Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile


Viewed – 06 December 2019. Online-rental

Any movie attempting to tell the true story of notorious serial killer Ted Bundy is a daunting prospect. From what I’ve heard, he was an incredibly prolific, charismatic and manipulative psychopath who did some of the cruelest and most depraved serial murders in American history. So when I heard former High School Musical actor Zac Efron was taking on the role, I must admit … I was intrigued.

Focusing on Bundy’s relationship with Elizabeth Kendall (Lilly Collins) this is told mostly from her point of view. A similar approach to that Tom Hardy Krays movie from a few years back. However such an approach means we don’t really get to explore what made Ted who he was, and for the most part the accusations and subsequent manhunt come off as ill-fitting to the man we see Efron portraying. The various murders are not recreated and told only in news footage or Police chatter, so a sense of the sheer horrendous nature of the crimes is glossed over. In an attempt to give some depth to Bundy and Liz’s struggling relationship, a plot thread involving the book ‘Papillon’ is introduced and from all recorded testimonies this inclusion is pure fiction, and the documented telephone confession he apparently gave to Liz whilst on the run, is removed entirely in favour of a rather weak sort-of confession scene towards the end. Such inaccuracies to the real life events left me wondering what director Joe Berlinger‘s intentions were, considering he also delivered a documentary called The Ted Bundy Tapes to Netflix prior to this movie’s release.

However Zac Efron is still very good as Bundy and proves charming, like the real person, as well as occasionally creepy. Yet the stand out here is Collins who delivers a very convincing portrayal of a woman who refused to admit shes was going out with a monster. Overall though, this was far too lightweight considering the subject and mostly a missed opportunity.

Verdict: 2.5 /5

The Greatest Showman


Viewed – 14 February 2018  Cinema

I can’t say I was particularly enthused at the prospect of seeing this, despite rave opinions from people I know who had been.  I have a bit of an uneasy relationship with musicals, and they have to be particularly good to win me over.  This based on true events depiction, has Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum, a man who rose from nothing to become one of the pioneers of show business as we know it.

greatestshowman

I can’t say I was particularly familiar with the story but as soon as this started, I was transfixed.  Jackman, who of course I mostly associate with Wolverine, is a revelation as Barnum and commands the screen with total, Hollywood magnetism and presence.  His rags-to-riches story whilst somewhat clichéd is classic stuff and made me think of Charles Dickens books along with Rogers & Hammerstein musicals of yesteryear.  You know – back when Hollywood did it right.  Add at times breath-taking choreography and several stunning set pieces, with grand set design, colourful costumes and eye-catching cinematography and this was a real treat for the senses.  The songs, if at times a little ‘samey’ are foot-tapping and enjoyable, aided by larger-than-life performances from also Zac Efron and Michelle Williams and a plethora of colourful characters … and well, sometimes it’s overwhelming but never boring.

The movie seems to stumble a little in a plot device with a famed Opera Singer and although essential to the story, takes things in a direction that isn’t quite as much fun … but then comes back again to deliver a great feel good ending that left me wanting to stand up and applaud.  This movie’s been a bit snubbed by the Oscars and that’s a shame as really, a night out at the movies doesn’t get much better than this.  Essential.

Verdict:  5 /5

Bad Neighbors


Viewed – 08 May 2014  Cinema

This movie starts with a couple having sex on a table as their baby watches … an ‘I can’t do it when she’s lookin’ scenario.  So that pretty much sets the tone straight away for this mostly juvenile, crude and typical comedy starring Seth Rogan (Knocked up) and Zac Efron (High School Musical).  The story such as it is, has a happy couple, complete with a baby girl whose idyllic suburban paradise is wrecked when the house next door is taken over by a fraternity – cue parties, drugs, alcohol, bangin’ tunes and twenty somethings acting like idiots in the name of fun and excess.  What to do?  Put up with it, or wage war?

Neighbors

This is a funny concept, I’ll admit and Rogen and also Bridesmaids actress Rose Byrne etc give it their all – and moments like Byrne getting er, milked and a nunchuku fight using a rubber dildo caused a few belly laughs, revealing the teenager inside me a bit too often.  But a scene involving the baby girl finding a condom (!) on the lawn, and then various other overly sexual and crude situations just felt forced – should I be laughing or offended?  It’s difficult to tell sometimes.  Rogen is basically the same as he always is – the immature potty-mouthed middle aged fella, and Efron sheds his formerly squeaky-clean teen movie image (which I’ll bet was tarnished before this) to little effect other than his many shirtless moments (please, control yourselves ladies…).  Oh and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Kick-Ass) is in this … and utterly wasted.

Funny if you’re into very adult humour and jokes about sex, sex toys, pregnancy and drugs … but if you’re after anything with a message (it sort of dodges a potential ‘should have studied harder in high school’ sub-plot) or even the slightest depth, look elsewhere.

Verdict:  2.5 /5