Thursday 30 July 2015

Amy (2015) - Movie Review

As a human being who possesses the basic concept of empathy, I am sad that Amy Winehouse died as young as she did. Knowing her then-widely publicised struggles with substance abuse and alcoholism, regardless of the oft-repeated jokes that were made at the time of her death about how ironic Rehab sounds in hindsight (which, I regretfully admit, I indulged in a bit of myself), just adds another stitch to the tapestry of the tragedies of fame and the loss of human life to its vices. Hell, regardless of her fame, dying as she did to alcohol poisoning after all that had happened is kind of heartbreaking. Of course, as a human being who knows what he likes when it comes to music, I am really friggin’ sad that Amy Winehouse died as young as she did. Knowing how shite pop music has gotten over the last few years (or, rather, shite-er) and how she was one of a select few that stayed consistently good with their output, it makes me kick myself every so often for not giving her the attention I should have while she was alive. So, in keeping with the idea of crystal-clear hindsight, how does this documentary on the life of Amy Winehouse pan out, speaking as a major fan of her work?

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Magic Mike XXL (2015) - Movie Review

Every so often, a film comes along that makes me go “Please, for the love of all that is good in this world, do not screw this up.” And it seems that it’s about that time again. I have been seriously looking forward to this film and, no, it isn’t for the obvious sweaty reasons: I love Steven Soderbergh. To me, he is just about the most versatile filmmaker out there, being able to weave in and out of genres with surprising ease. Not only that, he is able to take very awkward premises and scripts and turn them into films capable of besting whatever else is out at that time.

Probably the best example of these traits would be 2012’s Magic Mike, a film about male strippers that had a lot of heart and intelligence behind it. Yeah, I may have been like everyone else at the time and left it alone because… well, beefcake wasn’t exactly my thing at the time, but after seeing Soderbergh turn the very unsettling story of Liberace and his relationships into the disarmingly warm Behind The Candelabra, I gave it a chance and found a lot to like about it. So, when I heard that there was going to be a sequel made of it, I was all for it. Then the news hit that Soderbergh was going to take a sabbatical from feature filmmaking, meaning that he wouldn’t be directing this one. Then the trailers and extremely cheesy poster came out for the film. I want a film about interesting characters and smart dialogue that just happens to centre on male strippers, and all I’m seeing so far is nothing but more grinding than a skateboarding MMO. Time to see if I get proven wrong, in one of a growing list of situations where I would gladly accept being so.

Saturday 25 July 2015

Terminator: Genisys (2015) - Movie Review

Back in the tail-end of May of this year, I looked at the latest instalment of the sand-encrusted cult series Mad Max with Fury Road, a surprisingly amazing offering. Then, a little while ago, we had Jurassic World, a mildly entertaining but ultimately pointless addition to the already flagging franchise. Today, we conclude this look into how Hollywood today deals with reviving older sci-fi series with a reboot of the Terminator series. Terminator undoubtedly has the strongest footing of the three series for a follow-up, regardless of how my opinion of Mad Max differs from the norm: The first film is a seminal classic of neo-noir and sci-fi in general, and Judgment Day is the epitome of the ‘perfect sequel’, along with being one of the greatest films in any genre without question. Then came Rise Of The Machines which, through a baffling mixture of self-parody, re-hashing of the second film and just plain disrespect for the series mythos as a whole, heavily contrasted what came before it by being one of the worst sequels ever, not to mention a pretty atrocious film in its own right. Salvation had its fair share of issues, but it was nevertheless a fun watch. Yeah, lots of baggage behind this one even without getting into its core theme of bending the space-time continuum over every table. So, how does this work as a means to reboot the series?

Friday 17 July 2015

Minions (2015) - Movie Review

This is the only natural progression that the series could have taken after Despicable Me 2. Between the increasing popularity of the Minions and the focus being brought squarely on them over pretty much anything else in the films, the next logical step would be a film all about the gibbering creatures. The idea that they’re going right ahead and dropping the pretence that people were watching the Despicable Me movies for any another reason than to see the Minions do funny things is a very good thing in my eyes; focus only on what you need to, rather than dragging yourself down for no reason. However, this could also prove to be a rather disastrous idea. Rough analogy time: Ol’ Dirty Bastard was a fun presence on any Wu-Tang Clan song, but listening to the entirety of one of his solo albums can cause some people to overdose; too much of a good and zany thing. Here’s hoping that this isn’t the case here.

Despicable Me 2 (2013) - Movie Review

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Ted 2 (2015) - Movie Review

Seth MacFarlane honestly frustrates me. He’s proven time and again that he is more than capable of being funny, whether it’s with American Dad, the first Ted movie or the early days of Family Guy. But more recently, he has severely fallen by the wayside with stuff like The Cleveland Show, A Million Ways To Die In The West and the current days of Family Guy. His track record actually has a couple of bizarre similarities to that of another animated sitcom creator: Matt Groening. Both started out with shows that were great to begin with and are fondly remembered by all, provided that you stopped watching about halfway through their run, while their other show got lesser attention while managing to outperform the original in certain aspects, most notably in their consistency. MacFarlane, despite what some of his creations may argue, is not a bad creative mind. Hell, watching the first Ted movie again in prep for this review, it’s actually better than I remember it being. But how does the sequel hold up?

Friday 10 July 2015

Jurassic World (2015) - Movie Review

Time for part two in our look into classic genre franchises from the 80’s-90's that are getting remakes lately… yes, this is enough of a specific trend for me to call this "a look into". Jurassic Park, the original at least, is the perfect example of the nostalgic classic: An old(er)-school sci-fi adventure that is unbelievably silly, and more than a little stupid, but it has held up far better than a lot of other films from the same era for most people and is considered still as good as it was when it came out. Watching it again, it’s kind of amazing how good it looks even today effects-wise, but that might just be the inner SF snob in me who has grown weary of the near-endless CGI. Then The Lost World came out, and aside from Pete Postlethwaite doing his best to salvage the thing, it was pretty god-awful. Then came the third film, which somehow managed to one-up the lack of effort from before and somehow made a film that’s worse. Between the sheer awe-inspiration of the first, the animal rights “we’re-making-28-Days-Later-look-restrained” idiocy of the second and the utter boredom of the third, this easily has the worst build-up of the three revamps I’ll be looking at: Say what you want about the Mad Max sequels, at least they have the benefit of being insanely influential in their own rights. Let’s see if this film can go above the low bar 2 and 3 set for it.

Monday 6 July 2015

Love & Mercy (2015) - Movie Review

The Beach Boys; the gods of surf rock that are challenged only by Queen as the group with the best ear for vocal harmonies… and beyond the respect I have for them as a group, I’m not really able to listen to some of their bigger hits anymore. Not that they’re in any way bad on their own, far from it; it’s just that their songs have gone the way of so many other classics and are largely mangled and distorted for commercial jingles nowadays. Here’s exhibits A and B for why the Beach Boys have become so tainted for me.

But even still, their place in the annals of pop music history is solidified and I am not about to try and question that; hell, while Pet Sounds may be one in a very long list of classic albums I’ve yet to listen to in their entirety, I still recognise that the production techniques Brian Wilson employed were amazingly unprecedented for the time. But what about the man himself? Well, equipped with only surface knowledge about his life story, I set out for today’s film to find out.

Sunday 5 July 2015

It Follows (2015) - Movie Review

If there’s anything that is more subjective than comedy, it is horror. Subjectivity is the critical man’s kryptonite, so talking about what can get under people’s skin like I know anything for absolute certain is rather stupid. That said though, and as much as I like to believe otherwise, the current trend in horror films that leans more towards ‘music video horror’ has an audience and I can see why. I know full well that not every moviegoer thinks as intently about what they watch as I do, and that is very much a good thing, and scares generated from smash cuts and sudden loud noises in the soundtrack may not be that substantial but they still work at getting the heart racing. There is as much a place for this breed of film that focuses primarily on editing and soundtrack (hence the term ‘music video horror’) as there is for films that creep a little further under the skin; I just wish that one didn’t far outweigh the other in today’s market. So, with the current prevalence of junk food scares, does today’s subject add to their ranks?