Monthly Archives: October 2016

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Stranger Things

Here’s a question for you: what was the last Tim Burton film that you really, really loved?

Alice in Wonderland? No… come on, let’s be serious. Corpse Bride? It was alright… but nah. Big Fish? I can get behind that.

That was thirteen years ago! 2003. The year we were on the verge of extinction from SARS before swine flu took over as the new apocalypse, Apple didn’t make phones but the Nokia 3200 was THE mobile to own and Britney Spears was still semi-relevant especially after making out with Madonna.

An amazing Tim Burton film is long overdue and with Superhero movies being all the rage right now Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children sure as hell seemed like this could be Burton back to his A game.

Unfortunately that isn’t the case.

Peregrine has all the traits of a Burton film. It’s quirkier than that time I went to Japan and the first thing I saw on TV was Strictly Come Dancing but with a guy in skimpy S&M leathers. It’s also a bit Gothic like those guys in high school and finally it focuses on outcasts and fringe society members like… err… Nigel fucking Farage.

Mimicking the title of this film there are many peculiarities to be found in the film. For a start there is voice over but unless I’ve blanked it from memory it is only over the first five minutes of the film. Where did it go?!

Another oddity is that it isn’t set in New York!? It’s actually set on a tiny island in Wales. Strange, yes, but it’s weirder that it includes rap wannabes who talk in such a strong local accent that even Tom Jones would be left confused.

Some peculiarities are positively gripping such as the host of special children. In a landscape full of silver screen superhumans it’s fascinating to see new, intriguing powers, that haven’t been harnessed for crime fighting or for destroying New York!

Miss Peregrine herself (Eva Green) was equally as wondrous. Sure, her Gothic looks are visually striking, but every time she was on screen I was fixated. There is an expectancy to her performance as if she is about to divulge some revelation but only to you. This intimacy is truly encapsulating.

The tantalising quirkiness is shortlived. In my opinion it’s too soft. I think Burton has made this with the intention of it being suitable for his children who are about 10 years old now. Almost everything about it has it’s edge  tapered back to be more family friendly.

There are also problems with some of the acting. For every Eva Green there is a Terrance Stamp who is miscast in this fantastical role. For every youthful, joyous spirit of Ella Purnell (who plays Emma Bloom) there is an Asa Butterfield (who plays Jake) and is dull, drab and quite simply never that surprised, amazed or concerned about the unfolding events – the epitome of meh!

For all it’s faults and misgivings it’s still a Tim Burton film at its heart. I have to be honest that get’s me every time but it’s just a shame that it’s not the return to form I was hoping for.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ It’s a Tim Burton film- Yay!
+ Eva Green
+ Interesting abilities


– Not gritty enough
– Some odd choices in settings
– Asa Butterfield

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Deepwater Horizon

True Lies

Remember the millennium? Loads of weird shit happened. One thing that happened was that BP changed their logo to be a green and yellow geometric symbol. I realise that’s not weird in itself but it was meant to represent green energy, plant life and the sun; mother natures all powerful life-giver.

Remember 2010? That massive oil spill in the gulf of Mexico? One of the biggest man made ecological disasters and one that destroyed acres of marine life was dismissed as an accident at first. Only after an official inquiry did it become fully apparent that it was actually crude negligence and the ever expanding chase for profits by highly flammable cockwombles at BP that caused this all powerful life-taker.

Suddenly their logo seems weird right?!

Deepwater Horizon is the origin story of this disaster focusing on the moments leading up to when it all went sideways.. and upside down… and generally very, very explodey!!

I actually met someone who worked on an oil rig and he showed me a picture of the view from his office window which was “some sort of outlet” but really it looked like the flamethrower scene from True Lies.

Deepwater horizon makes that picture look like a tealight because these flames go big. Really big. So big that it makes me thankful that the biggest hazard in my job is bad posture and RSI. It’s really quite spectacular and makes you realise that being in the middle of such of an event would be unfathomably scary. A nightmare of epic proportions.

I guess it’s lucky then that the people on the rig had Hercules on board to save everyone. Sorry, that was meant to be Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) not Hercules. It is a bit weird that the film is so Mike-centric because it seems highly unlikely that this one electrical engineer could preempt disaster, search for missing people switch on backup generators and be the last person to leave the rig… by jumping from the helipad.

It all seems highly dramatised and like it wasn’t corroborated by anyone else: “yeah, then I  totally tore a door off the wall with my bare hands and err… I surfed down the lava fields to safety! Oh and I totally shot all the bad guys on the way”.

I dunno. I wasn’t there. Maybe the film is actually highly accurate. Maybe it wasn’t. In the end it didn’t really matter because Marky Mark is as entertaining to watch as ever but adds to overall Hollywood gloss.

On the flip side is Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) and Vidrine (John Malkovich. Russell nails his role as the loveable but grizzled safety officer and Malkovich competently plays the voice of the corporation and help keep the film at least partly grounded.

I guess there is always a trade off though in this sort of film. Either you aim for entertainment by impressive visuals and maybe bend the truth here or there or you expose the lies of the real life even in a scathing critique of big oil and capitalism. Deepwater opts for the former and does a competent job of it but part of me still wishes they stuck more of a finger up at BP.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Explodey bits
+ Kurt Russell
+ Overall very entertaining


– Wahlberg’s character
– Seems overly dramatised
– Could have stuck up another finger to BP

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The Infiltrator

Narcolepsy

You would have thought that a story about the downfall of the worlds most notorious drug peddler would be a home run for a movie. Add in someone who has been an acting powerhouse in a role that is incredibly similar to the lead character and you have a potential Oscar winner and a license to print money and then swim in it.

The film focuses around Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) who is a decent family man who is forced to do unsavoury things thanks to circumstances outside of his control… a bit like Breaking Bad right? Mazur works with Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo) in order to infiltrate Pablo Escobar’s money laundering regime.

Sounds exciting.

Unfortunately it’s not. The film is actually really boring. Maybe it should have been called The Dream Infiltrator because it’s a good film to fall asleep to. I know it’s not just me either, the people following me out of the cinema emoted similar thoughts.

The main problem is that not a lot really happens in the film. Mazur has the idea to follow the money rather than the drugs and then we spend the entire film with him trying to get closer to Escobar’s inner circle by setting up his own fake laundering company. At some point the feds decide to shut everything down and that’s it. Film ended.

It reminds me of that guy who made a sandwich from scratch. He grew wheat and lettuce and conjured up yeast from the netherworld or however it’s produced and even raised animals for the meat and dairy. After 6 months of work the results were “It’s not bad. That’s about it”. Lots of setup. Minimal pay off. Fucking pointless in the end.

The only moments of excitement, such as a drive by or a visit to a shaman in Colombia, are isolated from the rest of the plot and I questioned why these scenes were needed or if they were then why weren’t they integrated better.

Come to think of it, THAT is the real issue. I still don’t actually know who most of the people were in the story and more importantly how they relate to Escobar himself.

I don’t really know anything about Escobar apart from that Nas once rapped about him and Netflix made a series called Narcos. However, I do know that he is the main reason I wanted to see the film so to have precious little correlation with his wider drug cartel is as meaningful to me as if they had told a story about trying to shut down Escobar’s favourite brand of aguardiente.

If I take a step back the film is fairly well produced. The script is solid even if the story isn’t and it’s consistently well delivered. Also, Leguizamo is particularly excellent as a cop who is fiercely loyal to his job but enjoys the partying that his undercover work affords him.

None of this is enough to stop you from constantly nodding off so I can’t recommend The Infiltrator but I hear Narcos is pretty good. Maybe give that a try!?

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Decent script
+ Leguizamo was great


– Not much happens
– Relationship to Escobar is not really explained
– Boring

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The Magnificent Seven

Unlucky For Some

I tend to dislike a lot of things that other people seem to love. The Apprentice? That programme is just a shameless re-skinning of Big Brother filled with egotistical ball bags. They don’t even get a job now. They just get given 20k, told to fuck off and never to speak to Lord Sugar-tits again.

Then again, I like a lot of things that other people hate like blue cheese – how could you not like sweaty mouldy cheese slopping around your taste-buds?! Perhaps that’s why I like The Magnificent Seven even though it’s not a brilliant film.

I guess I’ve never felt at home with whatever “normality” is so I tend to gravitate to films that feature characters that don’t seem to fit in and especially ones that are self-aware about it.

If you don’t know, The Magnificent Seven is based on a remake of a re-imagining of Seven Samurai which is not just one of my favourite films but one of the best ever made. Don’t take my word for it – it’s currently number 19 on IMDB’s top 250 films.

What made this 1950’s black and white Japanese language film so incredible was partly its incredible cinematography but more importantly its almost unparalleled characterisation of each of the 7 characters, even by today’s standards.

I was really pleased to see this was a key focus in this latest offering. You only need to see the star power thrown at the film to know this is true with Denzel Washington being the effortlessly cool and focused bounty hunter Chisolm and flavour of the month Chris Pratt playing the mischievous gambler Josh Faraday.

Admittedly, making each of the main characters different nationalities is an easy way to differentiate your main cast but they work really well together whether it be Red Indian scalp hunter Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) and the disavowed Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) or Civil War vet  and sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) and his mysterious, badass, east asian protector Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee).

The film even manages to portray a vile and threatening villain in Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) which is a welcome break from some recent lacklustre offerings from the Superhero genre.

The rest of the film however is middling to bad and the main culprit  is the lack of any quality writing which is ironically the problem with my blog too. Much of the dialogue is only there to push forward the story and is at times clichéd and obvious so treat this like every Christmas day after the age of 21 and don’t expect any surprises!

Haley Bennett is the only female character of note and plays the maiden in distress who initiates the help of the magnificent seven but is offered precious little screen time even though she has been well trained with a rifle and could have easily have been worked in as a replacement or addition to the one of the seven.

The action scenes at times try to feel gritty and traumatic but the need to appeal all creatures great and small by getting that juicy 12a rating means it has to pull its punches and therefore has a weird disconnect between scenes of humour, futility and devastation. Scenes that are so much more saccharine in Seven Samurai.

Yet for the same reason there is an over-riding joyousness to much of the film making incredibly fun to watch even if it’s technically not a great film but again don’t trust me I’m not normal.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Characters
+ It’s fun!
+ The Bogue-y man


– Poor dialogue
– Haley Bennett under-utilised
– Could have been grittier

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Ben-Hur


Been Hur Before

When I was a kid I was constantly amazed at how my brother was able to buy some sweets and not just empty the whole pack into his face in one go. Me? Well, if I could avoid breathing difficulties and that feeling of your heart trying to escape by smashing through your rib cage then well done me and my self control.

The same was true with media. I wanted something big bright and colourful, I wanted it quickly and I wanted to move to the next one. Not my brother. One of his favourite films was Ben Hur; a three hour epic to end all epics but to me three hours was too much time not eating cola cubes.

Today is quite different. For a start our drug addicted world probably would have prescribed Ritalin to combat ADHD but also the idea of a three hour film is not that uncommon.

I still haven’t seen the original but my brother always went on about the chariot scene and legend has it that a billion stuntmen died in this scene… something like that… so this seems like a good place to jump in.

The chariot scene is the most entertaining part of the film but it also has two striking problems. There are some rather obvious moments of CGI and whilst you can get away with it in Super Space Voyage 3000 you can’t really get away with it when the height of technology is hot water. Without top notch CGI you are removed from the gritty, unforgiving world the characters are meant to inhabit.

The second problem is the pillar of expectation. You either have to have the chariot scene be more spectacular than the original (I refer you to literally the last thing I just wrote) or you try to do something different with the scene which is not even attempted.

You can argue that this is true for the whole film; it’s not very original. I mean even if you haven’t seen the original you will have no problem thinking “I’ve been here before” especially if you have seen Gladiator.

The story follows Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) a Jewish prince and Messala Severus (Toby Kebbell) his adopted brother. As the adopted brother Messala joins the Roman army to prove his worth but when his army rolls through town like some pompous dressage parade Judah is wrongly incarcerated, forced to work on a Roman galley and has to win back his freedom.

I actually enjoyed most of the story, especially the relationship between the two brothers, the motivations and values of whom are surprisingly well balanced by director Timur Beckimov. I found myself relating to aspects of both and neither siblings at the same time, questioning who is right and wrong.

A rather sloppy and obvious inclusion of God’s favourite carpenter was one of the few aspects I didn’t enjoy. Maybe it made sense in 1959 but this plot line goes nowhere and is a clear candidate for being crossed off the storyboard. Pun intended.

The only thing more pointless was Morgan Freeman in dreadlocks who simply didn’t suit his role. Presumably he’s there to add star power.

There isn’t anything about Ben-Hur that is essential viewing but as a straight remake it’s not the complete shit show I thought it might be. I’m secretly disappointed about that because I was ready to go to town on it like it was a big bag of pick and mix!

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ The chariot scene
+ Enjoyable story
+ Interesting relationship between brothers


– CGI during the chariot scene
– Jesus
– Morgan Freeman with dreads!?

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Kubo and the Two Strings

Hobby Crafted

If there is any film this year that deserves to be a commercial success then it is Kubo and the Two Strings.

The whole premise of the film is framed around a fairy tale. The tale goes that the evil Moon King fought and defeated Hanzo, a legendary warrior, and took an eye of his only son. The only thing that can stop him from taking the boy’s other eye is another warrior and 3 pieces of mythic armour.

That boy is Kubo.

What I loved about Kubo and the Two Strings is how it seamlessly blended reality and fantasy without ever needing to explain how or why such things exist and it’s up to the viewers own intelligence to work out what is real and what is metaphorical.

Can Kubo really make paper dance and fight like it’s alive or is this just a metaphor for a vivid storyteller? Does he really have a monkey and a samurai beetle as friends? Is his shamisen really magic?

It could all just be the overactive imagination of a young, lonely, boy trying to grow up and make sense of a world that has left him with a mother that requires constant care and an absent father.

With a heavy Japanese influence I did wonder if some of the film’s meaning was lost on me though. As a stupid ‘gaijin’ I couldn’t tell you if this mythos is rooted in eastern theology or if this is original storytelling.

Either way there is so much love and care put into the animation and interaction between characters. I would not be surprised if this started out as Travis Knight’s personal hobby or pet project because it’s so easy to be mesmerised by the film’s many unfolding layers.

I mean the animation is nothing short of breathtaking with action scenes that are dynamic enough to hold its own against modern action choreography.

The interaction between characters is equally as stunning. Whether it be between Kubo and old lady Karmeyo (Brenda Viccaro) or between Monkey (Charlie Theron) and the wonderful Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) both script and acting are near flawless.

Kubo and the Two Strings is not perfect though. It is possibly a little bit too long but more importantly it loses focus leaving the end of the film to feel a bit rushed. The final fight scene had some scrappy editing and I wasn’t enamoured by the Moon King’s design at this point as it looked like something out of The Avengers.

In all honesty this might not be something to take your kids to – it’s not exactly Toy Story – but it’s the most creative and wonderful piece of art to come out on general release in a long time and one that deals with spiritualism, fantasy, life and death in a careful and delicate manner. In my eyes; that’s something worth supporting.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Gorgeous stop motion photography
+ Fantastic action
+ Beautiful character interaction


– Am I missing some symbolism?
– The final battle

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Sunshine Blogger Award!!

As if the world hadn’t gone mad enough with Brexit, Donald Trump and a man who tried to live as a goat in switzerland… along comes another blogger who has nominated me for an award. Madness.

This time is the Sunshine Blogger Award given by bloggers to other bloggers who they believe are like little sugar coated rainbow unicorns dancing on the rays of the sun – I’m pretty sure that’s a direct quote.

The Sunshine Blogger Award works like this:

  1. Post the award on your blog
  2. Thank the person who nominated you
  3. Answer the 11 questions they sent you
  4. Pick another 11 bloggers (and let them know they are nominated!)
  5. Set them 11 questions

With Thanks:

This honourable mention is from evelynfilmfan. Considering my writing has always been something of a side project for myself it’s always humbling when someone goes as far as saying what I do is above average let alone worthy of some sort of award.

My Answers :

1 – What’s the reason you started writing in the first place?

I went to Uni. Did film studies then did nothing with film in my working life. I guess somewhere in the back of my mind I needed to do something with film and here we are!

2 – Who is your best movie buddie?

Easy. My Girlfriend. 🙂

3 – Which actor or actress makes you want to go to the cinema, before even knowing what the film is about?

Jackie Chan, although maybe not so much anymore, these days it would have to be Sam Rockwell, Christian Bale and because I’m a weak man: Margot Robbie!

4 – Do you rather watch films or series?

Films. As I slowly slide into slippers, dinner parties and a gin addiction that comes with old age (30 is old right?!) I find I have very little time for long things even a 2hr + film is pushing it now.

5 – In your opinion what is the most overrated film/series?

Most overrated film in recent memory is The Danish Girl which was just tried too hard to be emotionally powerful and ended up being a soppy wet fest. As far as series go, probably Breaking Bad. Don’t get me wrong it’s an excellent series but people gush about it like it’s the second coming of christ.

6 – What’s your favourite place to watch a film?

Honestly. The cinema. Big screen, loud surround sound and the dark allows you to concentrate on the film… unless you have some asshat who wants to talk about Beyoncé’s new pet rat or whatever celebrities like to own!

7 – Who is your celebrity crush?

I don’t really like celebrity culture so I don’t really have a crush as such but Margot Robbie  and Anne Hathaway are stunning. Then again… there is something about Emily Blunt.

8 – Have you ever been to a city just because it was used as a film location?

No. But my main reason for going to Florence was because of Assassin’s Creed 2. Also, I recently went to New York so I get to say “Been there!” every time that’s in a film – so pretty much every film then!

9 – What’s your favourite city you’ve been?

Rome. Hands down. They built it and said “Done!” and then it’s barely been touched for hundreds of years. Food’s not great though. 😦

10 – If you could make a film what would it be about?

I’d love to make a Marvel movie because i’m just a big kid at heart but I’m not sure it would be fulfilling so I’d like make a life affirming film like the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Something about breaking the shackles of everyday life and seeing the world.

11 – Which film is the biggest disappointment?

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Like everyone else I wanted this to be pant-wettingly good but what we got was a mess that ironically had very little of Batman fighting superman… it’s OK though, their mum’s names are the same so no need to fight. SMH.

My nominees:

I’m going to be a bit naughty and only nominate 1 person for this. Firstly, I barely have the time to follow and read the handful of blogs that I do follow and secondly because the other person I would have nominated is constantly flooded with Leibster Awards.

Tazscribble’s Blog – I’m secretly impressed with how Taz’s writing has improved over the time i’ve been following her but don’t tell her I said that… oh wait… I have to!

My questions:

  1. What film have you seen the most times?
  2. What is your favourite animation film?
  3. If you could play any character in any film… who would you play?
  4. Are you inspired by any famous person? If so who?
  5. What film, piece of music, TV show or book sums up your life right now?
  6. Who is someone who has inspired you from your personal life and why?
  7. If you were a chocolate bar… what would you be?
  8. You have to give up pizza or cake… which one?
  9. Winter food or summer food?
  10. If you had to lose one of you sense’s, which one would you choose?
  11. List one embarrassing moment.. GO!

Sausage Party

Own Brand Comedy

I’ve been AWOL from writing for about 2? 3 weeks now? Like most people I find it hard to do everything I want to do, let alone need to do and some things fall by the wayside.

I’ve recently been learning french, trying to hit the gym a bit more, going climbing and learning more french but that’s only when I’m trying to buy a house or visiting friends/family. That’s where my head is right now.

If I was to make animated film right now it would have to be about a podgey French superhero – probably called Bernard or Frederique – whose super power is to have crusty callous ridden hands, suffers from constant fatigue and empty wallet syndrome.

If that is my brain leaking onto the silver the Sausage Party is Seth Rogen’s mind come to life in what is absolutely Seth Rogen and Co’s passion project.

This should serve as a warning for those who don’t like his style of humour. If, like me, you love his work this is not an immediate seal of approval because even though there is something immensely childish and likeable about Sausage Party I’m not sure I liked it.

The main problem is that the concept is much funnier than the execution. There are some good moments such as the main villain being a total bro, bro! or the food related puns are so natural well worked into the script that you feel like your brain is a few rows further back than your ears…………. oh, I get it now!

Then there are some epic moments such as the scene where “food” realises that humans don’t save food, they eat it. There’s also a hilarious scene where 2 trolleys collide to make a Saving Private Ryan-esque moment of shell shock as in the header image above but the very best scene is the end of the film. It’s puerile, it’s foul, it’s bizarre, it’s chaotic and it’s fucking hilarious!

Beat to beat though and the film just sort of trundles by with precious few hard hitting laughs, trying to rely on racial stereotypes rather than the winning formula that is the film’s concept of sentient food having to deal with the a vastly different world to the one it believes in.

Through this I think we could have had a better story but that’s inconsequential to the animation style which is pretty shitty. I get that they wanted to go for a sort of lo-fi look and that works well for South Park but this just looks like pre-rendered textures. I wasn’t a fan.

So it’s a bit of a mixed shopping bag. There is some really great stuff in here and I do like adult animations but too much of the film is too flat for too much of the film. To me that’s a real shame. After I watched the trailer I was ready to laugh so hard I would brown sauce my pants but no, this own brand of comedy, at times, also feels like own brand quality.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Trolley wallies
+ The after party
+ Food puns

– Animation Style
– Very few side splitting moments
– Avoid if you don’t like Seth Rogen’s style of comedy

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