Archive for June, 2015

The ring is the only place that you can kill a man and get away with it…..

Year Released : 2014Untitled
Director : Cody Knotts
Cast : Shane Douglas, Jim Duggan, Roddy Piper, Matt Hardy and Kurt Angle.

Recently I started training to be a pro wrestler (I bet you didn’t expect to see that as the opening sentence to this review) and after two weeks I was invited to join the closed Facebook group in which all of the trainees could discuss ideas and whatnot. One of the group then posted this DVD and I knew instantly that I had to watch and review it.

There are just films every now and then where you pretty much know EXACTLY what you’re going to get before the film starts and this is one of those. In many ways I don’t want to watch it because I know in advance just how bad it is going to be.

As usual I write this section before I actually watch the film and I go in with the lowest of low expectations. The film may have only had 190 ratings on IMDB, but an average score of just 3.9 doesn’t fill me with much hope. That being said, more than 20% of the raters have said it was worth a 10 out of 10, compared to “just” 18.9% voting it at 1%. Obviously these figures could and probably will change by the time you read this review, but yeah, low expectations doesn’t even cover it.

This is going to be a long 90 minutes…..

Oh, and by the way, if you’re near Lincoln this Sunday (June 28th), go to Birchwood Leisure Centre to check out the Academy Show for Lincoln Fight Factory Wrestling. I will hopefully feature in the future, but for now please support my fellow trainees.

Plot

Whilst wrestling at a small independent show, Shane Douglas (himself) sees that a love interest has moved onto someone else and that person happens to be his opponent. As revenge, Douglas decides to purposefully deliver a move incorrectly, breaking the neck of the opponent and killing him. Whilst Douglas moves on with his life, the wrestler’s brother vows revenge and negotiates a deal with a sorcerer/demon/devil (it’s never really revealed) that brings the dead back to live. His plan is to lure Douglas to a fake wrestling show within a prison, and then unleash the zombie hoard.

Douglas is convinced to go to what he believes to be a normal wrestling show and is joined by several other wrestlers, including Matt Hardy, Jim Duggan and Roddy Piper (themselves). Shortly after arriving, the group is attacked by zombies and the majority survive the first wave. Meanwhile, Kurt Angle (himself) turns up as a surprise entrant to the event but he is quickly overwhelmed and turned into a zombie.

As the group gradually becomes scattered, egos start taking control as various members, mainly Douglas, start to intentionally get the others killed to save themselves and they all start to realise that if they are to survive, it won’t be by working together.

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So does it deserve a 10/10 as several people think on IMDB?

Well let’s put it this way, there are films that are worth a ten out of ten, the true classics. Then there are some very good movies, then decent movies, followed by average, less than average and awful. Somewhere well beneath awful is 50 layers of crap and several levels underneath that is this film. If I did ratings out of ten then it is highly, highly, highly possible that this would actually get a negative score.

I hear you asking why and it is hard to really put it into words without simply encouraging you to watch the film.

Let’s start with arguably the thing I hate most about independent films and that is claiming that their most famous cast member is a prominent part of the story. This isn’t the first film that I’ve reviewed to be guilty of this as “Zerophilia” acted as though Kelly Le Brock was important to the film when she wasn’t in it after the first 60 seconds, and even then she isn’t exactly a relevant name these days. Wrestlers vs Zombies is pretty much exactly the same.

Kurt Angle is arguably the most prominent star in the film going by the DVD cover, afterall, he is front of the group, therefore hinting that he is the main star in this film…..but he is in it for what is literally about 75 seconds. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an anti-Kurt Angle thing, he brings credibility in terms of a genuine star of the sport with his Olympic pedigree and title belts in various promotions, but to advertise him as a main part of the story is beyond a joke.

To sum up just how much of a joke it is, his addition adds precisely nothing to the story. I do mean literally nothing. You could take his 75 or so seconds out of the film and it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference to the story given that he doesn’t encounter a single other main character before being turned.

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Problems like this continue throughout the entire film and it’s just careless film-making. Obviously each of the wrestlers is playing a fictionalised version of themselves, but at one point Shane Douglas hints that whilst he was in the WWF (now known as the WWE) in the 1990s, he had cheques that consistently bounced from Vince McMahon. Now, I know that the company wasn’t the mega power in the mid-1990s that it is now, but to suggest that a cheque from what was still a multi-million dollar company, owned by a billionaire, would bounce is pure nonsense.

The whole film is just careless and it’s hard to believe that it was conceived by a wrestling fan and there are mistakes throughout that are just too hard to ignore. The entire film seems to be “if you made a mistake then fuck it. An example of this is during the opening match between Douglas and the jobber, Douglas covers him and shouts “cover him” at the ref instead of “count it”, he quickly corrects himself but even then, why would a wrestler ask a ref to cover his opponent for him? More importantly, when it’s a blatant mistake from Douglas, why was it left in the film? Don’t give me the nonsense of people make mistakes, the film portrays Douglas as a big deal and an outstanding professional, he wouldn’t make an error like that in a match.

Ignoring the stupid mistakes is hard, but even harder to ignore is the near constant music. In a 90 minute film I would estimate that there is a total of five minutes without music blaring in the background, and whilst in places the music works well, in others it is strange that they have death metal blasting out whilst characters are doing a very casual jog down a corridor with no zombies in sight.

 

Don’t get me wrong, there are a few parts of the film where the music fits, such as when the wrestlers are in the ring and are surrounded on all sides by the zombies, but when there is no obvious danger, I don’t need adrenaline inducing music. It just doesn’t fit and in what is a largely poorly made film.

I can’t even begin to think of a genuine and deserved reason why people would mark this film as a ten out of ten on IMDB. The only vague excuse I can think of is that either people enjoyed it because it was so bad (similar to how I felt about Let There Be Zombies), or that they are wrestling fans and felt almost bad for it being so poor, but neither are a genuine reason for giving this film a favourable rating as it is a very poor film.

What surprises me even more is that several well respected wrestlers agreed to take part in the film. It’s not like the five wrestlers that are in the film are unknowns that are trying to make their names in the business, all five have claims to the Hall of Fame. Angle is arguably the best pure wrestler in history, Hardy is one half of the best tag teams in history, Piper and Duggan are from an era which attracted people my age into the sport, and Douglas infamously started the onscreen separation of ECW from the NWA. None of them needed to feature in this film.

Had this film been full of independent wrestlers who were trying to make a name for themselves then I would understand, but none of them are. I have no idea why they would all allow themselves to be involved in such a pathetic and poorly made film, it makes no logical sense.

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Summary

I can’t even begin to recommend this film. It is not only trash, it’s the worst kind of trash.

Don’t let the big wrestling names fool you, they add little quality to this film but I can forgive them for that for the simple reason that they’re not actors, they’re wrestlers. Whilst wrestlers do adopt acting into their everyday jobs, it’s not the be all and end all and I very much doubt that any of those in this film will ever move into acting full time.

If you must insist on watching this film, go in with the lowest of low expectations.

There’s a storm on the way!1410978422657-717x1024

Year Released : 2014
Director : Guillermo Amoedo
Cast : Cristobal Tapia Montt, Nicolas Duran, Lorenzza Izzo, Luis Gnecco, Alessandra Guerzoni and Aaron Burns

There aren’t many films that peak my interest that much at the first opportunity. Usually it takes several watches of a trailer to get excited about a film, and those who have been reading this site for a while will know that Nightcrawler, my favourite film of 2014, held no interest for me until I went to see it before watching another film.

Despite it being a relatively unique event for me, The Stranger peaked my interest immensely at the first chance of asking and it looked like the type of film that I normally love. Now, to avoid spoiling it for myself, I have tried to avoid looking at the IMDB score, reviews and even most of the storyline.

The trailer made it look similar in terms of look and feel to the very first film I reviewed for this site, the excellent Exit Humanity, so if it is even remotely anything like that then I will no doubt end up liking up, but there were two words that filed me with dread, Eli Roth.

I have previously reviewed another horror film that involved Roth within it’s creation, the abysmal “Clown”, so I sincerely hope it’s not like that.

Plot

Martin (Montt) turns up to a house searching for his estranged wife. He learns from Peter (Duran), a young man at the house, that she died several years ago and mourns for several hours. Whilst minding still mourning, he is approached by three locals and they end up physically assaulting him, with the leader Caleb (Levy) stabbing him. Peter saves him at the last second and takes him home to recover. Whilst trying to dress his wounds, the man violently warns Peter and his mother to not touch his blood.

Caleb turns his attentions to Peter but just before he is about to kill him, Martin viciously attacks him. In revenge, Caleb’s father sets fire to half of Peter’s body. Blaming Martin for what has happened, it is revealed that Martin’s wife was a vampire like creature and she willingly killed herself after the birth of her sun by watching the sunrise. Martin tries to perform a healing ritual on Peter but his mother stops it soon after it begins, however, when changing the dressings at the hospital the following morning, all of the burns have turned to minor scratches.

Upon discovering that Peter has miraculously healed, Caleb’s father hunts down Martin to try and cure his son. He succeeds in finding him and draws blood, but when it is applied to Caleb, it doesn’t cure him and instead turns him into a vampire like creature.

Now Peter and Martin must find and kill Caleb once and for all.

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So, like Exit Humanity?

No, not in the slightest. Obviously ignoring the different settings in time, area of the world, genre and various other factors, comparing it to Exit Humanity definitely wouldn’t be right.

Let’s start with the positives.

Firstly, the film is a constant build and it never feels like it’s going too fast or too slow. The pacing is just about right to keep you interested without feeling like you’re going at 100mph. The film starts off relatively quickly compared to the rest of the film but it does well in establishing the story you’re about to watch and deserved more than what was about to follow.

Sticking to the positives, the sound editing is astounding and the soundtrack sets the mood excellently. The film feels like a very open world style film, that despite the small town setting and limited characters within the film. The sound makes everything feel more real and visceral, especially once Caleb turns into a vampire himself. Every broken bone is wonderfully laudable, as is every tooth piercing the skin of the victim, it just works so well.

I also love that they have used a different filming location that seemingly the rest of cinema. The film, despite being set in Canada, was filmed in Chile and it is nice to see somewhere that I can’t recall ever seeing in cinema before. I’m not going to lie, I am not entirely sure why they chose to film a movie in Chile when it is set in Canada, but either way it’s a refreshing change and one that I would love to see more often in film.

In recent years some films have explored relatively unused locations, with “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” being particularly relevant in this situation, filming in Iceland and Greenland, two locations which are two locations that you don’t see often in films and that’s what I love about new locations being used. You get to see areas of the world you’re not used to seeing and I will always praise a film for trying something relatively new.

So onto the negatives and I start with what will seem a very familiar complaint from me for longer term readers, the camera work. Now, this film chooses to use steady cameras, shoulder mounted cameras and shaky-cam, and that is not a recipe for success.

One minute the image is nice and stable, with beautifully panning images, and the next they’re in a car and because the cameraman (or woman) is bouncing up and down with the car, and can’t really focus on the characters or what you’re saying.

Arguably the film’s biggest weakness is it’s characters as none of them are particularly engaging or relatable. Whilst none of the characters are awful, none are particularly noteworthy either and you’re never truly behind the protagonists, or indeed against the antagonists. I would go as far as saying that the film doesn’t even really have a main antagonist, it has two antagonists (Caleb and his dad) but neither are particularly above or below the other. Whilst that doesn’t sound too bad, let’s put it this way, in any other film neither character would be nothing more than a secondary antagonist.

You could argue that Caleb is the main antagonist due to the fact that he is the one that they end up fighting at the end of the film, but even then it means nothing because Caleb isn’t really built as a worthy antagonist. Sure, he’s a dick, but it takes more than being a dick to be a believable bad guy and, with no disrespect to the actor because it’s not his fault, it fails miserably. It’s not helped by him disappearing for more than half of the movie. For at least 50 minutes of the 90 minute run time, Caleb is just lying in a hospital bed and doesn’t develop.

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Summary

The Stranger starts well, looking and sounding fantastic, but the visuals and acoustics soon stop hiding that there isn’t really a lot of substance in the 90 minute films. The characters are woefully underdeveloped and the main antagonist is nowhere to be seen for almost 2/3 of the movie.

Whilst not as bad as a lot of other films I have seen, I have virtually no desire to watch it again and I can’t really think of anything that would lead me to suggest it’s something that you should have a desire to watch.

I can’t really recommend this film at all.

There’s a storm on the way!

Year Released : 2015tt3029476
Director : Ron Scalpello
Cast : Danny Huston, Matthew Goode, Joe Cole and Alan McKenna

One of the biggest surprises that I saw in the cinema last year was Black Sea, a film about an underwater salvage crew staring Jude Law. I loved it for numerous reasons and arguably was the claustrophobic nature and the feeling that anyone could die at any moment and that it would be believable, something which is very rare in films.

I enjoyed Black Sea so much that it made my Top 10 films of 2014 and when I found out that there was a similar film by the name of Pressure, I just had to look into it.

It also contained two actors that I have previously been impressed by. Danny Huston is generally enjoyable in anything that he is in, and Matthew Goode had a great presence as Adrian Veidt in Watchmen. I hadn’t heard of Joe Cole or Alan McKenna before this so I can’t really comment on them.

Plot

A maintenance crew arrive at the site of an underwater pipe following instructions from their boss to go and fix it. With a storm approaching the crew are less than keen to go down, but the captain forces four men to go down and mend the problem. The group of four consists of Engel (Huston), Mitchell (Goode), Jones (Cole) and Hurst (McKenna), with the latter in the middle of an alcoholic binge.

Everything seems fine at first and the pipe is repaired quickly, but in the middle of returning to the surface, the pod containing all four suddenly plunges back to the surface of the ocean. With those of the ship not communicating, the four theorise about what is happening, with Mitchell speculating that the storm arrived and caused them to drop the ship.

Engel, a natural pessimist, goes out to inspect the damage and all appears fine until he comes across several dead bodies. It’s the rest of the crew and he realises that the ship has sank. The four are now trapped under several hundred metres under water with no means of escape and an ever dwindling oxygen supply. They can’t swim to the surface because the oxygen cables aren’t long enough and even if they did reach the surface, the pressure would cause their lungs to explode.

The four soon start developing claustrophobia and adopt different responses to the situation. Hurst becomes delusional and goes out to find the ship for himself, but his health, both physical and mental, is clearly gone and during an argument between Engel and Mitchell, Jones cuts off the oxygen supply to Hurst and he quickly dies.

With just a few hours of air left, the crew receives a transmission from a ship that has picked up their distress signal, but without knowing their exact location due to the crash, it is a race against time before the ship arrives. Will the remaining crew survive long enough to be found?

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As good as Black Sea?

With all due respect to Pressure, it’s not in the same league as Black Sea. Whilst not an awful film, it lacks a lot of what I enjoyed about Black Sea, such as the development of the relationships between the characters, their development as characters and the impressive display of Ben Mendelsohn.

Let’s start with the very first part of the film, even before the characters are introduced, the opening credits. Now, normally I don’t talk about the opening credits at all, I have briefly mentioned it in one other review in passing, but for me I found myself getting pissed off for the first 70 or so seconds as it spends 40 seconds giving you all of the logos of the numerous studios involved, only to then show their names again, one by one, in plain text straight and on a plain background. So before they show anything other than a logo and a blank screen, we have been told about each studio twice.

Isn’t it amazing that studios seem to think we give a crap about who produced them. I don’t watch a film based on the studio, I watch it based on plot, who is in it, etc, and I couldn’t honestly give two shits about the film studios that brought it. I own close on 3,000 DVDs and I’d be hard pushed to tell you who the studio was for more than 1% of them, and even then I’d be hard pushed to get to just that.

Anyway, onto the film itself. Well the film works well in the thriller sense as you’re in a very claustrophobic environment. Once the crew are in the sea and their ship sinks, there is literally nowhere for them to go as they’re several hundred metres under water and the cords that allow them to breathe whilst repairing the pipes only stretch so far. Even if they were closer to the surface, they can’t just swim up to the surface as the pressure would almost certainly kill them, a point which is made very clear at the beginning of the film.

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In an environment where the characters can’t go anywhere, either by choice or forced, it brings along the feeling that they are truly trapped, and the visuals of the characters swimming around in pitch black shows just that. The film does look fantastic and the lighting used is extra-ordinary. They have made it look realistic and that is very important for films like this.

Unfortunately the characters just aren’t that interesting and counteract the look. With such a small cast you really need engaging characters to make the film enjoyable, and yet none of the characters are memorable or well developed. Only one of them changes because of the experiences and that is probably because he is the cause of the death of one of the other three and arguably another. He show signs of going from a cocky know-it-all, to someone full of remorse, but other than that each character ends pretty much as they started.

Danny Huston plays the pessimistic Engel well, but his character is on screen more than the others and doesn’t really change at all throughout the entire run time of the film. I’ve obviously just given it away that his character is in the film until pretty much the end, but again he starts pretty much how he starts.

However, despite the lack of development of the characters, that’s not my main problem with them. You are given no reason to want any of them to survive. I was sat there and not once did I give a crap if any of them lived or died and that’s a terrible thing. Where’s the tension if you aren’t invested in the characters and don’t care about their fates?

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Summary

Whilst not an awful film and it sets it self up for being tense with the claustrophobic feeling, it then ruins it with a set of characters that underdeveloped and largely unlikable. Any film is doomed when you don’t really care about the characters and their fate.

The film is visually fantastic and that is the biggest praise I can give it, but there are far, far better films set in underwater environments that might not look as good, but work much better because of the time invested in the characters.

I can only really recommend this film if you are on a marathon is films set underwater.

Emergency? It’s a very interesting word. A gunshot wound through a belly that is bleeding, that’s an emergency. This girl’s not bleeding. She can get right up and walk out of here. It might be an emergency in a week, or a month, but not today. I’m sick of 25 year olds coming in here and expecting our services for free!

Year Released : 2015Untitled
Director : David O.Russell
Cast : Jessica Biel, Jake Gyllenhaal, James Marsden, Catherine Keener and Tracy Morgan

Those of you that have been reading my site for at least six months will have seen me talk about the film Nightcrawler twice. The first was where I ranked it as my top mainstream release of 2014, and the second was when it made it into my Top 20 films of all time. One of the main reasons for this was the incredible performance of Jake Gyllenhaal.

I had never particularly been impressed with Gyllenhaal. He was one of those actors that whilst never awful, he was never, ever the most memorable part of the movie. However, his performance as Lou in Nightcrawler showed me that he is capable of brilliance and I decided to pay attention on his future release.

Soon after that came the trailer for this film and I thought that it looked fairly unusual, and I’m always up for unusual films, however, I was a little unsure about it after I saw it was filmed several years ago, meaning that it was likely to be one of Jake’s previously luke-warm performances, but we’ll see.

I must admit to being slightly apprehensive for more reasons that just it being from pre-Nightcrawler Jake, but also the horrendous score on IMDB of just 4.1 at the time of writing.

Plot

Alice (Biel) is loving her small town American life. She works at a 1950s inspired restaurant and is dating the town’s top police officer, Scott (Marsden). During a shift Alice learns from her parents (Beverley D’Angelo and Steve Boles) that Scott has asked permission to marry Alice, and he officially proposes during a romantic meal at the town’s best restaurant. However, there is some construction going on nearby and the worker soon slips and falls onto a nearby table. His nail gun shoots Alice in the head at point blank and wedges a nail two inches beneath her scalp.

As she is about to get surgery, it is revealed that she chose not to get health insurance and the doctors refuse to operate. In desperation, Alice and her parents turn to a vet (Kirstie Alley) to help out, but the surgery only makes things worse and causes brain damage. Not knowing how to cope with the situation, Scott quickly calls off the engagement.

Several weeks later Alice’s life has fallen apart. She has lost her job and all hope, that is until she sees a campaign for the election of Howard Birdwell (Gyllenhaal), and she automatically assumes he will help her. She makes the trip up and the two start a relationship and having sex within minutes of meeting each other. Suddenly Alice finds herself thrust into a political minefield as she tries to get legislation passed that will help people with their medical costs if they do not have insurance.

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Awful Rating Deserved?

I write this review a few days after the legendary Christoper Lee passed away and one of his most famous quotes was “Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.” That is something that everyone should have taken into account before agreeing to be in this film.

I’m not going to beat about the bush, Accidental Love is one of the most nonsensical pieces of shit I have ever had the misfortune to watch. I mentioned earlier that this film currently has a rating of 4.1 on IMDB and I don’t mean this in any uncertain terms, that is far, far, far too high and it is a crime that this film is not in the bottom 100 films on that website. There’s not a single positive to be had in entire film.

It’s hard to think of where to start with this review and even more difficult is trying to convey just how awful it is.

Let’s start with the obvious and that is the storyline. The character of Alice, in the space of what looks like two or three days, goes from being a complete nobody that sees a senator on TV, to having meetings with senators, governors and attending a politician’s funeral, and not only attending, but speaking at it. I don’t care how lucky you are, that would never happen in real life and it’s just complete and total poppycock. Yes, I brought out the P word!

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The main problem with the plot is that it is just a series of deus ex machinas that never seem to end. Now, for those that don’t know what a deus ex machina is, here is the official definition from Wikipedia….

“Deus ex machina (Latin: [ˈdeʊs ɛks ˈmaː.kʰɪ.naː]: /ˈd.əs ɛks ˈmɑːknə/ or /ˈdəs ɛks ˈmækɨnə/;[1] plural: dei ex machina) is acalque from Greek ἀπὸ μηχανῆς θεός (apò mēkhanês theós), meaning “god from the machine”. The term has evolved to mean a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. Depending on how it is done, it can be intended to move the story forward when the writer has “painted himself into a corner” and sees no other way out, to surprise the audience, to bring the tale to a happy ending, or as a comedic device.”

Every single time any of the characters want something to happen, it happens without any real difficulty and via the loosest of connections. For example, when the girl scouts release a video to criticise the proposed moon base, two of the girls are seen holding hands and the government release a video to counter them. It successfully derails the movement based on the very loose theme of child lesbianism (their phrase).

If those last few sentences don’t tell you everything you need to know about the nonsensical nature of the film then nothing will.

For a supposed comedy, it fails on every single level. Much like the film I last reviewed, Welcome to Me, it seems to approach itself with the belief that being random automatically makes it funny. That is about as far from the truth as you can get. Yes, in moderation, random things can be amusing, but not time after time after time. Comedy is probably the second hardest genre to try and pull of a genuine emotion from the viewers, behind horror, and whilst everyone has different tastes, reading comments from all over the internet, not a single person found this comedy funny.

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It’s not helped by completely unnatural dialogue from the characters throughout the film and none of them talk or act like a real person would. I obviously appreciate that it’s a film and the characters are fictional but even then they have to somewhat believable.

The two main relationships in the movie are both poorly executed and it is clear from the beginning of both relationships that none of the actors involved have any chemistry with each other. The relationship between Alice and Howard is one of the most unnatural romantic relationships I have ever seen in film, it feels so unbelievably forced that you never, ever feel settled when they’re on screen. Biel and Gyllenhaal just don’t work well as an on-screen couple and that leads me onto my next mini-rant, the casting.

Casting is all over the place and the only person who fits their character is Jessica Biel (please note how I carefully avoided saying that her performance was good). One of the oddest casting choices was Paul Reubens playing a CIA style security guard. Now, I’m not saying that Reubens did a bad job, but it’s hard to take him seriously as a security guard when he has spent most of his career portraying Pee Wee Herman. Now, I appreciate that he probably doesn’t want to be typecast and that’s fair enough, but there are just some actors that will never shake of their roles and that only chance he would have would be to leave the genre of comedy, and his casting was just bizarre.

I’m going to end the review with the most disappointing part of the film for me, the performance of Jake Gyllenhaal. I mentioned in my opening bit that Nightcrawler changed my opinion on Gyllenhaal’s acting ability, and I really wish that this hadn’t been the next film of his that I had seen. A film named Southpaw is coming out soon in which he looks engaging again, but in Accidental Love he puts in the performance that you would typically associate with the actor.

This film was made several years ago and it definitely fits in with the Gyllenhaal performances from the pre-Nightcrawler era, but even then I can’t let that excuse him for was an undeniably cringeworthy showing in which he gives off all of the same characteristics and traits that failed to win him fans for a long time. It’s hard to quite put a finger on why he is just so unbearable in the majority of his films, but I guarantee you that if you start watching Accidental Love then you will soon start feeling that same level of “ugh” when he is on the screen.

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Summary

Diabolically bad “comedy” that fails to provide laughs, characters that you can actually get behind and anything that is even remotely enjoyable in a it’s run time.

I tend to stay away from comedies and this is pretty much the reason why. When they are done right, comedies can be the most enjoyable experiences in cinema, but when they’re done with such poor execution as Accidental Love is, it is so horrible that you instantly regret that moment you first saw the trailer for it.

Avoid like the plague!

Hello all

I turned 30 on September 12th last year and at the time I decided to through a bit of a change in my life. I wanted to start doing things that I’ve always wanted to do, such as learn how to skate properly, learn how to speak another language fluently, learn an instrument, etc, and whilst those three have pretty much all died a death, one that stuck is conveying my passion about films.

There were a few reasons why I wanted to do this and one was that I had been inspired by a guy called Chris Stuckmann. Chris reviews films on Youtube but presents it in a way that is highly enjoyable, makes you laugh and he does a brilliant job of conveying his enjoyment of movies. What I love most about Chris is that he isn’t doing it for the fame, he is doing it for his love of the industry and he wants to make things better.  The below is a perfect example of that and I would recommend that you subscribe to Chris and, as he puts it, “get Stuckmannized” (it felt wrong spelling that with a Z)

But anyway, so on September 24th last year, twelve days after I turned 30, I decided to start the film review website, but I didn’t want to just be a copy of any other review website. I wanted mine to stand out and I wasn’t going to do that by reviewing films that everyone else reviews. Whilst I will occasionally write about mainstream films, such as in my Top 10 Films of 2014 , I didn’t want to viewed as just another review site. I wanted to be different and that’s why I chose to write about lesser known films.

Now some of you may be wondering how I decide if a film isn’t well known. Well first of all I look at things such as it’s box office takings, whether it was straight to DVD and a source that I reference quite often, IMDB. On IMDB I will look at the ratings for the film and decide there and then if it’s obscure enough to fit in. Sometimes I will review a film that does have quite a lot of votes, but more often than not I won’t review a film if it’s got more than 5,000 votes, and on occasions I have found that films that I have watched have less than a thousand votes after several years.

The only issues with doing this is that because no-one’s heard of the films, traffic isn’t particularly flowing. There are the odd times when I get a sudden flurry of hits because one of the films I’ve reviewed has been on TV, but largely I’ve been lucky to get over 50. I don’t do this for the hits, I actually do it because I love talking about films, but hits are a good motivator and after a slow start, the hits did start picking up. I am still only averaging around 30-40 a day, but given the types of films I am reviewing, I’m reasonable happy with that.

But anyway, it all began back in September with a review of the little known zombie film, Exit Humanity, ever since then the site has grown and I am continuing to enjoy doing it. My reviews are getting longer than they used to be and although I may talk about aspects of films along the same theme, such as character development, setting, etc, I always try and bring something new to each review.

The best part about doing this site however is that I get to discover a few films that I would never have watched otherwise, and to celebrate the 100th post, I’ve decided to list my top five films that I’ve reviewed (in no particular order) on this site, but in the interest of fairness I’m only going to do films that I hadn’t seen before September last year.

Black Sea – Jude Law stars as a man who is made redundant by a salvage company and he decides to take revenge by stealing gold from a Nazi submarine in the Black Sea, gold that the company knows about but can’t get to due to political issues.

Whilst Jude Law is the star attraction, Ben Mendelsohn steals the show.

J’ai tué ma mère – Xavier Dolan directs and stars in this film about a young, homosexual man and his relationship with his mother.

It’s ingenius in the way that you’re never entirely sure which side of the arguments you’re on and you often find yourself siding with both.

Summer of Blood – Surprisingly good film about a man who is very outspoken and his early days of living as a vampire.

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The Hunt – Mads Mikkelson stars as a kindergarten teacher who upsets one of the children and she subsequently makes up a lie about him touching her inappropriately. The local community ostracizes him, even though there is no evidence to back up the claim, and his life slowly falls apart, even after the child admits that she lied.

When I did my Top 20 films recently, this came so incredibly close to being included in that list. It is two of the most emotionally engaging hours that you will ever have at the cinema and looking back on it, I wish I hadn’t wasted some of the spaces that I did when it could have easily been taken up by this film.

Incredible doesn’t even cover it. If I did scores then this film would be a perfect 10 out of 10. T

Tom à la ferme – Xavier Dolan again directs and stars in a film as he plays a man who goes to his boyfriend’s funeral, only to discover that his family knew nothing of their relationship. Out of guilt, he stays to help at the family’s farm, but his boyfriend’s brother refuses to let him leave.

Tom at the Farm, to give it it’s English name, is an incredible, tour-de-force film about Stockholm syndrome,

 

So anyway…..

So the point of this article was to say thank you to those that have read to the site and subscribed. Thank you for both positive and negative comments. I realise that my reviews aren’t perfect and I do have a tendency not to proof read them before submitting them, but I am enjoying them.

Anyway, I’ll stop taking up your Tuesday evening (obviously this depends on where you are and what time you’re reading this), but please like us on Facebook to get live updates on when articles are posted.

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This morning I woke up and there was a pubic hair on my pillow shaped like a question mark. And it really got me thinking of unanswered questions, like all the times in my life when I was supposed to feel something but I felt nothing and all the other times in my life where i wasn’t supposed to feel anything but I felt too much and the people around me weren’t really ready for all of my feelings.

Year Released : 2014 Untitled
Director : Shira Piven
Cast : Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Wes Bentley, Tim Robbins and Linda Cardellini

In recent years there are a few actresses that have appeared in various movies and have a reputation for being funny, even though they aren’t. People like Melissa McCarthy are not funny. If you have to rely on your weight to try and be funny then you’re not funny, you’re a desperate attention whore. I have previously complained that she will be in the new Ghostbusters film, and one of her co-stars will be Kristen Wiig, star of Welcome to Me.

I’m unsure what to think of Wiig. I won’t claim to have seen her in many films but the majority of what I have seen her in is comedies, and she isn’t funny. She plays her roles with a seemingly very deadpan approach, either that or she doesn’t know how to act with emotion. The most enjoyable role I have seen her in is still one where she is very much a secondary character and that is 2013’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”.

When I saw the trailer for this film, it wasn’t one that I was particularly interested in, but Wiig’s performance looked interesting as she plays a character who is mentally unstable, and her style of acting seemed to fit that quite well, so I decided to give it a go when it was sent to me by one of my friends that works at a film studio. I’m not going to lie, if I hadn’t been sent it then I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to watch it, and even now, after watching the film, I am glad that I didn’t have to spend any money on it.

Plot

Alice (Wiig) suffers with Borderline Personality Disorder and cares little for the concerns and lives of others. She also purposefully stops taking her medication, much to the concern of Dr Moffat (Robbins), her psychologist. One night she returns home just in time to see the lottery draw and much to her surprise, she matches all eight numbers and wins more than $80 million.

To celebrate she takes her friend Gina (Cardellini) to a TV show. Whilst there she volunteers for audience participation but quickly turns it into being about herself and she announces her huge win to the nation. The owner of the station, Rich (Marsden), capitalises on this as the station is suffering financially and despite the reservations of every single member of the board, Rich agrees to Alice having her own TV show in exchange for $15m for 100 episodes.

Being a huge fan of Oprah, Alice decides that her show will be a talk show, without guests, music or anything else, and the topic of every single show will be herself. Alice’s show, “Welcome to Me” gets off to a slow start but soon starts pulling in a regular audience, mainly due to Alice’s unusual way of telling stories from her life, however, as time goes on she starts alienating her friends by telling personal stories, as well as getting the station issued with several lawsuits due to slanderous claims against real people.

Alice’s show becomes more and more controversial as she starts castrating dogs live on air and having a psychiatric conversation with Dr Moffat on the show, without his knowledge that the conversation is being televised. However, when Alice realises that she has gone too far, her actions have alienated everyone and she has no-one to turn to, how long can she cope with this?

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So, worth checking out?

You know what, I’m not actually sure to be honest. It’s been about six hours since I finished watching this film and in that time I haven’t really developed an opinion either way, and that in many ways is this film’s biggest problem, it’s just 90 minutes of “meh”. It’s not awful by any stretch but I can’t bring myself around to describing it as good either, it’s just 90 minutes of nothing being noteworthy.

The best films have a point to them, a moral, a message for you to think of afterwards, but Welcome to Me doesn’t have that at all. None of the characters are particularly relateable in any major way. You can understand them all getting pissed off at Alice’s behaviour, with some characters describing her as a menace.

If anything the character of Alice seems almost too ridiculous to be believable. I’m not going to sit here and claim I know anything about Borderline Personality Disorder but at times it felt like the film were just making her do unusual things for the sake of it, rather than adding any depth to the character. For example, there is a scene where she walks through a casino completely naked (and you see the full on nudity) and there’s just no real need or build up to it at all.

I mentioned in my introduction that the trailer made it look like the type of character that fits Wiig’s deadpan style quite well and that is pretty much the case to be honest. Wiig does a good job portraying a character that has mental issues, and she makes the most of what she is given. I can’t even imagine how hard she found it to keep a straight face when she was describing using masturbation in the way that she does, or finding a pubic hair and using it as a metaphor for life. It’s certainly odd.

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The other characters are somewhat underdeveloped and one dimensional. Alice has a group of friends and family, and they are under-utilised to the point where when something happens to them, you don’t really care. Even Alice’s love interests aren’t really explored that well and the film suffers from a lack of depth in that respect.

In many ways the film has too many characters. Off of the top of my head I can recall 12 characters, including Alice, but the problem is that Alice is focused on so much that she takes up about 85% of the film, and the remaining 15% has to be spread between the remaining characters and that isn’t a good recipe in a film that lasts just 90 minutes. I haven’t seen so many characters so underdeveloped since the Hobbit trilogy, wherein I couldn’t tell you watch 10 of the 13 dwarves are called.

The one major positive I will give it is that it is quite unique. I can’t think of anything else like it and I can only applaud it for that. It’s not often I see a film that doesn’t remind me of another, or has outright stolen ideas from another, but that’s what you get with Welcome to Me. They have taken their time to think of something completely original.

Other positives for me is that the film is visually fantastic. The locations are used well and the setting of the television studio seems realistic.

I have no idea if this film will be widely released in the UK. It didn’t do well in America at all due to a limited release, and all I know of a UK release at the moment is that it’s going to be at the Edinburgh Film Festival, but other than that I can imagine it will be a straight to DVD release.

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Summary

Well it’s unique, I’ll give it that, but being unique isn’t good enough on it’s own and the film really needed to have more substance to it.

There are too many characters that are barely developed and you end up not caring about them because of this, and unfortunately the character of Alice isn’t developed believably enough to counteract the poor writing for the other characters.

At the time of writing, this film has an average rating of 6/10 and I’d say that is probably about right because without being awful, there’s nothing particularly good enough to take it anywhere about being considered average.

Year Released : 1997SixthManPoster
Director : Randall Miller
Cast : Marlon Mayans, Kadeem Hardison, David Paymer and Michael Michelle

After getting tired of reviewing zombie movies and found footage films, I decided to not review anything from either of those two genres for some time. Whilst I am still watching films from both, I found myself repeating myself over and over again, and the good found footage style films are very few and far between.

So instead I’ve decided to move onto a type of movie for a while and focus on four films from the mid 90s that I love, three of which I have now covered. It seems weird having reviewed so many sports films recently after my only previous venture into sports on this site has been my review for the baseball movie 61* and this in a way has been disappointing as there are a lot of pretty decent sports movies out there, the only issue is finding one that isn’t well known. Sports movies in general are few and far between, maybe not so much as some other genres, but how often do you see a movie about a sport released at the cinema? The only major one in recent years off of the top of my head is the baseball movie “Moneyball”.

This review also completes a Wayans Sports trilogy, as following from Damon’s ventures into boxing with The Great White Hype and basketball with Celtic Pride, his brother Marlon joined him with The Sixth Man. This film comes from Marlon Wayan’s pre-Scary Movie days, so is actually a rare decent performance from him, or at least that’s what I remembered from when I last saw the film in my teens (and I’m now 30)

Being British, I have little knowledge of basketball, it’s history and much of the rules. I did play it a lot in secondary school (the English equivalent of high school for my American readers) but I didn’t really know the rules. I got the ball and shot, that’s what I did. I had a fairly decent record as well, hitting around 20-25 points a game (I’m assuming that’s good). But anyway,I digress.

Plot

Antoine (Hardison) and Kenny (Wayans) Tyler are two of the hottest players in NCAA College Basketball and both are tipped for big futures in the game, especially Antoine. The brothers form a seemingly unstoppable partnership on the court but Antoine suffers a heart attack whilst performing a slam dunk and dies, leaving the team devastated, especially Kenny.

Team form suffers and the effect on Kenny extends to off the court, however, one evening after practice Kenny is visited by the ghost of Antoine. After much convincing, Antoine persuades Kenny to let him help the team get back to winning ways. It works as Antoine purposefully cheats to help the team win, but it doesn’t go unnoticed by team-mates and the media that bizarre incidents are happening during matches.

Kenny reveals to his team that Antoine has been helping them all along, and despite their initial doubts they eventually come around to the idea, although how long will they all willingly participate when they know that they aren’t winning through their own efforts and even worse, starts purposefully taking over the bodies of both the team and opponents?

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So, does it round of the little flurry of 90s films positively?

No, no it doesn’t.

You know what, I’m sick of films treating the viewers like they’re idiots. I’m sick of cliche after cliche after cliche in films, especially sports films, and this film is full of them.

Let’s start with something I briefly mentioned in the Celtic Pride review, how often do you see a team in a movie down by one point with seconds to go, only to then score and win the game? Well in this film there are nine matches shown in any real length or detail, and in five of those games the team scores in the final second to win the game, and it’s almost a sixth but in the other they miss the shot completely.

I’m sorry, but no. Without looking it up, I can virtually guarantee you that a team scoring in the last second to secure a win is exceedingly rare. Obviously it happens occasionally, such as Manchester United’s win over Bayern Munich in 1999, but it is rare….and yet it happens on such a regular basis in films that you would think that not scoring in the last second would be the rarity in the real world.

To have more than half of the matches won by scoring in the last second in a film is purely farcical. It takes any real tension out of the game because you know that in the vast, vast, vast majority of cases, the team that the film is following is going to win somehow.

It’s certainly not the only cliche though. On numerous occasions throughout the film there are only mere seconds left in the game, yet they take forever to play out. For example, in one game there are 12 seconds remaining and it takes nearly 30 seconds to play out those 12 seconds, even though it’s not slow motioned at any point, and in the very next game it takes 20 seconds to play 3 seconds. We’re not idiots, we know how time works.

Then we get onto the scene where Antoine is dying on the court. He can’t breathe properly, is severely struggling to get any air in and looks like dying right there on the court, but despite not being able to get in any oxygen, he still manages to come out with full sentences to tell Kenny to stay in the game.

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But then comes the bit that annoys me the most and that is that Antoine is portrayed as a god like player that can make any team good. If you watch the film, you will quickly realise just how crap the rest of the team is and whilst you could forgive them in the first game or two for struggling to get over Antoine’s death, especially Kenny, it starts getting the point where you realise that they are just crap, every single one of them.

You begin to realise that without Antoine, they would never have been anywhere near a title winning side, and I don’t care what sport you’re in, one good player can’t carry an otherwise diabolically bad team for an entire season and turn them into near invincibles. The very fact that in one game Antoine has quite clearly helped the team cheat, and yet they still only win by one point, shows that they just aren’t very good. If you’re cheating and still not winning convincingly then there’s nothing wrong.

The film is full of such simple mistakes as well. For example, O’Grady, the short ginger one (I have to point out which one he is for reasons that I’ll go into in a minute) takes a shot from within the two point zone, and yet the team are given three points on the scoreboard. It’s just a careless mistake and the film is full of them.

Now, the reason that I had to tell you exactly who he is is because other than the brothers, none of the characters are even slightly hinted at being more than someone who plays basketball. That seems to be their entire character and they aren’t allowed to grow beyond that. Early on, when they’re in a nightclub, all they do is talk about basketball, even when chatting up women. They are ridiculously one dimensional supporting characters.

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Kenny is probably the most interesting and developed character, but even then he doesn’t really change that much and his growing romantic relationship with RC feels overwhelmingly forced. Michael Michele puts in a decent showing as RC, but she and Wayans share precisely zero chemistry and it shows.

I am seriously struggling to think of any redeeming features and I can’t, and the reason that I can’t is that I’m now an adult. I must have been in my teens when I last saw this movie and that probably explains why I had fond memories before rewatching it.

The Sixth Man is all over the place, is full of cliches, a forced love subplot and so many other things that make you think that either the directors were aiming this film at children, or they think that anyone who watches it is an idiot.

THE SIXTH MAN, Kadeem Hardison (c.), Marlon Wayans (r.), 1997. ©Buena Vista Pictures

Summary

A basketball film that seemed so enjoyable during my youth is now just one that ultimately disappoints. It’s so full of cliches, underdeveloped characters and a forced romantic subplot that it feels like something that would only entertain children.

I used to have fond memories of this film and thoroughly enjoyed it, but now I look at it’s average score of 5.6 on IMDB and can only think that it’s about 2.6 above where it should be. There are minimal redeeming features about the film and ultimately I would be surprised if anyone over the age of 13 finds this film enjoyable.

If you’re under 13, or love a film full of cliches and very loose plots, have your fill, but otherwise avoid.

Who are you man? Some bitter ex-high school player who never really made it? You sit around, watching sports, criticizing professional athletes ’cause you wish it was you out there.

Year Released : 1996600full-celtic-pride-poster
Director : Tom DeCerchio
Cast : Daniel Stern, Dan Ackroyd, Damon Wayans, Gail O’Grady and Christopher McDonald

As you may have noticed from this and my last two reviews, A Night at the Roxbury and The Great White Hype, I have focused a little on funner films since having my sanity torn to pieces of Human Centipede 3 : Full Sequence a few weeks back. I have done this to try and get some of the images of that film out of my head and figured that it was worth reviewing them whilst I was catching up on some of the films.

Firstly, I want you to all be assured that this reviewing of 90s comedies isn’t a long term plan and after this review I only have one more, and then I will return to reviewing a more varied mixture of films, including horrors, thrillers, dramas, and so on. I’m not going to lie though, I am enjoying going back through some of my old films the first time in years,

Now being British, I know pretty much sod all about basketball. I used to play it back in my teens because I was 5 feet 11 by the time I was 11 and towered over everyone else for the first few years of secondary school. I am now 30 years old and am still 5 feet 11. It’s kind of strange being so tall as such a young age and then not grow anymore after that. My shoe size was similar as that was a Size 11 at the age of 10, but again they didn’t grow after that.

Anyway, I digress. So yeah, I played basketball and was pretty good, but other than enjoying playing it, I had no real interest in the sport other than watching movies based on it.  The only players I ever really liked are those from the mid 90s, such as Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing, and to be honest I couldn’t really name you many basketball players since then other than ones such as Lebron James, who I am reliably informed is quite good. But anyway, yeah, it was a sport I never really had a lot of interest in, and yet this and my next review were two of my favourite comedies from the 90s.

Had the length of time since seeing it clouded my memory though? Was this going to be as good as I remembered?

Plot

Jimmy (Ackroyd) and Mike (Stern) are set to attend what they hope will be the Championship winning game for their beloved Boston Celtics against the Utah Jazz. Despite splitting up with his wife just hours earlier, Mike only has one thing on his mind and that is the win that would seal the title in the last match to ever be played at the team’s current arena. Things start well as the Celtics take a commanding lead, but then the final period sees Lewis Scott (Wayans)  take control of the game and win it with the last shot of the game.

Scott is hated by pretty much everyone and whilst trying to get over the fact that the series is going to a final game, Mike and Jimmy learn that Scott is out on the town partying. They decide to make their way there to try and get Scott so drunk that he can’t play for days. Whilst there they successfully manage to befriend (in Scott’s eyes) him, even to the point where they meet their hero, Larry Bird, and openly (albeit begrudgingly) criticise the Celtics to gain Lewis’ trust. The night progresses and the pair successfully get Lewis drunk.

The next morning everything seems fine until they find that they have kidnapped Lewis and duct taped him so that he can’t escape. Conflicted about what to do, Mike seeks the advice of a friend who is a copy and without giving away what is happening, he learns that kidnapping is kidnapping, regardless of how long it’s for. Jimmy and Mike agree that if they’re going down, they might as well help the Celtics in the process and keep Scott until after the final game. However, they hadn’t banked on Lewis being as smart as he is and he tries to manipulate a wedge between them. How long can they realistically keep him trapped?

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As good as I remembered?

Honestly……..no. Whilst not an awful film, this comedy just isn’t really that funny or engaging.

Let’s start with the obvious cliches. How often in sports movies does a team score in the last second, and it’s the exact amount of points that they need to win the game by one point?  The Mighty Ducks franchise was rife with that happening and it sticks in this film.

The opening match is played out in a very strange fashion as the Celtics dominate before the Jazz start getting back into the game and only trailing by two with one period to go. You see all the characters majorly panic and it becomes somewhat of a farce, and then Lewis Scott scores with what is pretty much the last touch of the ball to get the Jazz a three pointer, winning by a point. The way that the film plays it out is that the Celtics were falling miles behind and it was hopeless, hence why all the farce was happening, and yet when it switches to the scoreboard you realise that they were less than one second away from winning by the same margin that they had at the beginning of the period.

That to me has created a false atmosphere as, at the very least, the Celtics have been as good as the Jazz in the final period and you only see the scoreboard once? Were the Jazz actually ahead at any point in the period before the final second goal? Characters would not stress and cause as much farce when they’re not actually losing, nor has the lead decreased since you were last made aware of the score.

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This probably isn’t helped at all by the characters of Mike and Jimmy. Whilst both are played well be Stern and Ackroyd, neither character shows anything outside of being one dimensional. Neither move beyond being obsessed by sports, it seems to be their only character trait and after a while I was kind of bored by the characters. They’re supposed to be protagonists but I didn’t once get the feeling that I was watching two guys that I want to route for. I mean the very fact that they think that is Lewis Scott celebrating winning a game makes him the scum of the Earth says it all for me.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of sports fans are like that and I know that after watching Lincoln City lose it used to make me miserable for several days in a row, including hating the team who beats us, but I soon got over it (and used to Lincoln City losing), but these guys don’t. Their lives are so one dimensional that in many ways it feels like lazy writing.

Lewis Scott is written quite well and develops decently enough throughout the film, turning from a guy who hates everyone and is hated because of it, to a guy who actually gains a lot of people’s respect. He changes as a character and grows because of his experiences, but Jimmy and Mike don’t.

I don’t know why I am surprised. When I saw that Judd Apatow was the writer then I knew exactly why the characters weren’t particularly well written. I won’t claim to have watched all of the films his written, but out of the ones that he has, none of the characters are particularly well thought out and are kind of bland. When he’s not casting his wife in films, despite her lack of acting ability, he writes exceptionally bland characters and one example I’m going to use is the film Funny People.

Funny People is a lengthy film, I believe that it lasts around 150 minutes and therefore is has a lot of time for character development, or at least the chance to change your characters in a minor way, but they don’t. Pretty much every character, either main or secondary, is exactly the same at the end of the film as they were at the beginning.

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Main characters aside, the secondary characters in Celtic Pride are woefully underdeveloped and seem even more one dimensional that Mike and Jimmy. For example, one character is a cop that is friends with Mike, and when a guy goes to report his car stolen, he is too busy chatting to Mike about the Celtics, in front of the guy, and when the guy rightfully questions why this is more important than the crime that he been comitted, the cop insults him on a personal level just because he dared to interrupt a conversation about something completely irrelevant. It’s just unbelievably bad, one-dimensional character writing.

They miss so many good opportunities for interesting subplots, such as a concessions vendor bringing Jimmy a hotdog in the opening game, and there is quite clearly some romantic interest between the two of them, but it isn’t even remotely explored again until the final game, and even then it only lasts a few seconds, if that. It would have been so easy, if a little cliched, to give Jimmy that romantic subplot and it almost makes you wonder why they bothered putting it in the film when it eventually turns out that it was completely pointless.

The only part about the film that I actually liked was that Lewis tries to mentally manipulate Mike and Jimmy quite fascinating. He turns them against each other several times and it’s clear that he is more than a match for both of them. In many ways it actually feels like he is keep them hostage, and that is quite unique. The fact that he is able to read them so easily, such as correctly guessing that Mike was a player that never made it and was bitter because of this, shows that he’s not just your average athlete and can out-think and outwit the two.

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Summary

A comedy that doesn’t make you laugh is not a good thing. Celtic Pride attempts to be a comedy but ultimately fails due to the poor writing of the characters and the ultimate waste of any potential interesting developments in their lives.

Wayans is comfortably the best thing about this film and whilst neither Ackroyd or Stern put in a poor performance for their characters, even the best actors can’t put in a good performance when they’re handed such poor characters. The two main characters, who are supposed to be your protagonists, end up boring you to death and that’s never a good thing.

If you’re in the mood to watch a basketball film then I’d recommend that you watch it, but other than that I’d say avoid it.

I’m about to donate some money to the remove my foot from your ass foundation!

Year Released : 1996235d17c8345ee439565b18e88a805ee3
Director : Reginald Hudlin
Cast : Samuel L Jackson, Damon Wayans, Jeff Goldblum, Peter Berg, Corbin Bernsen, Jon Lovitz, Cheech Marin, John Rhys-Davis, Jamie Foxx and Salli Richardson-Whitfield

With there being current investigations into alleged corruption in FIFA, it seems appropriate to write a review for a film about corruption in boxing. I’ve been debating for a while whether to review The Great White Hype as it did modestly well at the box office, taking just over £8 million worldwide, and it has a brilliant ensemble cast with some of the biggest name actors of the 1990s.

What swayed me however was seeing on IMDB that it had barely over 7,000 votes, a relatively low number, and the Facebook fan page didn’t seem to have a lot of likes either, so that’s what swayed me to talk about what is one of my favourite sports films. The Great White Hype, much like A Night at the Roxbury, might not be a film that I watch on a regular basis, but it is still one of my favourite films from the 1990s and although it doesn’t have a high score on IMDB, I think it is stylish and a well told story about how easily corruptible sport can be if you have the right contacts.

I’m going to also put this disclaimer before I start writing, I don’t like boxing and I’m not very keen on movies about the sport. I’ll grant you that there aren’t that many boxing movies, but other than this I can’t think of another boxing film that I actually like, and yes, I do include the Rocky franchise in that statement. Rocky, for me, is one of the most overrated franchises in movie history because you know that regardless of how difficult the opponent may seem after the first film, Rocky will always win somehow, and that’s why I don’t like them, they’re predictable.

I would say that most sports movies are predictable as it’s very rare that the person or the sports person that the film is following don’t win in the end. They usually find a way, regardless of how ridiculous that way is, and sports films are rarely executed in a believable way.

But anyway, I digress slightly….

Plot

Rev Sultan (Jackson) is a boxing promoter and his main fighter, James Roper (Wayans) is the undisputed champion. Roper has been on top for a while but is regularly refusing to fight the rightful number one contender. Roper wins fight after fight and it isn’t long before the money from each fight starts to go down at an alarming rate and in a meeting with his team, Rev comes to the realisation that people are tired of watching black guys fighting black guys and that the only way to get people’s attention is to have a match between two fighters of a different race, but with no non-black fighters in the Top 10, there aren’t many options available.

After some research, it is discovered that only one man has ever defeated Roper, a former amateur boxer that defeated him convincingly before quitting the sport. That man is Terry Conklin (Berg). Conklin now tours with his rock and roll band and is initially uninterested in fighting, that is until Rev tempts him with the money that the fight will generate and the promise that it can be donated to charity.

Meanwhile, Rev successfully converts a political activist named Mitchell Kane (Goldblum) into joining his team and together, along with the rest of the team, they successfully manage to get Conklin inserted into the Top 10, that despite the fact he has never competed in a professional match, thus granting him a title match. The team start hyping Conklin up to be more than he actually is, convincing everyone that he has a chance of winning, including Conklin himself. Roper refuses to take him seriously and puts on a lot of weight, but can Conklin pull off the biggest shock in boxing history?

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So where does the hype come from and does it work?

The hype comes from the fact that they manage to convince the nation that Conklin is on the same level in terms of ability as Roper, that despite the several years of being nowhere near competitive boxing. You as an audience member genuinely believe that Conklin can win and Roper’s weight gain aids in that. Even Rev himself starts believing the hype and that Conklin can overcome the odds and defeat Roper. *spoiler* The real genius of it is that when the fight does start and Roper realises that there is a chance that he will be embarrassed, he starts to take the fight seriously and  quickly dispatches Conklin, making you realise all along that Conklin’s hype was all style and no substance. *end spoiler*

Now, this film doesn’t have a high rating on IMDB and I must admit that I am struggling to figure out why. I think it might be because this is different to most sports films. Most sports films are built around an optimistic style and you ultimately know the team is going to win, and it’s very rare that the team doesn’t. In many ways I think that this film is very similar to another sports movie, the American football masterpiece that is “Any Given Sunday”, also featuring Jamie Foxx. They are presented in a similar style and I get the feeling that if you like that film then you’ll like this, because even most of the way through that you’re not sure if the team will end up winning as Foxx plays a character who severely disrupts the team.

I’ve rewatched this film twice over the last few days to try and catch what people don’t like and I can’t put my finger on it being anything other than the non-optimistic view of things. Don’t get me wrong, this film isn’t a negative film whatsoever, but it isn’t really an underdog story (the first Rocky film), it isn’t really about a team that was awful that is now unbeatable because of one or two training sessions with someone who hasn’t played that sport in more than twenty years (The Mighty Ducks) and isn’t about someone who is having to deal with the career coming to an end (The Wrestler). It’s just not a typical sports film and I think that people just don’t like that about it.

For me though it is that difference that makes it enjoyable. Although it’s similar to “Any Given Sunday” in many ways, in others it is one of the most unique films set in the sports world that I have seen in a long time.

Jeff Goldblum steals the show for me. I have previously wrote about how he is a brilliant actor, that despite being regularly type cast as the nerdy scientist, but in this film he gets to play someone who is exceptionally multi-dimensional and he seems to relish that. His character develops exceptionally well and Goldblum goes from a fighter for justice, to a puppet and then finally a man who tries to create his own empire, right under Rev’s nose. He plays a character that is, for lack of better words, as far from a nerd as you can get and it’s almost like it’s not a Jeff Goldblum style character.

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Infact, very few actors play a character that you would normally associate with them. Wayans plays an arrogant, I’m better than everyone type character, whereas he’s normally, or was at least at the time, known for comedic, socially awkward characters, such as in films such as “Major Payne” and “Blankman”. Samuel L Jackson has generally been known throughout his career as someone who takes care of business on his own, often with the use of swear words, and whilst the latter very much stays in this film, the character is actually quite cowardly, letting everyone do his fighting for him.

I won’t claim to have seen most actors in this film enough to make a fair comparison with their usual roles. Without looking at his filmography, the only films I’ve ever seen Corbin Bernsen in the Major League franchise, I’ve only ever seen two or three others with Jamie Foxx in and this could be applied for most actors. The only actor who fills like they are continuing their typecast nature is Jon Lovitz, who although in a more serious role than normal, seems to play a very familiar character to in most films.

Away from the acting, the film is presented in a very stylish way and opens with a scene that sets the tone quite well. The music is perfect for the type of film and is well used throughout. This starts right from the first scene as two scorpions fight, with one winning convincingly in the end, only to then be ran over by a passing car as a modern (well, 1990s modern) take on the song “Sweet Dreams” plays on the radio. In many ways this symbolises everything in this film as you can fight as much as you want, but ultimately you have no control over anything.

I do find it strange that a lot of sites describe this film as a comedy because it isn’t. It’s not intended to be a comedy and isn’t presented as one. There are one or two amusing moments, like there are in most films, but this is not a comedy. This, for me, is a well constructed drama, full of manipulation, backstabbing and how the media can be used to control the masses.

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Summary

One of the cleverest sports films I’ve seen in my 30 years and in many ways the actually match that eventually happens takes a backapproved seat. There are only two boxing matches in the entire film and *spoiler* neither lasts for more than two minutes of the film and the way that the fight between Conklin and Roper ends just shows that the fighting has taking a massive back seat to the money, with Conklin never, ever likely to post a realistic challenge to Roper. *spoiler ends*

The film isn’t even really a sports film, it’s more about how easily people can be corrupted and twisted into thinking whatever they’re told to believe. The way that the public gets behind Conklin without ever having seen him fight just shows how easily people will believe hype.

Watch this film, you will love it.