Friday, 31 March 2017

Tunnel Vision (2013)

Cristos. Is. A potato.

Do. Not. Watch. This. Film.

According to IMDB:

When a jury fails to convict the serial killer who savagely murdered his family, one man must rise above his desire for revenge and descend into the deranged world of a sadistic predator to uncover the truth and finally get justice. What begins as a classic revenge tale takes a dramatic turn into a haunting land of horror and murder.

Cristos (yes, just Cristos) plays the lead in Cristos vehicle, Tunnel Vision. Written and produced by Cristos, Cristos is Gabriel, a man/potato who rides a motorcycle...a lot...a man/potato who jogs feebly after serial killers...a man/potato with all the charisma of a bag of pickled onion flavored chips.

This film is so laughably bad, I'm trying to entertain myself while writing this.

Artist's Depiction of Cristos

Okay, so basically Gabriel is a bike mechanic (I think. It's not really made clear). While working one night, and riding the oh so long ride home, his house is broken into, his wife and kid murdered, and when he finally arrives, he's boshed over the head with a rusty pipe. Or something. I don't know, the cinematography didn't exist.

Later, after much moping - you know, dead family and stuff - he thinks he sees the killer in the local DIY store (!) and takes chase! It's stunningly uninteresting. Want to re-create it? Roll a potato down a wide alley.

Gabriel completely fucks up the court case, gives shoddy evidence and the guy is unsurprisingly let go.

What follows is 45 minutes of boring melodrama that doesn't go anywhere. Culminating in Cristos and the only police officer who believes him (played by Ion Overman - the best actor in the film by far), tracking down the killer - from the DIY store - and laying down justice. It sounds better than it is.

The problem is that the film doesn't know what it wants to be. The trailer, below, is cut together like a horror movie. It isn't. It has, in fact, every scene in it that isn't talking. The poster looks like an action film. Potato in an alley. I'm not even sure why it was called Tunnel Vision.

With no budget, and sadly little skill on show, the film comes off as little more than a student film.

Check out the trailer for some sweet, sweet, Cristos on a bike action.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Get Out (2017)

Damned white people.

Get Out

So this film is good.

Underlined by a deceptively simple horror premise, Get Out subverts genre norms, and plays the game a little differently. Chris Washington is going to meet his girlfriends parents for the first time. Troubling for all young men, I'm sure, but she hasn't mentioned he's black. But I'm sure it'll be fine.

Creep factor to 10 when the two of them arrive.

It soon appears that the girls family is racist, but in a strange way. Odd until the reveal. For the most of the running time you're just left with strange unease. Then the reveal comes just before the climax.

Star: Daniel Kaluuya

The genius of the film comes with the choices made by writer/director Jordan Peele. Firstly, not having major Hollywood star power involved allowed the viewer to be sucked into the film. Even Bradley Whitford playing the patriarch of the family was almost unrecognizable. Withholding the what-their-doing-and-why until the last moment is singularly genius. 

The sunken place is something we've never seen before.

Some of the acting is standout: Daniel Kaluuya as Chris is great, and Caleb Landry Jones gives his best performance to date. LilRel Howery as the comedy sidekick has perfect timing.

It's horror with no blood to speak of. It has a few jump scares, but the performances build stark fear by playing hard on the foreboding.

By far this is a step forward for the genre as far as being different. And I'm glad it's making money. I don't normally review films still at the cinema, but as it's still there, go and see it.


Friday, 17 March 2017

Don't Breathe (2016)

See. This is how you make a film.

Don't Breathe. Really. Don't.

Writer/director Fede Alvarez (who you'll remember directed the excellent Evil Dead remake) brings stark and satisfying horror in the form of Don't Breathe.

Basically a reverse home invasion movie, Don't Breathe is the simple story of three young criminals who decide to rob the home of a blind ex-military dude, who is sitting on a fortune (in cash - reasons) after being awarded recompense for the death of his daughter.

You can see where I'm going here, can't you?

Said dude is totally a skilled mercenary type (Blind Justice!), and the three criminals have to fight for their lives to survive. Nice.

Stephen Lang

The win here comes in two forms. Firstly is Alvarez. He deftly manages to make you root for the criminals. Well, two of them, anyway. I mean, they're robbing a blind guy. Why did I root for them? And the second is the excellent three main leads, Stephen Lang (The Blind Man according to IMDB) and two of the criminals, Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette. 

The story is simple to the point of not being there. But it doesn't matter. It's all in the acting, cinematography, and direction.

Until the third act.

If you've not seen this movie, then I must warn you about the final act of the movie. It gets nasty.

Really nasty.

Look. I'm not spoiling it. But you'll need a strong stomach suddenly. Alvarez ramps the ick factor with the flick of a switch, changes the balance and the tone of the movie suddenly, and then everything is different. 

And it makes it even better. 

The sudden third act twist will ensure this goes down as classic horror, and sets it aside from other similar movies such as The Purge or The Strangers. (I particularly liked The Strangers. Where's my sequel?)

Friday, 10 March 2017

John Wick (2014)

John Wick. Oh.

John Wicke

So it's light on plot. Who cares?

Reeves protrays John Wick, a retired mob hit man. His wife dies in the first few minutes of the movie of unmentioned natural causes, and delivers him a puppy on the day of her funeral from beyond the grave. Well, courier, anyway.

John must put his life back together.

The son of a Russian mobster takes a liking to Wick's car, breaks into his house, batters him, kills his new dog, and steals his car. This is the first 10 minutes of the film.

John Wick kills 77 people. This is the rest of it.

John Wick kills people.

Stuffed with outstanding performances (noticeably,  Michael Nyqvist, Willem Dafoe, and Ian McShane) and stunningly directed action scenes, John Wick may be the best action movie in years. The world placed before us has some interesting ideas - hotels for assassins, assassin currency, etc - but by and large, this is action the way it should be done.

And bloody good, it is.

John Wick kills more people.

Laced and littered with spot on humor, Reeves makes his best film in years. He stoically guns down people like he's playing whack-a-mole. And he should be. Supposedly the best hit-man in history. Not a man to piss off.

I can't praise this highly enough for being exactly what it is. Keanu Reevs cooly killing people for the whole running time. Massive kudos to the Director, Chad Stahelski (who has no previous directing credits, but was a stunt co-ordinator).

This is old school action. No jump cuts. No flash camera work. Just a great movie. Just great.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Suicide Squad (2016)

But the trailer looked so much fun...

Suicide Squad

A team of career criminals are assembled by the government to take down the threat of mysterious new villain: The Enchantress... You know. The Dirty Dozen, basically.

Sigh. Where to start? (Edit - this is a review of the cinematic release, not the extended cut)

Okay, I was suckered by the trailers. Hats off to the people in charge of marketing this movie. It promised fun. Humor. Action. A step away from the tonal problems of BvS. It lied. Blatantly. Look at the poster. Look at it. Doesn't that look like a fun film? Well it's not. It's so bitter in places, you'd think you were watching a Godfather movie. Tonally it's all over the place.

Right. Got that off my chest. Let me explain.

Firstly, the plot is pretty solid, but the screenplay is a mess. I have heard that this is a post-production hatchet job, so I don't know who to blame. The film is convoluted in places to the point of being unfathomable.

And one notable reason is the amount of film they tried to stuff into a two hour running time. Again, likely the hatchet job.

The squad (Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, El Diablo, Killer Croc, Slipknot) all get a backstory of varying length. Split over the running time of the movie, I'd estimate that at between 20 and 30 minutes. The answer to the question of why they all appeared in this movie eludes me. It's clearly DC rushing to get their EU off the ground. Surely Quinn / Joker deserved more than a half-assed eight minute preview of years of backstory (although I wouldn't put it past DC to retread it time and again)? Deadshot Vs Batman was a shoe in for a movie if ever there was one.

Then they have to introduce the Governmental Dept. staff, led by Amanda Waller, Rick Flagg, and Katana, put the team together, introduce Enchantress, give her a backstory, her brother, mobilize the team, and then, fuck me, the film can start.

No wonder it's a mess.

And I haven't mentioned the side story of the Joker trying to rescue Harley throughout the whole movie, yet.

This, and the jarring tonal imbalances are major problems.

Some of this is PITCH BLACK dark.

The tonal imbalances come thick and fast. One major flaw is in the back story of El Diablo. Hernandez plays the character with extreme restraint. So much so, that sometimes his acting could perhaps be mistaken for mumbling. But that's an aside. Without delving too deeply into backstories myself, Diablo's is harsh. It involves the death of his whole family at his own hands. And I find it all so...unnecessary for what is at it's heart, a comic book movie.

But there is some good, too.

Firstly there are some standout performances. I mean, I have to apologize. Apparently Jai Courtney can act. It's just that up until now, he hasn't. He's excellent. Margo Robbie and Will Smith of course, taking center stage, and being very good too.

Amanda Waller is a strong character, played well by Viola Davis.

The action scenes are good, if a little too chopped up in editing, and the special effects stand out.

Jai Courtney / Captain Boomerang

The ending of the movie satisfies, barely, and heavily baits sequel. I don't know if we're going to get it. The more DC movies come out, the further they stray from longevity of story telling. It's too much too soon.

There was so much potential...

All in all, I fear this suffered the same as Batman V Superman. Being chopped up in post to make it a more sellable film has resulted in a mish-mash hotch-potch of a movie. I look forward to some redemption in the extended cut. But for now...

I know, I know... what did I think of Leto?

He was...okay. I'll say more when I've seen more.