Slumpy - Right-On Film Reviews

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Barney's Version (2010)

In 7 words or less: Barney's in the hood.

What's it all about? Boozy cigar chomping Barney (Paul Giamatti) is a cool swinger living in Italy in the 70's, he marries his first wife when she becomes preggers but it ends very badly. He then moves back to America to start a career in pointless TV production and pursues various ladies until he finds the woman of his dreams at his second wedding, unfortunately she is not the bride.

Best bits? Paul Giamatti is one of my favourite Hollywood actors, admittedly always playing the likeable, downtrodden grump. He's amazing in films like Sideways and American Splendour, and deservedly won the Golden Globe for this performance. I didn't find Barney that likeable though, in fact he was a bit of an arsehole but he stuck to his guns so I guess that's ok.

Dustin Hoffman was way cool as his Dad. I liked it when he gave Barney his gun as a wedding present, crudely wrapped up in paper. Good to see Minnie Driver again, this time playing up as the brash, obnoxious wifey number two.

It was sad in the end and despite all I did feel sorry for Barney. I wasn't a massive fan of Miriam (wife no.3) which is I think is where I lost it, as their relationship is the crux of the film.

Did it make you think thoughts? I kept thinking 'is Barney's best friend the guy that plays Wolverine?' The answer was no but he looks a bit like him.

Also I thought did he kill said best friend? Well watch it and you will find out!

Would you watch it again? Not likely, too many characters annoyed me to go through that experience again.

Rating (out of 100%): 73% This really was a great film but it didn't push my 'like' button.

Animalympics (1980)

So, it was a long time coming but The Chief has landed at the top spot on the countdown of his 5 favourite non-cgi animated films of all time. Enjoy

In 7 words or less:

What's it all About? Animals from around the world compete in sporting events ranging from a 14 day, 3500km marathon to down hill skiing. The film in done in a sort of docu-drama style and has a definite mockumentary feel to it featuring serious subject matter but laced with humour. It really works. Oh yeah, it's presented by the faux tv channel Z.O.O (the network that brings out the beast in sports) and headed by anchor-turtle Henry Hummel. Genius.

Best bits? The origin story of alligator Bolt Jenkins who competes in the high jump against his frog hero Boris Amphibianski and the story revolving around dog skiing star Kurt Wuffner are standouts but in all honesty the whole film is joy to watch.

Did it make you think thoughts? Although there are sections that focus on isolated sporting events, there is an over arching story which never interferes with the set pieces and manages to be arty, clever, surreal, haunting and plain old balls-out fun. Also, remember when Disney featured many songs in their animated productions? Well that's what we have here. Songs are interspersed thoughout and are mainly used to highlight specific characters. They are all sing-alongable and actually move the story along well. Here's the fist 9 or so minutes to get you in the mood!

Animated films are generally either good or crap based on the voice talent. Among others, we have Harry Shearer and Billy Crystal and the zingers are on tap. In closing, I can almost 100% guarantee that this has been criminally underwatched and I urge you, the faithful Slumpees, to go out see what all the fuss is about.

Would you watch it again? Damn diggedy. With the exception of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope this is the film I have watched the most times in my life. I suspect the figure is somewhere around 50 watches.

Rating (out of 100%): It was a tough choice between this and Transformers but I just love this film so much I had to put it in the number 1 slot. I give Animalympics a goldly gold rating of 93%

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

30 Minutes or Less (2011)

In 7 words or less: Slackers become embroiled in weirdo assassination plot.

What's it all About? Pizza delivery chump, Nick, gets coerced into robbing a bank by two red neck hoodlums who require the money to pay an assassin to off red neck number one's old man so they can get the inheritance. Lame.

Best bits? I think I laughed at the bit, on second thoughts I didn't laugh once

Did it make you think thoughts? Danny McBride is a funny guy. Or at least he use to be. Eastbound & Down is a cracking tv show ideally suited to his crude, degenerate style of comedy. The trouble is that he just seems to be reproducing that character in every movie he appears in. To be honest it's boring and slightly irritating. How did any of the people involved in this shambles read the script and think, 'You know what, this will be a great film'. The answer? They didn't. It's not a good comedy and it's not a good action flick.

Would you watch it again? No way Jose

Rating (out of 100%): What a mess. I give this a take-it-away-in-15-mins-or-less-or-I-will-set-my-dog-on-you 15% ah back in the comfort zone of watching crap films.

Friday, 25 November 2011

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

In 7 words or less: One American's lupine adventure goes quite badly.

What's it all About? Two wise-cracking Yanks decide to go back-packing around the Great British Isles and what better place to start than the Yorkshire Moors. After being kicked out of the worlds most unfriendly pub (after the Ivor Davis in Cardiff) they have a rather nasty scuffle with a big Wolf. Things go badly from there for David (Apart from hooking up with a sexy nurse).

Things are looking up for David with Nurse Alex acting so inappropriately.

Best bits? It all just feels so nostalgic for me, a real fun watch. The bits that stand out are the first sequence in the Yorkshire Moors and the Slaughtered Lamb Pub. You get to know the characters really quickly, and they are likeable too, so when they start being hounded by an unseen beast on the moors it really feels tense.

Britain on a shoe-string.

There's a scene in the london underground where a man is being chased through Tottenham Court Road Station where you don't see the wolf at all, until after a lingering shot there's a quick flash of the werewolf walking into frame, and it's just so cool. It's a man in a suit and it's there for less than a second but it's so effective.

Obviously the transformation scene is an incredible achievement for monster films. It still looks great, but it did get a slight snigger from me this time around. But I'm okay with that.

Another highlight are David's increasingly violent dreams in which he imagines all sorts of crazy stuff happening, like evil apes with Uzis smashing into the flat. Also the visits from a rapidly decomposing Jack throughout the film add some light but disturbing touches.


Did it make you think thoughts? Yes! Why does David wake up in a London hospital, instead of say, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds or countless others in the area. It's one hell of a drive from Yorkshire to London. Any would have been better in an emergency. Anyway, that would have been a very/slightly different film.

It's rare to see a director make such good use of a location in another country. Nothing's really wasted on showing the sights of London, it really feels like David has just dropped into this Nurses life for real. It's also interesting to see the place where you live thirty years previous.

Would you watch it again? Oh goodness yes! I actually wanted to hit play again after it had finished! No Joke. This is now concreted as one of my favourite films. I really want to see this in the cinema now. I didn't manage it the first time around as I was one month old.

Rating (out of 100%): 91% The perfect blend of big scares and comedy. It all just feels so good to watch, a special moment in cinema.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Batman & Robin (1997)

In 7 words or less: Yes, I really just watched this.

What's it all About? This is the fourth and final outing from the initial wave of Batman movies that came out (accept the first one) across the 1990s. A franchise killer to end all franchises! Ha! Right, the story... The villains are Mr Freeze (Arnie), Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) and Bane (probably the famous WWF wrestler of that particular year). The Heroes are Batman (Cloon-tang), Robin (Chris O'Donnell) and *shudder* Batgirl (the girl from clueless and some Aerosmith videos). So those are the players, not many came out with their careers intact, a tough gig to say the least. Throughout the course of the film this lot occasionally bump into each other, when they do they fight and say some lines. The End.

Best bits? In terms of genuine best bits, there are none. However, there are serious laughs to be had here! Arnold's take on Mr Freeze is spectacularly hilarious, a machine gun of badly written 'one liners' continuously spouts from his mouth, I don't think he says a complete sentence once, why bother? One liners are quicker, meaning he can be back in his trailer chomping on a fat stoog and flexing his muscles in no time!

I guess, maybe, with a better script, Clooney might make an okay Bruce Wayne, but in this movie there's about as much depth to him as a puddle of warm piss.

Did it make you think thoughts? Yes. How could they misjudge what the public want in a Batman film so drastically? Batman Forever was a new direction from the Tim Burton films and clearly went for a more comic book/TV serial feel, but this takes it ludicrously too far! It's like it's been made by children. The scenes are lit like a middle school production, the action is terribly choreographed and consists mainly of people flying around on wires (before Crouching Tiger and The Matrix made it look good) which looks so bad you just have to laugh... A lot.

The whole thing plays out a lot like the old TV show from the 1960s, zero depth, pithy one liners, villain of the week type thing. So that got me me thinking... 'It's like this on purpose, this was their concept, surly?' No, it's just rubbish because nobody knew what the hell they were doing. This clip is hilarious, Batman credit card, my god!

Would you watch it again? I have a feeling my eyes will view this again at some point, maybe if I was doing an Arnie season or something.

Rating (out of 100%): One of the most publicised stinkers of all time, I give it 35% because I laughed a lot, which is always nice.

Machete (2010)

In 7 words or less: Limbs get chopped off with.......a machete!

What's it all About? Ex-federal agent, Machete (Trejo), goes on a revenge spree when he gets double crossed by a traitorous scumbag.

Best bits? The hospital scene where Machete finds an innovative use for someone's intestines, seeing Lindsay Lohan naked and the De Niro/Seagal hammy performances are all aces.

Did it make you think thoughts? Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan, & Don Johnson. Holy Cow, what a line-up! After seeing Planet Terror some years ago which featured a spoof trailer for a film called Machete, we now get that actual film. Whereas I was underwhelmed by Planet Terror, this is different gravy. A modern day B-movie that balances action, story and tongue-in-cheek humour in equal measure. That's pretty much all there is to say really apart from go watch.

Would you watch it again? Yep. A tad long but still worth revisiting.

Rating (out of 100%): If you like uber violence this is the flick for you. I give Machete a hacky, slashy, choppy, choppy 80%

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Batman (1989)

In 7 words or less: A man dresses up as a bat.

What's it all About? Billionaire Bruce Wayne has taken it upon himself to protect the mean streets of Gotham City from the dregs and scum of society that seek to defile it. He tackles this under the guise of 'Batman', a conflicted and vengeful chap who cleanses the city of crims in the hope that one day he'll finally be able to put the memory of his murdered parents behind him. You get the idea, he's Batman!

Best bits? Absolutely any scene featuring Jack Nicholson as The Joker. Hands down one of my all time favourite performances from any actor in film history! Charisma pours out of Nicholson in every scene he's in, there's so many touches and quirks that he brings to The Joker, it's a stellar performance!

Despite The Joker probably being the main event in this film, I think Michael Keaton's take on Bruce Wayne is equally as engaging. He's understated and reserved whilst showing flashes of subtle humour and to top it off, he doesn't look silly when he's in full bat gear either.

Gotham City looks great here too, very gritty and real with the tinniest sprinkling of comic book dust to make it feel dynamic and (can't put your finger on it) different.

Did it make you think thoughts? This is definitely my favourite Batman film, the Nolan efforts are totally awesome but this one tickles me just right! It's just so damn quotable and really takes me back to my youth, I think this was the first ever 12 certificate, not sure why that's important but it feels worth mentioning. I couldn't help but notice how slow the action was when viewing this, not a bad thing at all, I love slow action but it made me realise how much films have changed. Anyway, I bloody adore this movie and had a total blast revisiting it.

Would you watch it again? Yep! This will never get tired.

Rating (out of 100%): 93% Can't see anyone making a better Batman movie. Tim Burton really nailed this. Bravo!

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

In 7 words or less: By-the-way, there were two islands.

What's it all About? After the embarrassing first day at Jurassic Park, Richard Attenborough now spends all day, lounging around in bed. From his silky boudoir he is assembling a team to go to a secret 'second' island (solely for research purposes of course) where dinos roam free-and-easy without constraints from those mostly useless electric fences from the first film. Things don't go well.

Best bits? The best bits in part two are few and far between, sadly. There are a few outstanding moments where the film makers look like they are having some fun (at last!). The first is right at the beginning, when a mother screams at the sight of her daughter being eaten by some little angry dinos screams and the camera cuts to a big yawning Goldblum in front of a tropical poster.

The next would be a whole lot later on when our characters are in a predicament as a couple of T-Rex's have pushed their science-wagon off the edge of a cliff. What follows is a tense, gravity defying scene. Julianne Moore laying on a slowly cracking pane of glass is a highlight. 'tink!' 'tink!' 'tink!'

Although the story is rushed through to get to it, the T-Rex loose in San Diego is a treat compared with most of this film. It's a massive romp with an over-sized dinosaur smashing buses and stomping cars. It's really what this film needed and compared with some of the sub par effects of this episode, it looks like they've really taken their time over this scene. There are lots of little things to watch out for too; if you speak Japanese, then you will hear a group of screaming Japanese men yelling "I left Tokyo to get away from this!".

Did it make you think thoughts? I wondered why this film doesn't feel like such a treat as the first... It seems like it introduces about fifty characters. They just keep coming! All of them as unlikable as the next. It's very odd. The whole game-hunting aspect of this is badly done. Don't over-think dinos. Just have people hiding from them and then do some running. It doesn't even look as good as the first movie. It seems like there is far more CG rather than animatronics and the CG has gotten worse than before. Aside from the technical stuff, the characters are far less believable and watchable this time around too. Even Goldblum struggles to lead this thing. Then there's Vince Vaughn. Hollywood's most offensive screen presence, who is so clearly evil in real life that when he tries to play a likeable character, he becomes more off-putting somehow.

Pure Evil.

Would you watch it again? Of course, if you think J-Park, you're going to watch the first one. But, if you are feeling like a slowly deteriorating trilogy, then what are you going to do?

Rating (out of 100%): 65% Should have been shorter with added fun.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (2011)

In 7 words or less: Horny vamps make vamp baby

What's it all About? Bella and Edward marry in a scene of beautiful tranquility amongst the white blossom trees of the Cullen's pimping forest mansion. Ahhhhh. Emotional stuff. Get the tissues out, go a bit misty eyed, it really is very sweet and a beautiful way to celebrate their rocky road to understanding they are two true souls destined to be. Ahhhh.

Right, cut to their honeymoon where they romp their way through a jungle retreat, blasting a bed into smithereens through their horny vamp sex.

Bella gets a vamp baby growing in her tummy and the rest of the film is about lots of different vampires, werewolves and humans trying to protect and/or kill her.

Best bits? Lets face it, we're all in it for the hot vamp sex. It really is a fascinating watch! They are unbelievably perfectly cast for their roles in this whole saga. RPatz is so swooney and gentlemanly with a twist of danger and Kristen Stewart is so fumble-some and awkward but with a twist of nympho about her eyes.
The birth of said vamp baby is a tough old watch but undoubtedly pretty well shot I thought. You see a lot but what you imagine just tips it over the edge *shudders*.

The ending was awesome. Very horror film like, good pull into the next one.

Did it make you think thoughts? Is this really a 12a? Is there really an 11 year old and her mum sat the other side of my caramel nibbles? How on earth have they rated this at 12a?!

Why is it when there's something like a CG animal in a film they just can't help themselves? They get carried away with the old knobs and buttons and spoil it so you just start thinking about how they did it, rather than that thing being in the story....For example there was really no need to show the wolves having what I would describe as 'an angry wolf chat spoken through robotic voice machines perforated with pig oinking'. No. Need. Just strip it back guys, we know the wolves are all grrrrr scary, no need to robotise them or try and make their faces look extra angry. Grrrr.

Would you watch it again? Yes I would. If I were teen I would be lapping up this up faster than a thirsty werewolf having some water after a really really big fight. And he's really thirsty....It has the romance, the pain of love, the suspense and discovery of exploring sexuality, the drama, the bonding, the friendship, the true love: it's a teen girl's d-ream. Oh and R-Patz with his top off. So on that note, yes I would watch it again, because really us girls never grow up (that's why we're so annoying).

Rating (out of 100%): The reviews out there have been overly harsh on this one. I'm giving it a blood sucking 70%. it's a weird book so it's a weird film, but it does a good job of telling the story and I didn't get bored once. Right, now who's going to change me into a vamp?

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

In 7 words or less: Girl's picnic goes wrong... I think

What's it all About? In Australia in the year 1900 on St. Valentine's Day, a group of college girls go for a delightful day out at Hanging Rock. All seems to be going well, until a small group wanders off onto the rock.

Best bits? My favourite scene was when Miranda yells to "Look!" and Edith (the fat annoying whiney one) stares down at the ground, confused. "Not down on the ground, Edith! Way up there in the sky".

Aside from any unintentional comedy aspect, it's shot fairly well, and the views of Hanging Rock (A real place I believe) and the general scenery are great. It definitely has a strong, consistant style too, whether you enjoy it or not.

Edith wants to go home

Did it make you think thoughts? This is the kind of movie that you might have been forced to watch during a Wet Play (rained off outdoor recess) or in an English class to make you interested in the novel of the same name. It's just that, having not read Picnic at Hanging Rock, I really found this floaty whimsical film a bit of a tough watch, the 115 minutes start to feel a whole lot longer. There's an awful lot of dubbing in this film too and the audible difference between that and the actual dialogue that constantly jarring.

Would you watch it again? Maybe, I would sooner read the book though. Maybe then I'll revisit this one.

Rating (out of 100%): 28% I really thought I was going to love this film, I've heard the word 'masterpiece' used to describe it. I guess I wasn't in the mood for watching overdubbed girls, standing around for ages and ages.

Wuthering Heights (2011)

In 7 words or less: 'Heath-cliff, it's me I'm Cathy' etc.

What's it all About? Heathcliff is fostered by a family on the remote Yorkshire moors. He develops a loving and obsessive relationship with Catherine but is abused by her elder brother.

Years later Heathcliff returns to the farm to find Catherine married and expecting a child.

Best bits? The sound hit me first, it's crystal clear and every detail is heard. It's visceral and puts you right in the scene. Creaking doors, wind, rain, animals, body movements and breathing are all captured with so much clarity. When Heathcliff and Cathy go up to the viewpoint where the wind is at its strongest, you are right there with them in the wildness and desolation.

Next up was the cinematography, it's presented in an 4:3 aspect ratio, handheld with super shallow depth of field. Looks a bit like it was shot on DSLR (it wasn't it was 35mm), glimpses and things half seen and heard give you Heathcliff's perspective. It's claustrophobic and intense, we never see anywhere but the immediate surroundings. The landscape is incredible, the changing seasons captured beautifully, the mists, mud, peaty bogs and craggy landscape are exactly how Brontë described, or at least how I imagined. I thought this was the perfect way to present her world.

Did it make you think thoughts? Yes, a lot of the time I was thinking how are they going to do the ghost bit, but I won't spoil the surprise.

Would you watch it again? Definitely, so much here to revisit.

Rating (out of 100%): 89% Certainly not a definitive version of the classic tale, but a brave and beautiful interpretation. There is a real understanding of the text and the attention to detail is impeccable.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Please Give (2010)

In 7 words or less: Old age, death, relationships and guilty consciences.

What's it all About? Kate (Catherine Keener) and her husband run an antique furniture store in Manhattan, making a tidy profit from house clearances, essentially ripping off the children of dead parents. Kate's daughter is a spoilt, unhappy teen. Kate constantly feels that she needs to give something back, but is not sure what. They have bought Andra's apartment, a 91 year old cranky lady who lives next door, and are anticipating her death so they can knock through and expand. Andra is cared for by her granddaughter Rebecca (Rebecca Hall), who sacrifices her time, energy and lifestyle to do this. Her sister (Amanda Peet) is the opposite, uncaring, selfish and unaware of her sisters feelings.

Best bits? I thought the bit where Kate tries to give money to a black guy standing outside a restaurant was very funny. She thinks he's homeless but he is just waiting for a table. The blind date scene is just weird, you feel so sorry for Rebecca Hall who is the nicest character ever but is constantly dumped on. Loved the cranky Grandmother, who does a great job of being hilariously rude to everyone and getting away with it, which must be the best thing about being old.

Did it make you think thoughts? Yes it made me think hard about how life carries on after death and how you only have your little bit of time, how quickly lives are replaced and the ghosts left behind. I also watched a film called 'Rabbit Hole' the other day which touches on these themes in a very different way, this may or may not be reviewed at a later date.

Would you watch it again? Yes I would, it was funny and meaningful. Not the greatest film ever but definitely strong. The cast are very good, especially Catherine Keener and Rebecca Hall, who develop an unlikely bond over the course of the film. The writing is witty and packs an emotional punch, delivered with sensitivity and humour.

Rating (out of 100%): 75% 'Please Give' it a watch.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011)

In 7 words or less: Penguins scream loudly in Jim Carrey's face.

What's it all About? It's the same old story of a divorced couple sharing the weekends with the kids. Mr. Popper, whilst excelling at ripping off land owners is not doing so well with his kids. That is until he receives an unusual delivery.... Yep... some penguins.

Best bits? My favourite thing about this movie was that they made the penguins a bunch of annoying jerks. They don't have too much human character (i'm aware of the dancing penguins above), so Jim's basically stuck with some stinking, shrieking wild animals. They also get given stupid names in a moment of panic, like Loudy, Lovey and Nimrod.

There's also a treat in here later on where Popper looses it, and turns his apartment into an arctic zone with snow, ice etc and starts becoming the penguin. It's all good, soft comedy.

There's a charming character played by Ophelia Lovibond called Pippi, who gets turned on by words beginning with the letter P. Although she doesn't actually get much to do.

Did it make you think thoughts? There's some charm to be had here. It's intentions are wholly good and for this its hard to criticise, although there's not really much to like about Popper himself and Carrey is looking decidedly ropey, he does redeem himself near the end somewhere.

Kids will love those CG Penguins too, which are well rendered for the most part. In fact, I predict a the entire western world of kids all begging their parents for a Loudy or a Stinky.

Would you watch it again? I could actually go through this all again. It wasn't a chore. Much better than California Man with Brendon Frasier.

Rating (out of 100%): 76% This may be the highest score on the planet for this film, but I really feel people are being harsh on this harmless family comedy. HOOOooooNNNKkkKKK!

Nacho Libre (2006)

In 7 words or less: Jack Black wears tights... for the kids.

What's it all About? Jack Black is a monk at a Mexican orphanage (this is already pretty funny) that cooks naff lunches and dreams of being a wrestler. He gets his chance and uses the money he earns from wrestling (always losing in a rubbish tag team with a really skinny nerd) to buy better dinners for the orphans.

Best bits? This film tickled me JUST RIGHT! I think Jack Black is bloody funny, and there are so many good bits where, even though basically the joke is always "he looks silly being a chubby man doing this!", he plays it so well, it really landed a People's Elbow of fun right on me. His first wrestling match is a Suplex of guffaws! The positions he uses to show off his new snazzy clothes to impress the beautiful nun is a real Tombstone Piledriver of giggles! Every time you see him in his wrestling gear, it's a twice-off-the-ropes-ducking-under-your-opponent's-clothesline-to-spin-him-round-and-boston-crab-him-for-the-three-count of real laughter!

Did it make you think thoughts? Not very serious ones! But this film goes to some STRANGE places! When they go to a party in the middle, there's a fat girl who uses giant mouse tunnels to get around her house quickly... And the skinny guy can be pretty strange too. It does seem to be "isn't it funny, they're fat" which Jack Black plays great, and is really awesomely funny with it, but isn't that the last acceptable prejudice?! Also, big Hollywood ending was obviously unavoidable but still, as he screamed "We did it" to the nun from the ring (I'm not spoiling this for anyone), I thought "This is pay off for a struggle that didn't really happen..."

Would you watch it again? It's stupid, and not perfect, but I'm sure I'll be watching it a few times.

Rating (out of 100%): Now.... I'm surprised I'm giving it more than the Rum Diary, but for what it does, I think it does it well, and you wouldn't want for much more! 70%

The Rum Diary (2011)

In 7 words or less: Fear and Loathing: The early years

What's it all About? The film is a pretty thinly veiled biopic of the time Hunter S Thompson spent in Peurto Rico in the late 1950's, as he struggled to find his own voice as a writer, the voice that would become famous in the pieces like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas/On the Campaign trail etc etc. It's also clearly a bit of a love letter from Johnny Depp to Thomson, and I think even the book was published because Johnny Depp convinced him to.

Best bits? The mood is awesome - Puerto Rico in the 1950's seems so fun, with amazing threads, and the outside rum bar made me excited. Also, in a pretty big detour from the book, they make the end a bit more decisive, as he "discovers" his journalistic voice and realises where he want his career to go - that really got me punching the air as he sets out his life's mission statement. Take that "The man!"

Did it make you think thoughts? Is it possible to watch this film without thinking about Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?! There are real "Fear and Loathing..." moments in this, as they experiment with Acid for the first time, and have crazy hijinks with a car etc etc... These really weren't as funny as they could have been - after watching "Fear and Loathing...", these bits seem a bit flat in comedy/excitement, and when he's driving round in Puerto Rico swigging gin, I actually just feel he's more of a sad alcoholic than the angry journo that sees taking insane kinds of drugs as a real political position against the dry American establishment. I've tried to avoid comparing it with the book too much, as the book is really great, a bit less "exciting things happening", a much more moody, but I know that doesnt work soo well in films, although I reckon it could have worked! Bruce Robinson said he threw the book out straight away after reading it twice so he could write his own good film. I appreciate that approach, but I think it could have been a bit more menacing, sweaty and tense.

Would you watch it again? Umm, yeah, I think so. It wasn't as funny as I'd like it to be, but I really liked the setting/time and it made me excited to see the beginning of Hunter S Thompson's voice.

Rating (out of 100%): I hope I don't drink rum thats as strong as 67%! (Eh?)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Transformers: The Movie (1986)

The Chief returns to his 'Top 5 non-cgi animated movies of all time' list with the number 2 entry. This was a really, really tough choice and at one point this film was sitting atop the number 1 spot before it settled here at number 2

In 7 words or less: Giant battle bots change into stuff

What's it all About? The transformers are a race of sentient robots that transform, strangely enough, into various things such as cars, tanks and dinosaurs (go Grimlock!). The heroic Autobots battle the evil Decepticons not just on their home planet of Cybertron but also on Earth. This time however a new threat has emerged that could spell doom for all transformer life.....Unicron!

Best bits? Obviously the Optimus Prime v Megatron duel and the ending where Hot Rod is confronted with his destiny are both goose bump giving moments. The voice acting is perfect. I'm talking spot on perfect.

Did it make you think thoughts? If you don't like this movie you must be dead...or a girl. This is what the 80's was all about. Here was a franchise that had amazing toys, a great tv show and then ultimately an in-your-face, hulking-robot, smash-downfest of goodness. It can be daunting if you don't have any transformers knowledge but that doesn't detract in any way from being able to enjoy it as a stand alone piece of popcorn entertainment. The animation is pretty good for the time and still holds up well.

Amidst all the action and transforming there is a cracking story that made me contemplate how this film is full of real world examples of hardship, heartache and triumph. We witness Megatron's path as he rises to attain leadership of the decepticons (off screen), challenge Optimus to battle only to fall himself and be cast away by the upstart Starscream. This highlights the fragility of leadership and the perils of being 'the top man (or robot)' as others seek to usurp and discredit those in positions of power. There is also redemption, if short lived, as a bruised and battered Megatron is rejuvenated and, ironically, transformed into the seemingly all-powerful Galvatron. This is surely an illustration that everyone can and should be given a second chance in life. Does Galvatron use this second chance wisely? Do the wronged always seek revenge? If you've seen this you'll know the answer. The story also highlights that although rebirths are possible it is almost always at the behest of others and Galvatron exemplifies this by being caught in a symbiotic needs-must relationship with his saviour and in doing so becomes a tragic parody of his former self. Life lessons we can all learn from I think you'll agree.

Elsewhere the subject of religion rears it's head in the form and mysticism of 'the creation matrix' a life giving other worldly force that is worshipped by the autobots. Their faith is tested when Ultramagnus asks the matrix to, 'Light our darkest hour', but slumps into a funk when his prayers fall on deaf ears. Ultimately though, we learn that the power of the unknown (matrix) is the greatest force in the universe and we are led to believe that destiny is unavoidable.

More real world scenarios are present in the form of a back water planet that has a corrupt judicial system (according to our own standards of what is right and wrong) and a ruling class that dominates the proletariat. We are also told that through violent insurgency and the opposing of though in power, the breakdown of society is ever possible.
Would you watch it again? You're crazy right? I might even watch it again tonight

Rating (out of 100%): Forget about the recent Michael Bay travesties, this here is the real McCoy. I give Transformers: The Movie a more than meets the eye 94%

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Help (2011)

In 7 words or less: Strong characters + history + storytelling = tears....Lots.

What's it all About? The American Civil rights movement. Back in the day (well, actually only 50 years ago - WTF?!) black women worked as maids to raise the white children of selfish, vile white women who were too busy smoking, having sex and bitching to raise them themselves. These children who they loved and nurtured through childhood then grew up and most turned out exactly like their bourgeoisie parents failing to break the cycle. That is until Emma Stone comes along and decides to publish their stories and give a voice to 'the help'. A story of 'sticking it to the man' unravels as they bravely take on civil rights and push to make a change.

Best bits? If you don't get satisfaction out of the bit when one of the maids serves up a chocolate pie made with her own 'shit' to her evil, nazi, boss then you need to see an emotions doctor asap.
There was also the bit where they were really struggling to convince more maids to share their story and then after a night of racist attacks Skeeter turns up and they're all there in the kitchen ready to share their narratives. From that point on I was pretty much a blubbering wreck. I haven't cried that much since we lost Jack to the ice water in Titanic....come back! Jack! Come back!
I've also got to give a mention to costuming. I think with any vintage-esque film, costuming and styling makes it for me. Although the white women were vile creatures, by god they were rocking some awesome frocks. Sheesh, yes please!

Did it make you think thoughts? I seriously cannot believe how recently this was all happening. It's quite incredible how far we've come as a society so quickly, and somewhat frightening at what we used to be. I can't imagine what it felt like to be treated like that, it was really sad and also frustrating to watch it unfold. Their thinking back then was SO fucked - for example they ran a charity ball to raise money for Africa but refused to let any black staff use the toilets in the house. Give me strength.

Apparently the book is much harsher and doesn't rely on any injections of humour to break the mood. There was definitely a bit of that going on. It was kind of like every time they thought 'oh crap we're really going down the serious race road' they broke the tension with what were at times, a bit of a cheap laugh. I was ok with some of the funny scenes, and I think they added to the charm of some of the characters, but I can see how that would be annoying to the book loyalists.

Would you watch it again? Yes. I really did think it was a great piece of film. Interesting, uplifting but also an eyeopener. I also love Emma Stone, the girl is flavour of the month for me. She's cool, smart, funny and doesn't act like she's going to steal everyone's husband.

Rating (out of 100%): I'm giving it an Obama-tastic 90%. Right on sisters. Peace out.

Road To Perdition (2002)

In 7 words or less: Nasty things happen to Tom Hanks.

What's it all About? The film takes place in America during the Great Depression. Mike Sullivan (Tom Hanks) is a 'take out the trash' kind of guy for local Illinois crime lord John Rooney (Paul Newman). After Sullivan's 12 year old son witnesses daddy doing some tommy gun massacring with Rooney's (slightly off the rails) son, things all get a bit nasty. Sullivan's family is left in tatters so he hits the road with his son, I can't remember where the road goes… Oh yeah, Perdition.

Best bits? Hands down, the best bit of this film is the breathtaking cinematography. Sam Mendes is such a beautiful director, there's no whizz bangs or thrills about his work, it's just sheer art, every single shot has clearly had so much care and effort poured into it. When you combine these glorious images with Thomas Newman's mesmerising score you come pretty close to perfection.

I'm a massive fan of Paul Newman so any scene including him is a highlight. Jude Law as the freakish corpse photographer/hit man is a great character, I would have liked to have seen more of him but I guess he's not really integral to the main story.

Did it make you think thoughts? I think you can get fooled (myself included) into thinking this is an epic crime saga about gangsters in The Great Depression, Chicago, Al Copone, tommy guns, a 3 hour running time, It's none of those things. I always forget this is an insular story involving a father and his son on a journey, a journey where they ultimately find out who one another are. I have to say, every time it hints at the bigger picture, like when they briefly go to Chicago, I want the story to open up, to get bigger in scope and so on. I think for the most part it's just my selfish side wanting to see what Mendes could do with a crime epic but never the less the story remains on track and in my opinion get's wrapped up a little too quickly. For the most part this is such a beautifully paced picture but their time on the road gets too montage(y) and becomes a little rushed towards the end of the movie.

But please don't be fooled or put off by my silly whining, this is still an absolute class act with a great central performance from Tom 'the easiest man to watch on screen' Hanks.

Would you watch it again? Absolutely. Mendes' films are like staring at great works of art.

Rating (out of 100%): 84% Visually insane and a definite treat on the senses, just a few wobbles on the 'Road To Perdition' stopping this from being an utter classic.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

In 7 words or less: One (hundred) tokes over the line.

Best bits? Seriously? The whole god damn film baby! If I have to pick specific highlights I'll take the ether binge featuring a spaghetti legged Raoul Duke attempting to get through the turnstiles of a local casino fairground and the opening scene where they pick up an unsuspecting hitchhiker - 'I'm just admiring the shape of your skull'. Genius

Did it make you think thoughts? Most definitely. For those who don't know, the story revolves around journalist Raoul Duke (Depp) who is sent to Las Vegas to cover an off-road motorbike race and a police narcotics convention. Adding to the unrelenting debauchery that follows is his companion Dr Gonzo (Del Toro). The fact that this is essentially an auto-biographical account of Hunter S. Thompson's journalistic adventures leaves me contemplating my sheltered existence. What we have here is a pure slice of 1970's drug fuelled Americana as our protagonists go off assignment in search of the American dream. Within one minute of the play button having been pushed I was already chortling to myself and by the end I felt as if I had accompanied our hosts on their Vegas hopping drug binge. The combination of director Gilliam and writer Thompson makes for a truly intoxicating movie. This is style, substance, crazy characters, drama, skewed perspectives and life-living all rolled into one. Before I give myself a sore throat from waxing lyrically about this masterpiece I will say's not for everyone. If my girlfriend watched it you'd probably hear her utter lines such as, 'I don't understand', 'This is weird', 'It's rubbish'. Stick in some teen angst, vampires and unrequited love and she'd be well away. However, watching two drug hounds roll around in their own filth while doing copious amounts of mescaline, acid and cocaine, not so much. The film definitely benefits from repeated views and is even better if you've read the book.

This film makes me angry when I think that Depp and Del Toro were both passed over for academy awards. These are arguably career best performances and should have been recognised so. To close, the eagle eyed of you will have noticed the tagline on the Slump homepage that says we're 'chock full of grit', a line taken directly from this ace movie.

Would you watch it again? Absolutely. I'm sure this film gets better every time I watch it

Rating (out of 100%): This is quite a divisive picture but at Castle Chief we love it. I give Fear and Loathing a sky high 92%

Panic Button (2011)

In 7 words or less: Hollyoaks in (Aero) Space

Best bits? Some internet weirdos win an online competition from a social networking site. They've won a trip to new york, they're over the moon... But they forgot to delete their browsing history.

This starts off quite fun, the cast of four are all merrily enjoying a drink on a private jet courtesy of When their host, a computer generated crocodile (along the lines of 'Sam' from 'Moon' but rubbish) starts getting all uppity about their past on the internet.

Apparently they like watching all sorts of internet blueys; and this Croc's had enough of them emailing that monkey playing with it's balls to their address books on a Friday.

So, after Ali' gets all narc'y he starts giving each of the passengers naughty missions, big brother style, which won't make them any friends at all. If they fail to obey his every whim, he randomly selects someone from their friend list and does away with them in a skanky manor.

Aligator has Gwen listen to her favourite song.

Did it make you think thoughts? The film has been wrongly classified as an 18, I believe. It's not realistic enough for people to be affected by any of the gore or threat. I'm not really sure what went on here. My theory is that the classification board didn't make it through the whole film, as the build up leads you to think you think you're going to see some terrible things. Luckily, the only terrible thing here is the idea.

I was also convinced that the loutish arse character was a relative of Rupert Grint.

Would you watch it again? Not for all the private jets in the world. I'd be interested to see what this film maker does next, however. It looks good for it's meagre budget, and it could have been better with a tighter story.

Max didn't want ANY more cups of tea.

Rating (out of 100%): 41% The whole way through, I was asking myself why on earth was I watching it. It turned out not to be so bad. With a couple of good twists and a real stinky one, it's probably worth a watch compared to a lot of new horror.
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Facebook
Subscribe to our Feed