Crawl

What’s not to love about a premise like this? Sporty girl gets trapped in the crawlspace below the family home during a hurricane and has to wrestle ‘gators to save her old man. There really isn’t that much more to the story than that which is fine. We all know why we’re really here.

Crawl

A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators.

If the storm doesn’t get you… they will

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Skins‘ Effy is Haley, a plucky swimmer (lucky) who thinks she might be done with the sport when she fails to beat the competition during an important meet. When she gets out of training she realises Florida is in chaos, due to an impending hurricane – and its a doozy.

Unfortunately, Haley and her concerned sister can’t get hold of their father (Barry Pepper), so she ignores all the warnings to travel to his condo to check on him. Honestly, if you’ve any respect for rules and/or personal safety, this kind of irresponsible decision making is seriously going to grind your gears.

Of course this 87 minute movie would be infinitely shorter if this was a quick in and out visit. No, Haley has to find her dad first and he’s also flouting all safety suggestions by taking an ill-timed walk down memory lane. With the help of good dog Sugar, she eventually finds him in the basement of their old home – but they’re not alone.

If she’s going to save them both (and Sugar), she’s going to have to make it snappy.

What follows is a race against time as Haley has to work out how to get them upstairs and out of the house before the rising flood drowns them both. The alligators aren’t going to make it easy for them either.

My Comments

Honestly, this was fine. It did what I wanted it to and there were some genuinely tense scenes. Also a lot of innocent characters getting killed or placed in mortal danger because of the central characters and their selfishness, just saying.

The ‘monster’ work was sublime though and I loved the concept of the alligators chomping on everyone willy-nilly. Some of the most satisfying moments were when randoms got eaten on the sidelines (not the cops, they didn’t deserve it).

It’s a good-looking film with some stunning framing. Kaya is impressive and does a good job of holding the film together by actually having the chutzpah required to save the day. However, when a film like this works hard to make you care about its protagonists it can often backfire and I don’t think anyone’s that bothered about the strained father/daughter history when there are limbs to be gobbled. Every moment of onscreen emotional jibba jabba could have been spent on more alligator action.

Worth checking out if you like your creature features though.

Film details:

Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper
Director: Alexandre Aja
Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10
My Rating: 3.5/5

What are you watching?

Hisss, or: She’s a Cold-hearted Snake

Okay so my pick this week isn’t strictly a Bollywood movie but it does star one of the industry’s most popular actresses – and there’s one dance number – so it stays. It’s also directed by a director I find fascinating and who has appeared on this blog once before.

It doesn’t take a genius to see why it this would appeal, it’s the tale of a vengeful snake goddess hellbent on saving her lover from a brash American villain. I know right, where do we sign up? (Netflix, naturally).

Hisss

Based on the Far Eastern myth of the snake woman who is able to take on human form.

Mallika Sherawat • Irrfan Khan • Jeff Doucette

Director: Jennifer Lynch • Year: 2010
IMDB Rating: 2.9/10 • My Rating: 2.5/5

Vengeance has a new sound.

*Spoilers*

My Review

Awful American George States (Doucette) – yes really! – has terminal brain cancer and six months to live. He’s in India with a crew to capture the goddess Nagin (a shape shifting snake woman) from whom he intends to extract the “Nagmani” stone, which will grant him immortality. Obviously. He forces his reluctant henchmen to kidnap her lover (a male cobra) during their love-making session – in the belief she will come to his rescue.

If you think this film will refrain from some incredibly awkward snake-based love scenes then you are mistaken. Also please note the opening disclaimer that assures us, the viewer, that all the snakes in the film are made of rubber. Just in case you were concerned.

Anywho. Nagin does indeed come, in the form of the delectable Snake Woman (Sherawat). When she is found by a local woman who calls the cops, Snake Woman is taken in by Detective Vikram Gupta (Khan) who in turn entrusts her to his lovely wife Maya (Divya Dutta) who works for the local women’s refuge. Not before she brutally murders two rapists who grab her at the Holi festival though.

In perhaps one of the most bizarre transformation scenes of all time, SW turns into a giant cobra and attacks the shit out of them both. When she eats and then regurgitates one of them, she leaves behind a very unusual piece of evidence – one that baffles the living shit out of Vikram and his coroner.

Vikram BTW has his own issues on the home front as he lives with a confused mother-in-law and his wife, who has recently miscarried their child. There’s a lot of sadness surrounding them and a lot of pressure as MIL is desperate for a grandchild. But Vik is distracted and as the bodies start to stack up, is increasingly confused by what it all means. Especially when they can’t account for the massive quantities of venom found in the bodies.

So, what of Snake Woman while all this going down? Well, if there weren’t so many rotten apples in the village, she wouldn’t have to keep murdering them, would she? It seems no abuser is safe and it’s beautiful. But for a goddess with a mission, she’s sure taking her sweet time getting to States’ evil lair. Love, if you’ve got time to sexily writhe up a lamp post, you have time to rescue your lover – it’s not rocket science.

States’ himself is in constant pain and he’s getting impatient waiting for our snake babe. When her lover starts to show signs of decline – being kept in an electrified tank would do it – he wipes Cobra shit on his man servant and sends him out into the wild to lure her in. Meanwhile, the news is rife with tales of a giant snake saving local women from horrible situations and Vik’s MIL – who prays nightly to Nagin – comes to him in a fever dream and tells him what’s going down. He slowly starts piecing it all together and figures the mysterious woman is the key to everything.

YOU THINK?!

Will States get what he needs to live out his life cancer free? Will Snake Woman get to her lover in time to save him? Will Vik and Maya ever have the much wanted baby they’ve been trying for for so long?

If you care, you know what to do.

My Comments

First up, the effects are terrible/incredible and I loved how grotesque it all is. There’s a hell of a lot of writhing around and if you’re not into naked chicks or soft-core snake porn, this might not be for you. The acting is shlocky at best but Irrfan Khan has a debonair charm and I love his wife, Maya.

The real star of the show though, is Maya’s amma who isn’t even credited that I can find. I don’t truly understand her but her devotion to the goddess Nagin is endearing and her conviction that Vikram is a girl amuses me. While the gorgeous Snake Woman has all the moves and looks banging naked, she doesn’t have any lines so I can’t really judge her. She attacks her murder scenes with relish though and I guess that’s all you need from a B-movie horror heroine.

I read somewhere that Jennifer Lynch disassociated herself from the film when the movie evolved from a love story into a horror movie but I think there are still some very sweet moments. Vik and Maya finally get the happy ending they’ve been dreaming of, while even Snake Woman gets some joy out of a tragic situation.

The moral to this story I believe, is: don’t be a fucking rapist/wife-beater and you’ll be okay. And you know what? Sure this is utter garbage but as far as revenge movies go, it’s still better than Peppermint.

What does my very own goddess think of this venomous B-movie? Would she get down and dirty with it in the mud, or shed it ASAP? Find out here.

Double Bill: Godzilla: King of the Monsters & Late Night

A couple of movies I’ve seen recently, in bite-sized chunks. One gargantuan monster, one late night talk show host. I think the question we’re all now asking ourselves is: who would win in a fight between these two leads? My money’s on Emma Thompson.

*Minor spoilers*


The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.

Kyle ChandlerVera FarmigaMillie Bobby Brown

Long live the King.

Mark (Chandler) and Dr. Emma Russell (Farmiga) are still mourning the loss of their son, who was killed by the big guy in the first film. Daughter Madison (Bobby Brown) is with Mum, while Dad is estranged from the pair of them.

Biologist Emma is on a top secret project surrounding the Titans – giant creatures that once ruled the Earth – and works for crypto-zoological organisation Monarch. While on location, Emma and Madison witness the birth of Mothra, a mahoosive larva.

Mothra isn’t best pleased with whatever Monarch has got going on and goes ape (LOL). Emma is able to calm her down with the help of “Orca”, a sound device that can attract or alter Titan’s moods. It’s a bit science-y but it’s something to do with sound frequency. Believe me it doesn’t really matter.

All we really need to know is that Emma has a warped sense of what’s right and takes it upon herself to unleash “Monster Zero”, for the greater good of humanity. Zero is an ancient three-headed dragon who starts as he means to go on, by having a ruck with Godzilla, who’s been kicking around somewhere since 2014. Mothra, meanwhile, hatches and reveals herself to be a heavenly giant moth who forms a quick connection with GZ. There are other monsters and a lot of action and that’s really about it.

The question is: Is Godzilla the bad guy the world has made him out to be or is he actually keeping the world safer from even worse foes?

I don’t really know what else to say about this one. We’re only really here for the monster action – and we get plenty of that. King of the Monsters seems to have learned from the slightly off pacing of Godzilla (2014), which takes a while to warm up. I’m glad but it does also do a lot of talking and the story line is flimsy at best (and yes, I know we’re suspending a lot of disbelief already).

The performances are fine, particularly Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins – and it’s nice to see more of Eleven but we know why we paid for the ticket – and I wasn’t disappointed in that. I can’t wait to watch GZ square up to my main man, Kong now.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Year: 2019
Director: Michael Dougherty
IMDB Rating: 6.7/10
My Rating: 3.5/5

A late-night talk-show host suspects that she may soon lose her long-running show.

Emma ThompsonMindy KalingJohn Lithgow

They’re giving comedy a rewrite.

Legendary talk show host Katherine Newbury (Thompson) is about to lose her late night show to a young, male and upcoming stand-up comedian (Ike Barinholtz). Ratings have slipped, the act has gone stale and Katherine is accused of hating women – her all-male, all-white writing team don’t help this argument. This prompts her to examine equality (and diversity) in the workplace.

Step in Molly Patel (Kaling).

Molly is an amateur stand up herself and uses her platform at the chemical plant she works to try out new material. When she gets the writing job on Katherine’s show, she joins a team who aren’t thrilled to have her. Slowly but surely though she shakes things up – in and out of the writer’s room – but will the group, and their formidable front woman, do enough to save the show?

You’re a writer, so write. ~ Burditt

There might not be many surprises here but I really liked it. The writing is solid and I laughed a lot. Both leads are gorgeous and I enjoyed their chemistry together. Molly teaches Katherine to be more honest with her viewers (and herself), while Katherine is forced to face the consequences of her actions when an old secret is revealed. Support from John Lithgow as Katherine’s long-suffering husband Walter is really touching – he might be a rich, white man but he adds some real heart to proceedings.

I like films that tackle sexism and white privilege, and this takes a swipe at it in a light, fun way. Maybe it could have gone deeper but its made me interested in what Kaling writes next. I also have to say how good it is to see her on the big screen – she is so lovely and I’m into plus-size WOC leading all my movies from now on. (See Ma).

Late Night
Year: 2019
Director: Nisha Ganatra
IMDB Rating: 6.1/10
My Rating: 4/5

What are you watching?

B&W Dreams

One of my colleagues asked me yesterday about my favourite black & white movies – and it got me to thinking about how many vintage movies I truly love and admire.

I struggled a bit with picking an all-time fave but of course it’s King Kong, the first movie I remember making me cry. It is wholly responsible for my adult obsession with giant beasts trampling cities and people like ants.

I’m inspired now off the back of this conversation to share my top 5 favourite B&W movies because it’s been so fun thinking about them.


King Kong (1933)

A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal ape who takes a shine to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition

The King of the Beasts is King Kong as far as I’m concerned and I don’t care what Godzilla says or does to try and sway me. The original (and best) giant ape movie stars my childhood idol Fay Wray as Ann Darrow, an ordinary girl chosen to star in a motion picture filmed on a remote island.

Here, KK falls in love with Ann and is doomed from the start when the over-zealous filmmaker Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) decides to capture and bring him back to the Big Apple. Even thinking about Kong’s fate makes me feel teary – why couldn’t they just let him live? The moral of this story rings true even today – what the hell are we doing to this planet and who the hell do we think we are?

Psycho (1960)

A Phoenix secretary embezzles forty thousand dollars from her employer’s client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

I re-watched this masterpiece not long ago and it is perfect. I cut my teeth as a teenager on Hitchcock’s films and this is his most overtly horror-esque. Norman Bates is such a classic villain and a somewhat sympathetic one (IMHO).

The story kicks off when Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) steals $40k from her workplace so she can bugger off with her debt-ridden boyfriend and marry him. On the run, she winds up checking into the Bates Motel which is a big mistake – huge – and when she overhears Norman (Anthony Perkins) arguing with his mother, things take a turn. When our boy opens up about their toxic mother/son relationship, Marion has a change of heart and decides to return home and hand the money back.

Will she get the chance? I think we mostly all know the answer to this one. The suspense in Psycho is second to none and it obviously contains one of the most iconic death scenes of all time. I really recommend reading the ‘shower scene’ section of this Wikipedia page for some of the technical aspects of filming the segment, it is fascinating.

Wizard of Oz (1939)

Dorothy Gale is swept away from a farm in Kansas to a magical land of Oz in a tornado and embarks on a quest with her new friends to see the Wizard who can help her return home to Kansas and help her friends as well.

I don’t think anyone needs me to summarise this film any further. It’s a story as old as time. I don’t even know if it’s cheating to include this on the list given that only some of it is filmed in black & white but screw it.

While in Kansas, Dorothy (Judy Garland) and friends are subdued in black, white and grey but as soon as she’s whisked away to The Wonderful Land of Oz, everything changes and we’re treated to glorious Technicolor, which is handy because those ruby slipper really pop in full colour. This is one of my favourite films of all time because it has everything; friendship, adventure, a good dog – and witches.

Mildred Pierce (1945)

A hard-working mother inches towards disaster as she divorces her husband and starts a successful restaurant business to support her spoiled daughter.

Queen Joan Crawford (those brows!) is our titular character caught in a spider web of drama and deceit with her horrible daughter Veda (Ann Blyth), two husbands and the cops.

Mildred Pierce is one of the first films I saw when we studied film noir in Media Studies at college and I fell in love with it immediately. The whole sub-genre is the best, centering around beautiful, often nefarious chain-smoking dames. It was hard not to put way more noir on the list to be honest, it is always so entertaining.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

A former child star torments her paraplegic sister in their decaying Hollywood mansion.

Joan appears on this list once again with her arch-rival Bette Davis in tow. I loved the 1960 novel by Henry Farrell but the film elevates it in my eyes because of its stars.

“Baby Jane” Hudson (Davis) is a former vaudevillian child star whose fortune has turned significantly. Once the talk of the town, she now lives in the shadow of her film star sister, Blanche (Crawford). After a horrible car accident, in which Blanche is left paralyzed from the waist down, Jane is blamed for everything, turning up steaming drunk a few days later.

Fast forward to ’62 and the sisters live together in a mansion paid for by Blanche’s film career. Jane is officially a lush who psychologically tortures her wheelchair bound sister out of sheer jealousy. Baby Jane is a thriller/horror with the most wonderful aesthetic. Throw into the mix the lead actresses’ notorious feud which was at its height during the filming of this movie – and it takes on a whole other level.

Jealousy and murder are on the menu and I eat it up.

And a very special mention to:

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

While trying to secure a $1 million donation for his museum, a befuddled paleontologist is pursued by a flighty and often irritating heiress and her pet leopard, Baby.

Katharine Hepburn + Cary Grant + a leopard + smart, sassy dialogue = comedy gold.


What are your favourite black & white movies?

Meghan shares her favourites here.

Easter Horror Movies – I Watch Them So You Don’t Have To

To celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, I thought I would do something extra special on the blog.

So, while you’ve been munching chocolate for breakfast, I have been exploring a small selection of crappy Easter horror movies (and munching chocolate for breakfast). Apparently the Easter horror sub-genre is really a thing and while it was hard to get hold of a lot of them, I did my best.

*Minor spoilers*

1.-eastershortbunnyjesus

JESUS Christ

Holidays (Segment: “Easter”) (2016)

HOLIDAYS is an anthology feature film that puts a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of all time by challenging our folklore, traditions and assumptions.

Nicholas McCarthy‘s segment “Easter” is a nightmarish short, playing on childhood fears and things that go bump in the night. I almost didn’t want to feature the above image because it is pure nightmare fuel and the story itself, while super simple, isn’t much fluffier.

A young girl gets freaked out on the night before Easter when her mum tells her about an impending visit from The Easter Bunny. Worried she might accidentally disturb him in the night, mum tries to explain the bunny’s connection to JC as his holiday mascot. When she does wake up and meets the bunny for herself, she soon realises he is nothing like his wholesome description.

Let me assure you that the image of the resurrected Jesus/Easter Bunny hybrid of this story will not leave you quickly. He’s grotesque in every way, popping baby chicks out of the holes in his post-crucifixion palms. He’s not evil per se, just otherworldly and he’s not about to let the girl off now she’s the first child to ever see him IRL.

For a short film I think this packs a pretty decent (and macabre) punch.

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Hop it

Cottontail (2017)

A notorious Serial Killer known as ‘Cottontail’ faces a slew of personal issues as he falls in love with the girl of his dreams, all the while trying to put together his ultimate ‘Easter Egg Hunt’.

This plays like a high school media studies project but isn’t a terrible premise. Cottontail the notorious serial killer wears his ‘skin suit’ 364 days of the year but for one day – Easter Sunday – he gets to be who he really is: a very bad bunny.

CT swears down that nothing has happened in his life to turn him into a psychotic mass murderer but there are red flags. While he works on his physical fitness for the big day and gathers together a like-minded group for his Easter ‘game’ – he laments a broken heart and his feeling of guilt towards his family.

He’s surprisingly sensitive is our antagonist and when he falls for moll Carmela, a similarly beautiful monster – he realises he’ll do anything for love. Which is all kinds of cute if you can overlook all the horrific murder, obviously.

This is… not good. But it’s kind of fun and the earnest narration by our bunny is quite endearing. The masks are cool too.

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Only the very best FX for this blog post

The Beaster Bunny! (2014) – also known as: Beaster Day: Here Comes Peter Cottonhell

A giant bloodthirsty Easter bunny starts viciously killing the local townsfolk. When the Mayor refuses to act and the attacks grow more gruesome, the town finds its very survival in the hands of a wannabe actress and a crazy dog-catcher.

This is an absolute travesty but it has a certain charm. I mean, I’m a sucker for crazed giant animals stomping humans like ants, especially obnoxious ones. Meanwhile, the film’s director seems to be a sucker for boobs – since almost all his female victims either lose and/or are stripped of their clothing before their respective death scenes.

This gives it a seedy feel which I can’t even be bothered to rage at. Anyway, it’s all pastiche right? Needless to say there are a lot of lame jokes and observations (young people are obsessed with social media!) peppered throughout, some truly atrocious but enthusiastic acting and the worst FX I’ve ever seen.

Want to know an Easter secret? I paid £3.49 on Amazon Prime for this monstrosity – and I couldn’t even finish it. So I don’t know why there’s a giant Easter bunny terrorising this town or how it ends. I suspect I’ll live with my decision though.

🐣 out of 🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣

Hello boys

Critters 2: The Main Course (1988)

Eggs of the small, furry alien carnivores are left behind on Earth and, after hatching, again set their appetites on the town of Grover’s Bend.

The sequel to 1986’s Critters has a tenuous link to Easter but fuck it, it made the list anyway. After the events of the first film, a couple of Grover’s Bend locals unwittingly discover a nest of eggs left behind by our alien buddies. Keen to turn this find into a profit, they sell them to an antiques store in town where they’re sold as Easter eggs to a nice old lady. What could possibly go wrong?

Thankfully, there are a gang of space bounty hunters on the case to clear Earth of the Critters – but until they arrive, lots of high jinx and murder ensue. Exactly what you need to celebrate your favourite chocolate based holiday.

Well, this has an unfair advantage perhaps in the sense that it holds cult status and production values of more than $5 (looking at the last two movies in this list) – so it’s better all round. And it’s also nice to see the Critters again honestly. Sure, they’re no Mogwai and pals but they are a slice of kitschy horror history.

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Uh, wrong blog post, guys…

If you’re interested in exploring this niche pocket of horror movies, then I have a list of titles for you. I think I’ll line some up for next year:

  1. Easter Casket (2013)
  2. Easter Sunday (2014)
  3. The Night Before Easter (2014)
  4. Serial Rabbit (2005)
  5. Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2006)
  6. Easter Bunny Bloodbath (2010)
  7. Peter Rottentail (2004)
  8. Kottontail (2007)
  9. Bunnyman (2007)
  10. Night of the Lepus (1972)

Happy Easter All!

Slender Man

Slender Man (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

In a small town in Massachusetts, a group of friends, fascinated by the internet lore of the Slender Man, attempt to prove that he doesn’t actually exist – until one of them mysteriously goes missing.

*Minor spoilers*

The Slender Man will always be a fascinating subject matter, ever since his conception on the horror forum Creepypasta (don’t fact check me, I don’t know his exact origin). There have been several films about his legend over the years – The Slender Man (2013) and the Beware the Slenderman documentary (2016) to name a couple – but so far none have been very good. Somehow, this seems to be one folktale that is difficult to get right.

Does Slender Man finally nail our boy in all his glory? Well, no. No it doesn’t.

Unfortunately, this movie’s main crime is that it’s boring and there’s not really any coming back from that. Our leads – Joey King and Julia Goldani Telles – really try to keep up their end and they are the best things in this but it still falls flat. That said, it is by no means the worst film ever made, there are parts that work, if only the makers had followed those through.

slenderman (1)

My exact face when I found out there’s Slender Man porn

Our foursome, Wren (King), Hallie (Goldani Telles), Chloe (Jaz Sinclair) and Katie (Annalise Basso) are just like any friendship group. They’re slightly rebellious, have precocious banter in the school hallways and enjoy heavy sexual tension with the boys. When the same boys boast about a secret ‘project’ they’re doing together one night, the girls are naturally intrigued.

When they find out that the boys plan to summon Slender Man via a video on YouTube, they’re keen not to be outdone and impulsively watch it themselves. The video, reminiscent of the one from The Ring is a mish mash of dream sequence and bizarre symbolism featuring the skinny one. Although it makes little sense at this time, it is haunting and deeply effects each of the girls.

Katie seems the most spooked, staring out into the middle distance and being quieter than normal. Shortly afterwards she goes missing on a school trip (to a grave yard?). This leads her friends to dig deeper and try to make a bargain with Slender Man to bring her back. Well, you can imagine how reasonable a child killer compared to The Pied Piper of Hamelin might be.

slenderman

Got wood(s)?

Although a lot of the forest imagery becomes tiresome quickly (and the film is REALLY REALLY DARK all the time making it hard for 40 year olds with bad eyesight to follow), there are a couple of things I did like. Firstly, I should say that Slender Man is not revealed too soon which I really appreciate. When he is though the effects are questionable and I just think less is more when it comes to an enigmatic character like this.

While the girls are researching SM on a Creepypasta-esque website they stumble across a series of ‘real life’ sightings and these are really creepy and effective. Likewise when Hallie spies him in the trees at school, that’s a potentially iconic image.

There’s also a pretty tense scene in the library as Wren receives a visit which I thought was good. Ultimately though, a couple of cool ideas are not enough to see this one through and it loses steam about half way. As each of the girls experiences their own sighting, to varying degrees of horrible, their friendship is pushed to the limit. How are they going to stop him before it’s too late?

slenderman-1280-1533761871479_1280w

Prank calling had suddenly got a whole lot more serious

As I type this I realise that I can’t even remember what happens to Wren and Hallie and that is not a good sign (I looked it up, oh yeah). I would say this is one that might be worth a look when it comes on Netflix but would probably piss you off if you’d spent £10+ on a cinema ticket.

Back to the drawing board I guess.

My Rating

2/5.

Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

A working-class family man, Christopher Robin, encounters his childhood friend Winnie-the-Pooh, who helps him to rediscover the joys of life.

*Minor spoilers*

When you put away childish things, life can get really fucking dull. Or so we’re lead to believe, I wouldn’t know, I’ll never tidy away my Funko pops and comic books.

Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) knows though and as a middle-aged working-class workaholic, he’s all but forgotten the magic of childhood. Which is shame ‘cos of all the childhoods his is probably up there as one of the most magical, you know?

MV5BOWRlZmFjNTItZjFlNy00MjcyLWJkOGEtYmJjNzczNDE2ODE1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTc5OTMwOTQ@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1499,1000_AL_
Constantly working late and perpetually disappointing his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and their daughter Madeline, Chris has allowed all the joy to be sucked out of his life. When his boss, the sniveling Giles Winslow (the fucking fabulous Mark Gatiss) of Winslow Luggage demands he give up a precious weekend away with the family to stay in the office and make drastic financial cuts, he is torn. He knows what he should do but also wants to do right by his career.

Perhaps what he needs is a little help from an old friend or two to give him perspective?

This is a film that has obviously been lovingly made. The CGI animals are not jarring at all and the performances are as competent as expected (including the voice work of Jim CummingsPeter Capaldi and Toby Jones). However, I think this is another film that is not for me. I personally find Pooh and friends creepy in a way Paddington isn’t and I don’t know why. Especially you, Piglet.

null

“I’ve been seeing someone else… his name’s Paddington…”

I also got a lot of anxiety every time Pooh smeared honey all over everything which I thought was just me until I mentioned it to my friend Helen, who wholeheartedly agreed. Honestly, there’s one scene that brought me out in hives. Stop doing that, you bad bear!

So, I can objectively say that this is a well made film but it was ever so slightly boring in places. It only really gets going in the final segment, as Pooh, Tigger and pals travel with Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) to Lon Don to try and save his job.

Pooh was always around when I grew up but he wasn’t a core part of my childhood and maybe that also goes some way to explaining the disconnect I felt to this film. I think die hard fans with cream themselves.

christopher-robin-trailer-2

You can stay, Tigger.

*Shrug*

My Rating

3/5.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event.

*Spoilers*

I don’t mind admitting that I went into this with little expectation. I wasn’t crazy about the first Jurassic World and only signed up for Fallen Kingdom based on the trailer, in which a gigantic sea dwelling monster rises from the deep to chomp on some surfers. Call me shallow.

What I did get was a dinosaur heavy romp with a conscience, a fun ride that was worth my time even if some of the plot points are utterly ridonk. I got an evil Toby Jones too – and some remarkable side characters, including Zia (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin (Justice Smith) who kept the laughs coming. 

Bryce Dallas Howard is lovely as ever, though I half wished she’d been wearing high heels again to piss off the haters who critiqued her footwear in the last film. Chris Pratt is serviceable as Owen Grady but I don’t really love him (still haven’t forgiven Star-Lord for his brattish behaviour in Infinity War, sorry). Rafe Spall meanwhile, is dashing as Eli Mills, the mastermind behind all the madness. 

I have to mention that a definite highlight for me was Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine), the mercenary heading the dinosaur ‘rescue’ team. His stereotypical Trump-supporter solider was deliciously bad and when wronged by a female character he screams “What a nasty woman!” and I lol’d. Nailed it. 

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This movie got me right in the feels a couple of times with its message about whether these beautiful dinosaurs deserve the same rights as animals, or whether they should be left to become extinct once again. While nature takes care of some of the business, the conclusion leaves us in no doubt of where a sequel will take us – and if I’m right, it will be the best kind of sequel, with a fresh environment for our lizardy pals to run riot.

There’s also a massive clunker to address further down the line, the topic of genetic cloning so that should also be fun. I’m ready for them to bring it.

My Rating

4/5.

 

 

 

Rampage

Rampage (2018)

Directed by: Brad Peyton
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello

IMDB Synopsis

When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago.

*Minor spoilers*

I’ve already said my piece about guilty pleasures and I have nothing to add to that, though this movie is the PERFECT example of what I mean by joyous cinematic experience.

I’m also a sucker for a gargantuan ape and have been ever since I was a kid and I saw the original King Kong (1933). It’s the first film I remember making me cry and has paved the way for a lot of my adult film tastes.

So with that in mind how on earth could I resist Rampage? Based on a video game I only have a vague memory of, it’s pleasantly bonkers and exactly what I wanted to watch on the big screen.

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Former US soldier and member of an anti-poaching unit cum primatologist Davis Okoye (Johnson) is best friends with George, an albino gorilla. Davis saved George as a baby from the poachers who killed his mother so you could say that their bond is as strong as it could possibly be.

When an experiment conducted in space by evil corporation Energyne goes horribly wrong, George and two other animals are exposed to a pathogen that causes them to grow at a rapid rate. Since this pathogen has something to do with genetic editing, it pairs certain traits of certain species together and this causes our animals not only to grow like nobody’s business, it also mutates them and makes them aggressive as hell.

All of this plays into bitchy CEO Claire Wyden’s Plan B. She lures George and his new friends (a wolf and a crocodile) to downtown Chicago in order to get a sample from their genetically juiced bodies (don’t focus too much on the plot, k?). With her drippy partner in crime, brother Brett (Lacy), Claire (Akerman) plans to get what she needs and blow this popsicle stand so she can continue her genetic editing research and gain back everything lost. But she’s not counting on the power of brotherly love is she? Oh no.

The Rock isn’t about to let George get hurt so he partners with disgraced former Energyne scientist Doctor Kate Caldwell (Harris) to get him back and in the process get his hands on the existing antidote and save the city. Will they succeed before it is crushed to the ground and George is killed too? Well, there’s one real easy way to find out…

Along the way they also form an alliance with Jeffery Dean Morgan’s agent Harvey Russell and honestly, I think Russell is one of the main highlights of the film. Morgan is having so much fun! There’s also a brief appearance from Joe Manganiello (one of my faves) as a mercenary wolf hunter which I enjoyed thoroughly.

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This film was fun with a capital F and doesn’t take itself seriously at all. Dwayne Johnson is so likable that I don’t think I’ve ever disliked him on film – he has so much talent in his over developed body, I’m a massive fan. Likewise, Harris is great but you’d expect that from such a good actress.

The effects are exactly what you’d expect and the creature work is good, particularly where George is concerned. He looks and feels very real.

Unfortunately, both Akerman and Lacy are pretty whack as the evil siblings and that’s probably just about the only bad thing I can say about this adventure. Otherwise, it was a romp I was happy to be part of.

My Rating

4/5.

The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water (2017)

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones

IMDB Synopsis

At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.

*Minor spoilers*

Hype is a dangerous thing, as Andy used to say – or something along those lines. But it is – and I’m not sure this beautiful, whimsical fairy tale quite lives up to it much as it pains me to say.

Elisa and Zelda are cleaners at a top secret government laboratory. They’ve been friends for years, comfortable and happy together in their familiar routine. Elisa lives alone, in a crumbling tenement block where she also adheres to her own rituals, everything just so. She also lives next door to her BFF, closeted Giles, a struggling commercial artist who she likes to take care of.

One day Elisa (Hawkins) and Zelda (Spencer) become inadvertently involved in some secretive goings on that change all of their lives forever. There are goodies and baddies here, spies and monsters – but above all there is love and sometimes that’s all you need. Am I right?

The Shape of Water is lovely. Certain segments are pure magic and the performances are really something. That Sally Hawkins can convey so much without uttering a word is sensational. I’ve had a soft spot for her since she played Poppy in Happy-Go-Lucky. Octavia is also flawless and the women’s chemistry is touching.

Shannon is text book Michael Shannon and I liked it, though I found I was less impressed that I usually am. Perhaps because he can play a role like this with his eyes closed – or because I’ve seen him do it so many times before? In direct contrast, the nervous babbling of Giles (Jenkins) works so well. He’s a coward who takes a giant leap of faith because he loves his friend, he is flawed and he is understanding – and Richard Jenkins is adorbs too.

The story itself isn’t that complex and I’m not going to go into it too much. I think if you’re reading this you already have a gist of what it’s all about. I came into the viewing knowing not much about the plot which may have helped me – I just wanted to be wowed.

My issue is with the pacing, with the length of the film and with some of the more talky elements. I wanted to spend more time with Amphibian Man, marveling at his perfect fishy butt. We get a lot of fish man action, don’t get me wrong but I wanted less old white Russians sitting around tables discussing him and more HIM.

Fish Face for the record is beautiful (and opens quite the discussion about whether one would do it with a fish under the same circumstances). The monster work is brilliant in terms of makeup and aesthetic, while Doug Jones’ lanky (yet graceful) presence is as good as ever.

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Oh, and the opening scene is pure Jean-Pierre Jeunet. It could have been ripped directly from Delicatessen – which is a good thing, I’m not adverse to a little (or a lot of) homage. I was also pleasantly surprised that although this is all about the love story, it’s also pretty hot. For all the whimsy, it’s also sexy and there’s a distinct darkness too.

All in all, this experience was strong but not exceptional.

My Rating

3.5/5.