So we’ve reached that time again. Below are ten movies I watched last year that I liked the least. Not all these movies are bad, but they all remain either disappointing or unremarkable. In descending order from average to awful…
I wasn’t exactly blown away with the surprise sleeper hit that was the first movie, but it was still fun if trashy entertainment with a break out turn from Samara Weaving. However it clearly was popular enough to spawn a sequel. Set three years after the first movie, nerdy kid Cole is now in High School and labelled a bit of a nutcase as he told a lot of people about his babysitter’s satanic blood cult. So yeah he’s having trouble fitting in. One day though his best friend invites him to a getaway on a boat out in the wilderness – yeah, isolated in the middle of nowhere, nothing bad is going to happen, right?
Directed again by McG (Terminator Salvation) this is trying sooooo hard to be a self-referential horror version of Scott Pilgrim vs The World. It has the crazy editing, video game references, and a funky soundtrack. Oh and plenty of CGI gore. The deaths in the last movie were a major plus, and the same goes here – even if they often look incredibly fake. This is not helped by a script that is painfully unfunny, which really needs to be funny. The cast, with many returning faces from last time, are constantly spouting what they think is clever, pop-culture fused dialogue but it has very forced delivery that just falls flat. It all screams of trying too hard.
Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed some of McG’s movies in the past, and his style can work given better material … but this just feels lazy. There’s times when it looks like it’s happening on a cheap sound stage, and I could have sworn one bit looked like terrible green screen, and it even has a jump scare that makes zero sense (a peeing gag). The ending was a slight step up, with an interesting twist – but overall this really wasn’t worth it.
Netflix have been going from strength to strength of late, what with hit Netflix original programming like Stranger Things and then the occasional Netflix original movies … it seems to be a great time to be a Netflix subscriber. One such movie that caught my eye was this little tongue-in-cheek horror. It tells the tale of Cole, a stereotypical nerdy loner kid in suburban American who is bullied at school and a bit of a mommies’ boy. Thing is too despite not being that young, Cole still has a babysitter – helps then that she’s super-hot. Step in Margot Robbie look-a-like Bee (Samara Weaving) who is not only the kid’s best friend but also keeps a watchful eye over him and helps fend off bullies. When the girl across the road however points out she thinks said Bee is probably inviting ‘boys’ around once the kid is tucked off to bed .. the kid decides to find out if it’s true – and is in for the shock of his life.
Directed by McG this has the same heightened reality, comic-book feel he brought to the two Charlie’s Angels movies, and there his epileptic style with wacky editing and mad-cap characters suited such a venture. However here it feels for the most part over the top. Told primarily through Cole’s eyes it makes sense from a kid’s point of view but for what turns into a gory horror comedy, it creates a rather silly vibe that although fun makes it pretty throwaway too. The characters you see, are not all that engaging and it all gets very predictable. That being said the gore is at times spit your pop-corn out surprising and inventive, there’s some fun pop-culture references and social media obsession digs, and at least does kind of turn into Home Alone meets Buffy The Vampire Slayer (at least tonally).
For 90 minutes entertainment, this doesn’t out stay it’s welcome, has some good jokes and plenty of the red stuff, and performances are adequate, and sometimes that’s good enough. Unlikely to become a genre classic though.
So it seems to be another acclaimed actor’s turn to do the whole Taken thing with this Paris set thriller written by Luc Besson and directed by McG. Costner plays a CIA agent, who returns to Paris after a job goes wrong. Sound familiar yet? Oh but wait, Costner’s character has brain cancer and only an experimental drug and one last contract can save his life. Does he trust the sexy femme fatale CIA agent offering him a miracle cure, or does he settle for the quite life with his estranged wife & daughter? What do you think?
Costner handles the action well but also has to deal with a script that awkwardly juggles comedy and family bonding (let’s teach the daughter how to ride a bike, and yes there’s an African family squatting in Costner’s apartment…). It’s a strange tone for sure considering that some of the action is pretty full-on, fairly violent and intense. Amber Heard’s CIA agent is cool, mean and sexy but looks like she’s wondered off the set of an anime movie, lending little other than eye-candy and a lot of pouting. Oscar winner Hailee Steinfeld from True Grit is also quite wasted here, but tries her best. Thankfully then Costner who is probably mostly known as a supporting actor these days plods his way through very silly material fairly unscathed. But where’s the danger? Why doesn’t the daughter or ex-wife ever get kidnapped? And what’s the point other than for Costner to take a drug he accepts purely on good-will from a very dodgy woman with a gun?
With a couple of exceptions, these kind of European action movies are getting very tired, how the once talented Luc Besson pimps out script after script to once major actors clearly just after a pay cheque, is bordering on insulting. We as movie goers deserve better, and all the talent involved can certainly do better.
Cartoon faced Chris Pine (Star Trek) and walking muscle Tom Hardy (Warrior, Inception) are two highly trained CIA assassins who fall for the same woman, Reese (the jaw) Witherspoon, and soon find their friendship put to the test as they attempt to sabotage one another’s chances. Meanwhile a terrorist who survived an earlier mission is hell-bent on revenge.
Director McG (Terminator Salvation, Charles Angeles) has crafted an immediately ‘fun’ concept here with a likable cast and plenty of humour, romance and action. Although his flair for pop-corn thrillers livens up the movie with some beautiful sets, slick cars and cool gadgets, he seems most at home with the entertaining love triangle. Witherspoon is equal parts sexy and ditsy and has always been a favourite, whilst the two male leads are perfectly cast; Hardy playing the more in-touch-with-his-feelings type, whilst Pine is the charismatic womanizer with all the right moves. At times the action, which should have been the highlight, seemed forced and to be honest distracting – McG’s approach making me feel like the movie had been put into fast forward every time something kicked off. Add to this a clichéd villain that was all but an afterthought – and this often felt like a movie playing a tug of war with its own ideas.
So as you can probably imagine, it’s the banter between the three principal players where this shines (the dialogue positively bouncing off the screen), and it was still very entertaining. Just a shame McG felt the need to pad it all out with a weak terrorist subplot and badly handled action.
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