Saturday 28 February 2015

Zhong Kui: Snow Girl And The Dark Crystal (2015) - Movie Review

In my short time of compulsively watching as many films as I do, and even shorter time of reviewing them for public consumption, I feel I have covered a wide spectrum of films in that time that I have given a wide spectrum of reactions to. However, no matter what film I looked at, no matter how out-of-my-depth I may have been concerning the genre, country of origin or subject matter, I always prided myself on being able to articulate exactly why I felt the way I did about each one of them. Sure, I’ve had films that were difficult for me to pin down: Birdman took me a while to really collect my thoughts about, 12 Years A Slave had me hesitating because of peer pressure and how much the rest of the world seemed to love it and God’s Not Dead had to be severely edited from the reams of notes I wrote on it so as to not piss off every religious group under the sun, or rather out of paranoia that that would happen. Today, however, I think I have found a film to top them all in that regard.

Friday 20 February 2015

The Interview (2015) - Movie Review

Well, after the essay I wrote about Fifty Shades Of Fucked Up, I figured I’d follow it up with something a little easier to digest. So here I am talking about a film that nearly kinda maybe could have started a world war… possibly. Yeah, there’s a fair bit of background info to spool through before even getting into the film proper this time round. When you’re dealing with a film centred on the assassination of the leader of a foreign nation, it’d be a miracle if there wasn’t some form of backlash against the film but that’s just the start of it. Between North Korea’s UN ambassador declaring the film as "sponsoring terrorism" and "an act of war", the hacking of Sony Entertainment’s networks by the Guardians of Peace and subsequent leaking of several films along with certain sensitive information, and the reaction to all this that nearly ended up with the film not being released at all, I don’t know whether to call this the greatest marketing ploy ever or an awesome attempt at creating a Homefront LARPing session. Of course, there’s also the possibility that all of this media furore surrounding the film could end up overshadowing it and creating a lot of build-up for what might be a so-so comedy.

Monday 16 February 2015

Fifty Shades Of Grey (2015) - Movie Review

It seems like there’s a lot of need in the world of internet criticism to find the next Twilight; a romantic film or series of films that can capture the cynical zeitgeist and bring us so many reiterations of “This is so bad, it’s hilarious” that we inevitably grow tired of it in record time. We’ve had a couple of flashes in the pan in recent years, like The Host and a myriad of other YA adaptations, but nothing has really latched on with audiences yet or at least in the same way Twilight did. Well, when news that the most successful Twilight fanfiction of all time (no, seriously, that’s what it started out as) was getting a film adaptation, there was much frothing at the mouth that this might be just what the doctor ordered. But how does it actually turn out?

Saturday 14 February 2015

Wyrmwood: The Road Of The Dead (2015) - Movie Review

Whenever news hits that a new zombie film is getting released, the majority of audiences will no doubt be rolling their eyes at the mere idea of yet another look into the living dead to add to the pile. Sure, there are definite classics to come out of the genre like Night Of The Living Dead (either version written by Romero), 28 Days Later, the Evil Dead trilogy, Shaun Of The Dead, Braindead, Zombieland, the current phenomenon that is AMC’s The Walking Dead, not to mention my favourite movie of all time Planet Terror. However, with the genre now being more prevalent than ever, there is the unfortunate side-effect of over-saturation; it’s difficult to bring anything new to audiences after all that we've seen. Not only that, a lot of attempts to really push the boundaries of the genre like the gay necrophilic porno Otto, or Up With Dead People or the heavily misguided romantic comedy Warm Bodies, end up pretty badly. So, with all that said and done, how does this Australian-produced zombie film hold up?

Thursday 12 February 2015

Foxcatcher (2015) - Movie Review

I have a certain fascination with actors who are able to transform themselves for a role. Be it through method, heavy make-up work or however else, it’s very interesting seeing what an actor is willing to do for their craft. One of my personal favourite examples of this are Christian Bale in The Machinist and Batman Begins, where he turned himself into a real-life Billy Halleck and emaciated himself for the former and then bulked up to play Batman in the latter. As much as I would hate to be that man’s stomach during all that, I have to give credit where it’s due for pulling that off. I bring this all up because, given the majority of posters I saw of this movie before going to see it myself, this film seems to be banking on the transformative role Steve Carell has in it. One look at the barely-recognisable Carell and I can’t say I blame them. But did it pay off?

Monday 9 February 2015

The Gambler (2015) - Movie Review

Mark Wahlberg has always struck me as an actor who is extremely dependent on his directors, given how capable and incapable he can appear on screen. You give him M. Night Shyamalan and he’ll direct him to be so wooden that he makes the plastic plants he’s talking to look like the foliage in Creepshow. On the other end, hand him to someone like Michael Bay and he’ll get him to emphasise the inherent stupidity of his character and make him scary and funny in his own right. It’s a bit of a crapshoot, is what I’m saying. So, in the hands of Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes director Rupert Wyatt, what kind of Mark Wahlberg do we get here?

Sunday 8 February 2015

Selma (2015) - Movie Review

It forms a lump of coal in my stomach to admit this, but we live in a world where statements like this still need to be said: There are very few things in this world uglier than racism. The actions people will commit under the flag of protecting one’s own ethnicity against all others can enter into the truly stomach-churning and, while we have definitely made some progress beyond our past actions, such things are still an open wound for most nations if not all. However, it is a common thought in the creative world that our darkest moments can give birth to our brightest works of art. In the last few years, especially during Oscar season, we’ve gotten the lion’s share of film exploring racial themes: 12 Years A Slave, The Butler, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, not to mention the numerous war movies set in World War II like Fury and The Monuments Men; most of which are well-done or at the very least well-intentioned. Given how today’s film falls along similar lines, let’s see just how bright this turns out if at all.

Saturday 7 February 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) - Movie Review

'Mark Millar' and 'movie adaptation' have a very odd relationship with each other: While the films adapted from his work are mostly good, they take a lot of liberties with the source material. Kick-Ass, through its re-writing of Big Daddy's character, completely shifted the tone of the film and made it a lot less bleak which actually worked to the film’s benefit. Wanted, save for the main character’s abilities and backstory, has pretty much nothing else to do with the original book, a definite shame given its initial premise. Since Millar and director Matthew Vaughn struck gold before with Kick-Ass, it would make sense that he would also bring his book The Secret Service to the big screen. It doesn’t hurt that Vaughn was co-plotter on the original book as well.

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Mortdecai (2015) - Movie Review

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more versatile actor working today than Johnny Depp. Yeah, he’ll have a couple of auto-pilot roles like in The Tourist with Angelina Jolie, but when he’s on-point he can transform himself on screen: Jack Sparrow, Edward Scissorhands, Willy Wonka, Ed Wood, even Guy Lapointe; say what you will about the quality of the writing for each of these roles, and it is varied between them no doubt, but these alone show the kind of range that some actors would give all their Golden Globes to get. But even the best of actors can appear in duds; how does he follow up his spellbindingly bizarre performance as Lapointe in Tusk?

Monday 2 February 2015

The Theory Of Everything (2015) - Movie Review

In my now-yearly tradition of spooling through the Oscar nominees as if I gave a pea or squib about what the Academy actually thinks, this one's inclusion let loose one of the frankly uglier stereotypes surrounding the Oscars from my mind. Essentially, the story goes that the Academy is far more favourable towards films that focus on illnesses that weaken the body or the mind; anything involving a wheelchair or mental abnormalities are shoe-ins. Whether this is accurate or not, the simple fact is that these stories do connect with people; we have a capacity for sympathy, despite what the world of bro-douche-comedies may want us to think, and these films do register more with us than others. Add to that how the subject is one of mankind's most unique scientific voices and then it hits harder. Is this just simple Oscar bait?