Posts Tagged ‘film review’

Year Released : 2010

Director : Mark McQueen

Cast : Craig Fairbrass, Myanna Buring, Danny Dyer, Jaime Murray, Shane Taylor, Shane Taylor, Bart Ruspoli, Craig Conway, Lisa McAllister and Colin Salmon

Being English I have a strong affection for many British horror films, including 28 Days Later, The Cottage, Tormented, Severance and Creep, but alternatively there are some awful ones as well, Night of the Living Dead : Resurrection, so whenever I find a horror from my home land then I do get somewhat excited.

After finding “Devil’s Playground” on Netflix I got the feeling that this was trying to achieve the same success that the aforementioned “28 Days Later” did given it’s raw appearing nature, but the cast doesn’t fill me with excitement or optimism.

This will turn out to either be great, or a pile of crap. I get the feeling I know which.

Plot

Cole (Fairbrass) is a problem solver for Peter (Salmon), the CEO of a major medical corporation. The company has tested a new drug on 30,000 volunteers, but it caused major medical issues for the vast majority of them and now Peter is determined to get to the bottom of it so he can avoid being sued, but whilst examining one of the infected he is bitten, as is Cole. Cole manages to obtain the last three vials of anti-virus that will hold off the infection 18 hours at a time.

To find a permanent cure, he knows that he will have to find the only volunteer who reported no side effects, Angela (McAllister). She herself is still trying to get over her husband Joe’s (Dyer) imprisonment for killing a teenager, although he is adamant that he did it in self defence.

Cole does eventually find her, as does Joe after he gets bail, and the trio end up working together with some other survivors in order to escape on a helicopter with limited space in east London, but the other survivors start to team up against them as they get paranoid thoughts about being left behind.

As good as “28 Days Later”, or even remotely unique?

There is not a chance in hell that anyone will watch this and think that it is on a level even close to that brilliant zombie-like (28 Days Later is not a zombie film) movie, or even the slightly less engaging and interesting sequel. The one thing that I will say is that I have never seen a zombie film that features so many of the infected knowing parkour.

Throughout the near 100 minute run tie is zombies running over and jumping over objects that they have purposefully gone towards to jump over, even though it would be considerably easier to simply go around, especially when they’re chasing food.

That isn’t the only oddity about this movie as there is a big plot hole at the beginning of the film. The company that produces the medication that eventually zombifies the population is getting sued by those who took it, but the problem with that is that they are volunteers and would almost certainly have signed paperwork that doesn’t make the company liable in the event of side-effects. I’ll grant you, it’s not a major plot hole, but right from the off it is starting to have a lack of sense.

Unfortunately the problems don’t stop there as most of the characters are horrendously one dimensional and aren’t built even slightly well. It becomes a bit tedious as you don’t feel any semblance of sadness when certain characters start dying. Their lack of intelligence doesn’t help with this either as they know that people who have been bitten will turn, but they keep them around anyway. These people are basically fodder for the zombies, and it is effectively natural selection in all of its glory.

I like to try to come up with at least one favourable comment per review, but unfortunately there isn’t really a lot that is going on here that is that exciting, or even remotely interesting. I was sat there late at night, bored by one dimensional characters and action that is so stop-start that you could easily turn it off and not feel remotely sorry about it.

There are some great British films out there. This isn’t one of them.

Summary

Full of characters that aren’t interesting, several relationships between actors played by people with no chemistry, and an overall boring story, “Devil’s Playground” is one of the least imaginative zombie films I’ve seen. It offers little new to the genre, and it is something that I’ll have completely forgotten about by the time I watch the next zombie film that I’ll review.

I am really struggling to come up with a single positive about it, and based on that I have to say that it is probably best if you miss this.

Year Released : 1983

Director : Peter Yates

Cast : Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones, David Battley, Bernard Bresslaw, Alun Armstrong, Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane

So, after a near unexpected three week break from reviewing films (I got really busy at work), I am now back and will start with a look at another film that was with me during my youth, the relatively ok known “Krull”. It is probably best known for early on-screen appearances for some members of the cast, more specifically Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane, as well as it’s unusual set design.

“Krull” is unusual in the sense that it’s one of the few films that I’ve reviewed for this site that is actually older than I am, something I will only be able to say about two or three of the more than two hundred films I’ve reviewed for this site. I really should start looking into some older films on a more regular basis.

But oh well, here’s the review.

Plot

Colwyn (Marshall) and Lyssa (Anthony) are getting married to unite their rival kingdoms when their ceremony is interupted by servants of a creature simply known as “The Beast”, a being who goes to various planets with his army and dominates until everyone is dead. The fathers of both are killed, and Lyssa is also kidnapped, leaving an unconcious Colwyn alone. He is nursed to health by several people, including Ynyr (Jones). Ynyr is familiar with the beast and claims it can be defeated with an ancient weapon known as the Glaive, a starfish-shaped blade.

He successfully retrieves it from the mountain, but encounters a large group of bandits that are lead by Torquil (Armstrong). They pledge the allegiance to Colwyn as he is now king following his father’s death, and they are later joined by a cyclops known as Rell (Bresslaw). However, the quest soon starts appearing more difficult as the beast starts to take control of the planet, as well as sending his troops out in disguise to try and kill Colwyn, claiming Lyssa as his own.

The main problem for Colwyn is that the fortress in which the beast is located changes its location each day.

Still decent after 34 years?

“Krull” has certainly not aged well, but it is still visually quite unique, which you’d expect for a film that had a budget of $47million, which was huge for the day. Infact I’d go as far as saying that this film couldn’t be more early-80s if it tried given how cheesy some of the acting it.

The acting throughout is a bit suspect, putting it nicely, but that doesn’t stop it being an enjoyable romp throughout and whilst it doesn’t have the same appeal as similar films, such as “Willow” or “Lord of the Rings”, this is definitely a fun watch.

One element that I really like is that the slayers that the beast controls are actually quite deadly, far more so than other armies from other movies. They kill a fairly large number of characters throughout the movie, and the body count of the protagonists is very high indeed. What makes the body count even more effective is that you actually have time to get to know these characters, meaning that they’re not meaningless deaths.

There is a constant threat throughout the film from not only the slayers, but also the creatures that the beast controls, and at times it does resemble a horror film in terms of its presentation. These days it would probably render a 12A rating at the cinemas due to what happens, it’s similar to how there is no chance that the original Star Wars films would get a Universal rating again if released these days.

 

Arguably the most interesting part of “Krull” is not the main plot however, it’s the character of Rell, the cyclops. The mythology in the film says that his race sacrificed one of their eyes on exchange for seeing the future, but they were cursed with only seeing their deaths. The character of Rell sees how he will die throughout the film, and it becomes a sub-plot about whether you should just accept your fate, or risk a more painful one for the greater good. I personally found the character otherwise tediously dull, but that subplot is through provoking.

Summary

Cheesy as hell and about as eighties as you can get, “Krull” is a fun romp of around two hours. Don’t go into it expecting brilliance because it is definitely one of those that will test the patience of some, but if you like fantasy and/or adventure films then I think this is for you.

It has its flaws, and it has aged horribly in the 34 years since its release, but it still has more heart and character than most similar films released these days. It takes time to develop the characters, as well as giving you something to think about.

Give it a watch.

You’ll understand when you get divorced someday!

Year Released : 2015

Director : Stephen Dunn

Cast : Connor Jessup, Aaron Abrams, Joanne Kelly, Aliocha Schneider, Jack Fulton, Sofia Banzhaf and Mary Walsh

Diverting away from films I found in a pile of VHS tapes whilst at the house of my parents, I’m going to look into a film that has been on my Youtube playlist for some time now. I really should get through that list properly as there are some films that have been on there for a few years.

Those of you who are long term readers of this site know that reviewing smaller, independent films meant that I was able to discover up and coming directors such as Xavier Dolan, so to have a film that describes itself as part him, and part David Cronenberg (another great director), is a treat, and one that I couldn’t resist.

If it can be even remotely similar to Dolan’s efforts then I will be very happy as he is arguably the most accomplished director when it comes to LGBT films, but whether it turns out to the the case is another matter as for all I know it could be nothing like either of them, let alone the two combined, but we’ll see.

Plot

Oscar’s (Fulton – Child, Older – Jessup) parents split up when he was a child and his only companion was his pet hamster, who he imagines talks to him. His friends also suspect that he will grow up to be gay, but after being called on it he follows a bunch of teens visually beating another young man, ending with them shoving a pipe up his rear. He is traumatised by what he sees and his father Peter (Abrams) says that it happened because he was homosexual, further worrying Oscar.

Several years later Oscar is involved in a photography project with Gemma (Banzhaf) in the hopes of moving to New York when he meets a new co-worker named Wilder (Schneider). Oscar finds himself being sexually attracted to Wilder, but is still haunted by the incident with the brutalised teen from several years prior. This new connection with his feelings coincides with a breakdown in the relationship with Peter.

Oscar and Wilder begin to bond, but a brief conversation between the latter and Peter leads to more trouble as he believed that Oscar and Gemma were in a relationship. Peter slowly starts putting the pieces together and realises that his son might be homosexual.

So is it a genuine mix between Dolan and Cronenberg

For the first time in a long time after seeing a description like that, I feel that I can genuinely see why it was made, and for once I fully agree. There are definitely similarities in the techniques of film making, and I would argue that there is also a touch of Nicolas Winding Refn in there as well. It takes the best aspects of the three whilst feeling completely unique, and this is only a good thing.

The characterisation in the film is remarkable, with the relationship between Oscar and Peter being exceptionally well developed. Their interactions with each other get more and more tense as the film goes on, especially as the latter starts to realise his son’s sexuality. It is an interesting dynamic and the best part is that whilst Peter is as close as the film comes to having an antagonist, he is certainly not an awful human being.

Peter is clearly going through issues throughout the whole film as he struggles through his separation to the point where he keeps his ex-wife’s belongings around, and how he gets hurt when he finds that Oscar described him as a deadbeat in an art project. There are glimpses of him being a good dad, such as the scene right at the beginning of the film where he pretends to inflate a balloon with a dream and place it into Oscar’s head, but he lets the issues get on top of him and each good deed is countered by the opposite.

 

He is just one of the several captivating characters in the film and visuals definitely aid you falling into Oscar’s world as he struggles to come to terms with what he saw as a youth. This includes a scene in which he is having sex with a man at a party, visualises the brutal attack from his youth, and then imagines himself vomiting screws and a variety of other similar objects.

Make no mistake, this is a visually brutal film, but it is also a captivating experience and it is one of the best LGBT films I’ve seen in recent years, and comfortably one of the most unique films from any genre that I have reviewed for this site. This is helped by the excellent electronic soundtrack, bringing you into this world.

Stephen Dunn is a director that I will be keeping a keen eye on in the near future and if he can produce something as engaging as this on a large scale, he could achieve the same heights of the aforementioned three directors.

Summary

“Closet Monster” is captivating, engaging and most importantly, driven. The great characterisation is simple, yet effective, and that is a sign of great film-making.

Stephen Dunn has fell well and truly onto my radar with his mix of Xavier Dolan, Nicolas Winding Refn and David Cronenberg, and this is about as fresh as I have seen in a long time, certainly for a film in the LGBT genre.

I would thoroughly recommend “Closet Monster” and the films of Stephen Dunn will hopefully appear on this site again.

 

Don’t let me catch you giving any muffins to those little beggars outside!

Year Released : 1985

Director : Jim and Ken Wheat

Cast : Warwick Davis, Wilford Brimley, Aubree Miller, Paul Gleason, Carel Struykcen and Sian Phillips

Another VHS that I found at my parents house whilst I was clearing out some old belongings, “Ewoks : Battle for Endor” was the first film from the Star Wars universe that I ever actually saw. Obviously this isn’t part of the main film franchise, but it can still be considered canon for the universe given that it was written by George Lucas, so was part of the intended set up.

Unlike my last review for “Mac and Me“, I have actually seen this in the relatively recent past before I rewatch for reviewing purposes, and I seem to remember enjoying it when I watched it in my late twenties. However, as I mentioned during the aforementioned review, I now don’t view films in the same way that I did before due to reviewing them as a hobby just under three years ago. That’s the one thing that they never tell you about film reviewing, it soon becomes very difficult to watch a film without being able to notice all of the little errors. I can’t remember the last time I was able to sit back and just enjoy a film.

But away, time will tell if this film is what I remember it to be.

Plot

Some time after crashing on the moon of Endor, Cindel (Miller) has befriended the Ewok community that helped in the Battle of Endor several years before, especially Wicket (Davis). Just when their ship is close to being repaired they are attacked by a group or marauders and all of Cindel’s remaining family are killed because of a power source, as well as her and a large group of Ewoks being captured by Terak (Struycken) and his witch Charal (Philips).

Cindel and Wicket escape and are greeted by a fast creature named Teek that helps them find a cabin the woods, helping themselves to the food inside. Noa (Brimley), the owner of the cabin, soon returns and is far from happy but eventually agrees to house them for the night. Noa reveals that he has a ship that could get them off the planet, and when Cindel is tricked into being kidnapped by Charal, it’s decided to double the efforts and get the power source that Terak stole.

It soon turns into a much later battle between the Ewoks and the race of marauders.

As good as I remembered?

It’s hard to really say whether it was as good as I remembered because I recall it being fairly decent, and whilst I didn’t dislike it on this viewing, it felt somewhat humble to the point that you couldn’t ever really get into it.

The problem is that you are literally following a child, several puppets or people in costumes, and only two adult characters, one of which isn’t given any development whatsoever. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot to really get invested in because let’s face it, when was the last time you saw a film in which a small child went on a mission and didn’t achieve it? It makes it a bit uncompelling in that sense…..but it’s not a bad film.

I think the best word to describe it would be “quaint”. It’s a nice little science fiction film, with a bit of fantasy thrown in, but one thing that it definitely doesn’t feel like is a Star Wars universe film, that despite being set in the same universe. It’s hard to really call this a Star Wars film because there is very little that it has in common with the rest of the franchise, other than the Ewoks and the odd sign of technology from the series. In many ways this is more of a fantasy film given that Tarek’s army looks more like a bunch of half decomposed dead bodies, and the addition of a witch that can turn herself into a bird at any point.

That’s not to say that it’s not a bad thing that it’s not like a lot of the Star Wars films as I’m not a big fan of that franchise. I like them, but not to the point where I think they deserve the praise that they get so easily in the media.

This is a much darker film than you would expect for most other kids films. Granted, this was the 1980s and standards back then for children were less strict, afterall, the original Star Wars franchise were Universals and yet had people stabbing each other, cutting arms off, etc, but “Battle for Endor” could in some ways be considered a horror-fantasy for kids. The design of the marauders is off putting, you have very dark and unsettling environments, and the character of Noa, who I would remind everyone is a protagonist, is quite a scary (well, by the standards of films aimed at kids) old man at various points. Granted, at times Noa is also a very friendly man in his grandfather style role and relationship with Cindel, but even so.

Visually the film is reasonably quaint considering the low budget and time in which it was made. It has a pleasant enough soundtrack and as I say, certainly isn’t a bad film in how it’s been made.

Summary

Just because this is part of the “Star Wars” franchise, don’t go in expecting it to be anything like that main series as it is anything but. It’s certainly not a bad film and is a quaint science fiction film that borders on being close to a horror movie for children.

As this was apparently made for TV, don’t go in expecting a top of the range film, it isn’t. Whilst not awful, there are a few minor issues that whilst I can overlook, certainly mean that I can’t give it the approved stamp.

Not sure what else to say really.

Year Released : 1988

Director : Stewart Raffill

Cast : Jade Calegory, Christine Ebersole, Jonathan Ward, Katrina Caspary and Lauren Stanley

I’ve mentioned a few times during this site that I do find it odd when I watch films that I saw when I was young, mainly because they’re often not even close to being as good as I remembered. This has happened with numerous films that I’ve reviewed on this site, but I get the feeling none will come as close as this.

My parents are currently downsizing and therefore I’m currently on holiday so I can go through a lot of my old stuff to help them save space, and I found a VHS of “Mac and Me” (as well as a lot of older films, expect quite a few reviews of older films coming up), a film that I enjoyed a lot in my youth, but I haven’t watched it in what I estimate to be around 25 years. Since then I’ve regularly seen this film on many countdowns of the worst films ever made, including many saying that it’s a glorified McDonalds advert, so when I found the VHS I decided that it was time to relive this and see if it didn’t hold up anymore.

Hopefully this will prove to be as enjoyable as it was during my youth, but I very much doubt it as I’m now in my thirties and I’d like to think my tastes were better than back then.

Plot

A family of aliens are going about their everyday lives on their home planet when a NASA rock sampling machine accidentally sucks them up. When the machine returns to Earth the family is able to escape, but they get separated from their infant son, who finds his way into the back of a family car.

Eric (Calegory) is the youngest of the family and they’re moving from Chicago to California to make it easier for his spina bifida, but as soon as they arrive at their new home the alien starts causing trouble. The first morning sees Eric accidentally going down a hill in his wheelchair and crashing into the lake at the bottom of the cliff. He is rescued by the alien, although his family refuses to believe that this happened and gets him professional help as his mother thinks it might have been a suicide attempt.

Eventually he and neighbour Debbie (Stanley) catch the alien, which he dubs MAC (mysterious alien creature), and this proves it to Michael (Ward), but as more people find out about MAC’s existence, the more his life is in danger.

Is it as bad as people have said it is, or is it actually reasonable?

Well I’ll say one thing, it definitely wasn’t as good as I remembered it being.

Let’s start with the main point of contention that the majority have for this film, the product placements. During all of the ridicule for it I thought that the comments on product placement were exaggerated, but they really aren’t. During my viewing I noticed skittles, Gatorade, McDonalds and Coke on such a regular basis that it did start feeling like a feature length advert. I would love to know what amount of the budget was dedicated to Coke cans because they are in nearly every scene. One of the common jokes with “Fight Club” was that there was a Starbucks cup in every single scene, and I think “Mac and Me” does the exact same thing with Coke.

Having said that, it’s not as sinful as the constant references to McDonalds get in the second half of the film, including a full on dance scene in a McDonalds restaurant that just appears out of nowhere. I’ve worked in McDonalds twice during my life and can assure you that there are no dance contests, not even at kids parties. The McDonalds references aren’t even subtle, including below conversation;

Michael : ‘So, McDonalds huh?’ (Referring to Katrina’s uniform)

Debbie (Katrina’s little sister) : ‘Yeah, why don’t you stop for a Big Mac?’

And the next minute, literally the very next minute;

Michael : Know what I feel like?’

Eric : A Big Mac?

Michael : You’re a genius!

If you must insist on forcing product placement down our throats then please don’t make it so unsubtle. I’ve never seen anything like it and I can definitely see why this has caused a lot of people to criticise the film. I realise that these films have to get their money in some how, but to do it to this extent is just beyond defensible. I can’t think of a single reason to stick up for the film in this respect.

Had this not had the product placement then I think it would have certainly had more of a chance with critics and the general viewing public but I found myself unable to stop laughing at how poorly it was made in that sense. I notice product placement a lot more than I did before I started reviewing films, but at least other films try and integrate it subtlety, something which doesn’t happen here.

So ignoring the product placement, to be fair it’s not actually an awful film, it’s passable in a small way. It does contain a LOT of cliches, but this was released in the eighties so it would be unfair to criticise it for cliches by the standards of today given that a lot of them did actually start in the eighties, and wouldn’t have been regarded as cliches at the time of release.

The acting is fine (considering what they had to work with) and the characters are likeable, if a little one dimensional, but it doesn’t surprise me that not a single member of the principle cast had a lasting career in Hollywood.

To put this in some sort of context, the film currently has a rating of 3.4/10 on IMDB. Had it not been for the product placement then I’d say it was a solid 5/10, albeit slightly generously.

I’m really struggling to come up with a true positive from the film, other than the exceptionally laudable decision to actually give a role of a kid with spina bifida to a young actor that actually had that condition himself. It would have been far too easy to give it to just anyone, so to give an opportunity to a disabled actor is commendable.

 

Summary

If you can get past the multiple product placements then you might enjoy this as it’s a nice enough little sci-fi film, albeit without being spectacular. I really wanted to say something nice about a film that I loved when I was a child, but unfortunately I couldn’t think of something that was noteworthy in a positive sense.

I really can’t think of anything majorly positive about “Mac and Me” and in many ways I wish I had left it in the past. If you’re going to put this on for your young children then yes, they might enjoy it, but anyone over the age of about seven or eight might start to notice the things that would stop this being a fun film.

It’s not something I would urge you to avoid, but it certainly isn’t one that I can recommend that you watch.

You killed my wife and left my baby outside?

Year Released : 2014

Director : Scott Foley

Cast : Donald Faison, Patrick Wilson, Scott Foley, James Carpinello, Dagmara Domińczyk and Greg Grunberg

So whilst browsing Netflix I found a film that looks different to what I normally review, in other words a comedy. Many of you that read this site on a regular basis will know that I don’t really like comedies, often finding them anything but funny. I have a very specific sense of humour and find it hard to really enjoy a film aimed to make me laugh. I enjoy a more subtle or intelligent form of comedy.

That’s one of the reasons that I didn’t really enjoy films such as “Deadpool”, it tried far, far too hard to be funny and this caused it not to be for me.

If you went through my collection of roughly 70 Blu Rays and several thousand DVDs you would find very few comedies at all, and the ones that are there are several decades old. It is arguably my least favourite genre.

Then again, this might turn out to be an hidden gem.

Plot 

Ward (Faison) is a very likeable man who is married to Stacy (Domińczyk), a woman that everyone hates due to being abusive, rude and abrasive, including Ward himself. After he is denied the opportunity to play golf, Ward’s friends Ronnie (Carpinello), David (Wilson) and Tom (Foley) start speculating what it would be like to kill Stacey and the positive impact it would have on everyone concerned. David won’t let the idea go though, but it is actually Tom that succeeds after he strangles her following a slip.

The group and their wives then have a lengthy discussion about how to get rid of the body. After making their decision, they start breaking down the body, but Ward’s neighbour Bruce (Grunberg) is a police officer and is becoming suspicious of the unusual behaviour.

So is it a hidden gem?

No, it is definitely not.

The film currently has a rating of 5.4/10 on IMDB and I find that to be very, very generous indeed. This film is a mercifully shortly 82 minutes, but not once does it get anywhere near anything that’s worth laughing at. It’s stale and largely lifeless, and there is no intention of irony in that statement given that it’s a film about killing someone.

Let’s start with one of the key problems with the film, none of the characters are worthy of your time. They’re all completely one dimensional and even after the death of Stacy, none of them really act like any differently than what they did before, other than obviously being slightly more panicked than they were previously.

Stacy is not a believable character. Whilst I firmly believe that there are some women somewhat like her out there, there isn’t a single secondary characteristic and I find it hard to believe that she would ever convince someone to fall in love with her, or be friends with her for an extended amount of time. I sort of get that Ward would want to stay with her after they have a kid together, but there is precisely nothing forcing anyone else to interact with her when she is not here. The very fact that no-one really gives a shit after she has died says it all. Even Ward ends up urinating on her at some point.

You actually want her to be killed, but the actual scene in which she does actually die is so underwhelming that it doesn’t feel like a satisfying outcome. More to the point it is a bit ridiculous as she basically slips on a piece of cake and smashes her head open on the floor. However, rather than slipping in a natural way, she sort of casually falls over.

I can’t think of a single redeeming feature from this film other than the aforementioned runtime.

Summary

A painfully unfunny comedy, “Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife” is an attempt at the genre that I can’t imagine anyone actually enjoying. I can see why it’s only got a 5.4/10 on IMDB at the time of writing, and even then I think that rating is being exceptionally generous.

There characters are one dimensional and it’s hard to really care about any of them. It makes the whole film a bit pointless when they eventually killed Stacy and their lives are barely affected.

Just don’t waste your time.

We should be in a hostel someplace with dreadlocked, Austrian girls!

Year Released : 2014

Director : Mark Raso

Cast : Gethan Anthony, Frederikke Dahl Hansen and Sebastian Armesto

So I’ve gone from pretty much never reviewing films with a romantic theme to two in the space of a few days as I prepare to look into “Copenhagen”, which appeared on Netflix a few weeks back and has been on my list since.

The trailer isn’t very good, but the rating on IMDB is an excellent 7.2/10, a rarity for films that I review on this site as most fall below six. Infact I think that I’ve only ever reviewed five or six films that were above six on IMDB. That’s not to say that that is a guarantee that it will be good as a lot I tend to like some of the films with poor ratings, whilst finding those with good ratings somewhat dull.

But anyway, we’ll see.

Plot

William (Anthony) goes on a European backpacking holiday with two friends, but they soon become tired of his immature antics and leave him in Copenhagen. This is exactly where he wants to be however as he is searching for his grandfather, whom he believes lives in the city. William is struggling to find the address but soon meets Effy (Hansen), a young girl working in a cafe.

She helps him to the address on the letter, where he discovers from his great uncle that his grandfather was infact a Nazi.

Whilst trying to process the information, William finds himself falling in love with Effy, but he is horrified when it turns out that she is only 14 years old. He initially wants nothing to do with her but then finds himself being drawn back into her. Even the return of his friend Jeremy (Armesto) from London and calling him a paedophile doesn’t stop him from falling for Effy to a dangerous level.

 

So is it good?

I’ve never been someone who finds romance films that entertaining, so I sat there expecting to be bored for nearly 100 minutes, and the quite frankly awful trailer really didn’t really help that, but come the end of the film I was pleasantly surprised that I genuinely enjoyed a film from this genre.

What helps the level of surprise was that William and Effy actually seem to have a genuine connection, even if it isn’t obvious at first. The performances of Anthony and Hansen aid this as you can picture them being a couple off screen. Their dialogue flowed without being ridiculously obviously scripted, and it didn’t overwhelm you with cliches either. Everything about them felt natural and realistic, and that’s something that you can’t really teach. It was quite refreshing.

Once such example of the relationship building in a natural way is quite a funny scene where William asks Effy to teach him how to ask what someone’s name is in Danish, and she instead teaches him how to ask if they want to be his “sex buddy”. It actually made me laugh out loud and then again when he actually uses the line towards the end of the film.

There isn’t really a lot to say about “Copenhagen” to be honest. It’s a nice story about an immature man that falls in love with a girl who helps him grow up, only to discover that she is not grown up herself and dealing with his emotions afterwards. It’s quite an interesting dynamic in the sense that ultimately William is a paedophile as later on the film he and Effy do have a romantic encounter, but the film builds it so it doesn’t feel like that.

Long time readers will know that I often have trouble talking about films that I liked, so I hope that explains why this review is shorter than normal, but “Copenhagen” is the first film I’ve reviewed in a while where I never doubted whether I’d still like it by the end.

Summary

“Copenhagen” is a smooth and charismatic look at falling in love in another country. It isn’t stated, the length is about right at just shy of 100 minutes and it doesn’t feel into the usual cliches of two people falling in love.

The moral confliction that you feel when you realise that William has fallen in love with a 14 year old is quite unique. You don’t really feel like there is a good reason that they shouldn’t be together other than her age and that is because the build of their relationship is very natural and feels very genuine.

I’d definitely recommend “Copenhagen”, one of the easier approved stamps I’ve been able to give for a while.

You can’t keep putting aside what you want for some imaginary future. You’ve gotta suck it up and go with you gut

Year Released : 2014

Director : Lynn Shelton

Cast : Kiera Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sam Rockwell and Mark Webber

Those of you that read my breakdown of 2016 will remember/see that whilst I like Chloe Grace Moretz as an actress, it is very rare that I see her in a good movie. Infact, off of the top of my head I think it’s only the first “Kick Ass” and to a lesser extent “If I Stay” that I’ve enjoyed.

This isn’t the first time in which I’ve reviewed a film with her in for this site, but the other one, The Poker House, was one of the more boring movies I’ve reviewed for this site.

I can’t really put my finger on it because she is certainly not bad, I do enjoy her even in films that aren’t that good, but how long can someone go on making films that aren’t good and continue to have a career. Having said that, this might be the rare exception and it’s been on my Youtube list of films I want to watch for some time, and I’ve finally got around to it.

We’ll see…….

Plot

Working as a street-advertiser for her father’s accountancy firm, Megan (Knightley) is an unambitious young lady that is considerably less mature than her friends. She freaks out when her boyfriend (Webber) proposes to her and she sees her dad kissing another woman, and she goes to the local store. Outside she is approached by Annika (Moretz), who begs that she buys her and her friends some alcohol. Afterwards she decides to hang out with her and the two bond.

Several days later Annika calls Megan and asks she to pretend to be her mother in a parent-teacher conference, in which she realises that she is not happy and needs to assess her life, and she asks Annika if she can stay at her’s for a few days, and despite being initially appalled, her father Craig (Rockwell) agrees to this.

Megan and Craig eventually start to bond over the unusual situation.

Another Moretz flop?

I hate to say it but I’m struggling to find evidence that she makes great films and this isn’t going to strengthen any form of argument I have for the positive side.

‘Laggies’, alternatively known as ‘Say When’ is one of the least ambitious movies that are along a similar theme that I’ve seen in a while. I won’t claim to be a fan of romantic comedies, but at least with the ones I have seen there is generally something memorable about them, whereas ‘Laggies’ is ultimately as forgettable as the three main characters.

Let’s start with Megan, who to be fair is played relatively well by Kiera Knightley, is a pretty much one dimensional character, who despite seemingly not being arsed to go through anything at all, somehow managed to get an advanced degree. The character just isn’t believable because if you’re going to get qualified to that extent, you’re not a lazy person, and yet she is shown to be just that for most of it without making any real effort to find a meaningful job, and yet you’re expected to get behind her. She treats her boyfriend like crap for no good reason and doesn’t really have any likeable qualities.

Annika is a reasonable attempt at what I imagine an American teenage girl to be like, and to be fair CGM is probably the best thing about this otherwise lacking film, but even then her problems all seem inconsequential. Granted, her relationship with her mother is unique, especially as the mum tries to mend their relationship by giving her free lingerie, but it isn’t really explored any further after that.

They are the only characters that are really explored, with any male character just being a walking cliche. The thing is that no-one actually puts in a bad showing, everyone’s performance is fine, but it’s just the awful story that they have to work with.

The romance between Megan and Craig just isn’t believable and feels beyond forced. Knightley and Rockwell have pretty much zero chemistry and it’s hard to believe that they would ever be in a relationship either on or off screen. I’m in my 30s and can’t ever picture letting my teenage daughter (if I had one) hang out with people in their mid-twenties, let alone allow one to stay in my house and then start a relationship with them. It feels implausible, a word that I’m pretty certain I’ve never used on this site before.

Summary

‘Laggies’ is about a girl that feels lethargic in pretty much every aspect of her life, and unfortunately that level of energy finds its way into the way the film is presented. It’s lazy film making in many ways and you’re never once convinced that the build of the relationship is genuine.

Whilst not awful, ‘Laggies’ is very forgettable to say the least and other than a credible performance from CMG, there is nothing to really get excited by here. The acting is fine, but that’s about all that is.

There are much better romantic comedies out there.

Giving birth to a snake it’s not all about suicide. It’s probably the most wrong headed thing in all of human endeavour

Director : Various Directorslarge_sk9jhohni5u88smk4njkumcm7er

Year Released : 2016

Starring : Too many to list

Another one from my Youtube “films I want to watch” playlist, “Holidays” is not a film that I’m overly that fussed about if I’m being completely honest. In all reality I should have removed it from that list some time ago because it just never excited me.

However, it was still on there and it suddenly popped up on Netflix. I had nothing else to watch and review, so here you go, a review for a film that I didn’t really want to watch.

Plot

The film is divided into several smaller stories.

Valentines Day (Directed by Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer) – A young girl who is bullied develops a crush on her swimming coach with disastrous results.

St Patrick’s Day (Directed by Gary Shore) – A new pupil arrives in an Irish school and strangely cradles the stomach of her teacher with her head. The teacher soon finds out that she is pregnant with a snake.

Easter (Directed by Nicholas McCarthy) – A woman tells her daughter about the story of Jesus’ resurrection before bed and promises her that Easter will be the same as last year. During the night an egg rolls into the house and out hatches a demonic Easter bunny that makes the daughter a haunting offer.

Mother’s Day (Directed by Sarah Adina Smith) – A woman can’t stop getting pregnant, regardless of how safe she tries to be during sex. She is directed to a specialist clinic in the middle of nowhere that turns out to be a group of witches. They convince her to carry to term, but they seem to have ulterior motives.

holidays-mothers-day-still-93

Father’s Day (Directed by Anthony Scott Burns) – When she receives a mysterious tape from her estranged father, Carol is offered the chance to re-establish their relationship. She is guided to a seemingly abandoned building…….seemingly.

Halloween (Directed by Kevin Smith) – A man runs an online sex cam business who arrives back at his base of operations and verbally abuses his workers. He is knocked unconscious when he attempts to rape one of them. He wakes up to find a vibrator superglued into his bottom and hooked up to a car battery, and they intend on making him feel as degraded as he forced them to be.

Christmas (Directed by Scott Stewart) – A man leaves it until the last minute to buy the latest in TV technology before he sees the last purchaser of it collapse and die. He steals the box instead of helping the man and takes it back to his ungrateful wife. His greatest desires soon come to the surface however.

New Years’ Eve (Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer) – Two lonely people get together on New Year’s Eve and it goes awkwardly, but that doesn’t stop them ending up taking it home, little does she know that he is a serial killer…..but he is in for a surprise when he goes in her bathroom.

holidays-movie-trailer-1

Worth watching or not really worth fussing about, as I thought?

Those of you that have read my reviews for “The ABCs of Death”, both the first and it’s sequel, know that the anthology method of dtelling stories in films is very hit and miss. In some aspects you never know what you’re going to get and for all you know you might only have to sit through a few minutes of a story you hate before one you like comes along, but had I known that this was that method of film-making going in then I probably wouldn’t have watched “Holidays”. It’s not a style I overly been impressed with previously, but I certainly enjoyed it more than the two aforementioned movies.

It’s hard to really talk about them as if they are a normal film so I’m going to talk a bit about each. Before you watch this film, if indeed you choose to do so, it’s worth noting that the films are not linked to each other in any way whatsoever other than them revolving around various holidays.

I’m going to start with my favourite aspect of any of them and that comes from the “Easter” story and something that I on’t reference often, character design. The Easter Bunny in this section is genuinely haunting and creepy in it’s design. It’s so simplistic, but it looks disturbing in so many aspects, especially in that it has a very stigmata style appearance, with a crown of thorns and impaled hands. It’s a simple design, but it works. It was kind of unsettling in a very simplistic sort of way.

holidays-easter

I really enjoyed everything about “Father’s Day”, it builds exceptionally well throughout and you feel curious about what is coming next. The ending does feel somewhat predictable, but that didn’t stop me not feeling anything negative about it when it did happen. It is not complicated storytelling, and the tape-recording style feels relatively fresh. Visually it is also the best of the various sections.

“Halloween” is also fairly tense once they start taking revenge on their “handler” (for lack of better words). It’s feels much more justified than much of the “Saw” franchise that clearly inspired it, and the best part is that you feel like the character deserves everything that is happening to him, although it would have been better seeing him deal with the long term effects of what has happened to him.

I genuinely enjoyed a lot of the sections, although I found “Mother’s Day” and “Christmas” to be boring and just underdeveloped. “Mother’s Day” in particular is a momentum killer for the film as everything I had seen before then had been very interesting.

Overall, “Holidays” was much better than I thought it would be. I think it would have been more enjoyable had there been a link between the films other than the holiday seasons. The only bad thing about the better sections was that you get attached to the characters and then they’re gone.

download-2

 

Summary

“Holidays” is a generally decent horror film, that despite it having a few poor sections.approved It is certainly a better-rounded film than both of the entries into the “ABCs” franchise.

I’m going to be generous here and give it the approved stamp. I can see why a lot of people on IMDB (current rating of 5.1/10) didn’t like it, and I think that this will divide anyone that watches it, but for me it works for the most part.

Don’t go in expecting to enjoy every single section of the film. There are sections that in retrospect you’d wished you’d simply skipped through, but there are some that you wouldn’t mind seeing extended into a longer movie.