Movies: Happy Death Day Review (or ‘Comfortably My Favourite Movie Of The Year’)

October 29, 2017

There’s something joyous about having your own expectations surpassed.

Much like with Geostorm, I went to see Happy Death Day without any preconceptions of what it was about or how highly it was rated; I just thought I was going to see a generic horror movie at the suggestion of my girlfriend.

And for the first 15 minutes, I sat through it thinking “Hmm, is this going to be some daft torture porn Halloween slasher?”.

But suddenly the main character was murdered by a masked villain, only for her to wake up again at the start of the day.

It was then I realised I was watching a movie with a Groundhog Day gimmick, and a big smile spread across my face.

Turns out – and you’ll probably know this – Happy Death Day is about a bitchy sorority girl stuck in a loop of being murdered on her birthday. The day replays itself again and again until she is able to work out who the killer is and prevent it from happening.

That sort of thing is right up my alley.

Though it was reusing the Groundhog Day gimmick – and they are smart enough to reference this – it’s a fresh take on it, and it’s written well enough so that it doesn’t feel stale.

And it’s not really a horror movie either. There’s very little gore, but plenty of laughs, a touch of drama and some neat twists too. It kept me thoroughly entertained throughout.

I’m not even going to look at how other critics have rated this movie, because it doesn’t really matter. I recall they panned The Butterfly Effect, but that was right up my street too.

So I’m just going to come out and say it; for its combination of gimmick, setting, writing and ideal length, Happy Death Day is comfortably the best movie I’ve seen all year.

It won’t win any Oscars and I’m sure there are lots of humourless critics out there who will fail to find the truth in it or whatever, but honestly, I loved it.

If you enjoy that type of thing yourself, I’m sure you’ll love it too.


Movies: Geostorm Review (or “Incredibly Bad, And Yet Good”)

October 22, 2017

Yesterday I took the unusual step of going to a movie that I had never heard of and therefore had no clue as to its quality.

The reason I went to see Geostorm was that my original pick for a Saturday movie – The Snowman – was so badly panned by critics in spite of a decent looking trailer, that I couldn’t bring myself to potentially waste the time.

And yet this morning, when I googled Geostorm – a Gerard Butler-starring disaster movie about global weather control gone wrong – its reviews are arguably worse. The first review that comes up asks if its the worst movie of the year, while others score it at 1.5/4, 2/5, 1 Star etc.

Now I find this quite interesting. Instead of going to see The Snowman with the prejudiced view that it was known to be terrible, I’ve blindly seen a movie considered equally bad but with no preconceived notions.

So how does my viewpoint compare with the critics?

Well last night I was asked on Twitter how it was and my brief summation was that it was “Incredibly bad and yet good”. I think that’s pretty fair.

On the one hand, it is just absolutely terrible.

The acting is just unbelievably bad on almost all fronts. The New York accents from Brits Gerard Butler and Jim Sturgess have to be heard to be believed, while Irish actor Robert Sheehan’s take on an English accent seems to slip from one region to the next depending upon the scene.

The writing is atrocious, filled with Hollywood cliches and exposition up the wazoo. Put it this way, when Butler speaks to Sturgess’s character for the first time, the first thing he says is “How are you doing Little Brother”, so we instantly know they are related. Nobody talks like that in real life. That type of info dump dialogue continues all the way through the film; it’s so, so bad.

The plot is also entirely predictable, and I doubt anyone in that screening I went to last night would have been unable to spot the bad guy(s) from the moment they came on screen.

Honestly, dear reader, you’d be hard pressed to find a film this year that is quite so awful on almost every critical level.

And yet in spite of that, or perhaps even because of that, it’s enjoyable.

Maybe I found the shonky accents and the one dimensional, wooden characters perversely entertaining or perhaps the way I was able to guess what was about to happen next every time gave me a sense of smug self satisfaction, but all the way through, I sat there with a smile on my face.

But it could be that I take the view that it is what it is. This is a disaster movie; you expect the cliches, the bad acting and the predictable plots and you trade them off for seeing people dying or escaping from some kind of catastrophic event.

And if you get enjoyment out of that sort of thing then you’ll enjoy Geostorm.

I did.

Movies: American Assassin Review

September 18, 2017

Considering it starts off really well, American Assassin ended up being a bit of a disappointment for me.

The frantic nature of the opening scenes on the beach and main character Rapp’s vigilante mission into Libya are great, but they soon make way for what is a by-the-numbers race against time spy thriller.

Which is not to say that it turns into a bad movie, but rather than it goes from being something that could have been a bit special to a plot that we’ve all seen dozens of times before.

The characters become uninspiring, the plot hangs on the sort of twist that Terry Nation was writing for Doctor Who 55 years ago (the old ‘The only way you could know that is if you’re the villain, because I never told you’ trope) and it all ends exactly how you’d imagine it would.

Put simply, if you like that sort of thing, you’ll enjoy American Assassin, but don’t go in expecting any sort of fresh take on the genre. Like I say; it’s not that it’s bad – indeed it’s perfectly acceptable – but rather it just doesn’t live up to its early potential.

Oh, and for those of you keeping score, it ran for less than two hours and therefore didn’t overstay its welcome.


Movies: It Review

September 17, 2017

Most people my age will be aware of It, the Stephen King novel-turned-TV miniseries that was responsible for scaring the shit of children in the 1990s.

But awareness is just about all many will have. I remember seeing the first few minutes of it when I was probably about 9 or 10 years old and it terrified me. But I never actually watched the rest of it at any point.

Now it’s 2017, I’m a man in my 30s and it’s been remade as a proper Hollywood movie.

So what did I think?

Well I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t find horror movies scary as an adult. Long term readers of the blog will know that. I take the view that nothing can hurt me and I don’t get spooked by sudden loud noises, Some may get a thrill from it, but I’m not one of them.

So I wasn’t scared and I didn’t expect to be.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good movie. And It…well it wasn’t a bad movie, but it certainly wasn’t without its flaws.

To give it the appropriate credit, the story on a general level was enjoyable, the clown was initially creepy, the setting was good and the mostly child actors did their jobs well. In many ways it was like a dark version of The Goonies or Stranger Things.

But then there were elements that let it down.

For one thing, as someone who hasn’t read the book, I never really understood what Pennywise was. Was he real? Was he an alien? Did he really kill the children? Why were they floating in the air? Did they all come back to life when they came back down? Where did he come from? Absolutely none of this was explained.

Then certain parts – like the stuff with the school bully or the back stories of most of the kids – never went anywhere.

But perhaps most frustrating was that to spin the movie out for as long as it was – and again, it was another movie that went on for too long – Pennywise appeared so many times without claiming any sort of victim that he ended up looking proverbially toothless. And that was compounded by this fearsome creature eventually being beaten up and vanquished by a group of young teenagers.

Not exactly fearsome…

Overall, I did enjoy it enough to consider it a good use of a Saturday evening, but came away frustrated that it wasn’t as good as it could have been.

Oh, and apparently we’re getting a sequel. Great…cos Hollywood doesn’t have enough of them.

I’d rather they remade The Langoliers.

Movies: Death Note Review (or “A Fun Movie When There’s Nothing Else On”)

September 11, 2017

A random pick on NetFlix this evening led us to watching Death Note, an original movie – based on a Japanese manga series of the same name – from the streaming company about a schoolboy given possession of a notebook where all he has to do is write down someone’s name and they die.

A quick google search will find that this is not a particularly highly rated movie, with a 4.6/10 on imdb and a 39% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and yet it did get a recommendation from Digital Spy’s ‘New On Netflix’ article.

So either manga fanboys dislike it because it’s different to the source material, or this really is a marmite type effort where most people will either love it or hate it.

Personally, I liked it.

Now sure, this is not a movie that will win any Oscars for any aspect of its development – the acting is so-so, the dialogue is corny, the special effects are dated and the plot involves oodles of exposition and some rather presumptuous leaps to keep things moving along – and yet it’s fun.

This is the sort of movie you’d enjoy if you liked Final Destination or The Butterfly Effect.

It’s not worthy, it’s not trying to get above its own station and it probably knows that some people will think it’s crap.

But it’s a nice idea for a story, it moves along at a reasonable pace and even though it got a little bit confusing towards the end, it kept me entertained.

Put simply, it is what it is; a NetFlix movie designed to be watched on the couch when you’ve got nothing better to do.

It wouldn’t be a waste of your time to give it a go.

I’d rather watch this again than Detroit.

Movies: Wind River Review

September 10, 2017

It seems as though the point I made about the challenging length of Detroit struck a chord with some of you.

It did just seem to go on forever, and like me, others seem to agree that the running time took it beyond the point of being an enjoyable watch and into the realms of a chore.

Well the good news is that Wind River has no such issues.

Checking in at a reasonable one hour and fifty minutes, this crime thriller about a murder on an Indian Reservation in the vast emptiness of Wyoming hits the spot.

There’s plenty to enjoy about it, from a gripping plot to the unusual setting, and the acting is on point throughout. I should note that I especially enjoyed the performance of Graham Greene as Ben. I don’t think there’s any question that he’s the least well-known of the main characters in the movie, and in part that will be because his heritage will limit the roles he is offered, but he was excellent.

Gong back to the movie as a whole, the biggest thing going for it was that nothing was wasted. Every scene had a purpose, whether that was for character development or to move along the plot and therefore it felt brisk even though it was by nature slow in pace, if that makes sense.

And it’s because of that that I would consider Wind River one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. Sure, the pickings have been slim, but this was still a very enjoyable watch on its own merit, and I’d recommend going along to see it.

Movies – Detroit Review (or “Apparently You Can’t Tell A Good Story In Under Two Hours Anymore…”)

September 4, 2017

A movie can have so much going for it, but then after the fact if one thing goes against it, that’s what you dwell on.

On Saturday I went to see Detroit; a movie that has received much acclaim from critics and the general public at large, and yet when someone asked me this morning if it was any good, my brief summary was “It was good, but it went on too long”.

That’s what I fixated upon.

If I was going to expand on my thoughts I would say that it was a tense, well acted affair that highlighted – in a way that it admitted was over-dramatised and used creative license – how bad things were during the Detroit riots of 1967. It was well shot and it did a good job of setting the scene for what was to come in an introductory history lesson at the start of the movie.

But I just can’t get past how it could probably have cut a good 45 minutes out and nothing would have been lost.

Though this was about the infamous police raid on the Algiers Motel where three black men were killed and nine others were beaten and humiliated by racist police, it took at least an hour to actually arrive at this point. Before it did, I had thought that perhaps the movie was a collection of unrelated stories about people who were caught up in the riots.

Then the Algiers stuff – as well as it was acted – also went on too long, and began to lose its impact.

And finally, after all of that, it briefly turns into a courtroom drama, at which point I was just desperate to get up and go.

Now reading that back, it looks as though I didn’t enjoy it, and yet I did.

But it’s that one thing – the length of the movie – that I’ll remember the most.

Apparently you can’t tell a good story in under two hours anymore…