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Forum - General: Movies related - Movies by KingBandicoot

Having recently acquired a job at a cinema, I get to see some cheap movies and have been able to do so a bit over the past few days.

Liking to review music on this website, I thought I'd take on the position of Chief Movie Reviewer of australian-charts.com under a Movie related thread. This will in no way overtake my music reviews, which still remain my top priority as this is a music website.

I hope to be reviewing a fair few movies. I'm not sure how long this will last, it will basically depend on how long I keep my job at the cinema for, how busy I am with my studies later in the year or how long I'll be interested in doing it for.

Also, as the cinema only really shows the big mainstream movies, those are the movies I'll being reviewing more often.

Another point that should be made is that the reviews may occur inconsistently and spoilers may be given away in my detailing of the plot (most reviewers I read give away plot points in their reviews anyway), despite my best efforts for neither to be a serious issue.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my upcoming movie reviews, and maybe even use them as a guide for the next time you go to the movies to see something.

First review coming soon...
Though I've no intent to disrupt your thread, did you know that you can review movies all the same on the hitparade site? http://hitparade.ch/cinema_overview.asp You could perhaps stick them there also if you wanted to
Yeah, I've posted reviews on the hitparade website for movies such as "The Devil Inside" (http://hitparade.ch/showmovie.asp?title=The+Devil+Inside) and "Flight" (http://hitparade.ch/showmovie.asp?title=Flight). These reviews (two of which I've already pre-written) are longer than those reviews, but I'll also post those reviews on those pages as well.

Meanwhile, the link you pasted didn't work for me, saying the page "cannot be found". I'll check it later, and see what's there and post my reviews there as well.
Also, any questions on any of the movies I've watched or discussion about the movie can take place on this thread as well.
The Wolf of Wall Street (R18+)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie

This outrageous, lewd biopic is already the must see of the year. And given the quality of personnel behind it, this is hardly a surprise. Director Martin Scorsese and lead Leonardo DiCaprio are known for their infectious cinematic delivery, and there is bucket loads of dynamism to be reaped from the combo in this lascivious flick.

Based on a real-life story, we delve into the life of “the Wolf of Wall Street” himself Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), and his myriad escapades. Looking to build a career as a stockbroker, and seemingly happily married to then wife Teresa (Cristin Milioti), he breaks into Wall Street at a fairly young age, where he’s then introduced to the hectic environment, laden with extreme profanity, frequent drug consumption and sexual promiscuity, which he’d soon have to accustom himself to. Though short in the context of the movie, Mark Hanna’s (Matthew McConaughey) cameo is something to behold, and delivers many laughs. It’s also here we are given an insight into Belfort’s views of extreme wealth at the innocent stages of his career. “He earns over a million dollars a year… What a jerk off he must be” Belfort recalls of Hanna, but little does he know that he’ll become the bigger “jerk off” himself in the next few years.

With stockbrokers not being in high demand after Black Monday of 1987 (Belfort’s first day as a professional on Wall Street by the way), Belfort revolutionises his lifestyle from being on the brink of debt (“don’t sell it… Remember what I said? I’m going to be a millionaire”), to working for a small stockbroker firm where his persuasive techniques to sell low value stocks to blue collar slobs for a 50% commission is able to earn him instant cash. So much cash, that furniture salesman Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) is willing to quit his job and work for Belfort upon witnessing Belfort’s $72,000 pay-check. And once Belfort accepts some drugs as a gift from Azoff for securing him a job, he’s pushed past the threshold of no return as a profligate hooligan.

It’s from here that Belfort spearheads brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont, and all echelons of society are within their sights. From plundering through the personal savings of the witless lower classes, to pulling major scalps from the informed upper classes who should know better, all with equal disdain, seemingly as a way to justify his illegitimate behaviour, the firm’s motto is to get the cash in their pocket by whatever means necessary to fuel the hedonistic lifestyle they’ve created for themselves. Trust me when I say this, there is no shortage of debauchery, from the relatively humble act of shaving a female worker’s head, to stockbrokers fornicating with prostitutes and companions in the workplace.

I’ll leave the rest for you to discover for yourself once you see the movie for yourself, but the rest mostly chronicles Belfort’s infidelities and vicissitudes with both wives, including Naomi Lapaglia (Margot Robbie, an Australian who held up strongly in her scenes and is sure to gain many more roles branching off of this), his severe abuse of highly concentrated drugs, and his efforts to stave off FBI agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) as Denham looks to crack down on Belfort’s illegal trade as Belfort tries to move his riches into a Swiss bank account via Jean Jacques Saurel (Jean Dujardin).

Though this mostly sounds like serious dramatic material, Scorsese and screenwriter Terence Winter managed to pull off their greatest trick by interpreting it as dark comedic material. This may indeed be one of the most raucously mirthful affairs of recent times, despite the content. To take one of the movie’s highlights as example of this, Belfort tries to get into his car from a country club after being severely impacted by “Lemmon” Quaaludes, going through the “cerebral palsy” stage as he coins it. In any dramatic flick, this could be filmed as a depressing moment, but Scorsese manages to pull off the moment with comedic aplomb. This is one of the film’s countless hysterical moments.

However, this is where it’s one drawback may be. The movie doesn’t capture the full tragedy experienced by Belfort’s family and the families he ripped off, of which there were aplenty. Whatever drama there may be is mainly experienced in the last half-hour or so. Also, despite the immoral actions of Belfort and his cronies (of which he becomes admired as a God-like figure), no breakthrough of conscience happens where they realise the wrongness of their actions. Though, this may not necessarily be a big problem anyway as it could be interpreted in the following ways:
1. By showing they don’t have a conscience, it hinders the viewer from being able to make a personal connection with the scammer/stockbroker, meaning their behaviour isn’t seen as being justified
2. It also shows what the rigours of Wall Street had on their ability to interact as a perfectly justified and decent human being
Basically, if a discussion arose, and someone said they felt sorry for one of the main characters, despite malicious acts such as Azoff’s ingestion of a worker’s pet, or all of the worker’s consistent degradation of prostitutes, or the impact of taking drugs or infidelity on the families’ lives, they’d be jeered out of the room in an instant.

As one final sidenote, its R18+ rating must be considered. The sex scenes and drug use are multiple notches above your average film, and may be too extreme for some. As a matter of fact, an elderly couple exited my screening relatively early as it was a bit too confronting for them. But after all it is Martin Scorsese. Though this movie isn’t exactly Hugo (which in itself was a spectacular movie experience), you only need to look through his older films to know that he’s a man that likes to push boundaries and even offend people at times. If you’re not ready to put up with that, than this may not be your cup of tea.

The level of acting must also be mentioned as well. DiCaprio is captivating as Belfort, and deserving of his Oscar nomination, but given his competition, isn’t in pole position to win Best Actor. The rest of the cast is solid as well, including Margot Robbie and Belfort’s mates (Hill’s performance probably isn’t worthy of the Oscar though). It’s unlikely we’ll see this walk away with any golden statues though, despite it deserving to. Let me just say that the controversy surrounding this film hasn’t helped its case in Hollywood.

But overall, this is a movie that deserves the cinematic experience. Clocking in at approximately three hours, there is no shortage of humour, debauchery and outright entertainment. Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5
Ah forgive my ignorance then! But yeah the link isn't working for me either, but it doesn't matter, I was just finding the most 'film-related' page on there to link, rather than just the homepage which has the search function lol.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (M)

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Starring: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner

This lacklustre effort isn’t the action film you’ve been hoping for.

The acting is wooden, the plot at times clunky, and also suffers from the odd continuity.

Based on a series of Tom Clancy novels, our hero (if you side with the United States) Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) wakes up on a London bench, soon to discover the decimation of the Twin Towers’ of his home country. As retaliation, Ryan and his CIA mates plan attack in Afghanistan eighteen months later, but not before their chopper is blown up, and leaving them all within an inch of their lives, and in Ryan’s case, within ninety minutes of not being able to walk again.

We’re then taken to his recovery, which doctor Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley) overlooks. But simultaneously, Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) is inconspicuously trying to scout Ryan, knowing his CIA history, and his financial insight as somebody who quit in the inchoate stages of a financial doctorate.

With Harper later taking the idea to Ryan, Ryan accepts his mission, and before we know it, the audience is shifted ten years into the future, where we must assume his doctorate is completed. May I say that in this time, Ryan does not seem to have aged at all, and has somehow generated a relationship with Muller (which wasn’t very well explained), despite an obvious lack of chemistry.

Working undercover on Wall Street for the CIA, Ryan is later destined to take on the stereotyped Russian mastermind villain Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh), so stereotyped to the point where two of his main three interests are labelled as vodka and women. I bet you haven’t heard of that one before.

As someone so anti-American, and jingoistic about Russia, Cherevin’s aims are to deliver economic and physical warfare upon the United States, and send them into a depression reminiscent to the Great Depression of the 1930’s/1940’s.

Though thinking of itself as an inventive and intelligent action thriller, the action rarely fails to raise the pulse rate, or speed up your cognitive processes.

To add insult to injury, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit suffers from the odd cringe-worthy moment. For example, take when Muller confronts Ryan in Moscow about whether he’s cheating on her, but is then relieved to find out he’s only in the CIA (as the audience knew this, this isn’t a spoiler). Mix this with some of the odd moments in the closing stages of the movie, and the movie’s blunders become prominent.

Another criticism lies within a subplot of Ryan’s relationship with Muller. Other than the fact that they don’t seem to show any sincere affection for one another, the movie keeps rebounding to this side-story of their relationship troubles. Harper says in the earlier stages of the movie “this isn’t couple’s therapy”, and honestly, I wish the movie took its own advice.

If there is one main positive to take out, it would be the sheer beauty of the places the protagonists visit. Whether it is the concrete jungle that is New York City, the eccentricities of Saint Basil’s Cathedral amongst the rest of Moscow, or mmm-hmm Dearborn, Michigan, there isn’t a shortage of picturesque exquisiteness to be viewed. However, some of the camera shots Branagh (being both director and villain) chooses to use, which at times can be shaky and blur across the screen, blocks full enjoyment of the view.

That’s what this movie is in the end. A movie which could have been good, yet always manages to screw up.

Rating: 2/5
These are the two movies I've seen so far this year. I'll add more reviews after I've watched more movies.
If you don't mind (because this helps me a lot, and even though you mention it in your opening sentences) could you please mention what genre the movie is whenever you do one of these? Thanks!
Yeah, I'll do that from now on.

For these two, the genres are:

The Wolf of Wall Street - Comedy/Biopic/Drama(not until the end)

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - Action/Thriller
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Inside Llewyn Davis (M)

Director: Ethan & Joel Coen

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman

Genre: Drama/Music

Entering the psyche of a musician is a tough job, let alone that of a poor, down-on-his-luck musician. Enter Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac).

Back in 1961 when only the best of the best made the big time, Davis always had the talent, but never quite had the potential to crack the top sector of the music industry.

It’s also fair to say that the pay wasn’t exactly keeping Davis’s life buoyant either. The life of a folk musician was getting you by by about as much as a job scrubbing floors at the local McDonald’s. “This is how I pay the rent” Davis exclaims as he’s requested to play a song, but as he doesn’t have a house to call his own, or even steady accommodation, there really isn’t any rent for him to pay.

Davis basically has to shuffle from house to house to live, whilst also having a knack to continually piss off others and have the worst happen to him. Whether it is losing the cat of college professor Mitch Gorfein (Ethan Phillips) (whose house he also occasionally stays at), getting beaten up in back alleyways or knocking up his best friend’s girlfriend Jean (Carey Mulligan), Davis has an unenviable streak.

And this isn’t a time where being mean was going to give you a position of supremacy over others. No, his actions without fail alienated those around him, leaving Davis to chase his own destiny and hopes as a music star on his own, making his position twice as tough.

During a time when everyone were doing the rounds at the pubs in the dream of cracking the big time, here Davis was performing at the Gaslight Café, but with little success. Struggling to find a place to live, failing to pay off his many personal and financial debts and being signed to a record label whose main offices would look no different to your local accountant’s.

Things start to look up with a few opportunities coming in his direction, but he always remains on the outer with some, such as Jean and his mother. And whenever his music has a chance to flourish, Davis always makes a detrimental mistake, such as dissing the lyrics of a song written by his friend Jim (Justin Timberlake), or not receiving royalties from a song he co-created.

Always knowing there’s something more, Davis, with what little resources he has at his disposable, makes a trip from New York to Chicago, knowing it’s make-or-break for him at really becoming an authentic musician which people will come to know and love. Also making this trip with him are Johnny Five (Garrett Hedlund) and Roland Turner (John Goodman), the latter making a couple of scene-stealing moments in typical fashion.

Will he make it? That’s up to Bud Grossman (F. Murray Abraham) to decide, but knowing Davis’s fortunes, I think you already know the answer.

It can be quite a sad tale chronicling this story. The man is good and he knows it, yet continually degrades those wanting to do the same as him for the sake of progressing his own career. Most see his behaviour as vehement snobbery, but what they don’t know is that his livelihood depends on it. This man was perennially misunderstood.

His music tells a tale on its own. Whether it’s the “noose around his neck” or being “let go”, the music represents the fable of his misfortune. The melody is strong, and the passion he puts into his work shows the belief he has when the belief of others had been sucked into a bottomless abyss. His constant resistance to giving up the folk music when the universe keeps telling him to do the opposite can be relatable to all.

The movie itself may have a tendency to taper out a little after the first half hour, but the progression of Davis’s character and an intriguing and well-constructed ending well make up for the fleeting vapid moment.

The struggle to do what you want to do, and live the way that you want to live, while not making ends meet poses a problem to some. And while Davis is not willing to adapt his music and personal artistic integrity to truly make it in the business, the movie asks what you would be willing to do. Would you make sacrifices that would personally shake you but make you successful, or would you continue to try methods already undertaken to no avail in the hope they’ll one day breakthrough?

In all, this manages to stave off a three-and-a-half-star rating and clinch four stars with some quality music, the solid tone set, and the sterling acting performances, but none more so than Oscar Isaac, who, personally, was unlucky to not receive a Best Actor nomination for the Oscars.

Rating: 4/5
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Free Birds (G)

Director: Jimmy Hayward

Starring: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler

Genre: Animation/Children

Since the creation of the first Toy Story movie, we’ve been living in the golden age of animation films. Free Birds though doesn’t quite hit the mark however.

I’m not saying it’s bad, but based on the film’s premise, it was never going to become an animation classic.

Rather than giving it a critical savaging like many reviews I’ve read, I’m going to deliver this movie to you straight as it is, which is just as an innocuous children’s film.

A turkey by the name of Reggie (voiced by Owen Wilson) is living on a farm surrounded by slow, dim-witted turkeys, a result of the dumbing down of the species over multiple epochs. They think the farmers love them, but they’re only being led down the inevitable road to decapitation in the abattoir.

Reggie however earns a reprieve from the slaughter once he’s whisked off by the daughter of the President of the United States. And that’s not even to be cooked for Thanksgiving dinner, but rather just being kept as their domestic pet.

He’s living the life. Free pizza and television all day gets Reggie in a rut to which he nestles himself quite easily.

But, there’s always someone there to ruin the fun, and here it is simple-minded turkey Jake (voiced by Woody Harrelson). As a member of the TFF, Jake abducts and recruits Reggie to his organisation.

Jake’s mission is to take Reggie and himself back in time, using Reggie’s insider knowledge as an inmate of the White House, to take turkey off the Thanksgiving menu once and for all.

Also playing key roles in the film are Jenny (voiced by Amy Poehler) as a love interest to Reggie, Ranger (voiced by Jimmy Hayward) as the alpha male that Jake would come to contest with, and Myles Standish (voiced by Colm Meaney), the man hunting turkeys for the first Thanksgiving.

It is in the Jake-Ranger personality clash where the more cringe-worthy moments of the film lie. Repeated moments of both battling to show off their virility to their tribe become jarring, especially amongst an older audience.

On top of that, the tendency for the film to swivel the plot on sheer simplicity, with nonsensical, unexplainable logic can fuddle up the movie a little. But, it is a children’s movie I guess.

Also as a children’s movie, this is more pertinent to the American audience, obviously due to the presence of Thanksgiving. There are a few references of American background which wouldn’t translate so well to children here in Australia.

The benefits to be taken here though are that it is relatively fast-paced. Once Reggie is sped off on the Presidential Chopper, the movie doesn’t dwell too long on many specific moments, a positive for squirming children.

Furthermore, the voiceover acting is some of the most enthusiastic I’ve heard in a while, translating over to the audience with ease, yet also has sly, but inconsistent moments of humour.

I assert to you that this is definitely a movie for children only. If you need to take your children to something though, Frozen’s probably a better option. I haven’t watched it myself. I’ve just heard good things.

Rating: 2.5/5
Saving Mr. Banks (PG)

Director: John Lee Hancock

Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell

Genre: Biography/Drama/Comedy

There is something we all hold true and close. In the case of P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), it was her creation of Mary Poppins.

And when somebody wants to take that away from you, shock and stubbornness ensues to help you retain the grip of that memory.

After twenty years of Walt Disney’s (Tom Hanks) requests to Travers to create a Mary Poppins film, and after several knockbacks, Travers very reluctantly agrees to fly over from her home in London to meet Walt Disney and his crew in Los Angeles.

However, nothing has been agreed upon yet. Oh no, Travers is not going to hand over any rights of the story unless the film is made her way right to a tee. You see, Travers is not open to Disney’s idea of turning Poppins into a frolicking, gallivanting woman, or having any of her characters moulded in the hands of the overbearing Hollywood.

She’s very much uptight and dogged on it, as she seems to be about everything in her life. Not even fellow script and music writers Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) and Robert (B.J. Novak) and Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman) can gain any leeway in changing the script to the way she wants it. No animation, no silly made-up words and not even having the colour red in the movie are upon Travers’s list of strict rules for the movies, quickly denigrating DaGradi’s and both Sherman’s patience with her (some of the glances shared between these characters during Travers’s demands are gold).

But Disney isn’t going to back down on the issue. If Travers wants it one way, then that’s the way it will be. After all, Disney has been chasing down Travers for two decades, and still has a promise to his daughters to make a Mary Poppins movie to uphold. It would also continue to help Disney’s movie cannon as well.

Yet, Travers still doesn’t give in. Always curious to the motives of Walt Disney, and the way her cherished characters will be treated keeps Travers holding tight.

This all takes place while the story of a young Travers in Queensland in the early 1900’s is weaved throughout. With a flashback always coming up when background to the 1960’s scenes require it, the young Travers known as Ginty (Anna Rose Buckley) moves across Queensland with parents Travers Goff (Colin Farrell), of which P.L. Travers will later take her name, and Margaret Goff (Ruth Wilson).

It is in the earlier stages of the movie, approximately the first forty or so minutes, where the on-screen charisma of Farrell’s acting, along with the comedy during the 1960’s scenes, are a delight to view.

But as the fortunes of Ginty turn, so does the tone of the movie. With the start of the movie mostly being comedy, it transforms into a melodramatic drama of sorts, with themes especially dark for a family movie (just a head’s up, there’s issues of alcohol abuse, death-causing illness and even an attempted suicide). Though these scenes are required as they play an integral part to the story, they can be the hardest scenes to endure.

However, once it overcomes this period, and finishes off with a fulfilling ending, it merges to create a charming, whimsical whole.

Of course, there are those characters which come to play a significant role in shaping the protagonist’s behaviour. This honour would have to be given to Travers’s chauffeur Ralph (Paul Giamatti). The relationship Travers shows with Ralph over the entirety of the movie would have to be the one of the relationships which most crucially develops, finishing off in a mutual respect.

Tom Hanks’s portrayal of Disney must be questioned however. As this is a Disney movie, it must be pondered as to whether Disney was expressed too positively, and whether a sizable amount of the truth has been disposed of or glossed over to ensure his benevolent image isn’t tarnished.

Travers was told to make sure she doesn’t lose her imagination, which ended up being a goldmine, setting up her life. But what this movie really poses is whether we should keep our imagination cooped up and steadfast, or unleash it for others to enjoy, but then risk losing its original meaning to personal interpretations.

Rating: 3.5/5
I liked Saving Mr. Banks alot, definitely looking forward to seeing inside llewyn davis and 12 years a slave, thanks for those reviews.
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Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (MA15+)

Director: Christopher Landon

Starring: Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh

Genre: Horror/Thriller

To start off, may I say that I’ve never seen any of the prior movies in the Paranormal Activity franchise.

But, in all honesty, you don’t even need any background to comprehend this tedious pile of rubbish.

Following the story of best friends Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and Hector (Jorge Diaz), fresh from finishing high school, Jesse even being the school’s highest achiever, we’re taken to Oxnard, California (seemingly the Latino capital of California), where our stars live in a tight-knit domicile.

For the first twenty to thirty minutes, nothing particularly interesting happens, and you wonder whether anything is going to happen at all. Some drugs are smoked, somebody goes down a flight of stairs in a box, somebody draws a dick on someone else’s face. It really is slightly out-of-the-normal activity, rather than paranormal activity so far.

Then something finally happens. A mysterious woman that had been occupying one of the rooms in the domicile is murdered, and a series of odd events start occurring. I’m making this sound more engaging than it actually is, but it definitely is a step-up from a boring, inert start.

Jesse realises he has the ability to do things he previously wasn’t able to do, and that nobody is able to do. This includes enviable behaviour such as leaning back at an acute angle without toppling over, or blowing up air mattresses in seconds.

Where did this come from you ask? Well, it turns out that Jesse’s mother, who died when giving birth to Jesse, got caught up in some voodoo witchcraft in her time, signed over Jesse, her first-born, to a coven, whose powers would be activated when he’s fully matured, which happens to be now. He is one of many “marked ones”. After all, if he’s eighteen years old, he must be fully matured right?

Mix this in with a friend named Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh), who stupidly continually jeopardises her own safety to help Jesse when she should probably let the issue go, some of Jesse’s inexplicable actions despite being a “valedictorian” and a children’s toy which can buzz responses to questions asked by Jesse and his mates (which is usually replied to with a “shit” or “holy shit” after the buzzing occurs), and you’ve got the perfect mix of inanity.

Maybe you’ve think I’ve overestimated what to expect from this, but even for horror movies, which can hinge upon the most tenuous of plots, this is ridiculously awful. Perhaps this movie is only for the die-hards that love the franchise. Or rather perhaps to suck every penny they possibly can out of these people’s wallets.

There are many other characters in the story, but why bother mentioning them. Perhaps I’m doing them a favour by not mentioning their names in this, the less people remember of this movie and the people that “acted” in it, the better for everyone.

Looking at it, it’s bereft of scares, strong on profanity, and achieves complete ascendance in mindless trash.

Will the real horror movies please stand up? I’m really looking forward to seeing what you’ve got.

Rating: 1/5
12 Years A Slave (MA15+)

Director: Steve McQueen

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o

Genre: Drama/Biography

The holocaust, mentally-challenged people and slavery. Three issues, when handled correctly, that can reap big rewards come award season.

To label this as a film simply just to win awards would be a major injustice however. After all, the unflinching atrocities experienced by Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a person who experienced the slave trade first-hand during the early-mid 1800’s, are unimaginable. It is a chapter from humanity that mustn’t be forgotten, and must be remembered so humankind doesn’t fall into it again.

Northup, an affluent, well-spoken man, lives in Saratoga, at a time when people of his kind were being used as cheap labour. Along with wife Anne (Kelsey Scott), daughter Margaret (Quvenzhane Wallis) and son Alonzo (Cameron Zeigler), Solomon is a man of many talents, particularly that of playing the violin.

But one day, Northup and his family is kidnapped, and sold into slavery through Freeman (Paul Giamatti) and the rest of his ruthless workers.

Solomon and his wife are sold to farm owner Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), splitting the couple from their children. Ford himself seems to be a man with some sort of conscience, but many of the violence committed upon slaves here is delivered by worker Tibeats (Paul Dano), while Solomon has to build.

After a considerable amount of time at this camp, Solomon is moved to another camp owned by Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). It is here where the movie spends a portentous amount of its time, and when slave Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) comes into the picture. Most of the work completed here is cotton-picking, and Epps isn’t going to take any less cotton than he wants. If the slaves are short on their cotton, lashes or other violence to them are inexorable.

Initially looking forward to seeing this, my hopes were dashed fairly quickly. After hearing the people saying this was a ground-breaking film depicting slavery, I tend to disagree. Yes, the heinous acts shown in this film are brutal, and must surely portray the horrors of slavery from a slave’s point of view. But, they also don’t seem to be acts I haven’t seen in other slavery films (other than a lift in intensity).

Watching it, I can’t help but feel that’s almost all this film has to offer. Apart from the abundance of physical and mental violence inflicted upon the slaves, there’s not much else happening.

There may be some instances of hope shown by the slaves that they can one day reclaim freedom, or realisations of the preciousness of materials that we as the viewer may take for granted (such as soap).

The acting is fine though, with Ejiofor leading well from the front, while Fassbender, Nyong’o and Brad Pitt’s cameo at the end my highlights of the film from an acting point-of-view. But when the nature of the film is so strong, and the events of the movie aren’t many (but rather the same moments being repeated over and over again), interest isn’t very well sustained.

Also, some of the dialogue does feel like it is stretching the truth a little. Though I don’t doubt the brutality of this story, and the violence committed, but many lines said (such as “I will not fall into despair… until freedom is opportune”) by Northup and other slaves feel too unlikely to have actually been said in real life, but have rather been added to elicit hope from the audience from the most dire of situations.

However, a reason to watch this would be to learn. To learn the worst one man can do to another, to learn one man’s breaking point and to learn the lowest points of humanity, and ensure it never happens again.

Though I don’t feel right giving this such a low rating, considering the subject matter and the fact that people are raving about this film, any rating higher than this would simply be me lying to you. Overrated.

Rating: 3/5
Her (MA15+)

Director: Spike Jonze

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams

Genre: Drama/Romance

“You’re not able to commit to real emotions,” says Catherine (Rooney Mara), Theodore’s ex-wife, to Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix).

After all, he’s now dating his new operating system.

Based in a who-knows-how-far in the future, we follow the story of Theodore Twombly, an eccentric fellow who can’t quite sign his divorce papers as he’s scared of how it’ll affect his emotions. The environment he lives in isn’t exactly helping him as well.

His profession is to be a writer of beautiful love letters, and wherever he looks, he’s bombarded with technology.

Not that anybody seems to care, actually, everyone has seemed to embrace it.

Everybody is walking throughout the city with an earpiece, talking to whoever they choose, and when Twombly reaches his abode, there he is playing interactive video games that any kid in the world would love to play instantly in the moment upon viewing it.

Twombly’s views on love are a bit ambiguous at this moment. After all, he’s on the fringes of divorce, and his views on relationships have been distorted by the copious amounts of pornography he’s been viewing, and the cyber-sexual relationships he’s been engaging in.

But once a new operating system, an operating system that is able to adapt to its user, is unveiled, Twombly’s world is turned upside-down.

Not in a way that’s unwelcome either. As a matter of fact, his relationship with the operating system, which names itself as Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), is able to return him to a world of love and intimacy which he not only thought he could never return to again, but to a world of love he never knew had existed.

Of course, some look at Twombly strangely. Most certainly ex-wife Catherine, who can’t believe that Twombly has replaced her with a computer. A blind date (Olivia Wilde) also seems to sense that Twombly is “creepy”.

The people around Twombly also seem to become affected by this technology. Best friend Amy (Amy Adams), who breaks up with Charles (Matt Letscher) during the movie, is able to mend her relationship issues using an operating system. Boss Paul (Chris Pratt), is able to appreciate Twombly’s relationship while on a double date with his own girlfriend.

But how this relationship will end up, and the experiences between man and machine which one wouldn’t have thought to be previously possible, is the most rewarding part of the movie.

Writer-director Spike Jonze (with a piece of work incredibly more mature than his work as an old lady in the Jackass franchise) is able to set an incredible tone to the movie, which doesn’t deviate throughout its entirety.

But what is even more intriguing are the thoughts that must have crossed Jonze’s mind when penning this screenplay. By not putting a date to when the movie’s set, or not labelling which city the activities are transpiring in, the audience is only left able to construe that the proceedings here can happen at any time and at any place.

A shortlist of the many questions this film poses include:

How is a machine able to experience true emotions, when, after all, it is just a machine that has been fabricated?

What is the purpose of the machine after the person it has developed a relationship with has passed away?

How can a true love exist between an owner and the property it owns, and how is it known whether the love shown by a machine to the human is authentic, or simply just them behaving in a way that’s true to what the product is meant to be?

How can physical relationships exist if there’s a third party involved that isn't entwined in the love experienced between the man and the machine?

What if there’s a reality where humans and machines develop relationships, and there’s a severe technological meltdown where the technology no longer exists? Would it be as if the relationship never existed?

When technology can cater to each person’s needs in a relationship, what is the purpose of entering into a human relationship at all? And what are the ramifications if the relationship falters, due to the machine believing that its own emotions are actually real, and not the result of the methods of its own creation?

But most importantly, what would be the point of humanity, when emotion is the only distinguishing factor between the man and machine, when this distinguishing factor is erased entirely?

As you can tell, this is a very philosophical film that shows love like it’s never existed before, but may soon be a type of relationship that is unavoidable. What’s posed here is a very possible future for humanity.

Phoenix’s performance is something to truly gaze at and absorb. Of all the movies I’ve reviewed so far, Phoenix’s performance is the one that has impressed me most so far. If Oscar Isaac’s performance in Inside Llewyn Davis was unlucky to have missed out on an Oscar nomination, then Phoenix not even receiving a nomination for his strong performance as this peculiar man is a major oversight.

Whether this is what becomes of humanity is for the future to decide. Or maybe this fate is already amongst us, and it’ll only be a matter of time before it consumes us all.

Rating: 4.5/5
RoboCop (M)

Director: Jose Padilha

Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Abbie Cornish

Genre: Action/Sci-Fi

A RoboCop movie. Sure to be one of many reboots to grace the big screen this year.

Does this live up to the original? Does it have the same sense of fun? These questions aren’t up for me to answer, but to go by what my friends had to say of this, I’ll give you the answers right now.

Firstly, the original is apparently better. Secondly, this updated version is more serious, and not the free, glorious outing the original was.

For most people, this would be all the information required to decide whether it’s the movie for them.

But if you’ve already decided against watching it, don’t write it off too quickly.

Set in 2028 Detroit, we’re looking at a future where the best law enforcement is achieved through robotics. Not yet in America though, no, this is a problem holding the country back.

Law enforcement through these means are seen in reports such as those in Tehran, where robots and droids are protecting the community from crime. At this point in time, America is the only country in the world that does not support this type of law enforcement, and this is due to the Dreyfuss act (a law developed by Senator Hubert Dreyfuss (Zach Grenier) prohibiting law enforcement through robots as they cannot feel true emotions).

One supporter of this type of law enforcement is Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson), host of current affairs show “The Novak Element”. This show is basically a bunch of liberalist propaganda, never properly dissecting or even showing the views of people that disagree with Novak’s views. He’s also passionately in love with America, and he makes sure that you know about it.

But it doesn’t matter if you like him or not. You’ll be seeing him at regular intervals throughout the movie. And though at times it seems he’s going to break out into a bet365 commercial, it never happens.

A reason this type of law enforcement hasn’t quite reached America yet is that the right person hasn’t been found yet. Also, public morale and political views aren’t quite in the idea’s favour.

However, OmniCorp, an organisation involved in building robotic body parts for the disabled and developing similar law enforcement technology for other countries, and its leader Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), want to change that. But the right candidate hasn’t quite come up yet.

Enter Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman). Though a loving family man to wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) and son David (John Paul Ruttan), his position as a Detroit police officer often places him in precarious situations.

As a matter of fact, he was just involved in a covert operation gone wrong with friend and fellow officer Jack Lewis (Michael K. Williams). Lewis is left in a critical position, but the fact that villain Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow) hasn’t claimed both his foes means he has unfinished business.

And when Vallon straps explosives to Murphy’s car later on, he thought that was job done. Rather, he’d just created the perfect person for OmniCorp to trial their radical new idea.

Murphy is the ideal man for the job. Risking his life to wipe out the scum of Detroit, and being the family man he is, this is the great chance OmniCorp has for Americans to garner support for their product.

Doctor Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) is put in control of creating this unprecedented law enforcing machine, and despite having his struggles, he comes up with something viewed positively by others, and which Murphy himself comes to support.

I won’t go any further than that, but without trying to give away too much, there’ll be plenty of issues with the technology, and a significant amount of family friction in the Murphy household. Even a change of villains (maybe I said too much, but this is not completely unforeseeable).

A main issue for this film is its lack of action sequences and its copious amount of dramatic family sequences. The action scenes are great, especially when Murphy trials his technology in a simulation scenario in a derelict warehouse. Still, there aren’t enough of them, and this could’ve been an above average sci-fi film had they had more of these.

The continuous dwelling on dramatic moments is a bit of a let-down as well. After all, the concept of a RoboCop isn’t something that can be taken that seriously, and it wasn’t something that was included in the original if my sources provided me with the correct information.

Overall, it probably falls in the middle of the action film spectrum. Despite its stunningly crafted special effects, the right equilibrium between the two aforementioned aspects of the movie isn’t quite struck.

Rating: 2.5/5
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Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom (M)

Director: Justin Chadwick

Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Terry Pheto

Genre: Biography/Drama

Nelson Mandela. Most people would argue that he’s the most important man in racial relations ever. And you’ll have no argument here.

And as all of the information surrounding the happenings of this movie can easily be found online, I’ll keep this review brief.

It’s interesting to see some of Mandela’s life during early adulthood, where, let’s say, he was a bit of a player. Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) wasn’t quite faithful to his wives over his lifetime, and we see this through his first wife in Evelyn Mase (Terry Pheto), who eventually divorces him knowing his infidelities.

Yet, despite this, he always remains at the forefront of racial relations in Apartheid South Africa, representing the “coloured” people, as they were referred to. He was always the crusader who led his people, and for a long time, he wasn’t able to achieve his aims through peaceful methods.

Once the violence erupts, and there is a profuse amount of bloodshed, the law (of which Mandela used to work in as a barrister) deems Mandela and those alongside him to be accountable.

Of course, I’m not quite covering the whole story here, but screenwriter William Nicholson ensures all vital moments are covered. The unfair imprisonment, Mandela’s continuous battle for racial equality, Mandela’s leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) and all of the violence are focused upon. Maybe not quite with the emotional depth that we were hoping for though.

Another substantial matter in this story is the connection he has with his family. Mandela’s second wife Winnie Madikizela (Naomie Harris), along with his children, were also heavily politically involved, which was difficult not to be in such harsh times.

Knowing that Mandela ultimately assumes the position as President of South Africa, we know that he wasn’t automatically respected by both races upon getting the position, and that isn’t something the movie covers particularly well. I think the movie “Invictus” needs to be watched right after this, as they’d merge well together in understanding how he was able to get South Africa to combine together to mostly overcome racial prejudices.

A suspicion I have of the movie is its release date. Since the movie was filmed from May-September 2012 according to IMDb, it seems obvious they were waiting for Mandela’s death to cash in on this movie. Along as the proceeds are going to the right people, I guess it’s fine, but it seems wrong in some way.

Elba, who doesn’t seem to bear much resemblance to Mandela during his earlier years, proves to be the factor that has this movie rise above your regular telemovie. His portrayal of such a righteous man is solid enough, with some of the speeches towards the back-end of the movie proving to be some of the film’s most riveting moments.

Although it mightn’t quite do the man justice, who is such an intriguing subject matter, it looks like it’ll have to do for now. A very long walk to freedom and justice indeed.

Rating: 3/5
Last Vegas (M)

Director: Jon Turteltaub

Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman

Genre: Comedy

People on internet movie forums have been labelling Last Vegas as the senior version of ‘The Hangover’. Even movie website Rotten Tomatoes has called Last Vegas “a mellower Hangover retread for the older set”.

In my honest opinion, these views are incredibly inaccurate. Not only was The Hangover a significantly funnier film (well, the first one anyway), but it never slowed down its tempo to grind itself amidst a corny or depressing situation like Last Vegas did. Where The Hangover pulled off its jokes with impeccable timing and poise, Last Vegas, through writer Dan Fogelman, misfires or spoils a situation showing comedic promise with material that is out of context.

The movie starts off with a flashback, and didn’t do a very good job setting up the tone for the film. It’s necessary considering it’s referred to later in the storyline, and it does provide a semi-decent joke leading into the next scene, but it doesn’t set an auspicious start for the film.

After a 58 year flash-forward, the children from the flashbacks have now become geriatrics, and the four guys from this previously tight-knit connection are set to resuscitate it when Billy (Michael Douglas) is set to get married to a woman under half his age.

It’s needless to say that the relationship between these four pals has disintegrated across this unexplained 58 years, mostly due to Paddy’s (Robert DeNiro) anger at Billy for not showing up at his wife’s funeral, whom Billy also used to be close friends with. The unbridled hostility shown by Paddy has thrown this awesome foursome into jeopardy, and this is the chance for it to be revitalised.

Billy is a bit of a player, not keen on dating women of his own age, and seems to be affluent enough if his house in the opening stages of the movie are to go by.

Paddy is in a morbid state in his late age. A year after his wife’s death, he’s barely left his apartment, and has some annoying next door neighbour who constantly delivers soup to his front door whether he wants it or not.

Archie (Morgan Freeman) is couped up with two younger generations in his household. Archie hasn’t had much of a chance to escape from his house due to a minor stroke he suffered, which caused his son Ezra (Michael Ealy) to overbearingly monitor his lifestyle.

Sam (Kevin Kline) is in a loving enough marriage, but has lost the spark that once resided in this marriage.

Once the bachelor party rolls into Las Vegas, anything is possible, but some things are more possible than others.

There are some certainties. There will be a continuous rise and fall relationship between Billy and Paddy. Billy’s marriage will also be tested as well when he meets Vegas casino singer Diana (Mary Steenburgen), a woman more age appropriate to him.

There are some other possibilities, but whether they happen or not you’ll just have to wait and see. Sam has been given a “hall pass” by his wife for the weekend, will he be successful in his use of it? Will Archie be able to make it through the weekend without any major hiccups?

DeNiro’s presence in this film diminishes its potential the most. You never know when he’s going to switch between downright grouch and slightly optimistic grouch. When he has the dial turned to the former, he drags down what should exclusively be a positive comedy.

This movie should also signal that DeNiro no longer has any great films left in him. Long gone are the days where he was creating classics like “Raging Bull” and “Taxi Driver” (movies I haven’t watched myself, but are just renowned for being classics).

This seems to be the progression of his career:
- Starring in “Raging Bull”, “Taxi Driver” and “The Godfather: Part 2”
- Continuing with more classics such as “Goodfellas” and “Casino”
- Dropping his standards a bit with films such as “Analyze This” and “Cop Land”
- Joining the Fockers franchise
- Having Redfoo wiggle his crotch in his face in this

With the progression, I fear where he’ll be in a few years from now.

In discussing Redfoo, in which I know how people of this website view him, his scene in this film seemed a bit unnecessary, as did the bikini judging scene involved with it. Maybe it was performed to show the foursome’s ability to mix it with the young’uns (after all, they were trying to “get with” the young, hot girls in this movie), but it definitely is the most cringe-worthy moment of the entire movie.

Another problem I have with the movie is the way the party lifestyle is portrayed. The continual seeking for drugs and coitus, despite how accurate it may be, can be uncomfortable viewing, especially considering the generational gap between those involved. It isn’t just this, but the way it’s mixed with those elements of not being faithful to your partner (despite the partner giving permission). Also, the line Kline says at the end of this particular scene is questionable and one of those “out of context” lines I mentioned beforehand.

One thing the film has an abundance of is old jokes. Whether it’s taking naps, or having to take pills to prime yourself for sexual interaction, the script makes sure to take advantage from this comedic goldmine (I’m being sarcastic here if you can’t notice).

For such a below-standard script, it’s quite amazing the talent the movie was able to attract. But, of all the main stars, the man who stood out most was Kline, the man I knew least about of all the stars before this film. Despite not being given good material, he is able to time his lines perfectly.

Unfortunately, what we’ve got here is a movie with the occasional meek laugh, and very few big guffaws (mostly provided by Kline in my case). A fading memory of Vegas that won’t last.

Rating: 2/5
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I haven't written a review in a little while, so there's that.

With an increasing workload in the coming weeks, expect the amount of reviews to slow down.

Also, another note I should include is that, after consideration, I've lowered the rating of RoboCop from three stars to two-and-a-half stars. I won't be doing that very often, but after thinking about it, it probably wasn't quite worth 3 star standard.
Wolf Creek 2 (MA15+)

Director: Greg Mclean

Starring: John Jarratt, Ryan Corr, Shannon Ashlyn

Genre: Horror/Thriller

Movies that go under the category “torture-porn” should pretty much be automatically deemed to be awful. Wolf Creek 2 lives up to this expected awfulness.

It seems to be a genre that died down a few years ago. But after the original 2005 movie became a successful hit, there was always going to be a sequel that we weren’t hanging out for.

In this effort, we find ourselves in the Australian outback again where outback “legend” Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) is continuously out looking for prey, and he happens to scalp his first victims in German backpackers, and romantic couple, Rutger Enqvist (Philipe Klaus) and Katarina Schmidt (Shannon Ashlyn).

Amidst the unrelenting violence which they’ll inevitably be on the receiving end of by Taylor, Schmidt manages to cross paths with English tourist Paul Hammersmith (Ryan Corr). Unknowingly, this meeting pulls Hammersmith into Taylor’s vicious cycle, and he becomes Taylor’s prime target for the rest of the movie.

Nothing really new or complicated happens, it’s basically a crazed outback larrikin who kills foreigners. Why does he kill them? Other than for the fun of it (which he seems to experience a lot of) and the sadism that fulfils him, he just seems to hate anyone un-Australian.

Not that he doesn’t kill Australians as well. Taylor’s logic seems to be, if you help out a foreigner, you’re fair game in his slaughter scheme as well.

Taylor’s jingoism for Australia is made quite prominent, which seems to be his prime motivation. As a fellow Australian, the utter contempt and racism that he shows for other races is appalling, whether he is actually a real person or a fabricated character. Essentially, there is no way that as an Australian his behaviour seems justified, and it is a poor way for Australia to be presented on the international stage.

Other than that, the movie is ridiculously stupid and insulting, right from the get-go. The police officer scene is nonsensical in itself, and though Taylor is a racist, the catalyst of his behaviour and his willingness to doggedly track down his kill is like trying to solve a puzzle with half the pieces missing.

Taylor states “you come to our country, get between a man and his meal and expect to just walk away”. From what I saw, he doesn’t seem to have any cannibalistic tendencies, so the closest answer to this question would be that the people he is after, or his “meal” as he calls it, was his next rape victim.

This film could also be claimed as having an inability of understanding its own identity. The film itself is predominantly a horror/thriller, but it also throws in a concoction of other genres to ill results.

It starts out as some sort of romantic drama, full with comments made by Enqvist and Schmidt about how the Australian outback is like “heaven” and that it is “perfect”, the audience fully knowing the treacherous hell that is about to be unleashed upon them.

Then, there are also the dashes of humour Mclean attempts to sprinkle throughout the film. Whether it is the running of over multiple kangaroos, playing classical music while Taylor is out decapitating, dismembering and dispatching his helpless victims, or setting up a quiz show or a sing-a-long jamboree of Australian favourites between the characters, Mclean manages to stack piles of idiocy upon one another to the final credits.

Seriously though, if you laugh during the scenes, let alone side with Taylor, when he’s cracking bawdy jokes or mutilating his victims, get yourself to a medical clinic as soon as possible to get your head checked.

There are very little positives to take from this movie. The main one would be the picturesque beauty of the Australian outback which I haven’t seen much of before. When Taylor isn’t hacking away at his victims, the setting has a delightful charm to it.

Corr’s acting was the best of everything here. Though it’s unlikely to pick up awards, the sheer horror expressed by Corr seems authentic. Yet again, you’ll probably be able to pull off this same terror just by watching the movie.

This would only be a movie for the fans of the genre, but even if you are, I’d like to know why, as it’s just revolting and viscerally unappealing.

May the genre, and this movie, suffer the same fate as Taylor’s victims. Receive a stab wound to the gut, breathe out sighs of futility, and simply just die.

Rating: 1/5
Grudge Match (M)

Director: Peter Segal

Starring: Robert DeNiro, Sylvester Stallone, Kevin Hart

Genre: Comedy/Sport

Boxing can be a brutal sport to partake in. So can sitting through this film’s misguided and politically incorrect sense of humour.

Of course, politically incorrect humour can be good when it is pulled off with gusto.

But if that’s what you want, then I’m afraid to tell you then you’ll be finding none of that here.

Nothing is off limits here “comedy” wise, but almost all jokes rely on hackneyed ideas or stereotyping. Sexual innuendo, racial humour, height humour, wealth humour, old jokes. I’m sure there are many more I’m forgetting, as I’m just touching on the bases here, but any well-adjusted person would know that it isn’t in good taste.

What we have here is two old fogeys in Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen (Robert DeNiro). These two were former legends and champions of the world in the boxing arena.

However, there is still bad blood between them.

Why is that?

Well, their fierce rivalry was cut short. They only fought each other twice, with one win apiece, before Sharp called an end to his boxing career.

Now, thirty years after their last fight, PR manager and co-ordinator Dante Slate, Jr. (Kevin Hart), attempts to get the two back together for a tie-breaker in a battle to be called “Grudgement Day”.

McDonnen is raring at the idea. After all, he feels that he wasn’t at his physical peak when he lost to Sharp, and sees this as his chance for redemption and claim superiority in their rivalry.

Sharp isn’t so eager though. Until he realises he’s a bit behind money-wise, and then reluctantly agrees to the fight.

From here, we’re taken through their promotional tour, training and personal problems which jeopardise the ability for the fight to go ahead.

Sharp goes back to former coach Louis ‘Lightning’ Conlon (Alan Arkin) to get him in shape for the fight. Conlon is simply a crotchety old man, and is the source of most of the old humour, and even a joke about horse urine, which has proven hilarity.

McDonnen ultimately finds his coach in the son he never knew he had, BJ (Jon Bernthal). Rest assured, they make plenty of jokes about his name.

Common ground shared between the two rivals is a woman by the name of Sally (Kim Basinger). She was Sharp’s love interest, but then she slept with McDonnen after a misunderstanding of hers. Needless to say, this further fuels the rivalry between the two.

It’s not good for a film when the brightest point is young’un Trey (Camden Grey). He doesn’t have too much to do, but what he does, he does well.

As for the adults, Kevin Hart would have to be the best. Though much of the racial humour is derived from him, his enthusiasm and personality is almost enough to make you discard the poor quality of the material he is performing. Almost.

In the end, the film culminates in a whirlpool of poorly presented humour and a litany of sport-movie clichés.

Rating: 1.5/5
Lone Survivor (MA15+)

Director: Peter Berg

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch

Genre: War/Action/Biography

Great war movies don’t roll around too often.

Usually, there is something wrong with their execution. In most instances, they either become too patriotic behind the country their supporting (mostly the USA), or generalise all people from a certain country to be evil or have cruel intentions.

I’m glad to say that Lone Survivor doesn’t suffer from either of these problems, and because of that, it sneaks up into the upper echelon of war movies.

I would even go as far as saying that it’s the second best war movie of the 2000’s, only behind “The Hurt Locker”.

What happens?

The story, which happens to be based on real events, is quite simple. An American military base set up in Bagram, Afghanistan deploys four of their fighters across eastern Afghanistan to face evil Taliban figure Ahmad Shah (Yousuf Azami).

Erik (Eric Bana), who overlooks his department in Afghanistan, sends out Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matt Axelson (Ben Foster) to the front-line.

They’re quite a tight-knit unit, each with their own unique back stories. And knowing the fate that three of them are about to suffer (as suggested by the title of the movie) is harrowing to deal with, especially since it’s shown in the early stages of the movie which of the characters will be the “lone survivor”.

I must say that the first thirty or so minutes are the most inert. These stages didn’t engage particularly well, but once you overcome them, get set to be duly rewarded.

The greatness of this movie really starts to kick in when the war scenes start and decisions guided by conscience have to be made by the characters. The way they have to respond mentally and physically to perilous situations are the most scintillating moments to absorb, and give pertinent insight to how a person would react to such a dire situation.

The acting is sublime as well. The agitation and unsettling nature of it is what keeps the viewer gripped. I must highlight a scene by Hirsch when he’s with the other three comrades, and despite being told to keep quiet, he disobeys the orders. It poses a very frightening reality to what people involved in war are put through.

The way that the “lone survivor” manages to survive also goes against the notion many war movies follow, which is that all foreigners have evil intentions. Gulab (Ali Suliman) takes the “lone survivor” in, and his unexpected nurturing nature inhibits the movie from becoming overly patriotic, whilst also paying respect to people in Afghanistani culture.

The movie manages to keep its momentum going until its conclusion, the conclusion itself almost being enough to bring a tear to your eye. Had the movie not been as slow in the beginning, it would perhaps be pushing on being the best movie of the year so far.

In saying this, I’m in no way detracting from the quality of this movie. A brilliant film not only for those not willing to accept stereotypes of other cultures, but also for those who want to experience what such a heavy force and gravity cinema can induce upon you.

Rating: 4/5
Tracks (M)

Director: John Curran

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Emma Booth

Genre: Adventure/Biography/Drama

Trips across any arduous and unrelenting habitat can have a serious effect on a person’s mental state. This is what Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) will learn the hard way when she makes a 1700 mile trip across the Australian outback, beginning at Alice Springs and finishing up at the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia.

A word of warning though before I go into any major detail. This is a slow-paced adventure/drama flick, and most definitely isn’t for everyone. I can just see many people complaining about the nature of it, so I’ll just put that out for you.

Davidson previously lived in the city, a life she grew tired of, and moves over to Alice Springs to commence a little 1700 mile adventure.

Now, you must be asking what inspired her to undertake such a tough mission, besides escaping from the city life. It turns out that her father once completed a similar trip across the Kalahari Desert in Africa, and at some point across his journey he experienced life-changing moments of enlightenment, which Davidson now strives to experience to enrich her own life.

Getting the trek off the ground wasn’t particularly easy.

Firstly, expenses are tight. This can be solved by getting a major geographic publication to sponsor her journey, or going from job to job to acquire the ideal amount of money.

Secondly, she needs three or four camels to help lug her equipment. This proves to be more difficult than the first problem, having to work at multiple camel farms across Alice Springs, before one eventually gives her the required camels. “There are 15,000 wild camels across the outback, surely there must be three out there I can find,” Davidson moans while lamenting her failed tenures at camel ranches.

Along her journey, awkward photographer Rick Smolan (Adam Driver) is assigned to capture the images to pair with the finished story. In the early stages of her travels, he makes sure to pop up a few times to get Davidson to pose for a few unnatural photos. As a result, she grows a disliking for Smolan, this dislike “confounding” her as he seems like a sincerely nice person.

Taking on the persona of “the camel lady” as her mission achieves growing fame, Davidson undertakes her venture with her four camels and her dog Diggity (I apologise if I spelt this incorrectly). In this remaining running time, Davidson is left to encounter helpful Aborigines that help her combat the unknown, yet is also left in a struggle of being unable to differentiate between reality and illusion as the journey progresses on. This would explain her increasingly perplexing decision-making and perception of the outback as she grows wearier.

With the trip being in excess of 200 days, and the film being just short of two hours, the film has the tendency to skip chunks of twenty or thirty days in one go. As every little event can’t be filmed and deciphered, this is mostly forgivable, but becomes a bit disappointing in its final sequences.

The connection between Davidson and her dog has to be brought up again. The performance by the dog (I know it may sound strange raving about the performance by an animal) is pretty much worth seeing the movie alone on. Performances by dogs in movies such as “Red Dog” and “The Artist” have been known to lift enjoyment levels of a movie, and this manages to do so equally as well.

In considering all of the information regarding the movie, it’s going to get a three-and-a-half star rating, but is probably on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to this rating. Significantly better than another certain Australian release this year (you know who you are).

Rating: 3.5/5
Non-Stop (M)

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery

Genre: Action/Thriller

I’m going to have to be cautious with this review, as any minor slip-up could come to ruin the fun.

Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is an air flight Marshall for the United States. We’re given some brief insight into his life in the early stages of the movie which are quickly run through. He has a serious alcohol and smoking addiction, and recently lost his daughter who suffered a debilitating life with cancer.

It’s fair to say that not all is going well for him right now, and it is sure to get a lot worse once he continues his job on a non-stop flight from New York to London.

Once the aeroplane achieves lift-off, Marks receives odd text messages from someone on the plane. Essentially, this person wants $150 million transferred into a bank account, and until Marks is able to do so, a person on board will be killed every twenty minutes.

Achieving this becomes harder than it sounds, and despite his best efforts, everything turns against Marks. Hey, it even turns out that the bank account the money is to be transferred to is in Marks’s name.

With the world turning against him, Marks is then accused of hijacking the plane himself for his own monetary benefit. The viewer though knows that this definitely isn’t the case, despite Marks’s own personal problems.

Right from the beginning, every person on board could be made out to be the suspect. It could be flight attendants Nancy (Michelle Dockery) or Gwen (Lupita Nyong’o), who are both coming off very different types of acting roles in “Downton Abbey” and “12 Years A Slave” respectively, or a collection of other people on board including nearby passenger Jen (Julianne Moore) or Doctor Fahim Nasir (Omar Metwally) amongst myriad other people.

Without giving the plot twists away, which many are absurd I must say, this movie is very entertaining. The implausibility of some of the plot turns actually makes the film more gripping due to its lack of predictability. Or maybe it’s just my general enjoyment of movies set amongst airports and aeroplanes.

I’m really restricted in what I can say here, so I’ll leave you with one final sentence. When it comes down to pure action, get ready to relish this as it delivers it in spades (and is also a lot better than “Taken 2”).

Rating: 3.5/5
Sorry for taking so long, but here's a review (finally )

22 Jump Street (MA15+)

Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube

Genre: Comedy/Action

Not very often is the mainstream viewing public given comedy offerings that are able to be so self-deprecating and make it genuinely funny.

22 Jump Street succeeds in this. But that is not all the comedic success this raucous affair is able to achieve.

It has a great ability to challenge the stereotypes of typical action flicks. But most importantly its humour is largely taken from the uncanny chemistry of leads Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. It was a pairing that I was initially surprised by, but the fact that the duo are able to keep the laughs coming thick and fast across the two movies is no fluke.

I’m particularly staggered by Tatum’s ability to keep up his end in the pairing. Before 21 Jump Street, I had preconceived ideas about his potential shortcomings in a comedy flick, but these two movies have truly blown them out of the water.

What we have here in 22 Jump Street is almost identical to what occurred in its predecessor, except we have a change of environment. Buddy cops Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), after the success of their drug take-down at a local high school, are lifted up a notch and assigned to complete the same job at a local university. This time, the culprits are less clear and the drug in question is called “WhyPhy”.

Of course, being in the university atmosphere, there is a much wider scope to which the directors and writers can take advantage of regarding setting, and they are able to do so mostly well.

Much is still the same, in that they are overlooked by Deputy Hardy (Nick Offerman) and Captain Dickson (Ice Cube). Ice Cube provides some of the best moments of the movie with his inimitable irascibility, much like 21 Jump Street. An incident in the middle of the movie is where he hits peak form.

However, amongst that that changes during their time at university is Jenko’s new friendship with Zook (Wyatt Russell), a brawny football player and Schmidt’s relationship with Maya (Amber Stevens), a young lady that doesn’t mind a discussion about fine art over a good merlot. The former developing relationship leads to some hilarious parodying of break-ups in film between Schmidt and Jenko.

On top of it all, the randomness of many incidents and the way they are spontaneously acted out are the film’s strong suit. It’s obvious many of the scenes were improvised, which lends well to the film’s ability to achieve such a feat.

As a side note, I should mention that knowledge of the first film isn’t essential to the understanding of this film. While it would be handy to understanding the in-jokes made during the movie, such as the construction of 23 Jump Street and Nick Offerman’s spiel about the doubling of the budget, you won’t be missing out on anything if you haven’t watched the first movie.

Although the solution to the problem isn’t crystal-clear in the end of the movie, the film’s non-stop laughs will be enough for you to leave it as an afterthought. In the packed cinema I was in, the collective audience were too busy spitting out chortles of laughter to worry about anything else.

The film has many highlights, but I’ll just point out one. The montage at the start of the final credits is just about worth the price of admission alone.

Rating: 4/5
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Oh, and there is another movie I watched in the meantime, but didn't get time to write a review on.

I'll give you its rating and a little run-down of what I thought of it from what I can remember.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (M)

Director: Marc Webb

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx

Genre: Action/Adventure

From what I remember, it was a film I enjoyed thoroughly, due to its ability to blend the darker moments with the lighter moments. Moments were able to be captured with humour, but turn serious when necessary.

Garfield and Stone's chemistry as the lead characters burst through the screen with how palpable it was. This could be explained by their having a relationship in real life.

But what I remember liking most of all were its dazzling action scenes. I haven't enjoyed action in superhero movies as much as I did in this for quite a while. Its use of slow-motion and close-ups were quite impressive.

Rating: 4/5
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After being very busy over the last few months, hopefully I'll be able to write up a few more reviews in the coming weeks as I have a bit of time off.
Ride Along (M)

Director: Tim Story

Starring: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Tika Sumpter

Genre: Comedy/Action

The life of a policeman is tough, physical work. It is also an occupation that loves to be the epicentre of comedies of late.

Here, we have the story of Ben Barber (Kevin Hart), a security guard at a local high school that is looking to make the next move up in his career so that he is able to marry girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter).

However, this is not going to be an easy elevation. He’s ridiculed at the school by students of his physical stature and can’t seem to be taken seriously enough by anyone to be able to do his job properly.

Ben has another obstacle in James (Ice Cube), a police officer that is also Angela’s sister. James is not too impressed with Ben, particularly because he’s not captivated by his weakness and inability to protect his sister. He’s also not happy about an incident at a barbecue a few years back.

Ben is looking for the approval of James to marry Angela, and, upon being accepted into the police academy to start the career progression he’s oh so dying for, James decides to taken Ben on a “ride along” to see what he’s got. Ben has a lot riding upon this. Things go right, and he has James’s approval for marriage and a recommendation by a high-up police officer to become a fully-fledged police officer of his own. Things go wrong, and it all goes down the drain.

Of course, things don’t start off well. Ben is unable to handle even the most insignificant of police actions with any poise, being a man with a big mouth, but with little brawn to back it up. Be it dealing with a little kid or even communicating a message through a police transmitter, Ben can’t seem to get anything right.

And getting things wrong isn’t going to fly with James. See, he and his police officer buddies Lt. Brooks (Bruce McGill), Santiago (John Leguizmo) and Miggs (Bryan Callen) have been searching for an unknown man going under the pseudonym “Omar”. This investigation has been going on for years, so stuff-ups aren’t going to be tolerated.

As is the norm with these buddy-cop movies, Ben inevitably becomes an indispensable part of the case after inadvertently providing essential clues pertaining to the case.

As I stated in my Grudge Match review, Kevin Hart has a knack to steal his scenes, which is all the more impressive when you consider Ice Cube is his opposite here. By the way, this is a much better offering.

Ice Cube meanwhile sticks to his shtick, which is to shout something disdainfully, and accompany it by mustering up a smirk or grimace. Perhaps it’s better done in small doses like in the Jump Street movies, than being given the whole course like it is here.

The humour is not of a great level, but enough constant meek laughs to keep you puttering along nicely. Luckily it doesn’t continue the racial humour employed in the early scenes of the movie.

Overall, not too great or memorable enough to take up your time talking about it afterwards, but decent enough to have it sit around the middle of the table for these types of movies.

Rating: 2.5/5
Blended (PG)

Director: Frank Coraci

Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Wendi McLendon-Covey

Genre: Comedy

“I had fun filming “Just Go With It” in Hawaii. How about we just change up the script a little and do the same thing in Africa? After all, I deserve a holiday!”

I’m guessing this was Adam Sandler’s thinking behind this atrocious film being put into existence.

After a disastrous first date between Jim (Adam Sandler) and Lauren (Drew Barrymore), the two agree to never see each other again.

Both have issues at home, both remarkably very similar. Jim’s not earning much working at a sports store, and has daughters that look like sons. Lauren has issues getting commitment from ex-husband Mark (Joel McHale) to spend time with his sons, one of whom is a frenzied masturbator. Believe me, it gets worse.

When Lauren’s work friend Jen (Wendi McLendon-Covey) breaks off a relationship with Jim’s boss, a holiday to Africa that the two were supposed to take is thrown in doubt. As the holiday has already been paid for, both Jim and Lauren see it as an opportunity to get a holiday for their respective families, not knowing of each other’s desire to snatch up the holiday for themselves.

Trust me, this holiday is sprung upon the viewer very quickly. It is not until half-an-hour into the movie where the African holiday is first mentioned, and it only takes approximately thirty seconds between the first mention of it and the families arriving in South Africa.

The two aren’t crazy about the two holidaying together at first, but, being single parents, and with the vacation being based around newly “blended” couple, I think you know where this is going. Let’s just say it dissolves into a very sappy ending.

You know this is going to be awful by the tone set in the first twenty minutes of the movie. No laughs are cracked in this opening stanza, and the proceedings are quite depressing rather than anything else, a sin for a comedy flick.

Jim states in the early stages that his wife died of cancer (I’m not spoiling anything here). In all honesty, chronicling that story would’ve provided more laughs than this.

Okay, maybe that’s harsh, but it is not until you’ve watched this that you can truly understand how mirthless and flat this is.

This movie’s idea of humour includes women looking like men (as stated earlier), menstruation, masturbation, smashing a kid’s head into the wall (accidentally), animals fornicating, kids saying things they’re not supposed to say and a bit of light racism to cap it off for good measure.

Referring back to the acting of the kids here, it is absolutely horrific. The obnoxious children are always there to spoil the flick whenever the director sees necessary (which is often). Having to endure the children is like eating at a fancy restaurant while having a gaggle of rowdy children scream their heads off on the next table over.

In this hypothetical situation, replace the fine dining setting with Africa. What they show of the African environment is majestic. Unfortunately, the vapid script sucks any potential life this could have.

I must admit that I didn’t even know about the release of this movie until about a week before its release, and that was only due to the rating of the movie being appealed (As a side note, despite being a PG movie, it’s not something that kids should enjoy). Maybe this is the case due to a lack of advertising. But more likely, it’s because no one cares about Adam Sandler anymore with the poorness of his films that precedes this one.

Lastly, I must make reference to Terry Crews and ask why he was in this. His role could’ve been played by anyone. Anyway, he’s always there to sing a song with the rest of his group about the blending of relationships in the movie or to laugh at something stupid when it happens.

Truly awful.

Rating: 1/5
Cuban Fury (M)

Director: James Griffiths

Starring: Nick Frost, Rashida Jones, Chris O'Dowd

Genre: Comedy

Here we have the brainchild of Nick Frost projected on to the big screen. A brainchild of talent, love and salsa dancing.

Bruce (Nick Frost) was once a brilliant salsa dancer in his teens. He had the world at his feet (well, as far as you could as a teenage boy in the UK amongst the salsa world). But, being a teenage boy riding across town in glittery, sequined leotards to compete at salsa competitions isn’t going to help curb the prevalent bullying which he’ll constantly be on the receiving end of. After one particular acrimonious night from said bullies, the fire in his shoes had been extinguished, and Bruce had felt that it was time to give salsa away.

From here we are transferred to Bruce’s adulthood, where he looks more like a tubby plebeian than a once precocious salsa talent. Working at an engineering office, fellow worker Drew (Chris O’Dowd) is always there to make him feel worse. Whenever things start to be looking up for Bruce, Drew is there to tear that down immediately.

This remains the case when attractive US boss Julia (Rashida Jones) comes in to take over their department. Both Bruce and Drew have the hots for her, but being the more confident, and as they both put it “attractive” of the duo, Drew is always ahead. That’s without even needing to talk about Drew’s constant derision of Bruce’s crush whenever it becomes evident.

However, once discovering Julia’s love of salsa dancing, Bruce has a sudden advantage. This arouses a passion for salsa dancing that was dormant for decades, but being out of peak physical condition, things don’t click like they previously had.

Bruce thrusts himself back in to the salsa world through his former coach Ron Parfitt (Ian McShane), a high-class salsa coach that seems perpetually bitter. Bruce always requires the help of sister, and also (former) salsa dancer Sam (Olivia Colman) and new friend Bejan (Keyvan Novak), while trying to hide the salsa resurrection from friends Gary (Rory Kinnear) and Mickey (Tim Plester).

After a somewhat slow first half, the laughs ramp up around midway through as things start clicking into action, before tapering out a bit as the conclusion nears.

O’Dowd is the standout with his put-downs. In a not excessively hilarious film, these lift it whenever it appears to be nestling into a rut. And while he remains, as I should bluntly state it, the arsehole, he remains inexplicably likeable despite his crude and misogynistic ways.

While it may not fire up the zest for salsa amongst viewers, it remains a serviceable comedy nonetheless.

(P.S. Look out for a cameo)

Rating: 2.5/5
Transformers: Age of Extinction (M)

Director: Michael Bay

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci

Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi

An orgy of special effects, loudness and bloated running times. It’s the only way Michael Bay knows how to take care of business.

Unfortunately, this seems to be all Bay knows how to do, so if you’re going to watch this, get ready to be bombarded with it, and store a paracetamol tablet in your bag for the ensuing headache. Not just for the lurid noise your eardrums will have to sit through, which will experience a quasi-rupturing, but for the headache that will develop in trying to understand the plot.

Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is a down-and-out inventor, living on a property which his landlord is looking to repossess. With everything requiring money which he doesn’t have, including getting daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) through college, Cade looks for a breakthrough to push forth to unveil his next invention or find something of value which he can profit from. Along with employee Lucas Flannery (T.J. Miller), Cade stumbles upon a truck which may be useful to provide profitable materials.

After some tinkering, Cade discovers it is more than just a truck, but rather transformer Optimus Prime, who has been in exile for quite some time.

Meanwhile, Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) is a politician out to have all aliens/transformers eradicated on behalf of the US government and Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), a higher-up inventor, doesn’t oppose this, having recently uncovered an element called “transformium”, which can change into anything you want it to.

Despite all this, their motives seem demented. Attinger’s desire to protect the human species and regain control of earth are confusing as the transformers don’t pose a threat and were actually in cahoots with the government for some time. Joyce’s desires are as confusing because you’d assume his product would be lucrative regardless of some independent motor vehicle that can transform back-and-forth between two objects.

Forgive me if I’m wrong, but the fact that this whole affair is so perpetually baffling, this is all I can get from it. And surely, from what I have provided, it’s not enough to justify its 165-minute running time.

The plot oscillates between the nonsensical and the illogical. Whenever you understand what is happening (which is a seldom experience), you’re stupefied by the sheer futility on-screen, and vice-versa. I say this seriously: as the minutes tick by, you will be utterly bored and begging for the end.

If you can understand any more than 10% of going on, then that is an achievement in itself. Surely individuals of authority will have to create a prestigious medal for anyone that can explain everything that is happening here. Providentially, none of these medals will actually come into existence because elucidating everything here would be a virtually impossible task.

I recall Michael Bay saying that this Transformers movie was going to be more serious, and some steps were taken to doing so.

Firstly, the cast from the past movies were uprooted and replaced with this sorry bunch. Secondly, Linkin Park were de-shifted from their Transformers soundtrack duties, and Imagine Dragons were given the tick of approval.

The cast, though fresh, is no better than it originally was. Walberg doesn’t fit in very well for my liking, and this is a significant drop from his exploits in “Lone Survivor”. Elsewhere, it seems Peltz was only given the role just to be the eye-candy and fit into the stereotype of the defenceless woman, which is disappointing considering the strong female characters in other recent movies, such as “The Hunger Games” franchise. This was a real opportunity for Bay to break his trend, and the fact he’s replaced this potential with cleavage shots is an insult.

While I’m talking about cast and characters, I must ask why the villains were made to look so cartoonish. When combining this with their motives, this can make the movie even harder to take seriously.

Getting to the music, upon first listening to the Imagine Dragons song for the movie in full, I felt that this franchise was about to take a turn in a grittier direction. Instead, the song was implemented weakly, and has rather tarnished my view of the song.

I can’t help but feel that this movie is commercialism at its worst. I know that the purpose of all movies is to reap as much money as possible at the box office, but the disdain the writer(s) and production company of this movie have for the viewer must be immense. It sucks knowing that many great scripts don’t go ahead, while hundreds of millions of dollars are splurged on this. And that this will more than likely make in excess of $1 billion at the box office (unfortunately, I have contributed to this).

This commercialism is best exhibited through the non-stop product placement. Knowing the exorbitant money-making potential of this franchise, many companies have jumped at the opportunity to have their brand name given the screen time that they have paid for. But hey, at least it can be a fun, little distraction counting all the advertisements, seeing that it is more amusing than the movie itself.

A question I must ask is why are people going out to watch this movie anyway? It is dull and we’ve seen it all before. Surely this is just for the people that have a lust for explosions and is not essential for any true movie-goer.

If you’re a parent looking to waste some time with the kids on holidays, I’ll put it out there, Blended would probably be a better choice than this. At least there is some positivity you could attain from the ending, even if you have to put up with a challenging and gruelling first 90 minutes of the movie. With this, you’ll just have the whole family numb with boredom by the end.

I’m sure there were more witty quips I thought about during the movie to write in this review, but many have been forgotten, hopefully like this movie will be. If I can stop one person from watching this, I’ll feel that this review has served its purpose.

By the end, you’ll have lost comprehension of the plot, or even more likely, lost interest altogether.

Rating: 1/5
Lol 1/5 is being nice it truly is a terrible terrible movie (Transformers). Went to a stakeholder meet & greet for work yesterday at the movies and this was what we were forced to watch. Waste of three hours
A Million Ways to Die in the West (MA15+)

Director: Seth McFarlane

Starring: Seth McFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson

Genre: Comedy/Western

“Everything that isn’t you wants to kill you”.

It is upon this sentence that Seth McFarlane and his writing crew from “Family Guy” have sculpted this disappointing, lackadaisical comedy.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a very big fan of “Ted” and “Family Guy”, but there is something lacking here, mainly laughs, meaning it can’t reach its full potential.

Based in the old west, wimpy sheep farmer Albert (Seth McFarlane) doesn’t have much going for him. But, whatever is going against him is off-put by his relationship with Louise (Amanda Seyfried), a woman Albert loves so dearly.

Upon realising she could do better, Louise dumps Albert, but rebounds quickly through local moustache equipment salesman Foy (Neil Patrick Harris). Being the town’s loser, Albert falls apart quickly.

He stays at home all day, unwilling to go out, and all attempts made by the lovesick Albert to win back Louise are foiled.

Enter Anna (Charlize Theron). After being saved at one of the many trademark town bar brawls by Albert, Anna grows a liking for Albert, and provides the courage and determination he needs to break out of his shell. And also to save himself from a gun-fight he wages against Foy to win Louise’s affection.

Albert is also buoyed by a friendship he has with a modest Edward (Giovanni Ribisi) and Chrstian-preaching prostitute Ruth (Sarah Silverman). While I’m mentioning them, I must say they often go missing too often.

But, this blossoming relationship between Albert and Anna has much more baggage than Albert knows. After all, she is married to one of the country’s most notorious gunslingers Clinch (Liam Neeson), meaning things are going to get nasty if Albert and Anna’s relationship becomes apparent.

A main issue I have with this is that its intention to derive humour from juxtaposing modern, crude jokes in an older setting doesn’t quite gel and provide as much humour as it should have.

I’m sure when they were pitching ideas in the boardroom, the people involved in creating this were having a gallant time envisioning the goldmine of humour that could be extracted from such an idea. After all, it has been done before, but not to as crass a level.

However, I believe there is much more that could’ve been taken advantage of to maximise comedic potential. Seeing as the language used by the protagonists is the only anachronistic element to be incorporated into the film, perhaps it would’ve been worthwhile to perhaps to do the same with physical objects. I don’t have many ideas straight up, but surely there could’ve been something else which could’ve taken this film to greater heights.

It also seems that the writing is also a bit one-note. Whenever a crevice appears, the writers seem to have jammed sexual or excremental jokes into it, hoping it will fill the void. This is a situation where a little variety would’ve been welcome.

In saying that, it does achieve some good moments of surreal humour, which are the writers’ strong suit. Mix this with a few smart cameos, and glimpses of true comedic quality are brought to the fore. It is this that perhaps thwarts me the most, knowing that the potential is there.

My pick of the actors would be Neil Patrick Harris. He’s truly a gifted entertainer that I don’t see in enough movies. Though the material he’s provided with isn’t quite the best, more often than not he manoeuvers in a way to make it funny. A few lines and mannerisms he replicates from Barney, the character he played from the recently-finished “How I Met Your Mother”, provides some nice moments.

Altogether, MacFarlane’s foray from moving behind the camera to in front of it hasn’t been quite the stunning venture it could have been. I guess that shows that what works in the now, fizzles, and often dies, in one of those million ways to die in the west.

Rating: 2/5
Calvary (MA15+)

Director: John Michael McDonagh

Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Kelly Reilly, Chris O'Dowd

Genre: Drama

There you are. A priest sitting in a booth, being told a confession.

But this isn’t any regular confession, if such a thing exists. This confession is fatal.

The unknown person reveals devastating experiences of sexual abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church. As to be expected, the physical and mental wounds of the abuse are ongoing.

And it is from these experiences that the man comes up with his motive: to kill the priest that he is confessing to right now in one week’s time.

The fact that this priest is generally good-natured and adored by his tight-knit town only makes the prospect more appetising for the man. He thinks that killing an innocent priest would conjure up more controversy than killing a guilty one.

Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) is the man with the week to live. Presiding over an Irish church by the waterside, along with fellow Father Leary (David Wilmot), Lavelle seems to accept his fate rather than escape it or call the authorities on the man, which he thinks he knows.

In the week that follows, we are led through Lavelle’s life, which mostly consists of taking care of his daughter Fiona (Kelly Reilly) and delving into the situations and problems the people of the town are experiencing. And it’s fair to say that Lavelle becomes involved in a vast scope of emotions and events in this tumultuous week.

We are shown through the wide array of people that could be the culprit, but are never given any definitive answers as to who it is exactly until the closing scenes. It could be doctor Frank Harte (Aidan Gillen), the writer (M. Emmet Walsh), the affluent Michael Fitzgerald (Dylan Moran), butcher Jack Brennan (Chris O’Dowd), youngster Milo Herlihy (Killian Scott), or many of the other male characters that pop up throughout the film.

Perhaps more important than the ending though is the commentary the film makes on certain issues through the prism of the Catholic church and morality.

Compelling points are made on various issues such as religion, race, violence, non-marital relationships, wealth, self-harm and death. The discussions that take place are food for thought, and the presence of Lavelle throughout the conversations always provides the moral background, but also expose some flaws behind the reasoning of himself and the Church.

What allows this to occur is the diversity of characters. All characters are unique and have their own differing problems.

For example, Simon (Isaach De Bankole), a black man, is often on the end of criticism from others in the community for engaging into interracial relationships, allowing dialogue not only about this, but also about sex outside of marriage.

Elsewhere includes Fitzgerald, who despite being “inordinately” rich as he says so, has a constant sense of detachment with his money and the people around him. Is this because of the hard-core nature of the financing industry and workplace that has been hammered into him, or does his overabundance of money mean that because he can dispose of things easily, he has no need to become attached to things as they can be easily replaced?

These are a couple amongst the multitude of questions considered. This melting pot of society paired with the striking scenery continually produces the riveting symbolism that make seeing this movie worthwhile.

As the seconds tick closer to the fateful day, Lavelle becomes increasingly antsy and uncharacteristically malevolent as the sinister forces close in around him. Gleeson’s performance is well-crafted, and expertly emits the plight of the helpless man.

Above all else, Calvary best commentates on the disastrous nature of abuse by the Catholic Church. What transpires here shows that the effects of such abuse cannot be eradicated and can lead to the damaged thinking of the destroyed, which they sadly aren’t able to control.

Rating: 4/5
@alleyt1989 Thanks for responding to the review, I hope you enjoyed it. Also, I should apologise for my late response.

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" was a truly awful film, and I'm sorry you had to sit through it.

Whose idea was it to watch that though? If it was one of the stakeholders, it's probably be better just to dump them instead of continuing business with them. Unless they apologised afterwards for realising the detrimental error they made in movie choice.

Meanwhile, I'll have another review up in the next half hour hopefully. This one is from a few months back.
I almost never see movies but I did go to see 22 Jump Street a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed your review of it Personally I wouldn't rate it as high because cringe humour (i.e. Jonah Hill) can only go so far with me
The Monuments Men (M)

Director: George Clooney

Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray

Genre: Biography/Drama/War

You can file this one under “could’ve and should’ve been a lot better”.

Everything is going in its favour. And yet somehow, it manages to get almost everything wrong.

May I start with the actors? This has one of the biggest casts in recent memory, ranging from the vastly popular to the highly awarded, many being a combination of the two.

Just to name a few of the people, the stars include George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett and Jean Dujardin. This crop has received a cumulative six Oscar wins and has been nominated for thirteen more. Perhaps more importantly though, none of these actors have appeared in any dud films in recent years and have all been in sterling form.

Yet, it’s hard to feel as if some actors haven’t put their best efforts in here. Some even look bored at times and trying to stave off sleep until “cut” is called.

Next you’ve got the screenplay writers. This screenplay was composed by duo George Clooney and Grant Heslov. After achieving cinematic success and chemistry in other films where they’ve worked together, including “The Ides of March” and “Good Night, and Good Luck.”, you’d expect them to put together an amazing script considering what proceedings are based around.

Yet, it unfailingly manages to feel flat and fails to deliver any thrills or memorable moments.

Next it is jam-packed with breath-taking and picturesque locations. The audience should be marvelling at the sights while experiencing the journey.

Yet, it fails to soak in its environment and we’re only able to see it as a debris-littered wasteland.

Lastly, may I go over the plot, which is based on a true story.

Nearing the end of World War II, a troupe of professionals, spearheaded by Professor and Lieutenant Frank Stokes (George Clooney), is given authority by then US President Theodore Roosevelt to assemble a group known as “The Monuments Men” who are tasked to protect buildings, art and other monuments from cultures under threat by the then dominant Nazi regime.

The group seems to have already been pre-selected, and seen that they have the skills necessary to successfully pull of this monuments heist. They include Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville), James Granger (Matt Damon), Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), Walter Garfield (John Goodman), Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban) and Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin).

From here, we are taken on the adventures of these well-intentioned “Monuments Men”, as they close in on Germany and its surrounding countries to recover art stolen by the Nazis and save art which could fall into their occupation.

Granger also has the significant job of trying to win over Claire Simone (Cate Blanchett). Simone was working under the Nazi regime at the time, despite despising it. However, this spite does not equate to her being so forthcoming with information, causing Granger problems.

And so it goes from there.

Actually, no it doesn’t. Because “going” would imply that there is to be something of interest going on here. And even with the potentially captivating material the writers have on their hands, they have a knack of doing a very good job at making these events boring, when they should in fact be the opposite considering the importance of the events.

A major problem with this is that it at times feels underwritten.

This can be particularly seen in the beginning when the crew get together and they’re talking about family and each other as if we already know them. After barely being introduced to everyone, they’re off to start their task, and can lead to further confusion down the track.

Also, where the main characters are and what they’re exactly trying to do at specific locations can easily be lost along the way, as they aren’t explained very well.

One last criticism includes its editing. Its choice of music is odd and doesn’t suit the dramatic tone the film was trying to create. Elsewhere, the editing was poorly done, choosing to fade from one scene to the next, rather than making a straight, hard cut which would’ve had more impact.

When watching brilliant films regarding the Holocaust, such as “Schindler’s List” and “The Pianist”, they permeate a sense of greatness. They grip you, they harass you, they elicit emotions you didn’t even know existed. But even more, they demand that you watch them again.

This is not even close to those movies. They’re on a different planet, and shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence as “The Monuments Men”.

Unimpressed.

Rating: 2/5
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@antonnalan Thanks for enjoying the review.

"22 Jump Street" is in the top few movies for me that I've seen so far this year.

It is easily my favourite comedy I've seen this year. The type of humour in that film definitely suited my style, with it not only being just only sexual jokes, but there is actually some smart parodying in there and some other hilarious jokes made at its own expense.

Of those types of comedies, "Bad Neighbours" is another one I'm looking forward to watching and will hopefully do so soon.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (M)

Director: Matt Reeves

Starring: Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Andy Serkis

Genre: Action/Drama/Sci-Fi

This is going to be one of the more difficult movies for me to review, as it’s going to sound quite harsh. Because it does have quite a lot going in its favour, but there are a few issues with it in my personal opinion.

Remember “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”? Remember the flu-riddled handkerchief that pilot accidentally dropped at the airport?

Well, since then a lot of damage has been done to the human race.

Much of the human race has been killed off by the dreaded Simian flu, produced from the tests carried out on apes previously.

With the density of the human population dropping off like flies, humans are left to live in pockets together to survive. In this case, we’re based in an unruly San Francisco, which is barely noticeable considering the shrubbery and weeds that have run rampant over their entire infrastructure.

While the humans have huddled together to survive, across town lives a tribe of apes, who have grown exponentially in strength and intelligence, being able to fluently communicate to each other in a complex sign language and some even being able to talk English when the situation requires it.

These two contrasting armies are on the brink of anarchy.

Considering this, the humans need electricity to live, with their best source being a hydroelectric dam located in the heartland of the apes. As there is no alternative to confronting the apes, some humans, led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and Ellie (Keri Russell) amongst four or so others, and overseen by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), are required to go forth and convince the apes they should be allowed to do start it up and generate their electricity.

In their somewhat developed society, the apes, led by Caesar (Andy Serkis), accepts their requests and sees no problems with them.

This, however, doesn’t please all the apes. After all, many of them have been on the receiving end of maltreatment by the humans and see this as a chance to take advantage of humans while they’re weak.

But, ever the pragmatic thinker, Caesar gives humans their fair treatment, much to the chagrin of fellow ape Koba (Toby Kebbell).

It is from here that the infighting between apes begins, as Koba tries to figure out a way to dethrone Caesar from his position of leadership and win over the other apes so as to conquer the human race.

And so the story goes on from there, as the two main forces of nature battle of against one another.

So, let’s go over the positives first.

First and foremost, this is undoubtedly a crowd-pleaser. There is much in the story-line to like, including a friendship that grows between an ape and a human character.

Secondly, and in connection with the point above, there is emotion and an underlying heart to it. Whereas “Transformers: Age of Extinction” was all about the clunk of metal and little about what was actually happening plot-wise, this was very much welcomed. I should also mention that it never diverted from its path to gain a laugh from a quick gag.

Lastly, it brings the requisite action and is able to do so through the implementation of its special effects. They are crafted to absolute perfection, and the appearance of the apes through performance-capture technology is impeccable. There is absolutely nothing to fault in this department.

Let’s look at the flipside now.

It feels quite monotonous and repetitive, which is mostly evident in the first half of the movie with the actions undertaken by the central human characters. It’s just a bit too back-and-forth without any manifest gain.

Next, looking back on it all, it feels as if not much progress was even made in terms of the grand scheme of things. Sure, some personal relationships may have been forged and there were a few casualties here or there, but coming out of watching it, it felt as if this movie just exists to connect the previous movie with the one that follows it without offering much that is substantial.

Another issue, and I’ll make it that last one, is about why should we, as humans, want the apes to win? From the title, it seems predisposed for us to want to side with the apes, rather than actually support our own species.

Sure, I can understand the torment the apes remain in after their treacherous treatment. But, the movie fails to win me over, because it feels at times that their actions are no better, despite their noble leader who disagrees with them.

A point of interest I’d like to extract is how well it magnifies how similar humans and animals really are. Despite different species having evolved at diverse rates, in essence, the way we instinctually behave when we believe when we are threatened are shown to be remarkably similar.

Even as we can see in everyday life, humans can whip up hysteria over the most inane of things, mirroring those actions of the animal kingdom. What makes this behaviour any different to those of animals?

Considering it all, I’m definite you’ll enjoy this if you relished the previous instalment.

Nevertheless, with all excitement and critical acclaim surrounding this film upon release, I found it to be a bit of a letdown and not quite what I was hoping for. There wasn’t anything noticeably phenomenal about it that had me wanting to see more.

If I have to say one final thing, it has to be this: Better than “Transformers: Age of Extinction”.

Rating: 3/5
Bad Neighbours (MA15+)

Director: Nicholas Stoller

Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron

Genre: Comedy

After all the hype surrounding this, I can confidently say that it nowhere lives up to it.

It was seen as the comedy that was going to hold the position of the best mid-year comedy. Sadly, there isn’t enough here to feel as if we’ve seen anything outstandingly hilarious.

Married couple Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) lives in a residential neighbourhood. Living together with a very young baby, life seems to be moving along well, with Mac holding a seemingly stable job.

However, once a vacancy opens up next door, their lives are going to be turned upside-down immensely.

Because this house is not going to be rented out to any other similar-minded couples like them, it is being rented out to a fraternity.

You know those rowdy and particularly American groups of young men that meet up to perform a wide range of hijinks? It’s one of those groups. And for a young family with a baby, this is not good news.

After some initial success in befriending the fraternity, things turn when Mac and Kelly call the police, which broke a promise they pledged with the fraternity.

For the fraternity leaders Teddy (Zac Efron), and his sidekick Pete (Dave Franco), they’ve passed the threshold of forgiveness, and all-out war is waged between the two feuding households.

From here it is tit-for-tat as the parties engage in their battle for supremacy and one-upmanship until a result is reached.

As has become a theme in my reviews for comedies, I’d like the comment on the level and quality of the humour.

Almost the entire movie is sexually-charged, which mostly works to its disadvantage. As a matter of fact, this starts right from the first scene of the film, and becomes tired far too early in the flick for it to continually be funny.

Despite this, it does provide the best moment to “Bad Neighbours”, which is in response to a water pipe of theirs being broken and the way they fundraise to pay for the resultant flooding. I won’t tell you what happens, because if you do watch this, it’ll ruin the biggest laugh of this film.

Besides this, there isn’t much they have to make jokes about. If you subtract the sex jokes, a large amount of the remaining portion would just be party scenes, including drug and alcohol consumption.

And let’s make this clear, Mac and Kelly are front-and-centre for much of it, putting their child in situations that would put them up there with amongst the most irresponsible parents of all time.

And during these scenes, Byrne keeps up quite well with Rogen, which is a surprise considering Rogen’s extensive history in comedies and ad-libbing to suit the comedic genre.

Though “Bad Neighbours” largely revolves around a fraternity, it can become annoying how much the fraternity behaviour is overdone. The chanting and flashbacks through fraternity history aren’t as exciting and humorous as the film would like you to think.

Despite some quality laughs, there is quite a bit here to dislike, especially the over-growing crude, lurid and stupid behaviour. The fact that a character’s name is “Assjuice” shows what type of film this is.

Overall, this film reminds me of “Project X” quite a bit, with all its partying and frivolity. For me, the ratings of the two movies would just about match, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t for others as well.

Rating: 2.5/5
The Lego Movie (PG)

Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell

Genre: Animation/Adventure/Comedy

Legos are supposed to be a fun play-toy for all people, but specifically the youngsters.

And let me tell you, this movie is a whole lotta fun for people of all ages.

Despite being a kids movie first and foremost, up-and-coming screenwriters and directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, on one hell of a hot streak right now, keep everyone in mind as laughs for all ages are provided.

The premise of the story is centred on an ordinary Lego construction worker named Emmet (Chris Pratt). With a voice that perfectly seems to fit the character he’s portraying, he trots along in his everyday life by behaving according to whatever his manual says he must do.

If he’s ordered to smile, he smiles. If he’s ordered to say a nice greeting to his neighbours, the greeting will be conveyed. And if he’s required to have a laugh at sitcoms as ridiculous as the most popular one in his Lego world, called “Where Are My Pants?”, the laughs will occur as necessary.

But, despite this seemingly idyllic and cohesive community, the commander of this Lego universe, President Business (Will Ferrell), has sinister intentions for it.

Essentially having a monopoly over this universe with his company called Octan, Business plans to destroy this universe using his ultimate power known as the Kragle, which basically involves gluing the town in place as it is.

Meanwhile, our hero Emmet, upon stumbling on the “piece of resistance”, which is the only object that can defeat the Kragle, is deemed “the special one” by the lord-like Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), and is taken on a journey with “master builders” Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and Batman (Will Arnett), despite not being a “master builder” himself, to conquer Business’s plans.

A great ensemble of characters is used to great effect and has the all-star voice cast to match. A few people among the rest of these include Alison Brie as Unikitty, Charlie Day as Benny, Channing Tatum as Superman and Jonah Hill as the Green Lantern.

With good cop/bad cop (Liam Neeson) used as Business’s henchman to carry out his deeds, the viewer is taken on an almighty adventure to delight all, and reach an emotionally satisfying ending.

The Lego universe is expertly and superbly put together, transporting you to a non-existent faraway place. But in doing so, it ignites the same essence of fun and imagination that the real-life toy does.

And I should say that despite my childhood not being that far back, it burns up that fire of childhood nostalgia.

Finally, I should say that this is a non-stop thrill ride once proceedings kick-off. The film has the talent, wit and visual spectacle to relentlessly entertain.

This is exactly what a Lego movie should be.

Rating: 4.5/5
The Grand Budapest Hotel (M)

Director: Wes Anderson

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric

Genre: Comedy

For those with a penchant for peculiar and eccentric film-making, Wes Anderson would have to be up there.

In a similar vein to his previous movies, such as “Moonrise Kingdom”, Anderson just has this aura about him which splashes onto his films.

It can be seen in his unique shooting style and through the many bizarre, but minute situations that take place. And this is definitely not a bad thing.

Narrated by Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) and listened to by a writer (Jude Law) in a time when the Grand Budapest Hotel has become rather desolate, Moustafa tells us of the story of the hotel in its heyday back in 1932.

Back in those days, Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) oversaw the bustling, eastern European fictitious hotel, running a tight ship. He didn’t let anything get past him, and made sure all his customers felt at home in the pristine, 5-star hotel.

Much of this involved more than what your regular hotel staff would do.

Gustave went past providing the regular hotel services, even copulating with some of the female customers. But these were mostly old women looking at a way to spend the final few years of their lives.

This unexpectedly turns out to be of great value to Gustave when one of his female customers Madame D. (Tilda Swinton) passes away and pledges her most treasured and valuable possession, a painting, to Gustave in her ultimate will.

Understandably, Madame D.’s children Dmitri (Adrien Brody) and Jopling (Willem Dafoe) aren’t pleased with this turn of events, and go out of their way to get their painting back by whatever means necessary.

With newly-employed lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori) by Gustave’s side, they must remain strong in their grip of the painting and overcome what the opposing duo throw at them.

Elsewhere, Anderson relies on his usual favourite actors to get the job done, such as Edward Norton as Policeman Henckels and Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman as other Monsieur.

What strikes me as being most odd about Anderson’s shooting style is that it either pans or turns up-and-down and side-to-side, barely moving in any direction other than these.

Furthermore, Anderson also has a propensity to splatter his films with colour and carefully manage every frame of the movie to perfection. It is obvious that he puts much work into crafting it to be this way.

If there is to be one blemish in this, it would be in the early stages of the movie when viewing the hotel from afar and during some of the sequences where fast movement is involved. In these instances, the use of backdrops and green screen is quite evident and diminishes the allure a tad.

But this is more than combated through the scenes that take place indoors. For example, the shots taken inside the hotel in particular are magnificent. The classiness and grandiose feel when viewing the majesty of the hotel’s features are truly remarkable.

While the script can drag a bit at times, and can be a touch boring when viewed in isolation from everything else, the visual features of the movie are a nice distraction and overwhelming enough for you to discard them.

My final verdict is that while it didn’t knock my socks off, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is still a charming film nonetheless.

Rating: 3.5/5
Dallas Buyers Club (MA15+)

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto

Genre: Biography, Drama

What we have here is one of the best films of the year.

Created in 2013, but released here in Australia in 2014, “Dallas Buyers Club” is one of the best biopics in recent memory.

Based in 1985 Dallas, Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is a prejudiced man living in a prejudiced society.

Perhaps prejudiced isn’t enough words to describe his personality traits. I’ll throw bigot, sexist and misogynist in there just to truly capture what this man was initially like.

As mentioned earlier, his immoral views and behaviour were fuelled and motivated by his friends and the society he lives in. Director Jean-Marc Vallee does an exquisite job of creating the feeling of a town where anyone deviating from the aforementioned characteristics is deemed subordinate to those who do display them.

However, after an electrician accident, which is one of his jobs alongside being a rodeo man, doctors Dr. Sevard (Denis O’Hare) and other doctor Eve (Jennifer Garner) diagnose Woodroof with HIV and give him thirty days to live.

Initially, Woodroof is in denial about it all, as he doesn’t believe he participated in any behaviour which could have caused this to happen.

But as he settles down a bit, and investigates the disease, Woodroof comes to reality and the truth becomes blindingly obvious.

Experiencing the debilitating effects of AIDS, Woodroof does whatever it takes to get the drugs to cure or at least pacify them.

During this period of time, the best available drug was known as AZT.

Being in a clinical trial at the time, and having to be around homosexuals riddled with the disease, including Rayon (Jared Leto), Woodroof gets as much of the stuff he can, at that point seeing it as the only way to overcome the disease.

After dosing on a larger supply of AZT than he should, and realising it wasn’t working as well as he would like, Woodroof heads down to Mexico, on a tip, and is treated there.

Surviving in Mexico past the thirty days originally given to him on a mix of new medications and vitamins deemed unsuitable in the United States with the help of his new doctor, Woodroof starts smuggling it across the border to help treat the Dallas community experiencing AIDS.

This journey Woodroof takes is more than just finding a way to treat his disease.

Going through the same symptoms as the homosexuals he formerly despised makes Woodroof sympathetic to their plight, yet he still maintains a hard-core edge about him and has a slight tendency to regress back to his natural ways.

With the selling of these drugs being illegal in the United States, Woodroof creates the “Dallas Buyers Club”, where he can get around the laws through a technicality by selling a membership, but giving away the drugs for free.

The FDA aren’t too happy with this however, and crack down on him despite his patients experiencing positive results and living beyond the timeframe that doctors gave them.

But it’s not effectiveness which is at the core of the issue here about why Woodroof is being shut down. That instead can be put down to two words: corporate greed.

“Dallas Buyers Club” shows corporate greed at its most powerful, with privatised pharmaceutical companies toying with the lives of the terminally ill for the purpose of money, essentially showing their preference for currency over life. This sadly is a reality that many people must face daily even today.

Alongside the bravura performances of McConaughey and Leto, I must point out the editing is sublime. The use of abrupt cuts and particular noises are used effectively.

All in all, what is best shown is a scenario where conscience wins out overall. Despite Woodroof’s preconceptions about HIV, his mental transformation leads him to support what were previously his foes.

Underneath, it shows that the human spirit and compassion underlies even the most belligerent of people, and can come to deliver the most unexpected and positive results, despite whatever acrimony may surround you.

Rating: 4.5/5
Guardians of the Galaxy (M)

Director: James Gunn

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper

Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi

This must be the most oddly delightful and crowd-pleasing flicks of the year.

Being a set of characters that a majority of people wouldn’t know of, “Guardians of the Galaxy” ensures it does its best to have you fall in love with them during proceedings. And boy, won’t you love them all by the end of it.

After crushing through the film’s colourful and hued shell, it fortunately has a simple and understandable yolk.

After a morbid introduction to Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) childhood, we’re taken into the future where all different types of life-forms live, breath and conduct their everyday lives simultaneously.

Quill’s possession of choice is a Walkman-type product, with cassettes that are chock-a-block with 80’s hits that both he and his mother cherished. I’ll discuss more about the music later.

Quill doesn’t mind considering himself an “outcast”. Perhaps I should say that he actually actively pleads with people to be known as one. But his self-inflicted moniker of “Star Lord” doesn’t quite tack on, but rather impose ignominy upon himself, especially by law-enforcement authorities.

After extracting an almighty orb that could change the world as we know it, Pratt becomes the target of multiple predators, including Ronan (Lee Pace), the villain in this gaudy beast of a film. Besides unleashing one of his minions Gamora (Zoe Saldana) upon her, duo Rocket (an un-Bradley-Cooper-sounding-like character voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) see capturing the orb for themselves as a scheme of great financial benefit. I should also mention Rocket and Groot are a talking racoon and tree respectively (Groot’s vocabulary is confined to “I am Groot”).

Following an uncoordinated tag-team sort-of fight between all these characters, they’re all shipped off to a prison where they decide to band together as the “Guardians of the Galaxy” to fight the sinister Ronan. During this sojourn, muscle-laden beast Drax (Dave Bautista) also joins the group to counter the forces of evil.

Over the course of the movie, you instinctively come to love all the characters for their own unique idiosyncrasies. But the characters you’ll come to love the most would have to be Rocket and Groot. Rocket for the wise-cracks, which are made even better by his small physical stature, and Groot, who it is so easy to feel compassion for.

The music is a key feature of the film which many are lauding it for. It differs from the norm, but it manages to ease in comfortably. Though the songs weren’t of my taste in particular, it’s a key element in ensuring “Guardians of the Galaxy” doesn’t take itself too seriously, and leaves it being a fun cinema-going experience.

As mentioned earlier, “Guardians of the Galaxy” has a broad colour palette. I felt that the colours at times weren’t so photogenic, and rehashed some old memories of campy old superhero films, but it strikes a good balance more often than not and never becomes a drab affair.

Right now, Marvel could do anything. Here, they’ve pulled something right from the bottom shelf and experimented with it to see if they can pull it off. As the critical acclaim and good box office figures show, they haven’t just pulled it off; they’ve yanked it and torn whatever it was in the first place to shreds.

Who knows what off-kilter venture is next in the Marvel cannon. Anything is possible now.

But whatever it is, if it’s well done, I’ll be the first in line to see it.

Rating: 3.5/5
Sorry everybody for the long wait. I have been really busy lately, and it will probably be that way for another 6 weeks or so, but I managed to get a movie in. Enjoy the review...

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (MA15+)

Directors: Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin

Genre: Crime/Thriller

Here is a place that just doesn’t accept, but thrives on the nefarious ambitions on its inhabitants. I’m talking about Sin City of course.

Because after all, what would a movie with a title like this be without a little bone-smashing and blood-letting?

I won’t make out as if I know all things Sin City. On the contrary, I haven’t seen the original that spawned this, so I’ll just have to take it on face value.

What we get plot-wise in “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” is a few storylines that are somewhat loosely connected.

The first involves Marv’s (Mickey Rourke) tale of survival in Sin City, who joins with Dwight (Josh Brolin), whose job mainly seems to be to bring down in people in power. This leads to an encounter with a well-off femme fatale Ava (Eva Green), who uses all the seduction and sex appeal she can muster to distort the views of males that lie in her path.

The second involves an impetuous Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who has a knack for reaping in the big bucks. One day though his brashness draws the ire of a high-up Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) when Johnny dominates him in a game of poker. Without question, this is sure to leave Johnny in a whole world of hurt.

And the third involves a stripper by the name of Nancy (Jessica Alba) who has a quest to take down Roark for the murder of former ally Hartigan (Bruce Willis).

In terms of style and appearance, this comes across well on the big screen. Directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez obviously have an eye for detail, and it is a significant step-up from Miller’s previous directorial effort of “The Spirit” (I’m not sure it would be possible to take a step-down from that effort).

But whatever appeal the movie had in the way of visual allure, the dialogue systematically tears it down in some bewildering dialogue.

What is supposed to come across as prophetic and philosophical instead comes across as pretentious and laughable.

Whether it is describing the vicious blows that are dealt, or something as simple as smoking, they always find a way to jackhammer in some florid metaphor, which could be interesting if it weren’t delivered in the way it was.

Unfortunately, despite the galaxy of stars that managed to chomp up some screen time here, including Rosario Dawson, Christopher Lloyd and even a cameo from Lady Gaga, it isn’t enough to detract from the sometimes painful and dreadful happenings here.

And it also seems that this movie has perhaps arrived too late. After all, the original was released in 2005, and people surely would have moved on or forgotten about that one. Right?

Yes, if the barometer that is the box office is anything to go by. $35 million made for a $65 million budget movie that is nearing the end of its run on the silver screen? I’m sure there’ll be some stern words amongst the Weinsteins and whoever gave this the green-light.

Elsewhere in terms of storyline, I’m sure the blokes will enjoy Eva Green spending extended periods of time without her gear on. But one must wonder where the line crosses from using it for artfulness to using it to leer. Given Miller’s propensity to characterise his female protagonists as bimbos, I’m inclined to favour the latter point.

Lastly, I should mention that if you’re going to watch this, it’s best to get in quick. The writers and directors rush into the storyline before you even have a chance to get settled into your seat and it is a turn-off.

I guess it must have been Rourke’s fault. After all, it looks like all his preparation going into the start of this movie was to stick his face in a beehive and gargle a mouthful of gravel.

Rating: 2/5
Gone Girl (MA15+)

Director: David Fincher

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris

Genre: Drama/Mystery/Thriller

There are few, if any, relationships that are meant to be holier and more sanctimonious than marriage. You might find yourself becoming more disconnected with this statement the further that “Gone Girl” progresses.

Life was once a whirlwind adventure for Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike). Upon meeting one another, the attraction was almost instant, and the dynamism was palpable.

Nick promises to extricate Amy from “all this awesomeness” that was her life at the time and settle into what would hopefully be an affectionate marriage.

But after so many years running through the rigmarole that is everyday life, life becomes stale, and partners turn from lovers to adversaries.

This is what happens after the marriage hits the skids, and Nick comes to find his house smashed up and his wife missing.

What happened to her? Well, there are many goings-on here that it would be nothing less than a crime to rob you of experiencing them yourself.

However, what I’ll say is that we’ll come to find out what happened to Amy and discover Nick’s involvement in it all.

When the light of the media and police is eventually shone on Nick, leading policing duties are Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) alongside Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit), who both view Nick in different ways. The former likes to look at the situation as it is, the latter doesn’t mind being swayed by the media circus surrounding the case.

The ever-acrimonious world turns in on Nick so much that very few people stand by his side; only his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon) and his eventual lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) are willing to stick with him.

I think this gives enough of a scent of “Gone Girl” without giving away any plot twists.

In one sentence, “Gone Girl” must surely be the gold-class in delivering thrills, suspense and serpentine twists and turns in 2014.

Where do I start in explaining the brilliance of this Gillian Flynn book that goes by the same title?

I think a good place is its cinematography standards.

You don’t need to know much about David Fincher to know that he is the regal standard of creating a miasmic atmosphere. One only needs to look at his other dark films such as “Fight Club” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” to understand his majesty in constructing this sort of environment.

This sense of dread procured by the film’s look on the screen is only furthered by the music composition of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Particularly knowing the music of the former, there couldn’t have been a better musician choice to complement the film.

But despite all this doom and gloom, “Gone Girl” avoids becoming bleak the whole way through with the doses of humour sprinkled throughout which are used in good measure.

If anything shows this film’s ability to be able to pull off anything, it must be the left-field choice of thespians. Choosing the often ridiculed Tyler Perry, as well as Neil Patrick Harris and even Emily Ratajkowski of “Blurred Lines” fame, shows the film’s ability to be able to pull off almost every single element of the film with aplomb.

Elsewhere, the performances are excellent, particularly of the starring duo, but I would like to make particular mention of Rosamund Pike.

Hopefully we’ll see Rosamund Pike receive an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. The choice of Pike to play her role was immaculate, and perfectly exemplifies the feeling I think the director and producers were going after. Her accomplished performance of being the cold and distant wife was expertly conveyed in a complex and layered fashion.

If there’s one scene I must highlight, it must be a scene towards the middle of the movie. I won’t say what happens or who is involved, but upon seeing it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It is one of the most compelling, absorbing and mesmerising moments in a film in recent cinematic history.

It is moments like these that show Fincher’s ability to knock films out of the park on a regular basis. With Fincher’s two previously directed films being “The Social Network” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, this is as good as either of them, and explains why Fincher is rightfully placed as one of the best directors in modern times.

What “Gone Girl” shows is many messages about marriage and media.

Marriage, which can start out so loving and compassionate can end up being so hostile and malicious. “Gone Girl” poses many questions about marriage and asks whether enduring the same person for so many years can inevitably harbour feelings of resentment and hatred towards them.

As importantly, the manipulation of the media is portrayed stunningly well. This film shows the media’s ability to whip up the masses into a frenzy, often on unfounded evidence and gut instinct, which is usually incorrect. More disturbingly, it accentuates the willingness of people to gobble up their stories and accept trial by media. It reflects a mirror on society of peoples’ stupidity in such situations, where they’re happy to follow the popular opinion without giving proper thought as it is the easy option and because they don’t want to deal with the hassle and intricacies that are involved with discovering the real truth.

Strap yourself in for one of the most impeccable films of the year. It’s going to be a very bumpy ride.

Rating: 4.5/5
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The Equalizer (MA15+)

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Starring: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloe Grace Moretz

Genre: Action/Crime/Thriller

With Liam Neeson monopolising the senior justice market of late, it was about time another respected senior actor took a crack. Welcome Denzel Washington.

But is “The Equalizer” able to stand up to most of Neeson’s recent work? Unfortunately for the most part I’m going to have to say no.

Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is a man of habit. He likes having things arranged in a certain way (I guess you could say obsessive-compulsive), does his fair share of work at a local hardware store and eats at a dingy little 24/7 diner every night.

It is at this diner where McCall encounters Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz) on a nightly basis. She seems like a decent enough person in her interactions with McCall, but it is her career that is emotionally tearing her apart. You see, she has been forced into the sex trade by some Russian mobsters, headed by Teddy (Marton Csokas), where her dream career lies elsewhere.

Being a creature of habit, and noticing one night that Teri is in particular peril after a night gone wrong with one of her “clients”, McCall sees it as the perfect time to stop being a by-stander and to dispense some “equalizing”, if you will, of his own, so as to tear Teri out of her confined and sordid lifestyle.

The idea had some potential, and really could have been capitalised on with Washington at the helm. Yet there are countless times you feel “The Equalizer” could have done with a screenplay re-write, as the film likes to dither between slow-moving scenes of dialogue and violent action sequences, without really showing a commitment to either side or realising either side’s true potential.

“The Equalizer” begins on slow terms, choosing to establish McCall’s lifestyle and background and lay the groundwork to what will eventually come. It does this to reasonable success, but it is an overwhelming period of time to endure for what should be a film with more consistent action.

And it is from there that the story goes on with intermissions of sporadic violence thrown into the mix.

While some of these scenes may be great to watch, herein lies the problem. Many of these scenes seem to be thrown in just for the sake of it, with the audience fully knowing it will play no role in the ultimate outcome of the movie. They simply just become throwaway scenes and make the narrative disjointed.

Elsewhere, more work should have been done into writing about the villains. All the villains, particularly the Russian mobsters, have the stereotype dials turned up to 11, portraying them as heavy drinkers and having more ink on them than discernible skin. Surely we have seen enough of this type of character to continue to be amused by it, right?

This ties in with the lack of character development. As a viewer, it feels like we should all know the characters better, even including McCall at times. Instead, we sometimes become confused with everybody’s intentions and have to fill in the gaps ourselves. This can be fine in general, but not so when you barely catch an inkling of a person’s personality at all beforehand.

This, combined with some of the images you see on the screen, can make “The Equalizer” very difficult to watch at times, where you’re made to bear some inexplicable actions for no obvious reward.

Luckily we have Washington there mitigating the bigger disaster this could have been. It is just so easy to like Washington’s cool, magnetising on-screen presence, and you can’t help but feel a little bit of sick satisfaction when Denzel delivers his vicious brand of justice.

It is with this that the film is able to garner a few good action scenes, but overall, it’s not enough to capture the audience’s attention well enough.

Finally, the film itself is well-shot and has a dark enough atmosphere, but simultaneously fails to deliver adequate enough suspense when it should be fundamental to do so.

Considering these conflicting issues, ironically, “The Equalizer” is unable to equalize.

Rating: 2/5
Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie (M)

Director: Ben Kellett

Starring: Brendan O'Carroll, Jennifer Gibney, Eilish O'Carroll

Genre: Comedy

There’s not much to say about this. If you want this movie summed up in one sentence, it would be the following: complete and utter train-wreck.

It is not until you see it that you truly realise how low this movie plummets.

That’s why I’m here to save you. To describe the movie’s sheer awfulness so you don’t have to go through the displeasure of watching it as well.

In a nutshell, the film revolves around Agnes Brown (Brendan O’Carroll) and her fruit stall in Dublin. Things are going along well per usual, with Brown being surrounded by family and friends that support her.

However, sinister forces are beginning to encroach upon the stalls surrounding Brown’s. One by one, stalls are being taken over, thanks to some stereotyped Russian mobsters.

Surely enough, Brown eventually becomes a target of repossession. But Mrs Brown isn’t going to wilt under adversity. Breaking the trend, Mrs Brown stands up to the opposing forces, this in turn makes her a revered cult figure.

Admittedly, I haven’t watched the show, so perhaps I’m not best suited to it. Nevertheless, the systematic laziness and dreadfulness never ceases to bemuse.

Many of the jokes are repeated, just in case you didn’t catch them the first time. What the writers should know is that a) we heard it the first time, and b) it wasn’t funny the first time.

For example, the sledging of Asians and homosexual people, as if it’s nothing, is astonishing. Also, an Indian is continually confused with being Jamaican. Get it? It’s funny because both ethnicities are so similar. Hey, why not chuck in some gags about a lawyer with Tourette’s syndrome so he can swear incessantly at inopportune times?

Significantly, I’m not sure if I’ve ever watched a movie so dull and boring ever, and that even includes the slow-moving drama flicks. Fending off sleep became increasingly difficult solely due to the lack of laughs. I would have been better off falling asleep, because at least that would have provided something positive.

Overall, this movie is barely worthy of a review. It’s not worth the time it took for me to put these words together. It is the epitome of a “nothing” movie, which you’ll forget as soon as the credits start rolling.

And in all honesty, that’s a good thing.

Rating: 0.5/5
Tammy (M)

Director: Ben Falcone

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates

Genre: Comedy

Along comes 2014’s biggest afterthought in movies with a widescreen Australian release, “Tammy”. It would have been better if it hadn’t even been thought of at all.

I believe this film wasn’t set to be released in Australia, but a film distributor thought it was a good opportunity to pick up a few extra bucks for a film that isn’t up to scratch.

But I digress.

What we have here is apparently a comedy (which can be difficult to believe at times when watching it), spearheaded by American comedienne of the moment Melissa McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone, who managed to snare the position of director, co-writer and even an acting role.

Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) does not live a glamorous life. Quite the contrary actually. And it’s about to get a whole lot worse, as she’s about to get fired from her admittedly crappy fast-food job as well as find her husband dining with another woman.

At an all-time low, penurious and dejected, Tammy decides to hit the road, using her mother’s (Alison Janney) car, to escape her life, while taking her rough-around-the-edges grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon) with her.

And, as to be expected, some bad, old memories will be rehashed and some fresh scandals will come to the fore.

They’ll also experience a boring series of events while travelling, generally with uninspired, predictable outcomes. Don’t head to “Tammy” if you’re looking to forge some great, new memories.

As for the jokes, they are bad-intentioned for the most part, due to Tammy’s character traits. While Tammy can be likeable at times, she manages to suck the humour out of the situation every time by doing something irritating.

Furthermore, McCarthy’s comedic range in “Tammy” is very limited. Her comedic scope ranges from entering a room and getting angry at something, to getting angry at something and then knocking over a few objects within her reach. These jokes are repeated too many times, not that they were funny in the first place.

Lastly, in a movie like this, you at least want to get something out of the journey. But, unfortunately, you know you don’t care for the story and characters much if you feel no emotional pay-off when the conflicts are mended.

Rating: 1.5/5
Interstellar (M)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain

Genre: Adventure/Sci-Fi

Christopher Nolan, one of the most popular current directors, is known for his mind-warping, sophisticated ideas. “Interstellar” isn’t here to break the trend.

Given his reputation with movies such as “Inception” and his breathing new life into Batman in its recent trilogy, this was always going to have a big build-up and lots of hype, which it mostly lives up to, but didn’t quite get the whole way for me.

Set in an unspecified future, the Earth is struggling to sustain life. Growing food is the top priority, while ventures into other careers are required to take a back seat.

This includes Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), who gave up his engineering position to be a farmer and serve humanity. Living with his two children, Tom (Timothée Chalamet) and Murph (Mackenzie Foy), Cooper regularly faces troubles with dust storms that ruin his crops.

However, after some incidents that leave Murph thinking there is a ghost inhabiting their house, Cooper is led on a path to a secret NASA facility where he’s eventually assigned to undertake a mission to find a new home for humanity through a recently discovered wormhole, much to the dismay of his daughter.

As we can understand, this is an ambitious piece of work, very much dealing with issues of humanity and time, the latter which Nolan loves dealing with.

Despite this ambition, it can at times feel that the movie’s aims sometimes exceeds its grasp. However, it is still able to remain enjoyable.

The special effects are top-notch and play a role in submerging you into the movie.

I watched the movie in an IMAX cinema earlier today, and the use of sound was very effective. Changing between periods of silence to periods of loud noise which made the chairs rumble made the experience all the more authentic.

The acting was good all-round as well, with roles played by Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine. I guess the better the personnel behind the camera, the better star power a movie attracts.

While “Interstellar” doesn’t achieve the magnificent heights of many others of Nolan’s films, it is still inquisitive and curious enough to remain a high-standard film, but would fall just short of other space travel classics, particularly “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

Finally, I will state that it does pose questions of humanity’s future. How will we deal with the consequences of annihilation? Is there a plan? Will the plans even work? While not being exactly original, the answers suggested here can be riveting.

Rating: 3.5/5
Sex Tape (MA15+)

Director: Jake Kasdan

Starring: Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz, Rob Corddry

Genre: Comedy

Congratulations to those people looking for a lifetime’s supply of images of Jason Segel’s arse – you’ve just hit the mother lode.

Condolences to those people looking for a non-stop laugh-fest – “Sex Tape” will fall short.

If you’ve seen the trailers, or just even listen to the title of the movie though, you should know that the humour won’t be of the highest calibre.

But that’s not to say “Sex Tape” doesn’t have its moments, just not enough to commend it any higher.

Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel) were once teenage lovers, and that time came with frequent copulation, anytime and anywhere. With time, and more importantly, kids, that flame of sexual prowess has been dimmed, and the couple seem impotent to reignite it.

Trying to keep the passion alive, Annie one night strikes up the thought to create a sex tape. This is one of many stupid ideas Annie and Jay collectively sprout into existence and just decide to go along with anyway.

What seemed a good idea on the night doesn’t seem so smart the next morning, Annie asking Jay to delete the tape. By then though, the damage has been done with the tape making its way up to the “cloud”.

And Jay, being the generous fellow that he is, just happens to have given all his friends and family an iPad of their own, meaning all these people readily have access to it, just a click away.

This obviously has ramifications. Their next-door neighbour friends Robby (Rob Corddry) and Tess (Ellie Kemper), their cousins and even their postman could find it. Perhaps most importantly, Annie’s new boss Hank (Rob Lowe), who’s looking to form a lucrative partnership with Annie through her blog, could get it. If he finds out, this partnership is sure to go down the tubes.

And so it goes from there. Will they retrieve all the tapes? Who will watch it? Will it all work out for Annie and Jay?

Throughout the movie, we tread over many contrived plot points, and the editing and directing at times can feel incredibly poor. At times, “Sex Tape” feels too cheap and effortless.

This isn’t helped by some awkward, uncomfortable scenes of the titular sex tape. While played for laughs, it is most unsuccessful in doing so in my honest opinion.

Despite its problems, “Sex Tape” can pull some laughs if you try to stay with the flow of it. It manages to strike up some laughs on some occasions due to the sheer stupidity of it, and a couple of times due to some surprising happenings.

Finally, I’m not sure whether the Apple product placement does the company any favours or not. There are moments that just seem to be obvious advertisements, such as Jay marvelling at the sturdiness of an iPad, or Jay being astounded at how easy it is to make films on their Moviemaker program. Yet with this Apple lexicon being bandied about, the film is about how their technology led to the confusion of the two main protagonists. Sure, the movie may go some way to explaining that, particularly that Annie and Jay are somewhat moronic, but it can seem in general that many people don’t deviate too far from them in technological understanding.

And just so that this review doesn’t end on that dour note, I’ll just add this sentence here just for the sake of it.

Rating: 2/5
Whiplash (MA15+)

Director: Damien Chazelle

Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist

Genre: Drama/Music

“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job” philosophises Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). You need not know little more than that to know how this hardened music teacher will treat his students.

Set at a supreme New York music conservatory, the best in the country it is touted, an aspiring young drummer Andrew (Miles Teller) is in a room playing on a drum kit. Fletcher, the king of this institution, overhears him, and after a chat, Fletcher leaves with an uninspired aura about him. Andrew feels his chances of rising through the ranks are already dented. Little does he know that it is just the beginning of Fletcher’s grooming of him, which will inevitably get more brutal and callous the more he has to endure.

We will come to see this later when Andrew later makes it through to Simmons leading class after an impromptu mid-class rehearsal at Andrew’s lower-level class. The torrent of verbal and physical abuse which he’ll eventually be on the receiving end of will eventually become unbearable. One only needs to watch the trailer to establish that.

But, as a matter of fact, that assumption would be completely wrong. The maltreatment isn’t necessarily unbearable, but has ingredients that are essential to success. That is where the foundation to this story lies.

As Andrew is striving to become a jazz legend, he becomes at times accepting of the cruelty and sees it as a necessary imposition to get where he wants to get. And we are sure to see how this impacts his everyday life.

However, it does pose the question “where do you draw the line?” Is it worth experiencing a dreadful, miserable upbringing just to be the best of the best in the end? These questions are particularly pertinent in this day and age. And with the way such moments play out in the film, it will be a real kick in-the-gut to anybody who has complained about performing a task that is relatively simple in everyday life.

“Whiplash” also displays an astounding commentary on the nature of abusive relationships. Andrew and Fletcher often exhibit a symbiotic relationship, Andrew often seeming like the protagonist and Fletcher the antagonist. But one might ask where the line is between pushing yourself to the limit for your own benefit and pushing yourself to please and be subservient to another.

As it has been in said in many other reviews, the acting is nothing short of superb. Simmons masterfully exudes the tempestuous, charismatic flair that his character demands, even if it feels like he overdoes the insults at times. Teller is his equal in almost all departments, expressing emotion and inner turmoil whenever the moment requires it.

For a second-time director, Damien Chazelle seems to strike gold in most departments. Besides the acting, the screenplay, written by Chazelle himself, drills deep into the psyche of his two main characters, and the music sequences are performed phenomenally. The editing also has “Whiplash” moving along at a breakneck speed, meaning it never descends into tedium.

Amongst all the tongue-lashings, “Whiplash” must be applauded for being whip smart and brimming with fervency.

Bravo.

Rating: 4/5
Let's Be Cops (MA15+)

Director: Luke Greenfield

Starring: Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr., Rob Riggle

Genre: Comedy

We’ve had a few cop-buddy movies this year. 22 Jump Street, Ride Along and now this. This is my pick as worst of the bunch.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its hysterical moments (which it does), but its ability to sustain the laughs peters out towards the end.

Ryan (Jake Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayons Jr.) are two friends that live together in Los Angeles whose lives seem pretty aimless. Justin is working as a video games designer who isn’t appreciated by his boss. It’s even worse for Ryan, with all he does being reliving his glory days when it looked as if his was going to become a professional American football player. The best it gets for him now is dominating football games against young kids at a local park.

One night, the duo are invited to a party and decide to dress as police officers. Realising after the party that people think they’re legitimate police officers when they’re walking along the street, they decide to take their charade further and further.

Ryan does it because he seems to have nothing else to do in his life. Justin is reluctant, however, but agrees to do it as he sees it as a way to impress local waitress Josie (Nina Dobrev).

Surely it would be difficult to impersonate a police officer though, right? Not at all as it turns out. Police badges and police uniform? Too easy. Police car? They’re selling off hundreds of those on eBay for next to nothing. How about general suspicion that these guys aren’t the real deal? Yet again, no one suspects a thing.

This paves the way for Ryan and Justin to get involved in police business, including taking down some crooks that damaged Ryan’s car a couple of days earlier. But if they thought they could just push these thugs around without retaliation, they have another thing coming.

For most of the first two-thirds of the movie, it cruises along with some pretty decent laughs because of the comedic chemistry of Johnson and Wayans Jr. This can probably be put down to their working together in the TV show “New Girl”, where I’m sure they’ve been able to build up a great rapport.

Unfortunately, in the final third this movie takes a turn for the worst. It goes from mainly a comedy to more of an action-drama feel, which detracts from what was built up beforehand. There are times where you’re wondering whether they’re even trying to crack a joke at all.

It’s a shame because it had the potential to get a higher rating, but the tonal shifts are jarring, and the scenes involving the main villain Mossi (James D’Arcy) and his henchmen carrying out criminal acts don’t fit very well into the flow of it at all.

Oh well, let’s be better next time.

Rating: 2/5
Horrible Bosses 2 (MA15+)

Director: Sean Anders

Starring: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day

Genre: Comedy

The first was a box office hit and quite a funny film. This sequel is looking like it’s going to be less of a box office hit, but as importantly, not as funny a film.

After the problems the trio of Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) had with working for their “horrible bosses” in the first movie, which culminated in their conspiring to kill them, they’ve in the meantime attempted to become entrepreneurs and gain financial backing for their new product the “Shower Buddy” (a name which hadn’t really been settled upon).

Following an appearance on an breakfast TV show program, big-time manufacturing company Boulder Stream, managed by Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) with his son Rex (Chris Pine) lurking about, Bert puts his support behind them and gets them to start manufacturing the product.

Little do the trio know that by the time they’ve produced the order required, Bert has pulled out, leaving Nick, Kurt and Dale half-a-million dollars out-of-pocket and Bert there to strip their carcass when they go into foreclosure.

Feeling ripped off by this devious and sinister plan, the trio then embarks on a harebrained attempt to stage a kidnapping of Rex in the hope of retrieving the half-a-million dollars in which they are in arrears.

“Horrible Bosses 2” was destined not to live up to its’ predecessor when it turned out Sean Anders was going to be the co-writer and director of this. While I enjoyed “We’re The Millers”, most of his films have a bad track record, reaching his nadir in the directorial effort of the repulsive “That’s My Boy”.

It might explain why they have to resort to rape “jokes” when certain scenes hit a dead-end. None of these jokes get too crass fortunately enough, but you know that you’re not going to have a brilliant comedy when this is the type of material they’re using for a quick gag.

For the returning characters, the leading three men don’t quite strike up as man laughs as the first movie, but there are moments of comedic chemistry that make their bickering and confusion entertaining enough for the most part. However, the stupidity of Kurt and Dale’s characters when making decisions sometimes make you wonder how these guys even survive everyday life. They’re less happy-go-lucky blokes and more naïve morons.

Elsewhere, Jennifer Aniston as sex-addicted dentist Julia Harris hasn’t changed much, so there’s not much to comment on there. Kevin Spacey as Nick’s former boss isn’t left with much to do either. They’ve sucked out all the charisma of his character, and just have him as a jaded old man shouting insults behind prison phone booth Perspex.

The new entries aren’t too flash either. Chris Pine sways between likeable and unlikeable and Christoph Waltz is just generally uninteresting and not much to care about.

A note to Hollywood studios making comedies: Please don’t use music like this movie did. Using mainstream pop songs at regular intervals throughout the movie (which I don’t recall the first movie doing), such as Katy Perry’s “Roar” and Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty” doesn’t feel right. They worsen the movie and just feel like an easy way out for moviemakers when they couldn’t come up with anything better to put in. Also, it means it can become awfully dated in a pretty short period of time…

So this continues a pretty big trend of below-average comedies this year. Granted, I haven’t seen them all, but I’m hoping things pick up soon.

Rating: 2/5
Hi KingBandicoot. Thanks for posting all of these reviews. I would be interested to see your top 5 movies for the year. Are you planning on posting a chart like this in the next few weeks?
Thanks ChartGuru!

Hopefully I'll be able to do something like that, but I'll just have to wait and see considering I've got a busy run coming up.

Of course, I'll only be able to judge on what I have watched, and will include movies that have a general Australian release date in 2014.

But otherwise, it sounds like a good idea. I have a best-of and worst-of of the year in mind...
The Captive (MA15+)

Director: Atom Egoyan

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, Rosario Dawson

Genre: Thriller

Watching the trailer to “The Captive”, it looked like we had a pulsating thriller on our hands. It almost looked like “Taken”, “Prisoners” and even “Gone Girl” rolled up in to one movie. “The Captive” isn’t as ostentatiously thrilling (or as good) as any of these aforementioned movies, but it plants its’ thrills in a more subtle and nuanced manner.

At its’ core, the plot isn’t that far away from what the trailer presents us. As a young child, Cassandra (Peyton Kennedy), one-half of a talented figure-skating duo, is abducted from her father, Matthew’s (Ryan Reynolds), care while she was left unattended in his car while he ordered food from a local diner.

Eight years in the future, the rest of Matthew’s family still aren’t too happy with him, while the police belonging to the child abduction unit, headed by Nicole (Rosario Dawson) and Jeffrey (Scott Speedman), are too busy convincing themselves that Matthew was responsible for the abduction that they don’t give other legitimate leads to Cassandra’s whereabouts and other possible suspects the attention it deserves.

Of course, the viewer knows all along whom the abductor is, but I won’t say who it is. Although, only one look at the trailer gives you that answer, for anybody that is interested.

The story-telling is on the strange, quirky side, which makes it a little complicated to tell you anything more that happens without giving away more details. “The Captive” is a layered movie, and to give away anything more than the core premise would be to distort the entire dynamic of the movie for anybody that reads this.

If I had to pick two words to describe this, I would say dark and gloomy. It goes for flat-out drama and suspense. Despite that, it remains alluring enough in a chilling way and everything has been beautifully shot.

Ultimately though, this movie could have earned a higher rating but isn’t able to do so. There are a few too many moments of questionable decision-making by key characters and a few plot-holes that draw you out of the realism and beauty of the rest of the movie. To have these characters make detrimental mistakes, too often for my liking, to move the plot along leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

Whereas this movie got booed at the Cannes Film Festival, I think that was an overreaction. While by no means great, I think a more appropriate reaction would be to mull over the movie, think “it was okay” and move along with your day.

Rating: 2.5/5
Nightcrawler (MA15+)

Director: Dan Gilroy

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton

Genre: Crime/Drama/Thriller

“If it bleeds, it leads” Lou Bloom is told early in this stunning crime thriller. And there is a lot of blood to be found.

Lou Bloom (brilliantly played by Jake Gyllenhaal) is a very peculiar man. Gaunt in stature, he could be described as being apathetic and sociopathic.

He could also be described as unemployed. After looking for work one night, he stumbles across a car crash on the side of a freeway, and his interest isn’t caught so much by the crash itself, but more by the people raiding the incident, video recorder in hand, to capture footage that could strike them up big bucks if television news programs are willing to deal out the cash for it.

Following a discussion with one of these “night crawlers”, Lou sees a money-making opportunity in the industry and takes it upon himself to get his own equipment and to start filming. But to gain the ascendancy over other night crawlers, Lou will have to go the extra mile, even going as far as sticking a camera right up in the face of somebody on the brink of death while his competition are stuck behind the police tape.

Not that this matters to Nina (Rene Russo), a director at a local Los Angeles news station, as the whole news industry is a place where ethics and morals are non-existent. The more graphic the video that Lou provides Nina and her news team, the better the ratings. And in the end, that’s all that really matters to her, even if some of her colleagues disagree.

“Nightcrawler” is enough to leave you up at night, wondering about all the crime and seedy dealings that are happening in the moment. The adventures that took place here in late-night Los Angeles, capturing such moments, are sleekly filmed by director Dan Gilroy and allow the film to be well-paced.

The movie is a strong commentary on the state of news and the media. When watching the news, you may sometimes wonder how certain footage is obtained. It’s not hard to imagine it deviating much from the occurrences taking place here.

It also shows how the news is less to inform and more to entertain. Many news outlets don’t care about what is ethically correct and will go to any extent to get whatever they can to get the edge on their competitors. If somebody is dying, why bother reviving them when filming their final moments and putting it to air is able to turn you some fast money? After all, the commentary also seems to suggest that the public value something to gawp at over ensuring professional standards of media coverage are kept.

Lastly, “Nightcrawler” is very representative of where society is right now in terms of employment and what has to been done to survive in a job. That involves having to put yourself first and trampling over anybody that could be a hindrance to that, or could be used as a stepping stone to help you achieve higher ambitions of your own, even if it means discarding or hurting that person along the way.

Overall, this is one of the finest films I have seen this year, filled with strong acting, a mesmerising landscape and an intriguing plotline that grips you and never lets you go.

Definitely check it out.

Rating: 4.5/5
Just to inform everyone, I still intend on writing up my best (and worst) movies of 2014, but it may not be until later, as I'm overseas now and won't be back in Australia for a fortnight, and then I've got a busy run coming up after that.
Okay, so I got to this later than I was hoping.

Seeing as I'm pretty busy now, and I just spent a whole bunch of time writing up my best songs of the year, I'm just going to post my best and worst movies of 2014 (that I saw), in order, and without any explanations. You can read the above reviews to get just about all the explaining you need for what I thought about each movie.

I've also thrown in a few acting performances just for fun.

Here they are...

BEST MOVIES OF 2014

1. The Wolf of Wall Street
2. Gone Girl
3. Her
4. Nightcrawler
5. The Lego Movie

And The Next 5…

6. Dallas Buyers Club
7. 22 Jump Street
8. Calvary
9. Whiplash
10. The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro

WORST MOVIES OF 2014

1. Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie
2. Wolf Creek 2
3. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
4. Transformers: Age of Extinction
5. Blended

Best Acting Performances of 2014

Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler
Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street
Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club
Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis

Worst Acting Performances of 2014

Brendan O’Carroll in Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie
Anyone in Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
John Jarratt in Wolf Creek 2
Melissa McCarthy in Tammy
Christopher Mintz-Plasse in Bad Neighbours

Best Couples

Joaquin Phoenix and the voice of Scarlett Johannson in Her
Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in 22 Jump Street
Miles Teller and JK Simmons in Whiplash
Mia Wasikowska and her dog in Tracks

Worst Couples

Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz in Sex Tape
Chris Pine and Kiera Knightley in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Seth McFarlane and Charlize Theron in A Million Ways to Die in the West
Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone in Grudge Match
Melissa McCarthy (two mentions!) and Susan Sarandon in Tammy
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With my university workload increasing this year, the amount of movie reviews I'll post here will drop off significantly. Just a heads up for everyone just in case they're wondering where all the reviews have gone.

Anyway, I was hoping to see if I could get any opinions on my reviews. Agree/disagree with my ratings in general? Like/dislike my writing style? Did you have a favourite/least favourite review? Have I missed anything? Maybe you saw something in 2014 you loved/hated, and if so, feel free to post something about it.
Thanks for posting your lists. I had the good fortune to avoid 4 of your worst 5 movies, and I agree that Transformers was pretty bad. I agree with pretty much all your reviews except Wolf of Wall street which I thought was average at best. Hopefully you can post a few more this year if time permits.

Briefly, my own 2014 lists:

Best:
1. Premature (4.5/5)
Like a cross between American Pie and Groundhog Day. Nothing original here, but does the same old stuff really well.
2. 22 Jump Street (4/5)
Very funny movie; surprised me by not being another crappy sequel.
3. The LEGO Movie (4/5)
Comedy with heart and Batman.
4. Non-Stop (4/5)
If you're happy to suspend disbelief for a while, this is another great Liam Neeson action thriller.
5. Gone Girl (4/5)
I'm always wary of movies receiving so much hype, but this one deserved it. I particularly liked the pacing and the way the audience and the main character had roughly the same information for much of the movie, rather than giving away twists way in advance as is usually the case.

Worst:
1.2.3.4.5. Predestination
It hurts to even think about this movie. One of the worst in the history of the universe. My policy is to avoid Australian movies at all costs, but I gave this one a chance because I love sci-fi. Don't make the same mistake.
Hi ChartGuru, thanks for the comments.

I understand about "The Wolf of Wall Street". Definitely not for everyone, but a movie I found really entertaining.

As for your best list, I like all of them, except I haven't seen "Premature". Might have to check it out when I get the time.

Now I know to avoid "Predestination" as well. Thanks for the warning.
Hey KingB,
I would love to contribute to the discussion if only I saw more movies!

Just saw Kingsman today though and I highly enjoyed it, hopefully you'll get to watching it too and will have interesting thoughts about it.
Hi antonnalan, I'm hoping to watch Kingsman soon, as I've heard good things about it. Hopefully I get some time to do so next weekend.

Thanks for the comments.
I told you I wouldn't watch as many movies this year

I didn't get around to watching "Kingsman: The Secret Service". Hopefully I will when it gets to its DVD release.

First review of the year...

Furious 7 (M)

Director: James Wan

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson

Genre: Action/Crime/Thriller

First things first, let’s get one thing straight. If you’re expecting a riveting plot, I’ll cut you off right here. You’re not getting it. It is a blanket statement you could throw over the entire “Fast & Furious” franchise. Rather, it is all about the crash-and-bash and wondering what adrenaline-soaked hijinks will come up next.

In this case, you should not be disappointed, but you can’t help but feel that it isn’t enough to carry a film of this length.

As far as plot goes, the villain of the piece Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), who you really don’t learn all that much about, is an assassin out to seek revenge for the death of his brother, who died at the hands of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew, consisting of Brian (Paul Walker), Tej (Ludacris) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), just to name a few.

It is all up to the stunts to take care of the rest. If that tickles your fancy, don’t walk, run to see this. If it doesn’t, as you should already know, this isn’t for you.

However, the movie isn’t just non-stop action, making the weaknesses between these scenes pretty evident.

Character motivations and cringe-worthy dialogue (some of which carries over into the action scenes) can make this somewhat unenjoyable to view at times, but my biggest qualm would have to be the way that some of the females are portrayed. Sure, this franchise isn’t about female empowerment exactly, but the need for the director to incessantly put T&A shots in the frame put a foul taste in my mouth right from the very beginning.

Fortunately, the second half of the film picks this up considerably, making this a fairly enjoyable thrill ride and picks it up from a beginning that didn’t promise too much.

The stunts are admittedly top-notch and you just wonder how they’re going to lift their game even further in the next one. Two stunts in particular stood out above the rest. Without giving too much away, the first involves an aeroplane and the second involve three skyscrapers.

Above that though, the scenery of “Furious 7” carries this movie as much as anything else. The landscapes of Los Angeles, Tokyo and Abu Dhabi are a sight to behold and make great settings for many of these sequences. But, when the setting you’re in is actually of more interest than the story itself, you have a bit of a problem.

My final issues are those relating to flashbacks and the length. The flashbacks didn’t fit well into the flow of the movie, and it should have been at least 45 minutes shorter. Seriously, there is no need for a movie like this to run for almost 2 hours and 20 minutes, it wears off quickly!

As a farewell to the recently deceased Paul Walker, it does a reasonable job. The drama in relation to his character’s subplot with wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) hits home well, and the tribute paid to him strikes the right emotions.

But as a last film ever in his filmography, this is a personally disappointing final entry.

Rating: 2.5/5
Here is a list of 2015 movies (i.e. 2015 release in Australia) I have watched so far this year, and a rating out of 5.

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (4.2)
Taken 3 (3.3)
American Sniper (4.1)
Kingsman: The Secret Service (4.4)
Fifty Shades of Grey (1.8)
The Interview (3.4)
Chappie (3.6)
Furious 7 (4.3)
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (3.4)
Insurgent (3.9)

There are so many more movies that I am looking forward to in 2015!
I might do this as well, The ratings (out of 5, cause it is easier) for all the movies i've seen this year.

Fast & Furious 7 4.7/5
American Sniper 4.4/5
The Imitation Game 3.8/5
Kingsman: The Secret Service 4.8/5
Taken 3 - 3.6/5
Focus 3.8/5
Dumb And Dumber To 2.9/5
The Theory Of Everything 4.8/5
Unbroken 4.5/5
Birdman 4.3/5
Jupiter Ascending 2.3/5
Get Hard 3.4/5
The Wedding Ringer 3.6/5
Chappie 4.9/5
Run All Night 3.3/5
The Interview 4.1/5
The Gambler 3.8/5

----------------------


Looking forward to seeing:

The Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Mad Max: Fury Road
Pitch Perfect 2 (Only cause of Anna Kendrick)
Tomorrowland
San Andreas
Entourage
Jurassic World
Ted 2
Terminator: Genisys
Minions
Ant-Man
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
Goosebumps
Spectre
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Probably will be way more than that, that I will see though.
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I haven't managed to see too many movies so far this year, but here is my contribution:

The Interview (4.0)
Taken 3 (3.5)
Birdman (3.5)
Wild Card (3.5)
Get Hard (2.5)
American Sniper (2.5)
Blackhat (2.0)
Extraction Day (2.0)

And the ones I intend to see at some point:

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Project Almanac
Jupiter Ascending
Furious 7
The Transporter: Refueled
Maggie
Terminator: Genisys
Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Seen 3 so far:

Kingsman 4.7/5
Project Almanac 2/5
The Duff (lol) 3/5

I advise you not to waste your time with Project Almanac, ChartGuru but that's only my opinion anyway
Seen only 2 so far.

Taken 3. 4/5.
Spongebob, Sponge Out Of Water. 4/5.

Might as well add that Fast And Furious right now is apparently making like 5 times as much money as the 2nd biggest movie out at the moment. Still don't plan on seeing it though, not because I hate it but due to lack of care or knowledge for the franchise.
Fast And Furious already outsold Fifty Shades in 1 week to become the highest grossing movie this year in oz so far, I see only The Avengers or Star Wars challenging it now
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Great seeing everyone's thoughts on movies! Interesting seeing a difference of opinions on movies here.

Talking about a difference of opinions...

Mad Max: Fury Road (MA15+)

Director: George Miller

Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi

*screams internally*. This was the sound in my head when the final credits started rolling for “Mad Max: Fury Road”.

Rave reviews from critics and normal moviegoers alike had sent me into this movie with such high spirits (I was so excited that I set aside the time to watch this in a busy schedule), but I couldn’t help but feel extremely disappointed with it by the end. Which is such a shame, because I really wanted to become a part of group that were heralding it as perhaps the best action movie of all-time.

It has been thirty years since the previous Mad Max movie, and some things have changed, such as Tom Hardy taking the titular position, while other things have remained the same, such as George Miller at the helm.

In the post-apocalyptic setting of “Fury Road”, where humanity is all but broken, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) has a monopoly over his area known as The Citadel. He has strict control over resources, particularly fuel, water and medicine, which leaves everybody at his mercy and only allows him to get stronger.

Max (Tom Hardy) is part of this “society”, and as a captive, is often strapped to the front of Joe’s minions’ vehicles as they try to capture a “War Rig”, containing fugitives Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and a select collection of other women that Joe had tried to keep for breeding purposes.

The action gets underway pretty quickly, and after some initial chases, Max eventually joins Furiosa and the other women to save them from Joe and move them to safety, which happens to be Furiosa’s place of birth.

The action scenes aren’t like anything I’ve really seen before. It is almost as if it has been filmed through the lens of a livewire drug addict. This has been where many of the fans have been won over, as everything is so incredibly frenetic that you can’t help but pay attention, and perhaps feel a little fried afterwards.

Maybe this is where I fell off a little bit, as I wasn’t so enraptured by the scenes. While unique, the intensely sped-up car chase scenes, full with quick cuts between different objects (which unfortunately reminded me of many action sequences I’ve seen in the past) and Neanderthals screaming nonsense doesn’t equate to good action. However, this doesn’t mean I didn’t dislike all the action scenes, as some are actually quite inventive, especially towards the end.

You can also say the same things about the striking imagery used. While some things are cool, some things are perhaps best left unseen.

Maybe my lack of enjoyment has something to do with me tending to overthink some things and not just going with the flow of it. For example, why do they have guitar players and drummers on their vehicles? Do they serve any particular purpose? Or are they just there to show off? I’m going with the latter.

Are there any other positives I should mention? Well, Theron plays a very sturdy and strong female action hero, which has been sorely lacking in action movies, which is a breath of fresh air. She certainly deserves all the praise it has been getting.

The transition from different parts of the day are also noteworthy as well. The night time scenes were particularly noteworthy, even if it sort-of feels like they just filmed them during the day and put a blue tint over the screen when it came to editing it.

I sometimes go into movies already thinking I know how much I’m going to like it. About half of the time I’m right. This movie does not belong to that half. Perhaps unfairly, I went into this movie thinking that two hours later, I will have viewed one of my new favourite movies of all time. So perhaps it is on me why I found this extremely disappointing.

You can almost just write me off on this one. Everyone seems to be loving it, some even calling it the best action movie of all time. But, in my opinion, there is no way that I can possibly recommend this to you personally.

But, if there’s ever going to be a time where I would say to not take a review of mine as an indicator as to whether to watch a movie or not, this would be that review. For some inexplicable reason, I feel that this is a movie that people should go out to watch despite my personal indifference. With all the positivity this movie is generating, it is hard to deny the power of that.

Rating: 2.5/5
I finished my exams today, so hopefully I get some time to watch more reviews and write more reviews

antonnalan, I'm a bit later than "next weekend", but I did get around to it eventually...

Kingsman: The Secret Service (MA15+)

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Starring: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson

Genre: Action/Adventure/Comedy

Stylish, fun and relentlessly entertaining. That’s mainly what I have to say about “Kingsman: The Secret Service”.

That’s no surprise though, considering Matthew Vaughn (and much of the rest of his team from Kick-Ass) was largely responsible for this maverick excitement machine.

There is always just something so intriguing about the way he goes about film-making that permeates across all of his films. He always brings a sense of humour, comes up with inspired musical choices, while shooting action from the most spectacular and unique angles, which is seemingly his trademark.

But most of all, he seems to know how to make a crowd happy. When he follows this mantra, you know what you are going to get, and that will just make the experience all the more enjoyable.

In “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, mainly set in urban London, we follow the story of a secret spy agency known as “Kingsman”, of which Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is a part of. 17 years ago, after an operation gone wrong, one of his fellow comrades went down in the line of duty, and with a vacancy now open in the spy service, a group of young men and women have the opportunity to claim such a prestigious position among this group, which includes “Eggsy” (Taron Egerton), the son of Harry’s deceased friend.

Why is “Eggsy” involved in all this spy business? Well, despite being a bit rough and misguided, Harry sees a lot of untapped potential in “Eggsy” that mirrors that of his father. Also, “Eggsy’s” mum is on the receiving end of abuse by his new step-dad, and that isn’t exactly something you want to be around.

“Kingsman” need a new spy to take down internet billionaire Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson (with a lisp)) and side-kick Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), the former of which is giving people the world over free calls and free internet forever, just by simply installing a microchip behind peoples’ ears. Rest assured, this isn’t as benevolent as it sounds.

To make an odd comparison, this movie reminds me of what I felt the movie “Stormbreaker” (or “Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker” in full), back in 2006, should have been like but wasn’t. Needless to say, this is much better and what I was hoping for. I would even go as far as saying that this was better than Vaughn’s other popular film “Kick Ass”.

One thing I feel should have been done differently, as it detracts a bit from the film for me, is a bizarre twist around midway in to the film which seems to betray the whole “gentleman” shtick which the Kingsman seem to want to abide by.

But that can almost easily be forgotten when you look at perhaps the best thing Vaughn did with this film. Being born in the UK and knowing how to film the city, Vaughn has amazingly melded the secret spy organisation into regular everyday London life without fault. And that probably is the best way I’ve ever seen it done (yes, probably even better than in the Harry Potter franchise).

Rating: 3.5/5
Oh, and I should be watching "Jurassic World" tonight, so I hopefully I will be able to get a review up for that in the next couple of days.
Nice review. I'm seeing Jurassic World tonight as well, but definitely not getting my hopes up.

As for Mad Max, many years ago I tried to watch the original movies and could never make it further than about half an hour they were so boring. It sounds like I was right to give this latest installment a miss.
Bandi,the two of us can form a posse being those who didn't enjoy Mad Max: Fury Road.I had heard good things about it and i had enjoyed the first one,and i went into this thinking like you bandi,that i'll be among that group that will say this is a great action film.Unfortunately i was bored.I felt charlize theron who is a good actress was giving no emotion,she could have phoned her performance in.The old women you see about 3/4 through the film were eccentric and interesting enough to make me take notice...other than that i was bored in the first three minutes.
Thanks for the messages ChartGuru and Jesse77. Always good to read what people think
Jurassic World (M)

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins

Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi

It was in 1993 when Steven Spielberg dropped the instant cinematic classic “Jurassic Park”. It is now 2015, and while many things have improved, such as technology, these new filmmakers still can’t find a way to better it.

In this fourth instalment, we’re taken to “Jurassic World”, an amusement park in Costa Rica, where two kids, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), have ventured to experience the many dinosaur attractions, as well as visit Aunty Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who happens to be in charge of operations at this location. The best we get to know about any of these characters is that Claire is uptight and really doesn’t know her nephews all that well, Zach likes having staring contests with random girls (despite having a girlfriend) and Gray just likes to point out how futile Zach’s staring contests are.

That makes the first half of the movie a bit of a drag to sit through, as the main focus is on these three characters. Once Chris Pratt steps into the frame and starts kicking some arse, things lift a gear.

This park seems to be doing great business recently due the park becoming “relevant” again, as a new hybrid species of dinosaur known as the “indominus rex” has attracted new visitors. Little do the scientists at the park know that by creating such a dinosaur, which cherry-picks the best features from other dinosaurs, that they have created a killing machine, which just happens to have broken free from its enclosure and is set wreak havoc on the unsuspecting patrons.

Who better to call than Owen (Chris Pratt) in this situation, a dinosaur trainer at the park? Of all the people located in this park, his personal connection with the dinosaurs should surely help bring the park back to order, right? Well yes, but it is going to take a lot more than that to get everything right.

In this new entry into the franchise, I have to say that the action scenes for the most part were well done, however, the plot regularly falls in to these stupid action movie clichés, such as people doing nonsensical things, particularly as a way to stretch out the running time, or people kissing in the middle of a perilous situation (when they should be trying to save the people around them), or people showing love and compassion out of nowhere for no reason other than to try wrench a moment of sympathy from the audience.

As suggested by my opener to this review, yes, I was satisfied with how the updates to technology improve the look of the dinosaurs. Furthermore, “Jurassic World” was also occasionally fun, and the ending is pretty decent as well, so at least it peaks at the right time.

Overall, I would adjudicate “Jurassic World” as being okay, but it is nothing too special.

Rating: 2.5/5
Veddy eeenteresting bandi. See not having seen this film and not wanting to my comments are therefore limited,but that won't stop me . My reasoning for not wanting to see this film and even less so based on your review so in effect you're helping me,is that it seems the makers are trying to recapture the feeling that occured when the very first film came out in 1993.The original is a good action romp,with plenty of scares.There was very little like it at the time it was released.Even when they re-released it in cinemas in 2013 it still held up 20 years on.My problem is,,why would i wanna see someone attempt to recapture something,when i can watch the original and see how good it was for the SFX of it's day.Also chris pratt annoys me.Casting a comedy actor(and that's what he is)for this film feels like a mis-step,all you'll get is one liners that are done in that irritating style he does.It works for something like guardians of the galaxy which is more a comedy than an action film,but for this it just seems offputting
Get Hard (MA15+)

Director: Etan Cohen

Starring: Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Alison Brie

Genre: Comedy

Things must be getting pretty desperate in the Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell camps if this is what they are willing to put their names to as “quality entertainment”. Okay, Hart doesn’t have the best track record, but for Ferrell this is very worrying.

As a result of these guys getting together, we have this painfully unfunny debacle where we get jokes about prison rape, black people and gay people. Also, apparently Kevin Hart is short, as if pretty much every movie he’s been in the last couple of years hasn’t already told us that.

James King (Will Ferrell) is a rich corporate financier. Things are going seemingly well for him, living in a big house (with maids that are all Latinos of course!) and earning the big bucks. But for his wife Alissa (Alison Brie), the house and bucks could always be bigger, seeing as she wouldn’t know any different as her father Martin (Craig T. Nelson) works alongside James.

Yet, he soon finds himself to be in trouble with the Feds for financial corruption which he didn’t commit, and is ultimately found guilty of the charges and sentenced to 10 years in the toughest prison in town.

Not knowing how he’s going to handle being penetrated in prison, James decides to hire some help from his car-washer Darnell (Kevin Hart) to help him “get hard” for prison. Why does he choose Darnell to help him? Because he’s black of course! Because in the world of this movie, if you’re black, then there’s a very good chance that you’ve been in prison!

And from there we’re taken through a mirthless series of events where Darnell tries to toughen James up with only 30 days left before his prison term is set to commence.

Altogether, no one comes out of this movie with their dignity intact, as it is just a cast of completely unlikeable characters. I’m still finding it hard to wrap my head around why Ferrell had to stoop so low for this. And Kevin Hart just seems to be repeating the same tired, old gags to dwindling effect. Right now, he is depressingly one-note and if there is a bigger waste of talent in the movie industry as at this point in time, that person is doing a very good job of covering their tracks.

Enough has been about what passes as jokes in this movie, which are ill-conceived at best and offensive at worst.

Comparisons have made between this movie and “Big Stan”. But there are differences between the two as this deals more with the lead-up to the prison sentence, while “Big Stan” splits between the lead-up and prison sentence half and half. And as bad as “Big Stan” was, it pains me to say it, but this is even worse.

Rating: 1/5
I remember seeing trailers for that movie a few months ago and it looked absolutely terrible. Glorification of prison rape, homophobia and racism don't sit well with me. If it's satire or parody or something it wouldn't be so bad (even that's pushing it though) but otherwise it looks like it's absolutely deplorable.

As for Jurassic World, I haven't seen it but a few of my friends want to watch in sometime next week so I might end up watching it too. Bit disappointing that it looks like it may not be as good as I was expecting, but who knows if I'll enjoy it or not
Each to there own, I thought Jurassic World was excellent and definitely recommend it zacco, the world agrees as well on track to become the highest grossing movie this year

I'd love to see an Unfriended review KB haha just to see you rip it to pieces, worst movie I seen this year.
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Ended up going to see Jurassic World a few hours ago and thought it was great! Glad it didn't disappoint. Maybe a little cliché at times but otherwise it was thoroughly enjoyable. Especially so watching it in 3D. I'd have to watch Jurassic Park again to properly compare but I think I might have liked Jurassic World more tbh It's great to see it doing so well
Fair enough regarding the comments made about "Jurassic World", I could understand how some people would enjoy it, but after having seen many action movies, I really didn't think it was anything too special.

I don't necessarily agree with box office takings being a barometer for how good a movie is either.

Anyway, I think that my following movie review takes a small look at why I rate movies in the way I do as well.

This review actually ended up getting quite long in the end and it is probably one of the longest reviews that I have written in a while. I hope you enjoy...

Entourage (MA15+)

Director: Doug Ellin

Starring: Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara

Genre: Comedy

Not all TV shows get a movie adaptation, just those really popular ones. Now “Entourage” gets its’ time to shine.

Now I know what you may be thinking. “Entourage” is one of those shows that you may have heard of, but you wouldn’t necessarily call it “really popular”. And on that point, I would agree with you, however this does feel like a show that not only deserved a movie, but like a show where it was possible that it could be turned into a feature length film and you could still get a really good result at the end of it.

As it may have been suggested through the last couple of paragraphs, you may have been able to tell that I have watched this show in some capacity. Admittedly, I don’t watch much TV, and there probably isn’t any TV show where I’ve watched every episode of, meaning I have only watched the TV series of “Entourage” intermittently, but I did like what I saw.

I will say that I have been waiting quite some time to watch this, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I found someone I could watch it with. Because of that, you’d think that this movie is just something for the fans and that it doesn’t concern anyone else. And on that matter, you’d be absolutely correct.

Anyway, enough with my personal back story regarding “Entourage”. What is this movie about?

The “Entourage” series centres on mega movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his “entourage” of his younger brother (and much less successful actor) Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), and best friends “E” (Kevin Connolly) and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara).

Studio head (and the standout of the TV show, by the way) Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), who was Vincent’s manager, now has control over his own studio and wants Vincent in the starring role, being the drawing card many studios wish for, but Vincent isn’t going to be on board if he isn’t allowed to direct.

Of course, he’s eventually given the power to direct, but things aren’t turning out the way Ari wanted. It turns out Vincent needs more money to finish the ending, and quite a lot of it. And it is going to take plenty of convincing to get the Texan that is funding the movie, Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton), and his son Travis (Haley Joel Osment), that it is worth coughing up these extra millions of dollars to finish off the project.

For anyone that watches this show of narcissistic group of bros, you know there is sure to be many cameos, some even in moments you wouldn’t necessarily expect. It can at times feel that the sudden appearance of a celebrity can be used to push the story along, but for the most part, the cameos are implemented as they should be implemented.

For a comedy as well (and I know I bring this up in every review of a comedy movie because I think it is important), “Entourage” can be funny at times, but there were no particular laugh-out-loud moments, which was slightly disappointing.

I would lend this problem slightly to Ari not getting his chance to shine like he does on the show. His unrepentant hostility in the TV series is what provides some of his best moments, but he doesn’t get much of an opportunity to rage out here, so that was a let-down.

While I’m talking about problems, I should also mention that the ending is resolved too quickly and neatly for my liking, whereas on the show, they would have been able to explore the lead-up to that ending in more detail.

Importantly, I don’t believe that you need to have watched the show to be able to understand the movie, but of course you’ll be able to understand some of the references made if you know the source material. Particularly regarding this sub-plot about a relationship between “E” and Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), which I think a lot of fans of the show hoped was over.

I know that I may be lending some goodwill to the movie, as I’ve come to know these characters fairly well, so try take that into consideration with the comments I’ve made about the movie. I have been critical in my reviews of movies I’ve already done, and I think that that is necessary to be able to distinguish between a really good movie, a mediocre one and an awful one, so that the movie gets the appropriate praise it deserves in the context of all movies.

But it was hard to be too critical on this occasion, and I think my rating for this movie is what it deserves.

After all, it is just great to see these guys on the big screen.

Rating: 2.5/5
I'm planning to watch a few new movies fairly soon. On the watchlist are:
- Inside Out (I should be watching this tomorrow night)
- Ted 2 (comes out this Thursday)
- Terminator: Genisys (comes out 1/7)
- Ant-Man (comes out 16/7)

I'm also planning on watching some of the movies that came out earlier this year when I can find copies on DVD as well, so hopefully I can write up a few movies reviews in the next month or so.
Inside Out (PG)

Director: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen

Starring: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black

Genre: Animation/Comedy/Drama

Good news! Pixar are back, and they are back in a VERY big way.

In “Inside Out”, they have generated a piece of absolute cinematic gold. This for-all-ages flick is incredibly strong, and will have you laughing hysterically one minute, and then having you bawl your eyes out the next.

The reason it is able to do this is because of its premise, which looks at emotions as characters inside a young girl’s head.

The five emotions running the show in Riley’s (Kaitlyn Dias) head are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling).

These five emotions seem to be controlling the show for Riley quite reasonably, but there is a jolt to the system when Riley’s mum (Diane Lane) and dad (Kyle MacLachlan) uproot the family from Minnesota to San Francisco.

The change isn’t going well for Riley, as her emotions increasingly conflict and the worlds in her mind start to crumble.

After an unfortunate incident involving the distortion of core memories, both Joy and Sadness are sucked away in to long-term memory, where we get to explore the mind of Riley in considerable detail, while Joy and Sadness try to find a “train of thought” to get back to Riley’s emotional headquarters.

Really, I don’t think I can praise this enough. This is easily Pixar’s best film since “Up”, as they’ve been off-the-boil for some time now and have lacked originality.

But originality is not an issue here. I’ve read and watched some videos claiming that this movie is not as original as some of the critics have been claiming. And to those people, I could not disagree more. Sure, the concept of different people portraying different emotions might have been done before, but the way the emotions interact, and the thought patterns and memories that form our psyche are very imaginative and are explored expertly.

Of course, as is the usual for a Pixar production, the voice cast is chosen immaculately, with the tendency to choose voices which fit the character rather than choosing a bunch of big names to do it. Furthermore, particularly during the emotional scenes, the score is always there to help pique the right emotions whenever necessary, without being overbearing.

What makes this really moving is how emotionally resonant and relatable the entire movie is. It plays on the strength of emotions and makes you remember stuff from your own childhood, making these scenes undeniably powerful.

The movies that get five stars are those that really move you or change the game of cinema. And no movie has been able to play on emotions so phenomenally than this in quite some time. The events in our life that transform who we are as people and reconstruct us mentally hit home hard and make you yearn for a much simpler time where we weren’t so concerned about everything and could be young and carefree.

In essence, this is as perfect as kids’ entertainment, or just any entertainment, can possibly get. It is very much deserving of my first 5-star rating.

Rating: 5/5
I really wanna see this. Pixar haven't done a really great film in a while.Brave was good,but by no means great. Once i get the patch for arkham knight downloading,i might look up session times.
Welcome back pixar,it's so nice to have you back where you belong..in the cinema! I'm so glad i went to the screening this afternoon.It's such a really enoyable film with many many funny moments and that old familiar pixar mix of happiness and meloncholy. Loved every moment of it.
Ted 2 (MA15+)

Director: Seth MacFarlane

Starring: Seth MacFarlane (voice), Mark Wahlberg, Amanda Seyfried

Genre: Comedy

In 2012 “Ted” was released, which not only was a huge box office success, but also my favourite comedy of the year (alongside “21 Jump Street”).

Three years later and we have this so-so follow-up which is disappointing to be honest with you. That isn’t too surprising though, because when have sequels, especially to comedies, ever been as good as or better than the original?

Where the first movie had a big laugh every 5 minutes or so, this one can only muster three or so for the entire movie, with some smaller laughs scattered out here and there.

In this sequel, Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) has just married Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), while Ted’s best friend John (Mark Wahlberg) is still in sorrow regarding the break-up of his marriage.

After Ted and Tami-Lynn find themselves arguing and seeing that perhaps their relationship mightn’t work out, they decide that having a baby will be a way to bring them closer together.

Their attempts to have a baby of their own hit a snag when it turns out that Ted is considered property instead of a person by the State of Massachusetts which has many dire consequences, particularly the annulment of his marriage with Tami-Lynn.

But they’re not going to go down without a fight, ultimately acquiring the pro-bono legal services of a new, young lawyer by the name of Sam (Amanda Seyfried), which unsurprisingly turns out to be the girl to get John back in to the dating game.

MacFarlane’s films only appeal to a certain category of people, so you know whether you are going to love or hate this before you even take your seat.

My personal opinion of MacFarlane varies. I really liked the original “Ted”, and there are many times where I have laughed my arse off watching “Family Guy”. Then again, he also has his duller moments where the scenes aren’t as funny as I think MacFarlane thinks they are.

For example, MacFarlane seems to think that taking moments from movies you love and then repeating them word-for-word or scene-for-scene in his movies is somehow a source of gut-busting laughs. He really goes overboard with that here. I only noticed a few references myself, but if IMDb is correct, “Ted 2” references 41 movies and spoofs 4 movies. Oh dear.

The original was light-hearted and never got too dramatic, which allowed the laughs to keep coming. This one was different, however, with court scenes (which had less latitude for laughs than you would expect), dramatic scenes and even a couple of music numbers which ruin the flow of it all.

And one last complaint involves these stupid scenes where you think they are going to end with a joke, but instead they move on to the next scene where there was potential to make a good joke in typical Seth MacFarlane fashion. Such a shame.

One final thing – Mila Kunis > Amanda Seyfried.

This review may sound particularly negative, but I hope it isn’t taken that way because I didn’t dislike it. As to be expected, there is that surreal humour which MacFarlane brings along with him, as I mentioned in my “A Million Ways to Die in the West” review.

A couple of these bigger laughs come from highlights such as seeing Mark Wahlberg being covered in semen, and a celebrity cameo involving a box of kids cereal.

In the end, it has its moments and is better than “A Million Ways to Die in the West” at least, but is still a considerable step-down from the original.

Rating: 2.5/5
To be honest I actually thought it was a little better then the 1st but not by much. Being a massive stan of Family Guy I knew I would like it a lot and it delivered. I wouldn't recommend it to those that have no interest in Family Guy though. My fav movie of the year so far. 4.5/5.
I'm looking forward to seeing Ted 2. I thought the first one was just ok, but I am a fan of the Family Guy style humour.

Also, since we're now halfway through the year I thought I'd update the list of movies I've seen:

The Interview (4.0)
It Follows (4.0)
Taken 3 (4.0)
Jupiter Ascending (3.5)
Parallels (3.5)
7 Minutes (3.5)
Kingsman: The Secret Service (3.5)
Fast and Furious 7 (3.5)
Project Almanac (3.5)
Wild Tales (3.5)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (3.5)
Birdman (3.5)
Crystal Skulls (3.5)
Wild Card (3.5)
A Deadly Adoption (3.0)
Inside Out (3.0)
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (3.0)
Jurassic World (2.5)
San Andreas (2.5)
Get Hard (2.5)
American Sniper (2.5)
A Dark Reflection (2.0)
Blackhat (2.0)
Extraction Day (2.0)
Maggie (2.0)
Survivor (1.5)

Terminator: Genisys (M)

Director: Alan Taylor

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke

Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi

How do you explain “Terminator: Genisys”? Well, it’s a series of images shot instantaneously one after another with audio accompaniment to go with it. And most of it doesn’t make sense.

In this boring and convoluted length of film, John Connor (Jason Clarke), who saved Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) as a child, and is the leading man to stand up to the human-killing terminators, sends Kyle back in time to 1984 to protect his mother Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), where if her safety is compromised, John is never born, and all that good work he and his minions have done all comes to be for nothing.

Upon Kyle’s arrival in 1984, Sarah is paired up with her Guardian/”Pops” (Arnold Schwarzenegger), and must aim to keep safe from those that are trying to kill them and prevent a future “Judgement Day” that humanity are seemingly doomed to experience.

Oh, and there’s some new operating system called “Genisys” that is coming out in 2017 that is mixed up in all of this that’s going to affect billions of people worldwide.

If that plot synopsis sounds confusing or incomplete, that’s because it is. “Terminator: Genisys” is absolutely baffling, and, to be honest, I couldn’t even understand what was going on most of the time.

It starts out cool enough, with the rearranging of the timeline from the first couple of movies, but it isn’t too long until they start adding all these extra layers including time travel, romance, operating systems etc., and you have no idea what is happening, which is somewhat common in time travel movies.

And good job to whoever edited the trailer, because that ruined probably the only good twist to this movie, so thanks for spoiling that guys!

The acting is pretty much as poor as it gets for action movies these days. Schwarzenegger easily fares the best out of all the four main characters, while Emilia Clarke didn’t bother me, but wasn’t impressive, and Jason Clarke just really isn’t any good.

And then there’s Jai Courtney, who gets his own paragraphs to explain how poor he was. In “Terminator: Genisys”, he was just so incredibly bland and uninteresting. It’s as if he is rehearsing his lines, thinks he’s ready to start shooting, and it turns out they’ve been shooting the whole time and he didn’t even know.

I recall seeing Jai Courtney doing an interview for this movie and talking about the extensive auditioning he had to do to land this role and saying something along the lines of “the movie studio wants to get everything right for their big franchise series’”. If that is the case, then you wonder why they ended up choosing him to be in the movie.

That’s probably being too harsh. I’m sure he’s a nice guy in real life, and it looks like he did some major working out to get in-shape for this, but his emotionless acting leaves a lot to be desired.

If there’s anything saving this movie from complete disaster, it would be that the action is fine enough, and the special effects are quite exquisite, but that really isn’t enough to drag this along.

All of a sudden now, the “Jurassic World” reboot isn’t looking so bad in comparison, and is definitely preferred to this.

As if to explain the mind-boggling nature of this film, I couldn’t think of a better comparison to make than with the latest Transformers movie.

As confusing as “Transformers: Age of Extinction” was, even people that enjoyed that movie would have difficulty understanding this and would think it is a bit far-fetched. That’s right, that is the depth of confusion this reaches.

Rating: 1.5/5
Here are a couple of 2015 Movies I have seen since I last posted here in April.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (4.1)
Pitch Perfect 2 (3.3)
Mad Max: Fury Road (4.2)
San Andreas (3.4)
Tomorrowland (3.2)
Entourage (3.5)
Jurassic World (4.0)
Inside Out (4.2)
Minions (4.0)
Ted 2 (3.5)
Terminator: Genisys (3.4)
The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) (1.1)
Antman (4.2)
Amy (4.3)
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (4.3)
Haven't done a review in a while. Hopefully this was worth the wait.

Straight Outta Compton (MA15+)

Director: F Gary Gray

Starring: O'Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell

Genre: Biography/Drama/Music

It feels good reviewing a movie that is relevant to the musical nature of this website.

Scrolling through what I have reviewed on this thread, there only seem to be two movies on here that I consider to be music-related: Inside Llewyn Davis and Whiplash.

Seeing that we have blues and jazz music covered in this two flicks, let’s now look at rap. And who better to look regarding rap than the controversial and divisive N.W.A.?

Yes, this was a very important group of rappers, based in Compton, California, whose provocative, yet truthful, lyrics stirred up hysteria throughout the media and had authority figures hanging out for their arrest, but ultimately paved the way for other big name rappers to come.

The rise of N.W.A. was certainly not an easy one. One step out of line, heck, even staying in line, could find you on the receiving end of some very harsh police brutality for people of colour, and the five members of the group, Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.) and MC Ren (Aldis Hodge), knew the trials and tribulations of this all too well. Even gun-wielding gang members hijacking your school bus wasn’t too out-of-the-ordinary in Compton in 1985.

But with a combined passion for music production, dope rhymes, wanting to earn some real money, the rise of the significance of rap and to stick it to the authority that is trying to suppress them, it was the perfect storm for a group like this to make it big.

In this two-and-a-half hour film, this is a lot of territory covered, and it remains ever intriguing what will happen next. Whether it is Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) trying to become their manager, their creative process, their family problems, the parties, the authorities trying to censor the group, the break up or the spurring on of a new legion of rappers (with all the surprise rappers that were portrayed on this, my friend called the “The Avengers of rappers”), it is all so very engaging and it keeps you wondering which direction it is going to move in next.

One thing that “Straight Outta Compton” does, though, is that despite their growing financial wealth and fan base, the racial tension never ceases, and they are still incensed by it all and highly affected by major racial events, the assault of Rodney King and the subsequent LA riots being considered here in some detail. One does wonder how much has actually changed since that time, with the Trayvon Martin shooting, last year’s Ferguson riots and this year’s Baltimore riots, among myriad other racially-fuelled violent US events, providing a stark reflection of how little we have come.

It always remain in focus, however, of how N.W.A. took this adversity and used it to their advantage, as much as they could, for their music, and we don’t ever really lose sight of that, when that could have just faded in to the background.

If there was one thing I had to identify with “Straight Outta Compton”’s shortcomings, it would be that it doesn’t really explore the group’s chequered past with criminal activity itself. Given that Ice Cube and Dr Dre were co-producers on this movie, they probably tried to steer the story away from that, so I have a few questions about how honest this really is.

But if it provides for scenes as excellent as a particular one in the middle of the movie, which really provides a real show of defiance which captures N.W.A. in a nutshell, these aforementioned queries trouble you less, as it is a rather superb use of cinematic license.

Before I finish this up, I reckon that the acting was great. From Paul Giamatti, that is to be expected. But from the rest of the cast, who are mostly relatively unknown, I’m not sure if they could have been chosen any better. Ice Cube is actually played by his real-life son, so it isn’t particularly surprising that they look and sound the same, but the rest of the impersonations, including a couple of guest rappers which I wasn’t expecting (which I won’t mention here, just so you can discover it for yourself) are uncanny and just spot on.

I’d say that I only really got in to rap music and understood and appreciated it more around 8 years ago, and personally, I’m glad I did. But this movie and some stunning rap albums that have been released recently (particularly Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly”), I have this renewed and rejuvenated love of rap as an artistic form and belief in the possibilities it can reach. I’m not sure if I have ever felt so optimistic about rap music than after watching “Straight Outta Compton”.

In saying that, I wouldn’t even say that you even need to be a fan of rap music to love “Straight Outta Compton”. But for those who are fans, get ready for an absolute treat.

Rating: 3.5/5
A little Christmas present for you all

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (M)

Director: J.J. Abrams

Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac

Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy

Here it is. The big one. The one that you and everyone else has been waiting for since the day that it was announced. The seventh instalment of the cinematic institution that is Star Wars.

In the short time that I have been doing this, this movie has surely had the biggest build-up of them all.

I honestly do not even think there has been a movie that has had more hype than this movie this decade so far.

This being the case, surely you would think I would have done a little preparation leading up to this, right? As it turns out, no.

As a matter of fact, this is the first Star Wars film that I have ever watched, so take that in to account when reading through the rest of this review.

I call myself a “cinephile”, but I admittedly do have a Star Wars blind spot. With such a big gap, there could be fair claims that I’m not even a cinephile at all as it is such a storied franchise that is essential for any true movie fan, despite having a fair knowledge of the directors, actors, characters, main plotlines and quotes despite not having seen them.

With this being the case, I think this review would be most appropriate for those in the same boat as me, and less so for the Star Wars fanatics. And for these fanatics, all I have to say is that I’m certain that you will love this movie.

Not being a Star Wars aficionado, I will probably unknowingly get in to spoiler territory, so I’ll try and keep the plot description to a bare minimum. This might be a pointless exercise, as I’m sure everyone that is reading this has already watched it anyway, but I’ll proceed regardless.

30 years following the destruction of the second Death Star, Luke Skywalker has gone in to hiding, while the First Order are back and are trying to destroy Luke and the Republic. Meanwhile, the Resistance, which is supported by the Republic, are on a mission to find Luke to help fight back against the First Order.

Along the way, we will come across a few important characters, including Finn (John Boyega), a Stormtrooper that switches from the First Order to the Resistance when saving Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Rey (Daisy Ridley), the main protagonist of the piece, a scavenger on the planet Jakku that will come to interact Finn, BB-8, a robot owned by Dameron that comes to assist Finn and Rey in their adventures, and holds a map that will lead to Luke Skywalker’s location (and for some reason reminds me of Wall-E), and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the villain of the film.

That is basically the information that is given in the opening scroll of the movie, and I’m not going to say much more than that.

Of all the characters, I’d say that the new firm outshine the old classic characters for the most part. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega fare electrifyingly well, and are one of the best on-screen couples I have seen in a long time. Ford and Fisher also have their moments, but the spotlight is taken off them for the most part.

J.J. Abrams as director, though a safe choice, appears to have also been a successful one, coming off the success of the Star Trek franchise.

Furthermore, the musical score is spectacular, and so are the special effects, which really is to be expected nowadays with these types of blockbusters.

To me, there first 30 minutes was a bit slow, but it does pick up considerably afterwards, and personally improves the further it progresses. Once it does snap in to gear, it can be quite enthralling and engaging, with plentiful doses of good humour sprinkled throughout.

It is nowhere near the masterpiece some are claiming it to be, but is definitely an entertaining and adrenalin-jolting flick nevertheless.

Once again though, I’m sure Star Wars fans would be much more appreciative of the whole experience, with this beginning of the third trilogy bringing back the gamut of memorable characters, so don’t let my words be a deterrent in any way (not that it would be).

If you are not familiar with Star Wars, it is best to brush up a little on your characters and terminology beforehand to experience the maximum effect of the movie, but it is still easy enough to follow for the most part if you do not, with the opening scroll being information enough for what is going on. Still, it doesn’t hurt though.

This is a recommendation and a very good introduction to the franchise for me personally.

May you all love it too, and may the Force be with you.

Rating: 3.5/5
Hey KingB. Nice review! The Force Awakens does stand well on its alone but you REALLY REALLY need to watch at least episodes 4-6 at some point as well. (Highly recommend you do so as your 'preparation'). They are all time classics and fan favourites so you would be doing yourself a favor anyway. A much invested understanding of the plot (as well as MANY brilliant in jokes that reference 4-6) really adds to the experience.

*Spoiler alert from here*

Personally, 7 did have a have flaws, particularly regarding the rehashing of the plot of A New Hope, but I felt there were enough twists that justified it. Also the sake of reviving such a huge franchise, it is also very justified that they played many things safe. If anything, this very successfully set up the trilogy for (hopefully) even bigger and better things to come It is a very good movie and I very highly enjoyed it, but I will probably still rate the original trilogy higher.
Well it's basically the end of the year, so here is my list of 2015 movies in order. The only ones I haven't seen that I intend to are The Force Awakens and Truth, so they are not included here.

1. Terminator: Genisys (4.0)
2. The Interview (4.0)
3. It Follows (4.0)
4. Taken 3 (4.0)
5. Jupiter Ascending (3.5)
6. Heist (3.5)
7. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (3.5)
8. Parallels (3.5)
9. 7 Minutes (3.5)
10. Kingsman: The Secret Service (3.5)
11. Fast and Furious 7 (3.5)
12. 99 Homes (3.5)
13. Spectre (3.5)
14. Pressure (3.5)
15. Project Almanac (3.5)
16. Wild Tales (3.5)
17. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (3.5)
18. Straight Outta Compton (3.5)
19. Avengers: Age of Ultron (3.5)
20. Birdman (3.5)
21. Crystal Skulls (3.5)
22. Wild Card (3.5)
23. Ant-Man (3.0)
24. Ted 2 (3.0)
25. The Martian (3.0)
26. The Transporter: Refueled (3.0)
27. Vacation (3.0)
28. H8RZ (3.0)
29. Unfriended (3.0)
30. Creed (3.0)
31. Pawn Sacrifice (3.0)
32. Teen Lust (3.0)
33. A Deadly Adoption (3.0)
34. Inside Out (3.0)
35. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (3.0)
36. Jurassic World (2.5)
37. Air (2.5)
38. San Andreas (2.5)
39. Get Hard (2.5)
40. Listening (2.5)
41. American Sniper (2.5)
42. Concussion (2.0)
43. A Dark Reflection (2.0)
44. Blackhat (2.0)
45. SuperBob (2.0)
46. Deep Web (2.0)
47. Extraction Day (2.0)
48. Maggie (2.0)
49. Survivor (1.5)
50. 400 Days (1.5)
51. The Hateful Eight (1.5)

Counting these for the first time, I'm surprised that I averaged nearly a movie a week. Hopefully others can post their top/bottom movies of the year as well.
Didn't see much but here are mine anyway, none of them were bad btw.

1. Ted 2
2. Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F'
3. Taken 3
4. Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge Out Of Water
5. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

Still more then last year.
LOL Same boat as Lifter but I'll give a ranking anyway

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (5/5)
2. Kingsman: The Secret Service (3.5/5)
3. Jurassic World (3/5)
4. Project Almanac (0.5/5)
The Revenant (MA15+)

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter

Genre: Adventure/Drama/Thriller

You know what time of the year it is. It is awards season, meaning we should be getting prepared for some great movies. We’ve got “The Hateful Eight”, “The Big Short”, “Steve Jobs” and a few others being released in the coming weeks here in Australia before the Academy Awards in late February, so there is going to be a lot to watch. Let’s start off with “The Revenant”.

First things first, this film is excellent. And brutal, very brutal, meaning it isn’t going to be for everyone.

In this harsh and uncompromising drama, we are told the story of Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), who is on a fur trading expedition during the 1820’s with his crew, including Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), Bridger (Will Poulter) and Captain Henry (Domnhall Glesson) among many others.

After most of the crew was annihilated by a Native American tribe, the last remaining few of the tribe are able to escape, including Glass and his “adopted” son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), much to the chagrin of Fitzgerald, who believes Glass is giving specific favours to Hawk over the wellbeing of the rest of the crew.

Shortly after, Glass is exposed to many hazards, the main one being surviving a savage bear attack (which I’ll talk more about later), which leads Fitzgerald to wanting Glass to be killed, as he views him as a liability (and he’s also a little jealous as well).

When the rest of the crew resists his demands, Fitzgerald takes his anger out in other ways, only worsening Glass’ tenuous situation, but just making the possible redemption and salvation later in the picture only sweeter.

It might be a trite angle to take because everyone has already said it, and there are actors who I think are more deserving of the award, but surely this is the performance that gives DiCaprio the Best Actor Oscar.

DiCaprio performances have always been great, but there just always seems to be someone that does a better job than him, meaning he misses out on the award. Time will tell if someone else clutches the award from his grasp (I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself, he hasn’t even been nominated yet!), but there’s a lot of buzz surrounding Michael Fassbender in “Steve Jobs”, so he could possibly be unlucky yet again.

Regardless of whether he wins the award or not, the physical commitment DiCaprio gives to his performance cannot be denied. He reportedly had to “learn to shoot a musket, build a fire, speak two Native American languages (Pawnee and Arikara), and study with a doctor who specializes in ancient healing techniques”, if IMDb is to be believed. If so, let’s take time to appreciate that. Actually, even if he didn’t do all those things, he still gets my kudos as he is nothing short of marvellous.

But let’s not leave it there – The performances are strong across the board. I am highly impressed with the supporting work of Tom Hardy and Will Poulter as well, the latter having all but eradicated the thought of his bloated prosthetic testicles from “We’re The Millers” from my mind.

As mentioned earlier, there are some riveting scenes that will have you clutching your arm rest. Namely a stunning final sequence, but particularly the bear mauling scene. There has been nothing as distressing as this scene since James Franco amputated his own arm in “127 Hours”.

And, of course, we must note the outstanding work by director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (I’m missing a couple of accents from his name here). Apparently some actors had some difficulty working with him and his schedule, but whatever he’s doing, he is getting superb results from.

It almost goes without saying, but great cinematography, meaning you are able to take the full surroundings into account. Some of the shots that are obtained through his lens are nothing short of breathtaking.

AGI, and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, were also insistent on shooting the film using purely natural light, which really makes the experience all the more authentic, making it naturalistic and absorbing. It really is masterfully done and shows that these filmmakers have a passion for their craft. It also would have made shooting the film a big challenge, as if things weren’t shot correctly in the first instance, then the actors probably would have had to have waited another day or so to redo the scene, so much meticulous preparation would have been required.

As a side note, it’s also good to see characters converse without continuous cuts as well. The camera moves fluidly between characters during discussions which further displays the aforementioned realism, and transplants you more in to the situation.

This is a strong 8, and one of the best movies I have been in quite a while.

If this is the standard we can expect from this upcoming awards season, then I say “Bring it on!”.

Rating: 4/5
The Big Short (M)

Director: Adam McKay

Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Brad Pitt

Genre: Biography/Drama

Here comes an intelligent and insightful movie about the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 – from the director of “Step Brothers” and the “Anchorman” movies.

Yes, it may seem odd, but McKay pulls this off with passion and aplomb, and I’m never against directors diversifying their style if it turns out so effectively.

Leading up to the ill-fated crisis which changed the world as we know it, we are taken through the stories of a few different groups of people who had the foresight to see what was ahead, and an opportunity to take advantage of, and profit from, the inevitable collapse when nobody else did.

The first involves Michael Burry (Christian Bale), an oddball hedge fund manager that loves having his hard-core rock music cranked up loud while scouring through reams of financial data. Envisioning the collapse, he invests hundreds of millions of client dollars with numerous financial institutions by creating a credit default swap market, which will essentially rely on the house market to collapse for the plan to succeed. As houses are seen as being one of the safest investments on the market, the institutions are quick to accept his proposal (and laugh at him as he moves on to the next place). But, being a highly risky plan fraught with danger, Burry’s superior Lawrence Fields (Tracy Letts), and the clients whose money is being spent in such large quantities, are livid with the actions being undertaken by Burry.

The second involves Mark Baum (Steve Carell), a financial analyst who says he “loves his job” during arguments with his wife, yet seemingly has nothing but scorn for the system in which he works, and his team of like-minded co-workers. Hearing of Burry’s theory of the financial market, Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) comes into contact with Baum and his group to show them how the financial market is on the verge of collapse due to the housing market and collateralised debt obligations (essentially rubbish bonds packaged together with an incorrect AAA credit rating), and suggests they collaborate together, Vennett for a chance to profit, Baum and his crew for a chance to stick it to the system.

The third involves a couple of budding, up-and-coming youngsters Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock), the two of whom run a small-time financial company from their garage. After coming across Vennett’s proposal to Baum, they see a chance to profit, but not having the necessary experience to carry it out, they need the help of friend, and retired banker, Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt), who will need a little winning over to be convinced to temporarily come out of retirement and carry out the trades.

I felt nauseous watching it at times, and at first I wasn’t sure whether it was because of the camerawork or because of the subject matter. It turns out the person I was watching it with also felt the camerawork was making him feel the same way, so it must be that.

A lot of the ideas implemented by McKay were quite clever, including having cutaway scenes of celebrities explaining difficult economic concepts, having actors break the fourth wall or drawing diagrams or having definitions written on screen. It helps people that would otherwise be in the lurch comprehend the events transpiring. However, some odd editing choices, such as doing freeze frames then continuing on to the next scene, moving the camera around quickly during conversations, or just straight-up having blurry images, are quite annoying, and this definitely could have been a 4-star movie had these simple problems been eliminated.

Also, this is not worthy of Best Supporting Actor and Best Director Oscar nominations. I’ve already mentioned some problems I’ve had with some of the direction, which are too many to be a legitimate contender to win the award. Don’t get me wrong, most of McKay’s work here is great, but the work of other directors in the past year have been much better. As for Bale’s acting nomination, he is fine, but there is nothing particularly outstanding from him, no real x-factor. It’s a solid enough performance, but there isn’t anything special which makes him stand out from Steve Carell or Brad Pitt.

I’ll end any perceived negativity here though because, personally, this is a movie I think you should watch, and I do recommend. This is probably why it was nominated for Best Picture as well – it is a movie that should be watched and deserves recognition. I think this is an important movie to watch, because it will make some people more aware about the financial world, and provides some really thoughtful commentary and ideas on ethics and scrupulousness in the industry and what we truly value as a society.

Rating: 3.5/5
The 5th Wave (M)

Director: J Blakeson

Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Matthew Zuk, Gabriela Lopez

Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi

I don’t believe that I have ever gone in to a film knowing so little of what I was about to see than I did with “The 5th Wave”. I hadn’t even seen a trailer or visited its IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes page.

That leads me to ask whether anyone was actually looking forward to seeing this in the first place. I’m going to say no, because it seems that the studio that produced it didn’t even have much faith in it, dumping it in January, a time of the year renowned for releasing movies (and music) which basically have very little public interest.

Having seen the poster for the movie on the corridor in the way in to the cinema, and a trailer for the new “Divergent” series film before the film itself, I then knew what to expect, and what I expected was what I got: a cheap new entrant to the “Young Adult” movie genre, following the rote topics of this genre: a late teen/early 20s girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders, the dead parents, the younger sibling, the love triangle. Of course, it also has things that people do in the movies, but would never do in real life (e.g. Kissing in a perilous situation).

To give a quick run-through of the story, Cassie (Chloe Grace Moretz) lives with her family, of which only younger brother Sam (Zackary Arthur) will come to factor in to proceedings, so I won’t even bother mentioning the rest.

Things are going fine enough at school, including her having a crush on peer Ben (Nick Robinson), but then things start going wrong when some mysterious aliens, referred to as “others”, appear from nowhere with a desire to take over earth in a 5-step process.

By the time we get to the fifth wave, only the rogue humans that managed to escape the four-step killing process remain, and the children remaining on earth are separated from their parents and are trained by the aliens to fight for their cause and kill everyone that doesn’t conform.

However, because of a series of unfortunate events, Cassie does not find herself with the rest of the children being trained, and, most significantly, is separated from her younger brother.

So this is what it basically boils down to: for Cassie to make a trip to the facility where her younger brother and some of her other friends are being trained by the “others”, and for her to save them before they submit to the force of the “others”.

Of course, Cassie’s trip isn’t going to come without its complications, the biggest being coming across Evan (Alex Roe), of which the two will, obviously, come to make up two vertices of the aforesaid love triangle.

And boy, you’ll get pretty much every cliché you could possibly expect, such as when a topless Evan is splashing water on his abs in a lake, and then turns around at just the right moment to realise that Cassie has been watching him that whole time. I lost track of the amount of times where “The 5th Wave” had instances like these that you have seen countless times before.

And let us not forget the cheesy, embarrassing dialogue exchanged between Cassie and Evan. It evens makes some of the stuff you saw in the “Twilight” movies and “Fifty Shades of Grey” not look so bad in hindsight.

I don’t want to condemn this completely, because there are a couple of good points.

Firstly, the acting potential is there. There are some excellent young actors here, including Chloe Grace Moretz, Tony Revolori, Nick Robinson and so on (even if the actor that plays CGM’s younger brother doesn’t have me convinced) are quite fine, and look like they have big careers ahead of them, but their acting potential for the most part is severely under-utilised here.

There were also a couple of moments between CGM and her younger brother which, for some reason, were emotionally effective, which surprised me a little.

But for every moment like that that there is, there are 3 or 4 moments which would be intellectually insulting to a 4 year old. The character decisions, logic gaps and continuities are bewildering at some stages, where it seems like the “aliens” act more like humans than the humans actually do.

There is also quite a fair share of sheer cringe moments, such as references to “end-of-the-world sex” and “strip poker” involving people ranging from little kids to late teens, and you really wonder whether it fits with its key audience at all.

As expected, the plotting it very by-the-numbers and predictable, meaning you’ll be able to stay two (maybe even three or four) steps ahead of this at all times.

And, perhaps thinking that there could be a franchise here, it sets up a sequel which I’m sure is never going to happen. That should also be a tip-off to let you know that nothing in regards to the alien invasion will be resolved.

Look, it’s definitely not the worst thing I’ve ever watched, and I’d rather watch this any day of the week than “Transformers: Age of Extinction” or “Terminator: Genisys”, but this still isn’t much good.

A light 2 stars.

Rating: 2/5
The Hateful Eight (R18+)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Genre: Crime/Drama/Mystery

Set during post-Civil War time, amongst a blizzard in slightly north-west America, comes the new epic from Quentin Tarantino.

And, whether this movie “came” to fruition really was in doubt for a long time, with the script having been leaked around two years ago, but, after a couple of changes of heart, it went ahead and here we have the final result.

The themes and style here is just about what you would expect from Tarantino. It is a period piece drama, complete with his usual ultra-violent stylings and extravagant running time (187 minutes – some cinemas are screening it with an overture and intermission, but my session did not), very similar to his last two directorial efforts, “Django Unchained” and “Inglorious Basterds”.

As stated, it is set during a blistery Wyoming blizzard (but actually filmed in neighbouring Colorado), where bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) are trying to find shelter.

Along the way (right at the beginning of the movie to be exact), the two come across fellow bounty hunter Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and the set-to-be new sheriff of the town Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), who Ruth has to think long-and-hard about before eventually letting them on to his horse-and-carriage, and then they set off and eventually find shelter at Minnie’s Haberdashery, where they are confronted by an array of characters, of differing and unknown ambitions and villainous intentions.

It is at this cabin where these characters will come across the remaining four that will make up the titular “hateful eight”: Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Bob (Demian Bichir) and Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern).

All Ruth has to do is survive until the blizzard passes over, and then take his captive to nearby town Red Rock for her to hang, but surviving this cast of characters won’t be easy.

Before you get to the good stuff, you’ll have to get through some talking. Lots and lots of talking. They will talk, talk about something else, eat some soup while talking, and then talk some more. And I genuinely don’t have a problem with that, because I do love plenty of movies that are dialogue-driven. But, to be brutally honest, though a sizable proportion of the talking is engaging enough, some of it does get dull, which was always going to be likely considering the first 75 minutes is just that essentially.

It is oddly relaxing and Zen-like at times, something I’ve never been able to say about any of Tarantino’s other films.

“The Hateful Eight” is split up in to a six-chapter structure, so as a guide, I’d say that it starts to pick up momentum at the beginning of chapter 4, when the voiceover is used for the first time.

The way it is all set up I like to think of as a large Jenga game. The whole tower is carefully constructed with a series of conversations in the first half of the movie, and, after a few pieces are taken out and the structure gets less steady, Tarantino decides, “f*** this” (his propensity for profanities in mind), and just smashes it over with his bare hands, being the breaker of conventions that he is.

Fortunately, the second half heads where you want it to go, with Tarantino’s standard irreverence, but it will just take some patience to get there.

There is plenty here I admire, mainly the at times unconventional plot structure, which veers into some unexpected directions. There is one particularly crude scene in the middle that stands out from the rest of it.

The setting of the cabin (Minnie’s Haberdashery) is very well spaced out, and maintains alluring enough that it is almost in itself a character.

Although, I do wonder why Tarantino was so persistent on shooting this in the 70 mm format, which really is suited more to capturing expansive outdoor shots rather than the indoor setting. It looks fine and all, but it isn’t particularly necessary.

Tarantino has had better – this is just okay. Still, I’m looking forward to his next project, and with apparently only two movies left to go in his career (he is said to retire after his 10th film), let’s just cherish this supreme film-making talent while we can.

Rating: 3/5

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