*NEW* DEATH NOTE (2017) REVIEW *NEW*

Bit of a bum note, more like.

Hardly worthy of death threats BUT yikes . . . It’s a bit of a mess.

High school student, Light Turner (Nat Wolff) discovers a mysterious notebook that has the power to kill anyone whose name is written within its pages and launches a secret crusade to rid the world of criminals.

Now, I’m not a hardcore fan. It has been a long time since I watched the anime series and I loved the 2006 live action Shusuke Kaneko movie. After laughing at the “Netflix Original” title, I went in fearing the worst.

The poor ratings and scathing reviews had put me off BIG TIME.

And for the first 30 minutes or so, I was . . . pleasantly surprised.

The hypnotic opening track (Australian Crawl’s Reckless), Margaret Qualley from The Leftovers (What?), Nat Wolff’s creepy pallor and bleach blond hair.

It didn’t mess about. There wasn’t a slow ominous build up. It got straight to business. If anything, it might have been a little rushed.

The iconic death God Ryuk had already made his introduction within 15 minutes! Willem Dafoe was perfectly cast.

As soon as his gravelly vocals pierced the speakers, there were goosebumps. I’ll admit it. The animation wasn’t too shabby. A creepier improvement if I don’t say so. BUT what do you think?

As much as I could feel for the teen’s angst about his mother’s death and his anger at the judicial system, I didn’t really like Turner. And that was the problem.

Wolff’s performance was a mixed bag. His crazy facial expressions and OTT reactions were too much.

I know they’re teenagers BUT really? This should have been so much darker. The death sequences were deliciously violent and gory BUT it felt like something out of Final Destination.

The premise was still intriguing. A book that can kill any name you put down.

Ridding the world of terrorists and dictators. Making the world a better place under the alias of “Kira”. The Japanese nods well and truly in flow.

BUT of course, there were rules. Rules that Ryuk conveniently decides to share at the worst possible moment.

I don’t know why there was a heavy 80s soundtrack BUT it worked.

It was good to see Eli from Boardwalk (Shea Whigham) in a bigger role. He nailed it as Light’s father. The vigilant cop desperate to put an end to Kira’s reign.

BUT it wasn’t long before I could see what everyone was complaining about.

“Okay, follow the rules. Your fingers are really huge”.

The humour was heavy handed and came off far too comical than it was supposed to. Unintentional or otherwise. Especially when Light shared his secret with his dream girl Mia (Qualley), “I have a death God”.

Wolff and Qualley had just enough chemistry to drudge through some of the hammier scenes BUT the dialogue was terrible.

Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out) did his best as the crime solving candy chomping cyber sleuth ‘L’. A super intelligent wacko also hell bent on catching Kira. BUT it just didn’t work.

It’s funny if this was animated, I wouldn’t have batted an eye BUT seeing ‘L’ being sung to sleep by his Japanese aide, Watari (Paul Nakauchi) was too much.

The cat and mouse game was interesting enough BUT too much time was spent on ‘L’ and Stanfield’s acting wasn’t the best. It didn’t help that he was reduced to spewing fast-talking nonsense.

The pace surprisingly dragged when the story focused on ‘L’s origins. It took everything away from Light and reduced Ryuk to nothing. Dismal.

The longer the film went on, the sillier it got. The action set pieces and chase sequences were okay BUT it built everything up for a ridiculous and chaotic finale that didn’t make much sense.

With pressure mounting and the power of the Note taking over, it was only a matter of time before there was a rift between Light and Mia BUT their incessant squabbling got on my nerves. Even Qualley irritated the hell out of me.

And the twist, if you can call it that, was woeful and by the end, I didn’t care.

It was watchable enough and killed the time. BUT memorable? Meh. The original live action version was haunting and engrossing. It toyed with the moral and ethical implications of taking someone’s life.

This remake felt like a dumbed down version for the “ADHD generation”. Afraid to stick with a set tone and desperately throwing in any old guff to keep those pesky kids off their mobile phones.

No one goes out to make a bad movie and if director Adam Wingard has been receiving death threats for this than that needs to STOP.

I have seen so much worse. This wasn’t great BUT I think it warranted a little bit more than a 4/10 on the IMDb.

Started off so well BUT ended on a bum note.

2/5

P.S. Did any Heroes fans spot Masi Oka’s cameo? What was the deal with that Nakamura reference? Hmmm . . . .

*NEW* PAPER TOWNS REVIEW *NEW*

XCVER

It may have had a paper plot BUT I was still able to enjoy this coming of age teen flick.

A light pace and a promising cast made up for a cheesy and predictable affair.

After an all night adventure, Quentin’s (Nat Wolff) life-long crush, Margo (Cara Delevigne), disappears, leaving behind clues that Quentin and his friends follow on the journey of a lifetime.

I’m not familiar with the novel so I can’t make comparisons. All I knew was that it was from the author who created ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. A film that managed to subdue the cynic in me. And, for the majority of this film, was able to do so again.

The film was easygoing enough as we follow the bookworm Q moping after the rebellious Margo from early childhood up to present.

Wolff played Quentin very well. I was a little anxious about all the hype surrounding Delevigne’s debut. Not every model can make the transition to acting. Naomi Campbell, I’m looking at you. We could all list a number of Playboy models that shouldn’t be popping up in movies (Just me? Oh, okay moving on).

BUT as soon as Delevigne graced the silver screen, she won me over. I thought she was very good. She nailed the accent and could actually act! If anything, she wasn’t in it enough. BUT then there wouldn’t be a movie if she was.

The first half hour chugged along. The night adventure with Q was silly, BUT funny in parts, as the pair pranked those who had hurt Margo. Innocent enough. Wrapping a car in cling film. Waxing a dude’s eyebrow off. Wiping vasoline on a door knob (Had to be careful typing that one). That is until one of the parents fired a shotgun.

BUT it was still entertaining as we watched the estranged pair reignite their friendship and something more. Delevigne and Wolff had good chemistry and made the hammy romance subplot a bit more bearable.

BUT things got a little bit more interesting as Margo disappears the next day. Leaving a variety of clues. Setting Q and his chums on a little road trip.

The clue searching and mini scavenger hunt broke up the insufferable teen melodrama as Q becomes obsessed in finding the girl of his dreams. Luckily, it got by with a little help with some friends.

Austin Abrams and Justice Smith were brilliant as Q’s pals Ben and Radar. Abrams came out with some cracking lines as Ben. His fantastic “social skills” putting the lads into more awkward situations. Smith was hilarious as Radar. I loved the quirky back story involving his parents and an eclectic collection of black Santas.

They were a great trio and kept the film moving. I wasn’t really that bored and that’s saying something after the duds I’ve had to endure this month. The whole journey story line reeked of Stand By Me. Be it a more teeny and cheesy one. Stand By Me Zero. Especially when *POSSIBLE SPOILERS* a young Margo and Q find a dead body, alarm bells started ringing.

I couldn’t help making comparisons as the film carried on. The school friends embarking on a journey. One that would inevitably change their lives.

It was a little too light for my liking. I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic when the guys chanted the Pokemon theme to pump themselves up before creeping through a dodgy looking tunnel. A guilty chuckle for me.

The journey was corny and I felt the introduction of Halston Sage and Jaz Sinclair’s characters hampered things a little. Only because the outcome was so obvious. Although I did laugh at Radar’s constant confessing to Sinclair’s character on every little thing.

I didn’t expect a cameo from a certain actor during the petrol station scene either. Keep an eye out 😉

It was all a little corny as you realise that the journey is something much more. It was merely a chance for the guys to come to terms with the fact that they are moving away and embarking on a new journey. College, life, etc.

They bicker and gripe BUT you just know that everything will be alright in the end. It’s just that kind of film. And the pace did dip in places.

The closing moments, however, took me by surprise. It’s tough NOT to write about it without spoiling anything. BUT it was handled brilliantly and left an upbeat message that the young whipper snappers should listen to and the older cynics (Like yours truly) as well.

A talented cast makes this easygoing, if predictable, drama highly watchable. I can think of worse ways to kill 90 minutes.

3(Just)/5

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!