*NEW* LIGHTS OUT REVIEW *NEW*

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It didn’t have me screaming for the lights on.

When her little brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman – Annabelle) experiences the same events that once tested her sanity, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer – Warm Bodies) works to unlock the truth behind the terror, which brings her face to face with an entity that has an attachment to their mother, Sophie (Maria Bello – A History of Violence).

When I first heard that James Wan (The Conjuring/Saw) had green lit the spine tingling short Lights Out, I was annoyed. Especially when I saw the trailers circulated around the Internet. A loosely stringed story stretched out into 90 minutes with a few screams along the way. Well, that’s what I thought I was going to say.

In all fairness, it was actually quite good. A creepy opening in a big dark warehouse with motion sensors certainly got things going. With every flash of the light, the dark demon grew closer to its unsuspecting prey. It was a nice touch getting the original scare victim from the short in a cameo (Lotta Losten).

Director David F. Sandberg orchestrated some genuinely creepy moments and tense sequences and certainly played on an old fear. A ghoul that attacks from the smallest patch of darkness. Spookkaaayy.

The premise wasn’t bad. Hardly original BUT it did the job. A crazed mental patient with demonic abilities latching onto a family. Why? How? Well, if I told you that, there’d be no point in watching it.

I did sigh at Palmer’s introduction as her character drudged through some cheesy guff about personal space and not trusting anyone after her mum. The corny exchanges with her silly boyfriend did put me into a mini-coma. Thankfully once little brother Martin and her drug-induced head case of a mother were brought into the mix, my interest was peaked.

Palmer was a likeable lead and Bateman was very good. As I’ve said in previous reviews, it’s tough for child actors to get that balance right. He really carried the film when some of his older counterparts might have been phoning in their lines. I was actually rooting for the little guy to survive.

Maria Bello played the mother well. Her introduction was freaky as a tired Martin walks in on her having a conversation with the demented demon in the closet. Hell to the no! The only problem was despite one other creepy scene, she was largely absent. Shame. There may have been a fair amount of cliched dialogue BUT I still liked the family dynamic and wanted more of that.

The flashbacks and endless repetition about the origins of the demon Diana and her mystery illness to light got a little annoying and killed a lot of the buzz. Despite the film only being 81 minutes, it did have the tendency to drag in parts.

BUT one thing I will commend was seeing these characters actually not make the same old horror movie mistakes. Hang on, this b*tch doesn’t like lights. I’ll surround the place with candles, UV lights, torches and put them in every nook and cranny.

The scares weren’t bad. Every time the lights went out, a feeling of unease would take over and I could feel my eyes looking at the corners of the screen. It did get me a couple of times. BUT there were moments where it relied heavily on loud noises and horrendous screams (And that was just from the hypersensitive audience! I kid you not. There was a lad hyperventilating into his hoodie. Behave!).

It was hardly ground breaking or original BUT enjoyable enough. In fact I enjoyed this more than the over-hyped misfire that was the Conjuring 2 (There, I said it!)

3/5

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*NEW* POINT BREAK 3D REVIEW *NEW*

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What was the point?

A young FBI agent (Luke Bracey) infiltrates an extraordinary team of extreme sports athletes he suspects of masterminding a string of unprecedented, sophisticated corporate heists.

Woah. This was bad. I don’t know why I expected anything else. A needless remake of an iconic action thriller that did nothing to justify its production.

Now credit where’s it due. The opening was actually quite watchable and zipped along. A silly introduction made full use of the gimmicky 3D. Something I haven’t been able to say for the majority of these heavily flogged features. Bracey’s Utah blazing sand and gravel from his dirt bike straight out at the screen.

It was a little corny BUT it set up Utah’s thirst for adrenaline. A necessary skill set. Apparently. A botched stunt soon sets him on the straight and narrow. And we flash forward to the present with Utah now enlisted in the FBI. Woah.

Bracey (The Best of Me) was perfectly cast as Utah. And for the first 30 minutes, I was actually NOT hating it. He looked like a surfer dude and channeled his inner Keanu. Oh, how wrong I was. Like the great (and dare I say, CGI’d?) waves that Utah and Bodhi surfed, the pace meandered along and had little to offer in plot, action or quotable dialogue. Even the little nods to the original came off half-arsed. Okay, the President faces laminated on the motorbike helmets wasn’t a bad touch.

Now the heists were actually quite good. The special effects were brilliant. A fantastic sequence in which the suspected criminal gang of adrenaline junkies unleash millions of dollars from a plane stopped my griping for a moment. The 3D gimmick flickering dollar bills at my face. BUT the problem was that there wasn’t enough of these moments.

One good scene does not a good movie make. Ray Winstone’s performance as Pappas was dreadful. It didn’t help that he had to drawl out some cliched and incredibly naff dialogue BUT his character had nothing on Gary Busey. Speaking of drawls; was Winstone supposed to be American? His mish-mash accent didn’t work at all. Just keep it cockney, Ray.

Delroy Lindo (Gone In Sixty Seconds) was completely wasted in his role as Instructor Hall. He should have been in it more. His reaction when Utah tries to explain the incredibly hammy plot entertained me more than the rest of the cast.

Edgar Ramirez (The Bourne Ultimatum) was always going to struggle to match Patrick Swayze’s charm BUT he didn’t do a bad Bodhi. A charismatic presence in a lifeless piece. His relationship with Utah didn’t have that natural chemistry like the original. It felt rushed and was cliched to death. The macho street brawls, ridiculous ‘hippy’ mantra and cheesy bro-mantic hugging was too much.

The pace dragged when the heists weren’t taking place. We had to drudge through droll dialogue, cheesy exchanges and a laughable plot line that went no where. Utah’s romance with Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies) was completely unnecessary. It added nothing to the mix and the pair didn’t even have the same chemistry as Reeves and Lori Petty (Free Willy).

The premise was weak. A group of adrenaline junkies attempting to complete a teaching called the Ozaki 8. Eight ordeals to honour the forces of nature. Yeah, I know right? The whole taking from the rich and giving to the poor spiel was fine BUT it was so obvious that it was Bodhi’s gang doing this and yet our hero couldn’t see it. Even when he was taking part in one of the crimes?!

Ericson Core’s cinematography made this like something out of a Michael Bay flick and there were a couple of decent set pieces BUT otherwise, this remake was terrible. Boring, predictable and thoroughly disappointing.

A washout indeed.

2/5

BRICK MANSIONS REVIEW

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A ridiculous remake of a French blockbuster that didn’t need to be touched.

This won’t sully the memory of an actor that left us too soon BUT it won’t do much to help it.

Let’s be honest, Paul Walker’s movies were hardly groundbreaking but they were big, dumb and (most importantly) fun. I thought he was a decent actor and I enjoy the Fast and Furious franchise (for what they are).

Brick Mansions was so incredibly stupid and OTT that you can’t help but laugh at it. A guilty pleasure. It’s the sort of film you’d expect to find in the bargain bin at your local supermarket or watch on a Saturday night with a few tins and a curry.

District 13 and District B: Ultimatum were hardly renowned for their fantastic plot lines but how could Brick Mansions make it look like Inception by comparison? What made it was the frenetic free running sequences and high-octane action.

For those who have seen the original; the opening sequence was literally a shot-for-shot remake with Belle doing what he does best. If you were impressed the first time round, you most likely will be again.

It’s a shame that momentum couldn’t stick and Belle’s acting left a little to be desired.

Always find it weird when you’ve watched a foreign film and then you see the actor speak English. I know, multi-cultural. People can speak more than one language.

Nearly every cliché in the action movie checklist was ticked off with this bad boy. The late Paul Walker and District veteran John Belle did their best with the “reluctant cop/street thug crime fighting duo set up”.

Once they got over the playground insults and macho fisticuffs. They even managed to make the laughable lines work to their advantage by the end.

RZA cannot act. It’s bad enough that his villain was naff to boot but he didn’t do anything to make the shoddy lines any better. He was so robotic. Surely he could have used some of that emotion from his rapping days? His only memorable trait being a craving for culinary excellence while unleashing hell.

The only problem was that not much hell was unleashed.

Paul Walker smirked his way through the whole thing. He managed to make it work; embracing the madness and giving it a good old go. You can tell he was having a laugh. Accepting the film for what it was. Mental.

An insane sequence in which Belle and Walker fought a Goliath-esque henchman had enough humour and craziness to subdue my grumbling. The action sequences, when not bogged down with droll dialogue, were fast paced, frantic and utterly bonkers.

A little too much quick cut editing reduced the impact as we saw Walker go for a punch and then suddenly the henchman was on the floor. Disorienting, to say the least. I should have seen this coming from the man who brought us Taken 2 and Transporter 3; the weaker sequel entries. Third time’s the charm? Apparently not.

Director Camille Delamarre managed to deliver one of the most ridiculous and raunchiest punch ups I’ve seen. Seriously, the alluring Catalina Denis’ (The Tunnel) short skirted waitress Lola literally got into one big violent game of slap and tickle with her leather clad adversary, the HOT head case Ayisha Issa (Warm Bodies).

Look, this was hardly going to win plaudits. It delivered the odd laugh, the occasional crash bang whallop and enough cheesy banter to take your mind of the crappy dialogue and silliness of it all.

A guilty pleasure that was laughable for all the wrong reasons.

There was a nice little tribute to Walker tagged on before the end credits.

2/5

As a side note for the 24 nuts out there, I can’t believe ol’ Maurice (Carlo Rota) was in this as a mobster. Brilliant!