Slumpy - Right-On Film Reviews

Friday, 23 August 2013

The Conjuring (2013)

Sum this mother up in 8 words or less: Paranormal investigators think the world of themselves.

Okay, lay it on me: This is a good, solid, big budget horror. Finally. Good actors and a steady pacing (for the most part) means that they can play out all the old horror cliches and still keep people interested.

It's your standard haunted-house-angry-at-nice-new-occupants story, not dissimilar to the Amityville Horror (the 'real life' stories are connected too). The Warrens are real life Paranormal Investigators and my advice to you is; if you haven't heard of the Warrens, don't look them up before watching the film. (They are totally annoying fraudsters who only perform séances on tables with table cloths that reach right to the floor.) They will put you off the film.

The scares are good here. There's none of the snazzy (crap) MTV editing of The Woman in Black. And, if you let the film in, the scares are strong enough to will get under your skin. I have a feeling one of the best was shown in the trailer though. But it is cool.

Would you watch it again? Yes. I'm going to buy the Blu-Ray. I hope there's an option to turn of the Warren's smug self-praising (I looked, they were involved in the production as was a giant, stinking mound of cash I presume).

Rating (out of 100%): 81% A really good effort. If the Warrens didn't think so much of themselves I'd give it another 5%.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The World's End (2013)

Sum this mother up in 8 words or less: Weird nostalgic pub crawl gets all robotronic 

Okay, lay it on me: Firstly, I love these guys. When I say 'these guys' I mean the chaps that brought us Spaced, Shaun Of The Dead, and Hot Fuzz, and I guess when I say 'chaps' I'm directly referring to Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost. The World's End concludes the so called 'three flavours Cornetto trilogy' and it's fair to say I had pretty high expectations before going in having loved Shaun and Fuzz for many years now.
Get ready for a rip roaring festival of fun! Wait... Oh crap.

Unfortunately it only took around 10 minutes for me to realise that this wasn't going to be the film I wanted it to be. Something was off, this Cornetto had turned! It was a combination of the setup, music and general tone of the opening act that made me as sure as Sherlock's eggs that I was going to really struggle with this ensemble; some kind of generational barrier blocking my relating receptors perhaps? I know they're integral to the story but I found all the peripherals around Pegg and Frost to be gut zappingly dull. The nostalgic pub crawl around their home town is a pretty good idea but to fill it with characters that don't really like each other hardly makes it a fun ride and when the robots turn up it just feels... well, random. Not random in a cool, down with the kids, genius way, but more like in a 'what's our thing in this one? Robots? That'll do' lazy kind of way. The initial robot fight feels really clumsy and a little awkward. The films ideals and notion of 'the past is the past' made me dwell on the directer and cast, I was all like 'yeah, you guys don't do this anymore, do something different, move on, you can't just slip back into Shaun Of The Dead mode, that was bloody ages ago, you're all up in Star Trek and Tintin's guts now. Let go maaaaaan!' That's exactly what I said when I said 'they were all like..
Drink up lads. But seriously, do drink up.

You wanna see Pegg and Frost being buddies, not hating each other and getting all serious. Pegg's character 'Gary King' is relatively annoying throughout but is responsible for most of the big laughs. Oh yeah, there are laughs, I mean it's not a total stinker, it's just a disappointment, like toasting waffles. I will also say this, Shaun and Fuzz were late bloomers, their awesomeness blossomed on repeat viewings, layers etc, especially Hot Fuzz. The World's End may do the same, I just can't see people wanting to reminisce with Gary King as much as they do with Shaun and Nicholas Angel.

The drunker they get in the film the better it gets though, thank god Frost's character starts to drink! He has some really funny physical comedy moments and takes on a terrific WWF fighting style! All the ale stuff is fun and I love the 'Starbucking' jokes about the pubs all looking the same. I mean there's some classic stuff in there it's just surrounded, veiled even, in this weird, dark tone of 'we're really not into this, lets just bang it out because we have to' attitude. As the film went on I did finally start getting into the swing of it but then the ending left me feeling a bit empty, like I wished they'd made a different sort of film tonally to end the trilogy on.

Would you watch it again? Of course. I've been mulling this over for a few days now and feel like I may have been overly critical. A repeat viewing will settle my internal conflict.

Rating (out of 100%): A really disappointing 68%. Some great lines and isolated moments but it never comes close to the endearing charm and fun of Fuzz and Shaun. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Monsters University (2013)

Sum this mother up in 8 words or less: Monsters getting degrees in how to be monsters

Okay, lay it on me: I have been anticipating this film for SO long that the pressure and expectation was stacked pretty high. It was a fab watch with glorious animation and attention to detail, but at times the storyline lacked some of the usual Pixar magic and it wasn't everything I'd hoped for, let me carefully explain....

In Monsters Inc there is shameless fun approach to the whole film, represented by a complimentary and perfectly balanced mix of emotional storytelling slammed right next to a monster falling on his arse and screaming in pain. Slapstick lols and tear jerking friendship bought together in the addictive and charming mix that encompasses all great Pixar stories. With Monsters University, I just didn't think that balance was quite there. It was all a bit too, hmmm how to describe, well, there were moments where it felt like they were trying to be a bit too 'tween'. Some of the humour was up aged and made 'cooler' with some of the references not feeling as layered for kids and adults in usual Pixar style but perhaps adapted  to meet the needs of the generation who have grown up with Monsters Inc. To be fair there were a lot of tweens there having a blast so maybe they got that right but for me struggling to keep my 3 year old in the chair for the first 40 mins while the film took way too long to warm up meant all I could think of was 'thank christ for popcorn....and smarties.....and milkshake....a Pom Bear....' 
Like this chap, Monsters University takes a little while to get going

I really don't want to give the impression I'm slamming it. I really did enjoy it and diving into the world of Monsters University really was an experience in itself. Similar to that gushy feeling I get about fantasising about studying at Hogwarts (yep, still hacked off it's not a real place - surely it has to be real right?!), I could easily wander my mind into the Monster University campus with the thought of studying there a really warm fuzzy one. Small touches to the way they bought to life the campus were really powerful and catapulted you right into the scene, but it was way too slow to get into gear and the new characters could have been better I felt. The mature student character for example was just pure weird, a bit creepy and not that funny. Thankfully it did end on a big high. When the action kicked in it was back to usual Pixar standards and for the remaining hour my boy was engrossed (this was a relief as experimenting with putting his head though the seats in front resulted in him getting stuck and crying.) 
Don't worry Mike, when you're older you'll understand that bottom bunk is actually better.

Would you watch it again? Yes, I will buy it on Blu-Ray, not DVD, its not the 90s. Its definitely a re-watcher and I felt like there was loads I missed and couldn't take in. Partly due to the head-stuck-in-seats-incident but also because of the detail and little references that were coming thick and fast on campus. 

Rating (out of 100%): I give Monsters University a furry-slimy 80%. In university terms this would be a 2:1 - brilliant achievement but must not forget to bring it from the heart to reach the magical dizzy heights of scoring a 1st. 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Pacific Rim (2013)

Sum this mother up in 8 words or less: Badass robots fight gigantic cuddly toys. No, wait...

Okay, lay it on me: This isn't time to get sniffy, stop messing about! You've seen the trailer, you've been comparing Jaeger (the giant robots) stats for months now on, you know exactly what you're signing up for. Strap in and let your senses get ripped from their goggle sockets!
Meet Cherno Alpha! Poor bugger only has Speed 3

I was always going to be more interested in the look and personality of the big metal machines as opposed to the rather wooden thespians that lurk deep within their gizzards. That's what got me so excited about seeing this movie in the first place. I mean what kind of Kaji (monster) doesn't want to see two gigantic things having a massive scrap in the rain, at night, in a neon drenched Hong Kong?!?!
I mean come on, how can you not think that's awesome!?!
I didn't go to see a film last night. No, I didn't go and see Juno or Heat (films). I saw an IMAX 3D (biggest screen in UK) 12,000 Watt digital surround sound system, melt- your-face-off presentation of Pacific Rim. This is more akin to a 2 hour theme park ride than seeing a traditional film, therefore I judge it more on spectacle and excitement levels than script and execution. What I'm trying to say is things are changing: seeing movies in these conditions is such an immersive and electrifying experience that you forget you're watching a normal film. You've paid a bit more for this roller coaster and you'll be damned if you're going to hate the show because it's actually a bad film! It's very hard to be objective about a film when you're seeing it on such an amazing screen.

This is more Hollywood than you might expect from Guillermo del Toro and serves up a spectacularly shocking script. There doesn't seem to be any logical reason to why the script is so bad. Although I will say this, if you want to hide bad dialogue don't have Idris Elba squawking in his native tongue! Hide it with a booming American accent! It's what people expect. My god, the dialogue clangs and clunks like a bag of disused Jaeger parts. I best not mention the Australian accents either *shudder*.

A horrific script and 'smell the fart' acting would usually be more than enough to condemn even the most exciting summer block buster to the murky depths of my Pacific Rim, but this has gargantuan buoyancy aids that come in the form of Jaegers and Kaji!

The fights between the big things are mesmerisingly incredible and worth the price of admission alone. On an IMAX screen the Jaegers feel almost life size as they tower over you, shaking your bones with their awesomeness. My jaw was open every time they were on screen (which thankfully was quite often).

I suppose Pacific Rim is a balancing act. For me the excitement, action and smashing just edged the scales on the the side of awesomeness, where as for others, the acting and script may prove to be too much of a distraction, thus tipping to the side of utterly unwatchable dirge.

Would you watch it again? I would totally watch this again.

Rating (out of 100%): 80% An incredible ride if seen in the right conditions. Might be too rich for the small screen. Must dash, I'm off to install an IMAX in my loft.

Friday, 12 July 2013

V/H/S/2 (2013)

Sum this mother up in 8 words or less: Some Scary tapes loosely strung together.

Okay, lay it on me: Second in the anthology horror series, V/H/S/2 seems more intent on having fun this time around. Gone is the oddly misogynistic streak of the first film and in with lots more blood, more action, more excitement and some better directors.

It's all about Gareth Huw Evans' (The Raid) 'Save Haven' this time. Which sees a Micky-Mouse Camera Crew start to film a documentary about a cult leader in Indonesia. They are granted access to witness the inner goings on of the sect and an interview with 'Father' himself. The closing 3 minutes of this segment are just immense and unexpected and shouldn't be spoilt here.

Other segments worthy of mention are the start of a Zombie Apocalypse as seen from the perspective of one of the first infected courtesy of a GoPro mounted on his cycle helmet. Hilarity ensues! (Directed by Eduardo Sánchez of Blair Witch Fame).

There's a lovely 80's style sleepover segment in which the kids are witness to an alien attack. And a Tales of the Unexpected-esque 'Phase 1 Clinical Trials' where a man sees visions after having a mechanical eye fitted (What do you expect?!).

The wrap-around tape is better this time too. Not leaving much time between 'popping on' the next VHS.

Would you watch it again? Oh yeah. I'd watch Safe Haven over and over. The rest of them, only at Halloween.

Rating (out of 100%): 69% Watch it for Save Haven.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

In 7 words or less: Kirk & Spock et al enter the dark

What's it all About? The usual suspects are all back on the bridge to boldly go where no one has gone before. In this case, they actually go where they've gone before ie, breaking rules, travelling at warp speed and punching people in the face. This time there is supposed rogue agent on the lose added to the mix.  
Doesn't this guy know how doors work?
Best bits? The scene where The Enterprise plummets earthward with little to no power is exhilarating and tense and has sensational special effects.

Did it make you think thoughts? This experience started off with a whopping 6 trailers to get me in the mood. The Hangover III (awful), Enders Game (awful), After Earth (looks okay but will be awful), Fast and Furious 6 (cheesy fun), World War Z (awful) and Man of Steel (this has me super excited). I mentioned these trailers as it seems to be the norm nowadays to completely spoil any surprises for upcoming films by chucking every last twist, turn and cameo into the trailer. Fortunately the Star Trek trailer didn't go down this route mainly due to it being pretty terrible with super fast edits and stuff exploding that left me with a feeling of, 'what the hell was that all about?'. In this case a good thing though as it didn't ruin any surprises for the film itself the biggest of which is the identity of one of the villains. Avoid spoilers if possible and you'll get more of a kick out of it. 
More lingering Enterprise shots

The film has a great opening sequence that throws the viewer straight into the action as the crew of the Enterprise try to save an indigenous population form impending doom. The action is fast, furious and ends with a moral dilemma that has an impact on later developments.

If you stick J.J Abrams on scriptwriting, producing or directing you know you're going to get something good and that's the case here. (the fact he's attached to the new Star Wars flick is exciting indeed) Everything seems spot on and although there are stretches of talking heads and playful banter, none of it drags on or impedes the ensuing set pieces. The performances are good, the script helps obviously, and we get a mixture of light hearted comedy, drama and anguished filled bad guys bent on the destruction of our heroes. 

Future Spock rears his head again and has a conversation with young Spock but the resolution of that is left dangling. There's also a good bit towards the end that riffs on a previous 80's Star Trek flick but reverses two specific to great effect which I won't spoil here. It's just a shame that the 'event' isn't permanent as this could have continued into the next film much in the way it did in the 80's versions. If this all sounds confusing you'll know what I mean after you've seen it.
Necessary? You be the judge
There are a couple of missteps though. As much as I like Cumberbatch, his villain comes across as very 'pantomime' and most of his dialogue is delivered in such a way as to make it a bit too cringe worthy. 
We have Sherlock in custody
Another criticism is that it didn't feel at all like a sequel. This is good in a way as it lets newcomers jump straight in without needing any prior Trek knowledge although it does mean that we see virtually zero character development  and progression of story lines. I imagine that given time, it will also suffer a similar malady to the first installment. I've now seen the first one twice but, if quizzed, wouldn't be able to tell you what it was about or what happened. It's all kind of generic and melds into one big sci-fi space war thingy. Oh yeah, the Klingons are woefully underused as well. 
More of these guys please

Would you watch it again? Sure would.  

Rating (out of 100%): A great flick and my only concern is that the franchise will continue to not bring anything new to the table. That said, I give Into Darkness a beam-me-up 90%

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