*NEW* AMERICAN ULTRA REVIEW *NEW*

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Ultra-boring, more like.

A stoner (Jess Eisenberg), who is in fact a government agent, is marked as a liability and targeted for extermination. But he’s too well-trained and too high for them to handle.

Eisenberg and co do their best BUT for all the promise, it fails to reach anything you could have expected.

The slow opener didn’t get things going BUT it suggested a Burn After Reading meets Pineapple Express vibe. Unfortunately it offered little on both. Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart reunite (Adventureland) and make a watchable couple. BUT it wasn’t long before I got bored of all the pot smoking and arguing. Especially when it wasn’t even funny.

The first 20 minutes was mind numbing. Connie Britton did her best to make the CIA back room melodrama seem interesting BUT it was dull as dishwater. Some waffle about a “project spring clean” and Eisenberg’s sleeper agent facing termination. This was thankfully reprieved by a fantastic turn from Topher Grace (That 70s Show). There wasn’t enough of him. He really took things up a notch and played the douchebag supervisor brilliantly.

I prayed for Eisenberg’s “activation” to come quicker. Watching the stoner smoke pot and battle his fear of flying while doodling graphic novels about a monkey astronaut was just terrible. Trust me. I’m making it sound a whole lot better than it was.

FINALLY after Britton’s funny rendezvous with a stoned Eisenberg, the film appeared to offer more of what I expected from the get go. Emphasis on the word appeared.

Eisenberg proved he can do fight sequences and do them well. I actually had doubts about the chap playing the iconic role of Lex Luthor in the upcoming Batman Vs Superman movie but the supermarket shoot em up sequence reassured any anxieties I had. He looked sinister and completely bad ass as he crept out of the smoke grenade ridden mist.

Normally I’m a fan of Britton BUT her character was far too serious for its own good. Arrested Development’s Tony Hale, who played her partner in crime, was tragically unfunny and completely irrelevant by the time the credits rolled. Shame.

John Leguizamo was also incredibly annoying as Eisenberg’s dealer Rose. He had one funny exchange with Eisenberg and then went on far too long. The bullets not coming quick enough.

It felt like the writers didn’t know what tone to take with the piece and tried a dab hand at everything. The action scenes were fantastic. The kitchen ambush sequence involving a bullet and a frying pan was cool. BUT they were few and far between.

As were the gags. It wasn’t funny enough. The best gags were heavily flogged in the trailer. Stewart and Eisenberg’s relationship was put to the test BUT their bickering just hampered things terribly. There was a twist half way through the film that was so dreadfully predictable that it added nothing to the mix.

Walton Goggins’ (Justified) Smiler had the potential to be a decent little villain with his hyena-esque laugh BUT it was a wasted opportunity and the character was far too weak.

The finale did deliver some frantic fist fighting and utterly bonkers shoot em ups. BUT it felt like a case of too little, too late. And it was still light on the laughs. DISAPPOINTING.

Unfortunately, American Ultra was very much like its protagonist; messy, all over the place and annoying.

2/5

STILL ALICE REVIEW

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Julianne Moore’s still got it!

A stand out performance from a talented actress.

A linguistics professor (Julianne Moore) and her family find their bonds tested when she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. I knew it would have to take something special to stop Pike or Jones taking the gold.

A heartrending, emotional drama on a disease that really needs looking at. I know Moore’s Oscar win caused a little stir back in the UK. That was mainly because it hadn’t been released at the time!

BUT here we are at last . . . and it’s good.

Directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland allow for a slow burning piece as we join Alice celebrating her 50th birthday. It wasn’t long before you noticed her making little mistakes; answering the wrong question, forgetting words, etc.

At first glance, minor quibbles. Who hasn’t been guilty of mixing up the odd word or forgetting their train of thought? Innocently playing it down to age, Alice continues her work and enjoying time with her family.

There was a tense atmosphere around the film as the impending diagnosis lingered around the corner. Alice soon forgets where she is, people’s names, notes on her presentations. And the initial diagnosis came short and sharp.

Moore was perfect for the role and you really felt for Alice as she did everything she could to fight this challenging disease.

The range of emotions that she encapsulated were brilliant. Going from defiant to angry, confused to sad in a matter of a few frames. I couldn’t possibly imagine what that would feel like.

Alice was diagnosed with an incredibly rare stand of Alzheimers (I wasn’t even aware that were a variety of types). Her mental condition soon deteriorates much faster than she was prepared for. Or even ready to accept.

The original questions that Alice had to answer to test for Alzheimers threw me off. Something as simple as being told to remember a name and an address and being asked later about the details after a conversation was crazy.

The memory tests that Alice gave herself were quite interesting to watch. Writing three words on a chalkboard. Putting a timer on. And going back to write said words felt like a little game. I was trying to remember them as the family drama unfolded.

There was a talented cast involved in the family dynamic; Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth and Kristen Stewart.

Their reactions to Alice’s diagnosis and inevitable deterioration were unexpected. The discovery that the condition can be passed on to your offspring was a daunting prospect. The probability of one of Alice’s children carrying the gene being incredibly high.

Kristen Stewart, where has she been? Still donning the tom boy look and mumbling away. Her performance perfectly suited the role of Alice’s younger daughter. She worked well with Moore and you really felt for their relationship.

Despite all that’s going on for Alice, she was still concerned for her daughter’s carefree attitude and refusal to accept her failing acting career. Mothers never stop caring. No matter what.

Kate Bosworth was good as her snobby older daughter. An early revelation certainly spiked the tension BUT as the film progressed, her character seemed to disappear into the background.

Alec Baldwin didn’t seem to be in this as much as I thought. Obviously, the film was always going to be revolved around Alice BUT his constant disappearing act was a little irritating. Thankfully, there was a reason for this, which led to sombre viewing.

Despite a stellar performance on a serious condition and for all the hype, the film left me wanting.

I don’t think it helped that the ending was quite odd. I could see what the writers were trying to do BUT it came off a little abrupt and long at the tooth with Kristen Stewart mumbling away about looking down from the sky to her bemused mother.

It just seemed a little pretentious and fizzled out what had been an engaging story of one woman’s struggle.

It was still heartbreaking, dramatic and tough to watch. A scene involving a video message from a recently diagnosed Alice to an ailing ageing Alice certainly hit home.

Alzheimer’s Disease still needs to be looked into and I’m glad that films like these are getting made. The only other film that I could recall was the underrated Away From Her with Julie Christie.

This could happen to anyone. Worth a watch.

3/5

As a little side note for any Walking Dead fans; Seth Gilliam played yet another pointless role. Yes! Even more useless than Father Gabriel Stokes. I know. I didn’t think it was possible.