Baywatch Review

I no longer fear death for I have seen Baywatch 

Sorry, I normally do more a lead in than that.

Lets start again.

Baywatch was a tv series that ran from 1989-2001 and includes several unwatchable spin-offs.  At its height, it aired in 148 countries, on every continent except Antarctica. After 11 years in syndication, it was canceled for the second time in 2001. It’s the only TV show in Iceland’s TV history to receive massive complaints from viewers over containing subtitles (for the text would get in the way of ‘vital’ parts of the imagery). As the show was infamous for cramming roughly 15 minutes worth of plot into a 45 minute show via the medium of slow mo shots of various pretty young things in skin tight swim costumes.

Fast forward to 2017 and the show is making it’s big screen debut via the director of such comedy classics as Four Christmases  and Identity Thief. 

And I have no idea who thought this was a good idea.

I never really got into Baywatch when it was on TV, but I remember it being on during tea time just before Gladiators and as far as I can work out there’s absolutely no reason why this film shouldn’t have been the same.

Yeah, all the gross out humor from the trailer? That’s pretty much all there is in the film save one very unfunny and horrifically stretched gag involving the slats in a deck chair and an ‘overexcited’ young man that was met with side-splitting silence in my screening.

Because whilst I know that humor is subjective apparently everyone in my screening is as grouchy and jaded as I am. There were a few smiles, maybe a chuckle or two but mostly, there was just dead silence- even during the outtakes over the credits.

And there was no need for the gross out humor, or the nudity, or the rampant foul language because this would have worked perfectly well as a PG rated summer blockbuster. Seriously, this film felt like a PG rated film with loads of American Pie humor rammed in for no reason. Because most of the people that were going to see this are in their thirties or forties  now and most of the people I know of that age have grown out of that sort of thing and are teenage boys going to flock to a reboot of a franchise they’ve probably never heard of?

I mean the plot: In which Priyanka Chopra and her two inept henchman come up against a group of lifeguards who attempt to foil her operation to smuggle drugs though a collection of really obvious tanks, horrific green screen and appealing CGI that I think is supposed to be an ocean, is pretty much a description of something I would have enjoyed (and been a lot more forgiving of) when I was 10 or 11.

Hell, I’m pretty sure dad would have stayed awake for this one as the slo-mo shots have survived. And their commented on in several awkward almost-but-not-quite fourth wall breaks that just make everything so much worse than it needs to be.

And you can put as many slo-mo shots of Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Dwayne Johnson and Greek God/human CGI Effect Zac Efron as you like but sooner or later even I start to twig that there may be the odd plot hole or million including vanishing jet-skis, deaths, falsified evidence that could easily be debunked…..

Look, if you wanted to turn this silly show into a gross-out comedy/parody of itself then do that. Go for it, go all out, you had all the ingredients there but the film just seemed to lack the confidence to go there and it had nothing else to fall back on. The characters are all parody’s of themselves or whoever would inhabit this world. It had everything going for it but instead just made me wonder why they had bothered when with virtually no effort they could have mad the film a family friendly affair.

But I don’t review that which could be, I review that which is.

Summing up? In Baywatch the stunts were awful to look at, the CGI obvious, I never came close to caring about the clothing allergic pieces of cardboard with character arks I could set my watch to, the plot had nothing to offer, the humor out of place and not to my taste (or anyone else in my screenings.) And I still have no idea who this… this… thing was aimed at.

Were it not for Transformers: My God Just Stop and The Emoji movie I would say that this is the worst film of the summer.

And as for Hasselhoff and Anderson? Their credits get more screen time than they do.

My Score- Fire 

 

 

Their Finest Review

The last time that I saw a film about the entertainment industry in London during the Second World War, I wound seeing more of national treasure Bob Hoskins than I could afford to tell my therapists about so it was with some trepidation that I apprached Their Finest featuring a (hopefully fully clothed) Bill Nighy and Gemma Arterton.

The set ups a simple one, during the war, typist Catrin Cole has been seconded to the film division of the ‘Ministry of Information’ and winds up helping to write a film about a more or less true story of the Dunkirk evacuation that will inspire and unite the nation, bring America into the war, survive endless levels of official interference, cantankerous old actors, actors that can’t act all the while attempting to keep Richard E. Grant from chewing the scenery into rubble before the Nazis get the chance. Whack it on the stage and you’d have an incredible farce as increasingly desperate scriptwriters try to keep the show on the road. After all, that is traditionally what the old ‘play-within’a-play’ conceit has been used for.

Except this isn’t a fast moving farce on the stage, instead it’s a film that’s so British that I half felt I should be watching it with a cup of Earl Grey enhanced with a twist of lemon (blaspheming early Grey with milk simply isn’t done in a civilized society). Unlike most films, it doesn’t shy away from showing social attitudes of the time and the fact that with most men away in the armed forces, women are for the first time in history earning money and beginning to assert themselves in the workplace.

But this film is slow, very, almost punishingly slow. it’s run-time of 117 minutes passed reasonably quickly for myself but my infinitely better half was bored to Farmville before the start of Act Two.

It is well  acted and scored and potters along well enough, although the heartwarming moments never quite convince, mostly owing to a complete lack of chemistry between Arterton and an incredibly handsome block of wood called Sam Claflin who people keep trying and failing to convince me is a real boy.  Bill Nighy does what he can but he’s given very little to work with.

And despite opening in the rest of the world weeks before the United Kingdom, I can see why it’s so far made back less than a third of it’s budget relatively meager £30 million pound budget. This is a story that needs to be fast moving, to pile on issue after issue after issue, large and small, serious and silly but I’ve seen faster plotting in episodes of Midsummer Murders! Even the war itself feels like little more than a distraction from the central plot of getting this film made, which by the end is supposed to be doing everything bar finding out who Keyser Soze really is.

I really wanted to like this film, it had actors I like, a story-line I normally like, in a setting that I find intriguing but it feels like the kind of film that my grandparents would have loved and that’s the issue. This is a film made for a time that’s already been and gone.

And that time was about twenty years ago. No matter how many twinkly Bill Nighys you throw at me.

My Score- If Nothing Else 

Alone In Berlin Review

In 1940, a working-class couple in World War II-era Berlin, Otto and Anna Quangel, decide to resist Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, after receiving the news of the death of their only son. And they do so not with guns and bombs but with postcards of all things. (Ask your mum if you were born after 1998.)

And that really is the film. It simply one hour and forty three minutes of watching Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson (naturally giving amazing performances) wondering around Berlin leaving postcards telling people that Hitler is a rotter and they shouldn’t support him whilst being chased by Daniel Brühl’s policeman.

There are no gunfights, no car chases, no explosions. The film is definitely nothing like the daring-do boys-own adventures such as Where Eagles Dare. Instead the first film that comes to mind is All Quiet On The Western Front. There’s just this sense of determination. Of an ordinary couple engaging in what might seem to be a whimsical rebellion but is really the only way that they can rebel.

The performances are all excellent and it shows that whilst there were people living in Nazi Germany that were card carrying members of the Nazi Party there were brave people who tried to resist in small ways as well as those just trying to stay alive for another day.

I cannot understand why this film has released almost no publicity as it does deserve to be seen and has shown me that film can take a subject that I had thought done to death and show me a new way to look at it.

If you can find this and are in the mood for slow film about people trying to spread hope the only way they can then see this amazingly acted gem.

My Score- See It Now 

The Girl On The Train Review

The Girl On The Train wants to be Gone Girl 2: Gone harder so much it hurts.

Like its predecessor, this film is based on a novel that was a worldwide smash- in fact, The Girl On The Train is the fastest selling adult novel of all time. Annoyingly though Train has been relocated from London to the US for the film version, its cast are giving powerful performances, the tone is somber and bleak with unreliable narrators, flashbacks and a series of alternate takes on events are constantly happening and yet….

It just doesn’t work.

Not on any level is this the compelling thriller that it wants to be. Not on any level is it compelling. This is a dull, depressing film in which every moment of levity or black humor or even a single solitary smile has been stripped out with almost surgical precision. And the dialogue is off. It sounds not like natural speech but dialogue meaning that we never understand, like or even care about any of the characters.

The film fails on smaller levels as well. We learn that several characters are unemployed but no-body seems to have any money worries in any way shape or form.

And the camerawork, oh boy the camerawork in this film. I am aware that Emily Blunt is a talented actress even though the sole direction she seems to have been given was “look like your on the verge of but not quite ready to break out into tears.” I seriously hope that there were plenty of water bottles on set. But the cameraman seems less interested in capturing the performance than in seeing the mysteries of the universe via everyone’s nose. Seriously, the zoom out button is your friend.

The plots simple enough, Hayley Bennet (who is allegedly NOT  a clone of Jennifer Laurence) vanishes and an alcoholic decides to solve the case. Simple enough, and this film could have worked as a tense thriller. It was so close but it just went the line and succeeded in making my audience laugh more at this than at some comedies I’ve seen!

Oh, and for THE TWIST to make sense, we need to have seen the clues before hand so that it make sense. It should not invoke the audience response of “I guess that could work”

Zoom the camera out slightly, put in a joke or two, get Emily Blunt a tissue for the love of Zhoul lighten up a bit and you’ll  have started to put things right. As is? Skip and re-watch Gone Girl. similar idea but done so much better. Just don’t watch either on a first date

My Score- Poor 

 

Cell Review

After a mysterious pulse turns everyone who was on their phones into terrifying, savage not-zombies (there’s a Pokemon Go joke in here somewhere I know it.) John Cusack (Who I swear used to be too good for this sort of thing), Samuel L. Jackson (Who I know is too good for this sort of thing.)  and various assorted red-shirts decide to go and see if Cusack’s almost certainly dead wife and son are dead instead of heading to the Winchester, having a nice cold pint, and waiting for all of this to blow over like any sensible person would.

Now this is based off a book from legendary author Stephen King, which is the only reason that I can think of that got this damn thing got made, apparently with a budget of whatever the director could find down the back of his sofa.

The tone is all over the place. It tries to aim for this kind of gloomy, bleak, end of the world tone- all washed out colors, dismal soundtrack and VERY SERIOUS MUMBLED  DIALOGUE but then the hero’s set fire to a load of not-zombies and then somehow manage to blow themselves up. Or the fact the not-zombies look like people that were handed a couple of Alka-Seltzer and told to just go for it.

Mind you, I was slightly annoyed that this thing was unleashed in America on June 10!!! (On demand) or July 8 (Limited release). But even leaving that aside- there is nothing here to recommend. When I give this my lowest rating in a few paragraphs, I don’t want you to think that this might be so bad it’s good, what with it’s dodgy camerawork, overacting extras, bored leads and just general patchiness.

Because it’s really that bad. The few moments of fun are outweighed by  just about everything else. I can’t even recommend it to hard-core Stephen King fans as the ending was changed for the film. In fact, I can’t really recommend it for anyone.

Still, it’s nice to see John Cusack still getting work. Needs a new agent though.

My Score- Fire 

The Killing Joke Review

Two Opinions I hold about the Dark Knight

Opinion the first: My favorite Batman is Adam West. With the immortal line “Hand me down the shark repellent bat spray” never failing to me me smile.

Opinion the second: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is the best Batman movie of all time. The voice acting, the music, the plot, the voice acting, the complexity, I really truly do love this film and cannot urge you enough to see this film if you haven’t already done so.

Because there was something about The Killing Joke that just didn’t click for me.

And believe me, this should have clicked big time. I love Bruce Timm’s take on the Batman mythos. Mark Hamil and Kevin Conroy are amazing voice actors who know their characters inside and out- Hell this is the team that made Batman: The Animated  Series which is arguably the greatest animated series of all time!

Its also based on the graphic novel written by the Alan Moore, who wrote not only The Watchmen, but V for vendetta as well as working for Marvel, DC and 2000AD over here in the UK.

Why then, with this much talent and money behind it was my reaction merely lukewarm?

Well, the pacing is really bad. The first 28 minutes of this 76 minute film is basically a prologue that could so easily have been cut to ten or even five minutes as it has very little impact on the actual story that I paid my money to go and see.

Which means that the central ideas- can one bad day change a mans life for good or ill, are Batman and The Joker really two sides of the same coin condemned to eternal war or can there be peace? Hell, even The Jokers possible origin story feels slightly rushed.

And, at the risk of sounding slightly ghoulish, the torture that Commissioner Gordon (a miscast Ray Wise) goes through doesn’t really seem to be that extreme, and again, there are good ideas here- watching what happens to his daughter, his support for Batman’s methods even though they show complete disregard for the law that he’s sworn to uphold that are barely even scratched.

About the only thing that does work is a random song that gets stuck in there for good measure, comes out of no-where and is the most cartoony part of the film. But, it features some of the most striking images of the film. Alas though, it’s also over too soon.

Strip down the prologue, allow the ideas to breathe and this could have been the classic that it so clearly wants to be. As is?

My Score- If Nothing Else

Ghostbusters Review

 

To say that the new Ghsotbusters film has had a rough ride would be a complete understatement.

Not only is it a reboot of one of the most beloved films of all time, it’s suffered from the most disliked trainer in the history of YouTube, one of the worst soundtrack songs I think I’ve ever heard and rumors of studio interference that hasn’t been seen since ‘Fan4stic’ and ‘Pixels.’

And now its here, and having seen it I can conclusively state that  the worst thing to bear the ‘Ghostbusters’ name is…still the 1975 version with the monkey. This? It’s OK. Nothing special.

The plots pretty much a carbon copy of it’s infinitely superior predecessor, but this one does have some pretty funny lines and genuinely scary moments in it’s first half before it realizes that it’s 144 million dollar budget won’t spend itself and it devolves into yet another bunch of actors waving props around with the directer clearly saying I’ll make it look cool later.

I did like this film, and it does have some pretty cool ideas. But for every idea and moment that works there’s three that don’t. No film (not even a James Bond film) needs three weapons montages.

And the editing is slightly off as well. The film feels like it’s slightly too long (the original cut was allegedly 4 hours long) and as a result it feels like some scenes are missing, making the film feel unfinished somehow. Also, scenes have a tendency to run about 20 seconds too long and some feel like they either needed to be re-shot or removed completely.

The Ghostbusters themselves are fine, although it seems that McCarthy is perfectly happy to play the exact same character in every single film and certainly isn’t going to be trying anything new in this one. The rest are pretty one note, with the cast neither distinguishing nor humiliating themselves. Although for my money Hemsworth was the only one that was having any fun as a receptionist with an IQ lower than his desk.

The special effects are good, although a running joke involving a main character continually getting oozed needed to be removed and burned.

This film could have been better, but it could have so much worse. As it is?

My Score- If Nothing Else