Archive for May, 2015

Steve, don’t hit on the bridesmaid. It’s your wedding.

Year Released : 199811173682_800
Director : John Fortenberry
Cast : Chris Kattan, Will Farrell, Dan Hedaya, Richard Grieco, Lochlyn Munroe and Molly Shannon

After being mentally scarred by Human Centipede 3, with some of the images from that film taking a few days to get out of my head, I wanted my next review to be something that was the complete opposite of Human Centipede and that was a comedy. I hadn’t initially intended to review A Night at the Roxbury but I then started watching it whilst at the gym and I thought “why not?”

Now, this review is more intended for those of my readers that aren’t American, or regularly viewed Saturday Night Live in the 1990s. Being English, I only see clips of Saturday Night Live every now and then, and when I say every now and then, I mean once a year, maybe, so during the 1990s I knew nothing of the show and had never even heard of it until this film came on Sky. Afterwards I found out that it was a regular sketch on SNL and it had been expanded into a feature length film. Well, I say feature length, it barely lasts over an hour.

Anyway, I asked a few friends whether they had ever heard of it and none of them said yes, so if you’re confused as to why I’m reviewing this film when it has 45,000 ratings votes on IMDB, it’s because it’s seemingly not very well known outside of America.

It had been several years since I had seen the film, infact, I’d say it was at least 6 since I saw it from start to finish. I was hoping I would still enjoy it as much as I did when I was younger, but I have found myself seriously disliking things that I used to love since I have entered my 30s. Maybe I’m just getting old.

Plot

Doug (Kattan) and Steve (Farrell) Butabi are socially awkward brothers that don’t seem to realise just how much they antagonise those around them, even though they are well meaning. They regularly attend night clubs and parties and the few girls that do pay them any sort of attention are soon put off by their lack of grace and unintentional disrespect. The brothers do have big plans though as they hope to open their own night club, which the gimmick being that on the outside it looks like a club would, but on the inside it looks like the street, but they stand little chance of making it a success when they are failing to do a good job working for their father (Hedaya) in his fake plant store.

Steve regularly ignores the advances of Emily (Shannon), the only person who shows either of the brothers any attention, however, despite seemingly everyone else hating them, the brothers soon experience some luck as they run into star of TV show “21 Jump St” Richard Grieco (himself), and he agrees to get them into the highest profile club in town, The Roxbury. There they are introduced to the owner of the club and they pitch their idea of the inside out club, the owner tells them to phone him in the morning to have a proper meeting about it. Two girls spot them talking and assume that the brothers are rich. They seduce the brothers into having sex.

With the brothers now amazingly optimistic towards the future, but what they don’t know is that they offended the club owner’s assistant. He purposefully lies to the brothers about the owner being drunk and not remembering them. From there and a subsequent sequence of events lead the brothers to have a huge falling out. Doug falls into a deep depression, whereas Steve finally gives into the advances of Emily.

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So, as good as I used to think it was?

Quick honestly, no. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t think it’s a bad film at all but the first thing I can really say in this part of the review is that it’s definitely a marmite style film. For those that are unfamiliar with marmite, it’s a form of food that every seems to either love or hate, and I think that this film is exactly like that. There are some that will love the film and those that hate it, I don’t think that there is an inbetween. In many ways the best comparison that I can make is that it’s the male version of Romy and Michelle, a mid-90s comedy staring Mina Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow.

The story feels like it has a nice, natural progression and it never feels forced. Everything feels like it happens organically because most of what happens is out of luck rather than judgement. The brothers rarely have any plans intentionally work and much like real life, their progression comes from moments of stupidity, such as constantly sharply breaking on a busy road and end up having the car behind them rear ending them.

That characters of Doug and Steve are played perfectly by Kattan and Farrell, they have captured that perfect portrayal of delusion. Whilst Farrell’s performance may seem familiar compared to his usual performances since this film was made, at the time this performance was quite unique and he played the loveable idiot role perfectly.

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I’ve only ever seen Kattan in two films, this and House on Haunted Hill, the first two films in his career, and he seems to have a great range of abilities and he has an endearing ability to make you laugh as Doug. One scene that stands out in particular is when Doug and Steve are walking down the beach and the latter is having major doubts, Doug reassures him that everything will be fine and that Steve is very good looking. Kattan, with his hair slicked back, delivers the line about both of them being good looking whilst almost looking like a caricature of himself.

It’s an interesting approach to comedy and whilst in places it works, a lot of the movie, especially the first half, feels very repetitive. Most of the first half of the movie is them partying, trying to chat up women, dancing awkwardly and being rejected, all whilst some 90s music is being belted out in the background. Without counting, I would guess that there is, at most, 10 minutes of the entire film which doesn’t have music belting out and whilst at the beginning it is well used, after a while it becomes tiresome. The song “What Is Love” by Haddaway, is used at least five times in the film, whether it is directly or via the elevator music.

I think in many ways you will love this film if you grew up during the 90s. There are many references to 90s culture, such as near enough copying a scene from Jerry Maguire near enough word for word. As someone who grew up in the 90s, I caught all of the references quite easily, but I get the feeling that if you’re from any other generation then most of the references might go over your head and you miss the intended funny moments. That’s not to say that the intended funny moments are actually funny. In a film that barely lasts over an hour, the last thing you need to do is make it repetitive.

What I find bizarre about about the film is that it’s Wikipedia page describes it as a neo-noir black comedy. Now, if you were reading that and thought that this sounds like amazing, based purely on that, you’ll be disappointed. There’s nothing dark or black about the comedy at all, and it’s not presented in a neo-noir way. Obviously the film can’t control what it’s advertised as, but don’t be tricked into thinking it’s something it’s not.

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Summary

Whilst there are moments that will make you laugh and it could easily become a guilty-pleasure of your’s, A Night at the Roxbury’s short run time is filled with jokes that quickly become repetitive and unfunny. If you can survive the repetitive jokes and the constant playing of 90s club music then you’ll probably end up liking it.

Farrell and Kattan both play their characters exceptionally well and it’s hard not to like either of them as they’re loveably naive. I don’t think either character could be portrayed by anyone else and retain the same level of enjoyment.

Whilst this will never be considered a classic, for barely over an hour of your time, I’d say it’s worth the small commitment of time.

 

A quick update

Posted: May 28, 2015 in Blog

Hello all

I trust everyone is well?

I realise that I haven’t really done many reviews over the past month or two and I just wanted to address that. I am still watching films and have a few reviews planned, it’s just a case of finding time to actually write the reviews which is the main issue really.

Hopefully reviews will return on a regular basis in the near future, and hopefully none will stick in my head like Human Centipede 3 did. Seriously, that film was in my head constantly for two days and it was horrible. The only way I got it out of my head is when I went to watch Tomorrowland on Tuesday (which I’d recommend by the way)

Anyway, again, I just wanted to let you know that I am intending to write reviews on a regular basis again and it’s only finding the time which is proving difficult.

Kate

You talk so much shit that your ass must get jealous!

Year Released : 2015HumanCentipede3
Director : Tom Six
Cast : Dieter Laser, Laurence Harvey, Robert LaSardo, Tommy Lister, Jay Tavare, Eric Roberts and Bree Olson

For the first time in a while I write this little preview after I have watched the film. I don’t know how but I managed to sit through all 100 minutes of this film, and the majority of what I have just seen will haunt my dreams for days to come.

I don’t think I quite have the words just yet to actually articulate just how disturbingly vile and outrageously disgusting that this film is. I didn’t mind the first one, although it was still pretty disturbing, and the second one was even worse and more depraved, but both look like Disney movies compared to this installment in the franchise.

At 30 years old, I have seen a lot of movies and there are certain scenes that are disturbing and will stick with me forever. For example, there is a scene in “The Fly 2” where the main character spits acid in the face of a security guard and his face melts. I first saw that scene when I was about 11 years old and it has stuck with me in the 19 years since, but I don’t think I will ever be able to forget what I have just seen in the last 100 minutes.

It’s not often I say this, but I would implore you not to watch this film. I am going to regret this for the rest of my life.

Plot

I’m going to do this slightly differently and tell you the whole plot, including the ending.

Prison Warden Boss (Laser) is struggling to keep control of his prisoners and is willing to try anything to subdue them. His methods are somewhat unorthodox and dangerous as he tries waterboarding with boiling water, castrating a prisoner, breaking an arm and virtually every other law breaking method that you can think of.

After his continued attempts fail, Boss eventually listens to his accountant, Dwight (Harvey), a fan of the first two Human Centipede films. He convinces Boss to bring in Tom Six (himself), the director of the first two films (and this one) and talk him through the possibility of turning all 500 prisoners into the centipede. Boss eventually agrees. The prisoners are to be minimally attached to each other, mainly held in place by straps and equipment, thus allowing a prisoner to be easily removed at the end of the sentences, leaving only minimal scaring. It is hoped that this will be the ultimate deterrent from a life of crime.

The prisoners are told, a riot ensues as they try to stop it, but they are all eventually subdued and tranqualised. All of those that are incapable of joining the centipede, such as the disabled or with bowel syndromes, are killed and the rest of the prisoners that are not on death row or serving life sentences are attached to each other. Those that are serving life or are on death row are surgically attached to each other, but also have their arms and legs sawn off, creating a human caterpillar.

Boss’s boss, the state Governor (Roberts), arrives to inspect what changes have been made to improve control in the prison. He is initially appauled by what he sees, especially when he sees a newly freed prisoner that has been mentally scarred from the experience. but on a drive home he comes to belief that the idea will actually work and goes along with it. He goes to congress as he plans to integrate it across the whole of America.

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How is it worse than the first two?

I don’t even know where to start with this, I really don’t.

I suppose the only way is to start by looking at the first film. Despite all of the controversy, there is one thing that everyone can agree on with the first Human Centipede film, it was a unique idea. I’m all for new and unique ideas. Whilst it wasn’t a great film in any sense of the word, I commend any film that tries something new and has nothing else even remotely similar to it. The second one just seemed to be there for shock value and offers little to expand on the original. The second one is only slightly more disturbing due to the main character, such as scenes where he masturbates which sandpaper, or when a mother crushes her newborn baby’s head with an accelerator pedal in the car.

Don’t get the wrong impression, I am not a fan of the first two at all. I only watched the first one out of curiousity when people that I worked with started talking about it, and then I only watched the second because I was bored. Literally the only reason that I have watched the third is so that you don’t have to. Granted, I’m sure you’ve already got it in your heads exactly what this film is going to be like, and you are right. It is deplorable and I can’t think of a single positive comment to say about it.

Human Centipede 3 is disturbing from start to finish and I’m not going to lie, I had to stop myself from throwing up numerous times and even now, 20 minutes after the film finished, I’m still getting the gag reflex. It’s just an absolutely horrible film and full of disgusting moments. There are scenes where Boss forces his secretary to swallow his sperm, another where he orders and eats a jar of clitorises because he heard that African tribe leaders believe them to give you strength, a prisoner stabbing Boss in the kidney and proceeding to have sex with the hole. I could go on for ages about all of the disturbing scenes in this film, but quite frankly I want to try and forget this film as quickly as is humanly possible.

For me the most insane part of the film was not all that I’ve mentioned above, but when the governor agrees that it’s a good idea, the final five or so minutes are presented as if it’s a happy ending, with happy music playing in the background and everyone seemingly delighted.

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Dieter Laser’s performance is just beyond ridiculously bad. His portrayal as the insane doctor in the first film was actually quite reasonable, but in this he loses all sense of credibility. Laser was believable as an insane doctor because his performance was creepy and haunting, it was almost the perfect performance for an insane antagonist, but his performance in Human Centipede 3, another film where he plays an insane character, is just beyond ridiculous.

Infact, I think the best way to describe Laser’s performance is almost like that of a cartoon villain. Every line is said with pretty much every word containing several elongated stretches of the same letter. You know that scene in Leon when Gary Oldman shouts “EVERYONE” and how it’s exaggerated? Well imagine that but with every single word. I’ve seen some bad performances from some bad actors down the years, but for me this ranks right up there with the worst of the worst. When you make Tommy Wiseau look Oscar worthy then you have no chance.

You know what, I can’t talk about this film anymore. Please, whatever you do, do not watch this film.

Summary

There is a page on Wikipedia that basically talks about the worst films ever made. On there are some films that you would expect to be on such a list, and quite frankly I would be amazed if this film doesn’t appear on the list in the near future.

I watched this so you didn’t have to.

 

She told me about the time that you drunk so much Guinness that you shat yourself!

Year Released : 201351cQavt2+DL
Director : MJ Delaney
Cast : Sheridan Smith, Kate Nash, Jaime Winstone, Oona Chaplin and Riann Steele

In England we have these thing called pound shops, going under various guises, such as Pound Land or 99p Stores, you get the idea. Now contained within is a large variety of items, including athletic equipment, food, clothes, make up, gardening tools, pretty much everything you can imagine, and the only real problem with pound shops is that because no item costs over a pound, you know that chances are that the item you’re buying is going to be awful in terms of it’s quality.

Anyway, where I work is about a minute walk away from a pound shop and whilst browsing their DVD section before work on Thursday, I found this and the cover instantly grabbed my attention. It had one of my favourite British comediennes in Sheridan Smith and actually sounded like a reasonable plot. Another good thing about the pounds shops is that if it does turn out to be awful then at least it’s only a pound that you’ve wasted.

So I decided to make the hefty investment of a pound to buy a film that I’ve never heard of. Judging by IMDB I’m not the only person who had never heard of it either, with a dismal 430 ratings in the two years since it’s release. What concerned me even more was the low score of 4.7/10, although I was made slightly more optimistic with a review that said that if you’re British then chances are you’re going to love it.

I, as usual, write this before I watch the film and I’m not sure whether to be optimistic or not.

Plot

Sam (Smith) is going on a rare night out with her friends and whilst there she runs into her old college friends. Sam hasn’t done anything with her life but self-concious about it. She starts lying to them about what she does for a job and that she is in a strong relationship. In reality she split with her boyfriend a year ago and is having difficulty getting over it.

She starts regularly criticising her friends behind their backs and struggles to cope throughout the night.

Meanwhile, several the characters experience the highs and lows of drugs, including Paige (Steele) who is doing it for the first time due to peer-pressure. Other girls are simply trying to have sex or try to emotionally get over that they’ve turned up to a night club in fancy dress when she was actually told to dress fancy.

Yep, that’s pretty much the “plot” of the film.

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So, worth the pound?

Let’s start with the positives…….

Sheridan Smith is by far the most enjoyable to watch in the film and I’m not just saying this because she is from the same county as me (Lincolnshire for the win). I’ve always enjoyed the work of Smith since I first saw her in a long-forgotten and short-lived sitcom “Dark Ages”, her brilliant long term role in “Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps” and various other TV shows, but this is one of her more refreshing performances as she plays the vulnerable Sam.

The character is trying to please everyone without actually revealing her own personal choices and insecurities, and the development of her character and the rapid change to being happy to tell people her opinions, such as her thoughts on Chanel’s active sex life within the club, is quite interesting to watch. You watch a character who tries the social niceties with the other characters and ends up no giving a shit with a lot of them.

Conversations feel natural and realistic for the most part, such as two characters who don’t know each other going through small talk to try and get past the awkwardness. Infact, the whole film is very realistic on so many levels. I’m not a sociable person so rarely go on nights out, and even when I do, I don’t tend to get to the toilet because being transgendered and still looking like a man, I can’t be bothered with the potential issues and discussions relating to it, but from conversations I’ve had with various female friends, one of whom I was watching the film with, it is a very realistic look into what happens in the female toilets in clubs.

My one reservation with it is that these girls seem to spend more time in the toilets than actually only the night out, and I’m not just talking about the character of Sam, who you can sort of forgive for spending most her time in there just to the confidence issue, but even the confident ones spend seemingly their entire night hanging around in the toilets. It’s not even as if they need to use the toilet on such a regular basis. Some characters are shown on the toilet on such a regular basis that it makes you wonder why they bothered going out in the first place, and it’s far more regular than any sane person would be in there.

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Interesting introductions to the characters as they all appear with their name and a brief description about them in the opening credits, which is a good idea and leads you into the characters before you’ve actually properly met them. I definitely like this and is something that I have never seen before, it actually made me laugh as well with simple things such as “Can’t spell Febuary” (notice the intentional misspelling) and that actually made me chuckle somewhat.

The one issue I do have with it is that because they cover the main character so much, by the end of the opening credits you have any forgotten the names or any of the characteristics of the other characters. It’s not a major thing at all, because obviously you still have 80 or so minutes left, but if you’re going to go via this method, try not to focus too much on one character. Don’t get me wrong though, I did definitely like the technique.

I briefly revealed one of the main problems within that and that is the there are just too many characters and it’s hard to keep track of who is who. The ones that you do learn things about, other than Sam, are barely worth learning about, and the funny thing is that the character that I enjoyed the most was the toilet attendant, who barely actually talked throughout the entire film. Her entire performance is based on her facial reactions or various mannerisms, and it is a remarkable performance from Johnnie Fiori, but again therein lies a problem. When one of the most enjoyable characters is one who barely speaks then there are some issues.

None of the characters, other than Sam, are particularly engaging and there are some very odd character choices and developments. They’ve chosen an actress (Oona Chaplin) to play Jess, a French character, and yet Chaplin keeps dropping the French accent. In some scenes it is thick and very obvious, and in others the actress is just speaking with her normal voice. There’s no consistency. I’m not sure whether it’s because the character might not actually be French, but either way Oona Chaplin was diabolical in her attempts to pull of both a French accent, or even look competent whilst acting.

The film is ultimately a movie about woman, afterall there are only two men in the entire film and neither are on screen for more than a minute, so you can tell that the film-makers are trying to give women a real chance with this movie. It’s a cast dominated by largely unfamiliar women and they could have done a much better job than they did. In reality there are only two that will be familiar names to most in the UK, the aforementioned Smith and Kate Nash. Nash (below with Chaplin) had an unremarkable singing career and is so desperate to stay famous and relevant that she accepted a role in a poor film and portrayed her character with no real warmth, heart or emotion. Her lack of acting ability somehow manages to outshine her inability to maintain a singing career.

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Whilst that is an issue I can forgive, one that I can’t is that the film is pretty directionless. There isn’t really much of a storyline going on. All of these characters are going around and chatting to each other, doing various things, but none of it really contributes to a plot, if indeed there is actually a plot. It just seems to be several much smaller storylines which they try to stitch together in a very feeble manner. There is a scene towards the end where all of the story arcs come together, but it isn’t like in films like Pulp Fiction, in which you find all of the effort and what you’ve been watching finally paying off. The coming together of all of the story-arcs is just not reward enough for all of the time and effort that you’ve put into watching it.

Even the scene when Sam finally sees her ex after all of the pain that she has been feeling because of their break up (what sparks all of the story arcs coming together), it doesn’t feel like a natural conclusion as her friends realise that she’s been lying to them all night. It just feels coincidental rather than done intentionally.

I’m sat writing this part of the review after the film is finished and I feel completely underwhelmed by what I have just seen. I wasn’t expecting miracles, afterall it’s barely known, but I at least expected to be entertained as being British, I knew what we are capable of in terms of comedy. This comedy gave the world Blackadder, Red Dwarf, The Office, The Brittas Empire, Men Behaving Badly, Mr Bean and many, many more brilliant comedies, and it’s such a shame that that talent seems to be untranslatable into film.

No. It’s not worth £1.

Summary

With laughs few and far between, this “comedy” lacking a plot is not made easier with characters that are largely underdeveloped. They create several dull story-arcs that loosely link together to form a much larger story, but it’s done in such a lacklustre and unsatisfying manner that I really couldn’t care less when the arcs merge.

Sheridan Smith and Johnnie Fiori are both enjoyable to watch, but other than that the film is full of lifeless, dull and bland performances from actresses that even I as a Brit had never heard of before, other than Kate Nash, a woman desperately trying to remain relevant after a forgettable career as a pop singer.

Unfortunately having a unique opening credits and one or two minor laughs don’t make up what is otherwise a pretty crap film.

Year Released : 2015Area_51_Film_Poster
Director : Oren Peli
Cast : Reid Warner, Darrin Bragg, Ben Rovner and Jelena Nik

Much like zombie films, I found myself reviewing far too many found footage films recently and this will be the last one I review for a whilst as I often find myself saying similar things, and unfortunately it’s going to be the case with Area 51.

Now, I was actually quite intrigued by the premise of someone trying to break into Area 51. I personally do believe in life elsewhere in the universe as I find it exceptionally unlikely that Earth is the only planet that has life, even if it’s only bacteria elsewhere. It’s through this belief that I am quite a big fan of the science fiction genre, but the reason I bring this up is because Area 51 is alleged to be heavily involved in working on alien life, such as the Roswell incident, so I found it interesting to see how someone would portray this in film.

However, despite being intrigued and somewhat excited by the film, it was disappointingly predictable and you know what’s going to happen long before it actually happens. This ruins it for me.

For a change I am writing this introduction after I have actually watched the film, 24 hours afterwards to be precise (and I’m writing this on Monday evening), as I wanted to spend some time thinking it over and trying to think of any positives I could give to the film. As you can probably tell already, the positives are few and far between and I feel that the average rating of 4.1/10 on IMDB at the time of writing is too high. Infact, I’d struggle to give it anything more than a 3.

Plot

After disappearing at a party, Reid (Warner – yes, they did all use their real names for their character names) is found by his friend Darrin (Bragg) and Ben (Rovner), but he has completely changed. He has become obsessed by UFOs and aliens and comes up with a plan to break into Area 51 to find proof that aliens exist. He talks Darrin and Ben into taking a trip to Nevada with him and there they meet up with Jelena (yep, you’ve guessed it, Nik), someone who has inside knowledge.

The group proceeds to then follow a suspected employee of Area 51 to his home, eventually breaking in, stealing his ID and a bottle of cologne, gaining his finger print in the process. Ben suddenly grows exceptionally nervous as he wasn’t expecting Reid to take things as far as he was, as well as breaking the law in numerous ways. Despite this, Reid and Darrin convince him to drive them to the border of where Area 51 supposedly is.

When they arrive, Reid, Darrin and Jelena start their journey to break into the complex, avoiding helicopters, land mines and random patrols on their way in. They do eventually make it into the complex and find their proof of alien life, but whereas getting in was difficult enough, getting out would be nigh on impossible, especially after they accidentally release something.

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So, a good addition to the found footage genre or another entry that shows the genre should die.

As I mentioned in other reviews, when they’re done right, found footage style films can be excellent. [REC], Cloverfield, VHS and As Above, So Below, are examples of the genre being done right, but Area 51 falls someway short of being included in the good category.

It suffers with the same old problems of the genre, in other words, it’s predictable and defies the logic of something running for their life but still filming and turning around, focusing the camera on what’s chasing them and then running again. This wouldn’t happen in real life. If I was getting chased by something that is probably going to kill me if it catches me, I am not going to stop and film what’s chasing me. It just doesn’t happen.

It’s certainly not the only problem with this film and there are two main ones that I think take a larger spotlight.

The first main problem with Area 51 is that right at the beginning of the film, it effectively tells you what is going to happen. If you’ve watched the excellent “District 9” then you will remember that at the beginning of the film a documentary takes place where characters recall what Wikus was like and then how they all reacted to what happened to him, so at point you knew what was going to happen but you were never entirely sure. Area 51 tries to do a very similar thing in which it has an interview set up at first with various people and they all tell you that the three characters just disappeared.

This sets out as the film effectively spoiling itself in the first few minutes as you knew that the characters had no chance, and even when one of them escapes late on, you know that something is going to happen as the film has already told you that that character never returned and completely disappeared. The last thing I want in a film is for it to tell me what happens in the end.

When it’s done with subtlety it’s not too bad if the film spoils itself. For example, I watched Unfriended at the cinema recently and I quite liked it, and what you don’t realise until you read about the film afterwards is that within the first five seconds of being on the screen, each character that eventually dies actually shows you how they end up dying, and that’s pretty cool and how it should be done. It shouldn’t be made blatantly obvious and it wasn’t until afterwards that I realised. That was subtle, Area 51’s was not as you knew all of the way through the film that the characters weren’t getting out.

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The second issue that I have with the film is that it is actually built quite well. It’s a slow build that is paced quite well….but then it keeps building…..and building…..and building….and when they do finally get into the facility, the majority of the film is already gone. They go from a reasonable build to not leaving themselves a lot of time to actually get what happens in the facility to an exciting level.

This leads to a less than exciting ending which is done at such a rushed pace that you are left asking what is actually going on, and no film should do that.

Another trend that I’ve noticed with similar films is that to add a sense of realism to the film, the writers are giving the characters the same first name as the actor or actress playing them. There is another film coming out later in the year called The Gallows (which has one of the most basic trailers I’ve ever seen in my life) and all of the characters share their first name with the actor or actress.

Whilst I am sure that this is done with a genuine attempt to connect to the characters, I find it a bit pathetic that you’re having to do that to try and get a connection. Connections with characters shouldn’t be with things like this, they should be natural and organic. Trying to shove something down my throat is not the way to get me connected to the characters and in this sense it fails miserably. It certainly doesn’t help when none of the characters, other than Ben (and even then that’s at a push) develop or change throughout the film. They all pretty much finish how they started out and don’t seem to learn anything.

The ONLY positive that I can give the film is that it at least has the decency to try and do something different from most other found footage style films. By that I mean that it’s a found footage film that isn’t in the horror genre. There are very few horror elements to it and that makes a refreshing change from the usual genre that you find this style film in. But other than that, I can’t think of anything noteworthily (if that’s even a word) good about the film.

For me it is one that focuses too much on style and not substance, but even the style isn’t particularly well done, and what worries me even more is that I highly doubt that Area 51 is left so relatively unprotected at night. The characters get to the door so incredibly easily that it makes you question the realism of a film. I’ve never been to Area 51 and I have no intention of going, not that I’d be allowed anything, but I can’t imagine for a second that the only security measures that they have are a few people sat in jeeps and a helicopter. There’s no fencing of any variety, no guard towers, nothing. I appreciate that they’d want to keep a certain level of security, but to suggest that they have very little security is quite frankly laughable.

Even when they get into the facility, there is minimal security around. There are only a few employees here and there, there is seemingly no camera system and the characters are able to wander freely around the complex, rarely coming up against anything that would stop them progression. Even when they eventually find what they’re looking for, there’s nothing to stop them getting in that room, not even enhanced security procedures, and again, I highly doubt that Area 51 would be so insecure.

Again, I am making that assumption and I could be completely wrong. For all I know there could be precisely fuck all security at Area 51, but the only way to find out would be to risk spending the rest of my life in a prison cell somewhere. As much fun as I’m sure that would be, I think I’ll pass.

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Summary

Whilst it tries a slightly different approach in the found footage genre by making something that isn’t a horror film, it ultimately fails to make you enjoy the film. It has a decent enough build, but the build goes on for far, far too long and by the end it tries to fit too much into a short about of time, and everything after they enter the building feels force, rather than natural.

There are very few positives about Area 51 and it is a poor attempt at film-making. Then again, this is the same director that started the horrible Paranormal Activity franchise, so I’m not sure what I was expecting.

Avoid.

There is more to life than survival, Jay Cavendish taught me that.

Year Released : 2015slow_wester_poster_1
Director : John McLean
Cast : Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Caren Pistorious and Rory McCann

Westerns appear to be making a comeback. I have previously commented in the reviews for The Proposition and The Salvation that westerns have been slowly dying out for some time, but not it appears that they are re-emerging and this is very much a good thing.

When I saw the trailer for Slow West, I grew exceptionally excited as it featured two of my favourite actors of the modern day, Ben Mendelsohn and Michael Fassbender. I have previously been impressed with Mendlesohn after his performance in a film I have reviewed in the past, Black Sea.

The cast excited me, but then, before watching it on Sunday morning on an onDemand online service, I saw the words “critically acclaimed” and my heart sank. I’ve mentioned in a few reviews in recent weeks that critically acclaimed tends to mean that they are long, drawn out and boring, which very little substance, so with writing this part before I actually watch the film, my optimism for this being good as gone seriously downhill.

Plot

Jay (Smit-McPhee) travels to America during the 1800s to find his girlfriend, Rose (Pistorious), but it obvious pretty quickly that he is out of his depth and it only takes a last minute intervention from Silas (Fassbender) to save him from being shot by bandits. Silas convinces Jay to have him as his chaperon as he recognises that Jay doesn’t stand a chance otherwise.

What Silas doesn’t tell Jay is that his girlfriend is actually wanted for murder and has a $2,000 bounty on her head, and Silas is using Jay to track her down. The two soon encounter trouble in a store though a foreign couple come in and try and steal everyone. The man is shot by the storekeeper, who in turn is still by the woman. The woman threatens Silas but he talks to her long enough for Jay to save him, but Jay soon runs away when Silas refuses to help the children of the couple, who were waiting outside. Silas soon catches up after a few days.

As they continue their journey to find Rose and her father, the duo are found my Payne (Mendelsohn), a former bounty hunting partner of Silas and they all soon realise that is effectively a race against time and each other to get to the family and the bounty. Who can win the race and how will Silas cope when he realises that there is a bounty on his girlfriend?

Slow-West

So, is it worthy of being critically acclaimed?

No, not it is not.

I’m going to start with my only two positives, that’s right, I can only think of two things that are worth mentioning in a good sense.

The first is the film does look fantastic. It’s use of locations of works really well and you truly get the sense that this is an old timely film. It’s simple things such as that that make the film believable and you genuinely feel like you’re in the wild west. It looks right and that is one of the biggest praises that I can give any film.

I also love that Jay has become completely ill-equipped to travel across America and despite his confidence, he would never be able to survive on his own. When Silas opens up his suitcase, he finds things such as a teapot, which serves practically no functionality in the wild west. This shows how wonderfully naive the character is and this trend continues throughout most of the movie.

Fassbender and Smit-McPhee has good chemistry on the screen together and they have a great teacher/student style relationship. With both being announced for the upcoming X-Men Apocalypse movie (Fassbender reprises his role as the young Magneto, and Smit-McPhee will play Nightcrawler), it will be interesting to see if their characters are on screen at the same time so we can compare the relationship between them then and now.

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I’m not going to lie, Smit-McPhee wasn’t particularly engaging in his portrayal as a main character and you don’t feel any real connection to him at all. He plays the character with the same sort of enthusiasm and emotion as most young actors do these days, in other words, none. You never once believe that he truly loves Rose and this is down to Smit-McPhee’s emotionally lifeless performance as Jay.

If you’re going to have a main character, you really should have someone playing him who can bring you into the role and the only time you feel like he’s worth feeling sorry for/routing for, is when he gets shot in the hand with an arrow and you see the pain on his face. That’s the only time Smit-McPhee doesn’t approach the portrayal with a sense of being bored by the role.

This could easily be because the character isn’t particularly well written, and it isn’t only restricted to him. Mendelsohn is wasted as Payne. Payne is the film’s main antagonist and yet you never really feel like he is as fearsome as everyone keeps suggesting. Mendelsohn is a great antagonistic actor, such as his role in Black Sea, and had his role been written well then this could have been one of the best western antagonist roles of all time, but alas, Mendelsohn can only work with what he was given, and he was given crap.

I would go as far as saying that not a single actor puts in a credible performance and the lack of emotion and engagement with any of them does the film no favours whatsoever. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I was bored, but the film doesn’t really move at all and it feels like it’s at least 15/20 minutes long, and that’s definitely not a good thing given that the run-time is only 80 or so minutes. No film that lasts less than 90 minutes should have you reflecting that it should be considerably short that it was.

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Summary

A film that had huge potential and wasted it with lifeless performances and poorly written characters. You’re never routing for the protagonist and never feel that the antagonist is a genuine threat. The character of Silas is arguably the most intriguing as he switches from antagonist to protagonist, but is otherwise largely on the same level of emotional engagement as the other two.

I wouldn’t quite call it completely bland, but it is certainly not exciting, tense or engaging at all. I find it laughable that this received critical acclaim and I can’t believe that it has a rating of 7.5/10 on IMDB at the time of writing.

If you’re going to watch one of the westerns that I have reviewed on this site so far, make it The Salvation and avoid this.

And to think that in some countries these dogs are eaten!

Year Released : 2000BestInShow2000
Director : Christopher Guest
Cast : Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, Michael Hitchcock, Christopher Guest, Jennifer Coolidge, Patrick Cranshaw, Jane Lynch, John Higgins and Michael McKean,

One of my favourite satires, Best in Show is a gem and one of the most unique comedies that I have ever seen in my life. Whilst it is slightly better known that most films that I review, amassing 42,000 votes on IMDB at the time of writing, and taking more than £20m at the box office, it is a film that I have wanted to review since I started this site and as I approach my 100th review, I also wanted to write about a genre that I have rarely touched on, comedy.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I am happy to review films that were well known at the time of their release but not so much now, and it is definitely the case with this film as not one single person that I know has seen this (to the best of my knowledge), and I myself have only seen it three times, including when I initially saw it in 2007.

Best in Show is the type of comedy that I like, a smart comedy that doesn’t try and force that comedy on you (for the majority). Too many comedies these days try to force the comedy on you and it stops being funny. I’ll give you an example, the first Ron Burgundy film was brilliant and one of the keys to that was the relatively minor character of Brick (played by Steve Carrell), but in the sequel they had realised this and used Brick far, far, far too much and it just wasn’t as funny. They tried to force it on you and it soon lost it’s appeal.

But anyway…..

Plot

With the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show fast approaching, a film crew decide to document five dogs and their owners both before, during and after the pageant. The couples are;

  • Gerry and Cookie Fleck (Levy and O’Hara) and their dog, Winky – A couple that runs into money troubles and has to stay in a storage room in a hotel. Gerry becomes increasingly paranoid throughout due to the couple constantly running into Cookie’s old lovers.
  • Megan and Hamilton Swan (Posey and Hitchcock) and their dog, Beatrice – An upper-class couple that seem to have come straight from the 1980s. Their neurotic approach to the pageant sees them run into trouble throughout and alienates them from the other participants.
  • Harlan Pepper (Guest) and his dog, Hubert – A straight to the point man that lives in the country. He comes from a family that has been breeding dogs for generations, although he secretly wishes to be a ventriloquist.
  • Sherri Ann and Leslie Cabot (Coolidge and Cranshaw) with their dog, Rhapsody in White – A middle aged woman who has married a very elderly man. Sherri is having an lesbian affair with their trainer, Christy (Lynch)
  • Scott Donlan and Stefan Vanderhoof (Higgins and McKean) and their dog, Miss Agnes – A camp homosexual couple that firmly believe that their dog will win the competition.

As the competition progresses and dogs are eliminated, the relationships between the couples becomes increasingly tense, and those that are eliminated before the final blame the others. Which dog will come out on top?

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So what makes it different than the typical comedy?

Comedies need various factors to work, timing, a situation that actually deserves the comedy, but for me that comedy comes from the delivery  of the lines and the situation.

For example, in the first scene there sees Megan and Hamilton talking about someone being depressed and it goes on for about 90 seconds to two minutes and they are all serious about the situation. They talk about doing everything they can to bring someone out of a depression and then the camera pans to a dog that looks completely miserable.

Eugene Levy shines in terms of delivery. Levy is arguably best known for his role as Jim’s Dad in the American Pie franchise. He was delightful in that role due to his awkward, and yet charming, approach to teaching his son about sexual exploration. In “Best In Show” he again plays a socially awkward character and wears a prosthesis in his mouth to induce a heavy lisp, and his completely deadpan delivery of lines in a way makes them funny.

His character was born with two left feet and he starts talking about being bullied and mocked because he wasn’t able to walk in a straight line before therapy, and he delivers the line in a completely dead pan manner and it actually makes the situation sound funny that it is.

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I’m not under any delusion though, this isn’t a style of comedy that will work with everyone. I think you definitely have to like a certain style of comedy to find this funny. If I had to liken it to TV shows then I would go with either Frasier or the UK version of The Office (I’ve never seen the US version) . Both rarely deliver your stereotypical laughs and they are, for lack of better words, intelligent comedies. They’re comedies where the funnier jokes are there but not necessarily obvious.

In a few ways the comedy is similar to Family Guy. By that I mean that Family Guy has a reputation of purposefully making jokes go on for a long time and the funny part comes in when it goes on for far, far, far too long, and there are several scenes like this. The character of Harlan spends several minutes listing nuts and and first it is quite amusing because it’s just so tediously dull, yet he doesn’t realise….and then he keeps going.

One of the main problems with mainstream comedies is that they aren’t necessarily unfunny, but that the best bits are in the trailer. This almost ruins the jokes and you never heard people laughing the cinema screens at the better jokes because people have already seen them in adverts several times and they lose their comic effect. “Best in Show” is one of the few comedies that I can think of where the best jokes aren’t in the trailer. This is so refreshing.

Argubaly the most interesting part of the film for me is that the five main people/groups of people that are being followed, each have unique and complex relationships with each other, as well as the interactions that they have with the other groups. There is a lot going on and it’s very representative of real life competitions. The arguments between couples, some couples actively trying to make friends and others emphasizing it’s a competition and not being even remotely interested in interacting with the others.

You’ve got the characters that take the competition too seriously and the ones who are just happy to be there. Megan and Hamilton in particular are fascinating to watch because they treat it as the be all and end all of life. Their lives revolve around their dog and they explode into a rage when the small things happen, such as them forgetting to bring the dog’s chew toy out of the car and exploding with rage at each other, with the true comedic moment being that the dog is on the screen at the same time and pulls off a great “not this shit again” look.

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Summary

An amazing comedy with established stars in the genre, such as Eugene Levy, Michael McKean and several others, Best in Show is oneapproved of the more intelligent comedies that I have seen in the recent past and I can’t recommend it enough.

Whilst a movie about someone documenting the entrants in a dog show might not sound like it’s a format for laughter, it’s done in an easily accessible way. The interactions between the characters helps develop them and gain an attachment to them.

I’m not a fan of the comedy genre, but this is definitely one of the films that I do like.

 

Year Released : 2015AQG7l3v
Director : Henry Hobson
Cast : Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin and Joely Richardson

I’m about to do something that I have never done before and that is review a film that has yet to be released in the UK that is due for a cinema release. Having friends in various film companies, I occasionally get DVDs of films that haven’t come out yet and I get to enjoy them long before most people do. For example, I first saw The Theory of Everything in October 2014, a few months before it was released. I chose not to review that film (although I wish I had as it was exceptional), but I’ve gone with this because at the moment it isn’t well known in the UK, that despite it’s prolific main star.

I’m not going to lie, I’m not a fan of Schwarzenegger. It’s very rare that I have watched a film of his and been impressed with his performance. The only exceptions that I can think of are as the Terminator in, well I’m sure you can guess which franchise that is. The reason for this is because due to his accent, Schwarzenegger does sound a bit robotic in terms of his speech and delivery of lines, so it felt like a good match.

I’m going into this film without really knowing a lot about the plot as I tend to find that’s working for me a lot recently. I didn’t even watch the trailer, which is very unusual for me, although I am guessing from the poster that this is something to do with zombies, I just hope that is isn’t filled with clichés.

I am also aware that this is considerably higher profile than films I normally review. Just to put people’s minds at ease, I won’t be switching to mainstream films permanently, although as I have previously mentioned, if I think that it’s worth including then I will, but it won’t be often.

Also, just to make it easier, I am going to refer to him throughout the review as Arnie because, quite frankly, Schwarzenegger is too complicated and long to write on a regular basis.

Plot

Wade (Arnie) finally finds her daughter, Maggie (Breslin) after several weeks of looking. He quickly realises that she has been bitten by someone who was infected with a deadly virus and he is advised to get her quarantined as soon as possible. He decides to ignore the advice and takes her home.

Whilst trying to fend off the infected that are trying to get into their house every now and then, Maggie’s condition continues to degrade and when an accident on a swing ends up in her index finger being severed. The infection is spreading and the only thing keeping her going is her relationship with Wade and her friends, all of whom are also infected.

How long can she last before she succumbs her hunger for flesh?

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So, is it worth the watch when it’s released at the cinema?

Well, it’s hard to say as after watching it, it doesn’t seem like a cinema type film. It’s almost one that would be best if it went straight to DVD. In many ways I liken it to similar film by the name of Carriers, staring Chris Pine. Carriers is a similar film in many ways that was also release at the cinema, but didn’t really feel like it should have been. Now, this might be because I am watching this at home rather than at a cinema but it just doesn’t feel like something that belongs in a cinema.

The film starts off exceptionally slow and not a lot is really happening. It takes a long time (relatively) to get past the logos that normally come at the beginning of a film. I can’t really put this in a way that will some it up better than saying it in a way that one of my favourite Youtube channels would say. So with that, as Cinema Sins would say, “68 seconds of logos” *ding*. Now, I know 68 seconds isn’t a long time but you’re just sat there waiting for them to end so you can actually watch the film, and it just takes a long, long time.

Even after that, it takes a while to get into the film and at the time of writing, I am nearly 20 minutes into the film and other than Wade taking Maggie home after she has gotten infected. Not a lot has happened.

Joely Richardson and Arnie share precisely no chemistry whatsoever. Richardson is one of the few actresses I actually find to be talented and she has great flexibility in terms of the roles she is capable of playing, but there is just nothing there with Arnie. The two seem like strangers that have been put together, and given that they’re supposed to be man and wife, that’s never a good thing.

Arnie isn’t given many lines and that works quite well for the most part. Whilst I don’t think he’s  a great actor, Arnie is great at looking ponderously into the middle distance and full of regret. The character spends most of his time in the movie doing pretty much exactly that. I think the film found the best way to use Arnie in his later years (the nice way of putting it) and there are long spells where he is not in the film at all.

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Abigail Breslin is her predictable self. Breslin, much like Dakota Fanning, has almost struck me as one of those child stars that has grown up believing all of the hype around them, that despite their talent being very limited. She is a bit bland as Maggie and I find it hard to really care about or feel sorry for a character that rarely shows and semblance of giving a shit about her situation. She gets infected in the very first scene (actual infection isn’t seen) and after that, for the most part, it doesn’t seem to impact her life at all, and I think this is down to Breslin’s uninspiring and unemotional portrayal.

It would seriously help Breslin if she showed emotion every now and then. Just before the hour mark one of her friends is telling her a sad story about a family member being killed and all Breslin can manage is a “do I give a fuck?” look on her face.

So onto the positives and the first is something that always bugs me in zombie style/post-apocalyptic films, everyone is always perfectly clean. For example, in the Resident Evil franchise, the character of Alice always finds time in between fighting the zombie hoards to change her hair style and colour on a regular basis. In all five of the films released to date, her hair is different in a major way to the previous entry.

Maggie doesn’t follow that trend though as everyone looks dirty and sweaty. Wade looks like he hasn’t had a shower in a long time and it reflects that in a post-apocalyptic world, there are far more important things that making yourself look presentable.

There were several parts of the plot and one of the highlights for me was in the middle of the film when Maggie goes for a check up. The doctor gives her the typical bedside manner and gives her her chances, before admitting to Wade that he has lied and that she doesn’t have much time left at all. It makes you wonder to what extent the medical professional lying has actually impacted the infection spreading.

The colour palette that is used is dull and somewhat lifeless, and this combined with the atmosphere of the film puts you into a truly bleak world and gives you a distinctive lack of hope for the characters. There are no bright colours, not even with the clothes, and it feels like a world that is dying. Infact, the only real colour use is yellow, as everything else feels almost grey.

Acoustically the film is perfect and the subtle soundtrack is very effectively. It makes you feel everything that you’re supposed to feel in that moment and this is unlike a lot of other films that I have watched in any genre. There are plenty of scenes, such as one where Wade is walking through a field near the beginning of the film and the score makes it seem impossible to hope for a brighter future, which brings you truly into the world of the characters. That is exactly what a score is supposed to do.

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Summary

Whilst Maggie struggles to really deserve more than a straight to DVD release, it’s not an awful effort in terms of direction and artistic merit. It certainly looks the part and the few sets that are used are used very well. However, the plot does not work and the film falls rather flat. Breslin portrays her character poorly, although the character isn’t exactly great to begin with and it felt almost like 90 minutes that I had wasted.

I think the best word to describe the film is disappointing. It’s very flat and never really feels like it’s getting going. It takes more than a good atmosphere and an appropriate look to make a film good, and unfortunately this has all of the style, but virtually no substance behind it.

I would recommend that when this does come out at the cinema, you avoid it as it’s one of the least exciting and engaging zombie style films in recent years.

Year Released : 2014the-abcs-of-death-2
Director : Various – 26 Different Directors
Cast : Numerous – Each segment contains at least two actors/actresses

I don’t think I have ever gone into a film with such low expectations in my life. A few months ago I reviewed “The ABCs of Death” (click here for the review)  one of the few films in my life that I have had to turn off midway through because I hated it that much. Even to the point where I said I wouldn’t watch the sequel (although with not a lot else to review at the minute, I decided to take the chance).

For those unfamiliar with the ABCS of Death concept, basically it’s a film made up of 26 different short films, all revolving around the topic of death. 26 random directors were each given a letter of the alphabet and have to come up with a short film to first that letter. Just incase you can’t be bothered to read the earlier review, here are a few examples of the short films contained within the original and pretty much exactly what they are about. If you don’t know why I found this film vile and pointless then you might as well leave now.

  • F – Fart – A girl has fallen in love with her teacher and upon realising they are going to die, she requests that the teacher farts in her face. Yes, again, you’ve just read that correctly.
  • K – Klutz – A woman goes to toilet but is soon followed around the bathroom by her faeces. Yet again, you’ve just read that correctly.
  • L – Libido – A man awakes to find himself involved in a battle against another man, with the objective being to ejaculate before the other, otherwise you’re killed.

And that’s about as far as I got with the first one, so to say that I went into this one with low expectations is one of the understatements of the century. I write all this before I watch the film and quite frankly I would consider it a better sequel if I get past L, that’s my only criteria for considering it better than the first.

But anyway…..

Plot (if indeed you can call it that)

Please note that this will tell you exactly what happens in each short film, including how they end.

A – Amateur, by E.L Katz –  An assassination attempt is seen through two scenarios, one in which the assassin is exceptionally efficient, and an alternative reality where the same man is shown to be useless and ends up dying in the ventilation shaft.

B – Badger, by Julian Barratt –  In Nottinghamshire a TV crew filming a documentary about badgers. The star starts ranting and raving when the cameraman proves incompetent. He is soon dragged into the badger set and thrown out in two halves.

C – Capital Punishment, by Julian Gilbey –  A man is found guilty of the murder of a teenage girl. Despite his pleas of innocence, the locals refuse to call the police and take the law into their own hands. However, it is soon revealed that the girl is still alive via a news broadcast, but it’s  too late to save the man’s life as he is decapitated with an axe.

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D – Deloused, by Robert Morgan – A man awakens to find himself strapped to a table by three hideously deformed men that are covered in insects. They inject him with an unknown substance that kills him and he is subsequently eaten by the insect. Meanwhile, a copy of him comes out of his ear and that copy kills the three deformed men. It’s hard to explain. This is done in the stop motion method with plasticine figures.

E – Equilibrium, by Alejandro Brugues –  Two men are marooned on a desert island when they notice a woman has washed ashore. Despite initially being terrified of the men, she soon finds herself at home with them and they all create a help message. One of the two men becomes jealous when the other develops a relationship with the woman and two eventually fight over her. Just when the ending seems obvious, the man who fell in love with the woman throws a coconut at her head, killing her.

F – Falling, by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado – An Israeli soldier has become trapped in a tree when her parachute veers off course and she is left dangling. She is soon approached by a man riding a donkey. The man is a soldier for the other side and threatens to kill her but she tries sweet talking him out of it. She appears to succeed as he cuts her down, but upon landed her leg breaks. She tries to hobble away before turning and seeing the man collapse dead out of the tree. Knowing that the fall couldn’t kill him as it’s only a few feet off of the ground, she notices a killing squad.

G – Grandad, by Jim Hosking – A man is sharing a glass of cognac with his grandfather and soon mocks his way of life, such as having no TV. When he goes to bed, he realistcs that his grandfather has been sharing his bed for a long time. His grandfather is dressed exactly like him and threatens him with something for opening insects. He stabs the man in the neck and launches into a tirade about how his grandson has been calling him a wanker, that despite his lack of a penis.

H –  Head Games, by Bill Plympton -Hand-drawn animation that starts with a couple kissing in a rather exaggerated fashion. The man bites the lip of the woman and then the two take it in turns to attack each other with otherworldly abilities. Both end up with massive holes in their faces.

I – Invincible, by Erik Matti – A woman’s grown children try desperately to kill her, but no matter what they try she won’t die. She soon reveals that the main item in their inheritance in her mouth and tries to goad them into taking it. One of her sons douses her in petrol and she is soon set alight. After she finally appears to be dead, the children discuss how to divide her estate, but despite being burnt to a crisp, the woman is still very much alive before being decapitated. The head remains alive and shoots something into the mouth of one of her children before finally passing.

J – Jesus, by Dennison Ramalho –  A photographer is stalking a homosexual couple and takes photos of them. He takes these to the father of one of the two men. He hires priests to exercise what he believes is a demon that is causing his son’s homosexuality. The man sees the men as what they really are, two demons and he is then subjected to a stigmata and is then electrocuted, and just as the men are about to brand him, they get killed by the other man in the relationship, who himself turns out to be a demon.

K – Knell, by Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper – Whilst in the middle of painting her nails, a woman notices a large black ball shapeshifting in the sky before completely disappearing. In a nearby apartment building everyone is killing each other before all of the survivors stand at their windows, glaring at the woman. She hides away from the window before hearing knocking at the door. She goes to investigate and a black ooze seeps through the keyhole and towards her. Blood soon starts dripping down her legs and towards the ooze.

L – Legacy, by Lancelot Imasuen –  In what appears to be an African country, a man is chosen for scarified before he is saved at the last second by the leader of the execution squad. The leader quickly kills a raccoon and spreads the blood on the weapon that was going to be used to killed the man. Suddenly, a monster attacks the woman who ordered the sacrifice and calcifies her within seconds. The monster goes on a killing rampage.

M – Masticate, by Robert Boocheck –   A man runs down the street in just his underwear whilst urinating at the same time. He knocks over a woman before slamming a woman’s head into the pavement. He tackles another man to the ground and bites his necks as a stunned cop looks on. The cop, despite being bewildered, shoots the man in the head, killing him. It is then revealed that 30 minutes earlier, the man had taken an unknown drug.

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N – Nexus, by Larry Fessenden – A soon to be married couple record sexual movies for each other before the male gets dressed for a Halloween party. Another woman is seen in a taxi, a taxi driven by a man that is doing a crossword at the same time. The first man decides to ride his bike with a Frankenstein’s monster mask on. Just as his fiancee is giving candy to a kid in a skeleton costume, the man is run over by the taxi, who is driving through a red light and the bike subsequently flies into the head of the child. Both are killed.

O – Ochlocacy, by Hajime Ohata –  In a Japanese court run by zombies, a woman is accused of murdering thousands of zombies, something which is outlawed as the zombies classify themselves as having a disease that means they’re alive, but with the appearance of being dead. The key witness is a zombified head, but they managed to bring it back to life with a serum and it accused the woman of killing him before finally dying once and for all. In an attempt to escape, she is easily caught and is sentenced to death after her zombified daughter testifies against her. She is electrocuted to the point of death.

P –  P-P-P-P Scary, by Todd Rohal – Three burglers with mental disabilities and speech impediments find themselves terrified about something or other (it’s hard to understand with the way they are speaking) befor ethey encounters an Irishman. He dances gleefully before one of the men sneezes. He then keeps blowing out their matches and killing them off one by one until only the one that sneezes is left completely on his own, with only puddles of goo that used to be his friends remaining. The dancing man soon returns and finishes the job.

Q – Questionnaire, by Rodney Ascher – A man is taking an IQ test and is doing very well.  He masters every single question but it turns out to be his doom as doctors soon remove his brain and it is implanted into the head of a killer gorilla.

R – Roulette, by Marvin Kren – A game of Russian roulette between a woman and two men starts with the woman firing a blank. It goes to the turn of a man with a bow tie. His shot proves not to have the bullet contained within that chamber. The other man also draws a blank and the woman realises that there is not a 1 in 3 chance that she will be killed. The man without the bow tie kisses her passionately but she again has an empty chamber, guaranteeing that she will survive the game. Bow tie man blanks, meaning that only non-bow tie man has the last remaining shot and has a 100% chance of dying. He resignedly picks up the gun, stands up but shoots the woman instead. Someone soon starts breaking in.

S – Split, by Juan Martinez Moreno – A man calls a woman and apologises about being stuck in work meetings. The woman’s doorbell rings and with it only being 6:36am, she is puzzled. Even when she goes down to the door and asks who it is, the ringing continues.  The person soon smashes the window in the door with a hammer. She runs in panic and the husband calls the police. The woman is soon discovered in her hiding place and the man is helpless as he hears his wife being stalked and beating throughout the house and eventually killed. Soon a baby can be heard crying and the killer’s attention moves to it. The husband begs for mercy, even though the killer can’t hear him. The killer picks up the phone and it turns out that the husband was actually in a homosexual relationship with the killer’s husband.

T – Torture Porn, by Jen and Sylvia Soska – A woman is auditioning for a film when the casting director sticks his fingers down her throat. Upon engaging the gag reflex, the woman’s eyes change to a pale blue. When stripping for the casting director, he grabs her breasts before one of the crew notices something crawling up her leg. She suddenly turns demonic sends out several cords that strange and maim the crew to death,

U – Utopia, by Vincenzo Natali – In a futuristic business centre, a somewhat below average man catches everyone’s attention. When he trips over a pole, a man uses an app to determine that the man is indeed not normal and a pod suddenly appears. After the man refuses to get in, it sends out a harpoon and forces him to enter the pod, all before setting him on fire. Upon his death, the crowd claps in approval of what just happened before going back to their everyday lives.

V – Vacation, by Jerome Sable – Whilst on holiday, Kirk is having a video call chat with his girlfriend, Amber (you can’t see her on the screen). His friend Dylan soon interupts and soon locks the original man outside, whilst showing Amber around the flat and revealing them both to be drug addicts and that they were both sleeping with the locals prostitutes. Kirk eventually gets back into the apartment after he desperately begs Amber for forgiveness, Dylan is killed by one of the two prostitutes. Kirk is then stabbed and falls off of the balcony, all with Amber still on the call.

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W – Wish, by Steven Kostanski –  An advert for a toy becomes too real as it sends two children into the world of Prince Casio, their hero. He quickly runs off as his army is easily killed by an alien race. The children are soon captured and taken to the castle. One of them is taken to the ledaer of the alien race and he is quickly killed. with his burnt corpse then thrown at the other boy. The other boy is saved by an elderly man that keeps calling him Princess. The depart for an unknown destination.

X – Xylophone, by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo – A woman is annoyed by her daughter’s non-stop and uncoordinated playing on a xylophone. The girl’s parents soon return to find that the woman has killed the girl and turned her ribs into a human xylophone. The girl’s parents look on stunned as the woman weeps.

Y – Youth, by Soichi Umezawa – A girl reflects onthe poor relationship with her brother. in a fantasy her mother turns into a dog and attacks him. The man who killed the job is slowly tortured  by a variety of different things, including having accident shot into his face, having his guitar forced from his stomach and out of his mouth. Soon after, she soon imagines her mother being slowly killed when a giant penis implants her face with sperm and eggs grow on her body, eventually exploding. A giant hand then grows out of the girl’s vagina, sticking up it’s middle finger.

Z – Zygote, by Chris Nash – A man leaves his heavily pregnant wife with enough food to last them. Thirteen years later the woman has never actually given birth to the child. The child exists as a fully grown child in the belly of the woman, fully conscious of what’s happening to it and the situation. The child then refuses to stay in the mother anymore  and tries to force it’s way out, breaking it’s mother’s neck in the process. The child then empties the mother’s body of every organ and wears it’s mother like a costume. The husband returns and forces sex to again try and have a baby.

 

So how far did you get?

Firstly, I hope you enjoyed that epic plot summary. I think this is already the longest review I’ve ever written before I even start this section. Normally I would try and make this the biggest section of the review, but I don’t think that this is particularly feasible in this situation.

Anyway, I got all of the way through and the main reason for that is that this film is far, far, far, far better than the original, although that’s not really saying a lot. There are many reasons why it works on so many more levels and I think that the main one for me is that none of them are immature and purile. There’s no girl getting killed by another woman’s fart and being sucked up, there’s no ridiculous competitions between men having to masturbate faster than the other in order to survive.

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You get the more realistic feel of things pretty quickly, with Badger and Capital Punishment proving to be, in my opinion, the two stand out sections of the film. Badger is one of the simplest stories in the film and it uses it’s liimited time, with the actor playing Peter Bolland, the TV host, excelling in the scene and the ending it

Whilst B and C are by far the best two, that proves to be a bit of a problem as the film seriously starts to lose a lot of momentum.  By the time we got to Granddad (which is one of the worst stories in the film), I was actually kind of bored. Soon after the novelty of watching people down wears off and it out of the remaining 19, I probably only liked two, maybe there.

One that I certainly wasn’t keen on was “P-P-P-P Scary”, which was just diabolically bad. It’s not well acted, it’s not scary, the deaths are kind of crap, the lisping of all three characters really grates on you and if anything, it seems to be under the impression that being random is the same as being funny. For me this is comfortably the worst and least interesting, quickly followed by  (in no particular order other than alphabetically) Deloused, Granddad, Legacy, Ochlocacy, Wish and Zygote.

Whilst I was bored by the time it got to Granddad, I think the whole film started taking a downturn as early Deloused, which made pretty much no sense whatsoever and just seemed to be being random for being random’s sake.

I suppose that one of the main pluses of the film is that with no story lasting more than five or so minutes, you’re not stuck with a story that you don’t like for long, but in many ways this also proves to be a problem. With such a small amount of time it is hard to really develop characters and make you care about them. In horror films you rarely remember the first character that dies and the reason for throat is that they aren’t focuses on.

Whilst the list of stories that I didn’t like, or at least disliked enough to mention them above, is relatively short, the main issue for me is that the list of ones that I did actually like is exceptionally short and for at least 3/4s of the stories, I wasn’t enjoying what I was watching and whilst it’s a better sequel, I think that is more down to the inadequacies of the first film.

Summary

A much better attempt that the first ABCs of Death, but that’s not hard to achieve given the exceptionally poor quality of the original. ABCs 2 is more grounded and realistic than the first and is more enjoyable.

However, after a promising start with two excellent stories in the first three letters, ABCs 2 struggles then struggles with too many stories that are just dull, pointless, or in the case of “P-P-P-P-P Scary”, just so bad that it’s hard to put into words.

If you’re going to watch it, you’re probably best just watching up until the end of C and then going to do something more productive with your time.

It’s not often I get to enjoy prune pastries with someone who orally violated me

Year Released : 2014match
Director : Stephen Belber
Cast : Patrick Stewart, Carla Gugino and Matthew Lillard

It gives me great pleasure to talk about an actor that I never thought I would get to talk about this website. With such an incredible career behind him and near enough universally respected, it’s almost strange that Patrick Stewart’s 2014 drama “Match” slipped under the radar and made a total gross of just over $28,000 in it’s native America,

Along with the likes of Jeff Goldblum, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer and several others, Patrick Stewart is amongst my favourite actors. Right from when he put me into a state of wonder with his captivating performance as Jean Luc Picard in “Star Trek : The Next Generation”, his mesmerizing portrayal of Charles Xavier in the X-Men franchise and many others, Patrick Stewart has always been an actor that I have truly enjoyed watching.

There is just something about Patrick Stewart that draws you in. He brings his characters to life, even if the material is fairly limited and I love actors like that. He brings passion to every single role and as we approach the 30th anniversary of when he become a household name with the aforementioned role as Jean Luc Picard, I still find him as engrossing as I did when I first saw him roughly 23 years ago.

I write all of this before I even start to watch the film, so for all I know I could be lauding an actor that has starred in an awful film, and to be honest I’m not even entirely sure what the plot is at this point. For all I know he could be diabolically awful and I have just embarrassed myself, but I hope that isn’t the case.

I’m not to going to lie either, when IMDB said that people who liked this tended to like Little Accidents, which I recently reviewed and slated (click here for the review), my heart kind of sank and I lost a lot of hope that I would enjoy this.

Plot

Tobias (Stewart) is a world renowned dance choreographer and instructor  currently spending the twilight of his career in New York. He receives a request from Lisa (Gugino) to conduct an interview for her dissertation on dance from the 1960s. Lisa arrives with her husband Mike (Lillard), although he seems considerably less interested in Tobias’ career.

As the interview progresses, Tobias becomes very open about sexual expression during the 1960s and the trio start talking about some of his sexual escapades. When the subject moves onto one woman in particular, Mike suddenly becomes increasingly interested and consistently asks questions that Tobias starts finding uncomfortable.

Soon Tobias uncovers the true motives of the couple travelling from Seattle and that is that they believe he is Mike’s father, not helped by Tobias bragging about his sexual relationship with Mike’s mother in 1967. Tobias denies that he is Mike’s father due to him always using protection, but Mike refuses to accept this and physically forces a DNA swab from Tobias’ cheek, but how will the test turn out and what will everyone’s reaction be?

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Disappointing or as good as you’d hope?

I’ll start with the obvious thing that you need in a film and that is an engaging plot that keeps you interested from start to finish, and for the most part Match definitely achieves that. I mentioned in another recent review that I can always tell if I’m liking a film if I’m not clock watching, and that didn’t happen once during the entire film.

The pacing is perfect and nothing feels forced with it. It’s not a rush to get to it’s conclusion, but at the same time it appreciated that if it’s not done at a certain tempo then people will quickly lose interest in it. I’m not going to lie, it does turn a bit dull after Mike has forcibly gained a DNA sample from Tobias, because not a lot really happens for a while, although is does develop the characters quite well and that recovers it for me.

Patrick Stewart is delightful in what is quite possibly the most unique role I have ever seen him in. His performance as Tobias is unlike anything I have ever seen him in before and he portrays a great nervous, yet extroverted dance teacher. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Stewart usually plays quite reserved and level headed characters, such as the aforementioned Picard and Xavier, you know, characters that, if anything, could be described as being dreadfully serious and a bit dry, but his performances as Tobias is anything but. Tobias is a flamboyant, life of the party style character, almost theatrically outgoing. If anything I would class this performance as one where the actor in question goes against everything their stereotypical roles.

To put that in some sort of context I’ll give you another example. Jim Carrey is generally seen as an actor that produces over the top comedic performances, such as Ace Ventura, The Mask, Liar Liar, etc, but for me his two best performances come in serious roles in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Sometimes actors excel in what could best be described as outside of their comfort zone.

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It isn’t just Stewart that does well though as Lillard also caught my attention as a man desperately searching for his father. I’ve never particularly been impressed with Lillard after first seeing him in the mid-90s film “Hackers”, but then again I’ve only ever seen him play stupid, immature characters, so it was a nice change around to see him also put in an out of character performance, however, I feel he was miscast in the role.

The film never reveals what year it is set in, although the setting and technology on show leads me to think it’s modern day. His character is looking for his father after finding out he was conceived in 1967. Now, assuming that the film is set in 2014, when the film was made, the would make the character around the age of 47 and Lillard doesn’t even look close to 47. Lillard still looks like a man in his late 20s or early 30s and growing a moustache doesn’t change that.

Don’t get me wrong, this is nothing against Lillard himself or his portrayal of the character, but I did find it hard to really get truly invested in it due to the mismatch between the character’s age and the visual age. I mean below is a screenshot from the film (one that I had to capture myself as there don’t seem to be any on Google Search other that the one I used at the end of the plot section) and there is not one moment in the film where I believe that the character is actually close on 50 years old.

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The setting is almost perfect as unlike a lot of homes in films, this one actually feels like the character actually lives in here. This is done through little touches here and there that film-makers ignore and everything is reflecting of Tobias’ personality. The creaking floorboards, the line shining in and making it a bright, welcoming home, the open-ness of the floor plan and many other factors make it genuinely believable, without actually making it look ridiculous.

Summary

A absorbing drama that achieves a lot because of it’s relatively simply plot and small cast.approved

Patrick Stewart and Matthew Lillard are both captivating in their performances and it changed my opinion on the latter’s acting ability. Stewart is very much the star though and he thrives in what is a very unfamiliar type of character.

Match is the sort of film that can feel that you can watch over and over again, and I fully intend to do that again, which is something that I don’t say often on this site.