High Rise Review

Using my Laughs, tears, cheese and cheers rating system,

here is my spoiler-free review for the unique ‘High Rise’, with links below if you want to find out more.

high_rise_2014_film_poster

Quick Summary:

Having first read J. G. Ballard’s dystopian thriller a short time before seeing the movie, I was hoping the visualisation may fill in whatever gaps in enjoyment or interest that I was severely lacking from the book. Unfortunately, while the movie itself looks and feels interesting, the story, though tinkered with, remains as crude in its metaphors and violence as the original on which it is based. I still wonder if I missed something…

Laughs: 0/5

There is meant to be a kind of comedy noir to this movie I believe. The use of comic actors in supporting roles such as Reece Shearsmith (League of Gentlemen / Inside Number 9) and Dan Renton Skinner (aka Angelos Epithemiou from Shooting Stars) would seem to imply this. But I just can’t feel it through the ultimately meaningless and grotesque plot I’m afraid.

Tears: 0/5

Like the book, if we ever really cared about any of the characters who are hypnotically indulging in their assumed roles both as victims and perpetrators, the premise would probably implode. It’s hard to care in such a dank bog of misery, and I don’t think the film really cared if we did anyway.

Cheese: 0/-5

A bit of cheese may have gone a long way to soften what is, to be fair, a very bleak story. But no, they didn’t go for that angle.

Cheers: 0/5

There is no one to cheer for, or barely even commiserate. Pathos doesn’t enter into it.

Bonus Category: Making the best of it +1

I can’t fault the realisation of the world J. G. Ballard conceived into this almost timeless and metamorphosing, oppressive tower block setting. Presumably the film makers and fans of the book would have loved this, as it does seem to me a good reflection of the source material, with fairly decent performances from all involved. It’s just that I don’t particularly ‘get’ the source material…

Total: 1

(Check the Leader Board to see how it compares…)

Links:

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-Rise_(film)

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0462335/

Agree / Disagree with my assessment? Leave a comment to let me know or submit your own scores for this or any other film listed in the leader board below to be aggregated into the upcoming ‘readers choice’ table on the main rating page…

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X-Men: Apocalypse Review

Using my Laughs, tears, cheese and cheers rating system, here is my spoiler-free review for ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’, with links below if you want to find out more.

x-men_-_apocalypse

Quick Summary:

The freshness of this rebooted Universe is wearing a little thin and they are already retreading some old ground, but if like me you tend to leave your brain at the door for superhero movies, ‘X Men: Apocalypse’ will keep you entertained for the duration without trying too hard or getting the basics wrong.

Laughs: 1/5

Being the third film of this particular prequel incarnation of the X-Men Universe, we’ve now spent almost all the jokes about bad fashion and haircuts by this point. Evan Peters’ Quicksilver is still the most fun we get in this movie though, with his now customary set piece of fast/slow time frolics providing one of the best scenes, again.

Tears: 2/5

It’s a little contrived and forced, but without giving anything away, there is some pretty hard-hitting plot lines early on that help slot all the goodies and baddies back into their respective slots. It would have hit harder if this hadn’t felt like a plot convenience rather than character development.

Cheese: 0/-5

Nothing to say here really… move along.

Cheers: 3/5

Part of the fun of the X-Men franchise is the sheer amount of superpower variations and intrigue that comes with every character and the conflicts and combinations that leads to. You have a flaming baddy? No problem, we have an ice man… etc. This is no different in that respects, and there are plenty of intriguing conflicts and epic feeling moments to go around.

Bonus Category: City Drop -1

Given the number of interesting character skills and possibilities, it is a little disappointing to see yet another superhero film descend into City destroying finale madness. It doesn’t distract completely, as there are other aspect to the final showdown of more interest, but as usual the human impact is almost totally absent from the comic-book, cityscape playground, and previous films in this series have found better and less clichéd ways to deliver a conclusion.

Total: 5

(Check the Leader Board to see how it compares…)

Links:

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Men:_Apocalypse

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3385516/

Agree / Disagree with my assessment? Leave a comment to let me know or submit your own scores for this or any other film listed in the leader board below to be aggregated into the upcoming ‘readers choice’ table on the main rating page…

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

Using my Laughs, tears, cheese and cheers rating system,

here is my spoiler-free review for the ambitious ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, with links below if you want to find out more.

rogue_one_a_star_wars_story_poster

Laughs: 1/5

The comic relief in this movie comes mainly in the form of the slightly unhinged, reprogrammed imperial droid K-2SO, voice by Firefly’s Alan Tudyk, who does a good job in offering the occasional light relief to a movie that is full of morbid foreboding. More dry and less irritating that C3PO, more vocabulary than R2D2 and BB8, and do I even need to compare anything to Jar Jar Binks?

Tears: 2/5

Being a one-off and packed with action, this leaves little room to really get to know the characters well enough for big-hitting emotional impact at certain points. However, it still does enough to carry it through, given this self-inflicted restriction.

Cheese: -1/-5

We have a lot to get through in one film with a core cast that stands-alone in the Universe, so I felt some relationships were accelerated beyond what we had seen on screen and felt a little forced (and not in a midi-chlorions kind of way). Again, this does not distract, but is a product of what they set out to do here.

Cheers: 5/5

You want Star Wars? You get Star Wars, in abundance, almost more than you do in last year’s fantastic ‘The Force Awakens’. Free of the need to advance the overall saga beyond its own boundaries, this movie explodes (literally) with almost every iconic Star Wars riff in the book. Space battles, blasters, shiny corridors, aliens, droids, baddies, John Williams… The only thing slightly lacking is ‘the force’ but that’s not entirely absent, and worth the wait.

Bonus Category: Force Majeure +3

This is actually a compound score, as I deducted points for the unfortunate use of CGI to resurrect Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarking. It was cool for a few seconds, when he was shown in the reflection of a window, in a dark room, but as soon as he joins the human cast the limitations of the technology took me out of the film slightly. I think they could have found a better compromise.

That said, this is more than made up by the sheer scale and ambition of a movie that for some reason I thought was going to be a modest affair. It isn’t. It is a visually stunning, high energy, full-scale Star Wars offering that will sit comfortably amongst the best of the cannon to date.

Total: 10

(Check the Leader Board to see how it compares…)

Summary

An assured stand-alone addition to the Star Wars universe, bravely conceived and executed in an age where all franchises (even spin-offs) are slated for numerous sequels. An easily consumable film that I bet will stand up to many re-watches (which I plan to do when it gets home-released).

Links:

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogue_One

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3748528/

Agree / Disagree with my assessment? Leave a comment to let me know or submit your own scores for this or any other film listed in the leader board below to be aggregated into the upcoming ‘readers choice’ table on the main rating page…

Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods Review

Using my Laughs, tears, cheese and cheers rating system, here is my spoiler-free review of ‘Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods’, with links below if you want to find out more.

asterix_-_le_domaine_des_dieux_poster

Laughs: 2/5

I’ve always loved Asterix since my brother and I used to constantly check them out of our library as kids and go mad for every new animated film release (the Twelve Tasks was our favourite I think). The books always made me titter more than belly laugh, but the films seemed to up the comedy. As an adult watching the first animated version in over ten years (the franchise went live action for a good while), I found this at the same level – generally good fun without big belly laughs. It might be my age, or just that this outing wasn’t as whacky as the surreal ‘Twelve Tasks’ or ‘Cleopatra’ offerings, but it’s not a distraction, if you’re a fan.

Tears: 1/5

It’s heart-warming in places with Obelix’s relationship with the son of a displaced Roman family, but this is no Disney tear-jerker for sure.

Cheese: 0/-5

It is what it is – a film about invincible Gauls who take magic potion to fend off the Roman Empire. Cheese doesn’t enter into it if you are familiar with the world.

Cheers: 2/5

It was daunting at first seeing that this was the first fully 3D animated Asterix feature and worrying it was going to be sub-par. I forget that this is a massive French franchise, so while the movie wasn’t really publicised over here, it has good production values, and some of the comedy potion-fuelled action was rendered well into CG animation, giving great Roman bashing fist pumps along the way…

Bonus Category: Bearable Whitehall +1

My heart dropped when I saw ‘starring Jack Whitehall as Asterix’ on the description. I’m not a fan , to be honest. But fair play to the man, he did a good job of the voice acting, and along with the rest of the cast who I am more fond of generally (including Nick Frost, Matt Berry, Catherine Tate , Jim Broadbent and Harry Enfield), they brought the translation to life.

Total: 6

(Check the Leader Board to see how it compares…)

Summary

A welcome animated return to the village of indomitable Gauls for fans of the franchise who have spent ten years trying to reconcile Gerard Depardieu as Obelix. I doubt it will convince many adults who aren’t already fans, but kids would probably love it, and its heart is in the right place.

Links:

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asterix:_The_Mansions_of_the_Gods

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3759416/

Agree / Disagree with my assessment? Leave a comment to let me know or submit your own scores for this or any other film listed in the leader board below to be aggregated into the upcoming ‘readers choice’ table on the main rating page…

Ghostbusters Answer The Call Review

Using my Laughs, tears, cheese and cheers rating system, here is my spoiler-free review for the fun-packed ‘Ghostbusters – Answer The Call’, with links below if you want to find out more.

ghostbusters_2016_film_poster

Laughs: 3/5

Not every joke lands, but with Paul Feig and his muse of choice Melissa McCarthy at the helm, it’s no surprise that the comedy shines through the weight of expectation like an accelerated nuclear proton beam through ectoplasm. It’s a fun, funny film, which side steps the shadow of the original by bringing it’s own style of mirth to the party.

Tears: 0/5

Not one tear is shed. It’s just not that kind of movie, unless you have a soft spot for mischievous supernatural entities and don’t like seeing them smooshed.

Cheese: 0/-5

Happy to report this is a cheese free zone. The film is well aware of it’s own preposterousness and therefore coexists happily with it.

Cheers: 4/5

Plenty of fist pump moments here (including some predictable but welcome cameos), just falling shy of full marks, because let’s face it, this isn’t an original movie by nature, so you never get that sense of awe and inspiration at seeing something totally new (unless of course you’ve never seen the original, in which case you may well do… lucky you!).

It may not have been the movie everyone was looking for, but I think those people forgot that you can just watch the original if that’s what you were after. As a nostalgic homage, an assured reboot, an action comedy, and a welcome delve back into the world of busting ghosts however, it delivers throughout.

Fears: +1

I ain’t afraid of no ghost! And I don’t expect most of the film’s returning adult audience would find this half as creepy as the woman in the library… But, it definitely erred on the right side of creepy in places. Perhaps if I was 30 years younger this may have chilled me more.

Bonus Category: I ain’t afraid of no trolls… +2

Some ‘orrible people had their targets set on this film from the moment it was announced as being a female cast, and some even directed this against the cast on social media. Well, those people are dicks, and the way it was handled by the cast and crew, both within and outside of the movie, was admirable.

Total: 10

(Check the Leader Board to see how it compares…)

Summary

It’s a shame the future of this franchise is once again in doubt given that the box office didn’t make enough to cover both the film and the extensive marketing campaign that one wonders may have been a direct result of the unwarranted social media thrashing by the darker side of fandom. I hope not. This was a good, enjoyable film, bringing the core ideals of the original to a new time and audience. Go watch it and buy it, then we might get more.

Links:

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghostbusters_(2016_film)

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1289401/

Agree / Disagree with my assessment? Leave a comment to let me know or submit your own scores for this or any other film listed in the leader board below to be aggregated into the upcoming ‘readers choice’ table on the main rating page…

Suicide Squad Review

Using my Laughs, tears, cheese and cheers rating system, here is my spoiler-free review for the disappointing ‘Suicide Squad’, with links below if you want to find out more (though I’m not sure why you would…).

suicide-squad

Laughs: 0/5

There were moments that had me thinking, ‘was that meant to be a funny bit?’, which isn’t usually a good sign. Like so many things in this film, the comic relief is spread too thinly around an ensemble cast who don’t seem to know who is meant to be doing what. Will Smith is too busy trying to be bad-ass and carry the film, Margot Robbie is more iconic than comic, and the several dozen other characters are either too anonymous and/or boring.

It wouldn’t have been a problem if the film wasn’t trying to be funny, but it was, and hard. All this in a film that actually has a character called ‘Captain Boomerang’ who has no special powers, but does have special boomerangs: and they still can’t raise a titter.

Tears: 0/5

We have two characters with family orientated motivations, neither relatable or developed, and a love tryst between a soldier, an archaeologist, and the ancient alien spirit she is possessed by, which is even less convincing than Cara Delevigne’s acting (more on that and her wobbly arms later).

Most of this is due to bad narrative plotting and focus which makes any emotional pay-off null and void as you flit from one poorly drawn back-story to another in a mirthless plod towards a welcome conclusion (in that the film is finished and you can go back to your life).

Cheese: -2

Suicide Squad tries almost intolerably to be cool at every turn, and although it doesn’t succeed, mostly it stays on the right side of tepid without going full circle into cheese territory. Apart from the baffling Harley/Joker back-story which has elements that are almost lifted straight out of the Tim Burton Batman films, which would be fine, if this wasn’t meant to be a gritty anti-hero cool-as-a-cucumber reimagining.

Cheers: 0/5

It’s hardly surprising given the lack of identifiable characters and absorbable plot that the pay offs are few, and limp. The premise is so convoluted that you never really care who is fighting who, or why, or how – only that at some point it will all be over.

Bonus Category: Wobbly Arms -2

This film may have been saved by a convincing and charismatic baddy, but we certainly don’t get that in the form of Cara Delevigne, no matter how much she stands around wobbling her arms about like one of those inflatable waving arm men at the side of the road. This was not a good casting decision and needed someone with more experience to create presence in a crowded film.

Total: -4

(Check the Leader Board to see how it compares…)

Summary

A wasted opportunity. Tries to be all things  to all people and ends up being none. Less terrible than it is bland and pointless.

Links:

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_Squad_(film)

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1386697/

Agree / Disagree with my assessment? Leave a comment to let me know or submit your own scores for this or any other film listed in the leader board below to be aggregated into the upcoming ‘readers choice’ table on the main rating page…

Hunt for the Wilderpeople Review

Using my Laughs, tears, cheese and cheers rating system, here is my spoiler-free review for the excellent ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’, with links below if you want to find out more (I strongly recommend you do…)

hunt_for_the_wilderpeople

Laughs: 4/5 

The only reason I haven’t given this film the top rating for laughs is that it pitches itself skilfully in the balance between out right farce and delightful buddy/chase movie. The laughs are where they are meant to be, and never done better than at the heart of the film with the interactions between the two main characters (underplayed brilliantly by Sam Neil and Julian Dennison). The central relationship is so good in fact, that even cameos from the likes of comedy stalwarts like Rhys Derby come second, as fun as they are.

Tears: 2/5

This film could have easily tipped over the edge into a total blub fest, but is always there with well timed light relief (look out for Taika Waititi’s cameo as a fumbling vicar) or section break to move you on and keep the journey going. A low score is reflective of what I think is evidently an intentional shunning of emotional hijacking by the makers.

Cheese: -1

Sometimes the villains can border on being a little bit pantomime, which just goes to show how delicately yet bravely each aspect of this film was pushed for maximum effect, so the odd transgression is forgivable, but does happen.

Cheers: 4/5

This is where the film hits home – you are invested in the characters so early on thanks to a great script, pacing and performances that you are taking every step with them, and feel every blade of grass along the way…

Bonus Cat: Majestical! +2

New Zealand’s amazing countryside is once again proven to be the ultimate back drop to movies of all shapes and sizes.

Total: 11

(Check the Leader Board to see how it compares…)

Summary

Quite simply a great cast telling a great story that thrive under the skillful direction of the excellent Taika Waititi (who is fast becoming one of my favourite directors thanks to this and What We Do In The Shadows), and the wonderful New Zealand back-drop and sensibility that continues to develop as a major force in modern movies.

Links:

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunt_for_the_Wilderpeople

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4698684/

Agree / Disagree with my assessment? Leave a comment to let me know or submit your own scores for this or any other film listed in the leader board below to be aggregated into the upcoming ‘readers choice’ table on the main rating page…