*NEW* SPLIT REVIEW *NEW*

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A return to form from the maestro who brought us The Sixth Sense?

Or another dud to add the ever-growing backlog from that guy who gave us The Happening?

In a nutshell, meh.

BUT one thing can be agreed, James McAvoy was excellent.

Three girls are kidnapped by a man diagnosed with 23 distinct personalities. They must escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.

I think it’s fair to say that M. Night Shyamalan’s movie have . . . split audiences. Ba-dum-tssh. I read that somewhere and had to put it.

I’ve always loved the premises BUT his execution? Well . . .

Desperate to be the next modern Hitchcock (The opening title sequence for Split resembled something out of Psycho!)

His big “twists” and mad endings have failed to impress of late; The Visit (Laughable), After Earth (Jaden Smith, say no more!), The Lady in the Water (Apart from that breaking of the 4th wall moment, woeful) and The Happening . . .

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How could I forget?!

What do you mean, where’s Signs and The Village? I *shuffles collar* actually enjoyed those movies. Yes, I know. Aliens attack Earth and their sole weakness is water. I know! BUT Mel Gibson and Johnny Cash, man!

I digress. I was actually excited by all the trailers to see Shyamalan’s latest thriller and I didn’t mind it. It was alright BUT it just didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

The opening didn’t mess about. An air of unease established straight from the get go as McAvoy’s “Dennis” made his introduction to the unsuspecting trio.

Funny that I was praising Anya Taylor-Joy in another mediocre movie (Morgan). She played the withdrawn but resourceful Casey well.

I didn’t expect to see Grace from Skins (Jessica Sula) in the troubled party either.

Their initial captivity felt like something from Kiss the Girls with a hint of Misery. 

The first half hour set a slow burning atmospheric thriller with all sorts of questions flying around. 

Every time I could feel my patience wading, McAvoy’s Dennis would introduce another personality.

McAvoy continues to impress yet again. I don’t think I would have been half as interested if he wasn’t at the helm. 

He stole the show with everybody else playing second fiddle.

And that was part of the problem, every time the action was taken away from him, I lost interest.

Betty Buckley (Carrie) didn’t do a bad turn as Dr Fletcher, the therapist desperate to help the troubled mad man. Fighting for “their” cause. Playing a very dangerous game. 

There were genuine moments where I felt tense. Especially when she worked out that she wasn’t talking to the “right person”.

The girls played their parts well and were quite resilient.

I expected more cliched horror movie gaffs with three teenage girls at the centre of the chaos BUT they were fairly strong characters. Not bad, Mr Shyamalan.

BUT one thing that bugged me the most was the film’s actual premise. 23 personalities?

All those trailers, billboards, posters. 23 personalities. Did we actually get 23 personalities?

*POSSIBLE SPOILER*

For the majority of the film, we only had 4. Great performance from Professor X but a measly number that increased to maybe 7 by the end? Come on now.

It was great how with a twitch in the face and a burrow of the brow; McAvoy’s infantile nine year old Hedwig could transform into the meticulous and obsessive compulsive Dennis. 

His Patricia could easily have bordered on a parody of Mrs Doubtfire.

Thankfully, it didn’t.

BUT this could have been done in 90 minutes and been better for it. 

The pacing hammered the piece for me and the final act dragged.

There was so many meandering flashbacks into Casey’s past, I kept wondering what the relevance of them were? 

They killed the tension and annoyed the hell out of me.

All the talk of a Beast. This new and vicious 24th personality. Those crazy descriptions and the big reveal, the “What a twist” moment didn’t quite deliver.

It was certainly creepy and unsettling with Shyamalan teasing the die hards BUT it didn’t quite pan out the way I hoped.

Different. Watchable. BUT thriller of the year? Meh.

Certainly worth a view for one stellar performance from the super Scot.

A return of sorts. Not his best. BUT certainly NOT his worst by a country mile.

3/5 (Just)

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*NEW* THE VISIT REVIEW *NEW*

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That’s one visit I won’t be making again.

A single mother (Kathryn Hahn) finds that things in her family’s life go very wrong after her two young children (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould) visit their grandparents (Peter McRobbie and Deanna Dunagan).

Has M. Night Shyamalan broken his movie curse? Not even close.

To think this was from the guy who brought us The Sixth Sense, The Village, Unbreakable and Signs (Yes. For all its ridiculous plot holes. I liked it).

A creepy premise that had moments of genuine suspense and tension was soon hampered by silly handheld camera play, annoying kids and unintentionally hilarious dialogue.

The opening didn’t give me much hope. DeJonge’s pretentious movie geek waffle numbed me into a coma while Oxenbould’s freestyle rapping had me cringeing in terror. Was that Shyamalan’s intention?

Now credit where it’s due. Despite being a patchy affair, it was still watchable. I desperately tried not to pick at Hahn’s parenting skills. Yeah, just chuck your kids on a train without speaking to the parents you haven’t spoken to for 15 years. Something about a “incident” that made her run away from home. Nothing suspicious there :/

Dunagan was superb as Nana. Sickly sweet one second, shrill and volatile the next. McRobbie disappeared for chunks of the film BUT when he was given the chance, he was creepy as hell with his blank staring and zombie-esque wandering.

During the day, we suffered through mindless exposition, cheesy Skype-ing with Mom and sickly sweet exchanges with Nana and Pop Pop. That is until night fall. Now that’s where things got a little more interesting. The slow burning tension slowly bubbling away. One simple rule. Don’t come out after 9.30 pm.

This little premise intrigued me. The questions pondering as each night passed. The grandparents’ activity getting stranger and creepier. The “sundowning” theory for explaining the grandmother’s strange behaviour was almost believable. Playing it down to a rare strand of dementia.

The hide and seek sequence was genuinely tense and unsettling. Every time the kids crept around another corner, I feared something would pop out and give my heart a jolt. However, the tension was soon killed off by Dunagan’s backside. I kid you not. It spoiled the scene. Redeemed by a cheeky one liner from Oxenbould.

And that was the problem, there were a number of moments that came off unintentionally funny. Dunagan creeping around the house. Weird. Running around like Batman in the nude? Shudder. Not so much. Every time DeJonge’s granddaughter pried Nana for more information about the “incident”, she would beat herself up like Dobby the house elf. Lordy lord.

The tone was all over the place. Menacing and tense in one second, parodical the next. If not for the needless nudity, this could have easily been a 12A. I loved the Blair With vibe around the piece but the Paranormal shaky hand cam has been done to death in horror films for the last decade. What I loved about Shyamalan’s works was the fact that he never caved into this relentless fad. Until now.

One thing that can be agreed that was a vast improvement from The Happening.

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The twist. Oh yes, you can’t have a Shyamalan movie without a twist. It was hardly a surprise. If anything I wanted more. BUT it certainly made the last 15 minutes a nail biting and racy little finale. Even Oxenbould managed to win me over by the end. I was actually rooting for the annoying little toad.

BUT it ended so abruptly and then out of fear of being too serious, we had another stupid rap from Oxenbould tacked on. A terrible footnote for a mismatched movie. Back to the drawing board, Shyamalan.

 

2/5

JUPITER ASCENDING REVIEW

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The only place this film is ascending in is my Worst Films of 2015 list.

Messy Matrix effects + a moody Mila = one moaning movie goer.

I always felt the Wachowskis never could reach the bar they set with The Matrix. The sequels; Reloaded and Revolutions were superb in visual and action set pieces but pace and plot? Meh.

I admired their execution of Cloud Atlas even if it was a bit of a mess. The pace and the disjointed story lines didn’t deliver for me.

Now we have Jupiter Ascending. The thought of a Matrix reboot may not be so bad if the guys will stop doing films like this.

A little harsh. It certainly zipped along for its 127 minute length BUT the story made no sense and had more holes than a sponge. And the cast?! My God. They must have been paid a lot of wonga to take on these poorly written characters.

*WARNING* RANT MAY CONTAIN POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

So what’s it about? In a bright and colourful future, a young destitute caretaker (Mila Kunis) gets targeted by the ruthless son (Eddie Redmayne) of a powerful family who lives on a planet in need of a new heir, so she travels with a genetically engineered warrior (Channing Tatum) to the planet in order to stop his tyrant reign.

What?!

From the corny opening, I could feel myself wincing. Maria Doyle Kennedy (The Tudors) and James D’Arcy (Broadchurch) had enough chemistry to make it bearable as they fall in love. Inevitably leading to Jupiter’s conception.

It is only as the film concluded that I realised that the first 10-15 minutes were completely unnecessary and contributed nothing to the story. Only why Kunis’s character is called Jupiter.

D’Arcy’s father figure was prepared to risk his life with some ultra-violent burglars for a golden telescope. The relevance of said telescope in the film? A cryptic map to the universe? A weapon? No, just something really nice and shiny.

The whole ironic illegal “alien” and actual alien status surrounding Jupiter was a nice touch. We soon get a sense of her hum drum routine as a fed up maid. While in a galaxy far, far – No, Saturn. We have the intergalactic royal siblings (played by Douglas Booth, Eddie Redmayne and Tuppence Middleton) squabbling over their inheritance. Their inheritance being planets of the solar system. The most precious, of course, being Earth.

After his Oscar winning turn as Stephen Hawking in A Theory of Everything, I had high hopes for Mr. Redmayne. BUT boy, oh, boy. This is a step down. Razzie well and truly deserved. He must have been trying to do his best (well, worst) Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg impression from The Fifth Element.

Certainly got the haircut. His gravelly gangly master villain was something I expected to see in a pantomine. His volatile behaviour was laughable. At one point, he has a fit of rage that mimicked Delia Smith at that infamous Norwich game.

And she still delivered that with much more gusto. Granted she had way ti many martoonis. To make matters worse, he was virtually absent throughout the film, dispensing his Paul-esque alien henchmen to do his bidding or shrieking on a sofa.

The squabbling royal family had heavy Shakespearean undertones BUT it was hard to take it seriously with Booth and Tuppleton camping it up to the max. The whole solar system as their playground subplot seemed to dampen what could have been a darker affair.

There was a revelation halfway through the film that made things a little more interesting BUT there were still too many issues.

Channing Tatum did his best as the mystery genetically spliced bounty hunter. I’m sure ladies will be happy to see him roller blading in anti-gravity boots with his shirt off for nearly half the film.

There was little chemistry between him and Kunis BUT I got to admit I found Kunis quite weak in the leading role. I know it didn’t help with weak jokes and hammy dialogue. BUT she didn’t deliver any of them with conviction. Too laid back and flat for my liking. I mean her reaction when she is surrounded by bees was worse than Marky Mark talking to a plastic plant in The Happening.

BUT she did look stunning in a bin liner. No, seriously. She wears a dress that looks like a bin liner. Must have spent the budget on the lavish sets. Because it weren’t on the clothes or the writers.

The special effects were, to be expected, superb. The 3D was a little lacklustre for the ticket price. I’m surprised cinemas are still bothering with this silly little gimmick.

The chase sequences were intense. However, they seemed to go on far too long and there was too much going on that it was a little disorienting. And by the end, the animation was so cartoony that it killed off some of the action.

It may have looked good BUT the story was a mess. For every question I had, it was eventually explained but the answer was so ridiculous that I had even more questions. BUT by the end, I couldn’t care less.

I mean there were scenes in which the siblings were controlling ships from their bathing pools? Why? Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s big ears? What up with that? Sean Bean’s space cop and, for some reason, bee keeper mumbling some mumbo jumbo about the history of the universe.

Or should I say, Sean Bee-n (A-ha! I’ll get my coat). Why the bees? Some rubbish about bees detecting royalty. WHAT? The more Sharp explained, the more I switched off. It just got sillier and sillier that it killed the fun and made me a little numb. I was more surprised that Bean managed to survive his movie curse!

Even Tatum’s back story surrounding the origin of his albino werewolf alien hybrid just put me into a mini coma. It just felt that it had too many ideas meshed together with none of them really working.

The creatures that featured in the universe (Well, Jupiter. I think it was Jupiter? And Earth) were brilliantly constructed. An action packed crop chasing sequence that rivalled Signs silenced my nagging voice until a lame punch line involving crop circles was delivered.

The bureaucracy segment in which Kunis must register her “royalty entitlement” in an intergalactic DMV with a robot that could trump C-3P0 in a robo-camp off just didn’t fit with the tone of the film and went on far too long.

The only explanation I could find for it was the surprise cameo from the legendary Terry Gilliam. A sight for sore eyes. Wachowskis trying to do a Brazil reference? If so, don’t do it again.

I know these sort of things are done with a level of exaggeration BUT it helps to have characters you care about. That’s half the battle. The other stuff could be as stupid as you like BUT alas, it was not to be.

It was all rushed and resolved so cheesily and predictably. Hinting for another like all the endless teen sci-fi flicks. But hopefully no one will take the hint.

2/5