Uncharted (2022)

A treasure hunter (Mark Whalberg) recruits the bartender brother (Tom Holland) of one of his old cohorts to try and find a shitload of goooooooooooooooold.

Movies based on video games have a bad reputation, for a good reason though: most of them are terrible. Even the best have only been “okay”. I’m actually not that familiar with the Uncharted games. By “not too familiar” I mean “I’m aware that they exist, but that’s about it”. For films like this that can sometimes be an advantage, and sometimes a disadvantage. A disadvantage because if the film assumes you know the game, it won’t tell you certain things which mean you’ll be lost. And an advantage because you don’t get annoyed at things like “but his belt buckle is a dark silver in the games, not light grey like in this. They ruined it! That belt is the most important thing ever, and the colour actually matters for reasons I can’t explain beyond crying”

I’ll say outright this is not the best film you’re going to see, but it’s nowhere near the worst. It’s the kind of film you’d rent from a video shop and enjoy, but not quite enough to buy it, and if it’s on ITV on a Sunday afternoon it would be a pretty good option for you. It’s very fun to watch and you’re not going to spend a lot of time looking at your watch or bored. You may spend quite a bit of time saying out loud “well that’s awfully fucking convenient”. The whole thing works on videogame logic in terms of physics, which makes sense considering, well, you know.

One thing this does very well is work for outsiders. Like I said, I know nothing about the game, yet the film made sense. It gave you enough backstory that you knew who the characters were, and what their motivations are. There are probably references etc that I missed, but most of them don’t make you aware they’re references so you don’t feel lost for not getting them, you don’t realise there’s something to get. There’s one exception, after falling from a plane he says what happens to a stranger on a beach, who replies “yeah, that happens to me a lot too”, and the way it’s filmed makes it obvious this is a reference to something, especially when the camera lingers on this random beachgoers face for an unnaturally long time. It turns out he voices Drake in the game, so I don’t object to the cameo itself, but the way they did it was more hamfisted than me when I’m drunk reaching into the fridge for some cold meat to eat.

It’s directed by Ruben Fleischer, who gave us not only the Zombieland films, but also the first Venom. Actually didn’t realise the same guy did those. If you told me that the guy who made Zombieland made this, I wouldn’t believe you. If you told me the guy who made Venom made this, I’d be like “okay that makes sense”. There’s nothing bad about the way this is shot, it has some good visuals and the set pieces are busy but never look fake despite how ludicrous the action in them is. Even when you have someone get run over by a car in mid-air, you never look at it and notice the CGI. But on the other hand, there’s nothing that really wows you. You’re not going to get future directors be influenced by it. It’s a shame as there’s potential for great visuals in here, but it never really gives them to us.

The plot……let’s face it you’re not watching this for the plot. It tries to have one, and it does work. The only issue is a major character dies and it seems to not affect the plot at all. In this world he’s a rich famous person, so you’d think that would be mentioned again. There are so many ways you could have used it to affect the plot, but having it just to be “hey, this person who killed him is bad” seems a massive waste.

In summary: see it, but don’t pay full price, and don’t go on your own.

Army Of The Dead (2021)

So this film happened. This may surprise you but I actually haven’t seen that many zombie movies. Well, not the original ones anyway. Most of the ones I’ve seen have been modern zombie movies, ones which are self-aware and have already shown knowledge of the genre (with the exception of I Walked With A Zombie). So I have certain things I expect from the genre, most importantly you have to be bringing something new to the table. Sometimes that is just something as simple as making it incredibly slick. I feel that’s what they were going for here, they were going for a cinematic slickness which, combined with the heist aspect, would create something new.

The heist aspect never really comes off though. A good heist movie involves the main characters outsmarting people or tricking technology, neither of which occur in this. There’s the obvious double cross, but it occurs VERY early on, and the person hides their true nature for the rest of the film, so when they then turn on everybody else, it’s not a surprise as you knew he was going to do that. So it’s a heist movie without surprises, and really, without an antagonist. Because of this it doesn’t really work as a heist movie.

It has some nice ideas though, the opening credits are great (and very reminiscent of Zombieland), but even that has a downside if you think about it for a few minutes. Like there’s a scene where a Liberace-like character is getting ready to play piano as chaos unfolds behind him. Music is being played over this scene, and it has to be because if there wasn’t and you played it as a standard scene, you’d be able to hear the chaos behind him, which means you know that HE’D be able to hear it. That’s the problem with Snyder, he is so dedicated to getting THE SHOT that it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense. Also the film has decaying zombie boobs, because it’s clear his core audience is 14 year old boys.

Oh, and the zombies roar. Because they’re supposed to be seen as not human. BUT, they’re shown to be smart, they plan, they plot etc. And there is an element of humanity to them, they clearly understand the concepts of betrayal and negotiation, and they mourn the dead. The large setpiece at the end is brought about when the head zombie finds his dead partner was pregnant with a zombie fetus. There is enough information in that short sentence that means you could be mistaken for thinking this film has good ideas, but it does nothing with them. The ideas are woefully underused, and it’s a massive disappointment. I mean, there’s a moment where they talk about the rain bringing certain zombies back to life. The film then proceeds to not rain. Then why mention it? The film constantly talks about delicious steaks, then serves us cold porridge when it knows we’re hungry.

The characters……they are not good characters. Everybody is just different degrees of either shitty or forgettable. They’re not helped by the dialogue though, most of it is just generic shit.

Now onto the look. Normally with a Snyder film you know at the very least it’s going to look incredible. Well, not so much with this. This is going to be a personal preference but I HATED the way most of this looked. The way they filmed it in very high definition and the way they handled the cinematography made everything look fake. Specifically everything looked like scale models. So even though it’s all real, nothing looked like it. Perfect example here:

There’s also one shot choice which I personally found weird but you can disagree. There’s a moment where someone is talking “I’m definitely more important than that guy, oh. didn’t know you were listening. Okay, I’m definitely more important than that guy” whilst pointing at some people. Now, the camera never cuts away from this person, so we never see who they’re pointing at. Surely that’s just begging for a reaction shot of the people she’s talking about? If we don’t see the reaction shots, and we also don’t know who they’re even talking about, then what was the point of that piece of dialogue?

On the plus side: like I said, it had some good ideas, some of the performances are good, and it is good to see something new. Some of the deaths are damn brutal and I love them. Plus it has a zombie tiger. And I will always appreciate a film using Thea Gilmore’s cover of Bad Moon Rising.

Maybe it would have been better if the film wasn’t set so late after the zombie outbreak happens. If you hear “zombies in Las Vegas” you think of bright lights, you don’t think of abandoned buildings. With the exception of the sublime opening, the film never makes use of it being in Las Vegas. I get it, destroyed buildings and silence can add to a zombie movies tone to highlight the difference between before and after, but that normally happens with places we recognise, either in cities we know all the sights of, or in locations very generic which we’ve all been to (malls etc). There’s a reason the posters all highlighted the neon look, because that’s what you think of when you think of this location. You don’t think of various browns. There’s no reason this film is in vegas, and now I think about it, it would have made a lot more sense if it was set in Iraq or Afghanistan. Not just for the visuals, but also the militaristic nature of the survivors, and the willingness to nuke it and pretend it doesn’t exist.

So yeah, maybe see it, but not if you’re busy. Or just watch Zombieland instead.

Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

Film reviews are a weird concept. Not entirely similar to film criticism, yet it can’t be entirely different. You can write hundreds of words reviewing a film, yet they really only need a question and a one-word answer: Should I watch this movie? yes/no. That’s all it boils down to. And with this, the answer is yes, with a but. If you liked the first one (as I did, I loved it in fact. One of my favourite zombie movies), you’ll like this, if you disliked it, this won’t change your mind on the franchise. It has some issues of course. The Abigail Breslin sub-plot is essential to the progression of the film, in fact, it’s pretty essential to everything in the film happening, but that doesn’t mean it’s exciting. The dullest parts are the film are when it’s focusing on her story arc. I’m not sure why, I think it’s because out of all the new characters introduced, the one in that section is the most boring. Not only because he’s a pacifist (this film is known for having great zombie deaths, and his pacifism pretty much tells you that is not going to happen in his moments) but also because it’s sorely underdeveloped. You don’t get much information on how he’s managed to survive this long, whether he’s always been like that or not. There could have been a really interesting back story where he was happily killing zombies and in a moment of madness killed someone who it turned out wasn’t a zombie. That would have solved the issue of not having any kills and it would have made the character more compelling.

Another issue is at times it feels like the characters are still getting to know each other, the character relationships don’t feel like they’ve all been together for 10 years. There’s almost zero development from the end of the last film to the beginning of this one. Nothing has happened off-screen in terms of how they treat each other, and it’s a bit weird and makes you realise these aren’t real people, they’re characters in a movie.

There’s a moment at the start where they introduce three new kinds of zombies (Ninjas, Homers, and Hawkings), these classifications don’t end up meaning much in the end and are really only there to set up another classification later in the film. We get a few Homers (really stupid zombies) in the film, but I feel we don’t get enough Hawkings (very smart ones) or Ninjas (silent and quick). That could have been used to set up some good horror scenes, and it’s a shame that it feels like they didn’t really use them.

Now onto the plus side; the chemistry between the cast is still great and is a great example of a studio taking advantage of catching lightning in a bottle in terms of actors. When you have something like that it can be a mistake to bring a new person in. It’s why I was slightly concerned with how heavily featured Zoey Deutch was in the trailers, especially as her character seemed pretty one-note and like her main reason to exist was to drive the plot forward by putting them in danger with her stupidity. Thankfully she slots in beautifully. Plus she’s not stupid, not really. She would have been 14 when the zombie outbreak occurred, so most of her formative years were spent hiding in a freezer. As such she’s stuck in a state of arrested development alongside long-term isolation (the film hints that she was at the same place the infection started, so she has been in the same place, alone, for 10 years). Her character meshes well with the other characters too, allowing them to get some great comedic lines in. Rosario Dawson also slots in brilliantly, albeit for nowhere near as long.

So to answer the question about whether you should see it, you definitely should. It’s exactly what you think it is, and exactly what it needs to be. It even features an opening scene set to Metallica like the first one. Now if another one is made, lets hope it’s not 10 years later again. Oh, and make sure you stay for the mid-credits scene where Bill Murray kills zombies whilst just walking around being Bill Murray.

Films That Should’ve Been Made In A Different Medium

Now I’m not saying these films shouldn’t have been made. Just it would be nice if they got made in different mediums.

1. The Boat That Rocked

What It Should Have Been: A TV Series.

The two main complaints people had about this film were that it was too long and had a disjointed plot. Both of these problems would’ve been solved if it was a TV series instead of a film. Would it have got the same cast though? I like to think it would’ve done. It’s a mostly British cast and the British attitude seems to be “you’re never too big for TV”. And plus imagine the end; after weeks and weeks with these characters when the boat is sinking at the end it would bring a tear to your eye. The many plots could have an episode each but the underlying plots would be A) Carl trying to find his father. B) The closing of the station. And probably would be a good idea to lose the slightly rapey scene in it, that was majorly uncomfortable to watch and had no place in it.

2. Zombieland



What It Should Have Been: A Comic

This film was basically a comic anyway; and it would’ve been nice to see what would’ve become of it if budget wasn’t a factor. Then maybe have a film based on the comic so Jesse Eisenberg can be in a comic book adaptation that doesn’t suck.

3. Unbreakable.

What It Should Have Been: A book.

Some things are more acceptable in books such as films. Many of which are present in this film. It has a great plot and terrific build up but it’s just not suited to cinema. As a book however it would have been fantastic. The trouble is is that it is a really average film if you take away the twist, you have to finish watching it to like it, there’s nothing in it that keeps you watching whilst you are watching it. As such if you get interrupted halfway through it, you’re not likely to come back to it. Alternatively you take this film and condense it into an hour-long TV show, make it the pilot episode of a new series.

4. The Final Destination.

What It Should Have Been: Video Game

The film was, well it was just silly. And not in a good way. I think it would’ve been silly in a good way if the first few films in the series weren’t so serious. After the those this seemed practically childish by comparison. By this point I it would have been smarter to franchise this into other mediums. I mean; picture this film as a video game, not a top-level full price one, but a small downloadable one on xbox live or something: you control death and have to set needlessly complex traps to kill people. The more complex, violent and deadly, the more points. Once you get a certain amount of points you can get upgrades to kill people more efficiently (explosions etc). Actually I want that game now. Or, just have Telltale make it; you play as one of the characters avoiding death. The advantage of that is that it would be REALLY easy to market and gain interest: you release a quick demo online with a random title; you control a teenager investigating the death of his/her friend. Standard Tell-Tale stuff, but at the end of the level; you die via a series of convoluted accidents, and the game reveals it’s a Final Destination one.


I also was going to have: Fant4stic should have been; a muffin basket, because anything would have been better than that film. But then I realised if that film was a muffin basket, it would probably poison people.