Sunday, 29 October 2017

'Happy Death Day' The Perfect Halloween Treat - (2017) Review

Half Price: A really delightful horror movie. Fun, funny and light on the fright.
In 1993, there was a movie released called ‘Groundhog Day’. It starred Bill Murray, and was directed by Harold Ramis. It was about a weatherman who gets stuck repeating the same day over and over, waking up to the same song as each day restarts. Since then, a number have movies have adopted the classic’s premise for their own stories. They are the movies we refer to as “It’s like ‘Groundhog Day’ but”.

It's almost as if we're stuck watching the same movie over and over.
This year alone saw the release of ‘Before I Fall’, which applied the format to a high school melodrama, and 2014’s ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ borrowed the idea for a sci-fi backdrop. This time, the day goes on repeat for a young girl named Theresa (Tree for short), except she doesn’t just fall asleep and wake up in the next day. She has to die first.

‘Happy Death Day’ takes that plot device that worked so well over twenty years ago and put it in the middle of a slasher film. Whenever the day repeats, it’s like looking at the beginning of a different horror movie each time. That makes for some very fun moments as Tree tries to figure out who’s been killing her. Never has there been a montage so gruesome as the one that's seen here, but I'm certainly glad we've reached this point in society. From this moment on montages must be this intense. Literally, life or death. 
The next Creed is gonna be wicked.  
As these movies go, Tree is a very unlikable protagonist when the film starts. It’s what makes it so satisfying to watch her die over and over. While the first 20 or so minutes of the film are a little more than tedious, it’s the price you pay for a film that really picks up in the second half. After the leg work is put in, ‘Happy Death Day’ becomes a fun, mildly scary, horror movie.

It's a movie that you don't expect to be as good as it is, while also having moments of being exactly what you thought it would be. For every surprisingly emotional performance, there was the broad over the top charicature, shallower than my bank account. 'Happy Death Day' never gets too high off the ground, but it makes for a nice float among the clouds. Sometimes, that's just what you need on the scariest day of the year.

Imagine if the Jack o Lantern's smiled with you instead of at you :)
It’s a PG-13 horror movie, with an intriguing premise, hardly any blood and gore, and only runs for about an hour and a half. It’s the perfect film to see if you want a fun movie this Halloween that won’t give you nightmares. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and highly recommend seeing it in a dark cinema, with lots of people in it. 

Rating: Half Price

'Tyler Perry's Boo! 2: A Madea Halloween' Is Not A Movie. - (2017) Review

Read A Book: Please, just make it stop.
I'm distraught.

I'm worried.

I'm scared too.

It's been a year since Tyler Perry hit a new low with his return to the Madea-verse, 'Boo!'. A movie that defies explanation for its irreverent disregard for narrative structure, character development, and humour, but made a lot of money. Now, the sequel has been released, 'Boo 2!' and I can't help but feel personally targeted. It feels like an added dose of punishment for a crime I didn't commit. I know Tyler Perry didn't make this movie for me, or that he intentionally made it as bad as it was for people like me to suffer. He made it for him. It has become my nightmare.

The face of pure evil.
I suppose it’s a recurring nightmare. Madea has long been a staple of Hollywood, and is rightfully in my mind one of the most iconic characters of the last 20 years. She is something that feels genuine, relatable, and continuously funny. Truth be told, she still is. However, this film has no claims of genuineness. It’s distinctly unfunny, and anyone who can relate to it, deserves to be clinically examined.

Just like the last time, the film is an incoherent mess that paradoxically has too much substance, and none whatsoever. So much of the film goes on and on and on and on and on and on, and on, until you find yourself nodding off, having a nice nap, and waking up to find yourself stuck in the same scene you fell asleep in. It’s not at all funny enough to keep your attention. The “jokes” are so bad, I spent more time thinking about how someone could put it to screen without pause.

The face, of pure, evil.

I genuinely do not understand the point of this film. It feels like a student film, right down to the first-time actors and a script that doesn’t even belong on YouTube. Perhaps there is no point. Tyler Perry in the outtakes shown after the credits roll, is clearly having a wonderful time. So are the rest of the people involved with the film. I’m glad he had so much fun. I certainly didn’t. Still, many who read this, have already decided they’ll see it. Madea is an icon. The film itself is one of the worst experiences I’ve had at the cinema this year. I struggled not to leave after the first 15 minutes.

Rating: Read A Book.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

32. Movie Money (17/10/17)

A solid weekend for the box office this mid October weekend. Friday the 13th landed right in Shocktober 2017, and saw the release of 'Happy Death Day', the most recent Blumhouse success story which brought in $26m this weekend on a $4.5m budget. It joins 'Split', 'Get Out', 'Annabelle Creation' and of course, 'It' as yet another horror film making an immense profit due to low budget but a good marketing presence. Unsure whether it will make for a good long term run, but it's certainly a killer opening.

'Happy Death Day''s success is 'Blade Runner 2049''s ho hum, as the 35 years in the making sequel brought it only $15.4m in its second weekend bringing its domestic total to $60.9m, under half its $150m budget, and a worldwide total of $156m. So at least its made a profit. 'The Foreigner came in at number 3, with a mere $13m opening, but its worldwide total is a gargantuan $101m, making this a complete and utter success in its first week of release and proving once again why more movies are geared towards Chinese audiences.

Rounding out the top 5 we have 'It' at #4, with $6m this week, and right behind it is 'The Mountain Between Us' bringing in $5.7m.

That's the top 5 for this week. Here's the podcast:
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Saturday, 14 October 2017

'The Foreigner' Brutally Well Balanced - (2017) Review

Big Screen Watch: I had a lot of fun watching this movie. Better than I anticipated.
Before terror strikes the cinema, there's nothing I'd like to see more than a hard-hitting revenge story, mixed with a tense political drama. Good thing this week saw the release of 'The Foreigner'. A hard-hitting revenge story mixed with a tense political drama, starring Jackie Chan. Yes, Jackie Chan, 63 years old, is blazing through the silver screen in the way most men decades younger than him couldn't even dare. Is it a good film, or is it mostly embarrassing for the old martial artist? Thankfully, it's entirely the former.

Movie Gods we thank you.
After a terrorist attack in London takes the life of innocents, Quan Ngoc Minh, played by Jackie Chan, cares only about one. The daughter caught in the attack. Consumed by rage and a penchant for vengeance, Quan decides he can't wait for bureaucracy. He has to take matters into his own hands. God help anyone who gets in his way. A privilege that belongs to Pierce Brosnan's Liam Hennessy, who already has his hands full dealing with the fallout of a terrorist attack in London. 

That's where 'The Foreigner' takes an unexpected turn. Most might be expecting 'Taken' with Jackie Chan, but in fact, Chan's journey of vengeance only takes up about a half of screen time. A surprising amount of the story is spent unraveling the mystery the movie from a political perspective. When you go in hoping to watch Jackie Chan inflict punishment, Pierce Brosnan navigating the perils of politics is a not a good consolation prize. 

Interestingly enough? Both those stories work. The film takes its time developing these two central characters so much, it often feels like you're watching two films. Both of them entertaining. The wonder is, neither stories feel underserved by the existence of the other. Martin Cambell expertly finds a balance between political thriller and action drama. Someone should get him to direct a Bond film.

Or two.
The action is not present throughout, and only enters the story when it makes the most sense. Because you're not privy to a great amount of fighting, when you do get it, it's all the more satisfying. That's much like the fight scenes themselves, as the choreography is much more concerned with the impact of the blows, than how they happen. Most times this sytle lends itself to incoherence, but here, it worked. Everything is swift, sudden. It makes Chan feel like a force of nature you can't stop. It's also of note that Jackie Chan is delivering a great performance. Its a role that asks you to root for him of course, but he's so good that the movie doesn't have to try very hard to get you to.

'The Foreigner' isn't perfect though. While there is a balance struck with the dual storyline, there's a slight issue with pacing. It takes a while before both stories find their footing, and start to converge. I didn't think this needed to be 2 hours long, and you certainly feel as though a good 20 minutes could've been cut down. The movie doesn't over explain things per se, but it does feel like a situation where more could've been done with less.

Whether you're grimacing at the pain suffered by Jackie's victims, or biting your nails for the mystery to unfold, the result is the same. Tension. 'The Foreigner' has a lot on its plate, but manages to get through its arduous meal with aplomb. It's a well acted, well directed, and infinitely compelling story. Chan and Brosnan deliver some of their best work yet.

Rating: Big Screen Watch 

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

'Kingsman:The Golden Circle' Does Everything A Sequel Shouldn't - Review (2017)

Catch It On Cable: Don't rush to see this in the cinema. If you see it at all.
It's hard to fully explain what's wrong with 'Kingsman The Golden Circle'. I'm tempted to not write a review at all. My first instinct is to posit ways I think it could've been done better. Maybe I will. For now though, I'm going to say what I thought of this movie.

Back in the directors chair for his first ever sequel, Matthew Vaughn brings us 'Kingsman The Golden Circle'. A movie that continues the high octane, wicked smart adventure of Taron Edgerton's, Egsy. A true Kingsman this time around. His mentor gone, he must face a new threat to the world, for Queen and for country. After things go explosively awry, Egsy is forced to venture cross the pond to his America counterparts, The Statesmen. Together they have to fight to preserve peace and prosperity for all mankind. Even if they can't agree on how to spell programme.

For the record.
In many ways, 'The Golden Circle' is a fine sequel. Not in the same way one admires a fine wine, but moreso that way you respond when something's wrong and you say "I'm fine". Something is wrong here, but I don't really want to talk about it. It's not the sort of egregiously bad that you care to discuss. In fact, the film does everything that your run of the mill sequel does, it just does them so poorly that the effect is something of a mess.

For starters, it's one of those films that's unfocused. Busy. Confusing. It has so many elements that go woefully underdeveloped. There's a gaggle of new characters that either do nothing, or do so little, you question their involvement. It renders them as plot devices rather than actual personalities. That's just in the second half. By the time it switches locales from London to Kentucky, the movie has already overstayed its welcome.

And much like a Kingsman, I couldn't possibly ask them to leave.
So the new stuff isn't very good, but what about the old? How do our heroes fare in their second outing? Well to be honest, not much better. Egsy is preoccupied with balancing his new relationship, and his duties as a Kingsman. That plays out as sitcommy as you might expect. Like everyone else our main character just feels ineffective. Even Colin Firth's return as Harry is not the triumphant victory that it's presented as. Most of 'Kingsman The Golden Circle' can be summed up mostly by one word: Empty.

At least the crumbs are tasty.
Something that was a huge part of the original film, was the action. Matthew Vaughn has a very distinct style, and it's certainly returned here. It's unmistakably Kingsman. When the film would irritate me the most, I could at least forget the most recent confusing moment it has, and shift my attention to the fighting. While some of the action does suffer from an overall lack of stakes, I still absolutely admired it on a technical level. There's simply nothing else like a Matthew Vaughn fight scene.

Watching 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' was like eating a pack of assorted starburst, where most of it is yellow, and every now and then a pink one shows up. It's not a film I'd rush to watch again. Perhaps I'd revisit it in the future, maybe with a new perspective on it. For now, the movie is mostly uncompelling, with a few moments that serve as saving graces. It's not bad enough to be written off completely, but there's no reason to rush out to see it if you haven't already.

Rating: Catch It On Cable.

Monday, 9 October 2017

31. Movie Money (09/10/2017)

Well this was a depressing weekend. Although not an entirely unexpected one. It was a top 5 that saw older movies fall, new movies rise, and some unimpressive numbers. Number 1 was the long awaited sequel to the 1982 classic 'Blade Runner', 'Blade Runner 2049'. It brought in $32.7m, below the $50m projections being thrown around by analysts. Worldwide, the movie has made $82.9m, which is almost the entire worldwide gross of the original film, which grossed $93.4m after inflation.

A beautiful film, with a not so beautiful opening weekend.
That's not terrible considering the competition of the next few weeks. The biggest threat is in fact 'Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween'. It's likely that 'Blade Runner 2049' will maintain its hold over the box office, thanks to the stellar word of mouth its received. The issue being, $32.7m is not the best of starts, and while audiences will likely flock to what's being called one of the best films of the year, the film's 3 hour runtime might prevent it from breaking records. 

The #2 movie is 'The Mountain Between Us'. Almost certainly this films $10.1m domestic, and $13.7m worldwide take, was due to the star power of Elba and Winslet. Without them it probably wouldn't even be in the top 5. With a modest budget of $35m, it won't be a surprise to see this film break even. 'It' continues to make money, crossing $600m worldwide this week at #3. #4 was the big jump to the silver screen for 'My Little Pony', which brought in $8.8m. Finally, 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' seems to be on its way out the top 5 with $8.1m this week, bringing its worldwide total to $253.5m. It's likely to match or fall just short of its predecessor, which finished its run at $414m worldwide.

That's it for this weeks box office, here's the podcast with Damian's mini review of Blade Runner 2049. You can read the full thing here.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

'Blade Runner: 2049' Nobody Blade Runners like Blade Runner

G.O.A.T: Is it too early to call best of the year?
It's been 35 years after 'Blade Runner' was gifted to the world. The 1982 Sci-fi noir thriller with philosophical undertones changed the face of cinema and is one of the more intelligent blockbusters there is. Since its release, many have tried to capture the film's magic. Right down to the hyper-neon, yet bleak aesthetic it was famous for. Some have come close, but nothing has really come close to a mastery of tone and world-building that made the original Blade Runner so revolutionary. Until now.

Blade Runner 2049 is not a film I wanted. I felt as though the open ending of the first film fit its themes of perception versus reality. The sequel does give viewers a few answers, but it's hardly the episodic followup I feared it would be. Instead, the movie is very much as grounded as the original. Much of the movie is spent following a new Blade Runner, this time played by Ryan Gosling. So I guess that settles it folks. We finally have a new Harrison Ford. Sorry Chris.

The tendency with sequels is to go broad. Bigger means bolder. The problem is so few of them actually provide that in a meaningful way. Blade Runner 2049 deftly subsides that problem and delivers a wider narrative much less personal than the original, but crafts it around an entirely more personal character arc. It's a beautiful synergy of plot and character development that makes 'Blade Runner 2049' feel nothing short of perfect.

You have Ryan Gosling, flexing his sullen muscles as hard as he has since 'Drive', Harrison Ford yet again returning to a long time role, and even the side characters have huge names attached to them. The thing is, you're never distracted by Robin Wright as the hard-ass lieutenant, Dave Bautista as the rogue replicant. Every piece of 'Blade Runner 2049' feels intricately woven together, working to support a greater purpose. Even Jared Leto, hair slicked back with eyes aglow, didn't take me out of the film.

Weird thing? No make up. Just how Leto walked on set. Isn't that wild?
Performances and script structure aside, 'Blade Runner 2049' is stunning. A true marvel. Denis Villenueve is a modern-day visionary. An absolutely beautiful film from start to finish. Blade Runner 2049 is one of those films I could put on with the sound completely off. Of course, then I would miss the superb sound design, score, and gripping dialogue that catapults the film into being one of my absolute favourites of the year.

Then there's, of course, Villenueve's trademark tension. Sicario. Prisoners. Arrival. Films that make their bones on chilling yours. None of that is lost here. 'Blade Runner 2049' is futuristic noir detective movie that at times shares the film sensibilities of horror. And why shouldn't it? The film already is drenched in intense darks and neon. The moments of tension feel entirely in place. The moments you feel uneasy match the sentiment of the characters.
Gifs today brought to you by 2009 NBC comedies.
It's hard not to be cynical about movies, especially as everything old becomes new again. As remakes, sequels and reboots continue to plague the art form, it's a pleasure to find one that feels like a labour of love. It's a sincere, interesting and compelling film. One that feels justified in its 3 hour runtime. Not many films these days have the sense of being a true epic. 'Blade Runner 2049' is.

Rating: G.O.A.T

Sunday, 1 October 2017

'Battle of the Sexes': 1973 or 2017? - Review (2017)

Half Price: A solid biopic, uplifting and well acted. 
The beauty of cinema is that it can transport you to a time and a place you didn't think you could experience yourself. A bygone era that is so different from the times you live in, it feels as though it took place on a different planet. 'Battle of the Sexes', a movie about the incredible tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, does not provide that sense of escapism. The picture it paints feels all too often like a self-portrait of today.

After the 2016 United States election, I can't think of a more relevant film to come out. The qualified and less charismatic Billie Jean King played by Emma Stone, against the loud bombastic Bobby Riggs, played by Steve Carrell, certainly, gives a parallel. The beauty of 'Battle of the Sexes' is the way it gives each of these counterparts a sense of identity. They're public figures, but like the best biopics, you leave the film feeling as though you knew them as people.

With one that REALLY looks like Steve Carrell.

You watch Billie Jean King go through the same journey as the heroes from sports movies past. The movie does a fantastic job of intertwining her own path, with the path of women everywhere. The tennis match itself holds little stake for the characters, but you never lose sight of how important it was for the world.

If I had one gripe with 'The Battle of the Sexes' is that it at times felt entirely too clean. The film gets into the nitty-gritty of Billie Jean's life but still feels as though it might've been holding back. The movie loses a sense of genuineness because of it. Moments come up where you're watching 'The Battle of the Sexes' and you'll be hard-pressed to forget you're watching a movie. It's a well-made movie, with great performances and a captured 70s aesthetic, but it never makes you feel immersed in its world.

A strange and bewildering world.

While I couldn't forget I was watching a movie, what a movie it was. It's definitely one that you will hear about come Oscar season, especially as it relates to the film's stellar performances. There are even a few side characters that shine, despite having little to nothing to do. Sarah Silverman as Gladys Heldman was particularly entertaining, especially considering it seemed as though she could go over the top at any given moment.

The movie tells the story of the 'Battle of the Sexes' well. You definitely understand how important it was, and you feel the struggle of the characters dealing with the extraordinary position they find themselves in. It's a movie that will no doubt serve as an inspiration to many, even if it feels slightly disingenuous at times. I'd say it's worth your time, but maybe at a discount.

Rating: Half Price