IF I STAY REVIEW

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I should have stayed at home is . . . what I thought I would be saying after watching this. But surprisingly this . . . uh . . . surprised me.

The corny coma chick flick meets the cantankerous cynic of a critic and for all my griping (which there may be a smidgeon), there is still beneath its cheesy surface; an easygoing and brilliantly acted drama. I can feel the man points dropping off but here we go.

So what’s it all about? Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined.

From the trailers and weepy teenage girls with their tissue boxes at the ready, I feared an incredibly schmaltzy, corny OTT teen love story. To an extent, it is. But I was proven wrong before with The Fault In Our Stars. Chloe Grace Moretz has matured from Hit Girl and impresses yet again, proving that she can handle the lead role.

The cast are perfectly chosen. Mirielle Enos (The Killing USA) and Joshua Leonard (Men Of Honor) play the hard rock junkie super cool parents fantastically to Moretz’s inevitably stuffy, uptight cello playing Mia. That is until she meets Jamie Blackley (Snow White and the Huntsman)’s charismatic Adam and the rest is . . . the movie of love, loss and classical music.

Blackley and Moretz have fantastic chemistry together and they really do make the characters stand out. I actually found myself caring for the little love birds not praying for their demise. Of course, they go through the ups and downs; the why me when you’re so cool and I’m so geeky spiel. The tests of college and flying the coop. Check, check, check. That is until the accident. That happens early on and the story flashes back and forth.

To be honest, the coma angle of the story didn’t really do much for me. The flicking back and forth just disrupted what was an easy going and watchable boy meets girl love story. It was just CGM wandering around aimlessly bar a few twists (which were ruined in the trailers). The last 15 minutes or so in which CGM finally stands still and listens to her friends and family as they prepare themselves for the worst case scenario, finally justifies itself by allowing for some endearing scenes (and yes everyone was crying. Apart from me, obviously).

Without spoiling too much, I couldn’t help but question the relevance of Aisha Hinds’ (Under the Dome) Nurse Ramirez preaching motivational speeches to a comatose patient. Ridiculously corny. Plus was she a spirit? As no one seemed to be paying attention to her too. Pointless in my opinion. Liano Liberto plays Mia’s best friend well and Stacey Keach delivers an emotionally sobering performance as Mia’s grief stricken grandfather.

The cello playing by whoever was CGM’s stand in was impeccable and the amount of classical music that was played in this. Unexpected but brilliant. Made a change to the usual indie/pop/teen soundtrack these films are normally flogging. The ending is a bit abrupt. It’s all built up and ponders the question which the film heavily suggests and then just ends.

The problem with these sort of coma pics; there are only ever two outcomes which makes it all a little predictable without divulging too much.

I was surprised at how quick this film disappeared from my cinema. It’s not without its imperfections but I have seen a lot worse. If it is still lingering around, give it a go. It won’t win merits for originality but cheesy, easy going, watchable guff all the same.

2.5/5 for me (might change it to a 3) depending on the next influx of weepies which there inevitably will be.

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SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR REVIEW

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I loved Sin City. It’s visceral hard boiled pulp story lines. The noir characters. The beautifully animated graphic underworld that literally lifts off the pages of Miller’s comic books. It was always going to be tough for a sequel. This time round, it’s a mixed bag. A violent, sexy one but mixed.

The animation is fantastic. The 3D? Well what 3D? Not an investment. (Yet again). The film launches you straight into the madness with an incredibly unhinged Marv going on yet another killing spree in the dark underbelly of Basin City. Rourke is brilliant but I couldn’t help but feel Marv’s irrational behaviour was ridiculous, bordering on overkill. His revenge spree in the first film had some warped justification. This time, not so much. I mean Marv is in a much more volatile state with blackouts and confusion galore. The littlest glance or grunt throwing him into a merciless rage.

Now I must advise you to watch the first movie. I hadn’t seen it in ages. And remember it has been NINE years. That’s right. Nine years since its release. This is very much a prequel/sequel of sorts. This will be made clear with Marv when a certain character appears. I was baffled and confused until I went back to the original. Scratching my head as to how he survived the electric . . . Oh wait. The same can be said for Dwight. Brolin takes over the helm from Clive Owen. Brolin’s drawl voice and grimacing face pulling are spot on. His delivery of Miller’s lines are sublime. A true noir actor. His storyline involving the dame to kill for (and I would kill for her) Eva Green reeked of the stories of old. The ultimate femme fatale. It may come off a little pastiche and predictable but it’s great to see a re-visiting of the classics.

Eva Green was born for the role. Conniving but attractive on the eye. Her beauty a trap for any foolish man. The reason why Dwight had to change his face. Miller seemed to cut the amount and reduce the length of story lines. There was two main stories with two little subplots (new stories for the movie) running along aside them. The new story lines involve Nancy (Alba) and Johnny (Joseph Gordon Levitt). JGL was to be expected charismatic and perfect for the part. He has proven that he can do the noir protagonist after Brick. He rolls off Miller’s lines like he was born in that world. He boosts the film and to be honest I wanted to see more of his story line.

However, for all it’s potential, it ends all rather abruptly. His speech at the poker table would be something that QT would love. A lesson in power if ever there was one but disappointing after such a suspenseful build up. But it is a typical noir ending as his cocky ambition gets the best of him as he takes on Rourke (Powers Boothe) in a game of poker.

Powers Boothe was deliciously sinister with his shark toothed grin, lapping up every moment of it. A perfectly cast villain, composing all his past bad guys role into one nasty piece of work. The one aspect of Sin City that I felt pushed this glossy colourful seedy crime saga over its ridiculously violent edge was the inhabitants of Old Town. Too much time spent on it in the first film. Miller must have realised this and only brings in Gail (Rosario Dawson) and samurai wielding assassin Miho (The alluring Jamie Chung now replacing Devon Aoki) to assist Dwight. And they are actually taken out of Old Town.

Dawson was less irritating this time round for me and Chung did as well as she could playing a silent killer. Of course, there was ridiculous sword play and white blood spread across the screen, along with various body parts. Dennis Haysbert was relentless as Manute (taking over the reins from the late Michael Clarke Duncan). He will always be David Palmer but it made a change to see him play the thug. It also made some of the references in the first film make so much more sense.

I never felt so dirty watching a film. Jessica Alba manages to outdo her infamous strip tease dance number. In fact, she delivers one every time one of the characters enters Kadie’s Club Pecos. To be honest, I wondered whether Nancy was only brought in to be the eye candy. Beautiful Miss Alba may be; I wanted to see some resolution following her story line after Hartigan’s sacrifice. Bruce Willis does make a return as Hartigan. It’s pretty clear from the trailers. But to what capacity? Well . . .  “POSSIBLE SPOILER” Don’t panic! He is very much dead. Even in death, you can’t escape Sin City.

The idea of Hartigan watching Nancy, seeing her deteriorate into a pool of grief and misery was a good angle. But at the same time, Willis does nothing else. He is merely a cameo that appears to say two little speeches and then bugger off. Might as well have not bothered turning up at all. It doesn’t help that for some reason in all it’s ridiculousness, he cannot talk to Nancy. But yet Benicio Del Toro’s Jackie could talk to Clive Owen’s Dwight? Strange. The switching back and forth from past to present did cause some confusion.

The cast were perfect, the animation always impressed me and the story lines were good but much more predictable. I felt that the film lacked something. I mean the characters were good but I wanted more of the memorable cult characters. The Yellow Bastard, Elijah Wood’s crazy cannibal Kevin, Rutger Hauer’s messed up priest. We only really got that in Stacey Keach’s Jabba-esque mob boss Wallenquist and Christopher Lloyd’s demented street doc Kroenig (Believe me, Doc Brown would be screaming more than Great Scott!). The pace lulled in parts for me. Story lines seemed to build up and end abruptly. However, I still want more and it was still very watchable.

Not as good as the first but still worth a go for fans and anyone with a little blood lust. 3.5/5 for me