ROUGH NIGHT REVIEW

Yikes! I’d rather have a rough night than watch this again.

Things go terribly wrong for a group of girlfriends who hire a male stripper for a bachelorette party in Miami.

A highly unfunny opening college flashback didn’t build my hopes up. It was good to see that ScarJo was up for a laugh BUT this was a major step down for the Avengers star.

A shame considering the talent on display; Jillian Bell (22 Jump St), Broad City’s Ilana Glazer and Saturday Night Live‘s Kate McKinnon. Funny people in their own right. BUT as much as they gave it their all; the material was dreadfully weak.

Things fared a little better when the film flash forwarded 10 years later with ScarJo’s Jess running for senate. Her ad campaign was a brilliant Hillary Clinton parody.

The reserved workaholic needing a break from her busy schedule while the rest of the gang were desperate for any excuse to escape their problems.

Popping a champagne bottle delivered a poorly timed airport gag BUT it managed to get a guilty chuckle out of me. That gag pretty much summed up the film.

“The house is everything I hate. I’m gonna take a protest dump”.

There was the occasional funny one liner and the dynamic among the girls was entertaining enough BUT the endless swearing, drug taking, shouting and penis gags got old and got old quick!

Thankfully, Kate McKinnon’s introduction into the mix spiced things up. The awkward new BFF joining the posse.

Upsetting Jillian Bell’s Alice with her very presence. Her eccentric spirit guru (and crazy Nicole Kidman-esque accent) were a much needed presence. Complete with Veggie Mite in tow.

30 minutes in, I was surprised at the dark turn that the film took after Alice’s unfortunate incident with a “stripper”. An act of desperation?

By the end . . . Yes.

It delivered the odd titter BUT the stop/start pace and mismatched tone hampered the piece.

Even the naff subplot with Jess’ effeminate fiance (Paul W. Downs) was a huge misstep. The wine tasting was silly enough BUT the “sad astronaut” gag triggered one drawn out and highly unsavoury sequence involving adult diapers, meth and strange encounters at a petrol station.

It had potential with the Mad Dogs meets The Hangover vibe as the girls’ crazy weekend spiralled out of control with mistaken identity, dodgy coppers and drugged up strippers BUT it just didn’t work.

It tried to be serious with the friends coming to terms that their lives were taking different paths as everything came to blows. It didn’t work.

You had Kate McKinnon somersaulting off a moving jet ski as it ploughed into the beach . . . Meh.

A lechy Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) from Modern Family and naked Demi Moore did nothing to save matters. The sex-crazed swingers next door just killed the already lumbering pace of this hit and miss yarn.

It even resorted to desperate measures with ScarJo busting out some of her Black Widow moves to knock out some burglars.

If any of what I listed above sounded alright then this might be for you.

I watched it to the end BUT that was mainly to see how much worse it was got.

I expected more or at least something passable BUT despite the odd chuckle here and there, I think this is going to be a black mark on the Black Widow’s stellar CV.

Okay, I’m done with the Black Window references.

Take it away Kevin Sorbo Hercules . . .

2/5

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*NEW* GHOSTBUSTERS 3D REVIEW *NEW*

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Who you gonna call? Someone else.

Well that was what I thought I was going to say.

Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), and subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) band together to stop the otherworldly threat.

When I heard that Paul Feig was taken on the iconic spookfest, I had mixed feelings. Female ghostbusters left me unconvinced. NOT because of the women in question or the fact that the movie was being rebooted with women. I just wasn’t sure that Feig’s style would suit.

The original Ghostbusters delivered surreal humour that was almost deadpan. Despite watching our heroes fight a 50 foot marshmallow man. Wiig and McCarthy have always been in your face and OTT. Funny BUT different. Not always a bad thing BUT was it Ghostbusters?

I loved The Heat and Spy. Hell, I even enjoyed Bridesmaids after being badgered to watch it numerous times. All high grossing comedies of the last decade. BUT with a 12A rating and a stab at taking on a classic; without the shouty OTT and crude humour, could the film deliver?

In a nutshell, meh. The creepy opening was certainly promising. It may not give the little ‘uns nightmares like the New York librarian. Shussshh – BUT it was still pretty freaky. The visual effects were quite good and I could finally say for once that the 3D was worth checking out.

It was silly fun having the plasma rays shoot out of the screen and the ghosts screaming and flying at you. BUT great effects does not a good movie make.

Kristen Wiig was an engaging lead and played the uptight physics professor Erin well. BUT we had to listen to some humdrum spiel about her tenure and an old spat with McCarthy’s Abby before the gang united.

McCarthy channelled her inner Ackroyd and played a much more subdued role. A change BUT one that didn’t quite deliver on the laughs as much as I hoped. The rapport between her and Wiig was hit and miss. Funny in one exchange, drawn out the next.

I couldn’t believe the Twitter bashing Leslie Jones got. She was hilarious and probably the most memorable out of the gang for me; “That’s a room full of nightmares . . . Yep, I ain’t going in there”. McKinnon didn’t a bad job as the eccentric Jillian BUT she got on my nerves by the frantic finale.

Chris Hemsworth (Thor) stole the show as the dim-witted no glass glasses wearing receptionist. He came out with some random one liners and played an absolute pillock. It was even funny watching him evade Wiig’s advances.

BUT for every good scene or joke, there were a dozen duds. *POTENTIAL SPOILER* It was great having the old faces thrown into the mix. It was just a shame that Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd had terrible and highly unfunny cameos.

BUT it was nice to see Hudson, Potts, Weaver and Slimer. Even if the green blob annoyed the hell out of me in the several minutes he featured. There was a nice nod to the late Harold Ramis.

The supporting cast were wasted. Andy Garcia (Oh how the mighty have fallen) was terrible as the Mayor. He may have had fun playing the role BUT I didn’t watching him.

Michael Kenneth (Omar from The Wire) Williams and Charles (Game of Thrones) Dance had such generic roles. Anyone could have played them. Cecily Strong was probably the only other supporting character that didn’t get on my nerves as the bitchy two faced Mayor’s aid.

Neil Casey (Saturday Night Live) was a terrible villain. The bullied polter-nerd was too weak and the silly plot about vortexes and bringing apocalypse to NYC just felt like a retread of the original with even sillier and weaker results. It irritated me even more knowing that Twyin Lannister was playing a school dean.

The plot was dull and the predictability of it all killed a good bit of the energy and when the flat lines didn’t deliver, the film went through the motions. Let’s be honest Ghostbusters 2 was no prized trophy. I mean, come on. We had a toaster dancing to Jackie Wilson and the Statue of Liberty . . . Yikes!

BUT it was always going to be a tough act to follow the original. The main cast were good and had a great dynamic. I just wish they had a better script. The pace may have dragged BUT for all my nitpicking, I had a lot more fun than I expected. I wasn’t bored and there were laughs to be had.

The frantic finale may have delivered a special effects shoot em up with the gang busting out some cool gadgets BUT it felt rushed and abrupt after all the build up. Shame.

All in all, a mixed bag. Take it for what it is. Great effects, silly gags, a talented gang did enough to keep things watchable. BUT if there is going to be another, I just hope they can get a better script and we’ll be in for a real treat.

2.5/5

*NEW* MIDNIGHT SPECIAL REVIEW *NEW*

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Not that special.

A father (Michael Shannon – Man of Steel) and son (Jaeden Lieberher – St. Vincent) go on the run, pursued by the government and a cult drawn to the child’s special powers.

Overhyped, drawn out and disappointing. A patchy affair, to say the least.

The opening 30 minutes was everything I expected. It was tense, slow burning and mysterious as we watched Roy (Shannon) and Alton (Lieberher) hiding out in motels. Only travelling at nightfall. Evading capture at any cost. A suspenseful encounter with a state trooper after a late night car collision was nail-biting.

All the questions with none of the answers. Hook, line and sinker! Joel Edgerton (Warrior) worked well with Shannon as his friend and partner in crime. Lieberher excelled yet again (after a stellar turn in St. Vincent) as Alton. He felt like a cross between ET and D.A.R.Y.L. If said aliens were brainwashed by a religious cult.

I did expect more from Shannon’s performance. He didn’t impress as much as I hoped. Was a leading role a stretch too far after so many iconic supporting roles (Man of Steel/Boardwalk Empire)? He just wasn’t charismatic enough. I wanted to care for the pair. BUT as the film drudged along, my patience was soon tested.

Thankfully Jeff Nichols didn’t explore too much of Sam Shepard’s (Mud) crazy ranch cult. I was happy NOT to be stuck with that dreary subplot. It felt like a pale imitation of Big Love (A show I would highly recommend). The perception that Alton was a gift from God was different BUT it didn’t really go anywhere.

Kirsten Dunst (Fargo) was wasted in her role. Her character was so weak and one dimensional. There was NO connection or chemistry between her and Shannon (or their characters) and by the time the frenetic finale came to a close, you realized how unnecessary her character really was.

NOT even Kylo Ren could save the day. Adam Driver’s (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) initial introduction was annoying and dull. His communication babble and co-ordinate guff put me into a mini-coma.

It probably didn’t help that he looked like Matt from the hilarious Saturday Night Live Star Wars Undercover Boss skit (Check it out – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaOSCASqLsE). However, Driver’s nerdy shtick soon won me over and was a much needed boost in this increasingly drawn out yarn.

The mystery throughout the first half of the film was the only thing keeping me going. The fact we didn’t know why Alton was special. Why did he have to leave? Who was coming for him? Did he even have powers? Was it a hoax? Mere pandemonium from a bunch of deluded zealots?

All we knew was that he had to wear goggles during the day and stay out of the sunlight. BUT the second half of this sci-fi snooze-fest threw that out of the window with Alton blazing light out of his eyes like Cyclops from X-Men. Pulling satellites out of the sky and babbling in radio frequencies.

Don’t get me wrong, when it (finally) kicked off, there were moments to be had. The special effects were brilliantly executed and the chase sequences soon stopped me fidgeting in my seat.

BUT I think it would have worked much better if Nichols had played out whether Alton was an alien or not up to the very end. The sci-fi stuff was revealed far too early. Killing a lot of the tension and suspense for me.

I loved the Close Encounters of Third Kind vibe to the piece BUT it was far too patchy. There were only so many sweeping shots from Adam Stone’s beautiful cinematography and brooding scores (from regular Nichols stalwart David Wingo) to keep my interest.

The finale was frantic and baffling BUT ultimately by the closing credits, predictable and disappointing. A bizarre set design, that was supposed to be breathtaking and captivating, looked like something from Tomorrowland.

Nichols left it on a strange climax with more questions. I could see what he was trying to do BUT by the end I really didn’t care. For all the mystery and tension, it couldn’t hide what was a rather weak and tame alien road movie that (despite all the promise) lacked in depth or originality.

It was watchable BUT far too patchy and overhyped. Personally, Mud is still my favourite out of Nichols’ works.

2.5/5

*NEW* TRAINWRECK REVIEW *NEW*

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Was it one big train wreck?

I was a little anxious to see this. I couldn’t get into Girls, didn’t mind Bridesmaids but have always found Apatow’s works a little hit and miss.

BUT it’s always good to be proved wrong. Move over, Miss McCarthy. I have a new lady in my life. Well played, Miss Schumer.

Having thought that monogamy was never possible, a commitment-phobic career woman (Amy Schumer) may have to face her fears when she meets a good guy (Bill Hader).

It’s hardly perfect but I can actually say that I came out of the cinema smiling for the right reasons.

I wasn’t convinced by the opening as we watch a young Amy and Quinn (Brie Larson) being educated by their deadbeat dad (Colin Quinn) after being caught cheating. His analogy using dolls was hilarious.

From that moment, we see the anti-monogamy chants drilled into a young Amy Schumer. 20-odd years down the line and we have our protagonist. Sleeping around, getting drunk, and effing jeffing. I’ve never really found that stuff funny. It got a little repetitive BUT it introduced the selfish and quick witted monster perfectly. Her one liners rolled off a little too fast for me. They didn’t really flow.

HOWEVER, once the film found its tempo, I enjoyed it. Schumer’s improvisation and messing around were generally on the ball. There were patches where she went on just a little bit. There was a moment where Larson and Schumer were looking at pictures of their mother and Amy starts talking about her boobs. It ruined a nice moment and wasn’t that funny.

It’s always a gamble on calling a scene when you’re firing off belters; “Stop walking like the Hulk. I can see that you’re mad”. BUT what helped was that Schumer was assisted by a surprisingly funny supporting cast. John Cena. Words escape me. He was absolutely brilliant. Some of the best acting I’ve seen him do. EVER. Well, since WWE.

He stole every scene from failing at dirty talk in the bedroom to his homo-erotic put downs during an altercation at the cinema. I also loved the short film being played in the cinema scene. The “pretentious” Dog Walker skit featuring Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei got a chuckle. If anything, I wanted to see more of that.

Tilda Swinton as Amy’s boss Dianna was a mixed bag for me. Her put downs and random story telling were bloody mental. BUT I couldn’t get over her raspy Cockney accent. She made the regulars in Eastenders look like Oxford scholars. What was she playing at?

There wasn’t enough of SNL’s Vanessa Bayer for me as Amy’s naive work colleague. LeBron James was very funny. Not all athletes can make the transition to the big screen but he nailed it! From his strop about Downton Abbey to his endless scrimping and bickering over paying the bill. Scrimping? With all those millions? Come on.

It was also good to see Bill Hader playing it straight faced. It was a fresh change and proved the guy can do deadpan and do it well. The crazier moments were certainly left for Miss Schumer. And she most certainly delivered. They had excellent chemistry which really made their inevitable pairing that much more enjoyable.

My main problem with Apatow’s movies is the running length. This is 40 and Funny People were okay films but went on far too long. This film did not need to be two hours long. After the hour marker with the relationship unwittingly taking hold, things did slacken.

It’s all relatable as Amy tries to fight her feelings but it wasn’t very funny. Easygoing enough. I had hoped that the scenes with Brie Larson would have been more entertaining. If it wasn’t for the odd witticism from Schumer, I would have cut them. And things did seem to take a more serious turn.

The subplot involving their dad in a care home never really got going for me. Amy’s character had more than enough flaws to keep things watchable. It felt tacked on and did hamper things. Even if Method Man was his nurse. You read that right.

BUT luckily the film found a second wind as Amy inevitably goes out of her way to complicate matters. The squabbling and tests certainly added an extra depth to the couple. BUT the only problem was that the end result was always going to be the same.

The closing scene was unbelievably corny. I mean it totally fit for all the in-jokes that Schumer and Hader had between each other. BUT at the same time, it didn’t quite fit the overall tone of the film after such a serious middle act with Amy re-evaluating her life. It was all or nothing.

When it’s funny, it’s on fire. When it’s not, it’s a little more testing but certainly watchable. I’ll be more looking forward to Schumer’s next offering.

A trainwreck? Hardly.

3/5

OLDBOY REVIEW

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Oh Boy!

Now firstly, I am a huge fan of Park Chan-wook’s 2004 original cult classic, and was devastated to hear a remake was in the pipeline. However, I felt somewhat assured knowing that Spike Lee (Do The Right Thing and Inside Man) was at the helm, with Josh Brolin and Samuel L (The L stands for Motherfucker) Jackson in the cast.

But what I just watched was a travesty, everything I feared in a Hollywood remake by the bucket load. The opening half hour did pay homage and pretty much covered the same set up as the original, which did not bother me in the slightest, with Brolin with his Southern drawl playing the part to perfection and establishing early on that the character is asking for trouble. For those unaware of the original plot, I will try not to spoil too much but I’m so riled up after watching this, I cannot promise anything.

Basically, the main gist is that Joe Doucett (Brolin) is kidnapped and held prisoner in a hotel room for 20 years, until one day he is released thus putting him on a murderous vengeance-seeking path with a hammer in tow. (That’s right. A hammer). Original fans – I’ll get to that. What I liked was the little touches. The fact that Lee included the mystery umbrella woman. However, he focuses, if a little too much, more on Doucett’s entrapment. Although it allowed the scenes to provide more depth and encapsulate (Word of the day!) his vulnerability and ever-growing psychosis, it could have been condensed a lot quicker.

(Plus was I the only one thinking, Jesus Brolin, put on some pants son?). The Cast Away-inspired pillow companion was a nice touch.

Oldboy was always a strange and violent film but what I loved about Chan-wook’s original was that it was suspenseful, intriguing and hypnotic, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen (and no! Not because it was in subtitles!). But once Doucett is freed from his motel confines, Lee seems to throw away everything that made the original a classic for me, leaving a big, bloody mess. This is settled in one ridiculously unnecessary violent scene, in which Brolin pretty much kills a high school football team for getting in his way. And with that very moment, went all logic and interest.

The cast do their utmost to provide a dimension to their wafer thin characters. A notable exception being the beautiful Elizabeth Olsen (I didn’t realise the Olsen twins had another sister, my goodness, steady now). You know you’re onto a losing streak when even Samuel L Jackson can’t save the day (he was the Spirit bad. Bad). Jackson just come across as a whiny, cross dressing weirdo with a stupid blonde Mohican, not even his motherfuckery was funny. Just plain irritating.

The lines fall flat, Brolin the powerhouse actor that he is, can only grumble and pull stupid faces. The dumpling scene, my God! At one point, in an attempt to find his captors, he knows that the food he was given was from a Chinese restaurant. So what does he do? Go to every restaurant and literally fill his face with dumplings until he recognizes the taste.

The whole thing borders on self-parody. At one point, Josh Brolin is riding a tiny Chinese bicycle while chasing after a Jeep frantically waving a hammer and Sharlto Copley (District 9) as the villain. Oh my word! What was the deal with his accent? Now, the villain was always an eccentric and a flamboyant dresser. But Copley’s portrayal comes off as a really naff Bond villain from the 70s Moore era. It was laughable. There was genuine suspense when the two protagonists finally meet but with Brolin and Copley, it was comical.

The hammer scene, the infamous hammer scene. Terrible. Lee films it all in one take, like the original, but instead of leaving the camera static and the action unfolding around it, the camera pans around, following Brolin. He only uses the hammer for thirty seconds, then swaps to every possible weapon. The violence is OTT, ridiculous and stupid. He’s running around with a knife in his back while being slapped about with 2×4’s! One big Saturday Night Live piss take.

No squid eating, just a passing reference. And the umbrella woman, just disappears. My friend who has not seen the original did not get the point to her at all and frankly there wasn’t one in this rehash. Oh and the twist. Well, there is a twist for those unfamiliar but for those familiar, it’s different, they stay true but go a little bit more messed up.

It is difficult not to draw comparisons, especially to a film that was, and still is good. It did not need to be remade.

On it’s own merit, it’s a stupidly gory and OTT watchable mess that is so-so at best, and I mean best. Worth a gander if you’re a gore nut but the tone is all over the place, just like everything else with this movie. A real mess, a beautifully shot mess but oh boy 1.5/5

Currently ranked 176 out of 178!