Monday 30 November 2015

The Human Centipede III: Final Sequence (2015) - Movie Review

This review is something of a milestone for me, as this is where I officially come full circle. After all, the original Human Centipede was the first film I ever reviewed in any semi-semi-formal capacity. However, over the years, I’ve come to the realisation that my initial hatred for the thing was most likely a result of the reputation it had received. As such, I’ll set the record straight right now.

While I still maintain that the characters in the film were often thicker than a second coat of paint, Dr. Heiter’s performance along with the overall concept were enough to at least make it watchable. Then came the sequel, and it is here that I fear I will lose every one of my readers: The Human Centipede II, despite being a film that I predicted would happen when I first reviewed, is one of the best sequels ever made. Seriously, it does everything that a sequel should do right, with Tom Six looking back on the original idea and basically riffing on his own writing to create what I genuinely consider to be a great film… provided that your stomach can handle the gore, that is.

With this patently absurd opinion of the rest of the series, and my knowledge that Rotten Tomatoes can be incredibly misleading when it comes to what is better than what (Hypocrisy ho!), I’m looking at today’s film with probably the most optimism of any film I’ll look at this year. I think I broke at some point during The Green Inferno, but let’s see if this new perspective does me any favours anyway.

Sunday 29 November 2015

Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015) - Movie Review

If you spent any amount of time watching Cartoon Network during its heyday, or even grew up on it like I did, then you owe a lot to one Genndy Tartakovsky. The man’s work on shows like Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack and the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated mini-series has gone on to make him one of the most vibrant creative minds that Hanna-Barbera has ever been associated with… yes, seriously. As such, the next big step in terms of flexing animated muscle is going on to do feature films, and so he was brought on to direct 2012’s Hotel Transylvania. That is, he was brought on as the sixth reported director of the film. Usually a pretty bad sign, especially for a first-time film director, but he nevertheless gave it his all and made the film his own. The result was a surprisingly fun and not-surprisingly well animated family film; sure, it had its annoying/stupid moments but the good points far outweighed the bad. Since it made over four times its budget at the box office, it of course got a sequel. Let’s hope that this isn’t another sequel made for its own sake, because I want to maintain my respect for Genndy as best I can.

Saturday 28 November 2015

Kill Me Three Times (2015) - Movie Review

This might go down as one of the most bizarrely marketed films I’ve seen this year, and considering we "only just" had The Interview earlier in the year, that is saying a lot. Allow me to break down the sequence of events here: This film apparently had a cinematic release here in Australia. That makes sense; it’s an Aussie film and we’ll seemingly support any local production with a pulse these days. However, I say ‘apparently’ because I can find evidence of only one cinema that showed it, and even then it was a Q&A screening with the director in tow. Compare this to the marketing done for the DVD release, which got a colossal upgrade in terms of media attention. I have never seen a DVD release get so much cinema advert time, not to mention poster space, as this film. With this rather sporadic attempt to sell the film, and its currently abysmal approval ratings, I can only assume that this was all done as a hasty salvage operation to make sure it turned in a profit by any means necessary. Jai Courtney isn’t as big of a red flag for a film as that background. Well, let’s see if the Simon Pegg assist can rescue this film any, although I seriously kind of doubt it.

Friday 27 November 2015

The Green Inferno (2015) - Movie Review

I’ve talked before about the confounding writing trend in horror films that says that, because most of the characters are going to die anyway, we shouldn’t be made to have any emotional connection to them. As such, the majority of the main cast is written to be hateful by whatever way possible, usually through the exhibition of utterly misanthropic behaviour. Well, the director of today’s film is one of the forefathers of the style in today’s cinema: Eli Roth. He is also supposedly responsible for the almost-hilariously misnamed ‘torture porn’ sub-genre, alongside James Wan and Leigh Whannell. Now, even though his films may contain some of the most loathsome core characters in film, I do not think he is a bad filmmaker; after all, there were parts of Hostel that I could get into and his work with RZA made for a surprisingly entertaining flick with The Man With The Iron Fists. Well, since this is his first time in the director’s chair since he made the Thanksgiving fake trailer for the Grindhouse film project, easily the best work of his career, let’s see if he has grown at all in that time as he creates an homage to the 80’s Amazon Cannibal sub-genre.

Thursday 26 November 2015

The Cobbler (2015) - Movie Review

Yep, we’re looking at another Adam Sandler film. For as much as I’ve brought up how some of his films are just grade-F wastelands, I seem to have developed a pattern where I have been defending the man’s work a lot more than I ever thought I would. Hell, my better-than-the-norm reception for Blended is the entire reason that I now have a yearly tradition of listing films that I disagree with the consensus on. Well, with any luck, things will be a little easier to deal with this time around as I’m looking at a Sandler film not produced by Happy Madison Productions. Who knows, maybe we could get another Funny People or Punch Drunk Love here. Or maybe we’ll get a film that has a lower approval rating than Pixels… seriously.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015) - Movie Review

Every so often, the cinematic hype machine will transcend simply creating interest in a given film and generate a legitimate film event. Undoubtedly, the big film event for this year is the upcoming release of the latest Star Wars instalment but, for reasons I’ll get into when I inevitably look at that film, this is the one I was looking forward to more. This single film is a far bigger deal than I think even the fans and filmmakers realise: The progenitor for the latest trend in YA adaptations that will likely carry on for years after this has left cinemas, the finale to the most hyped film series since Harry Potter and the latest continuation of a franchise that has maintained the kind of quality control that most directors would sell their souls to maintain. Hell, I probably only qualify as a surface fan and I still reckon that this is probably the best young adult film series that we’ll get for a long while. But this is why I usually voice against hype on this blog: This could all be leading to sheer disappointment, much like what happened when The Hobbit ended. Time to find out if this ending only leaves us hungry for more… and don’t worry, I’ll whip myself for that one later.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

He Named Me Malala (2015) - Movie Review

Previous comments that I have made on this blog may give the impression that I am anti-feminist. Well, that is true to a certain extent, in that I am very much against feminism as it exists today. It seems to be trying to push an idea that women are better than men is somehow better than the opposite stance… which it very much isn’t. Constantly making comments along the lines of all men are murderous rapists isn’t helping anyone, or do I need to bring up that #KillAllMen was an actual thing not that long ago? Hell, even people who have a legitimate point to make (Anita Sarkeesian) end up making it through questionable means; it’s like a rock band that wants to deliver a political message in their lyrics but can barely hold a note. As such, whenever someone like Malala comes along who actually seems to have the right approach to furthering equal rights between the sexes, even I find myself gaining hope in the entire movement as it stands right now. But there’s still that Shitty Political Rock Band angle to deal with; that message still has to be delivered in the right way.

Monday 23 November 2015

Spectre (2015) - Movie Review

You’d be hard-pressed to find a single film franchise that’s more iconic than the exploits of agent 007. The actors, the girls, the gadgets, the quips, the cars, even the booze; all of it has reached a phenomenal level of cultural relevance. It is almost to the point where, a thousand years from now, future civilisations are going to assume that British people did nothing but drink rocket fuel martinis and snark at each other all day… okay, bad example. What I’m getting at with all this is that, with each new instalment, there is an automatic expectation that comes with them. Now, bear in mind that anything and everything that is said here is from the perspective of a very recent casual fan of the series; hell, the first Bond film I saw in cinemas was Skyfall. To be fair though, that’s a pretty damn good place to start. But how does its sequel turn out?

Sunday 22 November 2015

Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse (2015) - Movie Review

No matter how menacing, influential or popular a creature is, there will always come a time when they will officially stop being scary. We’ve seen it happen with vampires and werewolves and now, with how obnoxiously prevalent they are, zombies have joined them. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they can’t be used in stories anymore; just that the method has to be tweaked ever so slightly. Where vampires and werewolves used to be monstrous creatures of the night, they have now become more humanised and treated with the character in mind more than previously. Zombies, on the other hand, are pretty much reduced to being scenery. They are nameless, faceless cannon fodder that the audience can feel guiltless for seeing killed off in bloody fashion, all the while mainly contributing the setting for a story. Hell, the most popular zombie-related media right now, The Walking Dead, is far less about the zombies themselves and more about their presence and prevalence affects the few human survivors and how they interact and conflict with each other. What I’m getting at with all this is, even with my own still-lingering affinity for the genre, I’m not expecting too much from today’s film.

Friday 20 November 2015

Freeheld (2015) - Movie Review

I am becoming the very thing that I hate most. I have always maintained that there are a few key things that, hopefully, separate me from the more mainstream film press. Apart from my insistence on not allowing a person’s media enjoyment to reflect on a person’s character (i.e. not calling someone stupid because they like/don’t like something) and making every attempt possible to judge every film as equals, I also wanted to refrain from letting my own personal politics spill into my thoughts on a given film. Well, if you’ve been following me over the last month or so, you’ll know that I’ve been doing a craptastic job of that last one. I’ve been shoe-horning in my views on certain aspects of sexual politics numerous times here, even when it hasn’t been called for. To put it simply, I don’t want to become another Armond White and have my political views be the only thing that dictate how I watch/analyse a film. So, it should help that I’m almost forced to do the same here, given how this film directly deals with certain politically charged matters. I miss when I would just reference random pieces of pop culture for my jokes, rather than have to bring things down so much. Nevertheless, we still have a review to do here.

Thursday 19 November 2015

Now Add Honey (2015) - Movie Review

Considering I made a very lengthy rant about this subject matter in the past, I’ll try not to be too long winded this time around. Suffice to say, I hate Valley Girls. I have never, and probably will never, understand the mindset that says that annoying, bratty, spoiled rich kids from California are funny and/or worth watching for any length of time. Aside from just doing nothing more than reminding me of the sort of people I watch movies to specifically avoid, they are also the ultimate manifestation of the most baffling form of ‘comedy’ ever: It’s funny because it’s annoying. If any of my readers are able to give me a reasonable answer for why this is still kicking around, I would be eternally thankful because I’m at a complete loss. Till that fateful day, I’m stuck watching films that think being loud and obnoxious is the same as being humourous. Like today’s film, for instance.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Man Up (2015) - Movie Review

I think at this point, it’s safe to say that Simon Pegg has officially become the new "that British guy" in modern cinema. You know, that recognisable UK actor that pops up in films whom, either through reputation or prevalence, almost everyone knows if only by appearance alone. Between his genre-redefining work with Edgar Wright to the populist re-imaginings of older franchises with J.J. Abrams, I’d also consider this is a damn good thing as well given the quality averages of this guy’s filmography. Hell, I’m eagerly awaiting the next Star Trek film with him as the co-writer, even if it is being directed by the guy who did the majority of The Fast & The Furious films… even when I’m praising an actor’s work, that cynicism never lets up, does it? Yeah, let’s get started with today’s film before it overloads and I start nitpicking the very minor flaws in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy.

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Pokémon The Movie: Hoopa And The Clash Of Ages (2015) - Movie Review

With how sequelised Hollywood apparently is nowadays, it’s understandable to get a sense of déjà vu from any given film. Or, to be accurate, to worry about getting that sense of déjà vu from any given film. If you’ve seen one horrible piece of fossilised pelican faeces masquerading as a love story, you’ve seen them all. However, every once in a while, a film comes along that offers a better-than-average chance of proving my assumptions right. And, of course, this is yet another example where I happily accept the idea of being wrong: The latest Pokémon movie. Yep, we’re shooting for No. 18 this time around, as if this franchise isn’t already reaching Disney levels of money-grubbing prevalence. Really, the best I can hope for is that this isn’t quite as crap as last year’s effort.

Monday 16 November 2015

The Lobster (2015) - Movie Review

I’ve talked before about the high-conceptuality of speculative fiction, but as much as I like it when filmmakers indulge in their more bonkers side, it is perfectly understandable if it repels other, more discerning film-goers away. Even if My Little Pony doesn’t get the same knee-jerk reaction out of me these days as it used to, a certain level of self-awareness is required so as to understand why other people may see you as… odd, to say the least, for watching it. For all our talk about not judging books by their covers, every so often there will be a film that sounds too out there for audiences to apparently take. This is one such occasion, and I will freely admit that the premise had me sceptical about its efficacy as well… then again, I’m sceptical about pretty much every release these days, so this is nothing new. However, I can only hope that by this review’s end, I will have converted at least some people on seeing this film because it deserves to be watched.

Saturday 14 November 2015

Accidental Love (2015) - Movie Review

Oh, how I have waited for this day… much like how I await the day I get castrated. Today is the day that I look at a film that has been disowned by its director. Not that this is anything new in Hollywood; google the name “Alan Smithee” and you’ll get an idea of how prevalent this is. However, what makes me so hesitant to look at this is for two big reasons: One of them being that disowning a project usually happens as a result of excessive interference/displeasure with said project, meaning that the end result more likely than not is going to suck. The other reason is that the disgruntled filmmaker in question today is David O. Russell, recent Oscar idol and a man who I wholeheartedly trust to deliver emotionally resonant, if sometimes incoherent, cinema. The man has a knack for delivering amazing work from rather unorthodox subject matter when left to his own devices. In other words, he’s pretty much one of the last people that should be brought under the fire of studio interference.

Friday 13 November 2015

Sleeping With Other People (2015) - Movie Review

Maybe because it’s due to my own social hermitism, or as an extension of my aversion to certain labels, but I’ve never understood the notion of a ‘date movie’. The reason this confuses me as it does is that, more times than not, it’s applied to rom-coms; this is assuming that the only thing that a couple going out would want to watch is two people who could potentially be having a better relationship than they are. Isn’t that more defined by what the couple has in common in terms of genre interests? Hell, first time I went on anything remotely close to a movie date, we saw Up; aside from some emotional scarring considering how that relationship turned out, I don’t really associate that film too heavily with romance. Well, unless you have a sick mind and consider the old man and the scout to be a couple… in which case, seek help. Oh well. Until the day comes that I see ads for the next David Cronenberg release promoting it as a couples movie, I guess I’m stuck with rom-coms then. And right from the title of today’s subject, I’m already worried.

Thursday 12 November 2015

The Dressmaker (2015) - Movie Review

I hate the term ‘chick flick’. Like, really hate the term. Not only does it bank on the idea that women only want a very select number of elements in their entertainment, which is pretty damn regressive, but it is also primarily used as a put-down by critics, as if what women presumably want to watch is something to inherently be ashamed of. I’ve discussed films that fit into this category before, specifically romantic shlock like The Best Of Me, but it seems like the term really doesn’t have much reason to be used nowadays. I’ll wait until the release of the Expendabelles before I feel the need for any official eulogy for the term, but gender shouldn’t qualify as a defining factor when it comes to what film is meant to interest a person. Or maybe this is just my fence-sitting naivety shining through once again, I don’t know. Anyway, I bring this all up because this film supposedly counts as a chick flick. I say "supposedly" because I’m still not entirely sure who this film is meant to appeal to, if anyone at all.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015) - Movie Review

Franchise additions are nothing new to the big screen. Franchise conclusions, on the other hand, not so much. Sure, if we’re talking about adaptations of pre-existing works, there has to be an end point. However, studios are savvy enough to milk the cash cows while they are still standing, and even long after they drop dead, which means that they usually don’t have the guts to kill off the potential for future sequels. This seems to ring especially true when it comes to horror franchises: Friday The 13thand Saw's respective series went through a handful of 'final chapters' in their time, and even now there’s talk about continuing the saga that Jigsaw built; the Amityville series didn’t even let the story about a possessed lamp stop them; and the Witchcraft films still haunt the nightmares of video rental junkies for all the wrong reasons (all 13 of them). With all this in mind, despite how they’re touting this as the finale of the Paranormal Activity story, I’m not holding my breath on that front.

Monday 9 November 2015

The Last Witch Hunter (2015) - Movie Review

I’ve talked before about using immortality to add flavour to a romantic story, but here is where we get into one of the many offshoots of that idea: The immortal hero. Yet another example of the chosen one narrative at work, this usually involves a seemingly ordinary person who has been granted abilities that forces them to live longer for some greater purpose. In any bog standard story, this usually involves some kind of great evil that needs to be fought. Really, unless your name is Joss Whedon, it is extremely unlikely that someone will be able to pull anything all that new or compelling out of the concept. This kind of sucks, considering the idea is even older than the undying souls that utilise it. But hey, I could be wrong; maybe this new Vin Diesel vehicle could set itself apart from the myriad of fantasy stories out there, let alone the ones dealing with eternal life, and create something truly memorable. *sigh* Let’s just get into today’s kindling already.

Sunday 8 November 2015

Burnt (2015) - Movie Review

Of the many, many things that I don’t possess nearly as much expertise in, or feign to have expertise in at least, as film, food would have to be one of the bigger ones. I have little to no interest in cooking shows that don’t includes the words “Iron Chef”, my taste buds have dulled from so much fast food that I wouldn’t be able to taste each of the secret herbs & spices even if I was actively told what they were, and I cannot for the life of me take the more cut-throat kitchen dramas out there seriously. Maybe if I spent long enough in the more hoity-toity restaurants of the world, then maybe seeing chefs completely lose their shit would make a bit more sense to me. Or maybe if I had watched a lot less of Gordon Ramsey’s signature freak-outs when I was growing up; that might've helped too. So, with all this in mind, I’m probably not the ideal audience for this kind of film. But it’s not as if this is the first, nor will it be the last time that this will happen, so it’ll be regular snarky business as usual.

Saturday 7 November 2015

Miss You Already (2015) - Movie Review

My past reviews of films featuring Kristen Stewart have made running jokes out of this, but in all honesty it’s a really good thing that the stars of former record-holder for Biggest Godwin’s Law Breaker, Twilight, have moved past that famed series. Anna Kendrick has become an accomplished actor/singer thanks to films like Pitch Perfect and Into The Woods, Robert Pattinson has done acclaimed work with visionaries like David Cronenberg, and Kristen Stewart has come to seriously impress crowds thanks to films like Camp X-Ray, Still Alice and American Ultra. Not only that, regular writer of the series Melissa Rosenberg has entered into the Marvel Cinematic fold with the web series Jessica Jones and Stephanie Meyer… has largely gone quiet and rested on her franchise royalties, thank all things right with the world.

[whispering from behind me, even though this is a text review and not in any way audio/visual where this could be properly conveyed]

Wait, she wrote what?

[more inaudible whispering]

Oh, for crying out loud!

Well, point is, for the most part, they’ve largely moved on from that crater of a saga. But what about the original film’s director Catherine Hardwicke?

Friday 6 November 2015

Bridge Of Spies (2015) - Movie Review

This is the kind of double act that film buffs construct entire fantasy worlds around. On one hand, we have filmmaking maestro Steven Spielberg, the man who helped define cinema as it stands today. He is the reason why the word 'blockbuster' exists in Hollywood. On the other hand, we have the Coen brothers, whose captivating and poignant stories have gone to dominate both the underground and the mainstream. Hell, how many filmmakers do you know of whose works have inspired an entire religion around them? But you know the saying about what the road to Hell was built on; just because you have two great tastes doesn’t automatically mean you’re on the verge of the next Reese’s. But, out of respect for three legends of the craft, I will hope and pray at the altar of Welles that this all pans out for the best.

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Back In Time (2015) - Movie Review

Among the many sacred cows of the speculative fiction umbrella, the one that has probably gotten the most noise this year is the Back To The Future Trilogy. Yes, go on about how hyped people are for the upcoming Star Wars sequel, but there’s no way that you can say with a straight face that the constant quibbling about what Back To The Future Part II did/didn’t get right about its vision for the year 2015 wasn’t more prevalent than the hype for The Force Awakens. So, while other cinemas brought back the original film(s) to cinemas on the lauded day of October 21st, 2015, some even doing it at the exact minute that the main characters arrived in the film for extra geek cred, my local arthouse theatre had something else in mind: A fan-funded documentary about the phenomenon itself. With a one-night-only showing on the big screen, and about fifty Marty cosplayers in tow (and only one Mr. Strickland, funnily enough), what self-respecting SF geek could pass it up? But how did it actually hold up? This is Back In Time, and points to you if that didn’t immediately make you start humming the Huey Lewis song. Either of them.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

UNindian (2015) - Movie Review

Of all of the people who suddenly find it within themselves to become an actor, sports athletes are probably amongst those who have the least business doing so despite how well some of them turn out. Don’t get me wrong, Vinnie Jones has given us some truly badass roles during his time, but this kind of illustrates how limited the idea is: The majority of the better athletes-cum-actors mainly work in more action-packed fare; anything else, not so much, and it usually fails whenever something more serious is attempted. As such, today’s film serving as the cinematic debut for former Australian cricketer Brett Lee is a rather daunting prospect, despite how the prevalence of the film’s poster has tried to make me acclimatise to the idea. Still, it’s not as if I don’t readily welcome my pessimism being proven wrong around here, so I can only hope that this won’t be as painful as its own potential.

Monday 2 November 2015

The Walk (2015) - Movie Review

There are very few filmmakers whom possess such a stranglehold on pop culture history as Robert Zemeckis. Whether it’s his audience-pleasing favourites like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the Back To The Future trilogy, his critical darlings like Forrest Gump and Cast Away or even his cult classics like Used Cars and Death Becomes Her, the man likely owns a decent part of the collective cinematic mindset. Through his willingness to adapt not only to newer filming techniques but also to the Hollywood system at large, he has more than earned his place in the pantheon of directing greats. That, and he will also hold a very near and dear place for me personally, since he’s also one of the only directors still working today that has a consistently good track record in terms of effects work; it’s kind of astounding just how well a lot of his films have visually held up. So, when news hit that the king of dual role casting was behind a new release, it became clear that this is something I would be watching even without the whole critical routine.