*NEW* THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN REVIEW *NEW*

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I’ll think I’ll wait for the next train.

A slow burning thriller that (with a little perseverance) delivered a decent pay-off.

A divorcee (Emily Blunt) becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shock waves throughout her life.

Based on the bestselling novel . . . How many more times are Hollywood going to scrape the barrel? I haven’t had the pleasure of reading the Paula Hawkins novel BUT have been told on good authority (by my Mum and Aunt who may or may not be scouting through this review) that it stayed pretty close to its source material.

The slow burning pace and flicking about subdued my griping. The fractured time frame spanning from six months to the present kept things interesting. Mainly because I had no idea what was going on.

BUT that was the main appeal for me as we were told tidbits of a disjointed story through an unreliable narrator; struggling alcoholic Rachel. Emily Blunt was brilliant as the plastered protagonist. You really felt for the broken beauty. Her fascination with a house, that the line stops by every day, soon borderlines on obsession.

It felt like a noir flick with all the shady characters; Rachel drinking to forget, the alluring but flawed Haley Bennett’s (The Magnificent Seven remake) fooling around and manipulating men to her own devices and Rebecca Ferguson’s (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) depressed housewife not quite living the perfect life.

The different viewpoints from the three ladies left me trying to decipher whose story to believe. You could feel your empathy changing towards each character as we delved further into their pasts. BUT things reached boiling point when Rachel woke up (from another drunk train ride) covered in blood with no recollection of the night before.

If anything, The Girl on the Train was very much in the same vein as Before I Go To Sleep (Another recommended thriller) with Rachel’s drunken blackouts and inability to piece anything together plummeting her into a dangerous pursuit for the truth. Unwittingly setting herself up as the prime suspect in a murder case.

That’s not to say there weren’t enough red herrings. The small supporting cast played the parts perfectly. It was good to see Luke Evans play something other than a panto villain in a horror flick or Fast and Furious movie. He played Megan’s brooding and possessive husband well.

I was also impressed to see Alison Janney play a straight role as Detective Riley. Especially after her turn in that terrible sitcom Mom. Laura Prepon (Orange is The New Black) didn’t do a bad turn as Rachel’s supportive friend Cathy. Justin Theroux (The Leftovers) was a solid lead as Rachel’s ex Tom. Reluctant to completely shut Rachel out from his life.

I was disappointed that Phoebe from Friends (Lisa Kudrow) had such a small and dismal role. Anyone could played her. The same could be said for Bodhi from Point Break (Edgar Ramirez) as the sulky therapist who desperately tried to evade Megan’s flirtatious advances.

The unravelling was intriguing enough BUT the pace did tend to meander along, killing a good portion of the momentum, and the endless flashbacks soon became very repetitive. Especially the memory flashes to that blasted tunnel! We kept being shown the same images with no new information or progress.

However, once things began to piece together, the final 20 minutes was compelling and nail biting. Some will argue that with only a small number of characters; there are only so many possible outcomes. BUT I can honestly say I didn’t call the twist and even if people sussed it early, the aftermath was still pretty damn tense with a couple of revelations along the way.

Whether that rule will apply for fans of the book is another story. The Da Vinci Code did everything to the letter and I was bored to tears watching the film adaptation. Only because I knew everything that was going to happen. BUT the first two Harry Potter films on the other hand 👌🏻

I didn’t go in expecting much and came out pleasantly surprised.

A good cast, aided with some great suspense, did just enough to drudge through the lengthy pace and stuttering flashbacks to make this one to watch.

3/5

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THE REWRITE REVIEW

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I think this needed a few more rewrites. A real shame. Hugh Grant applies his bumbling, miserable British charisma to this terribly drab yawn-com that delivered little on romance or comedy.

I know. Hugh Grant has been playing the same character for years. Why would he change? His last offerings may not have been timeless classics but they were certainly watchable. This one on the other hand is so flat and boring that if not for the cast, I honestly feel it wouldn’t have made the big screen at all.

Now Grant does deliver a sterling performance. Doing what he does best. Sleeping around and upsetting all the wrong people by doing so. However, his character is never really as sleazy or as funny as you would hope and expect.

He has enough charisma to drag this wooden cart across the finish line but boy, what a long and drawn out race. There is good chemistry between him and Marisa Tomei. The pair didn’t really grate on me as much as I thought. But it’s all so predictable and obvious.

In fact so much so that writer/director Marc Lawrence doesn’t even bother to go with an OTT corny luvvy-duvvy ending. We are just left assuming that they do with an incredibly flat and open ending.

This is Lawrence’s FOURTH collaboration with Grant (Two Weeks Notice, Music and Lyrics, Did You Hear About the Morgans?). Fans of their work may find this the weakest one yet.

The little facts about Binghamton were a nice little touch. If completely unnecessary bar the little bit of trivia about being the birthplace of the creator of the Twilight Zone, Rod Serling.

The little jibes about teaching scriptwriting brought a guilty grin to me. Merely because I have tended such classes and wondered what a lecturer could possibly teach me (At times I was right). The little things were okay but hardly that funny. Grant picking a class of beautiful ladies and ugly nerdy fellas was typical but hardly hilarious.

The supporting cast at Lawrence’s fingertips do their best to put some emotion in his leaden script but the characters are so one-dimensional, flat and unmemorable. I had to read the cast names to remember who was who.

The only lady to make a decent turn was the provocative and alluring manipulator Karen. Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows) will certainly be one to watch for the future. Emily Morden didn’t do too bad a performance as the ditsy Andrea.

But Star Wars nerds? And emos with no emo-tion who secretly have? Annie Q (The Leftovers), I’m looking at you. Didn’t mean to rhyme with that. Alison Janney (Mom) did her best to conjure up an adversary immune to Grant’s charm in the Jane Austen junkie. But it doesn’t really go anywhere after their initial cringe-inducing but entertaining introduction. J.K. Simmons (Spiderman) and Chris Elliott (Scary Movie 2) were wasted in their roles. Two gags from the pair is all we get and even they go on far too long.

It left like it was just churned out with no real thought or research relying on the cast to attract bums on seats. Lazy, clichéd but not even watchable. Just plain dull.

Grant’s character is too laidback and smarmy to really to do anything. A moment in which one of his students delivers a stellar script could have been an opportunity to test him. I really thought he might nick it to save his flailing career to ignite a little drama in this hollow affair. BUT oh no, it’s merely a passing of the torch as he reluctantly accepts he is old hat. Aww. Yuck.

A lot more could have been made out of the big time Hollywood fish stuck in a small mid-West town. I mean Lawrence had the perfect actor to play the snobby cynic. I think Mr Grant needs to take a little break and re-assess his next project instead of taking the pay cheques. The fact he has pulled out of the third Bridget Jones film says it all. For every little titter, there were a dozen duds.

Predictable, dull and unmemorable. Grant and the cast do their best but nothing was going to save this ship sinking. I think Lawrence might want to take some writing lessons. Class dismissed.

2/5 for me.

*THROWBACK REVIEW* MR PEABODY AND SHERMAN

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Nothing to bark home about. (What? If you’re tutting at that, then this film is not for you. If you tutted but had a cheeky little grin, then this might be). Enough hi-jinks and 3D animation to keep the children wagging their tails but it’s hardly a rollicking family movie.

It’s not all bad and to be honest, it jumps straight into the action with Mr. Peabody (voiced brilliantly by Ty Burrell or Phil Dunphy from Modern Family BUT less annoying) making a brief introduction about his numerous achievements from birth, after being neglected for being unique (the usual spiel). His greatest challenge, however, was adopting seven year old Sherman.

We join the dynamic duo on a time travelling escapade, basking it up in the 18th Century French Revolution before its inevitable uprising. It zips along, the 3D is actually quite good with the swords and spears pointing out of the screen. The one liners are guilty pleasures, silly but funny pun gags.

One particular guilty chuckle was during a zany escape attempt from the guillotine that is as bonkers as the Sherlock fall. Mr Peabody delivers the punch line, “The best thing to do is be calm and keep your head”.

However, this is all thrown aside as Sherman attends his first day of school. And before you know it, he’s in a fight with a bully. Twist, the bully is a girl named Penny (voiced by Ariel Winters or interestingly Alex Dunphy from Modern Family). This leads to the gruesome child protection services officer Mrs Grunion (Mom’s Allison Janney), who bears some deep resentment towards dogs owning children. She threatens to take Sherman away.

In attempt to prevent the pair being torn apart (Aww. Yuck) Peabody invites Penny and her parents over for dinner. Penny and Sherman inevitably refuse to get along. That is until, against Peabody’s wishes, Sherman introduces her to the Way Back (time machine).

The pod looks exactly like the one from Free Birds. This film may not be great but it’s better than that turkey (What?). However, the jokes are few and far between. And the overall story is the same old guff. The time travel sequences end up visiting all the obvious famous figures, Shakespeare (check), Van Gogh (check), Da Vinci (check) – cue a highly predictable gag about the real reason behind Mona Lisa’s smile.

It seems like the movie ran out of gas by the hour mark and threw the lazy plot device of the time machine’s power being drained so they have to stop at random points of time. In all fairness, the 14th Century Florence skit with Stanley Tucci’s Da Vinci wasn’t too bad and his creepy child machine was very weird but funny. The ruse that Mona Lisa was all for tourist promotion wasn’t bad.

However, there is the usual cheesy father/son/dog/pup spats and brewing, if unnecessary, romance between Penny and Sherman. OTT slapstick and silly gags. However, after the hour, the film does find another gear and revs up to a mad timey wimey finale. The Troy sequence was hilarious with the testerone-pumped dimwits led by Agamemnon, voiced expertly by Patrick Warburton (Joe from Family Guy). The comparisons between their weird family upbringings was a surprise and one for the adults. “Don’t get me started on Oedipus. You do not want to go round there at Thanksgiving”.

The timey wimey stuff made it more interesting once they start breaking up the space time continuum and the past goes back to the present but it all got ridiculous with the inevitable cheesy, corny happy ending. Watchable, brilliant visuals, if predictable guff. Shame considering the talent; I mean come on, Mel Brooks, Dennis Haysbert, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann! Enough for the little ones but the bigger kids will be fidgeting . . . towards the exit door.

2.5/5 for me