THE FAULT IN OUR STARS REVIEW

fault-our-stars-movie-poster

Maybe OK was what I will always say to these sort of films. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort bring to life a highly acclaimed bestseller making it an endearing drama and no doubt a teen weepie that will have people flooding to the cinema.

Now these sort of films never appeal to a cynic like myself but hey after all the films I assumed would be good, I went in open minded for a change and . . . not bad. Once I got over the fact that they are not Tris and Caleb Prior from the Divergent franchise, I could allow the pair to charm away. There is fantastic chemistry between the pair and their characters are very likeable. A topic like this is always difficult to convey and you can always imagine but never really know what these situations would be like.

Although the lingering subject of life and death is hovering above our young star crossed lovers, it is done with the right balance and generally in a light hearted and easy going fashion. It zips along with the odd plucking of the heart strings here and there. Elgort has proven that he will be one to watch. Finally awarded a big leading role, he has enough charisma and charm to pull it off. Woodley has proven her abilities before and plays her part to perfection. I fear the main battle with these films depends on how much you like the couple. This time around, you feel for them, you laugh, you cry with the inevitable lurking around the corner.

Nat Wolff provided the comic relief in Isaac, which I can see the irony in the name now. You can also feel for his frustrations and pain but his one liners and erratic behaviour helps break up the inevitable schmaltzy coming together of the loving couple. Laura Dern (Jurassic Park) plays the understanding mother part very well and there are some nice moments between her and Woodley. Not enough for me. The problem is that I always want to see the whole impact on the family, which is briefly looked at.

I will admit that that I haven’t read the book so I can’t make comparisons in that sense. One question *POSSIBLE SPOILER* was their excursion into Amsterdam in the book? I felt the excursion slowed down the film and although it made for some nice moments between Elgort and Woodley, it did drag a little bit for me and Willem Dafoe’s (Spiderman) hermit writer character was a little pointless and didn’t quite fit in the film for me. I understand he may have been a metaphor that everything is not always what you hope or expect but our leading characters are fully aware of that.

This is well acted and nicely done. To be honest, this follows the lines of Terms of Endearment and Steel Magnolias. If you love these sort of these films, then you will love this. I don’t think this will be splitting fans of the book but again that’s speculation. The way it was advertised, I expected this to be really sad and heartbreaking. Don’t get me wrong, the finale is well done and sad but it is just the story of two people who found each other in all the craziness and madness of dealing with terminal illness.

I guess I wanted a little more on the impacts and what happened next and to be honest, Terms of Endearment is still the best film that tackles this story for me but the cast are great. Shame about Sam Trammell (True Blood) whose father figure was quite passive and anyone could have played him. But it is still a well acted, easy going film that zips along but still brings the odd tear. If you’re a unromantic cynic, then firstly what are you doing here but if you’re a cynic that can be persuaded, it is still rewarding and not bad. 3.5/5 for me.

Currently ranks 52 out of 188!

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

A LONG WAY DOWN REVIEW

a-long-way-down-poster

A little long at the tooth BUT a pleasant surprise. A well acted and cheesy little drama.

Four people meet on New Year’s Eve and form a surrogate family to help one another weather the difficulties of their lives.

If you can get past the rather dark premise (which is delicately dealt with), this makes for good viewing. Inadvertently contemplating suicide at the same place. Four strangers decide to make a pact. A pact NOT to kill themselves before Valentine’s Day. A strange, unexpected BUT entertaining journey.

It’s a little corny and the schmaltz does overdo it in places BUT a perfectly chosen cast does just enough to keep things watchable. The surrogate family angle was a nice touch. Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding) was brilliant as the over anxious Maureen. Imogen Poots (Need for Speed) who, at first was a little irritating, soon grew on me as the utterly bonkers Jess.

Ex-007 Pierce Brosnan played the neurotic disgraced celebrity Martin Sharp with aplomb. Sometimes his cocky demeanour and endless rambling did gripe against me in places BUT it made a change for the super spy. Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) didn’t do a bad job as the mystery American pizza boy JJ.

The gang worked well together and you could tell in certain scenes that they were genuinely having a laugh. There was great chemistry between Paul and Poots. No wondered they were picked up for Need For Speed. BUT the rest of the supporting cast weren’t really used to their full potential.

Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) seemed to play a somewhat wasted role as the stereotypical toff and overbearing politician father. There was definitely a missed opportunity with him and Poots as the trouble making daughter. Their relationship was ripe for expansion and development but it was only brought up as things dipped in pace.

At least his character wasn’t as wafer thin as Rosamund Pike’s (Gone Girl). Anyone could have played her as the annoying morning news presenter. Merely a passing cameo. A plot device to create a rift among the group that was dealt with far too quickly.

The structure worked well. Flicking back and forth between the past and present. Allowing us to delve further into why each character was up on that tower. It did feel a little drawn out in parts. Disappointing considering the film was only 96 minutes. And the flashbacks, at times, didn’t really expand that much.

An intriguing prospect with Jess’ back story led no where. While Maureen’s story was very emotional and handled perfectly. You really felt for her. I was surprised at the bad rap this film got. BUT I haven’t read the Nick Hornby novel so I can’t make comparisons.

I was surprised this was adapted by Jack Thorne. From someone who wrote This Is England ’88, I did expect something a little darker. You could argue that there were missed opportunities and angles that the film could have explored. It wasn’t the strongest film to deal with this subject matter BUT it was still a well acted and easy going drama.

Corny, predictable but watchable.

3/5

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS MOVIE REVIEW

movies-walking-with-dinosaurs-poster

What a pile of . . . That was HorRAAWWWrendous. You know that scene in Jurassic Park where Laura Dern’s character was fishing through that triceratop’s excrement? Yeah, well the people who made this, must have done a similar process to make a film that bears similar properties. You get the idea? Good? A little extreme? Maybe. What infuriates me is that family movies are always outstanding examples to go by because they always have something for everyone. Unfortunately parents; if you are dragged to this particular film, grab your phones, Kindles, iPods and let the 80 minutes rush through. This will keep the little ‘uns happy, after all it is dinosaurs!

The opening scene is incredibly corny in which a frustrated teen doesn’t want to help excavate fossils with his uncle, played by the wasted (waste of talent. Not wasted, drunk. Although he must have been to accept this. That or the money) Karl Urban. The teen is left sulking by the car and along comes a talking crow, voiced by John  Leguizamo (who voiced Sid in the vastly superior and coincidentally prehistoric Ice Age Franchise). The lad doesn’t have time to question why a crow is talking to him (if he’s talking to him, is it a Stewie from Family Guy thing?) before he tells a story of his ancestors cue a million year flashback to the runt Pachyrhinosaurus of the litter, Patchi (voiced by Justin Long) as he rises through the ranks of his herd and goes on a journey of love, loss and . . . the usual rubbish.

Considering the cast of voices supporting these wonderfully animated creatures, they are incredibly annoying and spew constant verbal diarrhea of cliched, corny lines that grate and make you tut and sigh. The visual world that is created, is stunning to watch. Unfortunately our cinema did not feature the 3D version but you could see how much better the film would have been for it. The voices call out every dinosaur that comes across the screen. However, the screen decides to pause and they are then labelled and read out by kids. It was completely unnecessary. Even the young ‘uns knew what the dinos were! It kept breaking up what little action there was. Strangely, the parental figures do not speak, somewhat Charlie Brown-ish? Why? I do not know.

For every good gag or one liner, there are dozens of bad ones. The fact the dinos admire a beautiful natural landscape and the Leguizamo voiced bird quickly replies, “Don’t admire it too much. It’s a future oil fill site”. Good. But that is soon let down by a ridiculous and corny OTT soundtrack of generic pop songs. For example, Patchi sees the love of his life cue Barry White. Laughable, but for all the wrong reasons. The animated breakdown of the Gorgosaurus (T-rex) had some interesting facts but was voiced by irritating commentary. A little joke about their small hands soon goes on way too long. The film skims through plot points and cliches and pretty much covers the same old flawed story of Disney’s Dinosaur (in comparison, a much more enjoyable  and that was better than this. and the commentary gets more and more irritating; “Weeks turned into weekends and weekends turned into long weekends, you get the picture”. Unfortunately, yes. There is a typical story of loss that is not really explained very well nor was it needed (without spoiling the film, despite not being a fan). And the point of the family at the beginning to cue a story from a crow was unnecessary.

To be honest, I would be preferred to see that story. I couldn’t help but feel that was a lazy corny Americanized 3D adaptations of a fantastic television series. To be honest, it was a big of an insult. Would have been easier just to give the original series the 3D treatment. Sorry but this a big NO from me. See Ice Age, or go back and watch Jurassic Park or the original WWD series. Please bring back Jurassic Park! 1/5.

Currently ranked #120 out of 123!