Hellboy (2019) Review

In 2002, writer/director Neil Marshall created Dog Soldiers, best described as a ‘British Predator’ or ‘one of the best werewolf movies of all time.’ It’s special effects, complete shunning of CGI and brilliant dialogue also rendered it as my favorite film of all time.

This was then followed up with The Descent which people who are into that sort thing have decried as one of the scariest films of all time.

Sadly for his third film we got lumbered with Doomsday which could be described as Mad Max meets Escape From New York via a ton of plot holes, bad effects and complete failure at the box office. Another dud followed and he scuttled off to TV where he’s directed for Black Sails, Game of Thrones and Westworld among others. But with Hellboy (2019) he’s offered a path back to the silver screen. A chance for redemption, a chance to…

make probably the worst superhero film ever.

And I say that with a straight face and no sense of irony.

Now, I don’t normally report on behind the scenes drama because to be honest I don’t care what happens in the kitchen as long as the meal is tasty. And this has to be the worst prepared meal since an old flatmate of mine managed to set fire to pasta. (To this day I still have no idea how he managed it.)

But with stories of the director being over-ridden by producers, actors storming off set, constant re-writes and the firing of Marshalls longtime collaborating cinematographer (allegedly just to show “Who’s boss”).

No wonder Neil Marshall was so allegedly so unhappy with the final cut that he skipped the premiere.

I mean, I fully understand the urge, as I wanted to skip out after the opening prologue which I think could be the cheapest, lowest effort, cliched opening I’ve seen since Lesbian Vampire Killers (naturally starring James @!”@! Corden.)

It sets up your bog standard fantasy story, evil being was stopped back in ye olden days, has come back now to wipe out the human race via some evil scheme (I never was quite able to work out how) and Hellboy is dispatched with the mission brief to: “If Little Red Riding Hood should show up with a bazooka and a bad attitude, I expect you to chin the bitch.” (Sergeant Harry Wells: Dog Soldiers.)

A very simple plot, done a million times and one that you would think would be nearly impossible to mess up. But life finds a way.

I’ll start with the broad strokes and then get down into the weeds.

This film… it’s just hard to look at. The whole film is just dull and uninteresting visually. If it comes out that this film was all shot on soundstages like Dumbo was, I wouldn’t be surprised. At times it looked like that part of Sin City where that yellow guy was onscreen. Everything is black and white apart from him except that was a deliberate choice on behalf of the director. Here, it just seemed to be a miserable accident. The whole dull color palette means that your eye is drawn to Hellboy even when he’s not what your supposed to be looking it. He’s moving and in color which is enough to catch my eye at least.

As if that wasn’t enough, this film feels really mean spirited. I get that this isn’t a Marvel movie (The CGI isn’t nearly good enough) but this film is full of angry, whining people spouting exposition at each other between graphic CGI fights. There’s no moments of levity or black humor, the closest the film gets is a truly pathetic repeated gag whereupon Hellboy keeps breaking his phone for some unknown reason. And forget about character building! And I know that Marshall can do humor and character development in dark situations because he did it in Dog Soldiers!

Sergeant Harry Wells: [referring to the possibility that he is now a werewolf] With Ryan it only took a couple of hours mate. It’s a full moon. I don’t know, maybe it’s like when you need to take a piss or something, I don’t know. When you gotta go, you gotta fucking go.

Cooper: Yea, well maybe it’s more like needing a shite. Just cos you need one doesn’t mean you drop your kegs and pinch one off.

So, Hellboy thus far is a visually dull, mean spirited film with a plot you’ve seen done a million times before and done a million times better. And…. it’s also time for me to set out my stall before people start getting busy in the comments section. No, I’ve never read an episode of Hellboy and yes, I’m a big fan of the Golden Army because that’s Del Toro being allowed to his thing under the guise of a comic book movie. (The first one is passable but slightly dull.) However, new director, new image, new kitchen and a new flatmate who served me a ‘medium’ curry which forced me to drink everything in a 5 mile radius.

Note to self: No more reviewing films just before lunch.

In short: Each film is treated as it’s own separate thing and the fact that I’m 845 words in and nowhere near done is because this film offends me as someone who loves film. And it didn’t offend just me. I saw this film on opening night in a packed screen – 11 people walked out. And on my way out, every. Single. Person. Was attacking the film for different reasons.

Now, even leaving aside EVERYTHING that I’ve already said, this film was just so episodic. It felt like a series of short films with a loosely interconnecting theme that a film in and of itself. And even THAT’s being generous. Here’s how this film goes. Person meets Hellboy. Person then states that Hellboy is destined to wipe out the world and they’d be doing everyone a favor if they took him out now and hastened the end credits. Person then decides not to for various stupid, pointless reasons, we have what might be called a fight scene if you’ve lived all your life in among pacifist monks and only heard about action from the half remembered tales of infrequent travelers to your monastery.

Look, I get the first fight being an easy win. Especially when your dealing with a character who has powers. The audience needs time to bed in, to understand your strengths and weaknesses, especially if your a lesser known comic book hero but in none of the fights does Hellboy ever seem to be in any danger whatsoever. Even when he’s clearly meant to be in mortal danger it’s never communicated to the audience competently or, just at the moment when it’s starting to settle in, he gets saved by some Deus Ex Machina  or the bad guy jut flat out stop attacking him to try to get him to come over to the dark side.

Speaking of the villains, our allegedly Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad villain played by Milla Jovovich (still searching for her first good film in 22 years) who appears to have been given no direction beyond looking pretty and squeezing an imaginary stress ball. I have no idea who could have made this character work, but Jovovich really can’t. She’s backed up by… I think one of the villains from the 1995 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. Except in that movie the pig monsters mouth moved vaguely in time with the soundtrack and here there’s not even an attempt to try that here.

Although if I had an opportunity not to speak the terrible dialogue then I would take it with both hands and a squeal of unmitigated joy.

Look, I’m glad that Deadpool showed us that 15 rated comic book movies could work but that film seemed like it needed to be  15. This… thing feels like it was going to be a 12a and then got bumped up at the last moment forcing all the dialogue to be rewritten by someone who’s only just learned  about swear words and has to share this amazing discovery with the world every! Third! Word!

Not too mention that pretty much all of the CGI blood and special effects look like they came from 1998 and maybe this film was supposed to be 3d and they changed it at the last minute? I’ll never know but I’ll be grateful for small mercies if that did get canned due to budgetary restrictions.

In the interests of balance, I do kinda like the Hell creatures and yes, it was funny to see a character from Eastenders firing a gun but these moments were in the trailer and they were the only bits I liked. Or even came close to working.

Which is a shame as there were moments that I could have liked were they actually explored and had a point! An interesting scene with Baba Yaga who was defeated in a previous unseen adventure stands out as a creepy, practical effect driven scene that could have been really effective were it not completely pointless as it could have been replaced by any other character spouting a line of technobabble. I’d have saved it for the hopefully never going to happen.

The CGI looks atrocious, Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii 50)’s English accent is the worst I’ve heard since the original Mary Poppins, the pacing sucks and the films timeline makes no sense. There’s a terrible habit of throwing what are supposed to be plot twists at us but ) there’s no real plot to twist. B) They flash by some quickly there’s no time to take them in and C) I saw all of them bar 1 coming and the one I didn’t see wasn’t foreshadowed in any way shape or form and to anyone who hasn’t read the comics is going to make no sense.

In short- A godawful mess that works on no level and seems to have been a wretched set to work on. Normally i’d offer hints and tips on how to be a better film but for this? Just claim it was a tax write off and then bury the damn thing.

But does that make it the worst comic book movie of all time as some of my more excitable colleagues have claimed?


Say what you will about Batman and Robin, Steel, Howard the Duck, Catwoman, Judge Dredd and Green Lantern but their either fun to sink a few beers to and tear apart or there’s something that shows imagination or a moment that shows what that film could have been.

There’s none of that here.

There is no moment of joy. No moment where you see what could have been or moment of visual wonder. No sense of enjoyment or passion. This is a bad film made in bad circumstances by people who don’t seem to care. It won’t hurt anyone’s career but it’s just crass and pathetic and I wan’t nothing more to do with it.  Because i know that I’ve forgotten things that happened in this film, moments that annoyed me, characters that don’t need to exist, opportunities missed but I just don’t care anymore. I want this film held up as an example of how bad filmaking can be. How you need a vision, passion, people who understand and will help you so that you don’t wind up with a load of unconnected drivel.

I’m done. I don’t want to think about this abomination for another second.

My Score- Hellfire.  




Missing Link Review

So there I am looking to see which film’s to throw my eye over and my eye catches the poster for ‘Missing Link.’ Weird, thought I. I didn’t know that Dreamworks had a new film out this week. Oh well, yet another pile of 3* mediocrity that will make back more money then it should through toy sales and kids buying tickets for this and then sneaking into Pet Semetary. Assuming kids still do that. Or has yet another childhood thrill been lost to the internet?

Anyway, I looked, saw the star studded cast ( Wolverine, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Fry, Timothy Olyphant and Zach Galifianakis among others.) which seemed to confirm my suspicions. But I checked out the trailer anyway and was surprised to see that this isn’t from Dreamworks but from a studio called Laika (named after a stray mongrel from the streets of Moscow, who became one of the first animals in space, and the first animal to orbit the Earth. Sadly, Laika died within hours from overheating, possibly caused by a failure of the central R-7 sustainer to separate from the payload. The true cause and time of her death were not made public until 2002; instead, it was widely reported that she died when her oxygen ran out on day six.)

Ok, thought I. This is clearly some low budget Russian film which has somehow gotten a UK release. The CGI looks weird though, so I looked a little deeper and discovered that the reason the CGI looked weird is that it wasn’t CGI it was Stop-motion. Actual, wonderful, almost extinct Stop-motion.

And the studio isn’t Russian, it’s from the colonies and made Kubo and the Two Strings. One of my favorite films of all time and a masterpiece which failed to make a profit and was cruelly robbed of an Oscar by Zootopia. Actually I should probably watch it again… for… research… purposes…

102 minutes later.

Roger Moores eyebrow that films amazing. And missing link doesn’t really let the side down. It feels like a smaller story but that’s not really a bad thing. Think less fighting giant skeletons and more fighting on a boat in the middle of a storm which makes the entire set spin around like that scene from Inception (BWAMMMM).

I’ll point out that a Stopmotion film on a great day creates about 3 seconds of footage as it consists of getting your models together, photographing them, moving them slightly and then photographing them again. It’s agonizing, slow, painful work that looks about a million times better than even the best CGI. Ages a lot better as well.

Anyway, Missing Link is a very simple story of someone wanting to find their family. That they are the last Bigfoot and they believe that their cousins are the yeti simply means that we have an excuse to go around the world in 80 days. Backed up by Wolverines incredibly English Sir Lionel Frost who’s trying to prove himself as an adventurer and Zoe Saldana’s Adelina Fortnight who appears to be on loan from Team America World Police and looks slightly creepy as a result.

The Link itself (voiced by Galifianakis) needs half it’s lines removed. This film has the weird American thing where they thing that comedy is simply speaking every thought that comes into their head or observing every little thing that’s happening around them. I don’t get it, I don’t like it and I’ve yet to meet anyone who does.

Thar aside, this film looks gorgeous, I mean these guys are truly pushing the boundaries of what can be done with the medium. A medium I adore and sadly is so rare in this modern CGI infested age but then something like this comes out and just blows everything else away.

Because the models are physically there, they avoid the uncanny valley completely. The lighting looks incredible because it’s actually reflecting off of things. Also, it allows for different textures which is something that CGI really struggles with.

Each of the locations is distinct, each of the characters (even those that only get a few lines) are fun and memorable. I mean you’ll have worked out the plot within the first ten minutes but a 95 minute children’s film isn’t going to be making you question the meaning of life, is it?

Missing Link is a visually incredible, funny, fast moving, well written story with very little fat on the bones. It’s moral is timely, it’s action incredible, it’s a smaller, more intimate story than the studios last film which I do understand and I’ll be very, very sad when this sinks without trace in a fortnight to be rediscovered on Netflix in about six months or so.

My Score- See It Now 


Shazam Review

Well, DC has finally moved on from it’s dark brown, moody Dawn of Migraines slightly awkward phase and embraced it’s inner Marvel. Which is amusing when you consider that Shazam! was originally called Captain Marvel and then lost the rights to his own name over legal reasons that I have neither the time, inclination nor legal training to do so.

Wait, the actual film title actually has an exclamation point in it? You have got to be kidding me. What is it with this months films and their hatred of my scripts not looking like my English teacher has gone mad with power/the red pen?

Interestingly, this isn’t for first time that Captain Wow has been unleashed upon the silver screen. Shazam! was in fact the subject of Hollywood’s first ever superhero film adaptation: Republic Pictures’ Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941) in 1941. It doesn’t seem to have made it across the pond for obvious reasons but it seems to have held up pretty well.

Back to 2019 and Commander abra ka dabra is beat for beat your bog standard super-hero origin story with the patented Marvel formula which has been focus tested and it works in all it’s tedious efficiency.

I mean, don’t get me wrong it’s nice for Mark trong to be in a big budget Super-hero film that will enable him to leave the house for once. It’s  just a shame that the film has no idea what to do with him. I mean he’s clearly having a blast and i’m sure the costume designer had perfectly logical reasons for dressing him like he was on loan from The Matrix and I liked the joke that every time he did try and give his big supervillain speech, the camera cut away from him.

I liked that a lot.

I had more issues with the fact that Strong is meant to be allied with the physical incarnations of the seven deadly sins. Just overlook the fact that they cant quite seem to remember whether or not that can talk in really cool growling voices or just snarling. Forget that, it’s the least important thing when you consider the fact that the villains are the physical embodiment of the seven deadly sins…  just imagine what you could do with that! Lust could be capable of changing into whoever the person fighting them desires most,Gluttony a disgusting blob that consumes anything it comes into contact with, Greed could have massive green eyes that could compel people to give into their worst impulses. You could let your imagination run wild (whilst staying within the limits of a softer 12a film) and instead here we just get 7 snarly beasts which just blend together into one mass of dull. Their not really physically distinct from each other or seem to have different style of attack instead of just being snarly monsters on loan from Ghostbusters and Mortal Kombat.

In any other film they would have been the goons but here their supposed to be a threat big enough to take over the world!

If it seems like i’m harping on about what, in practice are pretty non threatening villains it’s because I really liked the rest of the film. I liked the child actors, the plot was well constructed, most of the jokes landed and Billy Batson, as a 14 year old kid suddenly being given the powers of a God and an adult body reacts exactly as a 14 year old kid suddenly being given the powers of a God and an adult body would. I would still have liked to see ten minutes cut from the second act but show me a modern film that doesn’t get a little saggy in the middle.

It did need slightly more DC product placement though. I counted three whole scenes without product placement in. Although that scene in the toy shop more than made up for it in my book.

The action scenes were fun and I was mostly capable of following what was going on and a subplot (which would have made an amazing indie film in it’s own right) almost brought a tear to my eye.

It’s great to see a film where the hero grow and changes in a believable way, where a person who could easily have come across as overpowered and unstoppable seems almost vulnerable at time even if he does get some  help that seems to have come out of one of those slightly corny 80’s kids movies.

Speaking of which, I write down in my notes on the way home Shazam! = Big + Superman, start doing my research feeling like I’ve got a real zinger in my back pocket and that’s how the advertising suits are describing it. Which is sort of annoying.

But there’s no denying that this film has a great heart, a really good cast of all ages, a mostly funny script, some pretty good action, a villain who’s having fun even if he doesn’t really have a point and actually some pretty solid special effects. It’s almost as if having a smaller budget (roughly 80-100 million instead of the usual north of 200 million) causes the director to act in a less indulgent manner.

Shazam! is really good lightweight fun, which plot-wise seems like it should have come out around Christmas instead of at this time of the year where it’s got roughly 3 weeks to reclaim it’s budget before being wiped out by Avengers Blandgame. If only they had worked on their villains I could see this as being a 5 star film.

But they didn’t.

So it isn’t.

My Score- See It 

Pet Semetary (2019) Review

So there I was, gripping the edge of my seat watching in horror as a slow moving nightmare began to reach it’s inevitable nailbiting climax of terror after a slow buildup and just before the final act reached its crescendo and I began to believe that I would make it to the end credits with a few fingernails intact when….

A bunch of naked climate change protesters glued themselves to the House of Common’s glass-walled public gallery and then didn’t quite seem to know what to do with themselves. At which point I decided to stop watching the Brexit negotiations and go the cinema and watch an actual horror movie instead.

Because sleep is over-rated.

And just by luck, I had tickets to an advanced screening of Pet Semetary! From the pen of horror maestro Stephen King. Wait…. it’s not seriously called Semetary with an S is it? Oh that’s great. Now this review is going to be full of red wiggly lines.

Bu back to dead pet place and we find Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocating from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children to have a slower pace of life. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home and things go from bad to worse very, very quickly.

Now, the producers have expressed regret over the second trailer which apparently spoils the whole film but since I avoid trailers (especially horror trailers) like the plague I wouldn’t know.

But, I wouldn’t have thought there was much to spoil after the first thirty seconds which needs to go. Instantly, immediately, without hesitation or reservation it has to go. But leaving that aside, this is a pretty threadbare film. I mean it’s the kind of plot that only functions if everyone wasn’t either an idiot or incapable of holding an actual conversation with someone else. I’ve seen more dialogue in films staring Ryan Gosling!

Seriously, an actual conversation at any point in the first two thirds of this film would have stopped this. Which, isn’t a good thing, even for horror. A genre which traditionally relies on people making stupid decisions (a trope which was utterly destroyed by the amazing Cabin in the Woods) which, with a few tweaks this could almost be a prequel to.

Because yes, in the cinema I was scared and became very fascinated with my watch which is normally a good thing but at about the halfway point I twigged that this film only has about three scares which it repeats ad nauseum to the law of diminishing returns. Certain ‘creepy’ sets looked pretty cheap and very set-like which didn’t help. And I give certain props to the film for not having it’s finale become inadvertently hilarious but it was clear that the film had passed it’s peak and was heading downhill.

Also, for a film which the BBFC claims has “strong bloody violence, gore, threat” it seems pretty tame. Almost as if the film was intended to be a hard 12a and was cut down in anticipation of that certificate. What gore there is, is cut away from pretty quickly when it could have been allowed to go a little further to truly earn it’s certificate.

It’s made a few changes from the book, all of which are to the films benefit but it still feels pretty thin. Non of the characters really get any development making it hard to care about any of them when their in danger. More and more I realize that this film fell back on familiar horror tropes. Creepy looking kids? Check. Loud noises at night? Check. Events set during Halloween? Check. I’m not fully convinced that this wasn’t supposed to be some sort of black comedy with horror elements were it not for the fact that i’m certain the laughs that rippled through my screening weren’t always supposed to be there.

Treat Pet Memorial Place as a schlocky horror film. It’s got nothing to say about life, and the universe and ten minutes off the run-time (especially in a slowish moving first half) would have been only to the films benefit  but I went in, was scared then left and wasn’t anymore.

In other words,

My Score- If Nothing Else 

Dumbo (2019) Review

Disney, what the hell is this???

I don’t, in principle have any issues with you reheating some your most popular films though the lens of modern cinema since you made your name reheating old myths and legends before you took over the ENTIRE world of entertainment.

But I do have an issue with how bad their all turning out. God alone knows why you’ve allowed Aladdin to be directed by a man who’s never made a good big budget film in his life (King Arthur: Legend of the Bored anyone?) Even Lock Stock and Snatch were close to 20 years ago and that’s pretty much what he’s coasted off ever since.

The ‘live Action’ Lion King remake is against the trade descriptions act as it’s being made in full CGI and… I’m getting distracted from this latest baffling debacle which somehow had a bigger budget than Captain Marvel and is therefore going to make one hell of a splash when gets declared a bomb in a few weeks. Not enough to do any good, but it’s a start.

Before I go on, I feel I should clarify that I’ve never really cared much for Tim Burton. I liked his first Batman movie and I’ve sat tough bits and pieces of his other films but he’s never done anything for me. I appreciate that he has a unique style but it’s felt very constraining to him as well. As if he’s carved out his little niche in cinema and he’s perfectly happy thank you very much.

But Dumbo is the least Tim Burtony Tim Burton film I’ve seen for a while. Well, I say seen, the film is so dark and grimy to look at that half the time I had no idea what was going on and the other half I didn’t want to.

We blow through film 64 minute film we all know and vaguely remember liking in the first twenty minutes and then were off! Off to where I have no idea, this film feels like Tomorrowland, Free Willy, some sort of satire of Disneys habit of buying EVERYTHING and then stripping it for parts AND a commentary on getting more women into science were all thrown in a blender together (possibly as a reaction to the fact that some aspects of the original film really haven’t aged that well….) Oh, and there’s a flying baby elephant in there as well if your in the mood for some really bad CGI creation that never for a second looks like it’s actually there. I mean, it as never going to look real but for that amount of money it could have looked better.

Speaking of Dumbo, maybe i’m a gruff old traditionalist but I always thought that if you were the name of the film, the  center of the plot description on IMDB (A young elephant, whose oversized ears enable him to fly, helps save a struggling circus, but when the circus plans a new venture, Dumbo and his friends discover dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer) is all about you AND your the only character that your cooperate overlords bothered to make any merchandise for then… well… you should be the protagonist of the movie. As in, you are the center of the story, make the key decisions, and experiences the consequences of those decisions. I mean it’s only been that way since at least 526 BC so you really should have figured out that’s how story’s work by now.

But instead it’s Colin Farrell’s character that has the best claim to being the protagonist. He has the tragic backstory (dead wife, can’t talk to his kids, lost an arm in WW1 and comes home to a circus on the verge of bankruptcy)… oh, did I not mention the legions of pointless human characters? Sorry, I really should have mentioned that.

This film has loads of human characters Farrells character erm… protagonist, his two kids- plot device and ‘subtle’ message, Eva Green as love interest, Danny Devito as comic relief and Michale Heaton with a…. THING on his head as villain and generic cartoon goons as… well… generic cartoon goons. I’m sure they all have names but they made so little impact on me that none of them made it into my notes. Besides, I didn’t pay my money to see a flying elephant movie with loads of subplots about money worries, warnings about trusting ‘The Man.’ And god knows what else this mess decided to be about for ten minutes before getting bored and switching focus to something else.

One thing I would have liked to have it focus on is it’s heart. There’s something cold about the film which meant that I couldn’t connect with it, it looked awful. Every scene cluttered and unfocused, it’s shot really darkly as well. Not as in gritty, but as in dark, no light. It also has that issue of there being so much CGI that it just stands out. There was no real moment that was just allowed to be. To allow us to focus and enjoy the wonders of cinema. Ether the editor had been allowed one two many ‘energy drinks’ or the director was worried that if we were allowed the time to settle and take in a shot then we would realize just how bad everything looks.

And nowhere is this more evident than during this films interpretation of the pink elephants scene. You remember them, right? Of course you do. No matter how much therapy you go through, you can never truly forget them. In the original film their this amazing five minute scene but here it feels like the director was going through a checklist of things people vaguely remember from the original. And it’s edited to within an inch  of it’s life! Instead of being allowed to enjoy this random bit of lunacy it’s simply a few seconds of the pink elephants and then someone commenting on or simply watching them! It doesn’t add anything to the film or provide a respite from what was originally a pretty grim narrative, nor does it allow the director to show us what he can do, it’s simply appears, kills what little plot movement the film had for a minute and then we keep chugging along.

Another few rounds with the editors scissors wouldn’t have gone amiss either.

Anything else?

Oh yeah, the animals can’t talk in this one  and the crows (among the few friendly and intelligent characters in the original film) have gone but to be honest the last thing this film needed was more speaking parts and subplots so I’ll just chalk that up to Tim Burton being so desperate to make his own version of Jurassic Park that he overlooked the little things.

Dumbo  is an over-budgeted mess from a director who tried to put a fresh spin on a classic tale but failed on almost every conceivable level. This film is confusing, uninteresting, awful  to look at and full of characters who couldn’t be any flatter if they’d been run over with a steamroller. It needed to be shorter and actually have it’s title character be more than a prop or wacky animal sidekick. Seriously, the elephant in Operation Dumbo Drop (1955) looked better and played more of a role in the plot than this!

Finally, Disney, please drop this stupid, lazy and entitled approach to filmaking. Surely there must be someone in that mass of congealed money with an original idea? I think you can afford to take a chance or two.

Because, never forget “It was all started by a mouse.” One that could !@”@”! talk.

My Score- Fire 


Us Review

Before we begin, I want to start by talking to people who (perhaps after a few too many sweeties) have decided that Jordan Peele IS THE NEW HITCHCOCK!!!! Firstly, the last time someone was compared to one of the greatest directors of all time, we got lumbered with Shamalan.

Secondly, Mr. Peele has directed 2 films and whilst they have been very good, the third film (much like your third album) is the sound barrier. You have your whole life to create our first album/film, 18 months for your second and the third discovers if your here to stick around or simply condemned to being an ‘almost’ for the rest of your career.

Thirdly, you guys do know that Hitchcock made bad films, right? And, I’m not talking about films like Vertigo which started badly and are now regarded as better films than Citizen Kane but actual, bad, movies. Seriously, no Hitchock fan defends 1939’s Jamaica Inn which in 1978, film critic Michael Medved gave a place in his book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.

Ok, I think I’m done. Putting my toys back in my pram and 200 words in i’m going to talk about Us. The latest film from the first Jordan Peele which seems to insinuate that he’s as big a fan of old films as I am (I won’t say which for fear of spoilers) but it was published in 1895, came to the big screen in 1960 (and still holds up today) and was terribly mutilated in 2002 by a complete hack.

But, dragging myself again back to Us and it looks at first like your bog standard home invasion movie except then it isn’t and… it seems clear that Mr. Peele wants to say something but I have no idea what. Where Get Out (despite having a truly disappointing ending) at least got it’s point and message across. At times, Us almost seems to resemble a piece of performance art. It’s got some great images and moments, the plot seems to hold together after it’s left turn at about the hour mark and were the Acadamy not eternally biased against horror Lupita Nyong’o would be a shoe in for at least an Oscar nomination if not the award itself.

Which is nice, as her husband (played by Winston Duke) grated on me slightly. I like Home Alone references as much as the next guy but there’s a time and place for them which I doubt is in a film trying to scare me more than watching whats happening with Brexit.

Which is another issue, the first half of the film is creepy, building up suspense and tension before devolving into your bog standard house invasion flick and then…. But I’ve said too much already.

What I can say is that the film misses the opportunity for tension as our family get split up regularly thus giving us the perfect opportunity for a bit of the old ‘is that you or the murderer in disguise’ that 1982’s The Thing did so well. A golden opportunity that the film shows literally no interest in.

Look, there is a lot of good here- there were a few moments that made me smile, a few that were creepy, the soundtrack was great and yes, if bloods your thing then there is plenty of that on display but this feels like a film made by a man with so many ideas that someone needed to get him to calm down and focus. There are no issues here that another rewrite or two wouldn’t fix but I can imagine that all the film theorists are going to have a field day with this one. I really liked a fight towards the end which reminded me of the fight at the end of Annihilation  which can only ever be a good thing and I can imagine a lot of people finding a lot in here that’s scary, but for me this is a good film when it could have been a great one.

Because Us is frustrating. The acting is good (in one case great), it has a whole treasure chest full of ideas when maybe putting one or two of them back would have resulted in a more cohesive whole. It’s maybe ten minutes too long and I saw the ending coming about ten minutes in.

But theses are errors that I think have been made by someone still mastering their craft and when Mr. Peele does master his craft I truly believe that he will be one of the great directors of our time. I already can’t wait for his third film.

One last quick thing. You can’t raise an entire society on rabbit.

My Score- See It 

What Men Want Review

Hollywood, we need to talk. Nobody on the Internet to multi-billion dollar corporations.

Are you guys Ok?

I ask because I’m starting to get slightly concerned about all these remakes. I mean, I get remaking big ticket films like The Lion King – they have huge name recognition and are pretty much guaranteed to be a licence to print money. I can’t stand or approve of this in the slightest but I understand it.

But rebooting a barely remembered 2000 Mel Gibson vehicle which was originally intended as a Tim Allen vehicle, was remade in China in 2011 and even this has been in development hell since 2009 with Cameron Diaz (remember her?) lined up to star. Trust me, films aren’t like wine whereupon the longer you leave them the nicer they get.

But, if your reaching for stuff like this, is anyone suggesting new films to you guys anymore? Are you under that much pressure from shareholders that even the 20 million dollar films have to be remade? Or was this just such an amazing idea that you couldn’t let it lie?

Also, in the original film, Gibsons character was an ad executive. In this,  Taraji P. Henson’s character is a sports agent, which brings up the age old question of is this film going to be better than Jerry Mcquire? Of course it isn’t. Then why are you bothering?

Anyway, Henson’s character gets the ability to read men’s minds after an incident involving a psychic, a cup of tea, lots of booze and a bump on the head. Obligatory “Yeah we’ve all had nights like that” joke here.

Naturally she tries to use this to her advantage in her work and personal live, hi-jinks ensue, lessons are learned I wonder why this film is 117 minutes instead of around the 90 to 100 minute mark as well as how is this film is now a 15 when it could (and indeed should have been a 12A.)

You could write the plot from the off and well, look I get that comedy is subjective but I didn’t laugh once, my wife didn’t laugh once and neither did anyone else in my screening. Which means that were left with the idea of a female professional in the me-too era, getting the ability to read men’s minds and see how they’ve been helping or hindering her career. The chance for a social satire is incredibly… wasted as it doesn’t even enter the films head for more than maybe a moment or two.

Mostly it’s just used to set up obvious jokes with even more obvious punchlines. You’ll see where every plot thread is going with very little effort and whilst the film does have something of a heart and tries for a heartwarming end it’s nothing that you haven’t seen in a dozen other films that don’t have psychic powers in the mix.

Actually, thinking about it, were you to remove the psychic powers from the psychic powers movie then it wouldn’t really be affected. Hell, the film pulls a liar revealed plot out of nowhere when it realizes that it’s central plank is paper thin and not really going anywhere beyond crude sex jokes.

In fact i’d hesitate to say that the ‘best jokes’ were in the trailer but I will go so far as to say that the least awful jokes were. I maybe smiled twice but the films not completely hopeless. Like I said, there is something of a heart under all the unfunny jokes, side characters making the most of their moment in probably improvised scenes that needed another take or six, way too many sex jokes for me and I’ve defiantly seen worse. The morals solid but it just didn’t click. One scene that I think was meant to see a lot of threads coming together and a big farce style finale just fell completely flat and could have been handled a lot better.

I have no idea why this film was made a reboot of a near 20 year old film with 47 on Metacritic and a box office of 374 million. The chance for social satire or observation are completely wasted and what we get instead is an utterly generic film about a woman learning life lessons that we’ve seen done in a hundred other, better films.

My Score- Skip It