully corny that I was left flailing my arms about; like the blasted pelican.

There were a couple of twists and turns that I didn’t expect for all my cynicism involving the dolphins. I was surprised by two particular plot points involving the dolphins that did peak my attention (without spoiling) but the main issue with these sort of films is that you know the inevitable outcome even with the threat of the dolphin being relocated.

The subplot of Gamble’s Sawyer’s internship has been done to death, spurring an unnecessary love story between him and Zuehlsdorff’s Hazel.

It is most definitely one for the little ‘uns. An easygoing and nicey nicey film but if you were expecting Free Willy or something a little more, you may left a little disappointed.

2.5/5

THE BOXTROLLS REVIEW

the boxtrolls movie

I laika it but I didn’t love it. From the makers of Coraline and Paranorman comes a delightfully animated, if predictable affair that certainly impresses in detail but lacks in story. Enough for the little ‘uns but I can’t help but feel that some of the darker and more satirical moments may whizz over their head and leave them fidgeting in their seats.

As I’ve said before; kids films, or should I say, family films are always a challenge. They have a lot to aspire to and must have enough pace, character and story to entertain children and adults. But normally, a good portion of the time you can bank on them to deliver the goods. Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks have proven this time and time again. They are normally the films I can rely on in the ever growing list of mediocre and plain right terrible movies I’ve had to endure this year.

Now the American stop-motion studio Laika certainly delivered with the creepy but brilliant Coraline. ParaNorman was a mixed bag. A watchable one. At its best, dark, very funny and endearing. But let’s not forget the ending wasn’t perfect. It felt like it had run out of ideas and rushed towards a corny and flat finale.

So what’s this one all about? The Boxtrolls are a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who lovingly raise an orphaned human boy named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright – Game of Thrones) in their cavernous home built beneath the streets of Cheesebridge. However, when evil exterminator, Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) comes up with a plot to get rid of the Boxtrolls. Eggs decides to venture above ground and “into the light”.

Eggs? That’s right. Eggs because that was on the box that our protagonist chose to wear. A nice touch.

The opening was a little slow and a little dark with a Boxtroll appearing to steal a child and Snatcher brokering a deal with the high class elite who appear to be wasting the town’s budget on fancy hats and rich cheese. A fun poke at the inevitable class and society issues that still plague the present day.

The little ones may find themselves fidgeting a little bit. Even I could feel my eyes looking at my watch. That is until our little cardboard creatures finally make their appearance.

The animation is fantastic. Once the little sewer gremlins emerge from their cavernous domain and begin scavenging the streets, I was in awe. Their little expressions and the detail in which they use their boxes as props to climb over gates and as cover from any passing humans. Their bickering and amusement with the rubbish dumped on the streets made them instantly loveable and entertaining.

The 3D was a complete waste of time. Thoroughly disappointing as this film would have been the perfect platform. Also pretty poor with the inflating ticket prices and decreasing cinema numbers. Do not invest.

The cast were perfectly chosen for the roles. And what a cast! Hempstead Wright has already made an impression with Game of Thrones but certainly delivers a solid voicing performance. But he was always going to fall second fiddle to the legend that is Sir Ben Kingsley. His prowess and talent just adds so much to the delightfully disgusting Archibald Snatcher. His name must surely be a nod to the infamous child villain, the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Only a more demented version, with top hat in tow, of course.

Richard Ayoade (Moss from The IT Crowd), Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead) and Tracy Morgan (That’s right! 30 Rock) were brilliant as Snatcher’s numbskull henchmen who constantly try and justify with one another that they are really the good guys. Not enough of them in my opinion.

Elle Fanning (Maleficent) was fantastic as the stroppy but feisty Winnie who befriends Eggs. Jared Harris (Mad Men) and Maurice LaMarche (Futurama) were also voices that stood out in the gang of mindless elitist cheese fanatics.

The Boxtrolls is watchable and at times quite fun. The chase sequences and the encounters with the Boxtrolls were a sight to see. But for me, the story just didn’t seem to flow that well. It seemed a bit mechanical and all a bit predictable. Desperate twists and turns were pulled out of nowhere as the film meandered along.

Twists that were hardly revelatory or necessary for that matter. The whole spiel early on that the Boxtrolls were cannibalistic murderers was always going to be a bluff. Eggs and Fish (the Boxtroll who “adopted” him)’s relationship was nicely done and you could feel for the pair, even if half of the time you couldn’t understand what they were saying to one another. A running joke that happens every time Winnie demands a translation.

Eggs’ adjustment into the human world after ten years of “captivity” was an endearing and funny opportunity. His introduction to a high class social party brought the odd chuckle. But the tone seemed to be too uneven. Coraline was endearing but deliciously dark. Boxtrolls starts off dark. Goes full slapstick and cheesy. Then a little darker with a rushed and incredibly corny finale.

It felt like it wasn’t sure how far to push or how dark to be. An achilles heel for Snatcher was an unexpected twist that led to a deliciously macabre finale.

There’s enough for everyone. Silly boxtrolls for the kids (and adults) and macabre Dickensian visuals with a drop of class satire. Not bad by any means but will it stand against the likes of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Caroline or even ParaNorman? Sadly, not for me.

3/5

*THROWBACK REVIEW* ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH

917dZDvF5PL

And the duds just keep on coming. I need to escape from the cinema for a while. Enough to keep the little ‘uns quiet for 80 odd minutes but parents might want to take in their Kindles (or a physical book if you’re old school).

Astronaut Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser) is a national hero to the blue alien population. A master of daring rescues, Scorch pulls off astonishing feats with the quiet aid of his nerdy, by-the-rules brother, Gary (Rob Corddry). However, when the brothers receive an SOS from a notoriously dangerous planet (Earth. What? Spoilers? Come on guys), Scorch rejects Gary’s warnings and bounds off for yet another exciting mission leading to his capture. Inevitably, it’s up to scrawny, risk-adverse Gary to do the real rescuing.

Brendan Fraser (The Mummy franchise/George of the Jungle) what happened? Oh how the mighty have fallen. In all fairness, his movie list of late is hardly legendary. He does his best to bring the laughs as chughead Scorch in his strangely Buzz Lightyear-esque attire.

It’s a shame with how much talent was attached to this. I know, it’s a kid’s film but Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks (most of the time) have delivered timeless classics with great stories, great characters and enough to entertain everybody. Unfortunately this one just doesn’t make the cut.

It’s not all bad. It has enough OTT slapstick gags to keep the little ‘uns giggling and the animation is brilliant. Visually colourful and detailed. 3D hardly a must but there were a couple of clever gimmicky moments in there. Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine) plays the pathetic protagonist quite well.

Ricky Gervais once again pops up in a rather dull and fed up voice over as the computer system, BING, James Bing. Oh dear. Now I’m one for the puns and silly one liners but even that one got me cringing. Jessica Alba surprisingly goes against character type and plays the baddie for a change.

William Shatner provides his Trekky gravitas to the sinister General Shanker with aplomb. Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) plays a rather irritating and bland character that really doesn’t have a point or contribution to the film (Bit like Modern Family. Ouch. Stop it). Sarah Jessica Parker does her best with the lines, “Not bad for a mom who’s had two kids”.

As does Jane Lynch (Glee) as the one eyed creature and appropriately named Io, “First time I laid eye on you”. Does that line sound familiar? Hmmm I thought so too (*Cough* Monsters Inc *Cough*)

The characters that stood out for me were George Lopez (Rio/Rio 2) as the slimy slug hybrid Thurman. The ever talented Craig Robinson (This is the End) manages to make a memorable performance as the eccentric fast talking Doc. Steve Zahn (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) hippies it up as alien enthusiast Hawk. His first encounter with Corddry’s character was quite funny but it soon goes on too long and gets very annoying.

This isn’t the worst animation film I’ve seen this year. That honour goes to the turkey Free Birds (What?) but it’s pretty close. Interestingly enough for those who have seen Free Birds; was Escape from Planet Earth an unintentional spin off? The facility and more importantly, the quarantined Monsters Inc rip off suit guys look just like them.

Regardless, they steal the show in one tut worthy guilty pleasure of a scene in which they manage to parody a number of movies in a food fight. The Artist was a nice touch.

There is a cheeky pop at satire with the government propaganda video segment, “Do you believe in Communism? Then you are an alien”. Unexpected but not bad. The Beatle-esque aliens got a guilty laugh. The twist *POSSIBLE SPOILER BUT NOT REALLY* that humans have been capturing aliens and stealing their technology and claiming it for their own was a nice touch. Doc venting his frustration at the money he should be earning for Facebook was quite funny.

However, it gets all too corny and cheesy. For every good joke, there’s a dozen naff ones. I mean an encounter with a wacky waving inflatable tubed man brought the odd chuckle. But just doesn’t work as a recurring joke. Mainly because it wasn’t that funny the first time round.

If you’re looking for a quick distraction for the kids, then give it a go. Otherwise invest in How To Train Your Dragon 2 or something.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 REVIEW

how-to-train-your-dragon2-movie-poster

DRAGONS! Hiccup and Toothless are back after the DreamWorks animated blockbuster hit the big screens! Bigger? Absolutely. Better? Visually it’s a feast for the eyes. While not surpassing the original, it certainly matches it for story, drama and entertainment. Get the little ‘uns or the big kids (like myself) over to the pics and invest!

So what’s it all about? It’s been five years since Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless successfully united dragons and vikings on the island of Berk. While Astrid, Snotlout and the rest of the gang are challenging each other to dragon races (the island’s new favourite contact sport), the now inseparable pair journey through the skies, charting unmapped territories and exploring new worlds. When one of their adventures leads to the discovery of a secret ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the centre of a battle to protect the peace.

Firstly, 3D not a massive investment to be honest. So save your pennies, parents. The animation is incredible alone. The 3D makes it more prominent but not a must. The detail is stunning. Every little thing, the expressions, the waves as Hiccup and Toothless soar across the seas, brilliant. Anyway, we reunite with the dynamic duo and it is great that the characters have actually aged in the five years. Hiccup does look very different, and weirdly a little like Andy from Toy Story.

The gang are all back, along with the original and very talented voicing cast consisting of Jonah Hill, America Ferrera, Kristen Wiig, Craig Ferguson, Christopher “McLovin” Mintz-Plasse and T. J. Miller. Although, they don’t seem to be in this film as much. They still make a mark and bring the laughs but until the second half really. They seemed to be cast aside and understandably so as the story primarily revolves around Hiccup yet again. Torn between being a dragon rider and taking over the reins of being chief by his pushy but legendary father, Stoick (THIS IS . . . Gerard Butler), Hiccup must make a choice.

The spoiler-ific trailers reveal the identity of the mysterious Dragon Rider which was hardly a surprise twist. But for those who were lucky enough not to see that trailer then don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you. Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond/Gladiator) brings his gravelly gravitas to the sinister Drago with aplomb. It was irritating me who was voicing Eret, the henchman. Firstly because I recognised the voice and secondly because his voice didn’t seem strong enough and didn’t match the character. And low and behold, I know nothing as it was Kit “Jon Snow” Harington (Game of Thrones – obviously). Shame. His conviction didn’t pull it off for me.

However, these are only minor quibbles as there are laughs to be had. Moments that surprise and pluck at the heart strings. It’s riveting, a feast for the eyes with an enthralling visual masterpiece of a finale with Toothless taking on his biggest foe to date. It may not surpass the original as the story may not necessarily break new ground but it is most certainly on par and if rumours are hinting at another, then another I want. I won’t divulge too much as this is one I would recommend that you see. There’s a little something for every one plus DRAGONS, hellooo.

In the words of GB, THIS IS . . . Not a bad sequel. 4 out of 5! Better. See I do like some films, you know!