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Shadow in the Cloud (2020)
Remember when movies were good?
No. Nor do I. Covid offerings like Shadow in the Cloud are casting a shadow over the memories I've had of enjoying films. A pre-Covid 5 star is now a 7 star just through the sheer mediocrity of the films we've been offered in the last 12 months. So giving Shadow in the Cloud, 3 stars is generous.
With dialogue so poor as to make you question all you know about the way humans interact with each other. The borrowing of many much better done ideas will make you wish you'd just rewatched one of the movies that were plundered.
Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)
This film, what do you say? So thoroughly imperfect, hammy and corny, the silliness of the Bill and Ted movies are in it's veins. For me the film only drew a few laughs on its own merit and a few more from nostalgia, but yet the heart of the film at the end.. if only people would embrace that heart (and ultimately the message of the trilogy).. it would turn a lot of those low scoring reviews. Given the times we live in, it's hard to ignore the 'diversity' quotient, but if you can look through it and admire "Face the Music" on the balance of its predecessors grown up over 30 years its really quite hard not to like.
My head wanted to give the film a 6, but my heart gave the the film a 10. I averaged and feel slightly ashamed for having done so.
The I-Land (2019)
Episode 3 and you're...
Either going to carry on watching or just completely lose it. I watched the first two episodes and, about a quarter of the way in to the much revered Ep3, abandoned all hope.
Terrible jilted acting, awful characters, stuttering and unnatural script, poor decision making, questionable jeapordy.
Quite honestly one of the worst things I've ever seen.
The two, is for the attractiveness of the location and of the cast.
Captain Marvel (2019)
I wasnt going to watch it
I had forgotten I'd already rated it 4/10 before I'd even seen it. I must have done that around the time of release in anticipation of my expectation. I honestly dont remember.
Imagine my surprise when I did finally watch the film to give it the rating I thought it deserved 4/10 to find I'd already rated it 4/10.
I didnt like Captain Marvel. I didnt like the characters. I didnt like the dialogue. I didnt enjoy the lack of chemistry between the actresses. I didn't like the smarmy attitudes.
I did like the overall story and the Nick Fury backstory. I found the mid-90s nostalgia somewhat amusing in some places but flat and anachonistic in others "sophisticated two-way pager".. why would not just a cell?
Theres some value in the film, its watchable, but a long way from the charm of the other Marvel films in to which it belongs.
Rim of the World (2019)
Insult to Goonies everywhere
Theres a lot of reviewers stating their age, well I'm 45 and I hated RotW. I watched it because of its comparison to The Goonies and I can understand why this drew a comparison to The Goonies. It has a group of kids, who're kind of misfits, come together and form a bond while on an adventure. Comparison ends.
The trouble with the film isnt the premise or plot, because the idea is there (although a tad over done). It isnt the cinematograhpy or score.
As can be expected of Netflix lately, the charactors smack of meeting diversity quotas and give us characters that are so utterly contrived. At the same time they meet cliched racial and gender stereotypes to the point it made me cringe.
My biggest gripe was at the sequencing. The journey in this movie is supposed to take them some several dozen miles from point A to point B. They manage this on foot or bikes, road and cross country terrain in about a day with no food or water. Theres a period where it goes from the early hours of the morning to mid morning and we're supposed to believe that heroes of the film have traversed 30 odd miles. Perhaps not bad in itself, but when the characters are still looking over their shoulders and wiping their brow and talking about how they'd just escaped the last encounter (previous scene) it's extremely jarring to watch. The film makes massive jumps in distance and time more than once.
If it wasnt for The Goonies reference I wouldnt have watched it. If it wasnt for The Goonies reference I wouldnt have had any expectation for it. Before 'flix go referencing other legendary titles from my youth they should take in to consideration that these things carry a burden of expectation and if the best they can do is put out this kind of rubbish I'll be cancelling my sub. Oh wait, I did, because of this.
Slow burn beginning, firey end.
I had to come and add another review to the thousand or so already here. I guess Heriditary is not for everyone. I watched it and midway through I caught myself pondering why, when I already have so many nightmares, I'd watch a film that was giving me genuine chills.
Its not perfect by any means, at two hours I think it could definitely have used a little trimming, while wonderfully put together there are some long slow shots in the first hour that just draw the pacing out unnecessarily. That said, I also considered that perhaps it was to provide a counter point to the drama that really begins to make the movie unfold at about the 35 minute mark. The spark to the touch paper of this film left me with a physical sense of chill.
Then I begun to get bored again, and I was considering turning it off. Then thought to myself, its a shame that we've got so used to having quick pay offs that we can't admire the detail. A bit like drawing a dot on a tiny model laptop to signify the camera? There is some lovely direction here, even if it does sometimes feel prolonged. From the hour mark onward, I was treated to a rare (in modern horror) and palpable sense of growing dread.
It was nice to see new actors and some less familiar, but still known ones, playing unusual roles and doing so well. Perhaps in this sense giving the characters more of a feeling of genuineness, as you were seeing a character not just "such and such" playing.
One thing that I would preferred would have been a little more depth behind the inheritance. Some removal of character exposition earlier in the film could easily have made way for a little more explanation to exactly what happened at the end. But perhaps that was the point.
A Special Level of Bad
If so, you can probably add 6 points to the rating of this film. For anyone who has watched countless horror movies you are going to want to avoid this.
In keeping with our social media, cell / mobile phone driven world Bedeviled would have us believe that demons can possess our electronics and scare us to death with our greatest fears.
Unfortunately, our film has an awful clichéd mess of a screenplay which drew poor characters, but not as poor as their consistently bad decisions.
When movies like Scream have done so much to explain to budding writers how not to have people behave, its hard to believe a girl would hide behind her bed just because someone has turned out the lights and rattled a door knob. And you really cant just expect an audience to get on board with there being any kind of threat without a decent build up.
Ultimately Bedeviled comes across as reskin of Ring, but with all the scare torn out.
Voice from the Stone (2017)
Ghost or Madness
I feel like Voice from a Stone explores a story with two types of ghost, those that manifest themselves as remembrance of those we've loved or lost, and those that appear to us simply as impressions in the mind. As a result Voice from the Stone is a classic ghost story, but delivered delicately, free from action, jump scares and overt drama, but rather a gentle move toward a somewhat predictable end of a slightly slow story.
I wasn't convinced of Emelia Clarke's acting or character early in the film, all too reminiscent of her most famous role, eyebrows waggling around like they have a mind of their own - but it felt like as the film grew so did her character. Marton Csokas played the typical brooding, morning, gruff and elusive male / father figure excellently and with support from other members of a small cast the film can only be described as well acted.
I'm never too sure what to say about cinematography - all I can say is the parts of the landscape we do see, the house itself are magnificent. Tuscany is a most beautiful part of Europe, and the implied age of the location adds depth to the mystery that propels the story.
Overall, I expect the film is not going to suit everyone, it's by no means a great - but never the less a good ghost story well worth a watch.
Salt and Fire (2016)
Less of a thrill than a warning
I had to wonder what I was watching throughout, consistently waiting for something to happen. Salt and Fire delivers a film which is more like a patchwork quilt. Bits and pieces of ideas designed to be thought provoking but, in a typical arty style, leave you to draw your own conclusions to the meaning. So it allows itself to be watchable, just about, without anything of significance taking place. The only thing I took from the whole thing was that sometimes people who like nice stuff make bad decisions and then have to face their demons.
The acting was stilted throughout. Even Michael Shannon, who I tend to consider at least reasonable, played his part in keeping with everyone else. I still wonder whether it was intentional, perhaps some device designed to make you ask why.
Interesting idea, but it probably deserves a more fitting synopsis. This isn't a thriller and certainly isn't a disaster movie or maybe it is, if the film could play out for another 200,000 years.
For an old timer its just so much remake
If you've watched. Dot dot dot. The opening words, or at least words you see contained so frequently in reviews these days, is always so likely to be ones you'll see in reviews for Equals.
Its hard to deny that Equals is a good film. The players of this film provide some wonderful performances, the cinematography is articulate and balanced, and the music score artfully weaves to provide a tapestry of distopian sci-fi romantic contemplation. Contemplation on a genetically modified world in which we have lost our ability to think (and feel) for ourselves.
I was left wanting. Because while all the above are true, Equals lacked appropriate pacing the beautiful cinematography often lingered too long on faces whose owners were only just awakening to their new feelings with a twitch here, or a clenched fist their. It missed giving the viewer any reason to particular care about the characters. It failed to provide action or jeopardy.
Ultimately the story is reminiscent to so many others, but with out the flair or excitement. I can only imagine that anyone rating this highly, has yet to delve in to other distopian classics such as Logons Run, Battle Royale or The Island, to name but a few.
Beyond the Gates (2016)
Slow dialogue and build up
Overall a not unwatchable effort, a story line with certain potential is littered with some enjoyable blood-fest elements. Unfortunately Beyond the Gates is marred by slow paced dialogue, between one dimensional characters, who all clunkily perform their way to the end. The issue here is that before anything begins to get going, you're likely to be half out of your mind with boredom. The 88 minute run time, which was reduced to about 80 after the exclusion of the opening and closing credits, still felt drawn out.
When things did get going, Beyond the Gates takes some particularly odd turns to create none too convincing or all that scary "monsters". In retrospect the film could well have borrowed more themes from greats such as Hellraiser and utilized them to bolster its own version of hell (assuming that's what the movie was trying to get at).
This may well appeal to die hard horror fans, but you're likely to be disappointed.
Brother Nature (2016)
Tales of a middle age movie lover
What can a middle age movie lover tell you about Brother Romance? I'll start with that I was immediately alarmed about the more than a passing resemblance to "The Great Outdoors" (TGO). A film about a man who goes to a cabin for a holiday only to find it ruined by a brother in law. Brother Romance is basically a remake, and, as with most of our current crop of remakes doesn't do it as well. Which is troubling, TGO is not exactly a classic (although I like it, John Candy is gold), meaning Brother Romance falls squarely in to the "meh" rating of films.
Acting and characters are in line with the genre. Generally scenarios are OTT and over played. The story line leans on plenty of clichés; Animal attacks, fart jokes, in laws messing things up, repentance of lead character. I could go on, but there's nothing more that needs to be said.
TGO is a better film, but being nearly 30 years old, probably won't hit the mark with younger audiences and I guess, Brother Romance will have to fill the spot to modernize lake based comedy of errors.
The 5th Wave (2016)
When I were a lad..
We had The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, St Elmo's Fire, The Goonies to name but a few. Defining moments in movies, defining teenage angst, growing pains and young love and loves lost. Films that stand up today, not just for nostalgia's sake but because of solid acting, amazing characters and good stories.
I despair for the drivel that our millennial's have to endure today in the name of cinema. If you've grown up on good films through the years then you want to avoid The Fifth Wave. Encourage your young-lings to watch something else.
Chloe maybe a good actress, but she couldn't drag the film from the mire of this cliché driven plot line with shallow characters and an awfully banal story of an alien plot to take over the Earth in as seemingly clueless manner as possible.
War Pigs (2015)
War has never been so bad...
Bit of an avid fan of war movies. I wouldn't say I've seen them all, but I've seen most from 50s era onward. As movies depicting WW2 are quite rare I was kind of looking forward to War Pigs. Despite having read the reviews I thought, "it can't be as bad as that, can it?". It really was. Cliché driven throughout, from the disgraced officer story, to the rebellious unit, to the action sequence which had more holes in it than a pin cushion. I don't even want to remember the woefully lame "training" montage - which you might, like me, wonder if could have been entirely avoided if only the Sergeant wasn't such a moron.
The script and, perhaps more importantly the delivery of the script, proved to be the most painful part of the film. One of my pet hates is unlikely dialogue, and sadly War Pigs was littered with the most unlikely conversations with long pauses between delivery of each line.
On the whole, this isn't the worst film, but it's also a long way from being anything near adequate.