*NEW* MONEY MONSTER REVIEW *NEW*

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For a drama tackling financial woe, it came off more as a tame beast BUT still watchable, none the same.

Financial TV host Lee Gates (George Clooney) and his producer Patty (Julia Roberts) are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor (Jack O’Connell) takes over their studio.

I originally avoided this at the cinema. The trailers did nothing for me. After the dense but hard hitting arrival of The Big Short, I thought this was going to be a cheap rip off jumping on the band wagon.

BUT old Ma and Pa told Mr Over Critical to give it a go AND . . .

After 15 minutes, I was ready to switch it off. I know there are OTT financial shows like Money Monster in real life BUT watching Clooney strut around a news studio with a golden top hat to a bit of R ‘n’ B did nothing to win me over.

It tried to be like The Newsroom. The script desperate to deliver that quick pitter-patter that only Aaron Sorkin can master.

I know Clooney’s arrogant protagonist was supposed to be smug BUT I really didn’t like him.

Roberts was on the side lines far too much and a gag involving erectile dysfunction cream among the crew almost had me change the channel there and then.

It was all a little too disjointed. The film kept flicking back and forth to random places all over the world with no explanation. I was struggling to keep up.

However . . .

Once Jack O’Connell made his introduction, my interest was finally peaked and what ensued was a highly watchable and engaging little thriller.

I’m not the biggest fan of the Skins star. Don’t ask me why, there’s just something about him. BUT his performance was fantastic. He stole the show and once Lee (Clooney) realised the abuse of his own power, things really got going.

It was quite tense as he tried to negotiate with the volatile Kyle (O’Connell) on live TV. Clad in a vest of Semtex with the world watching. The questions piling up as the news team tried to seek out any information on their captor.

I was relieved when Roberts was brought into the fold. Working that Ocean’s Eleven magic with Clooney yet again.

It wasn’t long before we discovered that Kyle had lost all his money investing in the wrong company. All thanks to a certain TV show. BUT his anger wasn’t just at his own loss. It was at the very corporation who got away with it.

Millions of stockholder’s hard earned cash lost because of a ‘glitch’. No explanation. Nothing.

As the mystery unfolded, Lee faced a crisis of conscience (making Clooney a lot more tolerable and likeable). It was interesting how the tide changed from a single search for answers to a quest for justice.

The supporting cast delivered somewhat of a mixed bag.

Caitriona Balfe’s (Outlander) performance left a little to be desired. Her Irish/American twang didn’t help matters and I’m not sure whether it was the lines or her delivery BUT she made the character a lot flatter than she should have been.

A shame considering how instrumental her character became as the team discovered more than they bargained for.

Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito was completely wasted in his role as Captain Powell. Anyone could have played him. Emily Meade (NERVE) made more of an impression in those five minutes as Kyle’s pregnant girlfriend.

The dumbing down of the financial guff made it easily accessible and understandable BUT still tapped into that Big Short territory. The political speeches aimed at the big wigs were a little hammy in parts.

I say big wigs. The whole of Wall Street personified in the form of McNulty from The Wire. Sorry, Walt Camby. A greedy CEO with no S.O.U.L. Dominic West played the part of the sleazy exec well.

It may have been a little OTT as Lee brought the show right to the ruthless crook’s doorstep BUT it still hit home.

Raising valid points and questioning how these corporations could play with people’s money with such ease. No restrictions, no regulations. Shocking.

Despite a stuttering opener, Money Monster overcome its hurdles to deliver a satisfying and emotional finale as everything came to a head with a long awaited confrontation that pieced together all the disjointed scenes (That were bugging the hell out of me).

Worth a gander if you’ve got 90 minutes to kill.

3/5 (Just)

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*NEW* ASSASSIN’S CREED 3D REVIEW *NEW*

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For the love of all that is holy, AVOID this movie.

Another failed video game adaptation bites the dust.

When Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin; he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassins society.

We’re only a couple of weeks into the new year and I already have a nominee for worst film of 2017.

On paper, I honestly thought we had a winner. Oh how wrong I was. What is it about video game movies? Why are they so bad?

They have the fan base, the concept, a plot. All packaged and ready to go and yet it still doesn’t cut the mustard.

I’m a big fan of the AC franchise. It was a crazy premise. BUT when you’re jumping off towers and free-running up buildings while disposing of targets with cool gadgets, who cared?

BUT somehow this dull and meandering affair managed to make that concept seem even more far-fetched and uninteresting.

From the opening 10 minutes, you knew what you were in for. A disappointing, disjointed and poorly CGI’d movie.

Now credit where it’s due. The writers actually kept to the story line. The only problem was that (as a gamer) those were the bits I’d skip. If it didn’t have anything to do with training or the Assassins, that START button was getting a hammering.

It didn’t help that it took itself too far seriously. Cal’s drawn out back story didn’t really set the tempo. And that was the problem, it never really got going!

His mother was bumped off (for no valid reason). We had mindless exposition and dull dialogue as Fassbender did his utmost to keep things watchable.

I still think he was the right choice for the role. I just wish he had better material. I was 30 minutes in and already nodding off!

Even when Cal was picked up by the sinister Illuminati-esque Abstergo Organisation, it was hard going. They managed to make all the fun stuff with the Animus a bloody chore.

A talented cast squandered. Not even Jeremy Irons and Marion Cotillard could save the day. Cotillard was wasted in her role. Anyone could have played her.

Irons did fare a little better and could have been an excellent adversary. BUT he was pushed into the background far too much. And by the time he was brought back for the shambolic finale, he was nothing more than a quick witted panto villain.

Charlotte Rampling was completely unnecessary as the leader of the Illuminati . . . Or whatever she was supposed to be. Brendan Gleeson actually looked like he was on drugs in his meaningless cameo.

There was one thing that bugged the hell out of me the most. What’s the title of the film? ASSASSIN’S CREED. So where the hell were the ASSASSINS?!

The mixed CGI effects and frantic camera work may have been disorienting to watch BUT, at least, it was entertaining.

When the assassins were able to do their thing, it was watchable. The rooftop chase was exactly like the game play. A real shame that we had only two or three sequences. Not enough wall sprinting and hay jumping for my liking.

The 3D was a waste of time. It definitely wasn’t worth the money for bits of wood and the occasional arrow flying out at you. Dreadful.

Every time that blasted eagle soared across Adam Arkapaw’s horribly grainy 15th Century Madrid, it just reminded me how much of an eye sore the visual effects really were.

Even the infamous “leap of faith” was a massive let down. It was either disrupted by a quick flick back to Cal messing around with the Animus or hampered down with blurry CGI.

It failed to impress on both fronts with the present AND the Assassin stuff. Throwing in characters you couldn’t care about.

There was a really flimsy and cliched relationship between the assassins Aguilar and Maria (Ariane Labed) that went no where. No memorable villain. Just a stocky armour-clad henchman and a lechy monk with a really bad bald piece.

Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire) and his highly unmemorable bunch of Abstergo inmates were a complete waste of time. All they did was moan at Cal and waffle on about the Apple. A stupid relic that can end free will. Yawn.

IT JUST DIDN’T WORK. By the time the closing credits rolled, I felt as empty and angry as the protagonist.

And once Justin Kurzel’s name flashed across the screen, the die was cast. Reuniting with Fassbender and Cotillard to fail with another adaptation. First Shakespeare, now one of the highest grossing video game franchises in the last decade.

Third time’s the charm? I wouldn’t bank on it.

The cast did their best BUT they were always going to fall short. Poorly executed, dreadful CGI, a meandering pace makes this one to AVOID.

The only good thing to come out of this was that it made me want to revisit the old games.

2/5 (Just)

*NEW* FINDING DORY REVIEW *NEW*

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Was it worth the wait? Should they have bothered?

The friendly but forgetful blue tang fish begins a search for her long-lost parents, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way.

Awww. 13 years (That’s right. 13 years?!) have passed since the first outing and surprisingly only a year has passed in the story line but either way I can happily say that it felt like they never left.

Despite being ripped by family members and work colleagues, I was happy to see that I wasn’t the only 20 something looking forward to this. BUT did it deliver? In a nutshell, yes. Anyone who says otherwise, OFF! OFF! OFF!

Of course before the movie even started, we had an adorable little animated short about Piper. The baby bird who must learn to fend for itself and overcome the trauma of the tide. Delightful. Easing us in for one of the most anticipated sequels of the year.

A heart-warming opening explored Dory’s past as we delved into her childhood and her battle with short term memory loss. The subject matter was handled delicately as Dory’s loving parents try and support her condition. I loved how it filled in the gaps and explained the origins of that annoyingly catchy “Just Keep Swimming” song.

We follow young Dory as she loses her parents and her memory of them altogether. Wandering the ocean for years, disoriented and confused. That is until she crosses paths with a raving mad clown fish desperate to find his son.

The plot line may have been a complete retread of the original with Dory getting lost, abducted and thrown into a strange aquarium but it was a journey I was still happy to take. What Andrew Stanton and the Pixar co may have lacked in story; they delivered with humour, charm and heart.

It was great to see the old faces and I did crack a little smile when Dory, Marlin and Nemo surfed with Crush and the gang. However, there were several faces that I was disappointed NOT to see make an appearance (*cough* Hellooo Bruceee *cough*).

For the hardcore Pixar fans; I couldn’t believe there wasn’t even a John Ratzenberger cameo! The man whose vocal talents had featured in almost every one. Until now.

The aquarium world may have been a little confined (Pardon the expression) BUT at least we were rewarded with new faces that stole the show; Becky the dozy bird, Bailey the bumbling Beluga Whale (Ty Burrell – Modern Family), Hank the cantankerous Octopus (voiced to perfection by Ed O’Neill – Married with Children/Modern Family) and, my personal favourites, the sloth-like seals Fluke and Rudder (voiced by none other than The Wire’s Idris Elba and Dominic West).

Every new supporting character helped bring some much needed fun and energy to a highly predictable story line from Fluke and Rudder’s rock rivalry with simple Gerald to a depressed sea clam in need of some company. Burrell was hysterical as Bailey. His attempt at echolocation had me in stitches.

Marlin and Nemo were pushed into the background a lot more than I’d hoped or expected. I knew this was always going to be Dory’s story BUT Brooks’ mad ramblings and whimpering were missed.

However, DeGeneres was on fine form yet again as our leading lady. From the random stories to her hysterical whale babble. You really felt for Dory as she battled the memories and flashbacks. Desperate to reunite with her family once and for all.

The flashbacks were insightful (To begin with) but they soon overstayed their welcome and got a little repetitive. Reiterating the same old points by the closing act.

I liked the dynamic between Hank and Dory. They were a great duo. Hank’s resilience to resist Dory’s charm, as he focused on his mission to avoid returning to the ‘filthy ocean life’, was the perfect tonic.

A couple of the whale talking skits may have gone on a bit but it didn’t spoil the fun. The touch pool sequence was like something out of a horror film with all the little sea creatures hiding and clinging on for dear life. An unexpected cameo and an underwater pipe sonar sequence delivered a brilliant Alien homage.

The chase sequences (especially a high speed truck chase) may have took the biscuit BUT it was far too silly and fun for me to gripe about too much. There were also some genuinely touching moments. BUT yet it didn’t quite pluck the heart strings or grab me as much as the original did.

It was always going to be a tall order. Especially after Pixar outdone themselves with Toy Story 3 (I’m ignoring Planes and Cars on the sequel debate). BUT it was still good fun and easygoing with a mad bunch of characters. A nice post credits sequence subdued some of the little niggles that were bugging me.

Pixar delivered a wonderful message about coping with mental disabilities and still managed to work their magic to make this miserable movie moaner look like this for a couple of hours . . .

gerald

3.5/5

*NEW* GHOSTBUSTERS 3D REVIEW *NEW*

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Who you gonna call? Someone else.

Well that was what I thought I was going to say.

Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), and subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) band together to stop the otherworldly threat.

When I heard that Paul Feig was taken on the iconic spookfest, I had mixed feelings. Female ghostbusters left me unconvinced. NOT because of the women in question or the fact that the movie was being rebooted with women. I just wasn’t sure that Feig’s style would suit.

The original Ghostbusters delivered surreal humour that was almost deadpan. Despite watching our heroes fight a 50 foot marshmallow man. Wiig and McCarthy have always been in your face and OTT. Funny BUT different. Not always a bad thing BUT was it Ghostbusters?

I loved The Heat and Spy. Hell, I even enjoyed Bridesmaids after being badgered to watch it numerous times. All high grossing comedies of the last decade. BUT with a 12A rating and a stab at taking on a classic; without the shouty OTT and crude humour, could the film deliver?

In a nutshell, meh. The creepy opening was certainly promising. It may not give the little ‘uns nightmares like the New York librarian. Shussshh – BUT it was still pretty freaky. The visual effects were quite good and I could finally say for once that the 3D was worth checking out.

It was silly fun having the plasma rays shoot out of the screen and the ghosts screaming and flying at you. BUT great effects does not a good movie make.

Kristen Wiig was an engaging lead and played the uptight physics professor Erin well. BUT we had to listen to some humdrum spiel about her tenure and an old spat with McCarthy’s Abby before the gang united.

McCarthy channelled her inner Ackroyd and played a much more subdued role. A change BUT one that didn’t quite deliver on the laughs as much as I hoped. The rapport between her and Wiig was hit and miss. Funny in one exchange, drawn out the next.

I couldn’t believe the Twitter bashing Leslie Jones got. She was hilarious and probably the most memorable out of the gang for me; “That’s a room full of nightmares . . . Yep, I ain’t going in there”. McKinnon didn’t a bad job as the eccentric Jillian BUT she got on my nerves by the frantic finale.

Chris Hemsworth (Thor) stole the show as the dim-witted no glass glasses wearing receptionist. He came out with some random one liners and played an absolute pillock. It was even funny watching him evade Wiig’s advances.

BUT for every good scene or joke, there were a dozen duds. *POTENTIAL SPOILER* It was great having the old faces thrown into the mix. It was just a shame that Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd had terrible and highly unfunny cameos.

BUT it was nice to see Hudson, Potts, Weaver and Slimer. Even if the green blob annoyed the hell out of me in the several minutes he featured. There was a nice nod to the late Harold Ramis.

The supporting cast were wasted. Andy Garcia (Oh how the mighty have fallen) was terrible as the Mayor. He may have had fun playing the role BUT I didn’t watching him.

Michael Kenneth (Omar from The Wire) Williams and Charles (Game of Thrones) Dance had such generic roles. Anyone could have played them. Cecily Strong was probably the only other supporting character that didn’t get on my nerves as the bitchy two faced Mayor’s aid.

Neil Casey (Saturday Night Live) was a terrible villain. The bullied polter-nerd was too weak and the silly plot about vortexes and bringing apocalypse to NYC just felt like a retread of the original with even sillier and weaker results. It irritated me even more knowing that Twyin Lannister was playing a school dean.

The plot was dull and the predictability of it all killed a good bit of the energy and when the flat lines didn’t deliver, the film went through the motions. Let’s be honest Ghostbusters 2 was no prized trophy. I mean, come on. We had a toaster dancing to Jackie Wilson and the Statue of Liberty . . . Yikes!

BUT it was always going to be a tough act to follow the original. The main cast were good and had a great dynamic. I just wish they had a better script. The pace may have dragged BUT for all my nitpicking, I had a lot more fun than I expected. I wasn’t bored and there were laughs to be had.

The frantic finale may have delivered a special effects shoot em up with the gang busting out some cool gadgets BUT it felt rushed and abrupt after all the build up. Shame.

All in all, a mixed bag. Take it for what it is. Great effects, silly gags, a talented gang did enough to keep things watchable. BUT if there is going to be another, I just hope they can get a better script and we’ll be in for a real treat.

2.5/5

*NEW* THE GIFT REVIEW *NEW*

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Joel Edgerton’s debut is a gift that needs returning.

Slow, dreary and dreadfully predictable. Disappointed doesn’t even come close.

A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years.

That synopsis makes it sound so much more interesting that it really was.

Now I’ve been a fan of Edgerton for some time ever since his turn in Kinky Boots and Warrior. I really had high hopes for his directorial debut. A great cast do their best BUT you can’t hide a lifeless thriller with a surprisingly flat twist.

The opening got the ball rolling quite early. It set up the premise within five minutes. Couple. House. Creepy friend. Excellent. Let the game of cat and mouse begin.

The first half hour I was happy to allow the characters to develop. Always remembering that the inevitable was creeping around the corner. BUT by the hour marker, I was praying for it to come quicker (Steady now).

It was great to see Jason Bateman tackle a serious film for a change. I just wish he had a meatier role. He really excelled in the darker moments (which tragically there wasn’t enough of) and had good chemistry with Rebecca Hall.

Rebecca Hall is a very good actress but has this knack of featuring in mediocre films. Transcendence, anyone? She had an impeccable accent and carried the film for me. Lucky. Considering the film was very much focused on her character. The pawn in a very boring game of chess.

Edgerton was perfect as the troubled Gordo. The film picked up every time he appeared. To be honest, his numerous drop-ins at the family home felt like a minor inconvenience more than a stalkerish obsession.

I was impressed with Edgerton’s supporting cast. It’s just a shame that he didn’t give them better characters. Alison Tolman (Fargo) was wasted as the neighbour. It was extremely annoying because there was a strange moment in which Edgerton suggested something more suspect about her.

When Robyn (Hall) first meets Tolman’s character, she notices the baby is left crying in the back of the car. Hidden behind a veil. There was a slight Rosemary’s Baby vibe. BUT in the next frame, we have Robyn cradling the baby. It could have been a play on Hall’s paranoia BUT more should have been made of it.

How did Busy Philips from Dawson’s Creek get in this? She might as well have NOT been. Wendell Pierce was pretty much playing Bunk from the Wire. The same tired face and exasperated expression. Great for a Wire fan. Poor for anyone else. And he was only it in for 30 seconds and was completely redundant.

Eduard Grau’s cinematography may have provided a murky look to this supposedly “murky” thriller. But you can’t a polish a tur- turgid drama.

I’m happy to allow a slow burning thriller to unfold. If the pay-off delivers. The inevitable creepy tension as Gordo’s numerous appearances go from annoying to unsettling was too predictable. I could feel myself ticking everything off a check list. It was too formulaic. They have a pond. He buys them fish. They throw him out. He kills the fish. Oh no, they have a dog. What’s going to happen there?

It was inevitable that Gordo was a ticking timebomb. If anything Bateman’s reaction was more questionable as he finally lets his new guest know that he has overstayed his welcome. This is where the film did get a little more interesting as Simon’s (Bateman) past is called into question.

The cheap jump out of your seat scares felt desperate as the film continued to stagger along. I thought the shower sequence was merely a ploy to make sure the audience were still awake. Quick jump. Aaah! Right. Still with us? Back to the film.

The closing fifteen minutes finally delivered what I had expected from the rest of the film. A tense slow burning stand-off with the inevitable twist rearing its ugly head. And credit where it’s due; the twist was actually an interesting one. And I did appreciate Edgerton’s little nod to the Usual Suspects.

It did leave you pondering as the credits rolled. A nice touch. But once I got out of the cinema and into my car, I realised I had still wasted two hours for a mediocre conclusion and the revelation hardly matched all the mystery and hype.

Patchy at best but very disappointing for all the promise. Mr Edgerton, spend less time on wrapping and more time on picking a better present, eh.

2.5/5

THE GAMBLER REVIEW

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The odds on me telling you to watch this pretentious yawnfest are virtually zilch.

Harsh? Maybe. But I have never been so bored and disappointed with a film in some time.

Mark Wahlberg and Rupert Wyatt take on the remake of the cult Caan crime caper and, to be honest, by the end I couldn’t help wondering why?

So what’s it all about? Lit professor and gambler Jim Bennett’s (Wahlberg) debt causes him to borrow money from his mother (Jessica Lange) and a loan shark (Michael Kenneth Williams).

Further complicating his situation is his relationship with one of his students (Brie Larson). Will Bennett risk his life for a second chance?

Now I will be honest. I haven’t seen the original. But I certainly want to now. Surely if the purpose of a remake is to be a re-imagining or an improvement on the original, than it must be terrible, right? Hmmm . . .

The opening 15-20 minutes was slow-burning but seemed to set everything in motion. The moments in which Wahlberg’s Bennett gambles is tense and utterly bonkers.

Showing how easy it is to fall into an addiction. The adrenaline rush. The complete disregard. Clocking up debts left, right and centre.

However these are only moments. In between these tense tidbits, we are left with uninteresting characters, a lot of mindless exposition and barely any action or suspense that the film seemed to promise.

Wahlberg certainly did his best but his character was such a deluded self-deprecating simpleton that there was only ever going to be two outcomes.

Two outcomes that were predictable and made the whole thing a waste of time.

Larson (21 Jump Street) and Wahlberg managed to convey a little chemistry but Bennett was such an egotistical and unlikeable character that you felt Larson’s Amy was getting what she deserved for being such a silly little girl.

Jessica Lange (American Horror Story) was good as Bennett’s mother but there wasn’t enough of her. Her fiery interactions with her son made things a little bit more interesting but were either skipped over so quickly or left open that it made it all rather flat.

It would have been nice to have had a little more insight into their fractious relationship. Not little arguments, pointless flashbacks and a strange opening scene with a cathartic cameo from George Kennedy.

What infuriated me was how many opportunities Bennett had to get out of his mess but continued to cause hassle, borrow money and gamble it away. I was thinking, “You’re getting what you deserve, mate”.

Wyatt certainly captures the gruelling stakes of gambling with a man so frustrated with life that he is on this nihilistic path BUT it could have been done a lot better and a good portion shorter.

The classroom scenes felt one big rant at life. Philosophical meanderings that I’m sure were supposed to come of clever and thought provoking just came off pretentious, overlong and pointless.

If it was supposed to show the yearning desire between Larson and Marky Mark, it didn’t. If it was supposed to reveal more of Bennett’s character, it did a little.

Only that he is a plonker.

A waste of a talented supporting cast. You had a menacing (but incredibly fat and bald) John Goodman and Michael Kenneth (Omar from The Wire/Chalky White from Boardwalk Empire) at the helm of two very angry looking gangs.

All that supposedly cryptic, suspenseful and threatening dialogue leading to . . .

More talking and more pointless meetings.

Don’t get me wrong, Williams and Goodman do their utmost to make as memorable a mark as they can with the material. Goodman was particularly impressive in the small part he had.

The last 20 minutes finally got things going. Wahlberg’s moronic wheeling and dealing with the loan sharks all building up to one final roll of the dice. It was tense and I thought, “Finally! Here we go!”

BUT alas, it was done all too quickly, predictably and the final moments were unbelievably corny.

To be honest, one revelation certainly made one of Wahlberg’s rants not complete jibberish.

Greig Fraser’s cinematography certainly made this droll affair look stylish. BUT I was disappointed by Wyatt after he successfully managed to rework a franchise that I didn’t want rebooting (Rise of The Planet of the Apes).

I wanted a broody, stylish cryptic crime caper with one man battling his addiction.

To an extent, you do. But it certainly isn’t what you want or hope for. I’d gamble my chip on something else.

I would recommend to people who are still interested; just watch the trailer. Two minutes tells you everything and it will save you two hours of pretentious, feeble waffle that amounts to nothing.

Unfortunately, Marky Mark I didn’t pick up any good vibrations this time around.

2 (just)/5

BIRDMAN REVIEW

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It didn’t make me fly for the exit. Strange, bizarre, funny and different. A breath of fresh air.

A promising start for a new year in film. Hopefully.

A somewhat slow opening did leave me a little anxious after the endless hype. So much so that two people left within 15 minutes!

BUT it was merely adjusting you to Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu’s (Babel) style and setting up the pieces.

Preparation for what would lie in store. A darkly comical acting tour de force as one man descends into madness.

So what is it about? A washed-up actor Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory.

At first glance, the washed up actor shaking off his superhero status and Michael Keaton probably hit home a little too well. BUT what a resurgent return from the Dark Knight. It is not as if he really left. Come on, he was in The Other Guys and Need for Speed (The less we say about that one, the better).

When Keaton’s character was first introduced, I felt he was drowned out by the rather animated and incredibly talented supporting cast. His performance didn’t seem to justify the hype. BUT by the end, oh boy, was I wrong! He was remarkable. A powerhouse performance. Vulnerable in one shot, volatile and violent the next.

The Broadway play setting was a perfect platform to unearth personal problems, dig up rivalries and delve into fractious relationships and affairs. The rehearsals may seem a little repetitive but as we delve more into each character’s issues and flaws, it brings a different dimension and take on that same bit of dialogue and scene. Expertly captured and cleverly written.

This all helped make this simple dark comedy drama turn into something so much more. Riggan has to deal with the stress of the play as well as his inner demon. Taking the form of an avarian comic book superhero with the voicing style of Beetlejuice. Brilliant.

I loved how Innaritu incorporated the “super real” fictional theatre scene into the real world. The meta-textual references were brilliant and really added to the film. The digs at the Avengers franchise and celebrities brought a little grin. The open criticisms in how people don’t want to watch films with long drawn out philosophical talking and how they want big, dumb, action packed blockbusters was spot on!

The cinematography was superb. Emmanuel Lubezki manipulated the camera work and editing to make it appear like one continuous long take. It certainly kept things moving but the 119 minute length did feel a little long at the tooth in parts.

I wonder if Keaton incorporated some of his own troubles into the film. In one of Riggan’s arguments with his “Birdman” alter ego who at this point harassing him to do another Birdman sequel, Riggan yells out, “That was 1992! Get over it!”Coincidentally, the year Batman Returns was released. Hmmm . . .

The supporting cast were fantastic. Consisting of the likes of the flirtatious Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion), the insecure Naomi Watts (The Impossible) and the snidey film critic hell bent on ruining Riggan’s opening night, Lindsay Duncan (About Time).

Once Emma Stone (The Help) was given the screen time, she was (to be expected) very good as Riggan’s drug addict daughter.

Amy Ryan (The Wire) was wasted in her small role. Not enough of her. She had good chemistry with Keaton and I felt more could have been made of the broken family dynamic. She didn’t even interact with Stone’s character at all. Merely popping in lulls after Riggan’s meltdowns.

Zach Galifinakis (The Hangover) played a much more subdued role to what I was used to. He actually got to do a spot of acting as well as delivering the laughs.

BUT the main scene stealer that rivalled Keaton through out the film was Edward Norton (American History X). His portrayal of Mike was fantastic. Egotistical with a penchant for some improvised method acting. Constantly seeking attention and out to undo Riggan’s work, undermining and offering “suggestions”. I couldn’t stop watching him. Scene stealing in almost every turn.

Without spoiling too much, Birdman does get a little random and bizarre in parts as you don’t know how many of Riggan’s encounters and altercations are actually happening.

The ending may split people. But for me I liked it. It was one of those that was open for interpretation. Something that appeared cut and dry but was it?

I mean, this is most definitely a mood piece. If you’re in the mood for something a little different, then I recommend it. BUT if not, then maybe steer clear.

It’s not without it’s imperfections; a questionable pace and a slow opening, along with some irritating drum music did dampen things (BUT only a little). Seriously the drumming got on my nerves. It worked as Riggan reached breaking point, the drumming getting faster and faster as it drew to it’s climax. BUT throughout, it was just racket.

However, once you get past that, it’s a cleverly written multi-layered dark comedy drama that is fantastically acted by an incredible cast. A good piece of film-making that for a moment restored my faith in films.

3.5/5

BUT the more I think about that ending. This may change to a 4. So watch this space.