Saturday, 31 December 2016

Movie Review: Finding Dory (2016)
One of the brightest feathers in Pixar’s cap, 2003’s Finding Nemo is a film that I watched the hell out of as a kid. Hell, it was the first film where I actually took time out to watch the director’s commentary for, and this was all pre-Critic bear in mind. That said, looking back on it, I was rather perplexed at how much I adored this movie… until I watched it again recently for the first time in many years. Wow. I seriously don’t recall the last time a film made me weep quite this much while watching it. A heart-warming story about family and the forces of nature, one without any real antagonist to it which is a serious rarity for family films, it holds up as one of Pixar’s genuine masterpieces. Naturally, with the studio in the process of making new installments to some of their most popular works like Toy Story, The Incredibles and Cars (notice how I said “popular”, not “good” because of that last one), they also decided to make a follow-up to Finding Nemo. If this was any other studio but Pixar, I would question this decision; however, after seeing what utter perfection they could cook up for prolonged franchises like Toy Story 3, I have quite a bit of faith that this film could work out. Let’s dive right in and find out. This is Finding Dory.

Movie Review: Moana (2016)
Before the House of Mouse brought Marvel and Star Wars into their collective fold, they had already proven their worth for rather shrewd business ideas with the Disney Princess canon. Taking what is essentially their most iconic characters and bringing them under a single banner has led to a lot of hot debating over the worth of both the label and the characters that fall within it. Now, this has resulted in more than a few feminist critiques over how these characters work as people to aspire to be, and there are certainly some problematic instances under that umbrella, but that’s not exactly my field of discussion. Besides, as a man, my opinion concerning who is an appropriate female role model would just end up being discarded before I even start talking. I don’t claim to have sat through all of the films in the canon, but I’ve seen enough to know that there are some good (Mulan), bad (Snow White) and everything in between when it comes to assertion. So, with this latest inclusion within the canon (that I’m sure will debated until the end of days as to whether it even counts as part of the Princess Line), I’ll admit that I’m interested to see where this studio will go next. This is Moana.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Movie Review: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)
Jack Reacher, as far as I’m concerned, is one of the few recent action films that I would consider to be a genuine classic. A marked departure from the hyper-masculine and quite over-the-top action films that have become the norm of late, it made its mark with the titular rogue military genius as the main character, surrounded by good actors, better writing and a sense for action that is incredibly brutal and hard-hitting. Oh, and being the only good film Jai Courtney was attached to for many years afterwards probably helped. Well, after writer/director Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise went from that film to making the latest iteration in the Mission: Impossible franchise, director Edward Zwick has set up a sequel to the film that I hold in quite high regard. I know that I’ve made it a point of directly comparing sequels/continuations of older films to said older film… and this is going to be much the same, so get used to it. This is Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.

Movie Review: Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
There are few filmmakers working today that I so thoroughly despise as much as Roland Emmerich. The jester pretending to be the king of the modern disaster film, his understanding of science and history is matched only by his ability behind the camera; i.e. he fails at all of them. Ever since the late 90’s, the man has maintained a steady reputation for absolute garbage, latching onto conspiracy theories (or, in the case of The Day After Tomorrow, what the popular consciousness has warped into a conspiracy theory despite the reality of things) to create stories about that honestly feel like an alien’s attempt to understand humanity, relating to the common man only through the broadest and laughable of stereotypes. People give Michael Bay crap for making money out of dumbing down his own audience, but Emmerich is far guiltier of the same sins while not getting nearly as much widespread loathing. His 1996 work Independence Day, the first real taste the world got of how he thinks the world works, is held in relatively high regard but, quite frankly, I don’t see it. I’d say that I welcome the chance to proven wrong in thinking that this sequel is going to suck, but let’s be honest: There’s no chance of that happening. This is Independence Day: Resurgence.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Movie Review: Assassin's Creed (2016)
Against every semblance of better judgement that I possess, and an understanding of the low standards of the genre, this is easily the film that I was looking forward to the most all year. And no, that’s not just because I’m a fan of the video games; I’ve had my fun with the Assassin’s Creed series, and I actually have to give credit to AC 2 for giving me the pen name that I still use to this day, but that’s not why I’m seriously looking forward to this one. Instead, it’s because this film is being directed by Aussie filmmaker Justin Kurzel, who showed some serious skill last year with his excellent adaptation of Macbeth. Add to that how lead actors Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are also returning as our leads here, and one of the most badass trailers we’ve gotten all year, and I am definitely anxious to check this one out… even though I am fully aware that it isn’t going to be a great work of art. That may seem at odds with my own personal hype but, as I dig into this thing, I’ll hopefully be able to clarify that. This is Assassin’s Creed.

Movie Review: Ice Age: Collision Course (2016)
The Ice Age series is little more than a relic of early-2000’s animation. Made by Blue Sky Studios, who would go on to secure their place as easily the weakest animation studio working today, the only real notable aspect of these films is how they have managed to keep a consistent decline since they started out, and bear in mind that the first film isn’t even that good to begin with. Computer graphics that have aged about as well as a puke-stain on what used to be your favourite shirt, annoying as all hell voice acting and only a couple of admittedly nice moments to help salvage it, something that would become far less prevalent in the sequels. As much as I wish I had covered this earlier on in the year when it first came out, that prospect meant re-watching all the films in the franchise so forgive me for holding it off for as long as humanly possible. But these things must be done, and it’s not as if this is even likely to be the worst film I’ve looked at recently, so let’s just get this over with. This is Ice Age: Collision Course.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Movie Review: Why Him? (2016)
The glamourous life of a film critic and spending more time at the cinemas than I do awake in my own house means that I actually understand very little of regular human interaction. That said, knowing how awkward social situations can get to start with, I still understand why meeting the potential in-laws is as nerve-wracking as it is. In fact, again with my lack of experience in the matter in mind, it’s possibly the most awkward prospect of any courtship and the myriad of possibilities (or even just the fear of those possibilities) can lead to quite a bit of misery. As any good comedian knows, misery makes for good comedy, and sure enough that scenario has made for pretty decent rom-com material for many a decade now. Yeah, it may be old hat by now but it has given birth to some good chuckles in the past. Of course, I didn’t realize exactly how old hat it was until I sat down to watch this thing. Given how recent news has made this time of year depressing enough as is, let’s just get this out of the way as quickly as possible. This is Why Him?

Movie Review: Marguerite (2016)
As I mentioned earlier this month, if an incredibly niche idea is worth making into a movie, might as well make it two. After sitting through Florence Foster Jenkins, and genuinely being quite impressed with the thing, discovering another film based on the same extraordinary person was rather intriguing. Rather than sticking to the real-life events of the tuneless songbird, this French outing instead touts to be inspired by those events and going in its own narrative direction. So, without automatically seeing fault in diverting from actual events (or it very well could be accurate and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference), how does this altered take on the idea turn out? This is Marguerite.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Movie Review: The Girl King (2016)
Well, after that last one, I think it’d be best if I went with something that isn’t directly attached to something I hold dear. So, in light of that, let’s take a look at this historical costume drama… yeah, as I stated earlier in the year, I’m not exactly the target audience for these kinds of film. But it seems that this one is going to be a bit different to Love & Friendship, in just about the crackiest way possible. This is The Girl King.

Movie Review: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny (2016)
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon may not be a perfect film, but it is most certainly a great film. Officially putting Ang Lee on the map, and given his output we can debate the worth of that till kingdom come, its combination of breath-taking fight scenes and phenomenal writing, not to mention outright iconic music, resulted in what I would genuinely consider to be a work of art. But more so than its merits as a film in its own right, its place within film history is difficult to ignore as well. An international co-production, it has gone into legend for basically breaking the Hollywood system and what films should be expected to make an commercial impact, becoming an exception to the rule that would end up having new rules written around it. With all this in mind, and considering the unexpected quality control that can go into Netflix releases, the prospect of a sequel to a film like this is certainly interesting. But considering the Sequel Rules made around those that are made over a decade after the fact, and the low expectations for success, how did it turn out? This is Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Movie Review: The Conjuring 2 (2016)
While the original Saw gave James Wan his official debut and Insidious gave audiences a real taste of what Wan’s style of filmmaking was, it was The Conjuring that gave him the break he desperately needed. Aside from being a critical darling when it came out, and being a friggin’ awesome horror flick in its own right, it also proved that Wan wasn’t completely dependent on Leigh Whannell’s scripting to deliver a gripping story. With a nicely retro approach to scares and an insane level of dedication to adhering to the era in which the story was set, not to mention a great cast, it’s the kind of horror film that I can easily see being remembered several years from now. Then came the spin-off film Annabelle, Wan teaming back up with Whannell for Insidious: Chapter 2, and then Wan being a creative consultant for Lights Out… wow, that’s a bad track record in terms of horror flicks. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the guy’s work but, in terms of confirming that this sequel to probably his most celebrated work will actually be a success, it is less than convincing, shall we say. Of course, because I will never get tired of saying it, I’m willing to be proven wrong on this one. This is The Conjuring 2.

Movie Review: The Boy And The Beast (2016)

After yesterday’s destruction of the spoken language, I could very easily watch today’s film in the original Japanese and probably understand it better on a verbal level, with or without subtitles. But no, I’m still sticking to the anime dubs whenever I can and this will be no exception. So, amidst the possible comments that I’m somehow not watching this right, let’s just get into this feature already. This is The Boy And The Beast.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Movie Review: Aaaaaaah! (2016)
Aside from being a very emotional year both on and off-screen, 2016 also seems to be the year of the crazy because there’s been a lot of weird shit to hit our screens. From the food comedy that made us lose our lunch Sausage Party to the poignant drama about the human condition using a literal bloated corpse with Swiss Army Man, even down to yesterday’s digital murder of sanity that is When Black Birds Fly, we’ve had no shortage of bonkers around here. So it’s really saying something when I have to admit that today’s film might be the weirdest of the lot. How so? Well, let’s grunt right in and I’ll hopefully explain why. This is Aaaaaaaah!

Movie Review: Free State Of Jones (2016)
This is going to be a very, very short review. While I could just use the Christmas season as my excuse for not wanting to focus too much on such bleak notions as slavery, and admittedly the year has been depressing enough without needing to actively look for reasons to make it worse, it really just boils down to me not having as much to say about this film as I would have liked. My 12 Years A Slave review should show that I’m not the most articulate person when it comes to this subject, and what little reserves I have were spent writing about 13th earlier this month. As such, I’m just going to get right into this in a rather informal fashion. This is Free State Of Jones.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Movie Review: Demolition (2016)
Since my brain is still re-building itself from my last review, I’m just going to jump right into this one. This is Demolition.

Movie Review: When Black Birds Fly (2016)
Well, after revisiting an underground filmmaker yesterday, I figure it’s only right to continue on this path for a little bit longer. As such, it’s time to look at another indie oddity that I have covered before: Jimmy ScreamerClauz. Last year, I ended up reviewing his work Where The Dead Go To Die, a film I still maintain is one of the most disturbing pieces of cinema I’ve ever sat through. It occupies that area of reception that most people reserve for films like Requiem For A Dream: I loved it, but I never want to watch it again. Well, having discarded any semblance of regard for my own mental health a long time ago, I have watched that film a couple times since and, honestly, it still holds up as easily one of my new favourite films. Naturally, with that opinion still intact, I was definitely curious to see what else Mr. ScreamerClauz could come up with. Time to dive into the madness once more, and may Caine forgive me for this: This is When Black Birds Fly.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Movie Review: Dickshark (2016)

” Ben-Hur, the 1959 cinematic epic, is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. It is also three-and-a-half hours long, so between my disliking of overlong cinema and general attention span issues in general, I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet and I’m not even sure if I will. Yeah, I may do my background research where I can, but even I have limits.”

Yeah, I had a feeling that those words would come back to bite me in the arse before too long. We’re talking about Bill Zebub once again, the only director who seems to be trying to push the aestheticization of rape as well as the king of cringingly slow and awkward sex scene, and this looks to be something of a new landmark for the guy. I could point to Zebub’s own blurb for the film saying that it is “the most absurd movie that [he] has ever created”, but that’s not why I consider it as such. No, this one marks new levels for his filmography because the film I’m going to talk about today, the rather humourously titled Dickshark, is almost three hours long. The Uncut version available on Vimeo is not only the only copy of the film I could secure in time for a review but it’s also a version that is markedly longer than what will be found on the DVD/Blu-Ray copies of the film. Yeah, I can’t help but feel that this is karma for complaining about long run times in the past. Still, I made it a point of reviewing both of Zebub’s works last year so might as well keep going from here. This is Dickshark.

Movie Review: A United Kingdom (2016)
Even though humanity loves quoting “can’t judge a book by its cover”, we sure do that very thing quite a bit. Then again, we often present ourselves with opportunities to do so and none are more apparent in that intent than movie trailers. Now, over the course of this year, we’ve seen a wide spectrum of trailers from the good (10 Cloverfield Lane) to the bad (Trolls) to the outright annoying (The Angry Birds Movie), and some of them have even given a far weaker impression of the official product than is actually necessary. Today’s film, on the other hand? You can almost smell the cheese coming off of this thing, and considering this is meant to be a drama that can’t be a good thing. Every time it got to the line “I love my people, I love this land… but I love my wife”, not matter how many times I’d heard it up to that point, I had to put a lot of effort into not just laughing my arse off in the cinema. It’s one of those “Nothing is more powerful than the human spirit” kind of lines that is near-impossible to take seriously. So, with that bit of unintentional comedy in mind, how is the film proper? This is A United Kingdom.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows (2016)
At the beginning of last year, I briefly talked about the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie… and how I honestly liked it while the rest of the world seemingly didn’t. And you know what, after watching it again fairly recent in preparation for this review, I stand by it. I don’t have the greatest personal connection with the franchise, only watching a couple episodes of the original cartoon and the Kevin Munroe TMNT film, but from what I understand of the series ethos, this seemed alright. It’s not great, don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of comedic dead spots, the CGI takes a bit of getting used to (although, again, I have no real issue with it) and there is a very definite feeling that the filmmakers weren’t sure of how seriously to take the idea of large humanoid turtles as the main characters. But, considering how badly Platinum Dunes had done up to that point with pre-existing material, it was a decent watch. Hell, I am probably one of the few people on Earth who honestly wanted this sequel to happen. All aboard the karma train; this is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows.

Movie Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
As I explained around this same time last year, I’m not the biggest fan of Star Wars. I recognize its cinematic significance and I get a certain amount of enjoyment out of the films themselves (even the ones that the rest of the world seems to hate with a passion), but I never really bought into the hype that those films carry to this day. Incessantly pushing The Force Awakens in my face for pretty much all of last year definitely wasn’t helping, even with how much I ended up liking that film. So, with all that in mind, even I am legitimately hyped for this film. The lack of obnoxious advertising could be a part of it, but there’s something else here that makes me anxious to check it out. Knowing how other cinematic continuities have been going of late, with even DC figuring out that some form of variety would be much appreciated, this film could present something different and help strengthen the series, considering this will be the first of the Star Wars cinematic Anthology with more already on the way. But even I couldn’t have expected this film to be this different. This is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Movie Review: The Forest (2016)
Yep, there’s two films about Tokyo’s Suicide Forest that got a release this year. I know that the studio system tends to release similar films around the same time, but even still, this is an incredibly niche thing to make even a single film about, let alone two. That said, my reasoning for looking at both of those films today should be fairly obvious, especially considering how underwhelming Sea Of Trees turned out. Add to that how this is going to be a supernatural horror film, rather than the kind of bland melodrama we got last time, and I’m willing to give this idea another go. So, is this going to make proper use of the concept or, by some anti-miracle, is this going to turn out even worse? Ugh. Let’s just get into this thing already before the lack of engagement makes me pass out. This is The Forest.

Movie Review: The Sea Of Trees (2016)
Gus Van Sant is easily one of the most frustrating filmmakers in the history of the medium. Not necessarily because his work is out-and-out frustrating, although it sometimes is, but rather because of the wild inconsistency throughout his filmography. He has had some seriously incredible ideas behind his films and has even given us some great works, but good lord, has he also delivered some of the worst or otherwise weirdest films I’ve come across. I don’t think any director who can make something as soul-crushingly dull as Gerry can be trusted, and Even Cowgirls Get The Blues is strange beyond definable terms and another sign that, when not fishing for Oscars, the man is kind of insane. Yeah, needless to say, my scepticism is even greater than usual on this one, and considering this has been regarded as his worst film… this is not going to end well. This is The Sea Of Trees.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Movie Review: X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe as ubiquitous as it is, it can be easy to forget just how important the X-Men films have been for the common conception of comic book movies. At the start of the millennium, the genre was in a pretty bad state: Vanguards of the art form Superman and Batman had both fallen on legendarily bad times, the kitschy ways of the 80’s were sticking around for god knows what reason like with Captain America and the unreleased Fantastic Four film, and to make matters worse, we weren’t even getting that many of them that were worth noting. Blade was pretty much the one and only comic book superhero film that was watchable. And then noted filmmaker Bryan Singer teamed up with Solid Snake (seriously, the OG voice actor for Solid Snake wrote it) and up-and-coming actor Hugh Jackman to make history for the format. Pushing the surface badassery of Blade into mainstream-recognized maturity, it changed the landscape from then on; it set the groundwork that the MCU went on to flesh out. No question, even in the wake of negative reviews, I was looking forward to the next installment in this legendary series, especially given how amazingly well Days Of Future Past turned out. This is X-Men: Apocalypse.

Movie Review: Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)
Underworld, as a series, confuses me. For something so obviously derivative and soaked in now-anachronistic nu-metal tinting, it has kept on the fringe layer of the popular consciousness since it first came to theatres over a decade ago. And yet, while I don’t out-and-out love the franchise as it stands, I don’t have a whole lot of hate for it either. It takes itself way the hell too seriously and the acting can range from decent to hilariously hammy, but the way it actually tries to have a semblance of lore and mythos surrounding the story is oddly commendable, as cobbled together as it is. So, just getting it out there that I have a base-level appreciation for the series; keep that in mind as I get into this thing because… this is a special kind of film, and not in a good way. This is Underworld: Blood Wars.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Movie Review: Red Dog: True Blue (2016)
In the lead-up to today’s film (which is technically still happening, since it’s officially released on Boxing Day and I managed to catch a preview screening), whenever the original Red Dog film got brought up in conversation, it always ended on the same note: Don’t talk about it, it’s too sad. Having now seen the original, I can kind of see why that is. An unexpectedly iconic piece of Australiana, the original Red Dog is honestly really damn good. A bit cheesy and occasionally unsure of who exactly it was meant to appeal to (the kids in the audience or the adults), but overall pretty good as a look into Australian culture and mannerisms. So, naturally, a follow-up look at our four-pawed folk hero was something I was looking forward to. However, for reasons I’ll get into, this film has plenty of reasons to be initially sceptical, and for other reasons I’ll get into, it validates an awful lot of them. This is Red Dog: True Blue.

Movie Review: La La Land (2016)
The movie musical is dead. Or, at least, the original concept of the movie musical is dead. Starting out as a natural extension of film’s stylistic origins in theatre, it was full of big grins and bigger dance numbers about the ways of life and love. And then we started to get inventive with the format, using it less as a means of showing the fantastical nature of the musical and more to highlight it as a heavy contrast to the harshness of reality. Through this, we’ve gotten some proper quality musical films as Sweeney Todd, Repo! The Genetic Opera, Hedwig And The Angry Inch, Reefer Madness and a bunch of others that wouldn’t even be conceivable as viable musicals back in the old days. Now, as much as this evolution of the format has honestly worked out for the best all things considered, maybe a bit of revivalism could help keep everything in perspective. And thanks to rising star filmmaker Damian Chazelle, it seems that we have just that for today. This is La La Land.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Movie Review: Morgan (2016)
Among the many things that can affect the initial impressions we have when watching a film, from the marketing to word-of-mouth to just our mentality concerning what makes a good story, one of the bigger contributors ends up being other films. Once the realization sets in that pretty much everything is a remix of everything else, and brand spanking new ideas aren’t as prevalent (or as important) as some of us may assume, the fact that we will end up seeing a lot of similar shit on screen is a little easier to swallow. Of course, when it comes to discussing what gets used and re-used, especially if it’s from more popular works, we end up drawing comparisons to the same works over and over again. Now, even though this runs the risk of limiting the overall conversation, just because it’s an easy point to make doesn’t mean it’s any less true. Tl;dr this is basically me covering my own arse because this film makes it impossible not to bring up comparisons to last year’s phenomenal sci-fi effort Ex Machina… even though pretty much every other critic already has. Ugh. Let’s just get this over and done with. This is Morgan.

Movie Review: Ben-Hur (2016)
Ben-Hur, the 1959 cinematic epic, is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. It is also three-and-a-half hours long, so between my disliking of overlong cinema and general attention span issues in general, I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet and I’m not even sure if I will. Yeah, I may do my background research where I can, but even I have limits. Not to say that I haven’t seen bits of it over time, just never in its entirety. As such, I’ll be going into this as most young filmgoers of today would and take this as its own work. So, now that it doesn’t exactly have a pre-existing impression of the story to live up to, how is it? This is Ben-Hur.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Movie Review: Approaching The Unknown (2016)
Turns out my work schedule for the month isn’t running as smoothly as I would like and I’m starting to fall behind, so let’s just get into this thing. This is Approaching The Unknown.

Movie Review: Pete's Dragon (2016)
It’s time to look at another remake, but considering this is yet another done by Disney whom have shown a decent track record so far in that regard, I’m at least willing to give it a chance. I mean, it’s not as if the 1977 original could never be improved upon. In fact, of all of the films slated to get live-action remakes over the next long while, Pete’s Dragon is probably the one that has aged the worst since its initial release. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the worst film they’ve done or anything even remotely close to that: The acting is good, the animation is proper vintage quality and the music, while a bit grating, was fun, cheery and cleverly-written for the most part. However, it is very much a product of the era, containing the kind of sappiness and mock-grime that makes it undemanding in  more insulting sense of the term. So, have to admit, I’m quite receptive to the idea of remaking it and (potentially) improving upon it. Do we actually get that, is the question. This is Pete’s Dragon.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Movie Review: Me Before You (2016)
Time to look at another rom-com, and at this point, I’m more than willing to welcome the presence of a genre that is so consistently sweet to the point of diabetic as this. Not only does it mean that I can get away from the frankly depressing films that I have yet to watch for this year, it also means that I can take a break from any heavy topics… or, at least, that’s what I thought. This is Me Before You.

Movie Review: Money Monster (2016)
I have admitted in the past being very much on the left side of the political spectrum, when I’m even bothered to get involved in such matters in the first place, and I have been rather favourable to films that align with those views. However, in my furthering subconscious attempt to bring a bit more objectivity to these reviews, I am not about to let that paint my impression of every political-tinged piece of cinema that I will look at from here on out. Pundits from all areas of political thought have this idea that we only stick to those who voice or at least mirror their own perspectives and aren’t willing to hear anyone else’s take. Well, while that might be true for some, it is still possible to disagree with those in your own supposed camp. Hopefully by the end of this review, I will have explained why that is. This is Money Monster.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Movie Review: Hush (2016)
It’s Mike Flanagan time again… even if it’s under less-than-ideal circumstances. When I reviewed Ouija: Origin Of Evil, I mentioned that Flanagan had three films released this year. Well, that may be technically true, but his second feature Before I Wake doesn’t have an Australian release date as of yet, meaning that it isn’t eligible for a review just yet. Rather than deal with another quasi-ethical dilemma like when I looked at Vaxxed, I’m going to play it safe this time around. That, and it’s apparently his weakest effort to date, and in an admitted fanboy-influenced thought pattern, I want to keep my pristine impression of the man’s filmography intact for as long as I can. Especially when the man is capable of making films like this. This is Hush.

Movie Review: The Shallows (2016)

Were shark movies ever cool? I mean, outside of the original Jaws, they only seem to be getting sillier and sillier. Sure, it’s easy to say that now in the post-Sharknado age, but these films been like this for a long time. It’s the ultimate irony that a film that helped define Hollywood as it stands today would also go on to spawn easily one of the most B-movie of the notable B-movie sub-genres. From the laughable special effects to the hokey acting, right down to the (if you’ll excuse the term) jumping the shark moments like having them be driven by revenge or an exterior need to advertise for Sea World, leaping out of the water to take bites out of airplanes or even grouping together to form tornadoes to attack people, the sub-genre has a pretty prominent reputation for being hilariously ridiculous. Considering all this, making a film nowadays that is meant to make audiences take sharks seriously again is a pretty tall order. So, how does this particular feature turn out in that regard? This is The Shallows.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Movie Review: The Disappointments Room (2016)
We’re talking about another movie scored a supposedly rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes today, except this has two key differences to others I’ve discussed on here before. For a start, unlike the DVD and Netflix releases from before, this one actually made into cinemas. Bear in mind that this got released in the last week or so over here in Australia, after the majority of critics gave a God-sized thumbs down, so time to brush off that soapbox to talk about Australia’s screwed-up cinematic priorities. The other difference is that, quite frankly, I may have watched this solely because of its bad reputation but I am getting kind of tired of just approaching these movies based mainly on that single integer. This is going to be a small change of pace as, along with being as genuine as I’ve always been on this blog, I will also be making more of a considerate effort to find merit in it. I’m not expecting to find much for obvious reasons, but let’s just see what happens. This is The Disappointments Room.

Movie Review: Swiss Army Man (2016)
Um… how in the holy name of fuck do I introduce a movie like this? At this point, this film’s reputation is well established, and yet I am unable to initially add much that doesn’t just involve me breaking down and ask “What the hell am I watching?” over and over and over again. To make things weirder, this film might actually have merit beyond its well-publicized oddities. How? Well, let’s get started and I’ll hopefully be able to explain why. This is Swiss Army Man.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Movie Review: The Boy (2016)
William Trent Bell, just so we’re 100% clear on this point, is one of the biggest hacks in Hollywood right now. Starting out on a pretty sour note with Stay Alive, one of the more laughable video game movies out there, he then made a return a few years with The Devil Inside… wow, even mentioning that film nowadays is painful, let alone the prospect of watching it. Undoubtedly one of the single worst found footage movies ever made, which is no easy feat considering its woeful competition, it was also one of the most bafflingly marketed films in recent memory, encapsulated with an ending that is about as bass-ackwards as you can get for any cinematic production. At the time of writing this review, I have yet to see his third release Wer but, to put it bluntly, I don’t need to to know that this has a very high probability of being godawful. I’d normally say that I welcome the opportunity of being proven wrong… but let’s be real here: That ain’t happening this time around. This is The Boy.

Movie Review: 13th (2016)
In 1864-1865, U.S. president Abraham Lincoln put forward the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, one which would abolish slavery of black people in the United States. The Amendment reads as follows: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. With this, Lincoln became known as the Great Emancipator and the issue of black slavery was over… or so we’d very much like to think. Something that has rung true about politics since its very inception is that laws are like any other weapon: If they can’t be broken, they can just as easily be turned on the people who make them. Unfortunately, the 13th Amendment is much the same and, before too long, it would end up being used to bring back the very institution it was created to stop. Time to get good and fucking depressed; this is 13TH.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Movie Review: Sing (2016)
Ever since the concept of a musical has been in the minds of man, the meta-musical has never been too far behind. Now, in a way, it is perfectly logical: When people spend as long as they do belting out musical numbers on stage, it can start to bleed out into their regular life; as such, putting two and two together just makes sense. Hell, some of the most acclaimed musicals of all time have been meta-musicals like Singin’ In The Rain and Fame. However, as is the case with the lesser forms of metafiction, it can occasionally come across like a deadline-nudging assignment where, when out of feasible ideas, they just work within the barest confines of the narrative to deliver the music. Since we’re dealing with modern-day cinematic sensibilities, and a general inconsistency when it comes to movie musicals, this could honestly go either way. Well, time to see what else Illumination Entertainment has in store for us this year. This is Sing.

Movie Review: Solace (2016)

It’s best worst movie time again, so let’s just get right into it. This is Solace.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Movie Review: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016)
The current trend in British cinema that seems to crop up every year is adapting popular British TV comedies to the big screen. From Mrs. Brown’s Boys to The Inbetweeners, even just to characters from those shows like Keith Lemon, this seems to be the big predictable avenue for the cinematic output of the UK. It is also, to no surprise of anyone who has seen the majority of these films, a trend that yields little if any genuinely entertaining work. Okay, the first Inbetweeners movie was decent, but otherwise it’s a pretty basic guarantee for dirt-under-the-bottom-of-the-barrel crap in cinemas, or DVD if you’re even that fortunate. So, with that in mind, it’s really worrying that the second film I’ll be covering today is an adaptation of a series that is very close to my childhood. I grew up watching Absolutely Fabulous on DVD with my mother and, if given the opportunity, I would lead a pub sing-a-long of This Wheel’s On Fire at the drop of a hat. Is this going to be another piece of dreck, or will I be so lucky as to find the one recent British TV adaptation that doesn’t suck? This is Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.

Movie Review: True Memoirs Of An International Assassin (2016)
I’ve briefly touched on this topic before, but still, the question begs to be asked: Why do people tell the stories that they do? More to the point, why do people create the stories that they do? The answers are great and varied from a want to convey an emotion that is too potent for mere verbal communication to contain on its own, to an innate need to comment on something wrong with society, past or present. Hell, sometimes it can be just a desire to tell a story and using whatever elements are at your low-to-nill disposable income to make it happen. Insert joke about how Happy Madison’s alumni don’t need a reason for the films they make and just do it for the money. That mentality that looks into why these stories exist is the main reason why I love metafiction as much as I do; I love stories that question the inner workings of its own making and the people pulling the strings to make it happen. So, even considering this film’s current standing at a flat 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, I’ll admit that I was curious about this one. Since we’re all thinking the same thing at this point, that I’m giving this film too much credence to exist, let’s just get into this thing already. This is True Memoirs Of An International Assassin.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Movie Review: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)
In the realms of modern comedy, there really only seem to be two groups that are holding the charge in terms of white guys doing funny but still well composed comedic hip hop: Epic Rap Battles Of History and The Lonely Island. One of the few properly consistent acts to spawn from the current era of Saturday Night Live, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone have entered the realms of meme legend on numerous occasions with hits like Jizz In My Pants, I Just Had Sex and their Yuletide slow jam Dick In A Box. Their music, while not exactly the most consistent on an album basis, combined a keen eye for poking fun at pop music trends with an actual ear for beats and music to create some seriously funny songs. Naturally, when news hit that they would be bringing a full-length cinematic production this year, you better believe that I was anxious for it… until, for some reason, it was pulled from Australian cinemas. Luckily, this did get a DVD release so I could include it in this year’s list of films, but how is the film itself? Is it a gem that our screwed-up priorities just let slip through the cracks, or should we be thankful that this didn’t get a wide release? This is Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.

Movie Review: Office Christmas Party (2016)
I mentioned our current morbid take on the festive season earlier this month, but I think it’s now that I should bring up why that has taken hold of the collective mindset. In lieu of a dry and lengthy ramble about human evolution and how it is both a blessing and a curse, I’ll just say that with how complex our lives continue to get, things like actually having time every year to relax and let go of all the year’s grievances aren’t realistic. Christmas may be recognized as a time of goodwill toward men but anyone who has recently attempted a family Christmas dinner will know that that isn’t even close to the case. Add to that how this has been a particularly mournful year in terms of beloved icons, and we’re less likely to sing Joy To The World than we are to just roar The Pogues’ Fairytale Of New York before drowning our sorrows in hard liquor. The world sucks and it only seems to make people even more stressed out during the holidays. So, with all that in mind, maybe this hedonistic Christmas party movie is just what we need right now. This is Office Christmas Party.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Movie Review: Your Name (2016)
Makoto Shinkai is, in no uncertain terms, a genuine underdog story in the annals of anime history. Starting out by essentially going for broke in more ways than one, just to bring his first short film Voices Of A Distant Star into fruition, he has since gone on to become one of the most celebrated anime filmmakers of the modern era. That may not mean much to those outside of the fandom, but just to be clear, this guy’s work is so incredibly lauded that he has often drawn comparisons to Hayao friggin’ Miyazaki. Even if Makoto himself doesn’t take much credence to those comparisons, that’s pretty high praise and, even with the little of his work that I’ve seen thus far, I can’t help but feel that it is entirely warranted. Voices Of A Distant Star is easily one of the most emotionally potent works of fiction, let alone anime, ever conceived, and the fact that it’s only 25 minutes in length makes that feat even more astounding. And now, he has a new feature-length production out that is also gaining high praise. Time to dig in: This is Your Name.

Movie Review: Criminal (2016)
Memories are rather curious things. For as terrible and brilliant as they can be, both in the moment and the lasting effect they can have, every one of them ends up shaping who we are as people. Even those that end up being repressed because they are too traumatising to recollect end up shaping crucial elements of our own personal makeup. As such, whenever sci-fi or otherwise fantastical storytellers end up discussing the concept of memory, it usually ends up highlighting just how important memories are when it comes to who we are as people. So, with today’s film taking a similar focus, maybe it will bring a certain poignancy along those same lines. Somehow, though, I highly doubt it. This is Criminal.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Movie Review: ARQ (2016)
In the annals of speculative fiction, the very idea of time travel is one that seems to fascinate people the most. Like, to the point where even filmmakers and audiences that want nothing to do with the deeper implications of sci-fi are willing to go along with it; on paper, Groundhog Day shouldn’t have gotten as widely popular as it did. However, in spite of that, it is also one of the most problematic and fiddly sub-genres in the entirety of fiction, let alone speculative fiction. The reason for this is one of basic logic, and how most storytellers fail to take into account the extremely complex logic behind time travel, paradoxes, timelines, parallel timelines among many, many others. As such, even with the better time twisting tales that have come out recently like Looper, Edge Of Tomorrow and even (by some accounts) Predestination, plot holes make themselves quite prominent and end up tearing away at the work’s structural integrity. Will this film fall into that same trap? Only one way to find out. This is ARQ.

Movie Review: The Red Turtle (2016)
I’m not going to say that, back when I reviewed When Marnie Was There, I called it when I said that Studio Ghibli shutting down just wasn’t going to happen… not yet, at any rate. And it seems that that wound up being accurate, between Miyazaki himself announcing that he was working on one last film and the film I’m talking about today. However, the need to voice that is outweighed by the basic gratitude I have that one of the true titans of the industry is still going. With companies like nWave and Splash Entertainment showing us in this year alone that they were capable of producing absolute garbage to our screens, that thought is invaluable to someone who compulsively watches as many films as I do. So, with that out of the way, how does this Ghibli and French animation collaboration turn out? This is The Red Turtle.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Movie Review: Fifty Shades Of Black (2016)
Since starting my month-long movie marathon, have to admit, the results have been a lot more positive than I was expecting. Sure, not all of them have good but, at worst, we’ve only really touched the realms of lame instead of outright bad. Well, time to change all that. I’ve talking before about watching movies as a form of emotional therapy, and as masochistic as it is, that involves bad movies as well. If there is one thing that cinema has taught me when it comes to the emotional condition of humanity, it’s that even anger has its place in the output. As such, it’s time for me to delve into Fifty Shades territory again, which once again means that I’ll discuss indulging in painful acts under my own volition, as well as revisiting the spoof movie. Let the airing of grievances begin! This is Fifty Shades Of Black… ugh, even the title of this thing makes me cringe.

Movie Review: Trolls (2016)
Well, in-between our obsession with comic book heroes and bitching about mostly female casts in movies, we seem to have to tumbled all the way back into the 80’s. How else do you explain the number of doll/action figure movies we’ve gotten this year? What’s more, we seem to have latched onto the 80’s anything-counts-as-inspiration mindset without really taking the time and effort to properly incorporate them into something them young people today would like. Case in point, Jem And The Holograms, which was about as jarringly anachronistic as it gets without any bloody reason for it. Then we have today’s subject… and if the sight of twerking trolls from the advertising didn’t turn your stomach, then quite frankly, I need whatever industrial-strength medication you’re on because I could certainly use it. So, yeah, I’m not expecting anything good from this. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Please prove me wrong. This is Trolls.