The Amazing Spider-Man 2


Viewed – 13 September 2014  DVD

The last movie, rebooting a franchise that had reached a dead-end after the lacklustre Spider-Man 3, was a decent if somewhat uninspiring outing for the web crawler, helped it has to be said by solid casting and some good action.  This time around Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is still juggling his on/off relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), trying to hold down a job as a photographer (er, only hinted at) and his responsibilities as a super-hero.  However the mystery behind his parent’s disappearance still looms and a new enemy in the shape of an ignored, put-upon scientist (Jamie Foxx) turned electricity consumed super-villain ‘electro’ arrives on the scene.

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Plenty going on in this sequel.  Again Garfield is good as Parker/Spider-Man although his snively / arrogant double-act grates sometimes.  Stone on the other hand is again perfect, even if she doesn’t get much more to do than threaten to run away to England.  Sally Field as Aunt May seems to have stepped up her presence however in the absence of Martin Sheen’s Uncle Ben, and we also get Harry Osborne (a diverting Dane DeHaan), former best friend turned megalomaniac beneficiary of Oscorp.  As always for this kind of thing the sequel seems over-complicated but makes for some great action and superb effects work (apart from some dubious swinging through New York bits that looked better in 2001).  Foxx is good as Electro even if his character is quite the cliché, but overall there was a somewhat childish tone with too many moments of poking fun at our hero (the fireman’s helmet bit?).

It’s hard not to wish this had turned out differently … towards the end it really hit it’s stride, offering up some surprises as well as the (albeit predictable) character-ark of Harry Osborne.  Yet this was still good entertainment, despite suffering from the usual sequel / trilogy trappings.  Roll on The Amazing Spider-Man 3 then.

Verdict:  3 /5

Curse of Chucky


Viewed – 16 August 2014  DVD

I gave up on this series a while back after the embarrassingly bad ‘Seed of Chucky’.  However having enjoyed most of the other movies, that being Childs Play 1-3 and the very entertaining Bride of Chucky … I was willing to give this a go, especially as I had heard it was a back to its routes entry.  A paraplegic woman called Nica, living in an old house with her domineering mother, one day receives a strange package.  Yes someone has sent them a good guy doll, with no note to say who that somebody was. 

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A very basic premise this may well be and at first I was underwhelmed, but series creator Don Mancini, taking to the director’s chair delivers a well made, stylishly-shot and creepy stalk and slash horror that felt very much like the original.  We get a cute kid who see’s no wrong in a talking psychotic doll, and various supporting characters I enjoyed seeing bumped off one by one (gotta love the death by lap top…).  Some back story to the serial killer Charles Lee Ray was welcome with genre favourite Brad Dourif on fine form, getting more than just a speaking part for a change.  What was the big surprise however was kid sister Fiona Dourif (True Blood), playing wheelchair bound Nica with plenty of tough attitude and also proving the vulnerable heroine due to her disability. 

For a Chucky movie this sort-of reboots a franchise that was disappearing up it’s own arse, even if for a horror it’s packed with clichés, isn’t particularly scary and has a few moments that don’t make sense (the lack of cell phone signal, that post credits bit…).  But mostly this was a lot of fun.

Good to have you back, ya pint-sized little bastard.

Verdict:  3 /5

The Inbetweeners Movie


Viewed – 09 August 2014  DVD

You know when you generally don’t watch something ‘everyone’ seems to recommend because you have a nagging feeling it’s not going to be your cup of tea?  Yeah this was one of those movies.  Yet with the sequel just hitting cinemas, and the offer to watch the first for nothing … well, why not I hear you ask?  This big-screen outing for the popular slacker teen comedy TV series about a group of misfit friends, outcasts in their social lives and not exactly babe-magnets … has the the principle characters heading to Greece for a holiday of a lifetime.  Will they discover themselves, will they become men, will they get laid … do we care?

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Admittedly these guys are likable, played well by the four piece of Simon Bird – the cautious intellectual, James Buckley the all talk no action one, Blake Harrison the simpleton and Joe Thomas, the one who can’t get over his ex.  It’s basically 90 minutes of nob gags, very crude language (how many times is ‘gash’ uttered? …erk), and a sort of wood for the trees love story that is waaay too obvious.  The gags here are mostly delivered in totally unbelievable ways with the sort of stupidity you’d barely accept in a five minute cartoon.  Doesn’t help that much of the supposedly funny one liners are either just another avalanche of swearing or simply ‘meh’.  So there lies it’s biggest problem – it thinks it’s funnier than it actually is (but for a puking incident towards the end …had me laughing).  Oh and how one guy gets the girl when he clearly doesn’t deserve her is borderline insulting.

Fans of the TV series may still enjoy this out of sheer familiarity with the characters.  I barely saw the series, so maybe I’m missing something.  But with a clichéd setting and clichéd situations (oh, one of the reps is an arrogant womanising scum bag … go figure).  This just lacked anything that could have made it stand out.  And didn’t Kevin & Perry Go Large do this already?

Verdict:  2 /5

50 First Dates


Viewed – 19 July 2014  DVD

If someone hadn’t borrowed me this, I wouldn’t have ever watched it.  I don’t really go for romantic movies, and have never been that bothered about popular comedy star Adam Sandler.  However I must admit to being pleased that I did!  Sandler plays Henry, a womanizing guy who works at a sea-life centre, and has a fear of commitment.  One day he meets Lucy (Drew Barrymore) and for the first time he finds himself really falling for her innocent charm and beauty.  Yet the following day, when he goes to talk to her again, she has no recollection of him.  You see, Lucy has short-term memory loss and only remembers him for one day – the next, he’s a stranger, and he has to woo her all over again.

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This is a great idea for a romantic comedy and also quite a touching tale of wanting to be with someone but unable to truly be together from her point of view.  It’s sort of sad too, certainly giving my emotions a run for their money surprisingly.  Comedy is laid on fairly thick (Sean Astin’s lisp…) by supporting characters (including an annoying Rob Schneider), and at times it gets a bit silly and crude (walrus vomit anyone?), but this adds some flavour to what otherwise would have been a little too sugar-coated.  Barrymore & Sandler are very good and believable in a tricky situation, and it was also great to see Dan Aykroyd in an extended cameo.

A very charming, feel good and thought-provoking experience that was much better than I initially expected.

Verdict:  4 /5

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy


Viewed – 16 July 2014  DVD

I had wanted to see this much talked about comedy for a while.  I have a liking for Will Ferrell, that former Saturday Night Live comedienne who proved so likable and funny in the popular yuletide hit ‘Elf’.  So sitting down to this was quite enticing.  Farrell plays Ron Burgundy, a TV channel anchor in the seventies who see’s his chauvinistic, macho persona in jeopardy when he falls for a pretty and ambitious reporter (Christina Applegate).

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From the off it’s clear this may have been a fun sketch on SNL, but does it hold up to a full length movie?  Not really.  Burgundy as a character is a limited ‘gag’ that’s been done before and his surrounding news team, featuring the likes of Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell are equally limited in their appeal.  The pairing of Farrell & Applegate works well enough as they make for fun rivals, but after a while the forced humour and the general gooning and pratfalls gets tired.  The idea just isn’t all that special, and despite obvious enthusiasm from the cast – the general feeling I was left with was of a simple gag milked for all it’s comedic value, of which there was only very little.

That being said it’s not like this isn’t funny.  Farrell gets some good moments (his encounter with Jack Black, his descent into self-loathing), and a showdown between rival news teams with cameos by Tim Robbins and Ben Stiller proved quite funny.  Overall though, this was a movie trying to be a lot funnier than it clearly was.

Verdict:  2 /5