HORNS REVIEW

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Yawwwnnnnssss . . .

Hell hath no fury like a horny Harry.

Daniel Radcliffe delivers another standout performance. It’s just a shame that despite his best efforts, this film should go back to the fiery hole it came from.

You’re a demon, Harry.

Anyway, enough Harry Potter jokes. Let’s get down to business. I would rather watch Radcliffe rap in that weird American accent for two hours than endure this turgid affair again.

So what’s it all about? In the aftermath of his girlfriend’s (Juno Temple) mysterious death, a young man (Radcliffe) awakens to find strange horns sprouting from his temples. (That’s right, horns)

We get straight into the luvvy duvvy guff with Radcliffe and Temple cuddling up in their loveshack; a taddy old treehouse in the middle of some dreary woodland. The pair have good chemistry but it’s all a little tame and dreadfully slow.

That is until the incident. It literally flicks forward with Ignacious Perrish (You read that right. If you find that ridiculous, I haven’t even started) being accused of his beloved’s murder.

Radcliffe certainly plays the part well and I thought he mastered the American accent quite well. If you can get over that rapping cameo on the Jimmy Fallon show.

As Ig attempts to piece together his girlfriend’s murder, he suddenly wakes up very horny (Come on, stop it). Yeah, he has horns. Some lazy plot device about turning away from God and being claimed by the Devil. Blimey, if everyone did that, I’d be seeing all sorts of horny folk (Okay, let’s it).

I understand that this was adapted from Joe Hill’s gothic novel. This film certainly didn’t make me want to read it. I can accept a level (well, a degree) of fantasy and exaggeration but it goes from dead pan serious to flat out ridiculous.

And that’s the problem, the tone very much like the story line is . . . all over the place. And by the time, it makes a decision. It’s over or you’ve lost interest.

The horns were just plain weird. The fact people start acting strange. From telling the truth to performing their darkest desires stretching from a girl scoffing a box of doughnuts to a dentist banging his nurse to a comatose Ig.

Some of the confessions are comical (An old lady fighting the urge to tell an annoying toddler to shut the front door, for example). While other moments just fall flat on their arse. A scene making some lazy commentary on the news media could have been done so much better. Their initial truth telling comments were eerily realistic but the all out royal rumble in the dirt was just farcical.

What infuriated me is that while I was trying to get my head around the whole horn thing. The only thing that kept me intrigued while this film churned along then goes and flashes back to when the star crossed lovers first met as kids.

It was incredibly corny, predictable and just plain dull. In the first ten minutes, all the characters pretty much spoon fed you their origins and then we have to see it? Why?

It was only when we got to see the last few encounters before Juno Temple’s untimely demise that it got a little more interesting. A little. Her role was completely wasted, to be honest. A shame.

What really disappointed me was that the whole devil angle wasn’t really used until the last 30 minutes. The last 30 minutes of a two hour film?!

In that last half an hour, things finally kicked off (At last) with Ig embracing the darkness with a scaly necklace in tow. Busting out the old Parseltongue to his slytherin’ companions and unleashing the horny avenger.

But in between that, we had to endure predictable red herring murder mystery BS and surreal moments that had a hint of Twin Peaks . . . On crack.

Director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes/Mirrors) had a good supporting cast at his fingertips; David Morse (The Green Mile), James Remar (Dexter), Max Minghella (That British douche from The Internship) and Heather Graham.

They do their best to lift their flat and uninspiring characters. Graham and Minghella stood out particularly. Joe Anderson (Across The Universe/The Grey) was also pretty good as Ig’s brother. But all the finger pointing and flicking about led to the same old end result.

It was so obvious who it was but the how did catch me out . . . A little bit.

The jazz music interludes did my nut in. What was the point of them? It seemed every time I got interested in a scene, Aja and writer Keith Bunn would throw in something that would kill the tension or disrupt what was a good scene.

And the finale? Well, what a Keiwaste of time.

Ol’ Harry turns into a badass devil and all he does is mope, scream and get beaten up . . .  a lot. It was unbelievably flat.

A couple moments of dark humour and crafty special effects does not a good movie make. Radcliffe certainly carries the film with all the charisma he can muster. But not even his magic can work on this.

It just seemed to produce more plot holes, more questions and by the end you couldn’t care less.

If you’re a supernatural or Radcliffe nut, give it a go. But otherwise, the power of Christ compels you NOT to see this film.

In the words of Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules . . .

2/5

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THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU REVIEW

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This is where I leave the cinema for a bit . . .

No, it’s not that bad. But not that great either considering the talent at Shawn Levy’s fingertips.

Levy’s projects have always been okay (Real Steel/ Date Night/The Internship). For some of you those titles might make you wince. The master of ground breaking comedy classics? Not even close.

The cast did their best with the material. It’s just a shame that the material is not that good. In all fairness, Levy takes a stab at family dramedy. But maybe he shoudn’t have.

AND if you wanted anyone to head a dysfunctional family, it would be Jason Bateman (Arrested Development/Horrible Bosses).

So what’s it all about? When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother (Jane Fonda) and their spouses and exes.

Jason Bateman was brilliant. He carried the film in my opinion. His marriage breakdown story line was hardly original but it gave an extra something to the endless childish sibling bickering that dominated the majority of the screen time. How it was all resolved was a little predictable and terribly flat but at least there were a few dramatic moments to be had.

Tina Fey didn’t really deliver as much as I hoped. I know she’s funny. Come on, 30 Rock and Date Night proved that. It felt like she played it safe and stuck with the tame script which made her highly unmemorable, bar two little scenes. She worked well with Bateman and did her best but with her comedic prowess, you expected something a little better.

Adam Driver (What If?) was a much needed comedy injection. His lines were hardly comedy gold but his delivery and style managed to get a smile out of me. His relationship with Bateman made for an entertaining and endearing one.

Connie Britton was wasted in her role. A shame after her turn in Friday Night Lights and Nashville. A nothingy character that didn’t really add anything to the mix. Nothing more than a psychiatrist MILF that Adam Driver got to show off to the family.

Speaking of nothingy role, Timothy Olyphant come on down! Absolutely gutted after his terrific performance in Justified. His character was involved in a naff subplot that didn’t really go anywhere. This is what infuriated me with TIWILY. There were so many missed opportunities with the characters and the cast to make more drama and better story lines.

I know that this was adapted from a Jonathan Tropper novel. I can’t say how faithful the film is to its source material but it certainly hasn’t made me want to read it.

Some of the gags were just plain terrible. I mean the recurring joke of the little toddler moving his potty around to poop all over the house was just not funny. The little toddler himself actually was hilarious. His improvisation with some of the cast was brilliant. They didn’t expect him to retort back. More of that would have been perfect.

But potty-ing (I know it’s not a word. I’m not wasting any time finding another) around the house and flinging poo? Awww. No. AWWW – Are you kidding me? Put your potty in the bathroom, boy. Jeez.

Anyhoo . . . The sibling rivalry and tension wasn’t badly done. Everyone can relate to it in some capacity and the moments in which they look back and experience the old nostalgia make for some nice moments. One of the gags that should have been branded as just plain lazy actually entertained me.

A scenario involving some marijuana and a synagogue classroom actually allowed for a comical encounter between Bateman, Driver and Corey Stoll (Homeland). It was great to see Stoll have a bigger role and he doesn’t do a bad job as the stubborn older brother.

Ben Schwartz was incredibly annoying as the hyperactive Rabbi Charles Grodner or Boner to everybody else. Delightful. A guest that gets a giggle and then overstays his welcome . . . in almost every scene. Not even the (usually) hilarious Kathryn Hahn (Step Brothers/We’re The Millers) could save the day with her kooky momma hell bent on getting preggers. It was weak.

And Jane Fonda . . . Apart from having fake pumped up breasts to cue inevitable breast feeding gags, she was highly unmemorable. In fact, there was a bizarre revelation that occurs nearer the end of the film which doesn’t fit in at all. It didn’t work and just completely unnecessary. It was nothing more than a lazy plot device to stop the family scrapping. The only bit of real heated drama that got me interested.

Dax Sheppard (Without A Paddle) played the two-timing sleazebag well. But is this the only character that he can play? And to be honest, when he was first introduced with the Howard Stern DJ spiel, it wasn’t funny. Just annoying as hell. It made a change for Abigail Spencer (Suits) to play a more meatier role as the cheating wife. But the story line was so hammy and predictable, it never really hit the heights that you’d hope.

Rose Byrne (Damages) and Bateman had good chemistry but their love subplot was so generic and corny that I really couldn’t care. Tropper left their little romance so open as a feeble attempt to prevent the predictable outcome but just made it flat and uninteresting.

To be honest, this film only did one thing. Well, two. Waste my time. And make me realise how good August: Osage County was. If you want a good family drama, then I’d invest your time in that instead.

There is the odd moment to be had. One chuckle here, one little heart plucker there. But memorable and entertaining? Quotable and re-watchable? Meh.

2/5

THE MAZE RUNNER REVIEW

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AMAZE-ING?! Hardly but it did do something I didn’t expect. It surprised me.

In case that sounded familiar, I think I might have nicked a Monsters University quote. In fact, I totally did.

Anyway, here we are. Another bestselling teen novel that Hollywood can adapt and churn into a million dollar franchise. Because that’s worked for every one, right?

BUT Hollywood have finally found one that actually intrigued me, caught my attention and kept it (for most of the film). AND for a moment, I actually wanted to see more. After months of complaining about the endless teen novel adaptations overfilling the box office; Ender’s Game, Divergent, The Giver, Mortal Instruments and now The Maze Runner, someone has finally listened.

Thank you, Wes Ball (Beginners).

What helped this; A talented cast, a good story and a director who wanted to try and do something with both. It’s not perfect by any means but not bad. Not bad at all.

So what’s it all about? Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they’re all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow “runners” for a shot at escape.

The opening throws you straight into the mix. We are left just as confused (unless you’ve read the book) and disoriented as our amnesiac protagonist as he tries to piece together everything. Why the maze? Why just boys? Where are the chicks? (What?).

The special effects are fantastic. The Grievers (the creatures that roamed the Maze) were brilliant. A demented mish-mash of the aliens from Signs and the mechanical spiders from Wild Wild West.

The maze running sequences were suspenseful, pacey and brilliantly executed. The drama around the community was a little predictable but with the cast at Ball’s disposal, it made it all a little more bearable and very watchable. The inevitable macho stand-off between O’Brien’s Thomas and Will Poulter’s (We’re The Millers) Gally was cliched as hell with their heated egos clashing in a game of “Let’s see who can push each over”. Manly . . . Okay.

Poulter is certainly developing well and mastering the American accent with aplomb. Funny to think he was the little lad in Son of Rambow.

His constant head-butting with Thomas still made for good viewing. To think, I only remembered O’Brien as that sarcastic guy from The Internship. However, he delivers a charismatic and solid performance as Thomas. Which certainly helps when you are the leading man.

Aml Ameen must have been a little annoyed at how his character Alby was treated. It was almost comical. You’ll know what I mean when you see it. Thomas Brodie-Sangster (the annoying kid from Love Actually or that annoying kid from Game of Thrones) played his supporting role quite well and didn’t struggle too much with the accent.

The pace generally zipped along quite well. Throwing in a new development from one of the community members or from the maze itself when things seemed to hit a lull.

The alluring Kaya Scodelario (Skins) certainly got tempers rising (Not like that!) and started getting some of our questions answered. However, I felt her inital entry was a little corny with the inevitable “It’s a girl” and “How do we deal with one?” gags being a little tedious. But this is a teen blockbuster and a 12A.

Now I haven’t read the book and can’t say how faithful it was to the source material. But it certainly piqued my interest to have a butcher’s.

Considering the film had that 12A certificate hovering around it, it wasn’t afraid to make some brave choices. The concluding moments were quite dark. A couple of things happened that even the old cynic didn’t anticipate after the reasonably sinister but tame tone that this film first promised.

The finale *POSSIBLE SPOILERS* inevitably leaves it all open for another. The final scenes were baffling and abrupt. At first I thought Patricia Clarkson’s (The Green Mile) talking head scientist was a little nothingy and unnecessary. How wrong was I after those last few moments. BUT for all my questions, I actually wanted to see what the next installment will bring. Something that hasn’t really happened for quite a few of the other “teen bestseller blockbusters”.

Now I hope that the next part will give us more of the same BUT not the exact same (I will keep that as cryptic as possible) or else my patience will be tested. BUT for a first installment, it set the tone, set the characters and hit the ground running (What? Come on).

Suspenseful, well acted, a little corny but a pleasant surprise. Run on down to the nearest cinema and give it a go.

A strong 3/5

MILLION DOLLAR ARM REVIEW

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Disney + Don Draper = one easygoing sports movie.

Jon Hamm takes the helm as J.B. Bernstein, a sports agent who stages an unconventional recruitment strategy to get talented Indian cricket players to play Major League Baseball. From the opening speech with JB attempting to sign a major player to his firm, the pitch and delivery just reminded me of Mad Men and how much I will miss it after next year. It felt like a what if scenario. What if Don Draper left advertising and became a sports agent? Hamm has proven yet again that he can take the lead and deliver a charismatic performance.

I fear that this could be the beginning of Hamm being typecast to play more Draper-esque roles. But it’s early days and for some people, certain actors will always be certain TV or film characters. For now, it works. He carries the film where the story may drag or dip into familiar cliched territory. I mean at least this story was worth telling. I didn’t realise that this had only happened recently. The fact that JB channel flicks to Susan Boyle’s Britain’s Got Talent audition. A perfect metaphor for judging a book by its cover. The very lesson this film aspires to teach.

Alan Arkin is . . . pretty much playing Alan Arkin. Sleeping, moaning and whining about the curry he ate the night before. Some of his quips were funny but he has played this character before and so much better in Little Miss Sunshine. He definitely has been typecast. He grumbles and has the odd liner but disappears all too quickly to make a good impression. He inevitably reappears and justifies his character’s relevance. Only just. Bill Paxton played his part well and to be honest, there wasn’t enough of him but this isn’t his story. But my God, he has aged. The years have suddenly caught up with him. I know he was probably made up to be a little older for the role but yikes. Anyway, the main story is on our three Indian protagonists.

Pitobash as the eccentric Amit was brilliant. Scene stealing at every moment. From taking every little phrase literally;

Arkin: “He’s got juice”

Pitobash: “You want juice. I get you juice”

To his documentary film making catching all the things JB wouldn’t want in a PR video, he always brings a smile. Shuraj Sharma as Rinku with a unique stance for pitching baseballs and Madhur Mittal (Slumdog Millionaire) as Dinesh play the parts brilliantly. At first, Lake Bell’s (What Happens In Vegas) character of the hot doctor lodger that rents JB’s outhouse bungalow was a little annoying and so predictable. However, Bell and Hamm manage to convey enough chemistry to stop it from spoiling too much of the fun, even if the outcome is so obvious. Aasif Mandvi (The Internship) was wasted in his role, bar one good joke about recruiting the only three Indians who can’t stand cricket. This did make it all the more interesting that the very pitchers they are looking for are field hockey and track athletes.

To be honest, the length didn’t really bother me. I normally complain about the wavering length and at over two hours, I thought there may have been more moments in which I would be glancing at my watch. Not so! The opening may have been slow burning but there was enough easy going humour, charm and story to get away with it. Director Craig Gillespie catches the hustle and bustle of Bombay perfectly and has a cheeky poke at their politics. “We don’t bribe. We simply bypass the busy system by offering a little money”, offers Darshan Jariwala’s incompetent but loveable aide Vivek.

The first hour allowed time to be spent on the character’s backgrounds and upbringings which gave them a more rounded dimension. It also allows for a compelling contrast when the lads are put up in a hotel and are lost in translation with an elevator and escalator. I expected a little more tension with Dinesh’s family with his strict father but an unexpected heart to heart surprised me. I also feared that the film would baffle me with baseball statistics and terms as I’m not a baseball (or sports in general) fan but they use only a few slang words which are easily explained.

However, it’s funny, easy going with a nice uplifting, if slightly abrupt, ending. A somewhat mish mesh of Jerry Maguire and Slumdog Millionaire. The cast work brilliantly together as their fractious relationship and unexpected union are tested as they work against the odds to prove everybody, and themselves, wrong that nothing is impossible. Awww. Nice stuff.

3.5/5 Certainly one of the better ones. Not without its imperfections but worth a watch.

Delivery Man Review

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Well, it didn’t deliver as many laughs as I expected (What? Tut away) but beneath it’s surface is something much more and better than I could have expected.

An easygoing, lighthearted comedy drama with some actual acting from leading man Vince Vaughan, which we all knew he could do but had just forgotten.

Vaughan plays David, an incompetent meat truck delivery driver who finds out he’s fathered 533 children (what?! That’s right) through anonymous donations to a fertility clinic 20 years ago. Now he must decide whether or not to come forward when 142 of them file a lawsuit to reveal his identity . . . and you thought you had a bad day.

It all starts off very slow and by the book, setting the usual slacker spiel with David trying to set up a weed farm in his apartment, clocking up massive debts, as well as forgetting and messing up deliveries.

His partner Emma, played straight faced by Coby Smulders (yes, she does. What? Don’t judge) announces she is pregnant and does not want him to be a part of the child’s life. Smulders (of How I Met Your Mother fame) is wasted (not literally drunk) in this movie, playing such a minor passive supporting role. Anyone could have played her.

A highly unfunny set up and surprisingly serious, which was contrary to the impression I got from the trailers. However, it soon picks up once Damian Young’s (Who? Bill from Californication! Still who? Never mind. Watch Californication) Attorney Williams drops the bombshell.

A ridiculous but intriguing premise. It turns out this is a remake of a French comedy, Starbuck. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it but I am very tempted to see it to make comparisons. A funny, if drawn out, overreaction from Vaughan (No Soy David!) soon leads to him doing some reconnaissance on the 142 children, keeping his anonymity in check, leading to a good movie.

As soon as David seeks advice from his useless lawyer friend Brett (played by the brilliant Chris Pratt), the jokes come in thick and fast, especially when Brett introduces the joys of parenting with his monstrous children. Vaughan and Pratt work well off each other and makes up for a stuttering start and once the kids come into it, there comes genuine humour and good drama.

Considering this is a Hollywood remake, Delivery Man wasn’t afraid to branch out, providing a variety of different outcomes and, more specifically, children that David has procreated and the situations in which David attempts to be their “guardian angel”.

Some situations are funny, Vaughan relentlessly attempting to get his lifeguard son to save him and one of his daughters parading herself in skimpy clothes for blokes to ogle (yeah, it’s a word. I’m bringing it back). Other scenarios were surprising, one (without spoiling) was done very well.

The supporting cast were actually quite good including such talented up and comers as Josh Raynor (who will soon feature in the new Transformers movie) and Britt Robertson (she’s been around, you could say and not in that way, well who knows. Anyway, you may know her from The Secret Circle and Under the Dome). 

Once we get introduced to David’s family, at first irritating, you soon warm to them as home truths are shared, providing some engrossing scenes. I don’t know where the critics have got the notion that Vince Vaughan has lost it and should give up.

I actually enjoyed The Internship, it may be have been OTT and ridiculously corny but it was funny. The most important factor in a comedy. Well you would have thought so. Vaughan brings a vulnerability and sincerity to David’s character. He didn’t really scream and pull stupid faces through this and he actually acted and acted well.

Apart from a slow start, the film was quite enjoyable. The only other hindrance was the introduction of Viggo (Adam Chanler-Barat), one of David’s sons. At first, funny as he battles to find anything in common. It soon goes on for too long and just gets a little weird.

Apart from that . . .

At times, endearing and engaging, it can also be incredibly corny and a little predictable but overall, the film delivers a pizza that has a really overdone cheese topping but get underneath it and it’s better than you think and quite enjoyable.

3/5

Currently ranks #44 out of 131

FROZEN REVIEW

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Br-br-br-brilliant. A hugely entertaining, easygoing and fun family romp. Disney have done it yet again.

Before the feature even began, we were awarded with a John Lasseter produced Mickey Mouse short, “Get A Horse”. An elongated if beautifully animated short mixing classic animation with the new, showing how far Disney have progressed without discrediting their origins.

Enjoyable, but I ironically said,  “Bit old for cartoons”. While waiting for a Disney film to start. They went old school. It made a change after seeing Disney break away from that mould for so long. Their latest efforts up to Frozen were pretty hit and miss. The animation was incredible and stunning to watch. Unfortunately, I watched this in 2D but you could see where the 3D would have stood out. It definitely would have been worth the investment.

So quickly, what’s it about, GO! Princess Elsa (Idina Menzel) can create snow, and as a child she accidentally injures her sister Anna (Kristen Bell). She tries to control her gift BUT when Elsa’s power is revealed at her coronation; she flees in panic, plunging the kingdom into eternal winter. Anna must go after her and find a way to undo the spell with a little help from her crazy friends.

Now, I’ll get the nasty nit picking out of the way. Firstly, the plot had more holes in it than a sponge. The most interesting question being; how did Elsa got her powers when everyone else didn’t? But then again, people could pull the Hermione card on me. BUT even she couldn’t shoot ice out of her hands. But never mind, that’s being picky.

I had to question the whirlwind romance of Anna and Prince Hans (Santino Fontana) after a few minutes of meeting. BUT there was a point to that. Did I detect a little dig from Disney themselves? Poking fun at all the fairy tales.

The only problem with doing these movies is that there is only so much you can do with the princess in danger story line. There is always that high level of predictability. BUT as long as the journey is engaging and entertaining enough then who cares?

Congratulations Frozen. The songs were catchy and sung very well. ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman?’ was stuck in my head. That didn’t help me in a shop selling car parts but I digress. And ‘In Summer’ sung by the scene stealing talking snowman Olaf (voiced brilliantly by Josh Gad) was hilarious. A naive snowman who can’t wait to get his tan on.

The supporting cast was fantastic. It helped that they had a great bunch of characters to work with. Some did get lost in the mix which was a shame. Alan Tudyk’s Duke of Weaseltown (WESSELTON!) delivered with aplomb from his flapping hair piece to his crazy dancing. However, he soon became a pretty passive and naff baddie.

Olaf and Sven the reindeer were the standout characters. Their bickering and unique friendship kept the tone nice and light. It was great to see Josh Gad get a bigger platform to show off his comedy shtick after promising performances in The Internship and Thanks for Sharing. His comic delivery was fantastic.

The wonderful Kristen Bell provided her nerdy spiel, bringing a fully rounded character to Anna, that was just too crazy to hate. Yoo hoo! Oh how could I forget Oaken’s (Chris Williams) Swedish Trading Post with his Big Summer Blowout. That skit had me in stitches.

It may have its flaws and we may have seen it all before but Disney have still got it and know to entertain. Another mystical family movie of a musical to add to the ranks.

Stay frosty, Disney!

3.5/5