*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 She played the withdrawn but resourceful Casey well.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)

*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

ENTOURAGE MOVIE REVIEW

 

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The boys are back but bigger and better than ever? I can answer that in one simple word.

VICTORY!

My mates were always going on about this show. 8 series and a Golden Globe. It must be doing something right. With trailers for the movie popping up left, right and centre, I thought let’s give it go.

4 series boxsets later and I’m hooked. It’s not as if viewing the series is a MUST for newbies or non-Entourage fans. BUT what I love about Entourage is that it is so easy to get into. A simple premise. Four friends trying to make it in Hollywood.

You get a sense of the guys within the first few minutes. There are a few in-jokes from the series and recurring characters that do pop up (Thank you Mr Ellin) that might skim over the heads of the noobs. BUT you can still connect the dots.

It got straight to business and it felt like they never left. The only difference is that Turtle isn’t fat. The lads were on form. The celebrity cameos are endless. The story . . . Well, let’s forget about that, shall we?

So what happens this time? Movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), together with his boys Eric (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny (Kevin Dillon) are back in business with super agent-turned-studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) on a risky project that will serve as Vince’s directorial debut.

Just when things seemed to be going so well. Vince has to put a spanner in the works yet again. Over-spending budgets, inflating costs, manic financiers. This won’t be a walk in the park.

Grenier played Vince with aplomb but, this time round, he seemed to be very much in the background. Strange considering he is the main focal point. BUT how many times can we watch him pull crazy hot models? This time, it’s none other than the Blurred Lines music video pin up Emily Ratajkowski.

Turtle’s love story with Ronda Rousey may have seemed like filler to break up the main story line but the pair had enough chemistry to make it watchable. I haven’t really rated Rousey’s acting in the past but the MMA maestro won me over. She even stole my heart. Maybe because she was able to let her guard down and poke fun at herself. A misunderstanding with Turtle at a dinner date leads to him making the ultimate apology in the Octagon. Brilliant.

Dillon. Ah man. He was always the scene stealer for me as Vince’s half brother Johnny Drama. Forever lurking in his shadow. Desperate to make his own mark. Will Drama have his day? His one liners were snappy. His warped outlook on life and crazy face pulling delivered the laughs yet again.

Connolly finally got to lighten up as Vin’s moody manager E. The will-they-won’t-they? rift between him and Sloane (Emmanuelle Chriqui) seemed a little old hat (For old and new fans). Mainly because you always knew what the outcome was going to be. I was a little annoyed with E’s subplot because more could have been made out of it. A few crazy flings led to an incredibly awkward lunch date (Without spoiling too much) but it was resolved way too easily for my liking.

BUT there is one character. One monstrous personality that the guys would always fall short to every time. The man, the legend. Ari Gold. Piven was perfect. The guy must be tapped. Fiery, frantic and flipping mental. Every time he was involved, sh*t went down! His put downs, his tantrums, his banter with E. I was in stitches. His breakdown during a therapy session (Another one?!) had me howling!

His ongoing battles with movie stars, writers, studio heads and executives were always the biggest highlights for me. And after 8 series, you’d think it would be getting old. BUT nope! They still got it.

The cameos were crazy. It really is a case of blink and you will miss them. Anything from Liam Neeson’s sardonic drive by, Arnie Hammer’s pyscho greeting, Kelsey Grammer’s miserable marriage counselling to Pharrell Williams. The list goes on.

I couldn’t believe Billy Bob Thornton and Hayley Joel “I can see freakin’ dead people” Osmont were in this as Ari’s crazy Texan film financiers. Osmont has grown up (Obviously). Big, bearded and a bad ass. He was a real piece of work in this. Bravo. Not enough of Thornton for my liking in a rather subdued role.

The claims of Entourage being a sexist fantasy was a little much. Had people forgotten that despite Ari’s outrageous ego, his wife Mrs Ari (Perrey Reeves) still rules the roost. Constance Zimmer’s Dana Gordon is in a highly influential role in the business that Ari desperately needs. An area he never could crack.

The girls, the cars, the mansions. It’s nothing I wouldn’t have expected from the four guys from Queens. It’s not as if the ruthless side of the industry wasn’t highlighted in Ari’s endless confrontations with the boards, stars and agents.

It was never thought-provoking drama. It was always an easygoing glossy comedy with celebrities poking fun at themselves. Some might say lazy, pretentious even. BUT I thought it was fun. It really was just a feature length episode. And one of the better ones.

I liked all the little references and a return of a fan favourite *COUGH* LLOYD! *COUGH* (No, not Billy Walsh. Thankfully that mad cretin was very much in the background) Rex Lee was back and on fire as he gets ready for his big day. In the words of Ari, “OH GOD!” Also, no spoilers but do hang on during the credits for a little treat.

The film certainly wasn’t perfect. The plot was wafer thin and things did get a little too serious in the middle slackening the pace of what had been a snappy comedy. Emmanuelle Chriqui wasn’t in it enough (What? I liked her character) BUT it was everything I’d hoped. An absolute riot.

A side note to the fans, it seems to be all wrapped up. BUT I’m still not quite ready for it to go. It would be a major VICTORY if Ellin would consider a sequel. And if they stay at this standard, more please!

3.5/5

THE LAST DAYS ON MARS REVIEW

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The . . . last film they should do about Mars. Oh my days. The next contender for worst film of 2014 and we’re only into April. Shambolic. The pain endured watching this space turd was like having a xenomorph burst out of my chest and that still would have been more entertaining than this drivel.

Slow, tension less, shoddily acted, more holes than a sponge. This film should be jettisoned into space. Okay, rant over. Better? Better. It is such a shame that an underrated cast have the opportunity to shine in a perfect B movie-esque vehicle and miss at every angle. They could have done a shot for shot remake of Alien and they still would have messed it up. If it wasn’t for the fact it was funded by the BFI and Irish Film Board, this definitely wouldn’t have made it to the big screen and rightly so. The fact it’s only featuring at my cinema for five days says it all.

The premise (if you can it that) is basically; with hours before disembarking back home, a group of astronaut explorers succumb one by one to a mysterious and terrifying force while collecting specimens on Mars.

Liev Schreiber (X Men Origins: Wolverine, The Manchurian Candidate) – a highly underrated actor – grunts and grimaces through the dreadful script, desperately attempting to bring something to his wooden character, only to come off with a panto performance. His face pretty much shows the distaste. He looks like he knew how bad this movie was. Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense and soon to feature in the Swarnie macho movie Sabotage) is the most realistic and interesting character. Only because of the fact she was the only one who had common sense. Scientists trained to endure the conditions of space and creating ecological systems but can’t run away when their mutated colleague is trying to bash them with a hammer.

The opening starts off slow and I expected a tense build up brewing into a crazy finale but no! Every possible scene where a little tension could be created. They crush it. Skimming across or revealing the dark shadow before any suspense. All the clichéd one liners (We’ll be home soon!, You’re not going to die! And so on). The acting varied from bland to OTT. I mean *POSSIBLE SPOILERS* at one point the crew are screaming about their colleague falling down an apparent precipice and declaring him dead. No one checked how deep it was or if he was dead or alive by simply calling out his name. Nope let’s go straight to flimsy scuffs and yelling at each other. Terrific.

Elias Koteas (The Haunting in Connecticut, Let Me In) was wasted. Anyone could have played him. Romola Garai (BBC’s The Hour and Legacy) was nice to look at but incredibly dull, which was a shame as there was some chemistry between her and Schreiber. Johnny Harris (The Fades, This is England ’86) was disappointing. Typically shady and dark. An unexpected twist made a momentary shock before realising that it had no point and was completely stupid. Schreiber attempting to fight off the alien zombie things was laughable. “Fucking hell, stay down”. The make up on the aliens were awful. They looked more like those slave zombies from the Mummy movies. The special effects with the space ships and the stations was actually very good and great to look at.

Also *WARNING AGAIN* Schreiber’s character – for those who have had the displeasure of viewing this. The endless flashing back and forth wondering why he freaked out in dark spaces, only to find out something happened on the space station years before and he got locked in a pod. Bearing in mind, he was crammed in a tight space fixing parts and those buggies weren’t spacious. Absolutely stupid and ridiculous.

The last ten minutes brought the violence and a little bit of gore but only kept you intrigued for a minor moment before it’s let down by hammy acting, naff visuals and an inevitable and tragically shit ending. Shoddy acting, naff characters, no tension, throw in some recycled plot lines off naff B movies. The only thing it had going for it was the visual design but no matter how good it looked, it was still dire. AVOID. Even Mission to Mars was miles better than this. If you want to invest in a sci-fi movie involving Mars THEN GET TO THE INTERNET and watch Total Recall. Hell even the remake. Also the film is called Last Days on Mars and yet when we join them, they are 19 hours away from going home so surely THE LAST DAY ON MARS. Couldn’t even get the title right. 1/5

Currently ranks #163 out of 163!