Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Forest

Leave Well Alone

I know the feeling – I had to watch it!

It’s been a while since I ventured to the cinema to watch a horror film but here I am lured in by the fact that I had nothing else to do. It was either watch The Forest or try shaving my beard with a lit candle to stave off boredom.

In hindsight I’m glad I didn’t choose the candle but am gutted that I didn’t just use a flame-thrower because The Forest adds to the stinking pile of donkey shit that consists of most horror films.

For a start it frequently contradicts itself. We are told again and again to never stray off the path. No, seriously; NEVER STRAY OFF THE PATH!! Literally 5 steps into the forest and the park ranger (of all people) happily drags them off the path, a path which was never seen again. It would be like taking your first ever driving lesson and the teacher telling you to start drifting round corners.

A smaller example of this is when a Japanese teacher translates for her student who doesn’t speak English but when the teacher doesn’t provide a literal translation the girl fervently corrects her. This implies that the girl is a lying little shit because that requires a highly competent and nuanced English speaker.

Funnily enough through, the film actually had potential. Early on we are told that whatever happens, it is all in your head. A creepy forest is a great place to subvert the audiences expectations, build tension and play on that part of your brain that says an un-dead killer zombie bear with rabies is definitely outside my tent.

Sadly, the psychological aspect isn’t really explored choosing instead to fumble its way through a story that revolves around the rescue and recovery of a twin sister whilst desperately grasping at those all too familiar horror tropes that I hate.

Jump scares are the name of the day complete with eerie wilderness scenes that could be from any other horror film, Japanese people – presumably because they make original horror and therefore this film by proxy?! – creepy children who look at the floor then face the camera and scream.

“It’s the microwave meal of creative horror.”

Feel free to use that as a DVD box quote.

Whilst the above sounds all very tedious it gets even worse thanks to some awful acting courtesy of Natalie Dormer. Does she seem genuinely concerned about her twin sister? No. Does she seem genuinely scared in the forest? For the most part no.

Thankfully Yukiyoshi Ozawa and Taylor Kinney are a lot better as the supporting cast but this doesn’t detract from the harrowing experience of paying money to see this visual fungus.

The occasional shots of wildlife and mountain scenery ironically make the forest look like a lovely place to visit and are the rare pieces of oak veneer that covers this endemic dry rot.

The Forest should have been a psychological thriller but plays bullshit bingo with generic horror conventions instead. In fact, at the time of writing, it’s currently tracking at 9% on Rotten Tomatoes so if you do go to see The Forest I’d advise bringing some sort of strong tranquillisers.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Nice scenery?!

– Another generic horror
– Inconsistent
– Bad acting

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The Finest Hours

SS Incomprehensible

Listed below is a short excerpt from the script but don’t worry – it’s 100% spoiler free. In fact I’ll even hide the names of who said what to make it even more spoiler free:

A: “Ain’t nobuhd nah grun omble th sanbar”
B: “Sees m’ jar and tey arhg prrpl ah nee”
A: “It’s serrrcie! Yernbie kar’n bunk. Finuhk ayar layee”

Powerful, powerful stuff. Sure, it’s incomprehensible but I’m sure it would be powerful if I could understand what the fuck they were on about.

This is one of the biggest issues with The Finest hours is that a quarter of the lines are mumbled with as much comprehension as Sylvester Stallone waking up from general anaesthetics. It really does make it difficult to understand the nuance or drama in any given scene.

This problem is only compounded by some poor audio editing. You will find some lines are definitely spoken well but are drowned out by the whooshing of water or general engine noises or the sound of the pumps on the sinking SS Pendleton.

You could argue that this adds to the authenticity of the film and to be fair; if someone was complaining about elocution when you were on half a tanker that’s slowly sinking into a cold sea, in the midst of a storm, with no radio communication, then you would rightfully tie an anvil to the morons head, jam a sign where the sun doesn’t shine saying “Dear sharks… enjoy” and throw him the hell overboard.

Yet, this is a film and it’s purpose is to evoke drama and emotion from you and a key part of that is knowing what people are saying.

Apart from the above the only other thing that I found as a turn off was the over-usage of CGI. Normally I don’t have an issue with heavy CGI usage but water is notoriously difficult to get right and in turn makes it difficult to suspend your disbelief accordingly.

Still, these are relatively minor complaints when taking the film as a whole because it’s not a bad little story of human perseverance, camaraderie and subverting pre-conceptions and prejudices.

A key example here is Chris Pine’s character; Bernie Webber, who is quiet, subdued and nervously plays by the book at all times. I have to admit, it’s wasn’t exactly a gripping character but it was really good to see Chris Pine differentiate himself that annoyingly handsome dude that he is so often cast to play.

There are two other examples of this with Holliday Grainger playing Miriam Webber; this film’s most enigmatic character, who is a strong and outspoken female during the good old days where women where chained to the kitchen. The other such example is Ray Sybert played by Casey Affleck who is a lonesome engineer on the sinking SS Pendleton.

What this film does is gradually champion the introverted and downtrodden until they become heroes in everybody’s eyes. Those who were bullish before have to give up their pride and admit they are wrong and let’s face it; this world needs more humility.

I was quite surprised that the part of this film I enjoyed the most was not a daring and dramatic rescue but human interactions instead. Whilst this film has its share of problems it’s certainly not a disaster on the scale of the SS Pendleton,  2015’s The Fantastic Four or err… my face, but neither will it be the finest 2 hours of your life.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Heart-warming story
+ Chris Pine playing someone vulnerable
+ Underdog story

– Poor sound mixing
– Mumbled lines
– CGI

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Triple 9

Triple OK

Remember the Ridley Scott version of Robin Hood? It had everything; great visuals, great cast, great costume design, great everything except… it was a bit shit.

If you were to believe the recent adverts on TV you would believe that this is a 21st century classic and like Robin Hood it does have a lot going for it but Triple 9 falls into mediocrity similar to Scott’s 2010 retelling.

One thing it does have going for it is a great cast. I think Anthony Mackie is excellent and have done so ever since I first saw the Adjustment Bureau and Triple 9 only solidifies that belief. You then have Chiwetel Ejiofor who was deservedly Oscar nominated for being whipped for 2 straight hours in 12 Years A Slave.

This is enough to fill a movie in its own right but Triple 9 also has to squeeze in Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame, Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead fame, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson and Kate Winslet… oh and Gal Gadot.

It sounds easier to squeeze Bigfoot into a tutu rather than give each of the above relevant screen time but Triple 9 balances each cast member adequately by firmly and wisely relegating some of the cast to supporting roles.

With the exception of Gal Gadot who is purely there to wear skimpy outfits and make male audience members revert into stupid one-dimensional cave men (not that I sat I sat there thinking “duurrghh. Woman. Hot!”… honest!?) none of the above cast ever feels left out. However, there are still a lot of characters who need back stories and motivations fleshed out and there simply isn’t enough room to do this.

The most obvious is Kate Winslet who plays the wife of a mob boss who pulls strings but we never find out who she is, to what extent she is involved, how she met the others, why she is pulling strings, who the mob boss is and how powerful or important is he.

Thankfully you don’t feel let down by the story but it’s just not as good as its cast and therefore has to rely on the film’s style to pull it through. In this respect it’s clear that director John Hillcoat has taken inspiration from various sources but this leaves a slightly incoherent vision of what the film is trying to be.

The moment you see Affleck and Mackie in a car it is hard not to think of Training Day. Aaron Paul and Norman Reedus play incredibly similar characters to their infamous TV counterparts. When someone dies you get the nostalgia for Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and the plot seems to unfold similar to the likes of Taken.

That said, it is a well produced film. It contains enough plot twists and action to keep you entertained even through moments of deja-vu. If Triple 9 had kept its storyline a bit more concise and paid a bit more attention to why things were happening then it might have been the modern classic the adverts proclaim it to be.

As it is; the story is just OK, its style is just OK and its use of a great cast is ultimately just OK. In other words it’s triple average.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Great cast
+ Decent production
+ Entertaining enough


– Overall vibe feels confused
– Plot not fleshed out well enough
– Could be more concise

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Zoolander 2

Fashion Faux Pas

When I first saw the original Zoolander I hated it. Not sure why but I thought it was more garbage than tanker ship full of Biffa bins. Then, a year or so later I found myself buying the DVD.

No idea how it happened but I found myself laughing hysterically at the portrayal of what is probably the world’s most pretentious and vacuous industries.

So along came Zoolander 2 and I have to say… I didn’t like it. Indeed, it wasn’t just me because no-one in our screening laughed apart from the 2 people who scoffed at the screen as they walked out half way through.

The plot of Zoolander 2 is terrible. It focuses on the return of Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) after years of solitude. Zoolander returns to find his son and get’s involved with Hansel in some sort of crazy plot to find the chosen one:  someone more beautiful than when a bald eagle attacked Donald Trump.

I mean sure, the original was kind of stupid but it played on making clever comedy out of a character who happens to be incredibly stupid. It riffs off of the vapid nature and stupidity of the fashion industry whilst also trying to say “hey, it’s not that bad and it has it’s place”.

In Zoolander 2 the only ounce of social commentary is to brazenly state that fashion is a young man’s game. Well… obviously!

Other than that the film points out that the fashion industry and by extension people’s tastes move on over time. Well… obviously!

I suppose that wouldn’t be a problem if the film were actually funny but, as mentioned above, it really isn’t. There are very few moments where you feel like Zoolander is being Zoolander. That unique brand of stupidty is really turned down with only fleeting glimpses of what made the original great as most of the gags miss the mark.

Interestingly it’s the lead characters that are the one’s that let this film down the most especially when compared to a supporting cast comprising of Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig who were the funniest components of this film.

Whether it’s simply the hair of Mugatu (Ferrell) or seeing Alexanya Atoz (Wiig) floating across the floor you can’t help but love these characters. It’s a shame that the rest of the film and the rest of the characters, to varying degrees, don’t live up to this.

In totality this feels like a film that is so out of fashion that it isn’t funny and at times, it struggles to be even entertaining so my advice would be to leave this on the hanger and go watch something else instead. You do realise Deadpool is out right?!

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Kristen Wiig
+ Will Ferrell


– Zoolander
– Rubbish plot
– Just… not that funny

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Deadpool

Life After Death

Deadpool is amazing. Not only is it a genuinely funny and entertaining to watch movie but it triumphantly overcomes all obstacles in it’s path.

It’s likely you know Deadpool thanks to X-Men Origins. You will know him as someone whose mouth is sewn shut, has swords for arms and fires lasers from his eyes which is 300% incorrect to the comic book character. Even if it were 200% less wrong it’s still 100% wrong which is impressive.

Deadpool is actually a little known, yet cult character, from Marvel. His only real superpower is the ability to heal from pretty much anything and everything. As a mercenary for hire he is really good with guns but also loves to play with swords and let’s face it who doesn’t?

Given his job role and his aptitude for not dying; he cares little for his own safety and by extension everyone else’s safety but he also takes the superhero moral high ground when it suits him.

This is portrayed perfectly in the film whether it be as small as him threatening a pizza delivery boy to stop stalking some girl or as big as causing a catastrophic motorway pile up in order to kill the person that mutated him and as a by-product ruined his beautiful face.

Deadpool is almost the perfect anti-hero; he fights for good by being bad. He insults heroes such as the X-Men whilst showing a strong fondness for Hugh Jackman and he is also self deprecating, mentally, verbally and best of all physically.

It’s in the moments where Deadpool is being injured or maimed that you can really fall in love with the character. His fight scene with Clossus is absolutely hilarious due to the physical abuse he takes and allows you to relish in that stupid, childlike, joy of watching someone hurt themselves because you know he will heal.

It’s not just the physical comedy that this film excels in because the script written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick make Deadpool genuinely one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time.

My initial concern was that the constant drive to be funny would wear thin but this didn’t happen thanks to the brilliant delivery from Ryan Reynolds. He even laughs off his previous crimes as the Green Lantern and the not-so-Deadpool, Origins-flavoured-Deadpool. Make no mistake, Reynolds makes the character his own. His comedic timing is spot on even in the moments where you are essentially watching Jackass: The Marvel Movie.

It’s not all fun and games though. On my naughty list is the villain Ajax (Ed Skrein) who really needed some character development or perhaps even a different actor as I found the dialogue between the him and Reynolds quite stifled and really slows the pacing down in the middle of the film.

Brianna Hildebrand who plays Negasonic Teenage Warhead (an unknown marvel character even to me) is also underutilised which is a shame because having a grumpy, unimpressed teenager around is a fun counterpoint to Deadpool’s eccentricity. My biggest concern though is how this will hold up in a few years. Technically this is not a great film but it is a hell of a lot of fun watch.

Fox Entertainment have taken a risk by rebooting an unknown yet tainted character with a simlarly tainted lead actor and making it family un-friendly but it has been worth the gamble. The film manages to continuously feel fresh even though it does have it’s downsides. I have my doubts as to whether this will stand the test of time but right here and now: Deadpool is very much alive and kicking arse, heads and chrome plated kahunas.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Hilarious
+ Great Action
+ Character is like the comics


– A bit dull in the middle
– Not the best villain
– Wasted use of supporting heroes

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Point Break

Point Bland

Extreme sports are awesome. With the most minimal of effort they are both cool and exciting to watch. Pull up any Red Bull challenge or Nitro Circus video on YouTube and it won’t be long before you well up with tears realising that you as co-ordinated as a drunk, stilt wearing, giraffe in comparison to these pros.

In fact, you don’t even need to look at these brands. Simply type “world’s best” and finish it with Snowboarding or free running or moto x and you’ll see some mind-blowing things. But do these translate to film?

Well… yes and no. Extreme sports – to the uninitiated – are short lived spectacles that you can watch, say ‘wow!’ and move on. In this respect it’s a bit like a circus or a fireworks display or a flexible stripper.

Films obviously have the ability to portray the spectacular but it’s made better by wrapping it in an enthralling storyline or evocative cinematography: two things that Point Break doesn’t have.

For what it’s worth the story goes like this: Utah (Luke Bracey) gives up Moto X after the death of his friend and decides to join the FBI. An (unconvincing) head of department, played by Delroy Lindo assigns Utah to the investigation of a daring bank robbery. Thanks to Utah’s past extreme sports lifestyle he identifies that the robbery is linked to other extreme cases of theft and are somehow linked to a set of legendary extreme challenges known as the Ozaki 8.

Utah eventually meets the gang and it’s leader Bohdi (Edgar Ramirez) who tries to covet Utah and bring him into the fold.

The principle of the Ozaki 8 is to do something incredible like skydiving from a plane and only opening your parachute when you go through the Cave of Swallows in Mexico (basically a hole bigger than Jeremy Hunt). After you take your thrills you give something back to nature or the local community or to life itself.

This sort of philosophical underpinning could have been fascinating. I know from practising breakdance for over 10 years that you absolutely can hit zen-like moments when pushing your body to the extreme. Unfortunately any attempt to portray this come across as heavy handed ramblings that don’t fit with the overall feel of the film and clumsily try to achieve moments of poignancy.

Once you have ridden a wave of rubbish dialogue you are left with a hollow and un-fulfilling plot that is frankly nonsensical.

How any one person can be so fucking good at 2 disciplines is remarkable but 8 of them? Come on, man!?

People train for years to just be average at 1 discipline so I can only assume Bohdi’s daily routine is: skydive to a mountain peak, snowboard to a lower level rocky mountain, wingsuit to sea level, surf across a bay to a cliff face, free climb up and motorbike home across untamed wilderness.

If you ignore the plot these nonsensical moments, in isolation, are spectacular. The surfing scene is really cool and truly drives home the enormity of the waves as does the snowboarding scene with the size of the mountains.

It’s perhaps the wingsuit scene that feels the freshest given its rarity in films but for me the most enjoyable and terrifying was the crazy rock climbing sequence. Then again I’m bias as I’ve just started climbing myself.

Point break is a bland and benign story that spouts fragmented dialogue and questionable supporting cast. It does however carve up some cool extreme sports with the leads looking relatively adept at them so that’s something to get amped about at least.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Cool surfing
+ Cool wing-suiting
+ Cool snowboarding
+ Cool climbing


– Bad plot
– Bad script
– Bad supporting cast

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Dad’s Army

Who Do You Think You Are Kidding?

So… I really love cheese. Blue cheese, soft cheese, holey cheeses, goats cheese. All delicious. In fact; the only way I could like them more is if I smeared them over my body and basted myself in red onion chutney.

My mum, however, is terrified of the fat content so she only ever buys low-fat cheese, or as it’s also known, low flavour cheese. It’s not bad it’s just that I see it as an underwhelming attempt to imitate the original.

Dad’s Army feels much the same.

The film goes to great lengths to imitate the original, carefully choosing where to drop in the term “stupid boy” and other such lines that draw out a sense of nostalgia for the original TV series.

With a cast that consists of legendary British actors such as Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon, Toby Jones and Catherine Zeta-Jones anyone would have thought that the comedy would flow as readily as my nose right now – damn cold – but that’s just not the case. The cast are all clearly trying but the targeting system seems broken so a bullseye of comedic timing is never hit.

I’m not sure if this is down to the film’s direction, script or editing but the farcical elements that you loved from the original TV series never really blow up on screen but instead they fizzle out like some unexploded ordnance.

It doesn’t help that the plot is so blindingly obvious that you end up checking your pockets for a crystal ball because you know of all the events before they happen. Unfortunately there is a bigger problem with the script and that’s the fact that it’s 2016.

Because the film is painstakingly trying to replicate the original it fails to bring it up to date. The idea of a spy in the midst is fine but when the plot solely relies on the idea of Germans invading but now well… that is as meaningful as Jedward are to the majority of the populace in 2016.

The idea of there being a spy should have been introduced much earlier on and they could have built in situations around trying to identify who the spy is. However, half of the film is introducing the characters to new viewers so by the time we learn there is a spy you had already intercepted a telegram informing you exactly who it is.

All this leaves the film feeling both redundant and pointless and that’s actually a great shame because like that low flavour cheese my mum buys it looks like the real thing but it’s just not Dad’s Army.

If it wasn’t for the strong cast the film would have sunk faster than a German U-Boat. Instead they manage to carry the film to its conclusion with nothing more than mild concussion. For those who never watched the TV series this is not a good starting point but those who loved the original will find it a whimsical trip down memory lane. That doesn’t take away from the fact that it is missing the fat that makes it delicious.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Great cast
+ Will evoke nostalgia Dad’s Army


– Pointless
– Not very funny
– Plot is too obvious

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Dirty Grandpa

Worthy but Not Original

Dirty Grandpa is full of obscenities and detestable themes that leaves very little to be considered loveable. In short it’s one of those comedies where you have to be a terrible person with a questionable sense of humour to like it.

Since I teeter on the line of being an awful human being I thought it was actually OK but not everyone will, in fact I would guess that most people won’t.

If you are expecting some sort of deeper exploration about love, fidelity, old age or indeed ageism then look elsewhere to entertainment that holds a more nuanced subject matter like Big Brother or one of those ambient whale noises CD. This is because the humour is entirely dependent on swearing or spouting some sort of sexually perverse ideas and slurs.

In this sense it is absolutely a one trick pony but what is worse is that the film is relentless in its pursuit of even more questionable and objectionable quips.

Every other line that comes out of DeNiro’s mouth is designed to shock; after all, he is the dirty grandpa. This could have been hilarious if all the lines were well written but in truth only 30% of them are actually inventive and funny so for 70% of DeNiro’s screen time you actually want him to just shut up.

This is comparative to that friend who is constantly trying to be funny even if most of what they are saying just wears you out – we all know someone like this.

That obviously leaves 30% of the lines that are actually funny and my most memorable is when Zac Efron walks in on DeNiro “taking a number 3”.  Being the loathsome male I am; I may or may not have already dropped this amazing phrase in conversation on more than one occasion!

As is the norm with these types of comedies there is often a crazy situations that the characters find themselves in and Dirty Grandpa is no different. The best of these is where Zac Efron inadvertently smokes crack and let’s face it; crack is always a good time!

For me though the funniest person in the film was the young Aubrey Plaza who plays a girl on her way to Daytona beach for spring break hedonism. It’s here she meets Grandpa and sets her sight on partying some of his babies into her.

Plaza’s overtly slutty mannerisms fall into the realm of stereotype due to an absolute disregard for any form of subtlety make her really enjoyable to watch throughout.

Unfortunately though she is one of the only likeable characters in the film. DeNiro is too focused on destroying Efron’s marriage for him to be likeable. Even after he shares his motives as to why he’s doing what he’s doing you can’t help but dislike him as they simply aren’t earnest enough for you to care.

Efron’s character too is dislikeable through nothing more than being a pinch of ‘bland’ with a heap of ‘missing conviction’ on the side. That is evident through a complete 180 of character over a span of a few days.

Overall this film fires shit at a wall in order to see what sticks. Whilst it has it’s moments of humour the script really needed to be tighter in order to make the most of the cast and to make you empathise with the main protagonists. A lack of depth in character development also adds to the problem of likeable characters and whilst I found some of the humour entertaining many will believe this to be completely number 3.

 

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Phrases like “taking a number 3”
+ Crack smoking
+ Aubrey Plaza


– Unlikeable characters
– Tries too hard to be funny
– One trick pony

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Spotlight

Page 6 News

I have a problem. OK, sure, I have many problems but one in particular is going to see films about historical events. Specifically; events that, if they were people, they would barely have learnt to stop soiling themselves.

Spotlight features a story that is barely older than a few years so if you are unaware of the story then you must have been on a trip to the moon because Spotlight focuses on the well told story systemic child abuse within the church.

Unlike The Big Short which I thought was fantastic, Spotlight doesn’t put any sort of fun or innovative twist on storytelling instead deciding to go down the route of what feels like a very factual and honest portrayal of the effort needed to uncover this story.

Unfortunately the effort to uncover the story is not what I find fascinating about this scandal and I actually left the cinema not entirely sure who did what, why or when because the script name-drops so many people that its often hard to keep track of.

These name drops are mainly of various priests, lawyers, police, government officials and PR. If they mixed in bankers and salesmen then this would be a real minefield of high-grade arseholes. The sparkliest glitter covered turds of humanity.

Perhaps this is just my bias against said professions but it would have been nice if the film was a bit more fiercely critical about those who perpetually covered up child abuse. I was expecting for the film to unashamedly bash the bishops – for want of a better term – but instead, Spotlight is a piece of film-making that shies away from controversy in favour of building characters in an admittedly unbiased and balanced manner.

If you look at it from this perspective then it is a really good film. Michael Keaton is excellent as Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson – the head of Spotlight reporting division in the Boston Globe but for me it was Mark Ruffalo (Mike Rezendes) as an earnest yet determined reporter who was the highlight.

Ruffalo only manages to steal the show by feeding off the co-stars. With a supporting cast that stars Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber and Stanley Tucci it’s very hard for this not to be a well acted film.

Let’s go back to my original hang-up about “historical” films. The Big Short was also only yesterday, hell we are still feeling the fallout from the economic collapse today – vital emergency services are being screwed even as I write this. Anyway, the majority of us mere mortals, the ants that are scrabbling in the dirt, don’t/didn’t understand why and how the hell the meltdown happened in the first place.

In stark contrast though; Spotlight, I believe, is well understood. Sure, I had no idea it was one small team called Spotlight in the basement of a Boston newspaper that uncovered the information but the wider picture is obvious: Caught fiddy kiddling, swept under carpet.

Yup, got it, remember it well. Don’t need a film about it – at least not now.

Even so, there are a few really great moments that coincide with breakthrough moments of the investigation. Bolstered by the excellent cast these such moments make the film worth watching.

Spotlight seems like the weakest entry in the Oscar race. It’s told in a way that is heavy on facts but often low in subjective emotion and style. The message of the film is not scathing enough to amend or re-affirm your perception of a scandal that doesn’t need to be re-told this soon. Like the priests under investigation, Spotlight takes something that is young yet full of promise and gets it’s hand on it before it’s ready!

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Mark Ruffalo
+ Great Supporting Cast
+ The few a-ha moments


– Too soon
– Focuses on the uninteresting part of the story
– Not as critical as I would have liked

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Ride Along 2

Move Along

Objectively, Ride Along 2 is a bad film. The story is bare bones and forgettable, it’s not hilarious because the script is at best middling, the soundtrack doesn’t particularly stand out and the camera work is marginally better than average.

That said, I quite enjoyed Ride along 2.

I believe this is because Kevin Hart’s brand of comedy still feels fresh and interesting. When he is paired with Ice Cube’s ‘angry black man’ performance the plucky, slapstick, underdog traits that Hart is so adept at portraying are highlighted and accentuated.

It’s a good thing too because the plot feels as structured as an explosion in a jam factory. James Peyton (Ice Cube) and Ben “Blackhammer” Barber (Kevin Hart) are chasing some guy and there was an encrypted thing so they had to go to Miami to meet a hacker, perhaps.

Once there they meet Maya (Olivia Munn) sort of shows up and there is a bad dude and a port, maybe some drugs or a gun and something about a safe house or whatever: as you can see, the plot is gripping!

Strangely, there is a sub plot of Ben needing to get home in time for his impending wedding which was actually better developed than the main storyline to the extent that the main Miami based storyline ends up feeling like a segway for the sole reason of providing a dramatic backdrop to the wedding.

It’s almost like the wedding was the main story and the Miami trip was bolted on afterwards as a reason to have beaches and palm trees and nice cars.

There isn’t a whole lot to differentiate this from any other mediocre film with perhaps the exception of a car chase scene which is computer generated to make it look like the computer game that Ben is currently obsessed with.

I wish the makers had doubled down with this scene by flipping cars, driving on pavements or going over jumps. Because Ben sees the road as a video game it would have allowed for fantastical elements to be coupled with the ordinary without the need for relentless laws and logic that plague real life and stop you riding flying unicons that poop skittles.

This car chase scene is, of course, much less ridiculous and therefore much less fun than it should have been. Unfortunately, this is a theme that is common throughout the whole film. There are many scenes could have been hilarious but end up feeling very flat.

That’s not to say the whole film is dull. There are more than enough moments to keep your attention even if they won’t make you cry with laughter. The best of these was probably the post wedding scene which is unfortunately right at the end of the film but a close encounter with a crocodile at a soiree was a close second.

I guess you could say that crocodile was a real… party animal. I hate myself sometimes.

Overall, there is no getting away from the fact that Ride Along 2 is a fun but dismissible film. It’s not quite as good as the first Ride Along and relies on many of the same visual jokes but it is decent enough for a casual and entertaining road trip to the cinema.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Hart and Cube’s chemistry
+ Fun
+ The final wedding scene


– Forgettable plot
– Not overtly funny
– Computer game scene

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