2018 In Film: Preview April – June

Popcorn

The first three months were… underwhelming for me? As we near blockbuster season, there’s likely more films I’d be keen on being released in this quarter so lets take a look.

Blockers

It’s called Blockers and there’s a picture of a cockerel on the poster. It’s American Pie 12! This seems to be the same premise as American Pie but more from the girls’ perspective as a group of young ladies aim to get their first stiff one at the Prom. The cast doesn’t look promising and it’s directed by writer of those dreadful Pitch Perfect movies. I’ll pass.

A Quiet Place

A horror movie with a sort of interesting premise – a family is haunted by some evil entity which is attracted to sound… so Tremors but without the soil penis monsters. They apparently use sign language… but what if they sneeze? Or fart?

Show Dogs

This sounds like another one of those weird movies where they CG the mouths of various animals or children to make it look as if they are talking. Maybe they will just make it more like Look Who’s Talking. Either way, this looks terrible, with rappers and ex-sports men propping up the voice cast, although the director has a history in average, yet successful family movies.

You Were Never Really Here

This one looks interesting and could be one of Amazon’s first success stories. I don’t know much about the source material, but the film has received strong early positive feedback and Joaquin Phoenix is always good. Director Lynne Ramsey is someone who gets childhood and doesn’t gloss over the fear and distress of that part of our lives.

Chappaquiddick

This appears to be a political drama getting released at the optimal time for fiery debate. I don’t care about US Politics, or know much about it, but this is based on that time Ted Kennedy crashed his car, killing the girl who was with him, and apparently tried to cover it up or at least save his own ass. The lesson here is – all politicians are scumbags, every single one. Good cast, decent director.

The New Mutants

An XMen spin off, this seems to focus on a group of youngsters. Historically, when you put the word ‘New’ in front of an existing franchise it becomes the death knell of said franchise. The Director has done sucky teen romance till now, so you can be sure there’s going to be a lot of sucky teen romance in this. Then again, Buffy is the best thing ever and it did teen romance the right way, so I’ll give this a chance. I haven’t loved an X-Men movie since the second one, but this features Alice Braga who I will watch in anything.

The Rider

Chloe Zhao’s second film hopefully will provide her more exposure – however I have no idea what it’s about based on the wiki entry alone. It seems to star real life siblings and two people playing themselves, so presumably there’s a focus on family, friendship…. who knows?

Beirut

There was a joke when I was growing up in war torn 1980s Northern Ireland… ‘at least we don’t live in Beirut’. Anytime someone was shot or a place was bombed, we’d say something like that. This has an interesting enough cast and Brad Anderson’s films tend to be taut and dark which will hopefully raise this above a mere by the numbers thriller. I’m not sure I buy Rosamund Pike as a CIA action hero type though.

The Miracle Season

It’s a sports movie. Moreover, it’s an American sports movie. I watched NBA in the late 90s, early 2000s, so outside of that the only American sport I watch is WWE and TNA. McNamara makes family movies, and the cast includes a couple of upcoming youngsters… is this going to be about little league? Netball? Either way, you can almost guarantee I won’t see this unless reviews are outstanding.

Sgt Stubby: An American Hero

Animated movie about a dog who did some heroic stuff in WWI. I’m sure it’ll be fine, but I doubt I’ll see this.

Dolphins

I’ve never actually watched anything like this on the big screen. I love nature and animal documentaries, not so much a fan of the stuff Disney has done, more the Attenborough style.

Rampage

The Rock sure loves getting stuck into these existing IP doesn’t he? I think we all know this is going to be a CG messfest, but The Rock is always watchable. I imagine I’ll catch this on streaming at some point in the future, depending on reviews.

Tully

We’ve had Bully, Sully, and now Tully. How about a Krull sequel – Krully? No? This is Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, so should be good. Decent cast, but I have no idea what it’s about.

Overboard

Why? Why in Gandalf’s name does this need to be remade? It was crap first time around and absolutely nothing and nobody involved here makes me think it’s going to be any different. Still, it’ll make more money than you’ll make in your lifetime.

Super Troopers 2

I always got Super Trooper mixed up with Reno 911! I never watched either, but I saw a few scenes from one of them and laughed…. This appears to have the same director and cast as the first movie, but it’s seventeen years later. Usually stuff which comes back so much later is depressing.

Duck Duck Goose

I think the most notable thing to say about this is that the great Carl Reiner is in it – still going at 95. Jenkins has some pedigree in the animation business having worked on a number of classics, but how good can a cartoon about a goose really be?

The House Of Tomorrow

Wiki has no synopsis aside from saying it’s a drama. Ellen Burstyn is there.

Truth Or Dare

On name alone this is either a teen horror or sex comedy. I was never popular enough to play such things. Or stupid enough, thankfully. It’s a horror, with college students, so I’ll say I was right. The director has done a variety of films, none of which I’ve seen, and it stars a bunch of pretty young singers and performers who have mostly appeared in crap. You can see where this is going….

Traffik

I don’t know what this is, but the director’s previous films have mostly earned negative reviews.

Disobedience

Based on a book I’d never heard of, about a lesbian woman who is the daughter of a rabbi as she… does stuff? Not normally the sort of thing to leap out at me, but it has received great reviews till now. Lelio makes interesting films and I like Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams.

Godard Mon Amour

A documentary. Presumably about Godard.

Selfie Dad

Wikipedia doesn’t have a synopsis, but it’s listed as Comedy/Drama/Faith. No-one in the cast I care about, sounds like a disaster all around.

Avengers: Infinity War

So, I recall last year the internet going buck nuts when this trailer dropped. Why? Because it has all the people from all the different (same) movies appearing for about three seconds – which is likely half the time each of them will appear in the final product? Fine, I can appreciate that, I understand it’s cool all these people meeting and showing up in the same movie. But the trailer looked like every other Marvel movie, with lots of ‘splosions, some Iron Man quips, and… that’s about it? I haven’t seen the second Avengers movie yet but I suppose I’ll get to that and this at some stage. I’d be more excited if the films weren’t so generic and forgettable. Can’t anyone make decent, exciting action movies anymore?

Animal Crackers

This could be a mess, but at least it sounds more interesting than some, with Stallone, McKellen, Blunt, De Vito and others in the voice cast. It’s about a family who inherit a zoo and find magical animal crackers which turn you into whatever animal they depict. WTF.

The Guardians

French drama. No idea what it’s about, but the director has made some decent movies. Stars mother and daughter in Nathalie Baye and Laura Smet.

Life Of The Party

Starring and written by Melissa McCarthy, so we already know what this is going to be. Looks like a mainly female cast, fair enough. The Director has made a bunch of McCarthy movies, so expect more of the same.

Action Point

An action comedy about a theme park, starring Johnny Knoxville and Party Boy. The kicker is that it’s directed by Tim Kirkby who directed Look Around You – one of the best things in human history. Still, this is probably going to be crap, but you know I’ll be seeing it.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

I was all ready to destroy this based on the name alone, then I saw it was Richard Linklater who generally doesn’t make bad movies. Listen to the first part of the synopsis ‘Bernadette hates people, she hates leaving the house, and more than anything, she hates the other parents at her daughter’s school’. I am Bernadette. Good cast… highish hopes for this one.

Slender Man

I mean, I guess the character and story of Slender Man are creepy if you’re twelve years old and telling stories around the campfire. This follows a group of ‘teenagers’. Why not actually make the creature stalk kids – like no older than twelve, but make it a serious horror movie, or at least something like IT? Because then we couldn’t have bewbs, and bewb associates. Expect crappy jumpscares, though the director does have some pedigree.

Solo, A Star Wars Story

See, the problem I have with this is… I was always much more of a Luke fan, but A New Hope is essentially the start of Luke’s life – we don’t need anything more beyond that. Do we need a Leia origin story? Probably not. So we’re left with Han. I think we already know everything we need to about his character – charming rogue, gets into scrapes, hangs with Wookies. I’m not sure we need this. I’ll be first in line though.

Deadpool 2

I still haven’t seen the first one. I still can’t get around the fact that it’s Ryan Reynolds as he has been barely better than terrible in almost anything I’ve seen him in. But for all intents I should love the first Deadpool. You know the drill – I’ll get to it.

Ocean’s 8

I haven’t seen any of the bloke Ocean’s movies (aside from the 60s one) and I’ve never had any particular urge to do so. This one is presumably the same as those, but with women.

Breaking In

McTeigue is known more for his assistant work rather than his own directorial efforts right? Everything he’s worked on though has a clear, visual, cinematic flair. I wasn’t a fan of V For Vendetta and haven’t seen his other work as a director. This seems like a more down to earth affair – no ninja’s, or futures, or sci-fi stuff here, just a mother and her kids. I like home invasion type movies, but they never make me run out to the cinema. One more thing – this poster, like many many others (and trailers too) promotes the good old ‘from the Producer(s) of’. What does that even mean? I don’t give a damn about Producers. This is basically saying, for the less cine-literate, ‘remember that movie that made a bunch of money – we had nothing to do with its success but our name was attached so you might like this one too’. It’s the equivalent of sticking some lifeless supermodel into one of those horrible adverts for aftershave.

Tag

So, I guess I like the idea of this, but I know exactly how it will be executed, given the writer and cast. Still, could be good. On a personal note – I used to do this all the time when I was young. We would have games of tag which would spread out all over town and through the countryside. I even made it to Scarborough once, which is a different fecking country, so I already have this movie beat. And I was fourteen.

On Chesil Beach

So… directed by a CBE theatre dude, written by one of Britain’s most revered authors, and starring some of Britain’s most respected performers? I couldn’t be less interested though – I didn’t like Atonement and Ronan has a habit of appearing in starchy dramas that I can do without. It’s about a man, or a couple, looking back over their lives and separation and wondering ‘what if’. Fair enough, but not my thing.

Paved New World

This is a Disney, presumably non-animated, comedy. I have no idea because when I click on it in Wiki, it takes me to someone called ‘Tilky Jones’ who was in something called ‘Take 5’. In other words, I will never see this.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

The trailer for this seemingly saw saw negative reaction… though I’m not sure why. it has dinosaurs, and running away from dinosaurs, and…. what else do you need? It certainly had me more interested than ‘generic Marvel superhero mashup #15’. I don’t expect this to be as good as Jurassic World or of course Jurassic Park, but if there’s dinosaur action without the wanky wankiness of Part 3, then I’m all in.

Sicario 2

Sicario was great. We can’t hope that this will be in the same league, but with the cast and director, surely it can’t be awful.

Valley Girl

Unless this is about slaying vampires, I don’t think I’ll care. I see Marti Noxon is invovled, so maybe it will be! Ahhh right, it’s a(nother) remake, this time a cheesy Nic Cage movie. Why isn’t Nicolas Cage in this again? It can’t be much worse than anything else he’s doing these days. This is going to be a complete piss-take, right?

I Feel Pretty

Yeah? Well you look like shit. Someone’s going to say that line, or some synonym of it. Some woman bangs her head and believes she’s awesome. Methinks there are lot of people who have bumped their heads in the world.

Uncle Drew

A comedy about basketball or something. Plenty of basketball stars in the cast. Don’t care.

Incredibles 2

It was only last year, maybe the year before, that I saw the first Incredibles. I quite liked it, but I think it was the sheer pace and energy I appreciated rather than the humour or characters or story. I hear this is going to focus more on Jack Jack, who was my daughters’ favourite character. This will be one to stream.

Let us know in the comments which movies being released from April – June you’re looking forward to most!

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2018 In Film – A Preview – January – March

insidious-chapter-4-last-key.jpg

So, I never really do these preview posts. I tried doing the whole reviewing trailers things and I have a bunch of unpublished posts on those. Still, I thought I’d give this a try as I do always look forward to the new year’s movies and in the past I would send work emails around saying ‘Look, look at these movies coming out in a few months – it’s going to be EPIC’. As this could be a lengthy one (matron), I’m going to be as quick as possible (matron?) and give brief thoughts on every single film Wikipedia currently lists for a 2018 release and whether I think I’ll see it or not. Most of these entries I’ll be basing purely off the wiki entry, unless I happen to have some prior knowledge of the films (which will be unlikely in most cases).

Insidious: The Last Key

I loved the first film, the second I thought was just okay – it expanded the universe, but it became a little convoluted – the whole further stuff was the stuff I liked least in the original. You know, I don’t believe I’ve watched the third one yet, but I will, and I will get around to this eventually too. The trailer looks fine, and while I love Lin Shaye, this looks too much like it’s focusing on her character and the further, neither of which I’m too interested in. Hopefully this isn’t just a cash in, but with new director Adam Robitel (whose Deborah Logan I did like) this could be a dud.

The Strange Ones

I don’t know the Director (s) and I don’t care about the cast and wiki tells me nothing about this aside from it’s a drama – it seems unlikely I’ll see this.

Stratton

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be set in Northern Ireland, but it says it was filmed in Italy – two countries which couldn’t be more different in appearance. It also says this has already been released in the UK. Simon West can be hit and miss when it comes to action movies, but they’re generally entertaining – the cast here is okay, but no-one leaping out at me to give me the impetus to watch. I’ll see it at some point.

The Commuter

It’s Liam Neeson and Jaume Collet-Serra once again, so you know it’s going to be both great and terrible. These are always good for a laugh – my father in law went to school with Liam and they have a best friend in common (so I get to hear all the gossip) and it has become a New Year’s Eve tradition in my house to watch a Liam Neeson action movie so my father in law can comment on how ridiculous it all is. This has a great all round cast – Vera Farmiga can do no wrong and I like Patrick Wilson, Sam Neill, Banks, and McGovern. I’ll see this, though probably not until some New Year’s Eve in the future.

Proud Mary

This will probably be terrible, but it has the hallmarks of a future cult favourite with some Blaxploitation roots. I’ll see this if it gets good reviews, but that seems unlikely.

Freak Show

Some sort of teen balls and based off a book I haven’t read. I think the Young Adult bubble burst a few years ago, but they’re still churning them out. It has an interesting cast but I don’t think there’s anything here to make me watch. I should really check out the trailers for each of these or research a bit more… but what are you gonna do?

Humor Me

It’s Eliot Gould and one of those Concordes people from that show I didn’t watch. This reeks of hipster, so I’ll be avoiding it.

Vazante

A Brazilian period adventure about a cattle farmer? I think I’ll wait for reviews on this one.

Mary And The Witches Flower

You know I love the anime and this looks like an updated Kiki’s Delivery Service which I love, so you can bet I’ll see this at some point.

12 Strong

An epic war film set after 9/11 – this doesn’t have the sort of cast which screams out classy movie, but it nevertheless has Hemsworth, Pena, and the wonderful Michael Shannon. Again, I’ll wait for reviews, but don’t have high hopes.

Den Of Thieves

I don’t think there’s much more mileage in the heist movie to be fair, and the cast looks terrible. It’s Gudegast’s first movie as director, so things don’t look good.

The Leisure Seeker

A road movie about a runaway couple – fine, I usually enjoy road movies. Oh wait, it’s Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren as the couple, and they’re running away from their kids? Didn’t The Simpsons do this already? Doesn’t seem like something I’ll be seeing.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

I read an early proof of the first Maze Runner before it was released and touted it as the next big thing (though I thought it would suit a TV show rather than a movie). I haven’t read the other two books, I enjoyed the first movie, but haven’t seen the second. I’ll probably get to this at some point.

Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad

It’s a terrible name, firstly, and it’s not Dreamworks or Disney or Pixar. It does have a decent cast though. I’ll see it if my kids show interest.

Forever My Girl

First off, it’s called Forever My Girl. Secondly, it’s a romance. Thirdly, it’s based around Country music. Finally, I don’t care about the cast. If there was a ever a film I was never likely to see, this is it.

The Insult

I have no idea.

God Particle

It’s the next movie in the Cloverfield series, now they’ve decided to expand that universe. I loved the other two movies, so hopefully this will be good too. I know nothing of the director, but the cast seems good.

A Fantastic Woman

This has already been critically acclaimed, but sounds like something I’d never be interested in.

Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built

It’s another film with an awful name – why are there so many of these? Based on the life of Sarah Winchester who built that wacky house with wacky rooms and stairs, this a a Helen Mirren horror movie. As you don’t get too many of those, I’ll be giving this a shot, though I can’t imagine it’ll be very good.

Armed

An action movie starring and directed by Mario Van Peebles and also featuring a bunch of other familiar faces. This looks like straight to DVD/VOD so I’ll listen for reviews, but I tend to enjoy these for what they are.

The 15:17 to Paris

It’s directed by Clint, so yeah… maybe? However, this has flag waving wank squirted all over it so I hope it doesn’t go down that road. Interestingly, it stars the three guys who were involved in stopping the actual attack, so I guess that’s cool too. I’m not sure why you would ever want to revisit something like that, but fine. It’s rare I don’t have high hopes for a Clint movie, but this looks dubious. Again, terrible name.

Fifty Shades Freed

How many of these books were there? They are all unequivocally terrible and I have no interest in seeing any of the films. Boobies! Cocks! Soft core bumming! I’ll stick with Shannon Tweed, cheers.

Peter Rabbit

My neice and nephew love the show, but my girls aren’t interested. Neither am I. Is this based off the series or a separate entity going back to the book? No idea.

Permission

A romantic comedy, so I’m instantly out unless it has an interesting director or performer. Hall, Stevens, Gershon… fine, but again this looks like something I’ll never want to see.

Monster Family

It’s an animation with some people I like (Emily Watson, Nick Frost) and some I don’t (Catherine Tate). I’ve no idea what it’s about.

Black Panther

I’ve seen maybe… six Marvel movies so far? I don’t know, they’re all basically the same film over and over again, with a new goodie and a new baddie. They’re all fairly boring and generic too. I don’t know much about the character, but I have started watching (or planned to start watching) the MCU movies in order, so I’ll get to this one day.

Early Man

It’s an Aardman Animation, so I’ll see this at some point. I don’t love them like some people do, but they’re always enjoyable.

Loveless

Leviathan was great, this is Andrei Zvyagintsev’s follow up. It has already received acclaim at Cannes and I can see it getting an Academy nod. It doesn’t sound great on paper, but I’ll be giving it a go.

The Party

Another 2017 release, WTF Wikipedia. I haven’t seen it yet anyway. I’m usually not a fan of British film comedies, but this could be an effective political satire. I probably won’t see it, but we’ll see.

Nostalgia

It’s a great cast and I’ve liked some of the director’s previous work, but on the surface this sounds like standard naff indie fare.

Samson

A weird cast makes me think this is going to be a low budget streaming affair, which is strange given everyone’s love for bad Biblical epics – studios tend to throw millions at these things, even though they’re almost never good.

Game Night

This has a cool poster, but… what is it. Wikipedia says it’s an Action Comedy Crime Horror Mystery Thriller movie, so that narrows it down. At least it’s not a fucking musical. The cast is hit and miss for me – more miss than hit to be honest, and I’m not convinced by the writers and directors. If reviews are good I’ll give it a go.

Annihilation

Alex Garland, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh in a sci-fi action horror mess? Yes please. I haven’t read the book, but the trailer looks like a female only Predator mixed with some sort of inter-dimensional balls. I’ll give this a shot.

Every Day

It’s YA time again, but this one sounds particularly bad and none of the cast or crew interest me.

The War With Grandpa

How many films is De Niro going to make like this? Have any been good yet? I liked Grudge Match, but that was a little different. Great cast, but it sounds like Home Alone where the burglar is your own grandfather.

Hannah

It stars Charlotte Rampling… that’s all I know… but sometimes that’s all you need to know.

The Lodgers

A rural horror set in early 20th Century Ireland – so far, so interesting. They’ll lose me if they try to bring in politics, but this seems interesting and the director’s Let Us Prey was decent.

Red Sparrow

It’s not another Marvel movie, is it? Francis Lawrence directs… I hated Constantine, I Am Legend was fine but I have ill feelings towards it given it’s my favourite book of all time, and The Hunger Games movies are okay, but bloated. Jennifer Lawrence stars as a Russian Spy (because Russia doesn’t have any actresses?) who falls for a CIA guy. Decent cast, guessing this will be generic.

Pickings

Neo-noir? Yes please, and the fact that I know nothing of the cast or the director gives me hope this could be a new and original piece.

Death Wish

Eli Roth has never lived up to his potential. His movies tend to have good ideas but are each very flawed and usually fall away in their second half. The world is nicely set up for a new Death Wish but I’m not sure Eli Roth is the right man to takes things forwards. Based on what I’ve seen this doesn’t look or sound good, but we’ll see.

Foxtrot

An Israeli movie which shows the life an death of a soldier, generating some controversy about it possibly criticizing the military. Yeah, it’s not like their army hasn’t committed atrocities – just like every other army. Admit it, own it.

Alpha

This sounds interesting, a boy and a wolf roaming the wilderness is usually the sort of thing where you can let your imagination run wild and make for stunning cinematography. Easy to slip up here though.

Gnome Alone

Wasn’t there another (or other) Gnome animations recently? Is this related? Sounds like a straight to streaming movie.

A Wrinkle In Time

This will either be a beast, or a monstrous flop. I like the idea, even if it’s been done a hundred times, but the cast has me worried – no-one exciting here. Directed by Ava DuVernay, always good, and written by Jennifer Lee of Frozen fame, based off a book I haven’t read. I hope it’s good and I hope it’s successful, but I probably won’t see it for a while.

The Upside

Bryan Cranston is rich and crippled, and Kevin Hart is Kevin Hart. A buddy movie, a remake of a massive French success story, but I can’t see this being any good. There’s fodder for laughs, but seriously….

Gringo

A renowned stuntman turns director of this action comedy… potential to be good from someone who understands the business. Good cast too, but I know nothing else about it.

Thoroughbreds

There’s a likeable cast here, but I have no clue what this is about. From the name and the poster… something about rich white people being better than the rest of us, or slavery or sexy slavery?

The Hurricane Heist

Rob Cohen makes average action movies, generally a step above straight to DVD stuff, though some have been better that that. The budget for what appears to be a disaster movie is relatively small, which doesn’t inspire confidence, and the cast are okay but not A-Listers. Likely bad.

The Strangers: Prey At Night

I never saw The Strangers. Why would I when I’ve seen Ils? Don’t tell me The Strangers isn’t a remake, when it clearly is. The horror community does seem to like The Strangers so I’ll get to it at some point, this one has a new cast and director, so doesn’t sound like it will be any good.

Tomb Raider

I was never a fan of the games, the boobs, and I never saw the other two movies. All that being said it doesn’t seem like I’ll see this any time soon. By all accounts it looks like they’ll be taking a gritty approach.

I Can Only Imagine

A film based around the song of the same name, which is apparently the most played Christian song of all time – can’t say I’ve ever heard of it. It stars Dennis Quaid and Cloris Leachman – yes, she’s still alive. This will be bad.

Love, Simon

Another YA entry about a kid trying to balance his life as a gay kid, with school, friends, family etc. Some notable names, but nothing I’ll ever see.

Entebbe

Daniel Bruhl seems to be getting plenty of work in 2018 – good, as I’ve always liked him. This is a retelling of a hostage crisis by Jose Padilha, so is sure to have some authentic tense moments – could be good, but doesn’t leap out at me.

What They Had

Doesn’t sound like my sort of thing, but it does have a terrific cast so I may get around to this if it gets good reviews.

Untitled A24 Horror Movie

They haven’t gone wrong yet, so whatever this is, I’m down for it. And up for it.

Flower

The Fonze’s son directs another film – I haven’t seen his first. Based entirely on the poster and synopsis this screams indie and hipster, but once again I’ll wait for reviews.

Pacific Rim: Uprising

I haven’t seen the original, but given that Del Toro isn’t Director here I’ll assume this will be a step down. Then again, Steven DeKnight has worked on some good shows, including my beloved Buffy, and the cast is filled with likeable people, so we’ll see. Naturally, I need to watch the first one before I’ll see this.

Isle Of Dogs

Wes Anderson stop motion. I enjoyed Fantastic Mr Fox and this seems like it will be similar. I’m not as much of an Anderson fan as most people, but he hasn’t made anything I haven’t liked yet. As expected, there’s a great cast and the fact it is set in Japan increases my  interest.

Sherlock Gnomes

Wait a second… didn’t we already do this? So we have two animated gnome movies coming out this year. Apparently this one is a sequel, continuing our recurring theme I haven’t seen the first one. Despite the cast, I don’t see me getting to this any time soon.

Unsane

I was about to rip this one for having such a terrible name, but then I saw it was directed by Steven Soderbergh who tends to not make bad movies. It’s a horror movie with Amy Irving and Juno Temple too, so I’m curious about how this will go. The single line plot synopsis sounds like a hundred other horror thrillers – The Ward, Shutter Island etc, but I’m optimistic.

Final Portrait

I don’t believe I’ve seen any of Stanley Tucci’s other films as a director, but I’ve liked him as an actor. He’s written this one too, concerning a painter I’m not familiar with and his final work, taking on board an old critic friend to act as a model. On the surface it doesn’t sound like anything I’d be interested in, but there’s a lot of talent involved and room for interesting character study.

Midnight Sun

Well, this sounds terrible. It’s a romance involving some teen with a weird disease and the hipster things she gets up to. Bella Thorne seems to be in everything these days, but I don’t think I’ve actually seen her in anything, and Patrick Schwarzenegger needs to buff up those arms and get into the jungle for some Predator hunting before I’ll ever care about him. The director has made movies about kids and dancing. Also, there is a character called Katie Price. I will never see this.

Paul, Apostle Of Christ

This doesn’t have a page on Wikipedia, but there’s a fair amount of talent in the cast. I can’t be arsed going to IMDB to investigate further, but wasn’t Jim Caviezel killed off in his last outing to Biblical times, in rather violent scenes?

Ready Player One

It’s Spielberg, so you know you and I will both see it. The trailer looks buck nuts, but I don’t know anything about the source material. I’m happy to see Spielberg return to what appears to be fantasy/standard entertainment as he’s had a few films now based entirely in the real world.

Mary Magdalene

It’s yet another Biblical epic. How many of these do we need? Oh, I’m still waiting for a proper re-telling of the entire Troy saga – The Illiad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid. A trilogy for each. Someone, get on that. It’s Garth Davis and a terrific cast including Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix but it screams Oscar bait. Also, it’s Weinstein Oscar bait which was mysteriously pushed back from 2017 to 2018 in the midst of Harvey’s antics. This will release once that has all hushed down… by the way, don’t let that EVER hush down.

Tyler Perry’s Acrimony

I haven’t seen a single Tyler Perry thing. The fact that this has some Medusa creature on the poster and is listed as a psychological thriller may make this my first Tyler Perry thing.

Lean On Pete

Andrew Haigh seems to be have been sniffing on the door of great success for a while now – his previous films all critically acclaimed. This one looks set to be another critical success, but I can’t see it doing much business. Props to making films and subject matter which most people don’t go near, and doing it with dignity and respect – I have no doubt this will be great.

God’s Not Dead: A Light In The Darkness

What is this? There’s three of these things? And look how much money they made!? I assume 100% of the takings were in the US. I won’t be seeing this.

That’s January – March sorted. Next time I’ll look at April – June. Let us know in the comments which movies you’re looking forward too!

 

 

 

Ghosts Of Mars

*Originally written in 2004

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What is increasingly, and unfortunately looking like John Carpenter’s last feature film (2017 note to past self – not quite!) Ghosts of Mars is another genre-blending experiment typical of his illustrious career. Set in the distant future, Ghosts of Mars is a mix of sci-fi, action, horror, and western which follows a large group of people including prisoners and prison guards who must work together to overcome a deadly, massing foe, much like Rio Bravo and Assault on Precinct 13. There is a lack of trust between each character, minimal dialogue, a sense of claustrophobia, and the usual cliffhanger ending. Ghosts of Mars is a good film, much better than most critics and fans have said, yet inferior to Carpenter’s past classics. It does unfortunately suffer from some cheap looking sets and odd casting choices – perhaps if Kurt Russell had been here instead of Ice Cube it would have been a greater success, but this choice would have been too predictable and samey for Russell.

A group of Prison guards are sent to Mars to transport a dangerous criminal, Desolation Williams (Cube) from a remote mining community to a maximum security prison. When Commander Braddock (Pam Grier), Melanie Ballard (Henstridge) and her team arrive, they find the community ominously empty and quiet. As they look around, the sense that someone is watching them rises, and as the team splits we get their two different perspectives of events. Upon further investigation it seems that the inhabitants of the town have somehow been possessed and have become ultra-strong, vicious killers, ready to butcher any intruders. What soon becomes clear is that the survivors must work together to find a way out of the place alive, while not letting Desolation and his team get free. However, certain team members may also be possessed, and they are greatly outnumbered.

Even though everyone gives a good performance, Ice Cube has his critics and sometimes seems as if he is trying too hard to look as serious as possible. Many have spoken about the appearance of Mars, and the lack of logic behind the physics involved, but I’ll assume that as this is 200 years in the future technology will have magically changed. And that it is science fiction. Yes, the sets do not look like expensive buildings for millionaires, but this was the desired effect, a ghost town which has been worn down over the years which adds to the atmosphere of isolation. Perhaps there are too many characters, the dialogue is not as strong as in other films, the score will put some off and it is not as memorable as others. It is quite gory though, with some good effects when blood and death is involved, and there is plenty of action.

Although we can probably predict some of the survivors, there is enough intrigue to make us wonder who will be next to die, or turn. The direction is sound, and the split perspective at the start is a good idea. Henstridge is strong, Statham gives probably the best performance – one reminiscent of past Carpenter hits – Clea Duvall is also good, and Grier is fine in a short-lived part. Most fans expect greatness from Carpenter, and something fresh – this is something he has done all his career so it is hardly surprising when he just makes a fun movie which doesn’t try to be serious, and when there is not much originality. The B-movie feel will likely alienate many people, the characters and plot have been seen before, but for gory action this is sure to please, as long as you are not expecting a masterpiece.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Ghosts Of Mars!

300: Rise Of An Empire

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Right, so, I liked the original – it looked all stylish and fancy, there was uber-violence, shouting, muscle men and hot women, and a basic plot which allowed the action to run riot. The battle of Thermopylae is one I had always been interested in at an early age, and continued to learn about as I studied Latin in school and Classics at University. This entirely unnecessary sequel is a mess, leaping about in time without warning, introducing new characters and battles which are not as interesting as those in the first movie, and there is a heavy focus on the visuals which are no longer as attention grabbing as they were first time round. It probably made a bunch of money though, right?

Lets start with the positives – there’s a decent cast with Lena Heady, David Wenham and others reprising their roles from the original and Jack O’Connell and Eva Green joining in. O’Connell is a great actor but doesn’t have a lot to do while Eva Green relishes the role, throwing her all into it and coming over as both impressive as hammy. There is plenty of action in the film, bone-crushing fights, swordplay, naval warfare…. and that’s about it really. Even on the positive points we have negatives – Sullivan Stapleton is a good actor but seems too wooden here, like a beardless Gerard Butler with less SHOUTING, while the fighting and gore is all very samey and gets boring quickly. Every fight is disappointingly repetitive, with the same slow-down and zoom-in technique to show yet another blade slashing through flesh and CG blood bubbling towards the camera. The naval scenes aren’t as epic as they need to be – scenes like this only work if they are massive in scope and you can see what is happening, but here everything is too small, too dark, and there’s only so many times you can watch a naked guy fisting a man in a helmet before it gets silly (usually between 1-2 times). The original managed to avoid being boring by offering something different with each battle sequence, almost like a beat-em-up videogame – each enemy required a new tactic or had some new type of weapon to cope with. Here it is just wave after wave of faceless nobodies with Eva Green shrieking in the background.

The plot is basically the same as the first movie, with Greece facing the onslaught of a massive Persian Army – on one front Gerard Butler’s 300 defended Sparta, while here Thermistocles defends the beaches. Eva Green is the face of the enemy this time around, a Greek defector with a brief backstory who is the true tactician and ruler of the Persian advance rather than Xerxes. There is an interesting conflict going on at various points, with Green’s Artemisia simply looking for a worthy adversary or someone to help her conquer the world. The film takes place both before, during, and after the events of the first film but fails to make the necessary connections between what is happening elsewhere and why any of it actually matters. The story doesn’t matter, it’s just an excuse for shouting and fighting, and you’d get as much sense by hanging around outside a city club at 1.30 am and watching the drunks fight. It’s all so stupid, pointlessly masculine, but without anything that made the original… what’s that word….. fun! There are much better movies out there which look better, with better fights, stunts, action, so there isn’t really any point in spending any time or money on this unless you’re a die-hard Eva Green fan.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of 300: Rise Of An Empire. Was I too harsh? Did anyone like it?

Ju On – White Ghost

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It has been quite some time since I first watched The Grudge and loved every second of it. Since then I watched the original Japanese TV movies (which The Grudge is a sequel of even though it seems like a remake) and the director Takashi Shimizu’s own US remake. I haven’t actually watched the US The Grudge 2 (also directed by Shimizu) and US The Grudge 3 (not Shimizu) partly due to bad reviews and partly due to Part 3 sounding like a straight to video mess. And of course partly because I was burned out on J Horror by that time. Black Ghost and White Ghost had been popping up on my Amazon Prime Viewer for quite some time but I’d avoided them as they sounded like even worse straight to video cash ins, but I finally relented and gave them a shot. Made to honour the 10th Anniversary of the series, these are two stories which deviate from the main plot of the main series, but are they any good!?

White Ghost, like it’s partner and predecessors has a labyrinthine plot which unravels in a deliberately non-linear fashion – events at the start of the film may happen weeks or months after events shown at the end, and vice versa, and more than that there appear to be certain elements which transcend time – echos of events which have not yet occurred. The story follows a group of characters who come into contact with a curse – a man murders his family, an old friend investigates, and several randomers are drawn into the pit. As I said in my review for Black Ghost, it is definitely worth watching each movie twice to appreciate the finer points and attempt to bring together a timeline in your head. Ironically, I fond this plot even more dense than Black Ghost but it appears to be handled more professionally. There is a lot of leaping about from time to time to character to place and back again, but it is engrossing.

There is some fairly dark stuff at work here – the murders and the curse of course, but an unsettling lump of incest, pedophilia, and suicide, none of which are shied away from. It’s unusual for a film in the Ju On universe to dwell much on the events which kicked everything off – mostly it’s shown in brief flashbacks, but here we are front row witnesses to the slaughter. This one is less atmospheric than Black Ghost, but still has plenty of tension and has more jump scares. The actual character of the White Ghost is not on par with Kayako, but her appearances rarely fail to scare to the point that you are dreading her next pop up. A few of these moments don’t quite work, and end up being almost funny, but for the most part the scares are particularly effective. That strange shimmering effect I mentioned in the other review is present here too. Again the performances are good, the soundtrack works well, and there is a grimy worn out look to proceedings. I watched Black Ghost first, but the stories don’t link together in any way so feel free to pick whichever you wish. BG has the atmosphere, WG has the bulk of the scares, but both are well worth a go for J-Horror fans.

So, who would I recommend this to? Grudge fans obviously, first and foremost. This doesn’t fill in any gaps from the main series or provide any resolution, rather it seems to be a similar story set in the same universe. There isn’t enough time to form much attachment to the characters, the plot is convoluted and non-linear, and the scares don’t offer anything new. With all that said, I enjoyed it, I was a little scared in places, and the idea still intrigues me as much as the execution. You won’t lose much by sacrificing an hour – so if you find this on streaming, give it a shot.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of White Ghost and how it compares to Black Ghost and the other movies in The Grudge franchise.

The Secret Life Of Pets

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The first full cinema experience for my kids (barring Peppa Pig And The Golden Boots), The Secret Life Of Pets is one movie my girls (and me) were busting to see having enjoyed the various trailers. This was Illumination Entertainment’s first truly successful move away from the Despicable Me franchise and features all of the zany humour and intelligent insight you would expect. It goes without saying that the film will be just as entertaining for adults as it is for kids – the animated movie genre has come full circle in the early 21st Century for providing cinematic treats for all the family.

The Secret Life Of Pets begins with a series of vignettes based in a typical New York apartment block. Anyone who has ever owned an animal should get a lot of chuckles from these scenes as the behaviour and characteristics of the animals will be very familiar. We focus on little domesticated dog Max, whose life is spent watching the door for his owner Katie to come home. He, like all the pets, wonder what the humans get up to when the leave but his world is shaken up when Kate comes home with a new, much larger dog – Duke. The two do not get along and begin to conspire against one another leading to an intervention by the guys from the Dog Pound…

The film received a fair amount of criticism saying the story and characters were thinly veiled versions of Woody and Buzz from Toy Story. While not entirely untrue, the same can be said for a hell of a lot of other movies and Toy Story took its fair share of ideas from what had come before – it seems a little disingenuous to make such comments about the film when there is so much to enjoy. There is a wide roster of characters and animals, from the skyscraper roof dwelling hawk who would just as soon eat the pets as help them, to the tough street cats who despise the pets for living in domestic bliss. Taking that one step further are the Flushed Pets – the unwanted, lost, or forgotten animals of NYC who live in the sewers (yes, there is a Crocodile). Led by Kevin Hart’s Snowball, a crazed rabbit who wants revenge on all humans, they spend most of the movie chasing down Max and Co who accidentally killed one of their group.

As with any animated movie these days, a key draw and component in its success is the voice cast. It feels a little strange then that this isn’t exactly filled with recognizable A List talent. The cast is good, and they are talented, but most of the performers are not household names. As mentioned, Kevin Hart lends his talents, and he is joined by Steve Coogan, Louis CK, Albert Brooks, Dana Carvey, and then a bunch of sitcom actors I don’t really know. Luckily this won’t matter to anyone but the most obtuse viewer and the youngsters certainly won’t care. The voices are distinct and build each character to match the personality shown via the animation and story – lazy, boisterous, decrepit etc. The performers deliver their lines, whether subtle quips, energetic wails, or general dialogue with vivre and as with all these movies they sound like they enjoyed themselves making it.

The Secret Life Of Pets should be a fun movie for kids of all ages and rewarding for adults too, especially pet owners. It may not be as immediately wacky or laugh out loud funny as some, and it may not have the emotional depth of others, but it is still a lot of fun while offering some insightful crumbs on the little beasties we allow into your homes and love. Let us know in the comments what you thought of the movie and how it ranks alongside other recent efforts!

Room

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Room seemed like a fantastic idea for a movie and story when I first heard about it – it was sort of topical, given the sort of recent true events which it shares similarities with, the single setting was intriguing from a cinematic and plot perspective, and it began getting rave reviews from everyone before picking up a bunch of Oscar wins and nominations. Unlike a lot of recent obvious Oscar movies, this was one that applied to me immediately.

Room follows the lives of Joy (Brie Larson) and Jack (Jacob Tremblay), a mother and son who live in ‘Room’ – held captive by an abusive man. In the early stages of the film we are given little explanation or history to their predicament but it is soon revealed that Joy has been there for years after being kidnapped; Jack was conceived, born, and raised there as the product of rape – he has never been outside of these four walls and knows nothing of the outside world. Over the course of film we see the world though both sets of eyes, one of fear and one of wonder, and how these viewpoints change and narrow and adapt when circumstances change. Spoilers will follow.

It is surprisingly early in the movie that Joy and Jack escape from ‘Room’. I was expecting protracted scenes of attempted escape where tension builds alongside hope, only for the latter to be dashed. In reality the story is split in two rough halves – in and out. On the outside, we see how the two cope with either reuniting with family or meeting them for the first time. We see how it is a struggle for everyone impacted – an honest and accurate depiction of how such events can ripple out and affect so many people in a destructive way. In many ways the outside world seems cruel, with Joy and Jack completely displaced from time and reality. There is a media frenzy surrounding the story, and the quest for ratings seems as cold and uncaring as a kidnapper. It is Jack who adapts to the new world more readily after a cautious and frightened start, while the joy of freedom soon becomes a dizzying puzzle for Joy.

And yet, it isn’t perfect. There are things I didn’t like about Room – but possibly the best thing I can say about it is that I can’t recall clearly what those things are now, a few months after having watched it. I don’t feel like the William H Macy scenes were handled well, leaving me cold and disinterested, and I didn’t find it nearly as emotionally powerful as I was expecting it to be; The highs never feel exuberant and the lows never feel too bleak. The script is merely serviceable and I can’t imagine the film would have been significantly better or worse in the hands of a greater or lesser director. As it stands, the film is so strong because of the lead performances and because of the story – the cruelty of the situation – holds a morbid and curious interest throughout, while the leads are never less than stunning, pulling the empathy and emotion where the script is lacking. Whether the film retains its acclaim years from now will be seen, but the performances will always be heralded.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Room? Did it deserve the accolades it received and will it still be as potent in five or ten years time, or is it merely a Hallmark TV movie dressed in fancier clothes?