Don’t be afraid of the Dark (2010)


Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes work quite well together in this run-of-the-mill haunted house remake of a 1973 made-for-TV movie.  Bailee Madison does well as Sally, the daughter who is harassed by the little critters, and manages to create a bit of empathy for the character; not bad for an 11 year-old.  Fun to see serial cameo Alan Dale pop up, otherwise this is really a by-the-numbers horror that isn’t especially scary.

Produced by Guillermo del Toro (the critters aren’t filled with eyes though) and directed by a comic book artist for some reason (Troy Nixey), not that he does a bad job, it just seems an odd choice.  The creatures themselves are quite fearsome little hunchback things and their scuttling puts me in mind of facehuggers, but otherwise there is nothing special about this standard haunted house fayre.  But, you know, that’s just, like, my opinion man.

The Wolverine (2013)


Well, what was the point of that? I’m not really versed in Wolverine lore, and perhaps Logan does go to Japan to say goodbye to an old friend, but the film has nothing to recommend it.  In fact, if it didn’t have Wolverine in it, this would just be some random lame thriller that nobody would pay any attention to, probably starring Sam Worthington or Mark Wahlberg or someone equally vacuous.

At least X-men Origins (2009) had a bunch of mutants in it and the “Logan through time” intro.  Seeing him grow up through history with Sabretooth was really cool (great tune by Harry Gregson-Williams) and nicely realised by director Gavin Hood.  OK, so most the the rest of the film is terrible, but at least it had something to recommend it.

I really struggled through The Wolverine (my wife did fall asleep) as the plot wasn’t engaging and I had no investment with any of the characters; no emotion content.

“What was that?  An Exhibition? We need emotional content. Now try again!” – Bruce Lee, Enter the Dragon (1973).

He must have been talking about The Wolverine!  But, you know, that’s just, like, my opinion man.

12 Years a Slave (2013)


It is just over two years since I first saw this as an in-flight movie.  At the time I wanted to appreciate this film on a decent screen, something I have only just managed.  Revisiting my first thoughts I actually still agree with everything I said.

Perhaps not fully appreciated on a small screen set in the back of the chair in front, but it was still possible to appreciate the horror that plantation slaves had to endure daily.  This abhorrent episode in human history is captured not only in some horrible scenes of trading the human cargo but also by a couple of stand-out gruesome torture scenes.  Steve McQueen lets the camera linger on one of these moments, prolonging the agony while the audience is desperate for it to stop.  The opposite is true for the other awful scene as the camera is whipped around between victims and perpetrators, echoing both Chiwetel Ejiofor’s state of mind as well as the torture itself.  Surrounding the excellent Ejiofor is tremendous support including Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch and Lupita Nyong’o (Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress).  A lot happens for a film just over two hours long, but it never feels rushed, which is a testament to both the screenplay and the direction.  An excellent and important film which I must revisit on a screen worthy of its power.

But, well, you know, that’s just, like, er, my opinion, man.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)


I’ve mentioned before how I don’t really go in for musicals except for the obvious classics such as Grease (1978) or Little Shop of Horrors (1986).  Having said that I’ve recently enjoyed the likes of Mary Poppins (1964), The Sound of Music (1965), and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968); I must be going soft in my old age.  However, I did not expect to enjoy Singin’ in the Rain as much as I did.

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Robocop (2014)


Formulaic and derivative actioner which lacks the bite of the original, and for which there was no need.

Where was the tongue in cheek jibe at modern day excesses?  Where was the finger given to the MTV (I guess now YouTube) generation?  Where was the commentary on the fact that huge corporations are inherently evil?  Paul Verhoeven’s original had all this and more.

For one, it had a believable lead role, not even Michael Keaton or Gary Oldman could rescue this.  Jackie Earle Haley’s character was fun, but Samuel L Jackson’s talk show spots didn’t really work as a prop to hang the plot on.

Not to mention that the way that Alex Murphy becomes Robocop has changed, the EDs are never explained – they’re just there, and Robocop never says “Serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law.”

I suppose comparisons with the original are unfair and shouldn’t really be made; but when a “reboot” is this poor it’s hard not to.  A missed opportunity, and a waste of everyone’s time.

Gone too far (2014)


With themes of identity and finding your place in the world, Gone too Far is a hilarious window into the young ethnic diversity of London.

When his brother arrives from Nigeria it threatens to upset Yemi’s comfortable existence. Events force him to assess his heritage and struggle with local bullies and the girl of his dreams in the midst of racial prejudice between Africans, Jamaicans and second generation residents of Peckham.

Very witty with sharp dialogue and very very funny.