Something Wild


Viewed – 16 June 2018  Blu-ray

The Criterion Collection

Nostalgia is a funny thing.  When I saw that this had been given the prestigious Criterion treatment, I immediately was transported back to when I saw this one night on TV many years ago and remember really liking it.  Sitting down now with much more jaded eyes, it transpires it’s not quite the classic I thought it was, even though there’s still fun to be had.  Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber) plays Charles, a straight laced office worker who one day has a chance encounter with free-spirited Lulu (Melanie Griffith) who takes Charles on a road trip straight out of his comfort zone that awakens a side to him he never knew he had.  Everything is going great until they bump into Lulu’s jail bird husband (Ray Liotta) who seems hell-bent on winning Lulu back.

something wild

Its a good concept and one I quickly felt engaged by, but once the ‘wild’ element of Lulu’s nature falls away and reveals who she really is, the movie stops dead, with a very awkward ‘lets go visit my mom’ scene and a drawn out high school reunion sequence.  Thankfully once Liotta turns up the movie is cranked up several levels and transforms into more of a thriller.  Liotta is brilliant, channelling that dangerous-charm he later honed to perfection in Goodfellas.  Also Daniel’s proves much more than simply an every man for the audience to latch onto.  Griffiths is also highly watchable and further proves why she was the go-to actress of the 80’s and has presence and personality to spare.  The movie never really hits it’s stride though, suffering from a bit of an identity crisis and is neither funny enough to be a comedy, exciting enough to be a thriller or charming enough to be a love story.  Like a lot of the other also-ran movies of the 80’s this one’s a bit of an oddity, but certainly retains a quirky appeal.

criterionThis UK Criterion release is rather underwhelming.  The image quality, whilst showing off some vibrancy to it’s colour palette is marred by a lot of smudgy shots.  There’s generally a soft look and lack of detail to the whole presentation.  The 2 channel DTS HD soundtrack doesn’t exactly wow either, but dialogue is sharp even if music cues seem to lack punch.  Extras consist of a detailed booklet that includes an essay by film critic David Thompson.  On the Blu-ray itself there’s an archive interview with director Jonathan Demme and the screenwriter, and we also get a trailer.  Not exactly the exhaustive treatment one might expect from Criterion.

Verdict:

(the movie)  3 /5.

(the Blu-ray)  2.5 /5

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle


Viewed – 12 June 2018  online-rental

I find myself liking Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson more and more with every movie I see him in, and this sort-of sequel to the Robin Williams original has him on fine, comedic and action hero form joined by a colourful cast.  He plays the videogame counterpart of a nerdy kid who along with a bunch of high school misfits, gets transported into the world of Jumanji after unwittingly powering up a videogame console.

jumanji-welcome-to-the-jungle

By attempting to bring the board game comes to life idea of the first movie, up-to-date by making Jumanji a videogame, some of the charm is lost but replaced by a unique twist of the usual high school teen movie formula, and I certainly enjoyed seeing actors like Jack Black and Karen Gillan play somewhat the opposite of how they look for some great fun moments.  Jack Black eyeing up The Rock, anyone?

I’d have liked to learn more about the world and what makes Jumanji what it is and it’s rules etc, but we get nothing.  This goes hand in hand with the thin characterisation, that although playing on clichés, are still clichés regardless.  Yet we do get some decent action and the people transported into a world with videogame logic works every bit as well (if not a little better) than it did in Ready Player One.  So yes, this is easy watching and a lot of fun.  However it’s not much more.

Verdict:  3 /5

Terrifier


Viewed – 02 June 2016  online-rental

They say be careful what you wish for.  I grew up in the eighties, a golden era for horror, but also a time when censorship was rife.  I recall watching slashers like Halloween or Friday the 13th and wishing those kills had been more graphic.  Yeah, I was that kid; a bit of a gore-hound.  These days it’s different.  Censorship hasn’t got the strangle-hold on the genre it once had, and that can be a good or bad thing depending on your taste.  For me it’s an all you can eat buffet!

Terrifier

Terrifier is my first introduction to freaky homicidal clown ‘Art’, initially showcased as part of the short ‘All Hallow’s Eve’.  Here he stalks a bunch of individuals on Halloween night, picking them off in increasingly brutal ways.  Immediately I found this is an effective horror icon and one of the most messed up looking creations I’d seen in a long time.  His sheer presence makes the movie, let alone the way he playfully despatches his victims.  The characters, as wafer-thin as they are, managed to get me routing for them and wondering who might survive.  Unlike similar movies they’re not all that annoying either (apart from one drunk girl).

Director Damien Leone was clearly working with a low budget, with all the cash obviously put into some decent practical effects that thanks to the help of some slick editing make each kill really pack a punch.  The acting varies from passable to very amateurish, and the movie seems to wallow in it’s clichés a bit too much.  Yet we do get some great camera work and an effective, grainy 80’s aesthetic, meaning I still came away impressed.  Certainly not for everyone, but if you’re serious about horror, this is one to see.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

The Post


Viewed – 29 May 2018  online-rental

It’s easy to gravitate towards a movie starring Oscar-magnet powerhouses Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks even if the setting and plot didn’t make it for me, a must see.  That being said, add legendary director Steven Spielberg and well, how could I refuse?

The Post

This at times eye-catching movie tells the story of the political controversy surrounding the Vietnam War in the early 70s and how one ailing newspaper helped expose years of cover-ups and lies. I found this intriguing from a world history stand point, aided by solid turns from not just Hanks & Streep but a plethora of recognisable faces.   Although I  have only a vague knowledge of what was going on at the time, and more familiarity with Hollywood’s somewhat glossy obsession with the war during the 80s, this proved a thought-provoking and in it’s second half, rather thrilling story.  Spielberg again proves himself a great director of actors as well as showcasing a keen eye for period-detail and atmosphere, making this a story very easy to get swept up in.

However, the movie takes a bit of time to get going, seriously glosses over many details on what really transpired back then, and I felt failed to fully explore the real-life figures played by Hanks & Streep.  Oh, and distant through-a-window silhouetted shots of President Richard Nixon just felt cheap.  So not Spielberg at his best, but still worth your time if the true story the movie is based on intrigues.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

Deadpool 2


Viewed – 23 May 2018  Cinema

I think most of us knew that the sequel to the unexpected hit that was Deadpool, would be bigger and better,   A movie that was basically a one trick pony first time around, that of Ryan Reynolds’ wise-cracking, self-aware ‘merc with the mouth’ didn’t have a great deal more going for it as far as plot or an interesting villain.  So coming into this I was hoping for more.  Step up to the task Josh Brolin, fresh off his movie-stealing turn in the latest Avengers, he plays Terminator-like bad-guy ‘Cable’, sent from the future to kill some acting-out mutant kid who wants to blow up an orphanage and those that govern over him.  Deadpool see’s some injustice in the kids plight and offers to help, along with his band of reluctant friends he awkwardly names ‘X-Force’.

Deadpool-2

Reynolds is on brilliant form and his wealth of one liners, observations and fourth-wall breaking piss-takes are often hilarious.  Thankfully this time around he’s not the only pull this movie has, because Brolin is again brilliant and there’s also a few other colourful characters to keep things interesting (personal fave:  Domino).  Yet the child actor at the centre of the plot is somewhat lacking, has poor line-delivery and stands out compared to his more seasoned and entertaining co-stars.  Yet we do get a wealth of at times very violent, bloody action that is utterly unrestrained but skilfully executed, showing director David Leitch is an assured replacement for the original’s Tim Miller. 

Some rather cheap-looking CGI doesn’t look all that much better than the first movie (especially Colossus) and not all the gags hit home runs.  However, this matters little when what’s presented is just so infectious.  I haven’t had as much at the cinema in a long time as I had watching this funny, exciting and crazy ride … which may play to the juvenile kid in all of us, but sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed.  Just go see it already.

Verdict:  4 /5