ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD REVIEW

All in the money in the world can’t hide how mediocre this crime biopic really was.

The story of the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother to convince his billionaire grandfather Jean Paul Getty to pay the ransom.

A glorious opening sequence (encapsulated by Dariusz Wolski’s beautiful cinematography) summed up the movie in a nutshell as Charlie Plummer’s (Not a relation) John Paul Getty III drunkenly stumbled along the busy and lively streets of Rome like something out of Roman Holiday.

Style over substance. Like most of Ridley Scott’s movies of late.

Don’t get me wrong, it was watchable. BUT with the cast involved and the subject matter at hand, I expected more.

It’s hard not to talk about Spacey’s absence. I was a big fan of the actor and I felt the scandal has been used as a PR piece to flog a flailing film. I couldn’t help but imagine how he would have handled the role. Injecting that House of Cards menace.

BUT at that same stroke (and for all the hype), John Paul Getty wasn’t really in this film as much as you’d think or hope. So God knows how Spacey was being nominated for an Oscar before the scandal.

I don’t want to take anything away from Christopher Plummer. He was a charismatic and engaging presence that delivered a worthy performance. Even more so if he did the re-shoots in just NINE days.

He really excelled (as did Michelle Williams) in a compelling scene involving the handling of Gail’s divorce. Absurd, brutal and jaw dropping as Getty dictated the terms. Using the children as nothing more than collateral in a business transaction.

Williams’ expressions and stern demeanour during that entire sequence was worth an awards nod alone. I just wish there was more of that fire and friction BUT Williams and Plummer spent too much of the movie apart. Shame.

The slow burning tempo kept my interest (at first) as it flicked back and forth from the kidnapping to Getty’s past as he worked his way up.

The lessons in money and value weren’t surprising. Despite the small sequences that Getty featured in, it still spoke volumes. “You’re not a person anymore. You’re a symbol”. The fact his name alone made an 11 dollar statue turn into an 11 MILLION dollar one said it all.

“A man who has children gives hostages to fortune”. 14 grandchildren encourages 14 kidnappings. Shrewd and grotesque. You couldn’t help BUT laugh at the tycoon.

There was a sickening irony to Getty’s ruthless rationalizing as a number of countries claimed they had Getty’s grandson. And yet he can barter over rare paintings instead of his own grandson’s life?

Despite an engaging introduction, I found that Mark Wahlberg’s hostage negotiator Fletcher Chase grew increasingly passive and unnecessary as the film progressed.

I know Getty hired him for appearances with no intention of paying BUT Chase seemed genuinely concerned at bringing the boy home and proving the billionaire wrong. And yet sitting by the phone and stating the obvious seemed to be his key priority.

And the chemistry and strange flirting between him and Gail felt forced. Another cook spoiling the broth.

And once Williams was able to get into the fold, she took over his role (and purpose) anyway. Finally putting her foot down. Williams was a good lead BUT she spent too much of the film in the background. Only really getting to shine in the final third.

My main issue was the pacing. It felt 30 to 45 minutes longer than it should have been. The story felt stretched and there were only so many beautiful locations and capitalist quotes I could take.

I was engrossed in the grandson’s kidnapping and his estranged relationship with his handler Cinquanta (Romain Duris). And dare I say, I was more impressed by Duris’ performance as the conflicted Cinquanta than the stellar leads.

Both victims in a game with no winners. All for a bit of the green (No, not that green. Money).

I felt the rest of the supporting cast at Scott’s disposal only had generic roles to work with. It was good to see Timothy Hutton. Even if it was in a tragically minute role. And Andrew Buchan’s surprising (albeit blink and you’ll miss it) turn certainly delivered.

However, the finale was tense and riveting. A cobbled street chase sequence finally got everybody involved and delivered more of what I had expected from the get go.

I don’t need action 24/7 BUT I want the scenes to go somewhere. This should have been a brutal commentary on corporate greed BUT it was too disjointed and complacent.

It wasn’t a complete waste and there were moments to be had BUT for all the hype in the world, that was it. Moments. Despite the best efforts of a talented cast.

2.5/5

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*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

TED 2 REVIEW

I wasn’t quite picking up on those good vibrations with these funky bunch of gags, Marky Mark.

The filthy mouthed fluffster is back. BUT better?

“OH MY GOD, DÉJÀ VU!” You got that right. Too much of the same isn’t always a good thing.

I loved Ted. I thought it was a return to form from MacFarlane. Family Guy has been spluttering along for some time. The better days long behind it. A bit like The Simpsons, really. Then there was the misfire that was A Million Ways to Die in The West. Watchable at best.

Ted was crude, OTT but funny. I hadn’t laughed so much in quite some time. Wahlberg and MacFarlane made a great pairing. Inevitably, it fared well and a sequel was soon green-lit.

So here we are. It’s not all bad. When it’s funny, it’s good. BUT that’s the problem, when it’s not; it’s drawn out, repetitive and boring.

MacFarlane did exactly what he’s done for the last few seasons of Family Guy. If the jokes are running low, go for flat out disgusting or just something random and weird.

So what happens this time? Newlywed couple Ted (MacFarlane) and Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) want to have a baby, but in order to qualify to be a parent, Ted will have to prove he’s a person in a court of law.

Ridiculous. I heard some people say. BUT a talking bear smoking a bong and fornicating isn’t?

I found Barth a lot more likeable this time round. I couldn’t stand her in Ted. She was irritating and her voice was nauseating.

Her shouting match with Ted (That went on far too long) didn’t set up high hopes BUT she had (I can’t believe I’m writing this) good chemistry with the bear. It may have been schmaltzy but it added an layer to her Boston skank.

I mean the story line was never going to be the focal point of this film. Although MacFarlane did give a reasonably nice explanation for Mila Kunis’ absence (I know. I was gutted too).

Instead, we had Amanda Seyfried (who more than held her own). She clicked with Wahlberg for their inevitable coupling and certainly wasn’t afraid to take some jibes from the fluffy fiend. Seriously, the Gollum jokes. I was in stitches.

There were a number of old and new faces BUT surprisingly they were all a little dull. Sam J. “Flash Gordon” Jones was completely unnecessary and just did the same old thing to much more disappointing results.

Regular MacFarlane stalwart Patrick Warburton’s repressed gay man was a good recurring joke in the first one. Now he’s “out” with his demented partner in tow. It just wasn’t funny. Beating up nerds in a Comic Con event? Is that the best he could do? The only titter I got was Warburton’s costume choice.

And Giovanni Ribisi’s Donny made another return. A desperate move? There was only a couple of titbits that got a little laugh. His appearance did get a little more relevant as the film carried on BUT it was the same old guff just in a different setting. Sigh.

I really hoped the new faces would provide a little more. They played it much too seriously and didn’t bring anything to the mix. John “Mad Men” Slattery, the slick silver haired Sterling was surprisingly unmemorable. Anyone could have played him. And Morgan Freeman. It was just a lazy excuse to hear his beautiful dulcet tones waffle through some mindless exposition.

The court scenes went on far too long. If it wasn’t for Ted’s one liners, I would have been in a mini coma. Ted and John (Wahlberg) were still very much on form (Thankfully). Their stupid banter, drug induced theorizing and stupid escapades delivered yet again. From Ted’s TV theme song improvisation to John’s sperm lab incident.

Disgusting, cringeworthy but oh so funny! Where was this throughout the rest of the film? I thought this was supposed to be a comedy?!

Okay, the Google theory about how everything is two clicks away from taking you to a web page of a man’s appendage was typical MacFarlane but it got me!

However, the sequences in which Ted was looking for a sperm donor were very hit and miss. Despite John’s lab incident delivering a cracking Facebook slogan gag; MacFarlane and co. soon tooks things too far with the dimwitted duo seeking “super semen” from a renowned American sports celebrity. It was just weird. Talk about overkill.

A Liam Neeson cameo involving a simple purchase of kids cereal was unexpected but brilliantly done! BUT then we had the running length filled with endless bong and smoking weed gags. They got old really quick. Come on, even Seth Rogen is trying to break away from that old spiel. Trying.

Wahlberg tripping out once. Hilarious. Two or three times after? Meh. There was one scene that got me and all it needed was the iconic score of a prehistoric masterpiece. “Breakfast Clubbing” in the lawyer library however? Not so much.

It’s certainly watchable but just wasn’t even on the same level as the first one. I wasn’t even trying to make comparisons but when the gags were sparse, I found time to. MacFarlane chucked in his relentless musical song and dance numbers yet again and if anything they hampered the film. Seyfried has a lovely voice but I came for Ted not Les Mis.

It relied heavily on retreading old story lines and gags to pick up where the film couldn’t. Shame. Plus there were several clips I saw in the trailers that got my interest and didn’t even feature in the film.

The fiery fluffbag has enough in his stuffing to kill the time BUT you may be left wanting.

2.5/5

THE GAMBLER REVIEW

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The odds on me telling you to watch this pretentious yawnfest are virtually zilch.

Harsh? Maybe. But I have never been so bored and disappointed with a film in some time.

Mark Wahlberg and Rupert Wyatt take on the remake of the cult Caan crime caper and, to be honest, by the end I couldn’t help wondering why?

So what’s it all about? Lit professor and gambler Jim Bennett’s (Wahlberg) debt causes him to borrow money from his mother (Jessica Lange) and a loan shark (Michael Kenneth Williams).

Further complicating his situation is his relationship with one of his students (Brie Larson). Will Bennett risk his life for a second chance?

Now I will be honest. I haven’t seen the original. But I certainly want to now. Surely if the purpose of a remake is to be a re-imagining or an improvement on the original, than it must be terrible, right? Hmmm . . .

The opening 15-20 minutes was slow-burning but seemed to set everything in motion. The moments in which Wahlberg’s Bennett gambles is tense and utterly bonkers.

Showing how easy it is to fall into an addiction. The adrenaline rush. The complete disregard. Clocking up debts left, right and centre.

However these are only moments. In between these tense tidbits, we are left with uninteresting characters, a lot of mindless exposition and barely any action or suspense that the film seemed to promise.

Wahlberg certainly did his best but his character was such a deluded self-deprecating simpleton that there was only ever going to be two outcomes.

Two outcomes that were predictable and made the whole thing a waste of time.

Larson (21 Jump Street) and Wahlberg managed to convey a little chemistry but Bennett was such an egotistical and unlikeable character that you felt Larson’s Amy was getting what she deserved for being such a silly little girl.

Jessica Lange (American Horror Story) was good as Bennett’s mother but there wasn’t enough of her. Her fiery interactions with her son made things a little bit more interesting but were either skipped over so quickly or left open that it made it all rather flat.

It would have been nice to have had a little more insight into their fractious relationship. Not little arguments, pointless flashbacks and a strange opening scene with a cathartic cameo from George Kennedy.

What infuriated me was how many opportunities Bennett had to get out of his mess but continued to cause hassle, borrow money and gamble it away. I was thinking, “You’re getting what you deserve, mate”.

Wyatt certainly captures the gruelling stakes of gambling with a man so frustrated with life that he is on this nihilistic path BUT it could have been done a lot better and a good portion shorter.

The classroom scenes felt one big rant at life. Philosophical meanderings that I’m sure were supposed to come of clever and thought provoking just came off pretentious, overlong and pointless.

If it was supposed to show the yearning desire between Larson and Marky Mark, it didn’t. If it was supposed to reveal more of Bennett’s character, it did a little.

Only that he is a plonker.

A waste of a talented supporting cast. You had a menacing (but incredibly fat and bald) John Goodman and Michael Kenneth (Omar from The Wire/Chalky White from Boardwalk Empire) at the helm of two very angry looking gangs.

All that supposedly cryptic, suspenseful and threatening dialogue leading to . . .

More talking and more pointless meetings.

Don’t get me wrong, Williams and Goodman do their utmost to make as memorable a mark as they can with the material. Goodman was particularly impressive in the small part he had.

The last 20 minutes finally got things going. Wahlberg’s moronic wheeling and dealing with the loan sharks all building up to one final roll of the dice. It was tense and I thought, “Finally! Here we go!”

BUT alas, it was done all too quickly, predictably and the final moments were unbelievably corny.

To be honest, one revelation certainly made one of Wahlberg’s rants not complete jibberish.

Greig Fraser’s cinematography certainly made this droll affair look stylish. BUT I was disappointed by Wyatt after he successfully managed to rework a franchise that I didn’t want rebooting (Rise of The Planet of the Apes).

I wanted a broody, stylish cryptic crime caper with one man battling his addiction.

To an extent, you do. But it certainly isn’t what you want or hope for. I’d gamble my chip on something else.

I would recommend to people who are still interested; just watch the trailer. Two minutes tells you everything and it will save you two hours of pretentious, feeble waffle that amounts to nothing.

Unfortunately, Marky Mark I didn’t pick up any good vibrations this time around.

2 (just)/5

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION REVIEW

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Trans-Bore-Mers: Age of The Extinct franchise. Michael Bay is back with more bang, more bucks and more . . . of the same old monotonous, mechanical overlong drivel.

Raking in close to a billion dollars, I am lost for words. You know you’re onto a loser when Mark Wahlberg can’t even save the day or make really bad lines good.

To be honest, I’m not the biggest Transformers fan. I felt the original was overhyped and took me a couple of viewings to get into it. I actually enjoyed the second instalment which was heavily panned and the third . . . well, the action was good and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley . . . wow! What?

Now to be honest, the opening half hour was actually not that bad. It was typical Bay; clichéd, corny, OTT, explosions everywhere but enough to keep you glazed over and attentive plus it was funny (for the right reasons? Meh). A couple of surprise twists involving some characters was unexpected but watchable. The idea of all Transformers being hunted down was a decent concept.

The 3D is fantastic . . . for the first 40 minutes then it seems to disappear. All the stuff that had popped out or flew across the screen vanished. The special effects were outstanding anyway but for once, I thought this could be a film that proves that 3D is not just a gimmick. Alas, it was not to be. Bay cannot be challenged on his visual mastery but when it comes to pace, characters and story, well . . .

After two hours, I was asleep. If not for Stanley Tucci’s egotistical demented take on the late Steve Jobs, I would have been out the door much sooner. Once you’ve seen Optimus smash up a dozen robots/buildings, it gets repetitive really fast. A couple of awesome bad ass moments from Prime does not excuse the fact that Bay has nothing else to offer.

The problem with these giant robot blockbusters is that what the hell are humans are supposed to do? Apparently scream and moan at each other. It would have been nice to see the Autobots not cause as much as destruction as their foes . . . or least try.

Kelsey Grammer proved to be quite sinister and badass. The only problem (apart from the fact the older he looks, the more he becomes The Prospector from Toy Story 2) is that his character is pushed into the background.

Titus Welliver (Gone Baby Gone) played a piece of work until the mad-dash finale that seemed to throw everything but the kitchen sink. Marky Mark and his funky bunch of young up and comers were increasingly irritating and clichéd as the film dragged on.

Wahlberg does his best but trying to make lines about spaceship insurance and being an inventor and having to invent not sound terrible was always going to be a challenge. He might as well have said, “I’m a peacock. You gotta let me fly”. The overprotective father spiel is old hat and beefing it up with Jack Reynor’s (Delivery Man) younger cocky Irish Seth Rogen looking boyfriend just came off hammy.

It was great to see the pretty Nicola Peltz (Bates Motel) get a bigger platform but to play another troublesome teenage daughter again? Not so much. Screaming and complaining about her father all the way through was disappointing.

Also an elongated joke revolving how the young couple came to meet was stupid and a little dodgy. I mean Reynor’s character carrying a Romeo and Juliet statute in his wallet? Really? What was that about?

Sophia Myles was wasted as a geological scientist. I mean, to be frank, her character was pointless. The only human actor to get out of this mess Scott-free would be the legendary T. J. Miller (Silicon Valley) as Wahlberg’s comic sidekick. A much needed boost in the endless drivel of predictable hokum.

The proof was in the pudding in how Bay had little to offer in story by the fact that Megatron is back yet again. Granted, it was clever how it was incorporated into the little story there was. The Autobots heralded a great voice cast including the likes of John Goodman, Ken Wantanabe and John DiMaggio (Bender from Futurama) but not even they could make some of the leaden lines jump off the page. Shame.

The jokes were flat and so OTT that I found myself shaking my head. I mean the sequence with Tucci and Bingbing Li kung fu fighting their way across Hong Kong felt like a drawn out live action cartoon skit. And Megatron demanding his minions find his seed was . . . just . . . oh my!

I mean, let’s be honest, Transformers is not that sort of film. It’s big, dumb and full of – robots. But it can be a whole lot shorter with more interesting characters and for once, maybe it should take itself a little more seriously because it’s getting ridiculous now.

One for the scrap heap? It’s in the crusher, waiting to be crushed but at the moment, my hand is just hovering over the button.

If there are going to be two more sequels (God help us), Bay better find his A-game fast!

2/5

Currently ranked 142 out of 197!

LONE SURVIVOR REVIEW

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Marky Mark bosses it with the Fuzzy Bunch in this mixed bag of a military drama.

Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) and his team set out on a mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah in late June 2005. However, they are soon left to fight for their lives in one of the most valiant efforts of modern warfare.

I was a little hesitant when Peter Berg’s name flashed across the screen. At his best; the highly entertaining TV series Friday Night Lights. At his worst, Battleship. Yikes.

However, the film opened with an intense training montage (featuring real archive footage) of SEALS enduring all sorts of intense situations and physical conditions. My attention instantly grabbed.

We were thrown straight into the mix with a bloodied Wahlberg being operated on. His voiceover throwing us back to the build up before the cursed operation. Unfortunately with such a poor choice in film title, you have a gist of what’s going to happen, it’s just the how.

The pace took a hit as we had 30 minutes of cliched exchanges and muscle bound machismo as the team bonded and “hazed the new guy”. Berg had a great cast at his disposal and the leading SEALS played their parts well. The camp shenanigans should have added extra depth to the characters BUT if anything, it made them quite stocky and one dimensional.

The running contest between Hirsch and Kitsch was corny as hell. We even had a wonderful Powerpoint presentation explaining the . . . plot. It was great to see Eric Bana BUT his passive role was a waste of the actor’s talents.

Once the SEALS reached the checkpoint surrounding the Taliban compound; things finally livened up. The tension mounted as Hirsch’s Dietz struggled to maintain signal as the team got closer to their target.

“That’s not a knife, that’s a f*cking duck!”. Where Berg excelled in suspense and action, he struggled in keeping the tone of the film. The aforementioned line was a perfect example. Berg implored humour in all the wrong places in an attempt to lighten the severity of the situation BUT it just came off hammy. I was laughing for all the wrong reasons.

The accidental ambush by Taliban farmers was nail bitingly tense with the SEALs apprehending them to maintain their cover. Berg tackled the moral and ethical dilemma that soldiers face in such dangerous situations. The brewing argument between Axelson (Ben Foster) and Luttrell spoke volumes as they discussed killing or releasing the civilian farmers.

I was happy to see Foster given a bigger role. I’ve been impressed with his acting since the (incredibly underrated) TV movie, Bang Bang You’re Dead.

The film got better with the action coming thick and fast. The POV sniper shots and slow motion were executed brilliantly. The Taliban, for most of the film, were portrayed as ruthless menaces relentless in their attacks, never giving the SEALS a moment to recover.

However, although exhilarating, it soon dragged on with one sequence, involving the team rolling down a cliff to evade capture, coming off unintentionally comical. I lost count of how many times the SEALS were shot, crushed and battered. And the death toll on the Taliban was bordering Rambo 3 territory. Oh and the roll, my goodness, it was like Homer’s cliff falling scene in The Simpsons. There were actually a few titters in the audience.

Thankfully an unexpected explosive moment brought a passive Wahlberg to the forefront. The first 90 minutes was the story of the unit. The final 30 minutes was Luttrell’s story as he evaded capture and hid with some Afghan farmers who were just as anti-Taliban as the SEALS.

Shah and Tarik, the lead terrorists, were incredibly passive and weak. They really were one dimensional, if not for a discouraging decapitation scene. The real depth was provided by Ali Suliman as Gulab, the sympathetic farmer who did everything to save Marcus at the risk of his and his son’s (Nicholas Patel) lives.

As the film came to its explosive finale, the closing minutes packed a sobering punch with a fitting tribute to the men that lost their lives in that unfortunate operation. Berg highlighted the bureaucracy of the US military and the poor organisation in which the unit were left stranded for so long with poor technical equipment.

Luttrell’s heartfelt gratitude to Gulab really hit home. Unfortunately, Berg had too many faces flying about, that I had to remember who was who, when they showed real footage of the people they had portrayed. It was great to see Marcus and Gulab’s reunion.

All in all, a mixed bag. The tone of the film, like the ambush, was all over the place but what can be commended was what these men went through.

An engaging affair that could have been cut by a good half hour and been better for it. Great acting and good action set pieces save a muddled biopic riddled with unintentional jokes and mixed messages.

3/5