*NEW* KONG: SKULL ISLAND REVIEW *NEW*

One beast of a blockbuster!

A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

From the people who gave you Godzilla . . . Greaaattt.

After watching that shambolic dino turd, I feared the worst for the reboot of yet another iconic movie monster.

BUT thankfully, my poison pen didn’t have too much to write about this time.

The mad opening sequence didn’t give me a chance to get comfortable. It felt like a different movie with two Japanese and American WW2 pilots crash landing on Skull Island and having a fight to the death. Mental.

It wasn’t even two minutes before a gigantic paw from a damn dirty ape came hurtling towards the screen.

I was expecting another drawn out blockbuster with the main attraction teased through out. Oh no! This got down to business.

The pace didn’t mess around. It flicked back and forth. Set up the premise. Introduced the characters and within 30 minutes, they were on the mysterious island being welcomed by a napalm parade and an angry inhabitant.

The soundtrack was on point. The track choices! The Stooges, Black Sabbath, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the list goes on!

The only problem was that the characters were a little wafer thin for my liking. The only memorable performance for me was Samuel L Jackson as the grizzly and disillusioned war vet.

Disappointed at the defeat of the Vietnam War and furious with a new foe disposing of his men.

That square-off with Kong. Brilliant. A blaze of fire separating the two as they stared each other out. Tense.

Tom Hiddleston (Thor) did just enough BUT he was a little too clean cut to play a seasoned mercenary for me. I think somebody like Gerard Butler would have suited the role better.

Brie Larson (Room) did her best with the role of the feisty photographer Mason Weaver. She had good chemistry with Loki but the suggested romance subplot felt forced and hammy.

John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane) and Corey Hawkins (24: Legacy) didn’t do too bad as the scientist duo. It was just a shame that they got pushed into the background as the movie progressed.

I don’t know what Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) has done BUT he never gets a break in these big movies. His role was dreadfully dull. And his muddled accent certainly didn’t help.

“That was an unconventional encounter”.

What worked for Kong: Skull Island was that it didn’t take itself too seriously. Godzilla was far too gloomy and dark for its own good.

Plus the bloody thing was only in the movie for 15 minutes! 15 minutes in a two hour movie? Come on!

And how could I say Samuel L was the only memorable character?

John C. Reilly was on scene stealing form as Hank Marlow. The WW2 castaway who spent 30 years on the island.

Now imagine Dale from Step Brothers as a crackpot recluse and you would be bang on the buck. He delivered a much needed comic relief.

The special effects were fantastic. The detail involved with Kong’s movements and expressions were brilliant. Let alone the numerous monster punch ups!

I loved Kong’s introduction. The Apocalypse Now sunset. The giant shadow with the helicopters basking in the dusk. Great shot!

The action was brutal, violent and intense. They really tested that 12A rating. The gore was crazy. Especially when a scientist was picked up by a flock of carnivorous birds. Yikes.

BUT every time I felt my interest wading, there was a bigger and nastier creature ready to attack. Spiders with camouflaged bamboo legs. Giant bloodthirsty dino lizards. Nice.

If this wasn’t a reboot, Skull Island could easily have followed on from Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Well, if they hadn’t killed him.

I went in (yet again) expecting nothing and was rewarded with something so much better . . . Or watchable anyway.

An entertaining creature feature that restored my faith in the monster reboots.

BUT if the writers could flesh out the human element a little more, that would be appreciated.

BUT then again, who are these movies supposed to be about?

3.5/5

*CREDIT WATCH*

For the junkies that love to sit through the credits hoping for tidbits . . . there’s a little cryptic teaser at the end. I thought it was a bit nothingy for the wait BUT I’ll let you be the judges! I don’t think Godzilla fans will be disappointed.

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*NEW* SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE REVIEW *NEW*

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Stupid, OTT, juvenile and absolutely hilarious!

Three scouts, on the eve of their last camp-out, discover the true meaning of friendship when they attempt to save their town from a zombie outbreak.

You knew what you were getting yourself into from the crazy opening sequence with Blake Anderson’s janitor (Workaholics) singing away to Iggy Azealia’s Black Widow while a zombie outbreak was brewing in a lab.

It was a brave move to have a virtually unknown cast running the show BUT the lads certainly delivered and will be ones to watch for the future. The feeble story line was a little predictable and formulaic. The camp fire shenanigans and petty squabbling about high school and quitting scouts was a little boring. BUT once the undead entered the mix, things got going and I was sniggering to the end.

The pace zipped and there were some genuine laugh out loud moments. A scene involving a zombie and a trampoline delivered an unexpected and outrageous gag. This was very much in the crazy style of Zombieland BUT the best way to sum up Scout’s Guide would be “If American Pie was a zombie flick . . .”

A group of horny teens trying to save the day. It was exactly what you could expect. Logan Miller’s quest for the perfect apocalyptic selfie with a pornstar looking police officer. A casual Britney Spears sing song with a zombie. A dodgy gum job from Cloris Leachman’s (Young Frankenstein) zombie neighbour. Yup. That sort of movie.

Tye Sheridan and Halston Sage’s (Paper Towns) love subplot was weak. If anything, I thought his character was going to hook up with Dumont’s sexy tomboy stripper (Sorry, cocktail waitress). So there was one surprise. Dumont may have stole my heart (What?) BUT Joey Morgan was definitely the main scene stealer as the over enthusiastic Augie.

The gore was brilliant and used quite inventively. Especially in the stripper club slaughter scene. Miller’s Carter using a bottle to smash in a zombie’s skull, only for the blood to pour out of the bottle neck and spill all over his face.

A blood-fuelled rave sequence delivered carnage a-plenty and a fitting homage to Peter Jackson’s cult classic Braindead. The nerdy saviors kitted out with an arsenal of weaponry; paintball guns, golf clubs, lawn strimmers! Perfect.

The biggest star that I could clock in this mad little zom com was Anchorman’s David Koechner. He certainly delivered as the deluded scout leader with a strange obsession for Dolly Parton. It was just a shame that he was reduced to only a few scenes.

It may have been in the same vein as Zombieland BUT it fell short by comparison. It was never going to match my favourite zom rom-com Shaun of the Dead BUT it certainly didn’t deserve the low Metacritic rating and panning that it has received.

Funny, mental, if a little flawed and predictable BUT fun. I think this one was unlucky to get lost in the SPECTRE and Hunger Games buzz. Shame. Definitely worth a watch for a quick laugh.

3/5

TOP 20 BEST FILMS OF 2014 * PART TWO

SO HERE WE ARE . . . AT LAST. The second month into 2015.

I know, terrible. For those who are still interested, we have the SECOND PART of my best films of 2014. The top 11-20!

Feel free to search through my posts for my top 10. If you want, I can provide them.

The best (or better) ones of that mediocre movie year. My criteria mainly focused on the ones that surprised, intrigued and entertained me. And boy, it was tough. Many have been watchable. Okay at best. What was harder was condensing my 20 WORST films of 2014 (Which will be following shortly).

BUT there were diamonds in the rough sea of bilge that polluted the movie screens last year.

I have had to endure endless entries of mindless drivel regurgitating the same old plot, clichéd characters (even in their 3D wrapped foils) and excruciating acting or dreadful dialogue and to be honest, it’s killed my enthusiasm a little bit.

Now some entries you may question and unfortunately release dates are always different. My argument was films I saw in that year at the cinema. Some may have been released at the end of 2013 but I didn’t see them until early January 2014.

BUT that sums up my argument if they are in here.

I won’t go on too much about each film. That’s what the other posts are for but a quick two cents if you like. Some I hope you will nod in approval. Others you may scroll back and forth hoping that this is a joke. BUT my criteria is based on surprise, entertainment and engagement. So God knows what lies in store.

11. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Now I am actually reading the book. This film lost marks for stretching out its source material to the max. However, Jackson still manages to deliver the goods by harvesting a special effects extravaganza of a movie. This slicker, darker installment made up for the lumbering opener that was An Unexpected Journey. The pace may still have been a little long at the tooth BUT was certainly the best in Jackson’s second trilogy.

12. Captain America: Winter Soldier

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A Marvel sequel that wasn’t needed but surprised me in surpassing the stuttery original. I felt the first Captain America was rushed to introduce the Cap in time for the Avengers and didn’t really cover as much of the WW2 elements as I had hoped. A superhero fighting in the war had a lot more promise for me. BUT the sequel had a decent story, good action pieces and added depth to the ‘Cap. Plus it gave a lot more screen time to the Black Widow and the legendary Nick Fury (At last!)

13. The Raid 2

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Fast and furious . . . after an hour of droll exposition. BUT it was still the most intense action film I saw that year. The final 45 minutes surpassed the original in suspense and action. Worth the wait. It may not have beat the original overall BUT other films need to use this as the next “How To Make An Action Movie” textbook.

14. St Vincent

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Bill Murray at his best in this easy going indie dramedy. It was funny, well acted with some cracking one liners and an impressive debut from young wunderkid Jaeden Lieberher.

15. Before I Go To Sleep

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A tense, slowburning but well crafted psychological thriller. Memento meets While You Were Sleeping. Even if I had sussed the big twist. The unveiling still took me by surprise. I thought the cast were fantastic. Kidman was on fine form and the last 15 minutes were brilliant.

16. The Maze Runner

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You read that, right? We had numerous teen book bestseller franchises flooding the screens. Divergent, Hunger Games, The Giver and . . . The Maze Runner. I went in, really expecting the worst and for the majority of the film, I was hooked. It’s hardly original but it zipped along and stopped me grumbling.

17. Nightcrawler

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A superb performance from Gyllenhaal. Deservedly earning a BAFTA nomination. Somehow managing to out-Bale Bale in this dark take on the American dream. Satirical, grim and engrossing. If a little predictable with an abrupt ending BUT still worth a gander.

18. The Guest

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Mr Crawley has left the Abbey and he’s kicking ass and taking names. A cracking and charismatic performance in this strange but riveting indie action flick. It felt like a film of two halves. Some may not like how it pans out BUT it certainly took me by surprise. Badass film of 2014? Hell yeah!

19. What If

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What if Harry Potter did an indie chick flick? It would be an easygoing and entertaining affair. That’s what. Radcliffe and Kazan had great chemistry and were a normal and believable couple. I actually cared what happened to them unlike the other umpteen romantic comedies that have wasted my time.

20. Blended

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I told you that I was going to think outside the box. I said surprised or entertained me. It has been a while since I have enjoyed a Sandler movie. And this says a lot from a die hard fan. Hardly die hard BUT I’ve endured them all. Blended certainly isn’t perfect but it felt like a return of sorts. It was certainly a return for Drew Barrymore. The plot is stupid and some gags fall flat on their backside.

BUT when it was funny, it had me in stitches. The family dynamic was dealt with well. The handling with the grief issues was done nicely and was unexpected. I enjoyed it. There’s still hope for the Sandler. I went in expecting nothing and was rewarded with something more. A good comedy. Hallelujah. Has the Mad Movie Ranter lost his marbles?

THE 20 BEST FILMS OF 2014 * PART ONE

 

SO HERE WE ARE . . .

The best (or better) ones of this mediocre year. My criteria mainly focused on the ones that surprised, intrigued and entertained me. And boy, it was tough. Many have been watchable. Okay at best. What was harder was condensing my 20 WORST films. BUT there were diamonds in the rough sea of bilge that polluted the movie screens this year.

I have had to endure endless entries of mindless drivel regurgitating the same old plot, clichéd characters (even in their 3D wrapped foils) and excruciating acting or dreadful dialogue and to be honest, it’s killed my enthusiasm a little bit.

Now some entries you may question and unfortunately release dates are always different. My argument is films I’ve seen this year. Some may have been released at the end of 2013 but I didn’t see them until early January BUT that sums up my argument if they’re in here.

I won’t go on too much about each film. That’s what the other posts are for but a quick two cents if you like. Some I hope you will nod in approval. Others you may scroll back and forth hoping that this is a joke. BUT my criteria is based on surprise, entertainment and engagement. So God knows what lies in store.

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1. The Dallas Buyers Club

What? Let’s not forget this wasn’t released in the UK until February. A film that certainly surprised me. I went in not knowing what to expect and was rewarded with a different story and engaging characters that were done to justice by two actors that had seemed to be pushed into the movie wilderness. McConaughey was launched back into the limelight and rightly so, beating Ejiofor to the Oscar. I still couldn’t believe Jared Leto’s supporting role. More to him than just a singer from an emo-rock-pop band.

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2. Gone Girl

I went in expecting the worst and was rewarded with a brilliantly acted and well written piece of drama. I may have called the twist but the unravelling changed everything and made this an unexpected treat. A film with enough going on to justify it’s three hour length. Peter Jackson, I’m looking at you. The cast were superb. But the main scene stealer was Rosamund Pike. Remarkable. *Cough* Oscar *Cough*. Can Fincher do no wrong? (No, Alien 3 is awesome!)

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3. 12 Years A Slave

A visceral and haunting film that delves into the human condition of one man’s plight into slavery. Steve McQueen certainly delivered one of his most ambitious, if slightly overhyped, projects to date. A harrowing story expertly acted by a fantastic cast. Ejiofor was unlucky not to win but he has certainly proved he can handle the leading role. This was all helped by an Oscar-winning supporting turn from newcomer Lupita Nyong’o and a sinister one from Michael Fassbender.

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4. August: Osage County

An underrated drama. A perfect showcase in acting. Meryl Streep proving yet again why she keeps getting those Oscar nods. A simple story revolving a family feud. But with a family of well written characters with a huge ensemble of talented characters made this one to watch for me. Its abrupt ending may have lost marks but it didn’t ruin great performances. Shame none of the contenders won this time round.

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5. The Book Thief

Now I will admit that I haven’t read the book but if the film is anything to go by, then I really want to read it. An endearing, if slow burning war drama that is shown through the eyes of a little girl who finds solace in stealing books. A great performance by Sophie Nelisse. It’s always a gamble with kid actors, especially when they are the main characters. But a great performance that is aided by a fantastic supporting cast consisting of Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson made this an engaging and highly watchable affair with an inevitable but emotional ending.

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6. The Imitation Game

Fantastic. A suspenseful and intriguing look into the troubled genius that was Alan Turing as he helps crack the Enigma code during the Second World War. Benedict Cucumber Batch was outstanding. *Cough* Oscar *Cough*. A powerhouse performance. It helped being assisted by a stellar British supporting cast consisting of the likes of Charles “Game of Thrones” Dance, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode and that chauffeur guy from Downton Abbey. Compelling, enthralling and sombre viewing by the closing moments.

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7. The Guardians of The Galaxy

Another Marvel movie is unleashed. But what a film. James Gunn manages to make an enjoyable romp of a space opera with the same old predictable guff of intergalactic rogues turned superheroes spiel. However, I actually cared about these rogues and cannot wait for another inevitable sequel. This is all helped with a great script, fantastic cast and an awesome soundtrack. So good I saw it twice.

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8. 22 Jump Street

My name is Jeff! Yes, conforming to the masses but if when a blockbuster is this funny, who cares? Hill and Tatum are back pretty much doing the same thing which worked the first time round to better and bigger results. I laughed from start to finish. The very purpose of a comedy for me. It’s big, dumb and stupid but so funny. Invest.

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9. The Inbetweeners 2

Speaking of dumb and stupid. The boys are back but this time they’re going down under. If you’re a fan then expect the same old dirty smut that still manages to have you heaving and laughing all the way. They may be reaching their thirties but the cast were still very much on form, making this installment surpass the first movie but falls first of the iconic TV series. Get on it, my movie fwends. Fwend, aww.

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10. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Bryan came back! And brought with him another relentless X-Men sequel that restored my faith in the franchise. A little plot device allowed the director to do a little spring cleaning. A fusion of the old with the new made something completely different and very entertaining. Even the introduction of more new faces helped rather than hindered this time round. Evan Peters’ Quicksilver, I’m looking at you. There were numerous things I wanted to see more of as the film drew to a close. But all little teasers for a resurgence that I for one cannot wait to see. Plus McStewart vs. McBender in an act-off. Who can do deliver the best Magneto/Xavier? You decide.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG REVIEW

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The desolation of the competition so far.

A visual cinematic feast for the eyes. Jackson unleashes a beast of a blockbuster. They’ve done it again darker and moodier than ever.

Brilliant storytelling, a great cast and breath-taking visual effects. Film of the year? Saving the best ‘til last? If we got anything to go by with the films this month then definitely.

Now I haven’t read the Hobbit (What?!). However, I was familiar with the original LOTR trilogy and found Jackson faithful in his adaptation. There does appear to be a divide in the critical reception of the Hobbit trilogy. Some found An Unexpected Journey inconsequential. Personally I enjoyed it and saw it as a great indicator of things to come.

Jackson expanded the story and enabled a bigger exploration of the mythology of the Tolkien universe on a much more extravagant scale. From speaking with fans of the book, this installment remarkably remains very faithful, complimenting the source material.

The film carries on from the last with the company being pursued by Orcs. The ring is already starting to take a hold on Bilbo and Gandalf is forced to do some investigating at Dol Guldur.

The cast are back and in fine form. Not to mention some additional characters to the ever-expanding line up and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Hitchcockian cameo from Peter Jackson. The return of Orlando Bloom as Legolas, provided an extra story line which broke up the action. His exchange with Gloin delivered a perfect in-joke for any LOTR fan.

Martin Freeman’s mannerisms and traits were spot on yet again. We were also introduced to a new character Tauriel played by the stunning Evangeline Lilly, who soon becomes embroiled in a love triangle between Kili and Legolas (Yes, Lost fans. Kate is at it again).

Others have found Jackson’s new method of 48 frames per second manic, and at times, nauseating. Undermining the animation and making it appear cartoony. I didn’t find this to be the case. If anything it helped differentiate the trilogy and bring forth a new cinematic style.

The barrel escape was a fantastically riveting and brilliantly executed sequence. This film made me regret the decision to see this in 2D. The special effects and detail on Smaug (performed with perfection by Cumberbatch) was incredible. The minutiae was superb. The golden coins falling like rain off the monster’s metallic skin.

Despite being breathtaking, funny and suspenseful, the pace did test me. And I’m not surprised at a whopping 2 hours 40 minutes. Is there a rule that every LOTR film has to be three hours or something?

I was a little disappointed that more wasn’t made out of the dwarf company. When they were allowed to shine, they delivered. I know it’s difficult with such a big cast BUT the majority of them were either pushed into the background or forgotten about altogether.

Apart from that, an astounding piece of work. I was baffled when I first heard that The Hobbit would be made into a trilogy. I remember ranting about the money hungry production companies for trying to milk a great piece of fiction from a great author. BUT now I cannot wait to see what Jackson has in store for the third and final installment.

4/5