Movies: Death Wish (2018) Review

April 9, 2018

I’m the sort of person who falls asleep watching TV if it’s after 8pm, so to go to the cinema for a 9pm showing of Death Wish seemed like a bad idea.

Unfortunately that was the only chance there was to see it, as it’s only shown at that time, but I love the original, so needs must.

So one can of Red Bull later and I was in my seat for a movie that realistically wasn’t going to start until near enough 9.30pm. I crossed my fingers and hoped I stayed awake.

And I did. Yay!

Now when you consider that I’ve fallen asleep in quite a few movies shown at much earlier times, like Rogue One, Doctor Strange and others, then that’s no mean feat, and a credit to Death Wish.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not going to tell you this is the greatest movie of our time, because it’s not. In fact, it’s a pretty ordinary remake of the original, and a plot we’ve seen rehashed many times over the years in other movies. Essentially it’s about a man who becomes a vigilante following personal loss, and a perceived sense of injustice in how the police have dealt with that loss.

I like that basic plot. It’s fun. It’s what my girlfriend describes as a ‘Boys Film’ (note: this is the first movie I’ve seen at the cinema without her in over two years because she had no intention of coming). It has a man killing bad guys in darkly humorous ways and it doesn’t last too long; what’s not to like?

Bruce Willis – while no Charles Bronson – is good, and Dean Norris essentially plays Hank from Breaking Bad again, which is cool.

If you like that sort of thing too, then you’ll also enjoy it.

Just don’t expect a masterpiece…

Or anything quite as hammy as when Charles Bronson killed The Giggler.

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Movies: When We First Met Review

March 26, 2018

Remember my review of Happy Death Day? The one where I said I loved the Groundhog Day concept?

Well When We First Met is based on the same idea.

It’s about a man who goes back in time to relive a day three years earlier where he first meets the girl of his dreams at a party, in the hope of waking up again in the present to find himself in a loving relationship with her, rather than in the dreaded ‘Friend Zone’.

As far as I can see, it’s been panned by most critics for a number of reasons unrelated to the quality of the movie. One said it was about a man who got to relive a day over and over in the hope of sleeping with a girl he was infatuated with – which isn’t what it’s about – while another slated it for not being in the spirit of the modern cultural movement of empowerment.

Well, just like when I was asked to review a book that analysed Doctor Who from a homosexual point of view (apparently the sexual tension between the Doctor and the Brigadier was off the scale, which is something I personally never noticed) I don’t really grasp the mindset there. Call me shallow, but when I watch a TV show or a movie, I just like to take it on face value rather than holding it to any sort moral code or looking for subtext to fit in with how I wanted to view it. If I didn’t, I’d be the sort of person who couldn’t enjoy Big because it’s about an adult woman falling in love with a child, or I would say that Death Wish is unacceptable because Charles Bronson should rely upon the criminal justice system rather than take matters into his own hands.

I just didn’t see anything particularly untoward with the ‘morals’ of When We First Met.

If anything, the only problem is that Adam DeVine is an unlikeable arsehole.

But once I got past that, I enjoyed it. The plot appealed to me, it flowed well enough and it didn’t end as predictably as you might expect.

At times I chuckled, and at no point was I bored.

So it served its purpose.

No, it won’t win any Oscars, and no, I don’t think ‘serious’ people would enjoy it, but I did.

And I’d recommend if you have an evening free, you should watch it too.

Just don’t try to search for any inner truth when you do.


Movies: The Cloverfield Paradox Review (or “Pish”)

February 6, 2018

This should have been a review of I, Tonya, but I’ve come to accept that I just can’t go to the cinema after 8pm anymore without falling asleep.

So instead, we decided to stay in and watch The Cloverfield Paradox; that way if I fell asleep on the couch at least I could rewind bits.

And that’s exactly what happened because despite taking a couple of caffeine pills to keep me going, I did fall asleep. The pills did nothing…nothing!!

The thing is though, part of the reason I fell asleep was because this movie was pish. If it had been exciting, it would have kept my attention, but alas it didn’t.

So what was wrong with it?

Well, think of it like this…

Imagine a really good episode of Doctor Who. No matter what way you swing it, part of what makes it a good episode is because of The Doctor. There are other things going on, but the writing and performance of the lead character will add something to it. Without him, it wouldn’t be as entertaining.

Now imagine a poor episode of Doctor Who. Even in this example at least you’d have the acting and performance of someone like David Tennant or Peter Capaldi to provide a little chink of light,

Finally, imagine a poor episode of Doctor Who without The Doctor, and then imagine that episode running for three times the length.

It gives you a cold shudder doesn’t it?

Well that’s what The Cloverfield Paradox was like. A poorly thought out, lazily written yawn fest on a space station that tried to be clever but failed to capture my imagination, and based on other reviews I just skimmed, everyone else’s too.

It took me about half an hour to even realise what was going on, and then once I did get up to speed, I just wasn’t impressed. It was dull ‘And Then There Were None’ stuff that seemed to exist solely to build to a ‘shocking’ twist that unnecessarily tied it in to the other Cloverfield films.

And that’s in spite of it having a stellar cast and what looked like a decent budget.

That all counts for nothing if the story doesn’t cut the mustard.

And this story did not.

You should avoid it, because like I say, it’s pish.


Movies: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri Review (or “Not My Cup of Tea”)

January 30, 2018

When lots of people passionately recommend a film to me, and then I watch it and don’t particularly enjoy it, I wonder if it’s my issue or theirs.

Why is it I don’t like this critically acclaimed picture that so many people rave about?

Sometimes it’s a mystery, but other times it’s obvious and in this case I know exactly why I don’t see the attraction in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri.

I just don’t like this relentless churning out of movies and TV shows set in rural, backwater parts of the USA. The environment doesn’t appeal to me, I wouldn’t want to live there and I tire of seeing actors put on these exaggerated accents and pretend to be country bumpkin hicks.

If Three Billboards had a gripping, fast paced story then I might have enjoyed it more, but unsurprisingly given the setting, it was pretty slow and ponderous as it examined life in ‘Disenfranchised America’. It’s as if stories told in that neck of the woods are incapable of being presented in any other tone.

But don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t bad. The plot did have some merit – even though I thought it lacked any sort of proper conclusion – and I can understand why people like it, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

For purely aesthetic reasons I would consider this one to avoid, however in the likely event you don’t have that seem level of disdain for the setting as I do, and don’t mind your movies to be slow and ‘sleepy’ then you should give it a chance.


Movies: The Post Review (or “Interesting, But Not Exciting”)

January 29, 2018

When it comes to The Post, I reckon you’re going to be in one of two camps; either you’ll have found it interesting or utterly boring.

My girlfriend Mhairi certainly thought it was the latter.

To her, the trailer made it look like it would be an exciting watch, but all that stuff only happened in the last 15 minutes, by which time it was devoid of any drama.

It just wasn’t her cup of tea.

I enjoyed it though. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t exciting and if I’m honest it was more than a little bit worthy, but it provided an account – whether entirely accurate or not – of an important point in the history of the government vs the press that is often overlooked in favour of Watergate and other scandals.

And I also enjoyed it because of its strong cast of recognisable, high quality actors, not least Tom Hanks.

Could it have been better? Yes, of course it could. I don’t think it would be fair to expect it to be exciting, but if I was to have one major criticism, it would be that it’s about the Washington Post rather than the New York Times, who were the ones who actually released the Pentagon Papers in the first place. Would they not have been the better choice to focus on?

For me at least, this is a movie I would recommend going to see, but be aware that you could just as easily come away from it finding it as boring as Mhairi did.


Movies: Darkest Hour Review (or ‘Good, But Nothing We Haven’t Seen Before’)

January 29, 2018

The reviews of Darkest Hour seem to focus on Gary Oldman’s performance as Winston Churchill, and on the surface, that’s fair enough because he is entertaining.

But here’s where I have an issue; why is it that playing Churchill in a manner that we might consider accurate – and how many of us have studied video of him enough to know if it truly is – so worthy of praise? It seems to me that everyone manages to do it well enough because his is a voice and manner that is ripe for impression.

So while Oldman plays Churchill as well as any of us might expect, I don’t really think he plays him any better or worse than any number of actors who have given it a go over the years. The only difference is that while John Lithgow just looked like John Lithgow doing a stoop and a funny voice, Oldman seemed to have transformed himself physically as well.

Anyway, that aside, The Darkest Hour was a decent enough effort that looked good and kept me entertained. It told an interesting story, but dare I say a story that we’ve been told about – one way or another – in multiple TV shows and movies over the last few years, and so it didn’t feel fresh or exciting.

The other issue I had with it was that it wasn’t quite sure what it wanted to achieve with Churchill’s secretary, played by Lily James. At first it looked as though the film was going to be played as being about Churchill from her perspective, but she very quickly faded into an incidental character.

It just seemed a bit pointless to me.


Movies: The Foreigner Review (or “Jackie Chan vs The IRA: What’s Not To Love?”)

January 5, 2018

The one recurring point made in reviews of The Foreigner – which is labelled a NetFlix Original movie in the UK even though it seems to have had a cinematic release elsewhere – is that because it’s based on a book written in 1992, the subject matter feels slightly dated.

That’s a fair observation; the idea of IRA bombs in the UK and Pierce Brosnan playing Gerry Adams does feel a little bit out of sync with modern society.

But I think we can forgive that.

The Foreigner – or Jackie Chan vs The IRA – comes across like the type of movie that someone who loves ‘worthy’ cinematic presentations would hate.

It’s a pretty basic story, it’s entirely predictable, there’s sometimes a bit too much talking and it’s a little bit silly even though it’s supposed to be played straight, but it’s entertaining, and that’s what counts.

The story of an unimposing Chinese restaurateur – who just so happens to be ex US special forces – exacting revenge on the IRA in the quest to find the man responsible for planting a bomb in London that killed his daughter is just Death Wish done in a different mould, but that’s exactly the sort of thing I love. There’s plenty of daft fight scenes in odd settings, there’s over the top accents, ridiculous policing and other stuff that will make you chuckle even though you’re not supposed to.

And it works.

Put it this way, it lasts just under two hours and it flew by, whereas a fair amount of movies that go that length or 20 minutes over, feel like they have taken an eternity to conclude.

Chan, despite being a bit older now, can still handle himself while Brosnan is hammy but enjoyable as the Adams impersonator.

I thought it was great fun, so if you like this sort of thing, it’s well worth a watch on NetFlix.