Zombieland: Double Tap Review

So the first Zombieland came out in 2009 and I didn’t quite get it at the time.

I liked it, but I didn’t quite get it.

I watched it a few days ago and liked it but I didn’t quite get it.

Now, I’ve seen a few people defend it as an American Shaun of the Dead and would like to ask them exactly when the last time they watched Shaun of the Dead as to me, the whole thing played like I was watching someone else playing Left 4 Dead.

10 years later we get a sequel and again, I liked it but I didn’t quite get it.

I’m impressed that the original cast have returned to their roles and that the tone has remained consistent but other than that I still don’t get what all the hype is about.

I mean, not every zombie film has to have something to say (other than the good ones), nor does every zombie film have to be tense with death constantly following our exhausted and overwhelmed survivors who are only one mistake away from becoming a very rare steak. (Other than the good ones)

Because the Zombies in the Zombieland universe seem to pose absolutely no threat to our survivors in any way shape or form. The fact that our survivors seem to have unlimited ammunition and no need to reload doesn’t help.

But maybe i’m over thinking this. Maybe I should just enjoy a film that’s clearly just here to be a sugar rush film with loads of funny(ish) lines, some cool(ish) action, a couple of good actors blowing off steam before going back to acting for a living and that might be enough for some people. Not every film has to be some deep think piece on the human condition after all.

And I liked the characters, as before I gravitated towards Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee as someone who is clearly having a blast in the zombie apocalypse. I mean yes, it’s yet another American film about how ‘family’ is the people that you hang around with but like with Fast and the Furious there’s heart in among the action.

I’d now like to sum up the plot but this film doesn’t seem to have one.

It has four. Sort of.

We have finding a family member that’s gone missing is I guess the central plot, which blends into a road trip movie as well as having to deal with stronger, tougher zombies. Which all sort of blend together in a messy kind of way. But the film doesn’t seem to do anythign with the new superzombies. Nor dies it really do anything with it’s different types of zombies. They all get introduced like their in an old school Guy Ritchie film and then the film has no plans for them so why bother with different types? Just have your standards (or ‘Homers’ as the film calls them) and then the superzombies (or  “T-800” zombies). That would have worked and felt less like a wasted opportunity. Oh and there’s also a subplot about Emma Stones Wichita and Jesse Eisenbergs Columbus having relationship trouble after arguably the dumbest character in film history gets between them. And I have never wanted a character to be eaten by zombies more.

I mean this does feel more like a film and less like a series of zombie shorts than the first and yes, to answer the immortal question I did enjoy this film but it’s a cheesy wotsit of a film. A little puff of taste that doesn’t quite satisfy you, leaves you feeling lightly guilty and then gets all over your hands.

If you liked Zombieland then your going to like this and I can imagine watching it again and enjoying it if I’m channel hopping one night. But I wouldn’t go out looking for it and it’s not a patch on Shaun of the Dead. Which I do frequently go looking for and always enjoy when I catch it when i’m channel hopping late at night.

Zombieland is film as computer game and works on that level with enjoyable characters, some cool moments (a very funny running joke about the groups method of transportation was right up my street.) But this is no classic of the genre and i’m going to forget all about it in ten minutes.

Much like a cheesy wotsit.

My Score- If Nothing Else

The Grinch Review

It was with some trepidation

that I approached the latest offering from Illumination

(Those who unleashed those infernal minions upon every poor, blighted nation)

mediocrity is their stock in trade

so, through that is what I expected to wade.

“But”, said a voice inside my head

Your optimism should not need to be be dead.

After all, this film should be a sinch

pretty much everyone knows the story of The Grinch

It’s been made as a film twice before

and only one of those was a colossal bore

starring an unleashed Jim Carrey

and Who’s that veered between creepy and scary.

It was dull and grimy, padded to no end

and watching it again almost sent me around the bend.

But this is new and shiny and nice.

It’s also in 3d which for someone, somewhere is nice.

It stars Sherlock Holmes, Angela Lansbury and more.

wanting trained voice actors? What a bore!

And stepping into the role of narrator,

played by Boris karloff and Hannibal Lector, who could be greater

Than Pharrell Williams (who made that song happy)

Although as narator he’s really quite sappy.

Giving Danny Elfman the score is a decision I adore

but getting someone called Tyler, the Creator to make a Grinchy rap song?

Whoever decided that will have a career that’s not long.

And who the hell decided to put in the Christmas rap from Die Hard?

I have questions which I don’t know I want answered.

But leaving weird, random music choices aside,

there’s some stuff here of which illumination could almost feel pride.

At 86 minutes, the run-time is nearly perfect.

So that box is most defiantly checked.

It’s so bright and breezy,

that I don’t feel uneasy

about saying that a few times I chuckled

but at times my cheer buckled

because at points my own heart grew at least a half size!

The key stories still there

so please don’t despair

when the film takes a quick detour

Because what little this film adds means more

than the Carrey version did before.

And with a run-time far less than that 106 minute bore.

{Doing this review in rhyme

seemed like such a good idea at the time

still, it won’t be the first that a pub was the start point for a crime)

So i’m told anyway.

But if dragged to this film don’t pray.

There are far worse ways to spend part of the day.

It’s animation is fluid, no moment was bad,

The heart wringing moments made me feel sad.

I laughed at it’s jokes

and it never provokes

any rude or crude moments as it’s rating is U!

The perfect rating for a film by Dr Seuss it’s true.

So as I come to my end,

this film will not drive you round the bend.

On the 1966 original it’s not a patch.

but as a cash-grab it’s not that much of a snatch.

Illumination you’ve done it again!

90 minutes of beige to keep the kids quiet

so if you want to prevent a riot

There’s worse you could see

but take it from me

it has no plans to stay long in your head

And you’ll forget it’s small charms before you lay down in bed.

My Score – If Nothing Else

Whats going to go wrong with Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets?

So far in this series, I have waited for the films to be released into the cold, hard, unforgiving world for their brief moment in the light before dissecting their still warm corpses to see what lessons we can learn but for this one, I’ve got enough evidence to say that there’s no need to wait.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is going to bomb and it is going to bomb bigly. The only question is how much it will bomb by and how many careers will be destroyed by it.

Now, on paper, Valerian seems like a pretty safe bet. Based off of Valérian and Laureline a French science fiction comics series, created by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières. First published in Pilote magazine in 1967, the final installment was published in 2010. So plenty of source material to work from, the fact that the series has been sold all over the world implies that there is some sort of market out there.

Legendary French director Luc Besson has allegedly been given 209 million dollars to play with and had assembled a cast of stars including Cara Delevingne, Dane DeHaan, Ethan Hawke, Rihanna, Clive Owen and John Goodman.

So, a legendary (in France anyway) series of graphic novels comes to Hollywood for its moment on the silver screen. Wheres the issues?

Eveywhere.

Valerian didn’t come to Hollywood to play. It stayed in France. This is France’s highest budget film…. ever. And it’s not close in any way shape or form.  The closest contender is a French movie called Asterix at the Olympic Games, which cost $82 million to make. Now, with the budget for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets reportedly coming in at a staggering $209 million, that puts it at almost triple the budget of the previous record holder. Now, most Marvel films don’t have budgets of 200 million dollars and they’re as safe as films can get. This is an untried, untested franchise that has very little, if any name recognition outside of its native France.

But, thinks you Luc Besson is directing it! He directed The Fifth Element! That he did, 20 years ago. And it’s been dividing audiences ever since. I feel that I should also point out that nothing he has done in intervening two decades has come anywhere close to the scale of this project. Yes, Besson has done Stopmotion, CGI  and action films but none of them have had budgets anywhere near a hundred million dollars, let alone 209 million! And he’s not consistent in the quality of his films either. For every Lucy he’s made, there’s a Taken 2 or 3. I don’t he’s ever made a flop, but he’s no Spielberg.

But leaving all that aside, you then have the issue that we are currently experiencing something of a glut of blockbusters at the moment. At least Jupiter Ascending (the last time anyone tried to do a new space opera franchise) had the good sense to be released in the wasteland of January, a time when there was very little to compete with because to my mind, even if Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets had no direct competition it would be a tough sell, but the week before Fox is releasing War for the Planet of the Apes and Christopher Nolan’s WWII epic Dunkirk will be competing with it directly. Not to mention that Spider-Man: Homecoming will still be hanging around for its third weekend at the box office. With so many tried and true franchises out there, why would you sped your hard earned money on anything else?

And then we move on to star power.

There isn’t any really.

I’m not saying that Cara Delvigne isn’t a star, but she’s a new one and she has never headlined a major film before. Her role in Suicide Squad was little more than a glorified cameo and as for Dane DeHaan, his highest profile role was as Harry Obsbourne in the Incredible SpiderMan 2. I’ve seen him in a few films and whilst he never disgraces himself, he’s never looked like leading man material to me. Especially when according to Wikipedia his character can be described as “as a typical square-jawed hero figure, who is strong and dependable”

Even looking at two comparable films Enders Game and Jupiter Ascending, you find nothing to cheer about. Enders Game had a budget of 110–115 million but made only
125.5 million,  As of January 2014, Lionsgate was waiting to make a decision on a sequel film, and was also considering a television series. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Jupiter Ascending on the other hand had a budget of $176 million and made a mere
184 million with any talk of a sequel being met with hysterical laughter. Hell, even The Wachowskis have claimed that it’s pretty much killed their career as far as high budget blockbusters go.

So there you go, all the reasons why, as far as i’m concerned,  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets will be one of, if not the biggest bombs of the year.

But what do you think?

 

IMDB Message Boards

Like countless movie fans my Mecca is the Internet Movie Database (or IMDB as it’s commonly known) Pretty much any fact that I want to know about pretty much any movie in history ranging from what is La La Lands budget? To, did they really make a film with the tagline Unwittingly He Trained a Dolphin to Kill the President of the United States? (They did, it’s called The Day of the Dolphin and it was somehow nominated for 2 Oscars.)

And like many others, I’ve made a habit of checking the boards after viewing a film, reading up on the fan theories and narrative deconstructions or just checking to see if other people have similar opinions or why their opinions are different from mine and therefore completely wrong and irrelevant.

But as of the 20th of February I won’t be able to do that any more. Because from that date IMDB will be shutting down it;s message boards, claiming that it had “concluded that IMDb’s message boards are no longer providing a positive, useful experience for the vast majority of our more than 250 million monthly users worldwide”, and that the decision was “based on data and traffic”.

Essentially, they belive that the discussion has moved from the notice boards to social media.  And some outlets claim that IMDb’s assertion that the site no longer provides a “positive, useful experience” refers to those trolling the boards. US entertainment website the Wrap highlighted the recent example of Raoul Peck’s Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro being hit with a slew of negative and one-star reviews before its official release date as a tipping point. And you don’t have to wade far into the films’ boards to find them riddled with racist, ignorant and posturingly obtuse comments.

“IMDb say that the boards have been overtaken by trolls, but they could easily make it harder for people to troll, by hindering them creating multiple accounts.” User Dan L began an online petition to save the boards, currently at just under 10,000 signatures. He suspects the invocation of trolls is little more than a smokescreen. He believes the real reason is a combination of much lower user numbers than IMDb is publicising, and the way in which the boards and ratings are being exploited.

“They make bold claims such as 250 million monthly users worldwide. If IMDb really had 250 million users how come the movie with the most ratings, Shawshank Redemption, only has 1.7m votes? I don’t see how they can have 3.3% of the world’s population regularly using the site.”

And sadly, if shutting down the boards was an attempt to remove trolls then it’s failed miserably. Researching Patriots Day, I found that the user reviews are still up, and for every review of Patriots Day that was a genuine review of the film, I found three one-star reviews about how the bombings were an inside job. The swamp hasn’t drained, it’s just migrated.

I’m not going to pretend that IMDB’s message boards were completely perfect, there were threads that were sexist, racist and demeaning, and maybe they were getting quieter (which I don’t believe) but they were also a community of people who loved a particular film or actor as much as you did,or people who could explain why something that I was bumping my head on wasn’t a plot hole but instead just poorly explained.

But I’m going to miss them, troll infested and probably horrifically expensive to run as they are, they were a valuable resource and good source of knowledge.

But what do you guys think?

Monster Trucks Review

Well this is annoying.

Here I am just finishing up my bottom ten for 2016 and out slithers Monster Trucks. A film that was pretty much guaranteed a spot. I  mean, here’s a film literally dreamed up by a 4 year old, sitting on a shelf for a year and a half, stars the hole in the air currently ruining the remake of MacGyver (Yes it exists, yes its terrible, and no, you don’t need to see it.)  Hell,  on September 21, 2016, The Hollywood Reporter claimed Paramount would take a $115 million writedown on the film due to its expected poor performance at the box-office.

And naturally the gorram thing was released in 3d.

But: PLOT TWIST

It’s actually not that bad.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a masterpiece and I fully understand why several people walked out but for me? It worked. I mean its a better Transformers film than every single live action Transformers film put together.

Three act structure? Check. Narrative that doesn’t have a million holes? Check. CGI that wasn’t excessive despite the films ridiculously high 115 million dollar budget ( For comparison Assassins Creed has a budget of 125 million)? Check. Some  animatronics? Let’s not get carried away here. I mean the script was probably  written by the four year old who’s idea this was (evil company, escaped creature, teenager who’s stuck in a one horse town…. you know the rest)

It’s a shame that several recurring characters, including the main villain appear to have no names (In my notes he’s just evil suit mcbusinessman) but to be honest I only know the main characters name was Trip because it was every third word. And if the stepdad? Could decide whether he was a sympathetic character or a jerk that would be nice.

Speaking of actors, I am prepared to swear on Jennifer Laurence that Danny Glover was never within a 1000 IMDB pages of this film.

Now where was I?

Summing up I think, because there’s not much more to say, I went in expecting a mess for the ages and instead found a perfectly average made for TV film that somehow got 115 million dollars and released onto into my cinema.

How dissapointing.

My Score- If Nothing Else 

Fried Rotten Tomatoes

In this time of climate change, the greatest refugee crisis since WW2  and rising global inequality, it’s easy to forget who really, truly, is  the victim in today’s society…

Movies that cost half a billion dollars to make and advertise.

Wait, what!?!?!

Oh, I see this weeks CAUSE OF ALL THE EVIL IN THE WORLD EVER is… Rotten Tomatoes!

You know, that website that collects accredited critics views and generates an average score whilst distinguishing between critics and the general public? Yeah, that one.

And what horrific crime has this horrific abomination of a website committed?

It does’t really seem to like DC films.

At time of writing (04/08/2016) RT critics scores have Batman v Superman sitting at 27%, Suicide Squad at 32%, and Man of Steel at 55%. Whereas the general public have  Batman v Superman 65%, and Man of Steel at 75%. Suicide Squad hasn’t yet opened up fan voting.

And I would just like to point out that Warner Brothers (which releases the DC films) owned the Rotten Tomatoes Website from 2011 until February this year! And although it’s now owned by Comcast, WB still has a minority stake in the website. So if anything, Rotten Tomatoes has an incentive to go soft on the DC verse! (Not us critics though, especially plankton like me who are way too small to bribe one way or the other)

I’ll let the (really rather poorly spelled) petition speak for itself.

We need this site to be shut down because It’s Critics always give The DC Extended Universe movies unjust Bad Reviews, Like

1- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 2016

2- Suicide Squad 2016

and that Affects people’s opinion even if it’s a really great movies

Now i’m not saying that RT is perfect. It really isn’t. In the words of  the New York Film Critics Circle,  chairman Armond White who cited Rotten Tomatoes in particular and film review aggregators in general, as examples of how “the Internet takes revenge on individual expression.” He said they work by “dumping reviewers onto one website and assigning spurious percentage-enthusiasm points to the discrete reviews.” According to White, such websites “offer consensus as a substitute for assessment.”

But maybe, just maybe, if a review site that works via the average of review scores has such a  low opinion of these films, maybe, just maybe, their just not very good? After all, Suicide Squad was allegedly written in six weeks, underwent massive re-shoots after Deadpool and stars Jai !@!~£! Courtney.

As for affecting peoples opinions, do we really? 99.9% of the time I doubt I’ve stopped anyone from seeing films. And opinions do change over time. Looking back at certain films I’ve reviewed, I’ve seen my score change sometimes drastically over time and, although I will always stand by my opinions as being how I felt in that moment, I sometimes do have regret giving a movie or TV show a certain score.

And never forget, Reviews are our opinions. Noting more. Like restaurant or wine or even art critics  if you like something and I don’t (or vice-versa) please remember neither of our opinions is more valid than the other.

And well all have movies that we love that we know aren’t really that good, or think that certain classics are over-rated but recently, instead of being willing to engage in debate and attempting to change each others minds, people just scream that the other is WRONG.

Wrong of course meaning “different from mine” I mean just look at all the controversy over the utterly average and forgettable Ghostbusters film that came out this summer.

So no, don’t close down Rotten Tomatoes, have your own opinion, think your own thoughts and for Gods sake don’t waste your time defending a film that’s probably going to gross more than some countries!