Monday, 30 September 2019

Ride Like A Girl (2019) - Movie Review

When I was in high school, there were two major events that were deemed so important that our class was halted just so we could crowd around the wheeled-in television to witness them. The first was then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s “Sorry” speech, apologising for the systemic racially-biased treatment of the Indigenous population of Australia. The other was the Melbourne Cup, with all of us taking lots to see if our arbitrarily-chosen horse won.

It’s a sporting event that stops the nation, one of the closest traditions we have to the NFL Superbowl, and it’s one that has continued to sour in my memory over my lifetime, considering how it plays into our cultural history. Today’s film, a biopic about Michelle Payne, the first-ever female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, is the first feature in a while that has outright forced me to consider the real-life side of the story being presented.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Nekrotronic (2019) - Movie Review

From the makers of Wyrmwood: Road Of The Dead, which remains one of the most fun movies I’ve covered on this blog, Nekrotronic is another showing of genre pastiche, basically taking everything the Roache-Turner brothers watched and loved growing up and putting their own spin on it. I can’t exactly say what I was expecting out of this, since Wyrmwood is such a weirdly unique film in its vigour and delivery, but I’m happy to report that not only have they stuck to what they know best, they’ve built on their toolkit to bring the same level of fun at a slightly higher polish.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Rambo: Last Blood (2019) - Movie Review

Rambo is one of the most classic action franchises of all time. It is seriously weird thinking about just how influential the first two entries are, setting the tone for a lot of action cinema to come out of post-Vietnam America. The first remains one of the most brutal depictions of PTSD to make it to the big screen, and the second basically set the blueprint for every jungle-set military action-thriller to come after, up to and including the also-highly-influential Predator.

The third film… exists, and even as someone who takes pride in recollecting pop culture minutiae, I can barely remember anything about it. Then there was Rambo ’08, which boosted the gore standard in a way that, given what it was depicting, must’ve hit close to home considering it went on to inspire real-life Burmese freedom fighters. Following any of that up was gonna be a hard ask, and what we get here is… complicated.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile (2019) - Movie Review

In light of certain… takes that have cropped up in regards to Todd Phillip’s Joker, a film we’ll be getting to once it makes it to Aussie cinemas, I want to reiterate something: Films should be allowed to have lead characters that aren’t good people. Narratives about seedier characters, whether they’re born primarily from a writer’s imagination or varyingly based on real-life deplorables, can make for great works of art, let alone film.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Abominable (2019) - Movie Review

Seems like Yetis are making a comeback in the realm of family-friendly cinema. We had the surprisingly challenging Smallfoot last year, and then we had Laika’s latest effort Missing Link earlier this year, both highly effective pieces of animation and some of the better family flicks of late. And now, it looks like Dreamworks is throwing their hat into the ring with this co-production with Pearl Studio, a Chinese animation studio they first collaborated with on the muddled but still entertaining Kung Fu Panda 3. And what we get this time around is a new plateau for the heights that Dreamworks Animation can rise to.

Monday, 23 September 2019

The Angry Birds Movie 2 (2019) - Movie Review

This is going to be a difficult film to write about. Not because it’s the latest cinematic addition to a franchise that really shouldn’t exist, given the highly disposable nature of its source video game series. Not because it’s a follow-up to a film that I gave a fair amount of slack to while everyone else was gawking at the utter memeage of its soundtrack (Limp Bizkit’s Behind Blue Eyes is one of those songs that shouldn’t be in any movie). Not even because of my recurring issue with family films about talking animals. Rather, it’s because this film defies any semblance of a ‘good or bad’ binary, as it sits snugly in both at the exact same time. Read on and I’ll try and explain.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Downton Abbey (2019) - Movie Review

In quite a few ways, I was not looking forward to this one. While part of that could be due to my inexperience with the series this film spawned from, it’s not as if that’s been an issue in the past. I haven’t seen any episodes of Dance Academy or Sword Art Online, and yet I left those films quite pleased with the results.

No, my apprehension here is more to do with the genre, as I have stated in previous reviews that costume dramas really aren’t my thing, and the writer and director bringing it together. Between Crooked House, which was less film as it was malformed audiobook, and The Chaperone, which as a possible road-test for Downton Abbey-style storytelling in a feature-length production ended up crashing into a ditch with all its wheels punctured, I wasn’t expecting much out of this. And yet, while still not entirely being on board with it, I walked away from this a lot more chipper than I would’ve guessed.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Dora And The Lost City Of Gold (2019) - Movie Review

While most of my cartoon diet as a kid was largely populated by the works of Cartoon Network, Dora The Explorer is something that kept popping up when my after-school hours were taken up largely by old-school Flash gaming. In-between side-scrollers about schoolkid secret agents and motion comics based on Lego properties, I played through a few games featuring one of Nickelodeon’s premium characters and caught a handful of moments from the TV show proper.

Knowing how endlessly goofy the framing for the show is, adapting to the big screen was going to be a challenge for just about any filmmaker. Thankfully, this is an adaptation that manages to work as cinematic spectacle without losing touch of what made the series so long-lasting.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Shaft (2019) - Movie Review

John Shaft, the man who built the foundation on which the blaxploitation genre would be built, has had a weird after-life. From the two Richard Roundtree-starring sequels to the classic original, to the 2000 sequel/reboot with Samuel L. Jackson, to today’s film which serves as yet another sequel and another quasi-reboot. The original is a pretty solid effort with an all-time greatest soundtrack, and the 2000 reboot was a bit muddled but still quite entertaining, so maybe this one will turn out alright. Well, considering all three films have the exact same name, let it be known that the confusion with this mess only starts from there.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Amazing Grace (2019) - Movie Review

It’s not every day you go to church for a séance, but that’s what this film has set itself up to be. Released for audience consumption after the tragic death of its main subject, this documentary is the live recording of Aretha’s album of the same name, a work that remains the most commercially successful live gospel album of all time and a substantial part of the Aretha catalogue. Between its lightning-in-a-bottle framing, its backing by the likes of Spike Lee’s 40 Acres And A Mule Filmworks, and its direction by legendary filmmaker Sydney Pollack, this looks to be one hell of a concert flick. And that it is but, for reasons I’ll get to, I can’t shake the feeling that something is missing from all this.

Monday, 9 September 2019

It: Chapter Two (2019) - Movie Review

Following up It: Chapter One was always gonna be a tricky proposition. The most commercially-successful horror film of all time, a retelling that blew most if not all nostalgia for the 1990 mini-series out of the water, and just a brilliantly-constructed piece of cinema; how in the fuck is this meant to measure up to all that? Well, while I would argue that it doesn’t measure up in certain aspects, I would also argue that as a sequel, as a continuation and conclusion to what came before, this got most of the essential stuff damn near perfect.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Rim Of The World (2019) - Movie Review

The latest release from mediocre action director McG wouldn’t even cause a blip on my radar usually. After 2017’s The Babysitter, a surprisingly fun slice of splatstick horror, I’m willing to give the man another chance. I mean, that film had him venturing right out of his comfort zone and that seems to be a good fit for him, and his latest is a coming-of-age sci-fi adventure flick that looks like one big load of 80’s Spielberg worship. I’ll admit, I was genuinely looking forward to this one. It took less than ten minutes for me to realise that I had made a terrible mistake.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

High Flying Bird (2019) - Movie Review

One of the things I really appreciate the medium of cinema for is being able to take subjects and ideas that I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about on this side of the screen, and turn it into something worth being invested in. Subjects like professional sports, about as far from my hobbyist purview as a tea leaf is to the larger workings of the East India Trading Company, and something I’ve looked at in past reviews like Concussion. Not something I take much interest in personally, but with the right filmmaker, I’m willing to give it a second glance. Steven Soderbergh has managed to do just that.