The Invisible Man (2020)

It pains me to see that current events will forever taint this movie in my memory. This film was the last one I saw at the cinema before the coronavirus happened. So this might be the last recent review we post for a while (an update will be up shortly regarding our status in regards to continuing this site). That’s a shame as this movie deserves better, it’s an incredibly solid piece of film-making, albeit frustratingly inconsistent. It does some things brilliantly but then does the same thing badly a few minutes later, almost like it was made by two separate people.

The main areas of this for me: visuals and audio. There were times where the film seemed to think “music played at a volume that causes it to muffle” is tension. When it happens in climactic scenes and the music is built towards, then yes it is effective, but there are times where it seems just annoying. Similar with visuals, there are some brilliantly subtle moments, where we just see a breath cloud in the background. But this is let down by other scenes which take place in a frustrating amount of darkness. I get the appeal of hiding a lot, Alien etc did it well, but that was done differently. This was done where the main characters were in darkness, so all you could see were blurry shadows moving around slowly.

Now onto the good; the performances. Elisabeth Moss is PERFECT here. Her broken nature is obvious for everyone to see. Even when her partner isn’t on the screen you can see the effect he has had on her just through her performance. She anchors this entire film brilliantly; if her performance wasn’t as good as it is then the film would suffer.

The worry with taking a classic story like this is making it appropriate for the modern age. “scientists and a special magic potion” isn’t really a formula (hah, science pun) that works for modern movie audiences. Maybe this is because people have access to the internet so fraudulent science will be found out easily. They updated this in the best way possible; it’s a suit made of cameras. This not only is a perfectly logical way to fix some flaws in the power of invisibility (vision works on reflection so if you’re invisible, you can’t see either), it being cameras fixes this. Plus it causes a great scene where the suit gets damaged and starts to glitch in and out of visibility.

So in summary; if you get a chance you should definitely watch this. It’s brutal when it needs to be, but is incredibly human too. If the Dark Universe started with this instead of The Mummy (or the Dracula one they attempted to start it with) then maybe it wouldn’t have been dead on arrival. It’s slow but it makes the most of the time, and it has a truly chilling ending.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)

I should preface this with the following disclaimer: I don’t like Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. I think she tries to hard to be “crazy” and it hurts the performance as it seems incredibly cartooney. It reminds me of “crazy” pro-wrestlers in the 80’s who would just sit in the background and pull funny faces whilst their manager spoke. It hurts films like this as she’s essentially a cartoon character in a realistic world, and I personally don’t think those two worlds mesh well together. It’s my big issue with Jared Leto’s Joker too; the instant that character has “damaged” tattooed on himself he’s no longer that character as, it’s done for stylistic movie effect rather than in-movie reality. Basically, it makes it seem like he’s doing everything for the benefit of an audience, and it hurts the character. That’s my issue with Robbie’s performance. So if you’re a “OMG Margot is SOOOO perfect and wonderful” then you might want to skip this review.

I wanted to like this film, I really did. It received a lot of hate for having the sheer audacity to be a film which features women both in front and behind the screen. I wanted to write this review and be like “no, support women in film, go see this movie”, but I can’t (and not just because all the cinemas are shut now). My biggest issue is it reminded me of Suicide Squad, like they didn’t learn their mistakes. The complete tonal mess? That’s present in this film. The fear that the film wasn’t comfortable with silence so filled everything with unnecessary noise? That’s here too. The fact that a group of people go from complete strangers to bestest buddies forever? Yup. The Birds Of Prey don’t even really occur until the final scene. So much of the film is about Harley Quinn that it forgets about the group, and not in an effective way. It doesn’t make me want to see more of them (with the exception of one character who I’ll get to later). Harley Quinn is all over this film, which when you’re trying to use the film to introduce a 3-person group for a future movie, seems like a mistake. You know how people felt Captain America: Civil War was more like an Avengers movie than a Captain America movie? This is the opposite, it feels more like a Harley Quinn movie than a Birds Of Prey one. Actually that comparison isn’t really apt, this is more like if Age Of Ultron was called “The New Avengers” based on the final scene. This is a terrible sign for the future because nobody will go see a Birds Of Prey movie without Harley Quinn now, why would they when the studio has done such a terrible job of introducing the characters? Although considering how little money this is making, that’s unlikely (personally I think it was a huge mistake to market this film towards teenage girls and then have it R-Rated so they can’t go see it).

The lack of characterisation hurts none of the characters more than it hurts the villain. Ewan McGregor is clearly having a lot of fun, but he’s not really given enough to do. His character isn’t given anywhere near enough detail, which is a shame as when he is on-screen he’s terrifying.

So yeah, I wouldn’t recommend seeing this film, unless you loved Suicide Squad, in which case what the hell is wrong with you? If it’s part of a box set or if it’s on Netflix then check it out, but it’s just not for me. As I said before though, that might be because I don’t like Margot Robbie’s performance in this (LOVED her in I, Tonya though), so that’s definitely tainting my view of the film. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is perfect in it though, and is the only reason I would see a Birds Of Prey film. Her performance, her character, everything is just so wonderful.

Parasite (2019)

I hadn’t even seen a trailer for this before I watched it, but I knew it was supposed to be really good. All I really knew was that it was a South Korean film, and it was VERY good. I don’t think I’ve watched a South Korean film before so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of cinematic culture. South Korean or Japanese (and yes, I know they’re distinctly different but this point does apply to both so stay with me) films tend not to make much of an impact on the western world unless they are one of the following two things:

  1. Incredibly fucked up.
  2. Animated

So when I heard the buzz this was getting I imagined it to have a really fucked up twist somewhere. I think that somewhat hindered my enjoyment of the film, I kept waiting for a twist that wasn’t going to happen, which was especially damaging because there were a few points where I sensed it approaching it and thought “okay now it’s happening”. Really that’s the main issue I had with this film. That’s quite telling that the main issue I had with this film was basically my own idiocy, if the Oscars gave a shit about horror films then the best actress nominations from the last few years would have been a lot more interesting.

The film itself is nothing like what I was expecting. Like I said, it’s a South Korean film called Parasite and it has a seemingly perfect rich family with something hidden in their basement, so you can see why it took me so long to get used to it not meeting my expectations. It’s actually kind of a nice film. It’s about a family. Yup, that’s all you’re getting. They con their way into all working for the same family. The scenes where we see them do that are pretty damn good; brilliantly edited and paced, very reminiscent of a heist movie. There are a few surprises later on, but really you’re not here for the shocks and twists, you’re here for the experience. On that note, I doubt you’ll see another film like it. On the downside, the satirical nature of it may be a bit too subtle. On the bright side this means more people will watch it, but (and I recognise this is personal opinion) I prefer my satire to bite a bit harder. That’s not a slight against the film, it’s just a personal preference. The final scenes do have to be seen though, incredibly heartbreaking and with just a slight touch of hopelessness that overwhelms you, I love it. So yeah go see it, it’s funny, warm, and features a dog eating sausages next to a corpse.

Fantasy Island (2020)

I was actually excited about this. The idea of a group of people getting what they wish for but it leading to their destruction is perfect for a horror movie. Think about it, since there’s really no limits you get to showcase some incredible set-pieces full of imagination. You can use the characters wishes to display who they are as people. Plus the whole “be careful what you wish for” allows for some creative scripting as well, the idea of your dreams being cursed or not up to what you expected. That’s definitely not the case. The script is formulaic, as is the direction and performances. I’m mainly annoyed by two things, two major issues I had with the film:

  1. The horror wasn’t linked to the dreams.
  2. The ending.

I’ll go into them in further depth. The first one: the way the wishes end up causing deaths is not really linked to the wishes themselves, there’s no sense of clever Twilight Zone/Black Mirror karma going back to get you kind of thing. I’ll go through them here:

Melanie

The wish

She wants to torture someone she went to school with.

How it goes wrong

It turns out it’s not a hologram and she is actually torturing her. I’m going to go into this specific moment in more detail later on. It then gets darker as she breaks the woman free and they end up getting chased by the torturer. So it just becomes a standard slasher film.

What would have made sense

Simple; have Melanie kill her but then realise that revenge doesn’t fix everything and she’s haunted by the memory of what she did. When she tries to sleep at night all she can think of is what she did.

Fantasy-Island-First-Trailer-e1573493063804

JD And Brax

The wish

“having it all” Basically a massive party at a big house

How it goes wrong

The house used to belong to drug dealers who come to the house to kill everyone

What would have made sense

This could have been the most interesting. All they needed to do was show the toll that lifestyle takes. Basically have them trapped in a never-ending party, forever. No sleep, no rest, no escape. Every time they go to leave the building they’re transported back in, every time they sit down they get forced to join a conga line. Show lots of asshole strangers there who refuse to leave the party.

Gwen

The wish

To accept a marriage proposal she rejected years ago.

How it goes wrong

Okay this is where the film gets weird. She gets exactly what she wanted but realises that her new life with her now-husband and daughter doesn’t actually belong to her and she has memories which aren’t hers. Interesting concept for a horror movie, right? This was done magnificently in Happy Death Day 2 U, in this it lasts a few minutes and then she changes her mind and asks to go back to a hotel fire she caused. Now she’s there again she changes the past by………she doesn’t. The fire still happens. It’s very important to the plot though as she sees everybody else from the island (minus Melanie) there on the night of the fire. So really this only happens for plot reasons.

What would have made sense

Have you seen The Butterfly Effect? Make it that. Show how her decision would have impacted her life; have it mean she failed in her career etc. Basically, have her first wish matter.

Patrick

The wish

To be in the army like his dad.

How it goes wrong

The army think he’s pretending to be a soldier and hold him hostage. This section actually provided the strongest moments of the film, he’s transported to the past when his dad was alive and meets him. There are some great emotional moments where his dad realises what’s happened and they have a great reunion and talk about how his dad died saving his troop. Patrick ends up disappointed when his dad goes to leave as he doesn’t want to go on the next mission because (as Patrick told him) it leads to his death. “but you dying saved your men, that’s why I thought you were a hero, you have to go do it” is essentially Patricks argument. An argument which makes no sense, the only reason he died is because he walks into an ambush he wasn’t prepared for, he’s prepared now, so can tell his men to avoid the ambush. His dad ends up dying anyway when they walk into the house where the aforementioned party is going on (in the present, and no they don’t mention the time discrepancies, the closest you get to it is “oooo magic island water”).

What would have made sense

Keep the “transported back in time to see his dad” part, that part works. But change it so it is his dad’s final mission, and he didn’t actually die saving his men in an ambush. He was part of a top-secret mission to attack something non-human; so a demon, a monster etc. Basically, turn it into a monster war movie (similar to Predator). Ordinarily, I would have gone with “show how his dad was not really a hero and instead killed lots of innocent people”, but the emotional moment of the film is the only part that worked, so it needs to stay.

fantasy-island-Michael-Peña-e1543879921471
Now is as good a time as any to mention the wasted talent in this movie

There you go, it’s fixed. Now what you have is more like an anthology film, with each section having a different tone, with different scares, albeit ones which merge together well. Now onto the ending. The ending twist was that the whole thing was actually Melanie’s wish, and she wanted them all to die because she blames them for her not-boyfriend dying in a fire; Patrick because he didn’t rush in and save them, JD and Brax because they were friends with him and didn’t check he had left the room before they left the hotel, and Gwen because she started the fire. This would have worked if we didn’t see Melanie early on act really confused by the fact the powers of the island were real and she didn’t realise the woman she was torturing wasn’t a hologram. But if she was behind it all, then she knew all the time what was actually happening. So why was she pretending? She was alone in the room so the only people who were watching her were the audience. It was like the ending was written by somebody who hadn’t read the rest of the script. It makes ZERO sense and completely kills the small amount of goodwill I had towards this film. It wasn’t even needed, just play the film straight and let it scare people, not everything needs a twist. If you must have a twist, make it a different way. Cut out the fire sub-plot completely. Yes, if you had them all die and this was hell it would have been obvious, but it would have made sense.

So in response; avoid this movie. I can see 2020 having worse films than this, but I can’t imagine I’m going to see one that wastes its potential as most as this. It’s truly awful, not even worth a netflix watch.

1917 (2019)

I was worried I wouldn’t like this film, if only because I’m really bored with films based on the two world wars at the moment. There’s been so many of them and a lot of them haven’t really distinguished themselves enough to stand out (I still can’t remember which of the many Churchill films it was I actually saw). This feeling of boredom was so strong that I wasn’t even going to see this film. That was until I found out it was done as one continuous shot, I like to see interesting films, so I had to see it, and I’m very glad I did. It’s not a film I have much personal love for, it’s not really something I NEED to see again. It is something I’m glad I did see though, it’s a technical masterpiece. Even if you ignore the whole “done like one continuous shot” (well, technically two) it’s a superb film to look at, the cinematography is astounding. There’s a scene late on where the character walks through a bombed town at night, the only light coming from the buildings that are on fire, and it’s absolutely beautiful. The way the shadows interact with the scene is a real masterpiece in film-making, I wish more films did interesting stuff with shadows as they can provide a nice contrast to a scene.

None of this would matter if it wasn’t for the performances and the story, both of which are great. Dean-Charles Chapman (or as I know him: “is that Taron Egerton? Oh it’s not, ah well) has an incredibly difficult performance; especially since he needs to die in real-time on camera from blood loss. This brings me to a moment which I’m amazed they did; when he’s dying (which comes out of nowhere and is a real shock to the audience, in a good way) you can see the colour drain from his face, considering they couldn’t just cut away, apply makeup, then cut back I’m genuinely interested to see how they did this. George MacKay is the best performer though; his character looks absolutely broken by the events of the film, his eyes look haunted. It’s great that Sam Mendes got such accomplished performances from some (let’s face it) relatively unknown performers. Personally, I did find it a bit weird that it had two actors I wasn’t familiar with, and then almost cameo performances from actors you do know. Those moments do take you slightly, but not enough to ruin the film and I do know that is just a personal thing. This is still a film you need to see, even if it is only once.

The Gentlemen (2020)

I liked this film, not enough to ever need to watch it again, but it was okay while it lasted. A return to form for Guy Ritchie after the flop of King Arthur, pretty much confirming to studios that nobody wants to watch films based on King Arthur, rather than the truth, which is nobody wants to see shit films, oh wait, they do. It’s a shame as those films can be good, and whilst King Arthur did flop, I believe that The Green Knight will be the blue bill that cures the flop.

This is definitely a return to form, but I think that’s one of the biggest criticisms I have of it; I’ve seen it all before in his previous films. At times this doesn’t seem like a new film, but more like a re-recording of his greatest hits. To make matters worse, the story isn’t as clever as it seems to think it is. For a seemingly complicated plot, it’s remarkably straightforward. I hate to talk about it again (that’s a lie, I love discussing it whenever I can), when I got to the end of Searching I thought back to earlier moments in the film and suddenly a lot of things I thought were mistakes made sense, it made me immediately want to go back and watch the film again and look for more things I missed. You don’t get that with this film, there’s no “ohhhhhh, that’s smart” moment, and I feel it really needs one. There is one clever subversive moment, a gang of youtube rappers stumble into a drugs den, where they get caught by the security. I expected it to go like this:

  1. The security beat the shit out of the kids
  2. One of the kids turns out to be related to someone important.
  3. Bloody revenge

Instead, the teens beat the holy hell out of the security, then upload the video of it online. It’s clever and new, and is something I wish the film did more of.

The performances are okay, personally, I couldn’t unsee Charlie Hunnam as a discount Tom Hardy though. The real MVP is Hugh Grant though, he’s had a great last few years when it comes to weird roles; this, Paddington 2, Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists etc. He’s really developed from the “oh golly gosh if I got you a wine would you touch me?” roles from the 90’s into some incredibly fascinating ones, and is all the better for it. There are a few members of the cast I would have liked to see more of (not like that, settle down you pervs), and at times it does seem like there are so many characters the script has forgotten what’s happening. On the bright side the audience never feels lost, which is a risk with a fractured narrative like this. The editing and directing are skillful enough that you are always aware of where you are, there’s none of that “okay who was that who died, where are we now?” style editing that haunts lesser films. That being said, the ending is a bit shit.

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

This was always going to be a controversial film, whenever you do films about Nazi Germany you run the risk of offending people. I remember in the 90’s if you made a film like this you’d have people say you shouldn’t make jokes about such a serious subject. In the last few years it’s different, especially since 2016, now films like this get deemed offensive by people who think they’re not pro-nazi enough. The Death Of Stalin was flooded with negative reviews saying it made Stalin look bad. This one was followed with similar feedback from racist dickbags, but it didn’t seem to overshadow it as much as it did Death Of Stalin.

I’m glad for that is this film deserves to be viewed on it’s own merits, and when you do you realise this is a brilliant film. It’s not perfect, the satire doesn’t hit quite as hard as it needed to. Although as weird as it this to say, it may not have worked as it well if it did. This is not really a nazi film, it’s a film set against the backdrop of Nazi Germany. It’s about the characters, and this contains some great ones. It’s got some great performances too. I may get hate for this, but I don’t really believe Scarlett Johansson deserved her Oscar nomination; her performance was good, but I don’t think it was one of the best of the year, it wasn’t even the best in the film. Roman Griffin Davis carries this film far more than you’d think considering it’s his first film role. His role is very difficult in this, he needs to play a member of the Hitler Youth, and still be likeable. It helps that the character is well written, showing that his hate is more from a place of vulnerability and youthful belief in authority rather than genuine malice. It’s summed up best by this sentence:

“You’re not a Nazi, Jojo, you’re a 10-year-old kid who likes dressing up in a funny uniform and wants to be part of a club.”

That line is said by Elsa, a Jewish girl who JoJo encounters hiding in his attic. Her character is the human equivalent of a hand grenade thrown into Jojo’s life, forever changing his life. Much like the literal hand grenade that scars him. Her performance is also a highlight of the film, and the relationship between the two characters provides most of the heartwarming moments of the film, and a few of the most heartbreaking moments. When this film wants to make you feel like shit, it does so brilliantly. I tend to cry more at comedies for some reason, I think it’s because it’s a wider variety of emotions in the film than when it’s just bleak all the time. It feels more realistic when it’s done like this, with highs and lows throughout the whole thing. So should you see this film? Definitely, without a shadow of a doubt. It’s funny, genuinely sweet, and yet will break you at times. Believe me, there’s so much more I could say about this, but you already know if you want to see it or not. If anything else the way the director played Hitler is to be commended. Especially when you read about the research he put in; zero because:

“It would just be too weird to play the actual Hitler, and I don’t think people would enjoy the character as much. Because he was such a fucking c*nt”

And that’s how I’m ending this blog. Now go see it

2019 In Film Day 4: The Good

Okay, stay with me here because this is where it gets complicated. In this one I’ll be talking about films, that (get this), I think, are good. I tried to subtly imply that with the title but I wasn’t sure whether I was too subtle or not. So, here goes.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

This film is so good it almost makes up for [insert terrible Melissa McCarthy film, and let’s face it, there’s a fucking lot of them). This is a good one to start this blog off with actually, and not just because it’s alphabetically the first in the list. This one has a definitive thing which stops it being anything better than “good” in my eyes. It has almost zero narrative suspense. You better get used to that concept because it’s going to come back in a big f*cking way later on in this blog. The trailer showed her being put on trial for her crimes, but the entire film is seeing the scheme unfold, the trial isn’t until near the very end. So what we’re doing is watching people hatch a plan that we as an audience know doesn’t work. It’s not just that for me. The music and visual style were weird. They were good but they make it hard to place it in the time frame. They make it seem as though it happened a lot earlier than it did. The film is set in 1991 but the colour scheme used in the film, and the soundtrack, make it seem like it’s set from the 1960’s or earlier. So when you do get something 90’s happening, it can be somewhat jarring. I recognise that’s just a personal opinion, but this entire blog is a personal opinion, so meh.

Original review here

+Richard E Grant, he’s just great.

-Won’t stick with you.

Greta

I think I may need to watch this film again to fully come to terms with it. It’s a deeply flawed film, but it is incredibly fascinating to watch. Part of that is the performances, but also the pacing is pretty damn good too. It’s slow, but it is constantly moving forward. So the story is constantly going, albeit much slower than you may be used to. It also doesn’t treat the audience like they’re stupid, it’s a much more fulfilling film if you notice little details and remember certain situations repeating themselves. It just doesn’t, for some particular reason, stand out as a film that I have a great personal love for. I appreciate it more than I liked it, but I did appreciate it a lot.

Original review here

+The cookie-cutter scene. A great moment to hear the entire audience wince at once.

-Occasionally struggles to hold the attention of the audience.

Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans

I thought I loved this film, but it’s been out on DVD for a few weeks now and I have no desire to go out and buy it immediately, so I guess I didn’t. It was funny enough, but I guess it was just a little bit too childish for my tastes. I know, a children’s film was childish, how dare it? If I was younger I’d probably have liked it enough to annoy my parents by constantly watching it. This is never more evident than during one of the songs which completely brings the film to a halt and goes on too long. It’s weird as there are other moments where it seems like the filmmakers have a firm eye on the adults in the audience, references to Monty Python, Jay-Z etc you can argue the kids might understand. But does anybody really think that there are any kids who would understand a reference to the 1970’s television show I, Claudius?

Original review here

+Battle Of Watling Street song. It advances the narrative, is funny, and incredibly catchy.

-The Nero song is kind of cringy

IT: Chapter Two

The further I distance myself from this film, the less I enjoy it as the faults become obvious. The flashbacks contain zero dramatic tension in them as you know the characters are not going to die. It’s also extremely unsatisfying in terms of expanding the lore. It feels like there’s a lot of stuff left to say, but not in an exciting way, but in a way that the whole thing feels unfinished. The way the film is structured and the lore is revealed makes it seem like there’s a third one, but there’s not, so it’s just a bit strange. It’s also way too fucking long. If you include trailers and traffic time you were looking at almost a 4-hour commitment, and that’s just too much.

Original review here

+Bill Hader is amazeballs

-It drags like a 1-legged drunk hyena

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

This film is weird, in a good way, mostly. The tonal shifts are a bit jarring though. It goes from incredibly serious to Ryan Reynolds in a fucking instant. The humour too is slightly inconsistent, ranging from simple slapstick and dick jokes, then suddenly you get a joke about torturing someone for information by pouring petrol on them and setting them ablaze. So strange, yet kind of wonderful.

Original review here

+The visual world-building is incredible. It all feels real.

-Some of the human characters are so flat they’re almost 2-dimensional

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

I expected this to be a bit lighter than it was. I basically expected something similar to Goosebumps. This feels more like the next natural progression from those films. So a kid would watch goosebumps, then this, then start killing everybody as that’s what horror films cause people to do, obviously. After watching the Nightmare On Elm Street series I went through a phase of haunting people’s dreams and killing them in increasingly outlandish ways. That stopped when I watched the Saw movies and just became awful. So, this film. It’s not original, but it is a very good watch. It has some great body horror moments in. Actually, that’s a point I haven’t mentioned, the variety of scares in this. It has a somewhat scattergun approach to them so if there’s not one fear that works there’s another which will. It’s a risky approach but it’s really effective in this.

Original review here

+The sense of dread never leaves the screen.

-A bit too restrained at times, plus I found one of the characters really annoying.

Stan And Ollie

This was the first film I saw in 2019. So the film got off on a pretty good year. Very heartwarming and emotional. Maybe my opinion of it was somewhat muted by not knowing much about the pair. As such I couldn’t really catch any references, also the film didn’t give much background about the pair, assuming we were familiar with them. Because of this I always felt slightly like I was watching two strangers, as opposed to two characters.

Original review here

+It seems very honest. Fully aware that they have flaws and made mistakes.

-Too slow at times

Stuber

This is very funny, but that’s all it is. It never goes beyond that. If I caught this on netflix I’d love it. But paying full price at the cinema sours it somewhat. This would have been the perfect film for video rental stores. It’s not quite good enough to push either of the leads into superstardom (they are huge, but not like “build a multi-million dollar franchise around them” huge yet), but it is a worthwhile addition to both of their filmographies. I really wish this was better, but it just doesn’t do enough to take it to the next level. Plus there’s one scene which just feels like padding and takes you out completely.

Original review here

+Great chemistry between the leads.

-A few moments take you out of the film and remind you that what you are watching is not real.

The Day Shall Come

It’s funny because it’s true, but it’s also super depressing for the exact same reason. I don’t mind downer endings sometimes, but in this case it just seemed odd. The film had spent 90 minutes punching you in the face and it never gave you that catharsis of a happy ending. I don’t think it was helped by the high standards I have of the creator. His stuff is some of my favourite stuff of all time, so when something is only very good, it seems worse by comparison.

Original review here

+It could inspire people to go fuck shit up.

-The satire is a little unfocused at times.

So that’s it for this one. Don’t worry, I’m finishing with 2019 soon, I realise now I’m stuck more in the past than an Empire fanatic (both British and Imperial/Galactic), and so far from 2020 the films have been good. So you’ve got that to look forward to.

2010’s In Film Part Two (2012)

January – The Iron Lady

Not a part of the MCU, sadly. Completely different. Iron Man is about a rich merchant of death who’s arrogance leads to his initial downfall, but he eventually finds redemption before dying. This is about a woman who was the same, but didn’t bother with the redemption part.

February – Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close

This film was HATED when it came out. Deemed as exploitative (it’s very 9/11-ey) and is essentially emotional blackmail, but badly done. Initially released just after the 10 year anniversary of the attacks, which just adds fuel the fire that it was done to exploit the terror. So yeah, very negatively reviewed, yet somehow got nominated for best picture at the Oscars. I’m still not entirely sure how that happened.

March – The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists

Damn this film is funny. All you need to know about this film is that it’s made by Aardman (the creators of Wallace And Gromit), has Hugh Grant in it, plus has characters called:

  • The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate
  • The Pirate Who Likes Sunsets And Kittens
  • The Pirate With Gout

That alone tells you what type of film it is.

April – Cabin In The Woods

Sooooooo much yes. I’m not sure how good this will be to people who aren’t familiar with horror movie tropes, but as someone who is a fan of the genre I love it. It potentially explains every single horror movie, connecting all of them under one umbrella. It has one plot issue that I dislike. It shows a bird flying into an invisible wall near a cave, being electrocuted and dying. This means that when someone tries to jump over the gap later on, you know it’s not going to work and that he’s going to hit the wall. If it came as a surprise then you would be in the same position as the characters and the shock would just kill your soul slightly. I highly recommend everybody see this film.

May – American Pie: Reunion

Is it weird that these films were really successful, people love them, and yet with a few exceptions, it made almost zero long term impact on popular culture. The actors in it had brief moments of being big but now the biggest one is probably Sean William Scott. It’s just weird that if you removed these films from history, not much would change.

June – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Still haven’t seen this, because apparently, it’s actually quite serious. That’s weird. I thought a film like this would be a comedy. I just can’t imagine taking an idea like this seriously. Thankfully the film I wanted turned out to exist and was Pride And Prejudice and Zombies.

July – The Dark Knight Rises

I actually like this movie, I think Tom Hardy was great as Bane. I’ll admit I’m still not sold on Bale as Batman, he’s an average Batman and not a great Bruce Wayne. I’m just kind of disappointed that this was the final film. There seemed to be a lot of missed opportunities and I would have liked to have seen more Batman villains in the franchise to see how he would have handled them.

August – A Few Best Men

Better films were released this month, of that I am certain. But this one needs love, it’s funny and very British. I love it.

September – Resident Evil 5

How are there this many films in the franchise? I’ve watched one of them and all I can remember is that the last line in the film, the line which is supposed to make you go “wow, that changes everything and is very important”, is also the tagline of the movie. Stupid.

October – Skyfall

The only Bond film I’ve ever seen. It’s alright. I’m just not a fan of Bond. I don’t know why, I like the video games, and the music is great. But the actual films leave me bored. I realise they’re technically great, but I just don’t actually care about them. I should probably watch more (live-blogging those would be one way for me to kill a month or two). Maybe that’s why I don’t care, because there’s so many of them already so I feel when I’m watching them I’m watching them from a point of few of someone who doesn’t know everything I should. I wouldn’t understand any references if any are made. So I feel I’d be watching it a lower level than other people.

November – Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir

2012 featured a documentary about Roman Polanksi, as well as one about Woody Allen. Fuck ’em.

December – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

This film franchise is weird. LOTR was HUGE, and so was the first Hobbit movie. Lots of people very excited about it, and the screening I was dragged to in York was packed out and full of fans. Yet this, and the next film, were so badly received that by the time the third one came out almost nobody was talking about them. The box office didn’t drop that much, so it’s almost like people went to watch them just out of completion anxiety, and they weren’t actually excited about them. It’s a shame as Martin Freeman is perfectly cast, it’s just a shame the film isn’t that great. I’m not that big a Tolkein fan so I can’t judge why, I’m guessing it’s the stretching out one small book into 3 big films that people don’t like, and the HEAVY CGI use which makes it look like a video game.

 

So yeah, that’s 2012, not the end of the world as it turned out. Actually it was soon after this that I started paying more attention to film and seeing A LOT more at cinema.

Black Christmas (2019)

So this will probably be the last film I see this year. In my review of Knives Out I mentioned that I think that probably be the last great film I see this year. After seeing this movie I can categorically say I was I definitely right. This movie is not a great movie. In fact it’s kind of bad, and for reasons I hate to bring up as it makes me sound like a dick. So the reason I didn’t like it? The politics. Now I don’t want to be one of those “keep politics out of films” dickheads. This is essentially a film about how patriarchal power structures silence and oppress women, particularly when it comes to justice for rape victims. That’s a message that is, depressingly, still incredibly relevant and is well worth discussing in a film, the issue is that the film itself isn’t good.  It means well and what it says are things that have to be said, but they have to be said better than this. I haven’t seen anything this hamfisted since Kermit’s date night.

david-cameron-put-private-part-in-dead-pigs-mouth-shock-1651842
Not the worst thing someone has put in a pig though

It deals with themes such as sexual assault and the PTSD that can come from it, but it does it really badly. For a film about someone breaking out and trying to escape that memory, the main character isn’t given much of a personality outside of that. Almost all her actions (and most conversations) in the film come from that one event, so whilst the character is trying to not let it define her, the film insists upon it.

The other characters aren’t written much better either. Nobody is given any depth, especially the villains. Horror movies need compelling villains to kill characters, or you need characters you care about and feel scared for. This film has neither. The villains are so 2-dimensional they’re practically stick figures. I’ve had occasions where trailers have spoilt the film, this almost does it in the opening text crawl. It has a quote about using the supernatural to punish people made by a character who founded the college the film is set at. So when you see a statue of that same person oozing a black liquid then being used on people wearing the same clothes as the killer, you can pretty much guess what’s going on. That’s a big issue with this film; how predictable it is. As soon as I saw one character I literally thought “he’s too obviously evil to be evil”. But no, I was wrong, it turns out that he, and all the characters who you might think would be evil, turn out to be, shock horror, evil!

So the black sludge, the scene with the reveal is where the film takes a weird left turn. It manages to be both weird, and predictable. I get you don’t want to do the same thing as the original film, but when you divert this much from the original then what’s the point of remaking it anyway? It would be like doing a remake of Psycho and it turns out Norman Bates is possessed by a ghost. Actually, that is actually exactly what it is, the villains in this use the black sludge on impressionable students so that they get possessed by the founder of the college. Here, the film misses an opportunity to do two really interesting things.

One: a debate about whether possessed people who kill people are evil or whether the possession is to blame. Yeah, that doesn’t happen here, possessed or not, they all get locked in a room and burn to death.

Two: throughout the film, the main character gets close to a guy called Landon. He gets caught and possessed by the spirit of the founder. The college founder is an old white guy who owned slaves and is possessing men to get them into the positions of power which he feels they deserve. Now I don’t want to cast aspersions on a slave owner, but I don’t think his “only men should rule the world” extends to non-whites like Landon. The intersectional nature could have been a really interesting subject to tackle, but it doesn’t. And I think that’s REALLY white. I don’t get how they can miss such an obvious political point to make.

So should you see this film? Regrettably, I’d have to say no, it’s just not fun, or scary. It’s yet another horror film restricted by its rating as it can’t get as violent as it needs to at some points. This is very notable with one death where we see a dead body on a chair, it gets spun around and before we get a full shot of the face and the damage done to it, it cuts to a reaction shot. If you do that “slow-motion chair spin” shot it should end on a reveal of the face, that should be the closing shot of that sequence, the slow nature of the chair spin is a build-up to that moment. In this it’s like a build-up to the revelation that she’s dead, which is something the audience already knew from the second we saw her, so what was it for?

I haven’t seen the original (or the first remake) to judge whether it’s good compared to them, I imagine people who saw those will actively HATE this film as they change almost everything about the plot. I can’t imagine either of those two films are worse than this, but I can say with 100% certainty that it’s not as good as the song by the same name by former X-Ray Spex singer Poly Styrene