Viewed – 26 January 2016  Blu-ray

I loved the 1990 British biopic of The Krays starring former Spandau Ballet brothers Gary & Martin Kemp which for me had long been one of the best gangster movies I had seen.  However I haven’t seen that rendition in a long time so the prospect of a new adaptation of the famed East End mobsters’ story was exciting.  Also the fact current hot property Tom Hardy (Mad Max Fury Road) was taking on the roles of both Ronnie & Reggie Kray meant this couldn’t fail … or could it?


Set during the height of the gangster’s reign over the criminal underworld in the 1960s, Reggie and his rather unstable brother Ronnie have London eating out of their hands; rubbing shoulders with celebrities, owning nightclubs and about to go into business with the Italian Mafia.  Told primarily from the perspective of Reggie’s wife Francis (Emily Browning – who somehow still has a career after the god-awful Sleeping Beauty) this promises to be another mob classic to stand alongside movies such as Goodfellas.  Yet in the hands of director Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale), we get anything but that.  His direction is plodding despite decent production value and eye-catching photography, but for a mob movie there is a total lack of menace.  I didn’t feel like these people were all that intimidating or scary, and in a decent gangster yarn, I’m usually always a bit nervy of something kicking off any second.  This is not helped by the focus on Reggie & Francis’ relationship where the casting of the porcelain pretty Emily Browning once again proves her as one of the most uninteresting actresses currently working, not helped by her snore-inducing narration.  This needed much more of the criminal lifestyle and the enforcing of that lifestyle … yet mob hits come out of nowhere, and famous murders just happen with no build up.  Trying his damndest is Tom Hardy but although charismatic as Reggie, his apparent control and intimidation of Francis is bizarrely glossed over, making a certain turn of events later on come out of nowhere.  On the flip side his portrayal of Ronnie is borderline farcical, the legendary gangland mobster reduced to an absurd caricature rather than particularly threatening (the trumpet blowing scene almost had me giggling in embarrassment).

So the tone and pacing and everything other than the look was totally off, and important characters to the Kray’s story such as their mother or infamous names like Jack ‘the hat’ McVittie are little more than ‘just there’ when their inclusion could have helped with the movie’s authenticity (which has to be said, it takes liberties with).  The Krays were fascinating and pretty scary in real life by all accounts – but this interpretation failed to capture hardly any of what made them famous or ironically, legends.

Verdict:  2 /5

Sleeping Beauty

Viewed – 08 June 2012  Blu-ray

Emily Browning was mildly diverting as every teenage boys fantasy femme fatale in Zack Snyder’s underrated Sucker Punch, and on hearing about this provocative but unusual drama, I thought it might be interesting seeing if this pretty young actress had more to her than being a director’s juvenile fantasy…

She stars as Lucy, a young woman who gets by earning money from either being a guinea pig for a medical student (!), waitressing in a bar or working in an office.  Yet on answering a mysterious ad for a ‘hostess’ at an exclusive gentleman’s club, she discovers what is asked of her gets increasingly weird.  Events then take a sinister turn when she is told she will be put to sleep and have no knowledge of what happens to her over night.

I had a hard time with this.  Although Browning must be a very brave (or crazy) actress for some of the scenes she is in, I found her character hard to sympathise with and unlikable, the movie itself painting a very crude and unpleasant image of men and women … leaving me with little to actually find entertaining or engrossing.  I was actually tempted to turn it off when it got a little too ugly for my comfort levels.  This is a movie that on the surface could be painted as a sexy drama, but director Julia Leigh seemed hell-bent on making everything about it totally unsexy.  Even Browning’s frequent nudity was portrayed as something distasteful and ugly, despite her obvious (if a little bland) physical beauty.  What was the director trying to say?  I really didn’t have a clue, and to be honest found the movie borderline offensive.

Seriously not to be confused with the Disney classic of the same name.

Verdict:  1 /5

Sucker Punch

Viewed – 04 July 2011  Blu-ray

Extended Cut

To explain what this one is about is not going to be easy.  An orphaned young woman, nicknamed Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is sent to a mental asylum after her mother dies and her abusive step-father wants nothing to do with her.  There she falls into her own fantasy world, where she imagines the asylum to be some sort of high-class bordello, and befriends a group of girls (Abbie Cornish, Jamie Chung, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens) in the hope that they will help her escape.  Yet the fantasy does not stop there.  This young woman also imagines herself and her friends in a variety of action-packed other-worldly adventures whilst they attempt to collect items they will need to plan their escape.  Think Kill Bill meets Moulin Rouge meets One Flew Over The Cookoo’s Nest.

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