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The Mule (2018)
A bit choppy and underdone but still highly watchable
I'm a big fan of Clint Eastwood's film-making abilities for the most part, but I am well aware that the fan is far from being a perfectionist. His movies sometimes border on being amateurish at times. They're not, I think this mostly just stems from him seemingly being happy with very few takes of each scene. 'The Mule' was a good film that could have been a great film. With a little more care and effort this could have been something quite special.
The film felt very similar to 'Gran Torino' (my favourite Clint Eastwood directed film). That one also had some very sloppily put together scenes, however the character interactions and the films ending drove that to be something quite great and special. 'The Mule' has moments of great character interactions but also has some moments that are more cringe-worthy than anything else.
There are also some odd editing choices. At one point the film sets itself with a very interesting scene about to take place, and then just cuts away and never mentions it again. I would love to know what happened there. Did they film the scene and it didn't turn out well, or did they just feel like mentioning that it was about to happen was enough? Either way, it's very sloppy.
The fact that Clint Eastwood is still directing and even starring in films at his age is testament to the man. I'm glad that he had bounced back from the rather disastrous venture that was 'The 15:17 to Paris'. 'The Mule' may not be perfect, but it is a far superior film to that one.
The Haunting of Sharon Tate (2019)
If you're going to make something this controversial it needs to be bloody good - this wasn't
On the surface 'The Haunting of Sharon Tate' could seem like a very insensitive movie to make. As I was watching it I kept wondering how writer/director Daniel Farrands pitched this to studios and the cast to get them on board. Then the end of the movie rolled around and I realised how he'd done it (I won't spoil anything). The way the film ended was probably the best thing this film had going for it because at least it gave it somewhat of a purpose. The problem is the rest of the film is so poorly put together a lot of people may not make it to the end.
The first thing that strikes you about this film is how incredibly out of place Hilary Duff is. Both as a casting choice and in terms of her acting ability - terrible. To be fair the whole cast is pretty ordinary, but her in the lead role is the most distractingly bad of the bunch. The film also has a very strange style of direction. Some scenes are filmed in a very bizarre way that doesn't seem to add anything to the film (although thinking about it now perhaps this could play into the ending of the film which I again won't go into details on). There are some action sequences though which are unforgivably bad, like the scene where a car backs up and hits a fence. You'll understand what I mean when/if you see it.
There were a couple of genuinely creepy moments though. All the scenes involving the Manson girls were quite unsettling and the way the final sequence played out was quite disturbing. It does help the filmmakers that this was based on actual events though to be fair, which adds a degree of horror to what you are watching. For the most part though 'The Haunting of Sharon Tate' is a poorly constructed and ill-advised venture that would best be avoided.
Pet Sematary (2019)
A remake that takes some unfortunate missteps
'Pet Sematary' (yes I spelt that correctly) is one of my favourite Stephen King horror novels. It's about as close to pure horror as he ever really gets. The original 1989 version of the film was pretty well received and has stood the test of time reasonably well. Now, 30 years later we have a remake. And while it wasn't a complete misfire, I feel it could have been done better in a number of ways.
First of all I do not understand how Jason Clarke continues to get leading roles. He is incredibly unlikeable and instantly makes me hate whichever character he is playing. He is in every scene of this movie and it makes for a bleak ride. Secondly, the tempo in this film is wildly uneven. It takes a drastic turn at one point and then just balls everything it has together and throws it at you at once. If you found the cat scary then there might be some better pacing in your eyes, but for me the cat didn't work at all. In the book I can see why it would work, but in the film it was distractingly bad, fake and not the least bit scary.
There are one or two good scares to carry the film along. The way the child was done in the latter half of the movie was also handled very well. In fact that was by far the strongest element to the film. I also enjoyed the ending and applaud them for the way they did that. I didn't dislike this film, I just couldn't help feeling it could have been a lot better than it was.
Peele proves 'Get Out' was no fluke
My initial rating for 'Us' after seeing it was a 9/10. Then I started doing some reading about it and watching explanation videos on Youtube. It reached a point where I simply could not deny this film a perfect 10/10 rating. This level of genius is unparalleled (so to speak). I simply could not believe how many little details Jordan Peele had thought of and included in the film. On the surface this might seem like a simple little horror movie with a twist. It's never that simple with Peele though. Everything is a metaphor and a brilliant one at that.
Peele's style is also incredibly unique and fresh. The way he shoots certain scenes, the camera angles, the character looks, the set designs, the choice of music (particularly brilliant and important in this film) to name a few. In only his second film he has distinguished himself from every other filmmaker. Quite amazing when you think about it like that.
Even if you aren't interested in all that jazz and just want to watch this as a straight up horror film and not think too much about it, you're still going to have a great time. This film is genuinely creepy for the majority of the runtime. I think that would be a shame though. I would highly recommend after you're finished with this film exploring as many fan theories and opinions as you possibly can. It leads to hours of fascinating entertainment and makes you appreciate the film on a whole other level. 'Us' is a masterpiece not to be missed.
Super Troopers 2 (2018)
One of the best comedy sequels in recent times
Broken Lizard are so good at making movies. I just wish they would work harder and make more of them. Interestingly 'Super Troopers 2' is their first sequel and it is a masterful one. They did something that is very rare in terms of comedy sequels - they made it not feel like a sequel. Sure it's all the same characters returning and there are even direct throwbacks to jokes from the first film, but the story was strong enough to justify its own film and the gags were unique and original enough for this to feel completely fresh. This is one of the best comedy sequels I have seen since 'American Reunion'.
The way the storyline is created is so clever in that the film basically becomes a Canada vs USA fest. That's what I meant by a storyline that could justify its own stand-alone film. They milk it for everything it is worth and it is genuinely hilarious throughout.
The chemistry between these guys is just the icing on the cake. What Kevin Heffernan brings to the table and the banter that surrounds him is nothing short of brilliant. These are 100 minutes of your life that will fly by and all I can hope for is that we get another entry in the series. It is richly deserved.
The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018)
A series that just can't quite find the mark
'The Girl in the Spider's Web' is the first entry in the Millennium series to be penned by a different author after the untimely death of Steig Larsson. It's noticeable too in movie form. It feels very different, not so much in tone but more so in story structure. This film wants to be more of an action film, whereas the original trilogy were more about slow-burn stories and building the characters. If anything I probably prefer the style in 'Spider's Web' to what the originals were trying to create. There always has to be a balance, but I think this finds it better.
Claire Foy as 'Lisbeth Salander' does a pretty decent job I thought. She nailed the accent but maybe just didn't quite have a hard enough look for the role would be my only criticism. 'Salander' would be a very hard role to take on I imagine. She's someone who in real life would be incredibly unlikeable and yet everyone who plays her is expected to make her the hero of the story and extremely likeable.
I notice these films keep flopping at the Box-Office. Perhaps they just aren't supposed to work as films. Perhaps people want what only the books can give us which is to get into these character's minds. I feel like these films should feel unique from any other film on the marker, yet they never do. Maybe one day a director will work out how to achieve it, but as for now we continue to wait. This isn't a bad film, but it's pretty forgettable nonetheless.
Some Guy Who Kills People (2011)
Gade shines through in a off-beat and somehow mesmerising film
The first thing that attracted me to the film 'Some Guy Who Kills People' was the cast. It's full of actors and actresses who aren't perhaps household names, but have always done interesting projects and made the best of every role they've been given. And that's the best thing this film has going for it is the actors and their performances. Everyone is trying to outdo each other and it makes for great viewing.
Somehow through it all though the stand-out actor and stone-cold scene-stealer of the show is little Ariel Gade (in her last credited acting performance for some reason?). She is just terrific in every scene she is in. Whoever wrote her her dialogue did a particularly fantastic job, but also her delivery of those lines is a masterclass. She blew me away.
'Some Guy Who Kills People' is such an odd title for a film, but somehow that is fitting. This film is very off-centre and I think that's what I liked about it. I found myself glued to the screen. If you are looking for a polished film with every brick lining up perfectly then this is not the one for you. However, if you like a little mayhem and chaos in your cinema structure then you might just have the time of your life with this one.
London Fields (2018)
One of the worst films I've ever seen
I can't remember the last time I saw a film this disproportionate in terms of the quality of the cast and the poor quality of the film. Make no mistake, 'London Fields' has an amazing cast. Sure Amber Heard in the lead role isn't much of an actress (although she somehow manages to maintain a fair bit of star-power) but outside of her there are great actors everywhere. Even Johnny Depp has a decent amount of screen time. Sadly though these actors aren't even close to being able to save what is one of the worst films I've ever seen.
The film tries to be a mystery but there are a few problems with that. One is that we the audience simply don't care by the time the conclusion finally rolls around. We have been bored out of our mind for 90 minutes and we simply want the film to end. Secondly, all the characters are basically the exact same person. Which character did the deed makes absolutely no difference to us in any way. Whether is it a, b, c or d through z doesn't alter the film in our eyes one bit.
Then the film tries to impress us with its arty narration. It is trying so hard to be 'Fight Club' by having memorable quotes left, right and centre, but I can assure you none of them land. Instead the narration is just annoying and weird. The film has some of the most bizarrely shot darts scenes as well. We are never told what is actually happening and apparently professional darts players are capable of missing the board entirely? Who knew? 'London Fields' needs to be avoided at all costs. It is an abomination.
Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)
A quirky but possibly forgettable film
'Bad Times at the El Royale' is a very serious film. It doesn't necessarily take itself overly seriously (although it might - it's hard to tell at times) but the content itself is very hard-hitting and severe. I think I expected more of a dark comedy going in, but this film makes no efforts whatsoever to make you laugh. It's unquestionably heavily inspired by Tarantino's work, but it lacks one thing that always makes his films shine - the dialogue isn't as edgy and interesting as it always is in his films. While the non-linear story-telling, quirky scenes and flashbacks are right up his alley, the dialogue sadly can't match it. To be fair though, very few in the business can match dialogue with Tarantino.
This is quite a long movie at 141 minutes for a single-setting film. It's a patient movie in that sense. It never feels like the director was rushed or forced to edit or cut scenes he didn''t want to. This is a director's cut from start to finish. All the characters are a lot of fun too and the great cast helps with that a lot obviously. This helps a lot to prevent the film from becoming tedious and ever feeling over-long.
There's ultimately not a lot of depth behind this film and for that reason I suspect people may find it slightly forgettable. There's nothing thought-provoking about it that will have you thinking after you leave the cinema. Still though, I had a fun time with it and would recommend it to most types of people.
Three Identical Strangers (2018)
Sometimes thinks it's more shocking than it is
The concept of a set of triplets being separated at a young age and finding each other many years later is an interesting one, but not one that justifies a feature-length documentary being made about it. So before seeing 'Three Identical Strangers' I knew there had to be some kind of twist in the tale along the way. I was right, but I was also kind of wrong. There was a twist, but I'm not sure it justified a 96 minute run time.
It's hard to know how much of the interview process in any documentary is scripted, as opposed to the people just having very strong personalities. In this case I think there was a little of both, but I do suspect it was largely scripted. There's enough here to keep it watchable throughout, and even mildly thought-provoking at times, but it's not something I would rush out to recommend people see.
Watchable because of great cast, but ultimately hollow and pointless
It pains me to dislike a film like 'Serenity' because it is trying so hard to be original and unique. The sad fact about modern cinema is that if there's a good idea out there, chances are someone has already thought of it and done it. That doesn't mean there aren't ideas out there that haven't been explored - it just means they likely aren't good. 'Serenity' is one of those unfortunately. It had me intrigued for a little while, until the twist (or not even really a twist, just an explanation) is revealed and we realise what is going on. From there the movie falls apart pretty rapidly.
The cast of this movie is quite incredible. Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane and Jason Clarke. They must have all been sold on this being a great idea. It's lucky they're there though because their star-power combined is all that really carries this film and keeps it watchable. Hathaway phones it in a little, but McConaughey gives it his all as usual.
'Serenity' is a very dark film that takes itself extremely seriously. I can't remember even one instance where they attempt to make you laugh. This can make for a pretty bleak experience at times. Combine that with the fact that the film isn't half as smart as it thinks it is and you are left with a pretty weak product. Don't waste your time on 'Serenity' I'm sorry to say, there are bigger and better fish in the sea.
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
An unbalanced and pointless story
'Alita: Battle Angel' is a PG-13 movie that has characters being split in half with a sword. How is that possible you ask? I had to ask myself the same question, until I realised what it meant. It implied that no character in this movie is actually worth anything. No characters actually have any value or worth as people. This is a great con job. This fact lies right before our eyes but is also exceedingly well hidden.
This movie is technically very well made, however that is about where the compliments have to end. I struggle to understand how people find a story where the hero is so far superior in strength to every other character entertaining. 'Alita' is immensely powerful already, and then as if that isn't enough she obtains an all-powerful sword to basically make her invincible. That is boring and not something I ever want to see in a film. An equal battle between good and evil always makes for the best films.
Then there was the love-story. I have never seen a love-story so unearned in a film. The two characters simply meet in the street and instantly fall in love. Hard to believe the same writer was behind this and one of the greatest love-stories ever told 'Titanic'. No doubt there will be endless sequels to this film (they are already being shamelessly set up at the end of this one) but I doubt I will be there to see any of them. Don't waste your time on this one.
An awful horror film
'The Possession of Hannah Grace' personifies everything that is wrong with the horror genre at the moment. It is so criminally unoriginal, criminally uninspired and most of all criminally not scary. The very first scene of the movie alone must've been done 100 times before almost identically. From there it just gets worse. The settings, the dialogue, the attempted jump-scares from characters doing things no rational human being on earth ever would (I say attempted because nothing in the way of giving you a fright works in this movie). It all equals a very bad film.
If there was a heart-rate monitor attached to me during this movie I can almost guarantee that it went down over the course of the movie and never went up a single beat. I know as much because I was having to work seriously hard not to fall asleep. The creature in this movie wouldn't scare 5 year-olds. What horror filmmakers too often forget is that it's what you don't see that is actually scary, as opposed to what you do. That's why 'Paranormal Activity' was so effective. What we can imagine is so much worse than what they can actually put on screen.
The characters in this film were bloody awful too. The main girl was the only mildly likeable one. The problem with that though is that she's the only character that feels completely safe. 'The Possession of Hannah Grace' never for one second dares to do anything outside the box or daring. It is completely forgettable in every way and not worth your time or effort.
The best entry in the series yet
The 'Mission Impossible' series of movies have always been a bit hit and miss for me. I've always liked them without ever really loving any of the entries in the series. I've always seen it as the American version of the 'Bond' films, and I've always been of the opinion that 'Bond' was superior. 'Mission Impossible - Fallout' however was far and away the best entry in the series. They finally nailed it.
The action in this movie is relentless. It starts immediately and never lets up. There was a point where two characters were talking for maybe 2 minutes and I actually thought to myself: boy it's been a long time without an action sequence. That's how fast paced this film is. The two and a half hour run time is gone by in the snap of your fingers. Also the action sequences aren't just plentiful, they are of the highest quality too. Every stunt is incredible to watch.
This film is smart too. So often it caught me off guard with just how clever it was able to be. The story is incredibly well thought out and some particular scenes and even just moments are bordering on genius. Tom Cruise also proves that he still has it. He has infinite charm and is endlessly watchable. The only negative I found in the film was that the helicopter scenes (filmed in my beloved and beautiful New Zealand) were probably the weakest of all the action sequences. So to have them be the last ones seen in the film ended the movie on not quite the high I would have liked. Otherwise though this is an excellent film that you should rush out and see if you haven't already.
Murder Party (2007)
Not bad for a very low budget
I stumbled across 'Murder Party' last night on Netflix and thought it looked worth a watch. It was apparent pretty early on that this was filmed with a very low budget (the trivia section claims it was made with "no money"). The actors were unrecognisable, the sets were reasonably basic and there were not going to be any special effects at any point in the film clearly. None of that means it can't be a good film however. Hell, look at Kevin Smith's 'Clerks' for proof.
The director of 'Murder Party' has gone on to make some very well received horror/thriller films, so it very cool to see where he, Jeremy Saulnier, got his start. There are some elements to the film that would indicate there was class behind the camera. A lot of the dialogue is quite intriguing and surprisingly well written (a must for a low-budget film). Also considering the budget the horror scenes that feature later in the film were very well created. The film is short at only 80 minutes and even then feels like it could have shaved 15-20 minutes off. The pacing in the first half of the film is a slight issue. Also I wouldn't have minded seeing a more creative ending. All in all though this is a watchable enough film if you stumble across it on Netflix late one night.
A beautiful and intelligent film that could be studied for years
'Roma' is the heavy favourite to win the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards ceremony tomorrow and I can understand why. I don't think it's the most entertaining or perhaps even the best of the eight nominated films, however it does have a lot going for it. It's unquestionably the most beautifully shot film of the bunch. It also has an incredible amount of symbolism and is a film that could be studied by film students for years to come. Then add in the little nods towards cinema (every Best Picture winner has to have them and Alfonso Cuarón's best friend Guillermo del Toro knows that better than anyone and you can bet he had an influence on those otherwise pointless settings being in the film) and I think you do indeed have a Best Picture winning film.
Yalitza Aparicio, in her debut film nonetheless, has been nominated for Best Actress in a leading role. She was superb and the fact I had no clue until reading about it after the film that this was her first performance says a lot. Marina de Tavira has also been nominated for the film in the Best Actress in a Supporting Role category. She was still impressive in her limited chances, but didn't quite shine to the extent Aparicio managed to. I can't see either getting the win but they are well deserved nominations.
'Roma' is a very intelligent film. There are so many little moments that could easily seem innocuous, but in hindsight actually had incredible amounts of depth behind them. There is also one masterfully crafted scene that will go down as one of the most hard to watch and devastating things I've ever seen in a film. There are a couple of other films I would prefer to see win the award over this, however I'm not going to be upset when the name 'Roma' is read out either (like I was last year with 'The Shape of Water'). This is a very fine film no doubt about it. Also, are Mexicans taking over the cinematic universe or what? Every film they make at the moment seems to be at least considered gold.
The Favourite (2018)
Engaging, well paced and well acted
When I looked at the list of the Best Picture nominees at the Academy Awards this year I immediately spotted 'The Favourite' as the one I was least looking forward to seeing. I'm not a big fan of period pieces and neither the cast nor film-maker garnered much interest from me. As it turns out I was wrong to single this one out. It is a middling film on the list. Certainly not the best, however certainly not the worst either. I was surprised at how engaged I found myself with the story. The pacing too, while not lightning quick, did just enough to always keep me focused and looking forward to what was coming next.
Three actresses from this film have been nominated for acting awards. Olivia Colman for Actress in Leading Role and Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone for Actresses in a Supporting Role (despite them both probably having equal or even more screen time than Colman?). Colman was pretty darn good I'd have to admit. She plays utterly miserable very well I'd have to say (that may be all I've ever seen her play come to think of it). It's hard to see her getting the nod though as she was never given one big scene to blow everyone away. Supporting Actress is usually a very weak category so with performances as strong as Stone's and Weisz' I would usually have said they had a great chance of winning. Unfortunately for them the category is slightly stronger than usual this year though and so I can't see them getting the nod either.
As for Best Picture, again I see it coming up short. While the film is good for what it is, it isn't going to be to everyone's liking. All a film can do is succeed at what it sets out to, however that isn't always enough to win an Oscar unfortunately. I loved that the film had an R rating. It added so many layers to the characters and made for a much more fun viewing experience. All in all 'The Favourite' is a well made film that you may just find yourself having a great time with.
A great effort but Cheney just wasn't interesting enough
Adam McKay has such a unique brand of humour. I remember when I saw 'The Big Short' a few years back thinking how I had never seen a film like it before. 'Vice' is a quite a similar film in a lot ways. It's very self-aware and the humour is always edgy, cutting and dark. It's not a film you sit there and laugh out loud at like perhaps 'Anchorman' (also a McKay film believe it or not) but it is still unquestionably funny. For example the opening writing on the screen telling us that the film is 'Based on a true story' is possibly the funniest moment in the film and a prime example of what this film wants to be about. If you don't find that writing funny you should probably just leave the cinema at that point because you're not going to enjoy the film.
Three actors from this film have been nominated for acting awards at the Academy Awards. Christina Bale for Actor in a lead role and Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell for Actress/Actor in a support role. Bale had an incredible transformation to prepare for the role and with a slightly stronger film and more scenes for him to impress us in he would have had a great chance of winning. As it stands I can't see him getting close however. It's the same story for the other two. Adams barely has anything to do in the film (Supporting Actress is a notoriously weak category) and Rockwell is actually fantastic (as always) but just isn't given enough to do.
The problem with 'Vice' is that Dick Cheney just wasn't interesting enough to justify a movie about. The fact that this is as watchable as it is shows just how strong the writing and film making actually were. The second half of the film is the better of the two and it really picks up pace near the end. It even delivers a minor twist-ending of sorts. Sadly though I can't see this film being remembered. It just didn't have enough material to work with.
Escape Room (2019)
Highly original and highly entertaining
I remember seeing 'Cube' when I was a kid and being fascinated by the concept. 'Escape Room' is basically 'Cube' on heat. What surprised me most was how creative it managed to be (and I expected a creative movie going in). Some of the rooms created in this film were next level, both in their look and function. Moving from room to room kept the pacing at a very fast level as well. Add in highly watchable characters, an original concept and some clever plot twists and you have yourself a very fine film.
What excites me about 'Escape Room' is the unlimited potential for sequels. There is an incredible amount you could do with this concept. If they played it right they could have countless sequels and have each one of them feeling equally fresh. While I did like the characters in this one, I don't necessarily see them needing to be the same in the next one either. They could go the 'Final Destination' route and have a different cast each film (with perhaps the odd reoccurring character).
There wasn't a lot I didn't like about the film. Perhaps one of the rooms (the ice room) dragged a little too long and the ending, while I appreciated its endeavour, didn't quite deliver the knock-out blow I would have liked to nudge this up to a 9/10. Still though, the large majority of the film is a great viewing experience no doubt about it. If you're on the fence about this film, get out and see it. You'll be glad you did.
Black Panther (2018)
This is considered Best Picture worthy?
I remember being disappointed when 'The Dark Knight' wasn't nominated for Best Picture ten years ago, but also understanding that superhero movie aren't really what the Oscars are intended for. So when I saw 'Black Panther' had been nominated I thought it must be a truly incredible film and was looking forward to seeing it. What I got instead was a painfully boring, unoriginal and uninspired movie that shouldn't be anywhere near a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards.
I've seen some boring superhero movies in my day but this would be near the top. Twice I had to pause the movie and have a nap because every time I would try to watch it would put me to sleep. There wasn't one character I felt any connection to or interest in. The hero was bland and the villain was equally so.
I can only think this nomination refers back to the #Oscarsowhite controversy of a few years back and the Academy's determination to rectify that. It's a shame because there are some truly great and worthy films of 2018 that highly deserved a nomination in 'Black Panther's place. There are very few redeeming qualities about this film. I would not recommend giving up your time or hard earned on it.
Not Best Picture worthy at all
Every year I make a point of watching each of the Best Picture nominees for the Academy Awards before the ceremony airs. And every year I'm astonished at some of the films that are considered to be the "best" of the previous year. 'BlacKkKlansman' is a prime example of this. Is it a bad film? No. Is it a good film? Sure. But is it a great film and one of the eight best released in 2018? Not in this lifetime. Sadly I understand a lot of politics come into the Oscars and I think that is a large part of what is at play here. This is a heavily politically driven film that tugs at the heart-strings of just the right type of people that dominate Hollywood and the Academy. For that reason it gets a nomination. Not because it is a great film.
Adam Driver has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards as well. This was also a baffling one to me. His performance is good and highly watchable, but he never blew me away by any stretch of the imagination. I kept waiting for him to be given one big scene he could really shine through and knock the audiences socks off with, but it never came. A really bizarre nomination from the Academy I would find it extremely surprising if he got the win for this reason.
The film was actually very similar to the 2016 film 'Imperium' starring Daniel Radcliffe. Obviously it didn't have the twist of a black man being behind the infiltration, but a lot of the actual person to person undercover scenes were very similar in nature. I think I enjoyed that film more though because it was more interested in telling you a story, instead of ramming a view down your throat. I also thought the real-life footage shown at the end of 'BlacKkKlansman' was cheap and out of place. A very tacky decision by Spike Lee to throw that in there. I miss the days from the 90s when if a film was nominated for Best Picture you could be assured it was a truly brilliant film. This film doesn't even compare to those.
Happy Death Day 2U (2019)
The terrific balance that the first film found is not present here
I'm a massive fan of the original 'Happy Death Day' film. In fact I rated it a perfect 10 on IMDb. Every aspect of that movie was executed perfectly. It was scary, funny, charming, intriguing, touching and had a killer twist ending to put the cherry on the cupcake. The announcement of a sequel was a surprise to me to be honest. When a film gets everything so right like that one did it is incredibly hard to make a follow-up to the same standard. Plus you risk ruining the reputation that the first film earned. 'Happy Death Day 2U' was a disappointing sequel that will leave a bad taste in the mouth of a lot of fans of the original.
It certainly isn't an appalling film (otherwise I would never have given it a 6 - and I verged on giving it a 7), it just didn't get the balance right this time around. It was far too light-hearted for starters. I loved the humour that first one possessed and I did in this one too, however it just took up too much of the runtime. If people asked me to choose one genre that this film was I would probably have to say comedy. I should be saying horror.
Secondly, the film was so intent on being clever (and being a homage to 'Back to the Future') that it completely forgot to have an interesting plot piece at the centre of the film. The killer angle was almost like an after-thought this time around. Whereas in the original it drove the film and everything else fed off that.
The first film was so good that I didn't want anything to change and taint what was created in that film. I left the cinema this time with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. If a sequel absolutely had to be made I would've preferred completely fresh characters (even though I love the ones that are in these two films) and for them to just do a seperate story. Maybe that wouldn't have worked either (speaking further to my point that a sequel simply wasn't needed) but at least it would have left the original intact. I hear a third addition to the series is on the way. Hopefully they get it right (whatever that means) next time around.
Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)
The opposite of everything I wanted it to be
I couldn't believe my eyes when I came across a Netflix horror movie titled 'Velvet Buzzsaw' and starring an incredible cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, John Malkovich, Toni Collette and Rene Russo. Good horror movies are so rare these days and I thought with a cast that strong someone must have written a masterpiece of a script that these actors simply couldn't turn down. Unfortunately I was very wrong. They were simply attracted to the fact that the director's previous films had been met with mild forms of praise and that it was a pretentious script with a "message" in relation to appreciating art. Yuck.
The problems with 'Velvet Buzzsaw' start with the fact that every character is intentionally made to be completely unlikeable and a despicable human being so that they will later get their comeuppance. The reason that doesn't work though is that it's no fun for the audience to watch awful characters and we certainly can't root for them to survive.
The next problem falls on just how boring the film is. Endless scenes of inane dialogue that you'd have to be a saint not to switch off during. Painfully boring stuff. Also it doesn't help that none of the lead actors put in much of a performance at all. I compare Collette to what we saw she was capable of in 'Hereditary' to this. Worlds apart. Malkovich to even just what he's capable of in 'Bird Box' to this. Worlds apart. Gyllenhaal to what he's capable of in just about every other film he's ever been in. Worlds apart. No actor in this film is very good at all.
The film tries to make up for its incredibly slow pace with a fast paced ending, but by then it is far too late. The audience has checked out. There's also the odd beautifully crafted shot, and in a better film these would have been a treat. Sadly though 'Velvet Buzzsaw' is a complete misfire and not worth your time or energy on Netflix.
Green Book (2018)
Chemistry makes the film
'Green Book' is a film that had it not been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards I would probably never have gotten around to seeing. And yet I'm so glad that it was nominated because otherwise I would never have gotten to experience such a great film. This is based off a true story and clearly glamoured up to make a worthy movie out of a simple concept. The chemistry between the two main actors is simply phenomenal and makes this film what it is.
Consequently both Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali have been nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively. Both are fully deserving. Both are almost unrecognisable at times because they lose themselves in their characters so deeply. I have a hard time imagining Mortensen winning, only because the field is so incredibly strong this year. He keeps churning out brilliantly performances every year though and he will get the Oscar he deserves one day. Ali on the other hand I can very much see winning. He had a tremendous amount of screen time for a "Supporting Actor". Combine that with the fact that he was genuinely brilliant and I think you could almost call him a lock.
The film ticks all the boxes for an Oscar movie but I can't see it getting the win for Best Picture, simply because it failed to deliver the knock-out blow. It's consistently charming, genuinely funny, has a beautiful message about acceptance and pushing boundaries, is well acted, well directed and expertly written - and yet I still couldn't help feeling it was missing something. It never had that killer blow moment that knocked me off my feet. I wanted more from the ending (and yes I know it was based on a true story which limits their ability). This is a brilliant movie that just couldn't quite put the cherry on top.
A good film that had the potential to be a great film
I liked 'Peppermint' a lot, but I know I could have liked it a lot more had it made some tweaks to the way things were done in certain aspects. The following review may come across as slightly negative, but these are more just things that could have made a good film a great one. Firstly, the film did a great job in making all the villains in this movie absolutely despicable scum who you desperately wanted to see get their karma. It was a little disappointing then that a lot of the revenge murders, especially early on, were off-camera and the audience only got to see the aftermath. I would've loved for this film to get really gritty and go to almost 'I Spit on Your Grave' levels with things.
The film also sometimes feels like it can't decide what it wants to be. The tone is very unlevelled. At times it feels like it wants to be a very heavy cop drama. Then the next it wants to be a light cop drama. Then a very heavy vigilante story, followed by a very light vigilante story (after the final moment of the movie I don't know what to think). It never fully commits in any direction.
Jennifer Garner is good, again without being great. She put a lot of work into the role in terms of the physical side of things and it certainly shows. Just her line delivery and overall acting ability can be a little lacking at times which is often a distraction in the film. As with most cop movies there is some sloppy writing in places too, just to make certain scenes more cinematic and drama-filled. I did like the twist in the film. I didn't see it coming and I thought it fit in nicely and made me rethink a lot of things. 'Peppermint' is a film that I would recommend, but I still feel it could have been even better than it ultimately turned out.