*NEW* DADDY’S HOME REVIEW *NEW*

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Daddy should have stayed away.

Marky Mark and Ron Burgundy take each other on in a mediocre reunion.

Stepdad, Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell), is a radio host trying to get his stepchildren to love him and call him Dad. But his plans turn upside down when the biological father, Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg) returns.

Not bad. If you’re expecting The Other Guys 2, you might be left a little disappointed. We open to a ridiculously OTT sequence with Ferrell’s sickly sweet Brad praising fatherhood. Well, step-fatherhood. He plays the dim-witted simpleton so well. It doesn’t even feel like the guy’s acting. He’s a natural. Happy to have a family even if his delightful step kids draw demented doodles of him with a knife in his head and “homeless man poop” for hair. His response? Relief. Relieved that he’s NO longer dead in the pictures.

It’s easygoing enough BUT not quite as laugh out loud or as engaging as I hoped. Things pick up when Wahlberg makes his introduction. The game afoot from the get go as Dusty leaves Brad waiting at the airport.

The pace dipped in and out as Brad’s naive step dad is repeatedly duped and manipulated by the ultra cool Dusty. The 12A rating restricted the pair from really pushing the envelope. I missed the random improv that they had in The Other Guys. Don’t get me wrong. They still had that chemistry and worked well off each other. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think it would have worked.

The OTT stunts were stupid BUT delivered the laughs. Ferrell trying to showboat on a motorbike resorted in half the house being renovated. A back yard skate off drew some unexpected laughs BUT soon went on far too long. And that was the problem for me.

For every snappy one liner and crafty gag, there were a dozen duds. Thomas Haden Church’s (Sideways) radio producer was a mixed bag. If it wasn’t for his random stories that had no relevance, I would have cut him out altogether. The kids were funny. To be honest, they could have been in it more. The stunning Linda Cardellini (ER) was far too straight faced in this mad mess. The running gag with Griff (Hannibal Buress) the handyman overstayed its welcome like the character. Seriously, it really annoyed the hell out of me.

The whole “he’s better at you in every way” spiel was a little predictable. BUT that wasn’t to say that it didn’t deliver. Dusty’s fairy tale bed time story of the wicked step king wasn’t too bad and the endless battles to outdo each other on giving the kids presents or saying good night had a chuckle here and there.

Bobby Cannavale (Ant Man) was terrible in his cameo as a fertility doctor. Merely setting up a gag for the pair to draw swords (If you catch my drift). The recurring gag of Marky Mark without a shirt pops up yet again. It didn’t quite work as well as Date Night BUT I’m sure the ladies won’t be complaining. Performing crunches and lifts while Ferrell watches in awe.

Brad’s desperation to win the family back got the better laughs. His drunken meltdown at a basketball stadium had me in stitches. I may have shook my head at the nauseating father/daughter dance finale BUT I couldn’t resist the buffoonery of Wahlberg and Ferrell.

It did feel like a case of the “best bits in the trailer”. If you were lucky NOT to see them than it might be a bit more entertaining. It was all far too cheesy, OTT and a little slow at times. If NOT for Gamble and Hoitz, I mean Brad and Dusty, this would have been a write-off. It killed the time BUT not their best.

2.5/5

THE LONGEST RIDE REVIEW

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It really was the longest ride.

Easygoing enough but memorable? Another Nicholas Sparks adaptation hits the silver screen and it’s everything you could expect.

Schmaltzy, cliched, predictable and far too bloomin’ long!

After an automobile crash, the lives of a young couple intertwine with a much older man (Alan Alda), as he reflects back on a past love.

As you might not have gathered, these sort of films are not my cup of tea. They will always be corny and cringe-inducing BUT I’m happy to keep my thoughts to myself if the characters are interesting enough. Or the story.

Okay, the characters were not that interesting. Or the story. BUT the cast played their parts very well.

Scott Eastwood (Yes, the son of the legend of all legends Clint Eastwood) will soon be in the scopes of young teen girls everywhere. And for the lads . . . Britt Robertson.

I’m kidding. I was happy to see Robertson take on a leading role. She even managed NOT to annoy the hell out of me. Her turn in Tomorrowland left me anxious. I didn’t think she would be strong enough. BUT she excelled in this. All aided by some cracking chemistry with Eastwood.

I cannot believe how much he looks like his old man in his hey day. Crazy.

Robertson and Eastwood did their best with the ambitious career-minded college girl meets rugged daredevil rodeo cowboy love story. It really is as predictable as you could imagine. Not to say there weren’t moments to be enjoyed. When the leads were allowed to break free from the bland rom drom checklist, they were brilliant.

BUT their romance was always going to play second fiddle to the other (and slightly more interesting) love story of Ira and Ruth. A car crash and one befuddled (and incredibly old) Alan Alda later and we are thrust back to the 1940s.

Alan Alda (M*A*S*H) was brilliant. Bringing a much needed sincerity to the miserable pensioner Ira. A man who lost his love. It isn’t long before a slow burning but charming journey is set. Robertson begins to read all the letters that Ira wrote to his wife over the years.

Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) and Oona Chaplin (Game of Thrones) were fantastic together. Chaplin played the vibrant and passionate Ruth to perfection. The woman that would change the life of a shy store clerk for the rest of his life. Aww. Yuck.

Their story was hardly groundbreaking but we see their initial introduction and their blossoming romance. We laugh at their highs and get a little teary eyed at their lows (If you’re into that sort of thing). The pair do endure some struggles along the way which made for some interesting moments.

BUT it never really hit the heights I expected nor was it as dramatic as I hoped BUT the will-they-won’t-they? with Eastwood and Robertson soon became nothing but filler by comparison.

Their relationship ironically hits little snags alongside the retelling of Ira and Ruth’s. A perfect example being when Eastwood’s cowboy is invited to an art gallery. He soon makes his views known with the pretentious admirers. One of them being none other than Jeanie from ER. Ol’ Gloria Reuben. Yes, I’m a ER fan. Make of that what you will.

There wasn’t a bad supporting cast. The soon to be Supergirl Melissa Benoist managed to make a memorable turn as Robertson’s crazy college room mate. BUT more could have been made with Lolita Davidovich as Eastwood’s mother. She seemed too passive and laid back but with a son so stubborn, passivity seems to be the only route.

The problem with these sort of films is that no matter what hardship the couple endures, the result is always the same. I’m not for cynical and miserable endings but to do they have to be so sugary sweet?

The closing minutes were unbelievably corny BUT nicely done. A little side story from the ailing Ira came full circle and made a nice surprise. I will stay as cryptic as possible with that one.

I haven’t read the book and this . . . doesn’t make me want to BUT if you love romantic dramas and easygoing stories than I can think of worse ways to kill a couple of hours.

But unlike the adorable romance of Ira and Ruth, I don’t think this film will stand the tests of time. The cast do their best and have cracking chemistry but we’ve seen it all before.

2.5/5

TOMORROWLAND – A WORLD BEYOND REVIEW

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To-bore-o-land?

Bound by a shared destiny, a teen (Britt Robertson) bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor (George Clooney) embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.

Whaaaattt? Yeah, it’s a little dense. The Cloonster and Disney team up. To mixed results. At its best, an exhilarating action packed thrill ride. At its worst, a meandering, overlong piece that gets too bogged down with the timey wimey stuff.

Brought to you by the director of The Incredibles and one of the writers of LOST. For quite a few of you that might trigger mixed reactions. Brad Bird certainly knows how to deliver an action set piece. BUT Lindelof? He knows how to make a story so complex. Unnecessarily most of the time.

As soon as the film started with Clooney and Robertson’s characters bickering over how they should tell the story, I could feel my excitement dropping. The squabbling went on too long and wasn’t even that funny. Not a great opener.

BUT once the pair got over their storytelling techniques and the flashbacks began, I was strapped in. The complex premise slowly set up. Easygoing, charming and oh so frantic. Typical Brad Bird. We look back into Clooney’s past and see his younger counterpart attending the World Fair and getting introduced to the mysterious Tomorrowland.

Look, I know it’s a Disney film but how much merchandise and promotion did they want to flog in this? Seriously, it was hilarious. I won’t spoil anything. It is a small world after all 😉 Although nice try, Mr Bird. Keep a watchful eye on some sneaky Incredibles and Iron Giant memorabilia.

The special effects were outstanding. A visual feast for the eyes. Disney missed out on a trick by not letting this feature in 3D. There were moments where I actually flinched. Rockets and jet packs flying at you from the screen.

Raffey Cassidy delivered a sterling turn as Athena. The one who sets Clooney and Robertson on their destined paths. With an already impressive filmography; Snow White and the Huntsman, Dark Shadows and Mr Selfridge, she will be one to watch for the future.

It’s always tough for a child actor to make the right impression. Especially when their character is crucial to the story. If they don’t win you over, it’s hard to care what happens. Her delivery may have been a little shaky to start but it was still a good performance.

It took a good 45 minutes before Clooney was really introduced into the mix. Confidence in a young cast. Robertson didn’t do a bad job. I just found her character a little irritating. Her OTT optimistic attitude was a little too sugary sweet for my liking.

Clooney certainly got things going. He has proven before that he is up for a laugh and goes along with the ridiculousness without question. He plays the cliched bitter old man well.

The action set pieces were superb. Picking up the pace when things seemed to lull. The introduction of the robo-cops felt like something out of Terminator 2. No! Not that Robocop. The eerily white teethed Matthew MacCaull certainly added a creepy vibe to the timey teen pic. Their high tech gadgetry was crazy. Disintegrating people into matter without a second thought.

I wondered why this film was given a 12A certificate until half way through. The violence may have been OTT and the guards are robots BUT I didn’t expect to see Robertson bludgeoning one to death. Smashing his head in repeatedly for a good 30 seconds. Probably not suitable viewing for the little ‘uns.

This has teen viewing stamped all over it. A little bit violent and a little bit more going on but nowhere near as demented, apocalyptic and dark as it could have been. BUT come on, it’s Disney.

The closing 30 minutes seemed to meander off and went out with a whimper NOT a bang. After all the mystery and mad inter dimensional mumbo jumbo and a crazy shuttle launch sequence involving the Eiffel Tower, the payoff just wasn’t as complicated as it made out nor as rewarding. If anything it was quite simple and really predictable. I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case.

It was certainly watchable and for the majority of the screen time, I was engrossed. Hell, I got to see the ultimate stand off between two of the most iconic TV docs. ER’s Doug Ross vs. Gregory House. Hugh Laurie was good as Nix but his character was a bit nothingy and felt more like a panto villain. Dispensing his guards and then just waiting. Or scowling.

I won’t say too much about the plot but I’m glad that Lindelof and Bird got the balance right with Athena and Clooney’s relationship. Something that could have come off awkward and a little weird if delivered the wrong way.

Lindelof really needs to work on his endings. And no! That is NOT a angry swipe from a LOST fan. It isn’t! I swear. Just look at Prometheus. For all the timey wimey mystery and crazy theories, I was hoping for something a little more spectacular.

Also a quick question for Mr Bird. Was Judy Greer’s part cut? A talented actress reduced to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo? A waste of a talented supporting actress.

It’s frantic, action packed, riveting but also on far too long. I respect Disney for at least trying to do something original instead of another mindless remake or rehash.

It’s just a shame that the film got too caught up in the science stuff that it lost the fun and charm that had it kept it going.

Not bad but a little disappointing. Still not the worst way to kill two hours.

3/5

BOGOWIE REVIEW

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Wowie, Bogowie!

Riveting, engaging (if a little corny) with a slightly abrupt ending but a treat none the less. If your cinema’s showing it, go see it.

I never miss a film at my cinema these days. Merely for the very fact (I have too much time on my hands) that the films I’ve never heard of are normally the ones that surprise me. Welcome. Or should I say, Powitanie Bogowie!

In a nutshell, Bogowie follows the early career of cardiac surgeon Zbigniew Religa. Despite the harsh reality of a 1980s Poland, he successfully leads a team of doctors to the country’s first human heart transplant.

I went in with no knowledge, no Polish and came out pleasantly surprised. I couldn’t believe the amount of showing times this film had at my local Cineworld but now I’ve seen it, I can see why.

It’s not without its imperfections but in the endless wave of “sludge” (lazy, poor movies with one dimensional characters and cardboard plots), it was good to see something stand out.

Tomasz Kot is brilliant as Religa. He plays the part to perfection with plenty of charisma. Exactly what you need in a leading character.

The opening sequence delivers a brief overview of the medical situation in the 80s Poland for those who didn’t live in the times (or were even born). We see a medical doctor shunned and persecuted for attempting to perform an organ transplant; only for the patient to die on the operating table. The procedure was prohibited and the doctor branded a murderer.

The first 30 minutes or so zipped along in an instant. Frantic, tense and heartbreaking (Pardon the expression) as Religa experiments with corpses in between treating living ones. His precision and dedication is something to be commended for. However, from his first operation in which he attempts to save a patient without his attending’s approval (or his attending), we quickly get a sense of the man and know what to expect for the next two hours.

Inevitably, his concern and ambition for medical progression instantly makes enemies in all the wrong places. Religa’s confrontations with the medical board are unbelievable. Unbelievable on the grounds for why he is forbidden. The moral and ethical debates surrounding the organ transplant procedure are dealt with brilliantly.

Religa is not always painted in the best light. You find his ambition comes off a little ruthless as he puts patients on the spot pressing for an answer. An answer to something that was forbidden and still very much in the experimental stages.

BUT at the same time, a procedure that could (and would prove to) extend the patient’s life and more importantly, give them one. Instead of being left to rot in a hospital wired up to machinery for an indefinite time.

His treatment of his wife was expected but also terrible. Neglecting her in a flat in the city. Rewarding her with trips away but calling on her when he needed her to confirm that what he is doing is right. There could have been more drama made of that but I felt that the role was restricted and put there to break up the hum drum of the hospital melodrama.

The tone seemed to be a little over the place. After a sombre and dramatic opening, it seems to get a little too light that it’s almost soapy like ER. When Religa hires and fires the same doctor who keep questioning his motives, it was funny to start with but it soon became a running joke that went on far too long. It felt like I was watching Dr Cox from Scrubs.

However, a chance encounter between Religa and a high ranking government official was macabre but unexpected. The fact he takes one look at the chap and says, “I’ll be seeing you soon” got an unexpected chuckle.

The actual medical operations are quite detailed. The make up and special effects are fantastic. Not for the squeamish. But once you’ve seen Religa take out heart after heart; bar the drama as he gets closer and closer to achieving what was deemed impossible, it all gets a little repetitive.

It was certainly interesting how Religa broke away from the hospital that trained him to make his own surgery. It was suspenseful and riveting as he tries desperately to secure funding. Telling little white lies to get the best people possible. This is perfectly demonstrated when his new medical team arrive to nothing but four walls and a roof with white marker highlighting where each room will be.

The pace does dip in places and at two hours, I did feel my eyes wander nearer the end as the repetition seemed to pop up in the story arch. Doc says no. Religa does it anyway. He fires disapproving team mate. Re-hires when he needs them to do the op.

It doesn’t help when you know the inevitable outcome. It was still an eye opener. Don’t get me wrong. But after all the build up, it just ends quite abruptly. Just that’s it. This crucial point did that and the rest is . . . History. Cue a quick caption summarising the rest of Religa’s life followed by the credits. Oh?

I mean we had endless ops in which Religa got closer to keeping a patient alive after the procedure. There was only ever going to be two outcomes. BUT it just fell a bit flat for me.

A charismatic lead, a riveting story certainly delivers enough drama to keep me engrossed. It may be a little repetitive and overlong. BUT I’ve seen a lot worse this week alone.

3/5 for me.

*THROWBACK REVIEW* A NEW YORK WINTER’S TALE

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An unexpected watch. Went in to the screen (not literally) expecting the usual luvvy duvvy guff (my terminology for romance stuff), but came out surprised. A well-acted love story that is as different as it is strange. Cudos for the concept but not so much for its execution. Great chemistry from a great cast shies away from the numerous plot holes. However, I would say give it a go. One that doesn’t deserve the backlash it received.

At its core without spoiling too much is the story of thief Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) who fights to keep a dying girl’s (the beautiful Jessica Brown-Findlay from Downton Abbey) hope alive in a battle against a devilish villain, the scarfaced Pearly Soames (a sinister Russell Crowe). However, what ensues is quite different, actually. Their love unwittingly becomes a game between hidden angels and demons. I kid you not. A supernatural love fantasy that spans a century . . . almost.

Not what I expected at all from the trailers. I was going in for a typical by the numbers old fashioned period piece. The opening hooked me from the get go. We follow an amnesiac Farrell in the present day New York attempting to piece together his identity and his past. It all flicks back and forth and has enough questions and intrigue to keep me quiet.

Once the story sets itself in 1916 and the supernatural elements kick in, it gets even crazier. It all settles down a little too comfortably when Farrell and Findlay first meet, with the pace slackening. The usual love at first sight guff. The chemistry between Findlay and Farrell is brilliant. They make such a likeable couple that can get away with some of the more cringey one liners.

Crowe plays the baddie role to perfection. But for even with his Bond villain scar face, you can’t help but feel his role is being wasted. Reduced to merely plotting, making deals with fallen angels and demanding approval from his superior, The Judge (ol’ Big Horns himself. That’s right. The Devil). Cue an unexpected cameo that brought a smile. I would love to tell you. But this a story all about how . . .

I don’t want to talk about the story too much as I do want people to see this.

Caleb Deschanel’s cinematography certainly made the film worth looking at. The performances are brilliant with a massive ensemble; William Hurt (Lost in Space/Damages), Jennifer Connolly (Labyrinth/Blood Diamond), Matt Bomer (White Collar/Glee) and Scott Grimes (ER/Band of Brothers) in a blink and you’ll miss it role.

Now I understand that the film was adapted from a Mark Helprin novel. Unfortunately I will admit that I haven’t read it. This film has certainly peaked my interest. But that is mainly because despite its attributes and every supernatural twist or turn, a bigger plot hole popped its ugly head. Without being too spoilerific, why was Farrell Irish when his parents were Polish immigrants? Can the guy really not do any other accent?

And what was the deal with the horse? Anyway, despite being pulled apart at the seams, it’s still a nice jacket to look at, even if it looks different to what you expected when you paid for it. An interesting concept for a debut from writer/director Akiva Goldsman. Considering this was the guy (yeah he’s a guy. I know, right? Thank God I did my research) who produced the Paranormal Activity franchise.

An easy-going supernatural love ride that may be a bit shoddy on the exposition but makes up for it with originality, special effects and good acting.

3 (just)/5

THE GUEST REVIEW

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This is one house guest you won’t want staying around. Crawley is back and kicking ass. Dan Stevens has definitely escaped from the dusty confines of Downton Abbey and boy . . . what a film to break the mould.

Stevens is incredibly charismatic and proves that he can handle the leading role with ease. He was one to watch after his turn as Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey, but this performance will certainly put him on the map. However, it appears Hollywood have already clocked him with a supporting role in the new release of the Neeson crime showpiece, A Walk Among The Tombstones.

Now brought to you by the people who did You’re Next. When I read that, I dreaded what laid in store. I hated You’re Next. It completely flipped what I thought would be a solid slasher flick and turned it into a ridiculous farce. As soon as the opening credits of The Guest began with the highly elaborate overture that usually belonged to the 80s B-movie flicks, I was anxious. However, once Stevens flashed the pearly whites and unleashed that perfect American drawl, the anxiety dropped and a slow burning, suspenseful tension soon had me hooked as we try and decipher the intentions of the all too helpful lodger.

What’s it about? A soldier (Stevens) introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.

A hint of A Shadow of a Doubt hovers over this indie action hit. In one moment, Stevens’ David works the charm offensive off every one in the screen, in the next he’s ready to destroy them. His unpredictability certainly makes for good viewing. However, one person isn’t buying it and that is Maika Monroe’s bizarrely dressed Anna Peterson. I don’t really pay attention to what people wear in movies but Monroe’s waitress stripper look was just strange and unattractive. The electro-infused soundtrack certainly made for interesting listening. Hypnotic at times but also balls-out random, which pretty sums up the movie and the finale in a nutshell.

The small cast play their parts well. Leland Orser’s (ER) frustrated feeble father, Joel David Moore’s pathetic pothead (Bones) and, scene stealer, Brendan Meyer’s Luke. Meyers delivered some of the better encounters with David. A tense encounter in a bar with some school bullies allows for cracking one liners and funny exchanges. Once Monroe seems to get over her sulking phases of having David in the house, she soon becomes a more interesting character. Especially with the fractious sexual tension inevitably blossoming between her and Stevens.

A little too much time is spent on the exchanges and glances that it slows the pace of the film down. However, the final 15 to 20 minutes came out of nowhere. The film goes in a completely different direction when Lance Reddick’s straight faced  (Fringe/The Wire) secret soldier creeps out of the woodwork. Now I think it will be down to the change in tide that will either make or break the film for people. For me, it made it so much better. For others, they may have preferred another route. Normally I am the latter. I’m staying cryptic because I want people to see this but it’s rapid, violent and balls-out (a lot of balls-out this time) reckless.

3.5/5 for me. Action packed, dark, funny, if a little long at the tooth in parts with an all out shoot em up and slightly abrupt finale. But not bad, not bad at all. Films aren’t testing me today.