Monday, 24 November 2014

Film Diary 01st - 10th Nov

Welcome to the first of my revamped Film Diary. As I watch quite a lot of movies I cant do long full reviews of all of them so much the Halloween post this is going to be pretty much short quickfire reviews. Any movies, especially new releases and cinema movies, I feel deserve a full bigger review will get one.

Jodorowsky's Dune 2013

The greatest science fiction movie never made.

After reading a few review I see that this documentary is very divisive. But love it or not, it is a wonderful making of documentary. 

Telling the story of Alejandro Jodorowsky's and his attempted version of Dune, the documentary recounts his almost Quixote-esq journey and immense preparations. From having his young son train i martial arts to traveling the world to assemble his fellow 'warriors' to create the movie with him.
And who would not want a copy of his Dune bible!!!

The documentary itself looks great, is told in a efficient and informative manner but it is Jodorowsky that elevates it. He is a magnificent story teller and I was gripped to him as he recounted anecdote after anecdote about his encounters on his 'magical journey' to bring his vision to life. His passion for the project is undeniable and shines through.

Wether or not his version of Dune would have been the master piece it hints at in this documentary, we will never know but this stands as an enjoyable alternative.
Rating: 3/5

TRON: Legacy 2010

The game has changed.

I stuck this on when I came in from the pub and that is how this movie should be enjoyed. Late night fun. 
Sequel to the classic and some what ground breaking 80's movie in which Jeff Bridges travels into a game to do battle with a tyrant with The Grid.

This movie finds his son pretty much doing the same, entering The Grid, now a sprawling metropolis and fully realised world, and having to do battle with a tyrant. The action is pretty decent and fun, the performances are fine, Jeff Bridges cross between The Dude, Ghandi and Jesus is great however but its some of the effects that really let it down. 
Instead of recasting, they chose, for some bizarre reason to digitise a young Jeff Bridges. However the effects are terrible and unrealistic and pull you out of the movie and take away from the other slightly more impressive effects.

While not the classic the original was its still by no means terrible and is good enjoyable fun.
Rating : 2/5

Cuban Fury 2014

All's fair in love & salsa.

I like Nick Frost in Edgar Wrights movies and he plays well off Simon Pegg, but I was a little unsure on how he would be able to hold his own movie. And the simple answer is, he does well. The story is simple, a former salsa prodigy wants to dance again to impress a girl, and defeat a rival. nothing original there, the salsa simply the twist in the tale.

However the performances are great, from all. Frost holds his own in the lead role, having charisma, charm and most importantly being funny. Chris O'Dowd is his hilarious self only a little more slimey as the rival. Ian McShane plays the gruff former master brilliantly.

If your looking for a light hearted, funny rom-com with a bit of salsa then you cant go too wrong with this.
Rating: 3/5

Bad Johnson 2014

Say hello to his little friend!

Everyone's favourite Cam Gigandet stars as a philandering personal trainer who wishes to atone for his mistakes but in doing so his wish is granted when his penis disappears and comes to life in human form. And yes that is weird, but makes for good watching.

An unusual premise to say the least but this was a really enjoyable movie. Not much you can really say about it, the cast is good and there are plenty of laughs throughout, if your looking for a slightly raunchy comedy look no further.
Rating: 3/5

Calvary 2014

After a priest (Gleeson) is threatened during confession and told he will be killed he face the seeming darkness that is growing around him in his small village/parish while facing his own mortality.

The movie begins with the confessional threat and then sets about introducing all the possibilities of that threat. Gleeson's priest first appears to be liked but as the movies progresses we see a slight animosity creep in in different ways from different characters. Gleeson, who appears at first to be a good-natured priest cannot help but morally corrupted by everyone around him.

The movie is filled with absurd moments, some comedic in the blackest sense, the overall tone tone remains melancholic and a sense of futility grows as his final days advance. 
As with McDonaghs previous film The Guard this is filled with absurd and dark humour, philosophical, and often foul mouthed, conversations and observations but their is a stronger state-of-the-nation observation within this. Modern Ireland is presented as morally corrupt in the wake of the church ceasing to be a political power following corrupt and scandal.

The undoubted stars are the lead and the director. Gleeson, whose mutli-layered performance may be his best to date, is superb and captivating in every scene.
McDonagh is proving to be an outstanding filmmaker. his story are told with a real sense of knowing the places, characters and events intimately, while his direction is stunning. The cinematography in this is breathtaking, especially the scenes on the beach.
Rating: 4/5

In A World... 2013

Speak up and let your voice be heard.

Written, directed and starring Lake Bell, I A World... tells the story of a struggling voice actor and coach trying to make it in a male dominated world. While the story is nothing too original, its is well told and acted. The drama plays out pretty much as expected with  a sprinkling of comedy. Bell is great as the lead and the supporting players are all solid.

Nice little indie drama, nothing bad but nothing amazing or ground breaking, good directorial debut effort.
Rating: 3.5/5

The 'Burbs 1989

He's a man of peace in a savage land...suburbia.

This is one of my favourite Tom Hanks movies. Back when Joe Dante was still making fun movies we got this gem. The tale of a suburbanite whose holiday is disrupted by mysterious neighbors and to a greater extent his own friends.

The mix of comedy and horror puts this right up there with Gremlins, and while it takes a little bit of time to get properly heated up, when it does the chaos that ensues is brilliant.

This movie gets a yearly viewing without fail. Any fans of Hanks, Dante or Gremlins, need to see this movie, post haste!!
Ratings: 5/5

Don't Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood 1996

One o the earlier and better efforts from the Wayans, this spoof of 'coming of age in the hood' movies is funny in places but not always hilarious.

Not much to say about it really without rehashing the gags! Funny, the title of the movie may turn out to be longer than my review.

Not the best spoof comedy but is a good and funny way to pass a bit of time. I highly recommend watching one or two of the movies it spoofs beforehand.
Rating: 2/5 

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit 2014

Trust no one.

Jack Ryan for the 21st century. Good espionage thrillers are always welcome. However this is such a bland one I really don't know what to say about it. The story, the acting, the action are all fine. I perfectly enjoyed it while it was on, even Branagh's ridiculously forced accent, but once it was over it was forgotten. I doubt I will rewatch it and I am ok with it.

If you like these type of thrillers, watch it, if not dont, it really doesnt make a differeence.
Rating: 3/5

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut 1999


As a fan of South Park, you will undoubtedly be a fan of this and how could you not be. All your favourite foul mouth characters are here, all your favourite humour, but with added songs.
Rating: 3.5/5

Frank 2014

When you think you've gone far enough, go further.

Firstly I have to get out of the way that  I got half way through  had to get over my disappointment that this was not a movie about Frank Sidebottom. But it was easy to get pastit, this movie is engrossing from start to finish.

This may be one of the strangest movies of the year, is off-beat, quirky and funny and thoroughly enjoyable. Both Fassbender and Gleeson put in fantastic performances, especially Fassbender who despite a paper mache head on, is able to convey a range with movement alone.

If you like your comedy out there, but with a lot of heart and some strangely catchy, but not very good, music, then this is for you.
Rating: 4/5

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Director: Johnathan Liebesman

Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Pete Pioszek, Johnny Knoxville, Jeremy Howard, Danny Woodburn, Tony Shalhoub.

When a kingpin threatens New York City, a group of mutated turtle warriors must emerge from the shadows to protect their home.

When the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie was announced I have to admit I was excited, I have always been a fan of the turtle and even enjoy the original movie to a degree, so the prospect of an updated version peaked my interest, even with the heavy involvement of Micheal Bay.

Overall the movie is a bit of a mess, the plot is a bit boring and the turtles themselves look a bit weird (but you get used to this). For the most it is fun and the action is big and bold, as you would expect given Bay's involvement. 

I was quite entertained as I sat in the cinema, nostalgia for days spent watching the cartoon creeping in as the turtles did their thing on the big screen, but then my brain began to pick at it a little and it wasn't until afterwards that I really began to think about it. And this wasn't good for the movie, because, the more you think about it the worse it gets.
Firstly is the plot, I cant understand why they deviated from the original plot and origin of The TMNT so much. Don't get me wrong, I have no issues with update and tweaking a story line but when you twist it to the point that it no longer makes sense then whats the point.

OK, be warned spoilers ahead..........

The turtles origin itself was not tampered with, they were turtle exposed to mutagen and abandoned to the sewers. 
But then comes Splinter, and this is where they lost me. So Splinter is simply a mutated rat that leads the TMNT into the sewers, becomes intelligent and wise in martial arts through some books he finds and becomes a master in order to train his 'sons' in the same arts. And as he was never human to begin with, he has no ties to Shredder and therefore has no reason to have Shredders wrath. This omission doesn't make sense!!! 

And then we have the Shredder himself, who looks a little too much like a transformer for my liking, and seems to defy the laws of physics by being ably to perform martial arts maneuvers in a suit that has weigh he better part of a ton!!

The TMNT themselves take a bit of getting used to but actually look pretty decent but not amazing, and when it comes down to one of the action highlight set-pieces of the movie, a chase and shootout in the snow while hurtling down hill, they fail to show off the TMNT by having rapid cuts and shaky cam. This should have been their opportunity to show off the effects but alas they chose the easy way out. 
And Aprils origin, as the original owner of the Turtles (pre-mutate) was just a plot point too far and completely unnecessary. 
What I did like about the Turtles themselves is that they were believable as teenagers, attitude and voices fit the spirit of the turtles, and the individual personalities really shone through bringing all of them to life realistically.

Oh and I cant for the life of understand why they show up in the turtle van at the end, when it could have been used earlier and kept fans happy!!

Overall, the movie was fun but doesn't stand up to too much examination. I enjoyed the movie while it was on, the Turtles were believable and the action was fun is not some what forgettable, but the plot is weak, and was just a little boring at times. 
I will probably watch this again but possible late at night, as a bit of fun, over several beers!

Rating: 2.5/5

Saturday, 15 November 2014


Throughout the month of October, I tend watch mostly horror, being a massive horror genre fan. I usually aim for a minimum of one a day, so here I am going to do a short quickfire review of each so that I can fit them all in. 
Forgive the briefness of some of the reviews, I simply don't have the time to go into too much detail on all of them. Some of the better ones I am sure to watch again so they may in the future get a much more detailed review.

Evil Dead

Remake/Re-imagining of the classic horror. In a long line of remakes of classic horror movies, this stands as one of the better efforts. More a re-imagining than a remake, it takes the original concept of evil released from evil book, but ups the gore and brutality. Ok, so the original had a more comic twist to parts of it but this goes for shock and gore, but does it right. The story is solid, the acting reasonable for a horror movie and the gore and effects are top notch in my opinion. I genuinely hope a sequel is made!!
Rating: 4/5


I did not like this. The story was boring and badly handled, the acting is terrible and it was boring, really boring. I have heard a few defenses of the movie but just can see any redeeming factors.
Rating: 1/5

Alien Abduction

I was worried about watching this as it sounded more sc-fi than horror, but I was gladly proved wrong. Found footage, when done right, can be effective and terrifying and here for the most part its was. The story of a family on holiday caught up in an alien abduction attempt. The justification for the camera is a little weak but I've heard worse. Any fans of found footage should love this, tense and unnerving through most especially the tunnel scene. 
Rating: 3.5/5

Trick 'r Treat

This is one of my favorite Halloween movies, and is in annual rotation at this time of year. It has a bit of everything, creepy stories, humour, gore and fun. Anthology movies are a bit hit and miss but this just works. Usually with anthology, at least one secion is weak but not with this. Next time I watch this I will do a bigger more in depth review.
Rating: 4/5

Shadow Of The Vampire

Interesting film on an alternative making of the classic Nosferatu. The most interesting parts of this were the look at how silent era movies were made and Willem Defoe''s performance as Max Shrek/Orlof. Not a terrible movie but by no means a masterpiece, it is a movie I will watch again, maybe as a double bill with Nosferatu.
Rating: 3/5

Dead Silence

Creepy ventriloquist dummy's. Should have work, but really doesn't. Maybe I was tired or not paying attention but I was bored throughout. I have recently read a rather glowing review of this from some whose opinion I trust and respect so I may revisit and see if I was missing something the first time round!
Rating: 0.5/5

Stake Land

Jim Mickles much anticipated follow up to Mulberry Street did not disappoint. A distopian future where a vampire epidemic has destroyed the land. A young boy takes up with a vampire killer to get to a safe haven. Mickles creates a bleak world but one that is richly developed and his confident direction forms a tense and truly enjoyable vampire tale.
Rating: 3.5/5

Silent Hill: Revelation

I enjoyed the first, even though it wasn't great. It brought the atmosphere of the game to the screen, and that is the overall aim, is it not? The sequel is pretty much the same, enjoyed it while it was on but forgot it once it was off.
Rating: 1/5


Interesting early Cronenberg, filled with sexual weirdness, shocking body horror and strange story. An isolated tower blocked comes under attack from a parasitic worm that turns the hosts into sexual predators, so to speak. Cronenberg's confidence in his vision for his movies is clearly evident, he has his vision and goes for it, while not the best looking film it is creepy and disturbing in equal measure throughout.
Rating: 3/5

The Town That Dreaded Sundown

I have in the past heard good things about this, so when it popped up on Netflix I gave it a go. A little more thriller than horror, it is the story of a town terrorised by a masked killer. 
A typical serial killer style movie, a news cast-esque narration lends the film a more realistic quality and brings a strange style to it making it far more enjoyable than it should be. 
The movie has been remade recently and  admit to being curious about the remake.
Rating: 2.5/5

The Cabin In The Woods

I cant say enough good things about this movie. Joss Whedon created a great, fun horror whilst also poking fun at the genre and maintaining a level of respect at the same time. This is another movie that gets regular viewings so no doubt I will be doing a bigger and better review before too long.
Rating: 4.5/5

Life After Beth

A romantic comedy featuring a teenage zombie, sounds familiar, strangely. Last year we got Warm Bodies, this year we get Life After Beth.  Whilst similar in places, Life After Beth goes for the more indie comedy route. Simple yet solid story, great script and great performances from both Aubrey Plaza and Dane Dehaan. Not the most original but a refreshingly clever and funny take on the zombie genre.
Rating: 3.5/5


Genuinely atmospheric and creepy. Didn't go for the easy creepy doll moving, actually took the time to explain and show what is 'moving' the doll. While it's done in the same vein as The Conjuring, which is understandable, but it relies a little too heavy on the same type of atmosphere and scares. But it worked for me and I enjoyed it.
Rating: 3.5/5

The Serpent And The Rainbow

One of Wes Craven's most ambitious movies, part horror, part psychological thriller, a quite in depth look at the practice of voodoo. Most movies concerning voodoo don't go into the detail of the practice and that's why this stands out. Weird, psychedelic in places and extremely enjoyable. One of Cravens best.
Rating: 3/5

An American Werewolf In London

Another classic, not much I can say on this that hasn't already been said, so I will just say that this is how you make a horror movie!!
Rating: 5/5

Hell Baby

I have watched this twice now and have enjoyed it both times. Its silly but fun. Its proper spoof horror, and doesn't just go for the cheap easy jokes like the Scary Movie franchise. And as always Rob Cordrey is the best part.
Rating: 2/5

In Fear

Simple story of a couple driving in rural Ireland and being terrorised by an unseen foe or foes. And its the simplicity that makes it effective. As the couple get more and more lost and night closes in the atmosphere and tension builds. Solid cast, simple but good story and plenty of atmosphere make for an enjoyable and tense watch.
Rating: 3.5/5

The Bell Witch Haunting

Average found footage movie. A few interesting shots but everything is pretty much by the numbers. f you are going to make a found footage haunted movies then you need to do something different to stand out from the rest.
Rating: 2.5/5

Saw: The Final Chapter

I wouldn't recommend watching g this if you haven't seen a lot of the franchise. Simply for the fact that it relies to much on previous movie knowledge.
Forced 3D shots and below par effects along with a confusing and wannabe over elaborate plot along with the straight to video 90' look to the movie is simply a terrible way to round out a franchise.
Rating: 0.5/5


Tim Burton's reward from Disney, a full length version of his short of the same name. Has plenty of heart, plenty of horror movie references to keep people watching.
Simple story and good visuals make this a thoroughly enjoyable movie. Classic but safe stuff from Burton.
Rating: 3.5/5


Great concept, janitor stuck in a bathroom stall as a zombie outbreak occurs at the office Christmas party. Low budget works to the advantage of the intimate setting. A great blend of horror and comedy. 
Rating: 3/5

The Lair Of The White Worm

Can honestly say I don't know what to think of this, in parts its good but in others its terrible dated. Interesting visuals and story, but definitely needs a re-watch.
Rating: 2.5/5


A fantastic comic book adaptation. The tone and feel of the characters are captured perfectly by Del Toro, while also bringing his own style to the Hellboy world.
Every time I watch this or the sequel I just hope an d pray for a third one to round out a trilogy!!
Rating: 4/5

Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Inferior sequel, tries to up the gore and shock of the first but forgets to put an interesting story in there and give justice to Barker's original concept. Was going to watch a few more of the sequels again, but then I remembered that they don't get any better. But there are talks of a reboot in the works, so fingers crossed.
Rating: 2/5


Not the best horror movie out there, or the most original but there is something that keeps me coming back to this movie. It descends at time into typical 90's slasher flick but I think its the performance from Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen that make it watchable and re-watchable.
Rating: 3/5

American Mary

Shock and body horror take center stage in this fantastic revenge (of sorts) movie. The Soska sisters certainly know how to tell a disturbing story in a compelling way. I wasn't the biggest fan of Dead Hooker In A trunk but could see the potential there and that was clearly realised in this. I still haven't seen See No Evil 2 but it doesn't seem like it is a logical move after this.
Rating: 4/5

Young Frankenstein

Another classic, and another movie that has a yearly rotation. I have watched this so many times that I know most of it by heart, but still enjoy it and find it funny and even hilarious in places.
Rating: 5/5

A Haunted House 2

Worse than A Haunted House, in the same vein as the Scary Movie franchise. Its a mirror of said franchise, a string of obvious, crass and unfunny jokes. While I did snigger maybe once or twice, overall it just doesnt work for me. But maybe I am not the audience or it.
Rating: 0.5/5

The Grey

I mentioned The Grey in a previous post. When this was released it was mocked because of a scene in a trailer of Liam Neeson apparently punching a wolf. Everyone then expected it to be a typical Neeson action movie but it's not. It is a thrilling tale of wilderness survival, but it is also a personal tale of a man's struggle and ultimate acceptance of his wife's death and his own.
From the spectacularly realistic and terrifying plane crash to the beautiful yet bleak, unforgiving landscape. 
While this is not traditional horror, the movie is a thrilling and terrifying portrayal of wilderness survival.
And it was one of, if not my favorite movie of that year. 
Rating: 5/5

The Mist

Stephen King adaptations are generally hit or miss, with the majority of the traditional horror ones failing to bring his brand of horror to the screen. But Darabont nails this one. When an army experiment opens a gateway to another dimension and through an unnatural mist creatures come and attack a small town. A sizable group hold up in a supermarket, but the creatures are not the only treat as their mini society breaks down. 
The tone of the story is captured here perfectly, the performances are great but what makes it a success for me is the atmosphere and that ending!!
Rating: 4/5


What can I say, I love this movie, its a classic. This is another classic that I cant really add anything to that hasn't already been said.
Rating: 5/5

Ghostbusters 2

This is the much maligned sequel to the much loved movie. The chemistry that the team have in the original is still there but something else is missing, and I still cant (after numerous viewings) put my finger on it.
The story isn't great but then it didn't need to be. I think maybe the first was lightning in the bottle situation and that the second just missed that spark the first had.
Rating: 2/5

Dawn Of The Dead

As remakes go, this is actually a good one, takes the spirit of the original and goes with it. 
Rating: 3.5/5

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

Not sure why they decided to return to the franchise at this point, I suppose it was the inclusion of Jamie Lee Curtis. Having her back in the franchise was a real coup and im sure gave the makers validation to make this.
However, the end result is not great, it is another run of the mill slasher horror, and is just another pointless installment.
Rating: 1/5

The Descent

Simple premise, a bunch of friends go cave diving but end up hunted by creatures living in the underground caves. Nothing overly original here, apart from an all female cast, but it just does everything right, builds the tension and keeps it throughout.
What Neil Marshall creates here is a simple horror movie done brilliantly.
Rating: 4/5

The Descent: Part 2

As with the first the second continues the simple but effective horror movie making. Its hard to find much fault with both of these movies.
Rating: 3/5


When I first heard about this I was intrigued but from the description I was worried it was another hoody based horror. But there is more to it than that. 
After an attack on his girlfriend resulting in her death during childbirth Tommy, left as a single father, becomes agoraphobic and struggles with caring for his child. But soon those who attacked his girlfriend come back for his child but are more than they first seem.
Putting a twist on hoody horror this film creates a good atmosphere and the twist is something slightly original and helps make the film above average. Solid performance from the lead too.
Rating: 3.5/5

The Monster Squad

The horror answer to The Goonies. A group of friends obsessed with horror and horror creatures find themselves caught up in a monster attack.
This is a childhood favourite of mine and while its not on a level with The Goonies, it is still great fun. Its great to see all the classic universal creatures on the screen together. I particularly like the portrayal of Frankenstein's Monster.
Rating: 4/5


This was terrible, silly plot, terrible acting. I found it on a best of the year horror list but for the life of me cant figure out how it got there. It cant decide what it is, starts with creepy stalker killer and then there are hints of supernatural here but they make no sense what so ever. Just terrible.
Rating: 1/5

The Babadook

My final horror movie of the month is the much anticipated and much praised Babadook.. It has been called the best horror of the year and a modern masterpiece in horror.
The story of a single mother, struggling with her son who has difficulties with behavior and an obsession with monsters. After reading a book, The Babadook, something haunts and terrorises them.
I don't agree that this is a masterpiece of modern horror but it is very good.
The performances are what take this above and beyond your normal haunted story. The mother constantly looks on the edge and verge of breaking while I don't think I have ever come across a more annoying kid. 
The atmosphere and scares are spot on and while the story is basic, it is effective and chilling. 
Rating: 4.5/5