Poltergeist (2015) : A 60 second review

“It’s not like it’s built on an ancient Indian burial ground or anything…”

Oh yes, another day, another pointless remake of a classic movie. It seems the last few years has been strewn with terrifying rumours about beloved films of every genre being torn a new one.  On rare occasions this turns out well. But is this the case with Gil Kenan’s version of Tobe Hooper’s 1982 classic horror movie? In a word, no.

What I liked…

I’m putting my rose tinted spectacles down now, deep breath, I can do this…

To its credit it gets on with the horror early on to keep you on your toes and there is a certain levity that feels almost lovable in its own terrible way.

The casting isn’t too bad. Jared Harris as  Carrigan Burke is cheesy but entertaining and helps you make it through the last half of the movie. Rockwell delivers his lines well, I guess.

The director clearly has some talent in the visuals, but is hindered by a frustrating impatience when it matters. The latter scenes in the “other side” are quite cool, albeit an unnecessary edition.

What I didn’t like…

Felt less a like a homage and more like a bad school play of a classic horror film.  Lazy and emotionless, two traits that will kill a film that is all about the family.

The movie stumbles hastily out of the blocks, with the scary tree, the clown and both catchphrases “this house is clean” and “they’re here” all making an appearance within the first twenty minutes!

Really needed to take its time a bit more and let things develop, instead of the clear saturation of incidents that would have most families out the door within 48 hours.

Verdict: Way too much, way too early. It’s simply a mockery of the original and would have been better off embracing its fast paced, quirky style and coming up with its own ideas. Like Prometheus, it suffers from an over-abundance of franchise-based ideas without really seeing any of them through. The best thing the film does is remind you how brilliant the original was. 4/10

What was the best movie of 2013?

I enjoyed compiling my 10 favourite films of 2014 so much, that I thought I would step back one more year and do the same with 2013. It is only when you look back at the list of great movies that you realise there are some that are classics already. Hope you spot one or two of your own favourites, if not, then shout at me in the comments!

Warm Bodies

NICHOLAS HOULT stars in WARM BODIES Ph: Jonathan Wenk © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC.  All rights reserved.
Release Date: 8th February

It’s not easy to create a truly original take on a horror sub-genre such as zombies, but Warm Bodies delivers a touching and heart felt romance within the absurdity of the undead. Hoult is superb despite the restrictions of his role and although I had major problems with the consistency of its story, the film cleverly avoided the cliché- ridden basement of the horror house and opens the door to the spare room instead.

Iron Man 3

Release Date: 3rd May
Release Date: 3rd May

It isn’t perfect and even murdering the Mandarin and underusing Kingsley aside, it is still a step down from the slick first instalment. But I firmly believe that Iron Man 3 is really underrated as a Marvel movie and suffers from the same scepticism that Revenge of the Sith faces due to its poor predecessor. Above all else its surprisingly funny and arguably has better Downey jokes than the first film, delving into the post-trauma of Avengers. Plus Pepper is looking hot throughout.

Pacific Rim

Release Date: 12th July
Release Date: 12th July

Boy has this movie grown on me from when I first watched it! Once you get past the woeful acting and over-dramatic cinematography you quickly realise that it has much more to offer. Del Toro it seems knew exactly what he was doing when he went all out to replicate the sense of fun and awe that really classic monster movies had at the cinema when he was growing up. It’s simply already a classic for many movie fans and I always stick it on now and again for a Friday night movie.

Rush

Release date: 13th September
Release Date: 13th September

Howard’s surprisingly gripping biopic was a real break from the norm in 2013 and deserved all the plaudits it garnered. Hemsworth and Bruhl battle to outshine each other both on screen and on the racetrack, as they go wheel to wheel in some brilliantly realistic race scenes. The film’s achievement to balance entertainment with revealing the necessary truths found in racing’s past, is testament to its downright greatness.

Prisoners

Release Date: 27th September
Release Date: 27th September

This is probably my favourite film of 2013. The casting is mindbogglingly good and it drives itself forward with relentless speed. Harrowing performances from all involved, the cinematography matches the film’s dark tone and sinister motives. Gyllenhall is especially watchable as he wrestles with emotion and investigation amidst a father’s anger.  It may not have turned many heads at the time, but it has to go down as one of the best psychological thrillers of the twenty first century.

Captain Phillips

Release Date: 16th October
Release Date: 16th October

Hanks’ performs the role of his life in Greengrass’ indisputably realistic tale of Somali pirates. It’s all about the characters in this movie and the viewer finds their assumptions torn apart as the cast do battle in hauntingly gritty scenes. Serves as a necessary lesson about these dangerous waters whilst also showcasing Greengrass’ determination to capture more than just a bunch of bad guys stealing a boat. Brilliant film.

Ender’s Game

Release Date: 25th October
Release Date: 25th October

Not many people saw this movie when it came out, which is simply a shame as it captures a sense of cheesy sci-fi fun with a fairly serious undertone lingering underneath. Blending some mature themes with a mostly adolescent cast, is something the eighties did so well, and I only hope that kids of today look back at Ender’s Game with the same fondness I do to other coming-of-age classics like Last Starfighter. Worth a watch if you haven’t already.

Gravity

Release Date: 8th November
Release Date: 8th November

I have watched this on blu-ray at home after seeing it for the first time in the cinema in 3D and I was quite taken aback by how much more of an aural (that’s hearing you dirty lot) experience it was than before. Perhaps I wasn’t distracted by the stomach-flipping sense of vertigo this time, but it enhanced the whole experience to a different plane. A strange and ethereal movie that has not only remained one of my favourite films of 2013, but a real game-changer in terms of cinematic scope.

Lone Survivor

Release Date: 12th November
Release Date: 12th November

Absolutely brutal. Lone Survivor is literally there to prove how far the human body can go when unfaltering spirit is instilled in the most elite of soldiers. The film rolls down the hills, picking up pace as the bones break and the bullets fly. Whalberg is only outshone by Ben Foster, who is fast becoming one of my favourite actors. A visceral and stirringly realistic portrayal of war. Must watch.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Release Date: 25th December
Release Date: 25th December

It was a rare thing to find someone, especially a guy, that didn’t absolutely love this movie. How much that had to do with the boobs and midget throwing is anyone’s guess, but it became the most talked about movie in the workplace for months. Its lesson of the perils and power of greed is partly lost in the whirl of drugs, drinks and inspiring speeches. While not Scorcese’s greatest work, teaming up with Dicaprio has proved a winning formula once again. I f**king love you Jordan!

Insidious Chapter 3: A 60 second review

“No matter what happens. No matter what you see. Stay strong.”

Good horrors are still a rare thing these days, with most films of the genre leaning towards jumps and scares over psychological battles of the supernatural. Is Insidious the exception? Don’t be silly, but that doesn’t stop it being a rather enjoyable walk through its haunted corridors…

What I liked…

Genuinely scary, but not in a psychological sense. More an engineered, theme park, haunted house way. Whether this is a good thing may depend on your age, but the use of sound, colours and lighting works really well a lot of the time,…ish.

Surprisingly original when it wanted to be. The sense of dread that comes from clever uses of misdirection and paranoia kept making my eyes look over to the dark corners, expecting another scare. This was especially worrying on a giant cinema screen and with a “screamer” sitting next to me in the theatre.

Sticks to its task well, and I felt the Ghostbusters references towards the end were quite fun, a welcome levity amidst the horrors wearing thin on the screen.

What I didn’t like…

Really slow start, I mean glacial. But then any character development is pointless as the main characters just fall into plot line anyway.

The villain was so badly written it was painful. It didn’t seem to have any motive outside of scaring people. Surely it wouldn’t have taken much to add a twist, maybe the monster could be her mum or something? Sigh…

Won’t win any awards for writing. Except maybe a Razzie.

Verdict: A film that seems to have no real intention to be anything other than a ghost house of clichés. Fun, visceral and creepy, its use of blackness and silence is a well-crafted exercise is scaring people. As a movie though, its story and characters are pretty lame and it spends most of its time referencing its own , and other’s, franchises. 5/10

Jurassic World: A 60 second review

“Due to a containment anomaly, all guests must take shelter immediately.”

The trailer that caused the scepticism surrounding Jurassic World could only ever really give us dino fans a sense of direction and a visual teaser. The execution on the other hand, that only comes from the first viewing. All I’ll say is the phrase “pleasantly surprised” escaped my mouth one or two times after walking out of the cinema. Hold on to your Gyrospheres!

What I liked…

Less a sequel and more a homage to the original Jurassic Park, much of the theming and visual easter eggs generally conjure a likeable reaction, much like Abrams’ Star Trek. Perhaps it borders on saturation after two hours, but I enjoyed the strong ties the film proudly displays.

Surprisingly funny, much of it coming from a strong cast that look like they are having a lot of fun with the script. It’s nicely character based and the story is as much about them as the raptors and rexes.

The movie recognised that showing the same dinos doing the same things was never going to fly and instead spends its time, in the first half at least, exploring new ideas such as genetics and training. The science is stretched slightly thin by the end but delivered well when it matters.

What I didn’t like…

Bookended by two pointless scenes and probably twenty minutes too long. Doesn’t help that so much of the action sequences you see would only seem original if you were one of the many kids in the theatre breaking their Jurassic cherry.

CGI. Look, I get that there are countless scenes that just could not be done without its use, but it isn’t even that impressive and I fear those dinos will look pretty dated before too long.

Verdict: Rekindles the sense of wonder found in the 1993 classic and adds its own flavour for the franchise. A fitting sequel that definitely outshines the previously poor franchise filling. Like a fan film, its flaws are forgiven for that sense of fun and parody. 7/10