*NEW* BRIDGET JONES’S BABY REVIEW *NEW*

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Third time’s the charm?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You might be pleasantly surprised.

3.5/5

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*NEW* BROOKLYN REVIEW *NEW*

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A great cast reprieved this pleasantly easygoing (if slightly underwhelming) drama.

An Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a new romance. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.

Ronan has developed into quite the actress. Brooklyn was the perfect showcase for her. She gave an excellent performance and carried the piece very well. BUT for all the hype and praise, I expected so much more. BUT that’s not to say, I didn’t enjoy it.

The opening half hour was easygoing enough as Eilis (Ronan) prepared to embark on the journey of a lifetime. The petty squabbling with Brid Brennan’s scornful shopkeeper and teary send offs with Eilis’ sister and mother kept things ticking over.

Her journey to America certainly picked up the pace. The conditions in which she travelled in were surprising. Crammed into small compartments and forced to share the same toilet. Things got even worse when the poor girl suffered from food poisoning.

Eva Birthistle (Ae Fond Kiss) delivered a memorable turn in the small role of Eilis’ seasoned travel companion. Sending Eilis on her way with some handy advice. Once Eilis got to America, the pace did slacken BUT you could feel for her as she struggled to fit in with her job at a department store with the stern Miss Fortini (Mad Men’s Jessica Pare).

The homesick letter sequences between Eilis and her sister Rose (Fiona Glascott – Omagh) managed to crack the most cynical of critics. I noticed a few teary eyes. No, not mine. I loved how they conveyed their relationship over a few simple letters. Well done.

Julie Walters was brilliant and on fine form as the hilarious and uptight boarding house keeper Mrs Keogh. I couldn’t believe that Felicity Smoak from Arrow (Emily Bett Rickards) featured as one of the vindictive boarding house girls. Desperate to snag a man.

Jim Broadbent gave a stellar supporting performance as Father Flood and delivered a convincing Irish accent. Aiding Eilis in her time of need. I really wished he was in this more. BUT of course, it wasn’t long before our heroine fell in love. Awww (Yuck).

Emory Cohen wasn’t strong enough for me as Tony. He didn’t quite pull off the cheeky Italian American that well. BUT he did have good chemistry with Ronan which made up for the hammy performance and I was happy to watch the pair’s blossoming romance.

However after receiving some tragic news, Eilis must return home. I will admit I haven’t read the novel and if it wasn’t for the heavily flogged trailers, the news would have been more of a shocker. Alas it was not to be.

Eilis must make a choice to stay home or go back to the love of her life as more and more temptations are thrown in her path. Domhnall Gleeson (About Time) did well with the role of Jim Farrell BUT the character didn’t really have enough screen time to make a convincing option for Eilis. I understand that it might have been a retread of what we had already seen with Tony BUT you could see how he was appealing to Eilis on a different level.

For the all the potential drama hanging over her with the community and her mother’s desperate efforts to keep her home, it didn’t quite kick off as much as I had expected. It was all far too tame.

Director John Crowley (Boy A) and writer Nick Hormby (About A Boy) only scraped the surface of immigration. A touching scene where Eilis assists at a soup kitchen hit home. The majority of the homeless being Irish immigrants who had tried to find a better life in America.

BUT it was a little too light and fluffy. Despite some touching moments and that meandering build up, the ending was quite rushed and far too abrupt for my liking.

A superb cast and an easygoing pace do just enough to keep things watchable. BUT for all the praise, I was left wanting. Shame.

3/5 (Just)

*NEW* THE LADY IN THE VAN REVIEW *NEW*

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An exceptional performance from a great Dame does enough to save this mixed bag of a mostly true story.

Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) forms an unexpected bond with a transient woman (Maggie Smith) living in her car that’s parked in his driveway.

After a strong opening with a small glimpse into the past of our mysterious lady in the van, things were put on the back burner and we were subjected to the endless monologues of Alan Bennett.

And that was the problem. There was too much Bennett. I was aware of the renowned playwright but wasn’t really used to his style. The History Boys, being one of the other film adaptations I’ve seen, wasn’t my cup of tea.

Now credit where it’s due. Jennings was very good as the dithering playwright. Once I got used to Bennett’s running commentary, I was able to enjoy it a little more as the film went on. The ‘caught between two minds’ gag (in which we see two Bennetts) was a clever little skit and helped differentiate what Bennett did in real life and what he imagined. His snappy one liners and some of his monologues were actually quite entertaining as he argued and bickered with the lady in the van and himself.

The introduction of the London Borough of Camden community didn’t really bring much to the mix. If anything, they were heavily underused. Especially with the talent at Bennett’s finger tips. Jim Broadbent played the shady retired cooper in his limited role perfectly. He brought some needed suspense and drama to the mix.

Roger Allam and Deborah Findley were probably the only other characters that made an impression as Bennett’s nosy neighbours. Desperate to fish out any little bit of gossip. Frances de la Tour was completely wasted in her role. Dominic Cooper’s cameo was nothing more than an ongoing gag taking the mick out of Bennett’s promiscuity and sexuality. I couldn’t believe how many British sitcom actors popped up in this. Even James Corden turned up as a market trader.

BUT they were always going to fall short to the lady in the van. The iconic actress that is Maggie Smith. Bearing “a vagabond nobility”, the make up team really made her look rough. Her acid tongue and mad rants were hilarious. The outbursts at the sound of music. The exchanges. The looks. Brilliant.

A monster in one second. Ungrateful and using. Hurt and alone the next. Neglected by the church and left to fend for herself. When we finally got to delve into her past, you soon developed empathy towards the cantankerous old bat.

However, the main issue I had with the piece was that there was too much focus on Bennett. As much as it was a semi-autobiographical account; it would help if his life story was interesting. That’s not to say that it didn’t have its moments. Bennett didn’t exactly paint himself in the best light. His reluctance to look after his mad ol’ Mam (A sterling turn from Gwen Taylor) but acceptance of Smith’s squatter on his driveway drew a shocking, but interesting, comparison.

BUT the drama around Bennett soon dragged what was a charming little affair. The ramblings about his plays and the late night meetings with his “friends” was only really funny when Smith’s lady interrogated him. “All these men coming over at all hours of the night. People will think you’re a Communist”.

When Smith disappeared so did my interest. It’s hard when telling a loosely based true story NOT to exaggerate or guess what Smith’s character would have done or said. However, it didn’t really build up to anything that I expected. Her treatment at the monastery was ripe for more drama and confrontation BUT never amounted to anything. Neither did her back story of why she was in the van in the first place.

It was certainly watchable BUT engaging? The closing moments proved why Smith is still one of the best actresses going. The Oscar buzz might be a little premature but it was still a superb performance. The OTT ending didn’t really fit in with the tone for me. I understood why Bennett did this elaborate overture but I still wasn’t a fan.

Funny, charming, easygoing when Smith was involved. Otherwise, it just wasn’t as fulfilling or as entertaining as I expected.

3/5 (Just!)

BIG GAME REVIEW

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BIG, DUMB, LAME?

There’s only one way to find out.

The trailer looked ridiculous. I really had low expectations. BUT yet I came out after those mental 90 minutes with a guilty smile. And all I can say is this film is BIG FUN!

Samuel L (The L stands for Mother F**ker) Jackson takes on the iconic presidential role (About time!) in this 12A hampered action packed tour de force.

So what’s it about? A young teenager (Onni Tommila) camping in the woods helps rescue the President of the United States (Samuel L Jackson) when Air Force One is shot down near his campsite.

If you looked at that premise and shook your head, then this really isn’t for you. It’s silly, OTT but hilarious. For the right reasons? Well, that will be up to you.

Brought to you by the people that made Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. Now that should give you a picture of what to expect. Ridiculous concepts played straight. A dangerous game but it almost worked.

The opening was a little slow burning. All the ridiculousness bubbling in the background. We are introduced to Tommila’s Oskari as he set on a big game hunt by his father. An ancient tradition among the local village that a young boy must take to achieve the path of manhood. Blah, blah, blah.

Tommila’s deadpan expression and dry delivery really made the film for me. I normally find when teenagers are the lead characters in movies like these; they instantly grate against me. Not this time.

Tommila and SLJ were a great pairing. An unexpected one but a good one, none the same. SLJ has proven before that he can make silly premises watchable. Snakes on a Plane was relentless BUT a typical grade A B movie flick (A B? You know what I mean).

Their introduction was hilarious. The plane crash being mistaken for an alien spaceship by the young hunter was corny but the exchange between the pair was worth it. You could tell SLJ was having a laugh especially when Oskari throws POTUS two cups on a string. “Don’t hang up. Did I really just say that?”

The whole terrorist ploy to kidnap the President in a Finnish forest was hammy. All the elaborate and destructive planning just to take some pictures of POTUS and then kill him anyway? Don’t think into it too much.

Luckily, Mehmet Kurtulus’ (Equilibrium) Hazar is so demented and OTT that he takes the attention away from that little niggle. He’s that reckless that you could almost believe his stupid intentions. His missile testing game may have been a rip off of The Jackal but it was quite dark for a 12A using villagers as target practice.

Director Jalmari Helander has an impressive Hollywood cast at his disposal. It was a shame that not all of them were used to their potential. I mean, the presidential back staff that sat watching the chaos in a secure communications room consisted of the likes of Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), Ted Levine (Silence of the Lambs), Victor Garber (Alias) and Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter)!

All of them playing generic stock characters that were highly unmemorable. Well, Broadbent was the exception. He didn’t do a half bad American accent and I really wished his character had more screen time.

Ray Stevenson was actually quite good as the disloyal bodyguard. He has finally mastered the accent after so many poor renditions. *Cough* The Punisher: War Zone *Cough*

For all it’s silliness, it was strange seeing SLJ playing the role quite seriously. Normally in these stupid action movies or iconic classics i.e. Air Force One, the president instantly becomes a badass and disposes all of the baddies while his highly trained security detail are removed in the first act.

SLJ’s presidential character was quite weak. Flailing around and being knocked about. A little more realistic. If you can say that. It made a change. The badass attitude very much on the shoulders of Oskari.

His stand off with Stevenson’s bodyguard was comical. “Don’t worry, Mr. President. I got this”. Pinging a tiny arrow four inches into the ground.

Considering it was a 12A, it was highly violent and very dark. A scene in which SLJ looks up to see a trail of bodyguards sprinkled across the slope was a little graphic BUT the last 30 minutes was mental. More of what I expected from the get go.

OTT, fast, furious and oh so stupid! The freezer sequence had so many mixed emotions for me. Rolling down a ravine. Flying off a cliff. Dodging bullets. Words escape me.

It zipped along. Ended incredibly violently and oh so cornily. BUT I came out with a grin.

Did Jackson get to say his infamous punchline? I hear you ask. “You got to cock it, motherf-” Alas, the dreaded 12A certificate rearing its ugly head.

If you’re up for a laugh and a corny B movie actioner, then look no further. If you’re not, then keep on looking.

3/5

THE WORST FILMS OF 2014 – PART TWO

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 I’ve already provided PART ONE from 20-11. NOW, it’s finally time for PART TWO with 10 – 1

SCALE: 10 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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10. WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE 3D MOVIE

I know, it’s a kid’s movie. BUT the dino facts were so patronising and stupid that it put me in a rage! I mean, come on! Kids can read. BUT the slow TRI-CER-A-T-OPS pronunciation was infuriating.

Plus they interrupted any interesting development in the dull by the numbers story line. The effects were good BUT the 3D? What 3D?

Not even John Lequizamo’s vocal work could save the day. In fact he annoyed the hell out of me. A talking crow narrating the history of the dinosaurs to a family?

LOGIC?! It just didn’t help the main character grated against me and the story was so predictable and corny that you lost interest.

The purpose of a family movie is to appeal . . . to a family. I don’t even think the little ‘uns would be fussed about watching this one.

Go watch the vastly superior award winning BBC documentary series instead!

 

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9. THE HARRY HILL MOVIE

Harry Hill making a movie? Any good? There’s only one way to find out?

NO! Hill tries to incorporate his TV Burp format to the big screen with a silly premise about taking his ill hamster to Blackpool.

Johnny Vegas does his best to get a chuckle as Abu the hamster. Abu? Wait. Isn’t that the name of another furry sidekick? Hmmm . . .

It was a shame with the talent at Hill’s disposal. Julie Walters, Matt Lucas, Jim Broadbent . . . Will from Inbetweeners.

For every good gag, Hill manages to balance it with a dozen duds.

It’s surreal, stupid and a mess to boot. I felt like I was on something watching it. Maybe I should have to try and understand how Hill thought this would be entertaining.

 

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8. DEVIL’S DUE

Another regurgitated, predictable, lazy, teen horror movie that desperately attempts to reap from the Paranormal Activity hype.

Paranormal Activity was a treat, an actual creepy, tension builder, that recreated and improved what the overrated handy-cam trend setter The Blair Witch Project set out.

A couple go on an exotic Brazilian honeymoon. They get lost. Get drunk. Suspicious taxi driver recommends strange place. Takes them before they can say, “Wait a minute”. And that last drink, oh that inevitable last drink. Instead of passing out on the bathroom floor, poor Sam gets impregnated by a Satanic cult.

The main issue is that the writers and producers either have never seen Rosemary’s Baby and inadvertently delivered a poor modern day rehash of it or they knew what they were doing which is even more tragic.

However, too many movies have popped their ugly heads out from this craze and I pray that this be the last but unfortunately the true horror is that it won’t be. (Just keep scrolling)

 

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7. THE LAST DAYS ON MARS

The . . . last film they should do about Mars. Oh my days. Shambolic. The pain endured watching this space turd was like having a xenomorph burst out of my chest and that still would have been more entertaining than this drivel.

Slow, tension less, shoddily acted, more holes than a sponge. This film should be jettisoned into space. Okay, rant over. Better? Better.

It is such a shame that an underrated cast have the opportunity to shine in a perfect B movie-esque vehicle and miss at every angle.

They could have done a shot for shot remake of Alien and they still would have messed it up.

If it wasn’t for the fact it was funded by the BFI and Irish Film Board, this definitely wouldn’t have made it to the big screen and rightly so. The fact it only featured at my cinema for five days says it all.

Also the film is called Last Days on Mars and yet when we join them, they are 19 hours away from going home so surely THE LAST DAY ON MARS. Couldn’t even get the title right.

 

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6. NATIVITY 3: DUDE WHERE’S MY DONKEY?!

Ho, ho, ho – horrible!

From the moment the first badly mimed, badly choreographed and terribly out of sync flash mob started busting shapes, I knew I was in for it. And that was just from the adults. The kids hadn’t even started yet.

Just because it was Christmas that doesn’t mean you can slap any old thing together and expect people to pay and see it. It was lazy, unfunny and poor. At a push, worth taking the little ‘uns if they are aged up to 5 tops.

I’m sure it was fun for everyone who filmed it. It’s just a shame they couldn’t convey that for everybody else.

I didn’t get me in the Christmas spirit but it certainly got reaching for the ones in my cupboard. Should be Dude, Where’s My Money?

 

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5. TRANSCENDENCE

Transcen-dunce or dense. A mind numbingly drab affair of a concept that has just enough meat to be a generic TV movie you’d expect to see on late night SyFy.

You know you’re onto a loser when the opening five minutes pretty much tells you what to expect and an established cast sleepwalk their lines and fail to make an impression.

It just proves that a little thing called story, along with some others called character, plot and interest still count.

Sleep walking performances, along with a by the numbers story line, relying on the popularity of familiar actors does not a good or profitable movie make.

I hope the memory of viewing this film will transcend, evaporating like the little nano-bots into nothingness. Avoid or upload at your own peril.

 

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4. UNDER THE SKIN

Under the skin? More like grating against my skin. What the hell did I just watch? Now imagine Species. Replace Natasha Henstridge with the even more alluring Scarlett Johansson. Set it in a grittier, murkier Scottish backdrop and bang on, you have . . . something worse than Species.

In fact just watch Species or the even more dire sequels to this drivel.

ScarJo plays a flirty alien that feasts on weak, shallow, lonely Scottish men. How could this be so bad? How can the man who brought us Sexy Beast produce this?

I mean he did do the oddly bizarre Birth. You know Birth? Nicole Kidman and her husband who is reincarnated as a 10 year old? Oh, that Birth, yeah.

 

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3. INTO THE STORM

Where to begin? The insufferable shaky handheld camera work? The cheesy Day After Tomorrow guff that managed to be more vomit inducing than the Day After Tomorrow?

The redneck tornado chasers? Richard Armitage getting his arse sucked off by a twister? Well, it bloody looked like he was.

This just made me want to walk out of the screen. Go to the nearest store that had the Twister DVD. Go back to the projectionist and tell them to put that on instead.

It was cringe-inducing bilge. I have never laughed so much. This was a farce. I have seen B-movies on SyFy that have contained better story lines and characters than this.

 

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2. AS ABOVE SO BELOW

As I watched, the more it blowed. Now childish sulky comments aside. Another found footage “horror” film graces the big screen with cheap scares, poorly acted, badly written characters and a laughable premise.

There is no tension. Random characters get bumped off left, right and centre without any background, interest or concern. Suspense. Naff all.

Loud noises and screams may make me jump out of my seat but what do you expect when the story has put me into a coma, near enough.

Feldman’s character with a dark past who constantly keeps reiterating that he will not go down into the catacombs; inevitably gets pushed down into the cave and what is his big secret?

He’s CLAUSTROPHOBIC! Why didn’t he say that in the first place? Idiot. Oh my God, it felt like something out of a comedy sketch.

 

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1. AND THE AWARD FOR WORST FILM OF 2014 GOES TO . . .

THE PYRAMID

This film should be buried beneath a pyramid.

You know you’re onto a loser when the saving grace is Jay from The Inbetweeners.

What a load of s#@! The demon bared a striking resemblance to those devil dog things from the live action Scooby Doo reboot. The one with Matthew Lillard as Shaggy.

It took half the film before they even got into the flipping thing. The ending was abrupt and predictable after all that endurance with the shoddy, shaky camera work.

Seriously, these found footage films need to STOP. It was too dark to see anything. Half of the time you get an elbow or a nostril. Come on, we’re in the Go Pro age guys!

Mindless exposition about unoriginal premises that have been done to death with lifeless characters that bicker through predictable and unscary scenarios are not acceptable.

 

GET SANTA REVIEW

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Get on it!

Jim Broadbent dons the red suit and white beard and leads a sterling British cast in this fun (but flawed) Christmas cracker.

Writer/director Christopher Smith has taken the same old Santa spiel and re-worked it into something quite different and entertaining.

So what’s it all about? (Besides the obvious implications of the title) A father (Rafe Spall) and son (Kit Connor) team up to save Christmas after discovering Santa Claus (Broadbent) sleeping in their garage and on the run from the police.

A breath of fresh air! I was surprised at how little this film was marketed at the cinemas. It’s not without it’s imperfections but I can certainly commend it’s originality. Execution on the other hand? Ho, ho, ho, here we go.

Broadbent brings St Nick to life brilliantly and delivered the charm by the stocking full. He was everything I expected. Funny, endearing and entertaining. It always helps in these family holiday films to have a likeable cast.

Connor (An impressive debut from the little chap) and Spall (X + Y) were fantastic together. They played the parts well and made the father/son dynamic work.

Spall’s dead pan delivery certainly made for some cracking one liners. His reaction when Tom tells him he’s found SC in the garage; “Are you in the garage with a man? Pass the phone to your mum”. Priceless.

The prison angle was a fresh take. Recently released from prison, Steve is desperate to be a good dad. Little does he know that his prison ties will be more important than ever. His quest for redemption certainly had a little more substance to the usual Christmas father/son squabbles.

The idea of SC incarcerated was a perfect platform for some fun gags. I smiled a lot more than I expected and was surprised at the stars that popped up in this.

Matt King (Super Hands from Peep Show) featured as a miserable and unsatisfied prison guard. To be honest, his character was nowhere near as good as I hoped. If anything, he was a little flat. Even the OTT comical punch up between him and Warwick Davis (Harry Potter) left little to be desired.

Davis, on the other hand, was quite good. Of course, lazy elf gags galore were thrown at the poor chap but his retorts and sarcastic jibes made up for it.

And what was Combo from This is England doing in this?! Stephen Graham’s turn as The Barber was an unexpected delight. Good to see he can still have a laugh and that he’s not too big for the small Brit pics. His tough guy training sesh with Broadbent was almost worth the ticket alone.

I was in stitches watching ol’ SC strutting around the gaff with corn locks. Throw in a cheeky slow mo tough guy montage to a bit of Ice Cube for good measure? Yes please.

Joanna Scanlan (Stella) played the delightfully unpleasant parole officer with aplomb. BUT apart from stomping about and carrying a toad in tow (You read that right), she didn’t really do much else.

Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch) was wasted in her role. Apart from a few awkward exchanges (and rightly so) between her character and Steve, she didn’t really pop back up until the final moments.

The reindeer were quite funny for the little ‘uns. Especially the deceptive Dasher (who manages to break into vans without explanation). He can’t talk but he can communicate. And of course being a children’s movie, he does so by farting. That’s right. Communicating through farts (Come on, we’re better than that).

Although Spall trying to remain serious as the furry critters trumped away was quite funny.

Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting) was really irritating as the over-enthusiastic and deluded PC Finkerton. He did my nut in.

Unfortunately, for every clever little prison gag, there were a dozen recycled ones. BUT there was still fun to be had. A cheeky Shawshank Redemption reference shouldn’t have worked but it got a little nod from me.

For the little ‘uns, you have Big Nick firing a tommy gun of reindeer droppings in a high speed police chase.

The animation was a little cartoony for me. Especially in the letter tunnel when Steve and Tom are transported to Lapland. BUT their sleigh ride was brilliantly captured. Santa’s gadgets were quite cool. His slinky/chimney expander was a nifty little trinket.

I know it’s a Christmas film BUT it skimmed through a number of plot holes. Look, I’m prepared to except all the rubbish about SC and the reindeer flight paths (It’s a kids film after all) BUT breaking out of secure prisons so flippantly? Come on now.

It wrapped things up a little too quickly. For a moment, I wondered if Smith was going to play on the “Is he/isn’t he SC?” spiel a little more as Steve fears that he’s helping a chap who is nothing more than a petty criminal.

I loved its originality but was a little disappointed in its execution as it raced to its shamefully predictable, corny and rushed finale.

BUT I had a lot more fun than I expected and it wasn’t the worst way to kill 90 minutes.

2.5/5.

THE HARRY HILL MOVIE

HARRY_QUAD.preview

Was it any good? There’s only one way to find out? FIGHT . . . I mean, review.

What the hell did I just watch?!

Now for those familiar with the award winning TV Burp, I’m sure you can imagine what to expect. BUT even that wouldn’t live up to your expectations. It is ridiculously stupid, bizarre, random and unfortunately, for most of it, unfunny.

Another one to add to the pile of poor TV to film adaptations. There seems to be somewhat of a curse with this transition. The Inbetweeners and Kevin and Perry Go Large being the exceptions.

A little harsh and to its defense, its NOT a complete dud, contrary to reviews I’ve read. When it’s funny, it nails it. And I had the odd chuckle. The opening act didn’t give me much hope with a drawn out and highly unfunny mobile scooter race.  BUT luckily there was the odd moment to reprieve itself.

So what’s it about? Harry’s pet hamster Abu (voiced by none other than Johnny Vegas. Brilliant!) only has a week to live. So Harry and his nan, played by the legendary actress that is Julie Walters plan to give him the best week of his life by taking him to . . . Blackpool on one of the most trippy and mental road trips I’ve imagined.

However, all is not what it seems, as Hill’s evil twin, Otto (played by Matt Lucas) has an evil plan at foot.

Silly and just plain daft. BUT there were moments where you just couldn’t help but laugh at the sheer energy and randomness of Hill’s surreal sequences. From the simple task of Harry getting an egg from the chicken coop, it soon becomes a military assault with armed chickens blowing up the back garden?! And Mr. Hill screaming, “I’m henned in”.

What surprised me about this film was the sheer number of cameos from a great supporting British cast. Simon Bird (Will from the Inbetweeners) played the dimwitted henchman with aplomb. His creepy Justin Bieber disguise still haunting my thoughts.

I can’t believe Julie Walters did this. It was great to see her having fun but I can’t help but feel that this was a step down. And Jim Broadbent?! Playing a cross dressing cleaner in a nuclear power station? Great to see him but I just wish he featured in a better scene. Or a funnier one for that matter.

Matt Lucas was wasted as Otto. Apart from his hilarious back story about being raised by a pack of wild Alsatians on the M6, he failed to make a real impression.

The Magic Numbers Bed and Breakfast hotel was fantastic. I couldn’t believe that the Magic Numbers, one of my favourite bands, was in this! And a surprise car wash sing song with Shingai Shoniwa, lead singer of the Noisettes, was a treat.

For every miss, there is a hit BUT it appears that Hill and the crew soon milk that winning cow until the udders are dry. The angry white van man voice on a Sat Nav was a good joke – “Oi turn left, you toilet!” BUT switching it to Sheila mode, the angry van man’s wife. Yeah, not so much.

A drawn out skit with the ancient race of Shell people and Barney Cull (Nope, can’t fight it, BELLY LAUGH!) who are rioting against the merchandise stores for stealing their children featuring the likes of The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barratt and the lovely Sheridan Smith was so-so at best.

BUT the song and dance numbers don’t do anything to hide how dreadful this mad escapade was. Walters burping, rapping and spitting out fire? No, no, no. The Dachshund 5 tribute act with their wearing little afros? Irritatingly adorable!

The film didn’t really have a plot or story. It was trippy as hell and nothing really made sense. In a way it reminded me of the old 60s Swinging London British movies that Richard Lester produced. Just watch out for the Brain people and you’ll know what I mean.

If you’re a fan of HH, it’s surreal randomness can be hit and miss compared to the brilliant TV Burp. It’s mental and strangely watchable BUT for all the wrong reasons. I felt like I had been on a bad trip. Bring back the Burp Harry 😦

2/5