Blair Witch Review

Whether you think that the original Blair Witch Project is one of the scariest films of all time or one of the biggest piles of twaddle that ever got a general release (85% on Rotten Tomatoes V a Razzie nomination for Worst Picture), you cannot deny that it was pretty much responsible for bringing the found-footage genre into the mainstream.

It was also insanely profitable- It was in the Guinness Book of World Records for “Top Budget: Box Office Ratio” (for a mainstream feature film). The film cost $22,000 to make and made back $240.5 million, a ratio of $1 spent for every $10,931 made. Marvel can only dream of such profit margins.

Now, this isn’t the first Blair Witch sequel,  Balir Witch 2: Book of Shadows  was released a year later, received terrible reviews, (13% on Rotten Tomatoes) has been declared non-cannon and was promptly buried deep under the Earth never to be spoken of again.

If it seems like i’m taking a while to get to the actual film that’s because there’s not really that much to talk about. Blair Witch IS The Blair Witch Project with the budget raised from 60’000 to 5 million. Which has resulted in a larger cast, more SFX and erm… nope, that’s about it.

The plot is very simple and actually rather clever- the brother of one of the main characters from the original, has- after 20 years – decided to go and find out what happened to her. He’s brought along a few friends (naturally one of them is a documentary maker) and a few people they meet along the way in a bid to solve the mystery of what happened all those years ago.

Now, as this is a Blair Witch film, the whole thing is shot on hand-held cameras. All of which seem to have unlimited battery life and a habit of glitching whenever something interesting is about to happen. However, since all the cast are wearing head cameras and are rather interchangeable it can sometimes be difficult to tell exactly who is currently screaming in terror.

Yeah, the cast aren’t really going to win any awards for acting and I couldn’t tell you any of their names/ relationships to each other if you held a gun to my head but their functional and about what you’d expect in a 90 minute film.

But as for the most important question? Yes, it’s scary. Very, very, scary. After a rather dull 30 minutes of ‘character development’, and we actually get into the woods I was bouncing around like a Mexican jumping bean. And then just when I was wondering about the state of my boxers…

They showed the monster.

Slightly more than a glimpse, but slightly less than it coming fully onto screen for us to get a good look and yet it was enough for me to realize that I’ve seen scarier things in an episode of Doctor Who. And it was going so well. Monster with a random bag of vague and yet terrifying powers, never seen thus allowing the audiences worst nightmares to run rampant and then the damn thing appears on screen.

I still kept the lights on last night though.

My Score- SEE IT  

Advertisements

Mechanic: Resurrection Review

 

The plot for this film feels a little bit like a fill in the blanks for ‘generic action sequel number 040027’ Lets see how you do.

Jason Statham is a former _____ who is pulled back in when his _______ is ______ and he is forced to _____ several people to get _____ back.

(Hitman, girlfriend, kidnapped, kill, her)

And yet it works. It’s a good fun blast of a film in the best kind of way- THE EIGHTIES WAY!!! A lone man up against an inexhaustible  army of red-shirts whilst being forced to rescue Jessica Alba from.. some guy who I spent the whole film calling ‘probably not Ed Skrien.’ But with quite a bit of Mission Impossible thrown in as well.

It takes a while to get going, because for a character that’s basically a damsel in distress (although she did do her own stunts) Alba’s character gets a hell of a lot of character development that adds an unnecessary 5-10 minutes to an already overlong first act.  But once things kick into gear, this film really does get going and stay going.

It’s weird that this film had the exact same budget as War Dogs (40 million) as I mentally had this pegged at about the 75-100 million dollar mark. I mean the film globe trots in a similar method to a James Bond film (the orchestra certainly seem to think that their making a Bond film- expect a letter from the lawyers.)

From hat I could tell the action seems to be pretty solid Statham fare (naturally, he did all his own stunts)- although some of the CGI does add to the 80’s feel of the film and I did burst out laughing at the sheer cheek of some of the stunts.

Oh, and did I mention that this is a 15? No sudden movements now- i’m trying to establish a breeding program for this increasingly rare rating.

Oh, and Tommy Lee Jones makes another ‘I’m not dead yet!’ cameo as an arms dealer who allegedly has access to submarines and ICBM’s  but by that point I was way too into this films groove.

Treat it like the 80’s through back that it so desperately wants to be and absolutely turn off the part of your brain that deals with physics and you’ll have a blast.

I know I did.

My Score- See It 

Someones Suing Suicide Squad

Another day, another story about Suicide Squad.

Now I had no intention of saying anything else about this film, because, well, what else is there to say? It’s not the savior of the DC Universe that the suits so desperately want it to be, its ticket sales have dropped by 41% going into its second weekend (Civil War’s was a mere 19%). It’s probably not getting released in the worlds second largest market- China, meaning that it’s really going to struggle to reach the 750 million dollars it need to break even and it’s being sued by a Scotsman known as BlackPanther2016 over it’s lack of Joker.

Wait, what?

Yeah, apparently BlackPanther2016 was forced to drive all the way from the barren wasteland of ‘Not London’ which apparently doesn’t have any cinemas to the Utopia of London which does. There, he paid his money, took his ticket, watched the film and then- in his own words.

“Movie trailers are like food menus, they give you a preview of what you’re gonna get. You look at a McDonald’s menu and you choose to get your favourite burger, presented in a nice picture with pickles, chicken, mild cheese (your favourite, in fact that’s the only reason you’re getting this burger, because you love mild cheese). You use your hard-worked money to pay for this burger, you get the burger, only to find out that this isn’t the burger you ordered. Yes it has pickles and chicken but it doesn’t have mild cheese, it has regular cheese.

“Suicide Squad trailers showcased several specific Joker scenes that I had to pay for the whole movie just so that I can go watch those specific scenes that Warner Bros/DC Comics had advertised in their trailers and TV spots. These scenes are: when Joker banged his head on his car window, when Joker says ‘“Let me show you my toys’, when Joker punches the roof of his car, when Joker drops a bomb with his face all messed up and says, ‘Bye bye!’ None of these scenes were in the movie.

“I drove 300 miles to London to go watch these specific scenes they had explicitly advertised in their TV ads…and they didn’t show them to me. Adding to this, they were also two specific Katana scenes they advertised that were also the reason I wanted to go watch the movie. These scenes were: Katana’s eyes going black, and a slow motion shot of her and her sword taking souls in a smoky kind of style. These scenes were advertised several times in the first trailer and many TV ads but they didn’t show it to me in the movie. I wasted a lot of money paying and travelling to go watch this movie because of these specific scenes they had advertised to me and all of us saying, ‘Hey, check out our preview! This will all be in our movie, come watch it on the 5th!’ All lies.

“If you advertise something, give me what you have advertised. Period. This is becoming a habit with movie studios, showing epic scenes in trailers that are never shown in the movies. It’s unjust.

“I just want to say, join me if you feel the same way. Let’s stop this nonsense of false bulls***ery and don’t let them bribe you with their ‘deluxe premium special directors gold extended edition supreme cut’ nonsense. You should get what they advertised as their first theatre showing and what you have paid for based on what they have showed you in their advertisements.”

Now, I wish Mr. Panther the best of luck with the lawsuit that he claims his “lawyer brother” will handle. I would also like to point out that this type of lawsuit does have precedent. A resident of Michigan sued the distributor of the 2011 film Drive as it   “bore very little similarity to a chase, or race action film … having very little driving in the motion picture” and in a more serious note- “substantially contained extreme, gratuitous, dehumanising racism directed at members of the Jewish faith, and thereby promoted criminal violence against members of the Jewish faith”. I can’t find out if she won or not.

Someone who did win their case was a New Zealand film buff, named only as J Congdon who sued Jack Reacher for a less than 1 second missing explosion that was allegedly was ‘the defining part of the ad’. He won has case and was refunded his ticket.

Now whether you enjoyed Leto’s Joker or regarded it as one of the worst portrayals of the character ever (and opinions do seem seem strangely polarized) I have to confess a strange admiration for Mr. Panther and his ‘lawyer brother’ and do hope they succeed. Trailers do lie to the public (mostly over how much I’m going to enjoy their mediocre offering) and if this is the start of change then it can only be a good thing.

Note-At time of writing (10/08/16) Neither Warner Brothers no DC have responded to the threatened legal action.

Suicide Squad Review

To say Suicide Squad has had some issues would be a massive understatement. The script was allegedly written in six weeks (apparently after box-setting the entire Resident Evil film series.) It was then subject to massive re-shoots after the criticism leveled at Batman V Superman Dawn Of Migraines.

And then you get to the cast, after Tom hardy bailed to do The Revenant, you were left with the star of the rebooted Robocop, the star from After Earth, Jai !@”!! Courtney, a former model, a former soap star and erm… others. Although not Miles Teller for some reason.

And owing to DC decree 04027 both Batman and The Joker turn up. Bat’s get 5 seconds of screen time, Joker slightly more but you could have removed both from the film completely and it would have made minimal difference.

But, to answer the big question- Is this film better than Dawn Of Migraines? Yes

And the extended edition.

But that’s mostly because it’s trying to be it’s own film with some hints towards setting up other films instead of trying to set up 15 others AND be it’s own thing and it does that by keeping it’s plot really, really simple.

A truly generic villain with a henchman straight out of Gods Of Egypt is planning to take over ze vorld! By the use of… a giant floating portal in the sky. Because of course it is. Feeling that it has no other options the Government sends in six villains on a suicide mission to destroy the portal, kill the villain and try to save an entire cinematic universe.

And all I wanted this film to do was copy classic war film The Dirty Dozen, swap Nazis for CGI monsters and blackmailed US soldiers and your pretty much there. And they couldn’t.

For a start, as the biggest stars, both Smith ad Robbie get the most screen time, and that’s fine apart from the fact that it makes the rest of the squad feel shoe-horned in. Hell, Katana and Captain Boomerang could have been removed completely and no-body would have noticed.

Most of the battles are CGI based and not really very exciting as 99% of the villains army are basically zombies and seem to pose very little threat to the team. The fight choreography sucked as well.

And whilst I didn’t read a lot of DC growing up (I’m a solid 2000ad man) I was always pretty sure that the Suicide Squad didn’t go everywhere backed up by a hell of a lot of people with guns… because, well, if ordinary people with the power of guns can defeat this threat then is the squad even needed?

Also I found the film rather conventional. A depressing number of the squad seem to have hearts of gold and for a city that been overrun by hive minded zombies, the squad seems to have a lot of time to just chill.

And did I mention that you can really tell where the re-shoots took place? Because whilst the film was released in the UK with a 15 rating, it really didn’t feel like a 15, it felt like a 12a with a few re-shoots designed to bump the rating up. But even then, I didn’t see anything  that I haven’t seen in any other 12 a.

Naturally, it’s shot in the DC style of doom, gloom and I found very little humor but that’s what i’m coming to expect from this universe.

Make it more anarchic, give the squad a threatening villain and throw in some jokes and you could have a much better film. As it is, this film has been banned in China for all time and I cant really see that their missing out on much. Not when they could be watch the much better 2014 Assault on Arkham or even The Dirty Dozen. 

Maybe the inevitable unrated cut on DVD will be better but until then?

My Score- If Nothing Else

Star Trek Beyond Review

Critics log: Film date 0402.7

After a dull, dreary summer in which most blockbusters barely had the energy to even aspire to be mediocre, we were left with only two hopes, a comic book film hats just undergone the eternal sign of bad news- massive re-shoots and a film based off of a 50 year old Sci- Fi property.

The signs for this weren’t good. Even though the script had been written by Simon Pegg (who also played engineer Scotty), the trailers had been very poorly received. The directer was untested- his previous highlights had been as a producer for Fast and Furious 6, it had ticked off the LGBT community,  it was starring Chris Pine- (an actor who always lives up to his name) who during interviews has said that, while the JJ films have tried to touch on “demanding questions and themes”, it’s just not possible to make a movie without “wham-bam explosions and planets blowing up”. (Because Interstellar was a huge flop and certainly isn’t currently number 32 on IMDB’s top 250 with a box-office of over 675 million dollars and an Oscar)

Whats that? It also stars Mr ‘at 43 i’m too old to play James Bond’ Idris Elba? And features a character so heavily based on Jennifer Laurence’s character in Winters Bone that she was called Jaylah? I’ll  get my pitchforks and flaming torches ready shall I?

Except I won’t be because this film is awesome.

This is the first big film this summer that felt like it was actually TRYING. It has some of the most amazing space visuals I’ve seen since.. well, Interstellar. It’s funny, touching, with an amazing soundtrack turned all the way up to 11 which, true, does help to drown out most of the films dialogue but as the films plot can be summarized as

“KILL THE HUMANS”

“We will, we will, stop you stop you!”

I really didn’t worry about that too much.

Besides, you can still hear Spock and Judge Dredd and they get all the good lines.

Its also the only film this summer that I wish had slowed down a touch. At times you can tell the director cut his teeth on the Fast and Furious franchise as this is pretty much exactly what you would expect if you put both these franchises in a blender (or waited for Fast and Furious 42- IN SPACE!) 

But I loved it. A fast moving action packed blast of a film.

My Score- SEE IT

 

Now You See Me 2 Review

Did I miss something?

Now You See Me was a perfectly acceptable film to pass away a few hours but I didn’t think it was worth a sequel, and with a 49% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 50/100 on metacritic clearly everyone else had the same feelings.

Unless…

Hang on….

It made 351.7 million dollars on a budget of…. 75 million.

Makes sense.

Now, where was I?

Picking up a year after the first film, we find our four horsemen (plus a new female horse man- Isla Fischer being unavailable due to pregnancy.) being tasked to steal a mcguffin which will end the worlds privacy! (And is the same plot as Charlies Angels: Full Throttle). And the evil megalomaniac behind this plot? None other than… Daniel Radcliffe! Really?

And he’s as miscast as he sounds. Unless the film-makers were going for some kind of mate-joke whereupon the villain in a magic film is Harry Potter (and nowhere do they display the level of intelligence required to lend credibility to this theory.) then i’m going to assume thy just grabbed the first British actor that was walking past set that day. You couldn’t get the guy who played Ramsay Bolton in GOT?

And it has other issues as well. Not least the fact that Woody Harellson is pulling double duty as one of the horsemen and a villain by virtue of the never has worked and never will work  trick of playing twins. With the aid of a bad wig, appallingly fake teeth and worse fake tan.

Then you get to the pacing, and by necessity its all stop start. Every time the horseman do or are subject to something that looks impossible, then they have to stop the film for two minutes to explain how it was done. With the fact that most of them involve some rather poor CGI instead of the practical effects that should have been used, making the explanations very flimsy at times.

It runs for twenty minutes too long and can be insufferably pleased with itself at times but it’s always nice to see Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine onscreen and it passed a few hours harmlessly enough.

My Score- If Nothing Else 

Let My Films Go!

The Shallows was released in the United States on the 29 of June. It’s due to be released in whatever’s left of the United Kingdom in August.

The Purge: Election Year was released in the United States on the 1st of July. Again, it’s due to be released in the United Kingdom in August.

The BFG (despite being written by noted British Author Roald Dahl) is slightly better- the 1st of July and 22nd of July respectively.

I could go on, but I think that this makes my point- Staggering movie release dates is (in this day and age) an exercise in complete and utter futility.

It used to make sense to release films region by region. It takes time to market a film and staggered releasing means that each market could be properly exploited. And in any case, each market was pretty isolated, so if the film did poorly in… say the USA, it could do perfectly respectable business in Europe and neither would ever have to know.

But then the internet hit.

And the world became faster.

In 2016, if a film is of low quality it’s takings can drop in days rather than weeks. In the age of Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and others, films have nowhere to hide. And more to the point, staggered releasing is (as far as i’m concerned) actively hurting films.

Those films I mentioned earlier? I could wait a few days, watch them online in HD quality and have my review good to go weeks before the official UK release date. I won’t, but I could. Other film lovers however, possess neither my Jedi like patience or Cineworld Unlimited card.

The end result?

The film gets watched online which results in it making less money in the box office and therefore less likely to spawn a sequel or encourage studios to invest in ‘riskier’ mid to low budget films.

Giving films a global release date ends all of these problems. Everybody gets access to it at the same time, meaning that if the film is of low quality it can make more money before word gets out. Similarly, if its a good film then people wont download it out of impatience.

What do you guys think?