*NEW* THE BFG REVIEW *NEW*

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The BIG FLOPPIN’ MESS

On paper, the dream of Roald Dahl’s works and Steven Spielberg’s direction should have spelled perfection BUT despite Rylance’s brilliant performance, there was something missing.

A girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) encounters the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kind-hearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because, unlike them, he refuses to eat children.

Definitely one for the little ‘uns. It has been a long time since I read The BFG. I loved Dahl’s books as a child and genuinely enjoyed the film adaptations. Some I still watch as guilty pleasures BUT this won’t be one of them.

The opening 30 minutes was everything I expected. It was exactly how I remembered. The animation and cinematography (from regular Spielberg stalwart Janusz Kaminski) were fantastic. The BFG’s introduction was lifted straight from the book. His eyes twinkling in the dark alleys. The giant hand clambering through the curtains. The sweeping shots across the beautiful English countryside.

It was delightfully easy going. Barnhill carried the role as well as she could. It’s an incredibly difficult task for a child actor to get the balance right. Whether it was the script or her performance BUT there were moments where the poor girl just got on my nerves. BUT it was still a commendable debut for the little lass.

After his Oscar winning turn in Bridge of Spies, Mark Rylance reunited with Spielberg yet again. The animation and effects were impeccable; mixing live animation with Rylance’s facial expressions. His delivery really made all of Dahl’s insanely ridiculous jargon almost believable. He really was the BFG. Perfect.

However, the main issue was the pace. It went on far too long. This would have been much better if it was reduced by a good 30 minutes. If anything, the meandering pace gave me time to pick at how nothingy the story of the BFG really was. Apart from catching dreams and eating whizpoppers (a horrible looking cucumber), there wasn’t really much going on.

What was originally a beautiful scene with the BFG and Sophie chasing after the pixie like dreams flying around the trees, I found myself nodding off. I hate to blame the twinkly lullaby score of John Williams. The maestro providing yet another wonderful score. It just didn’t grab me. The CGI and effects were marvellous BUT it wasn’t enough.

NOT even the giants made enough of an impression for me. Considering the talented supporting cast voicing the eclectic bunch of fantastically designed beasts, the only one that made a memorable impression was Flight of the Conchord’s Jermaine Clement as Fleshlumpeater. The only giant with any depth or dialogue.

I didn’t even realise until the closing credits that Bill Hader (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) was voicing Bloodbottler! I wanted more of them. There were opportunities for the BFG to overcome the years of bullying. I know it was only a kids’ films BUT I couldn’t help but ask endless questions; Why did the giants hate rain so much? (Especially when the BFG wasn’t fazed at all). Why catch dreams and give them to people while they sleep?

The giants weren’t really as intimidating as I’d hoped. If anything, they were irritating. Despite a wonderfully animated sequence with the dimwitted dirt dwellers throwing the BFG on a digger and Sophie in a battered car and racing them around the hill, they didn’t do much at all.

It was the meeting with the Queen that made me feel my age. For the first time, I actually felt uncomfortable watching a children’s film. I always enjoy family films because they always have something for everyone. BUT this time, it really was just for the sprogs.

Penelope Wilton (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) was brilliant as Her Majesty. It’s just a shame she was playing her in this. Rafe Spall and Rebecca Hall were completely wasted (and unnecessary in their roles). And once everybody was guzzling frobscottle (a strange fizzy drink with bubbles that float down) and farting green smoke including the bloomin’ Corgis, I knew I was getting too old for this.

I know I’m heading towards my thirties and I’ve become an older and more cynical movie goer BUT I can still watch The Witches and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Wilder version, of course. RIP) as guilty pleasures. BUT the meandering pace and silly little gags just didn’t deliver. The giants were barely used and weren’t really as much of a threat as they could have been.

It was watchable guff BUT I’m afraid to say that Spielberg’s dry spell continues. The little ‘uns will love it BUT the older Dahl fans will be disappointed.

2.5/5

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THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL REVIEW

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These old dogs need to learn some new tricks if there’s going to be another one.

As the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has only a single remaining vacancy – posing a rooming predicament for two fresh arrivals – Sonny (Dev Patel) pursues his expansionist dream of opening a second hotel.

Now, I loved the first film. It was fun, easy going, a charming little affair with a fantastic cast. When I heard that there was going to be another, I was excited. Hardly surprised after the reception the original received.

However, this outing seemed to suffer from the dreaded sequelitis. The charm offensive just about pulled it off to make it watchable. BUT I was left wanting more. A phrase I’m using far too often lately.

The opening didn’t really build my hopes up as Patel’s Sonny and Dame Maggie Smith’s Muriel barter with a boardroom of corporate drones about financing the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Smith’s rambling and raving about how Americans never serve tea properly didn’t really deliver the laughs. If anything, it annoyed the hell out of me and was dreadfully clichéd.

Look, I’m English. (What?!) Tea has always been a recurring joke but come on, we’re better than that! I still had a little guilty chuckle but when the gag kept popping up; it soon died of death.

Patel played Sonny well. But I found him a lot more irritating this time round. However, what did keep me watching was Sonny and Muriel’s relationship. A surrogate mother/son dynamic that made for hilarious and heart-warming viewing.

I felt Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle’s story line was a little too silly. I was interested in Norman and Carol’s relationship as the pair struggle to adapt to a monogamous lifestyle after playing the field for so long.

BUT all I got was a subplot that was taken out of a bad Carry On film with a drunken conversation between Norman and a taxi driver unwittingly setting up a “hit” on his partner.

I only really got some enjoyment or drama out of the pair in the closing moments. BUT it was resolved far too quickly for my liking. A shame.

Bill Nighy. A comedy legend and a talented actor in my eyes. Disappointing. He just seemed to dither and normally it worked to his advantage but I found myself getting bored of him. The whole tour gag with a young Indian lad feeding him information with a dodgy wireless ear piece has been done time and time again.

His subplot only got interesting when Penelope Wilton made a surprise appearance to upset the apple cart.

It was a surprise that Douglas (Nighy) and Evelyn’s (Dench) characters were still courting and not properly together. Inevitably a spanner is thrown in the works as Evelyn is given an opportunity to work again.

This is where it killed things for me. Dench’s absence was missed. Merely reprieved with little scenes in which we see her and a market trader bartering and dealing with the local community.

Celia Imrie’s love triangle story line was a little nothingy. Her inevitable brewing romance with the chauffeur that drove her to the two men she was seeing was predictable but easygoing.

However, she seemed to be pushed further into the background. If not for a memorable quote upon Gere’s arrival, “God have mercy on my ovaries”, I wouldn’t have known she was there.

Patel’s business venture ambitions and impending wedding certainly spiced things. Sonny’s best friend’s questionable friendship with his fiancee certainly ignited some much needed tension and drama into the mix. BUT to the same old infuriating and predictable results.

While we’re talking about predictable; the red herring hotel inspector subplot was naff. Richard Gere did his best and played the mystery man well BUT it was all so hokey. Sonny “pimping” out his mother to try and improve his review got the odd chuckle. BUT Tamsin Grieg and her shady American accent just didn’t work.

Hardly spoilerific but what was the purpose of David Strathairn’s role? He had the easiest job going. A waste of an incredibly talented actor.

It wasn’t all bad. Maggie Smith was on fine form as usual. Her sniping and complaining delivered the better moments. One perfect example being when Evelyn shares some wonderful advice with her and she simply looks at her, baffled and asks; “I’m sorry. Were you talking to me?” Priceless.

The ending certainly left things open and wasn’t without a few surprises (Don’t worry. No spoilers). And dare I say, I had a little tear.

I was able to walk out with a cheeky little grin after seeing the geriatric icons jumping up and down at the wedding reception without a care in the world.

BUT it just didn’t carry it off as well as the first. A film I went in expecting nothing and was rewarded with much more.

Maybe I went in with too high an expectation this time. It was certainly watchable and there were laughs to be had, “Why die here? When I can die . . . there”.

A mixed bag of spice and naff tobacco for me. Tobacco being the stodgy story lines.

2.5/5

UNFINISHED BUSINESS REVIEW

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Unimaginative, unmemorable and unfunny. My business with Vince Vaughn is now finished.

Well, I’ve found my contender for worst film of 2015 and we’re only into March.

Dreadful. I desperately wanted to like this with the talent on display BUT good lord!

If it wasn’t for Dave Franco, I think I would have given this a zero.

So what’s it all about? A hard-working small business owner (Vaughn) and his two associates travel to Europe to close the most important deal of their lives. But what began as a routine business trip goes off the rails in every way imaginable – and unimaginable.

A little imagination would have been nice.

I’ve always rated Vince Vaughn and defended his last endeavour; Delivery Man. I felt Vaughn could do both serious and comedic acting.

His deadpan delivery (No pun intended) has worked before. Dodgeball being a perfect example. BUT I can’t help but feel he’s trying to apply the same spiel to every character he takes on.

It didn’t help that his character, the lead character, whom we’re supposed to relate to and route for was incredibly droll and bland.

Vaughn’s delivery would have worked better if he had better gags to bounce off.

And trust me, the gags are few and far between.

Sienna Miller had the easiest job going. She looked stunning (as always) and nailed the American accent but her character was so dull I didn’t really feel anything.

I didn’t care that she was the bad guy in this picture. I wasn’t routing for the gang to thwart her plan. She wasn’t even that bitchy to be honest.

She just played a one dimensional corporate drone. If that was the goal, she nailed it.

Tom Wilkinson, oh how the mighty have fallen! He did his best but there was only one moment involving him that got a little chuckle.

I know Wilkinson can deliver in comedies. I couldn’t believe this was the same man from The Full Monty and hell, even the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel!

A hotel room blunder involving a sex maid with the alluring Kasia Malinowska was unexpected. More could have been made with the gag.

A missed opportunity but it wasn’t bad with Wilkinson trying to give out orders to a normal maid. “I want you to call me, Tony Stark.”

I think the only one who will come out of this unscathed is Dave Franco. He was brilliant as Mike Pancake. His surname being a recurring and irritating gag.

The first mention of his surname in a PowerPoint presentation got a chuckle.

Pancake? It’s Greek. Sounds delicious. Yum!

BUT the constant discussion and repetition of said surname soon buried that puppy by the 30 minute marker.

However, Franco’s nervous twitching, random theories and strange pronunciations on words stopped me from either walking out or falling asleep.

Screaming “Boobs!” at a naked sauna like a kid in a sweet shop. Yes! Trying to work out the wheelbarrow sex position and talking about it endlessly? No!

BUT at least he kept things watchable.

Nick Frost was terribly unfunny. A scene involving glory holes in a men’s toilet started off funny BUT went on far too long and got increasingly uncomfortable as the number of penises continued to pop out.

It felt just as uncomfortable as reading that last sentence.

There was no focus. No drive. The tone was all over the place. It didn’t know what it wanted to be. By the closing 20 minutes, the film took a more serious route. BUT it was still a dramedy that failed on both the comedy and the drama.

A naff subplot involving Vaughn’s fictional son being cyber bullied came off incredibly hammy and uninspiring. It reeked of desperation to try and add an extra dimension to Vaughn’s cardboard clown.

The desperation got increasingly worse as Vaughn’s other child is revealed to be a bully. Shock! Gasp! Snore!

And to make matters worse, it was dealt with so quickly and cheesily that I could feel the will to live fading, fading. It ended up becoming a lecture on cyber bullying. Heavy handed and in the wrong film altogether.

Even when the gang finally get to Berlin, I expected Euro Trip meets Margin Call BUT boy, was I wrong?

There were probably two gags that got a giggle out of me BUT every thing else was just terrible and it pains me to say that.

The cast do their best with the material BUT the material is so bad.

Even when a gag had potential, they either go too far, stretch it out or kill it. A frustrating encounter with a German talking SatNav had everyone laughing in the audience. God knows why? They must have raided the drinks fridge.

Yelling “Flugelslafen” repeatedly while Vaughn drives the wrong way up a motorway just didn’t do anything for me.

If Vaughn keeps doing stuff like this then I’m done.

One for the Franco.

1/5