Film and TV reviews

Trailers of the Week - Glow / Luke Cage / Jack Ryan

posted 17 Jun 2018, 12:49 by Paul Woodward



Trailers of the Week - Bumblebee / A Star Is Born / Mortal Engines

posted 10 Jun 2018, 13:47 by Paul Woodward




Trailer of the Week - Peppermint

posted 5 Jun 2018, 13:40 by Paul Woodward



Battle of the Sexes

posted 2 Jun 2018, 12:15 by Paul Woodward


Genre: Biography / Drama / Comedy

Stars: Emma Stone / Steve Carell / Andrea Riseborough / Sarah Silverman / Bill Pullman / Alan Cumming

Director: Jonathon Dayton / Valerie Faris

Certificate: 12A

Run Time: 2hr 1min

Year: 2017

This film centres around the build up to the infamous 1973 Battle of the Sexes tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Although the film jumps between King’s life and Rigg’s it does tend to focus more heavily on King and principally her sexuality. It does show King as a pioneer battling for equality within the sport and forming the WTA but it’s her relationship with hairdresser Marilyn and her coming to terms with her sexuality that dominate the film.

The film falls a little flat for me, it’s ok, watchable and interesting, mainly for the history and an insight into Kings persona. It’s just not as engrossing or engaging as I would have liked. Emma Stone’s performance is spot on delivering a very sympathetic and likeable King. She was a pioneer and a feminist but not in an aggressive or unreasonable manner, she only spoke sense and much of what is said in the film can’t be argued with. It’s also very sympathetic towards King struggling with her sexuality and the conflict it inflicts on her life. Marilyn isn’t likeable at all so it’s hard to get behind her relationship with King – which the film pushes hard highlighting the forbidden love and how they couldn’t be together in public. But the way Marilyn is, how she pushes their relationship and makes King feel guilty all the while about not been open and honest with those around her – King was married at the time too something Marilyn dismisses easily, does not show her in a good light as she shows no frustration or guilt about it.

King’s husband on the other hand comes across as supportive and loving man, who is heartbroken but understanding about the situation. It makes you wish King would break off her relationship with Marilyn and make it up to him. This isn’t the point the film was trying to make though – it was about acceptance and been who we truly are. So, the film shoots and misses, not getting the point they wished across deflates the impact of the film.

Carell is his overexuberant self as the larger than life Riggs, who may have been seen as a sexist at the time but was according to the film just a businessman. The whole set up of playing women was purely a stunt to make money, through the media interest in what is essentially a circus and advertising. It was American tennis big wig Jack Kramer (ATP / ITF) who comes across as the true sexist as his beef with King intensifies throughout the film. Riggs is more of a secondary role in the film, and it’s his antics that brings most of the films humour.

If you’re a feminist or are gay or just have an interest in Tennis and its history it’s worth checking out. It’s a film that should have a deeper impact than it does but falls short on a couple of things which make it watchable but not anything special.

6/10

Review By Woody

The Disaster Artist

posted 30 May 2018, 09:56 by Paul Woodward


Genre: Comedy / Drama / Biography

Stars: James Franco / Dave Franco / Alison Brie / Seth Rogen / Ari Graynor / Paul Scheer

Director: James Franco

Certificate: 15

Run Time: 1hr 44mins

Year: 2017

The Room which was released in 2003 and is widely regarded as one of the worst films of all time and unbelievably has gathered a cult following and notoriety in the film industry. This film is based on the book actor Greg Sestero wrote about the film and his experiences and friendship with the eccentric Tommy Wiseau, who wrote, directed, acted and financed the infamous film.

Although the film has been pushed as a comedy it’s more of a drama with humorous moments. A lot of the humour comes from Tommy’s eccentricities and odd behaviour as opposed to ‘jokes’ or comedic situations. It is a great film with a big heart and the filmmakers seem to have a real sense of endearment to Tommy and Greg whilst never pulling any punches on the reality they always paint the pair in a favourable light.

While the film is about the making of the infamous film at its heart it’s a film about friendship. The Franco brothers both put in excellent performances which is needed as they are the main focus of the film, while the film boasts cameo’s galore they have very little screen time. Alison Brie plays Greg’s girlfriend and has very little to do, although Brie onscreen is always pleasurable, Brie is Dave Franco’s wife in real life, the lucky son of a bitch, so her popping up in this role is unsurprising as it is a bit of a family affair with many friends of the Franco’s making appearances most notably Seth Rogen.

It’s the friendship between Tommy and Greg that makes the film enjoyable, obviously the behind the scenes tales brought to life are what most people want to see, but it’s that friendship that make this a good film and not just a curiosity piece. Tommy Wiseau is without doubt a bizarre and unusual character, who is extremely secretive about his origins. His friendship with Greg is intense – with him been jealous when Greg gets a girlfriend and near has a meltdown when he moves out of the apartment they share. It does make you wonder if Wiseau is gay but given the unusualness of his persona, it is more probable that his jealousy is purely down to having to share Greg’s friendship – in an almost childlike way.

For all his quirks, he is a tragic person who gets very upset when he is the butt of other jokes because of his eccentricities and unusual behaviour. Society can be cruel to those who don’t act and think in the mainstream and there are a few scenes where you feel really sorry for him as how others view him is not how he views himself.

It also looks a little bit at how hard the film industry can be to break into which is obviously what leads Wiseau to make and finance his own film.

It’s very entertaining and extremely heart-warming, a must-see film!

8/10

Review By Woody

Hawaii Five-O – Season 6

posted 30 May 2018, 09:50 by Paul Woodward


Genre: Action / Crime / Drama

Stars: Alex O’Loughlin / Scott Caan / Daniel Dae Kim / Grace Park / Masi Oka / Chi McBride / Jorge Garcia / Julie Benz

Creator: Leonard Freeman / Peter M. Lenkov / Alex Kurtzman / Robert Orci

Certificate: 15

Year: 2015/16

If you haven’t seen this show yet, it’s basically a police procedural set in Hawaii centred around the ‘Five-O’ police special unit. A show that blends action, drama and comedy, which tends to focus on ‘crime’ of the week episodes with personal character development and certain story arc’s that span the entire season popping up occasionally. This season the main season long arcs involve Kelly’s brother in law – Gabriel Wainwright and Kono’s husband Adam.

I think this season may have the weakest or should that be the least intriguing season long story arc’s, but the show stays entertaining via it’s individual episode stories and the interactions between the principal cast members. Although it’s still highly watchable it lacks those episodes or emotive season long storyline’s that has made the show impressive in the past. If you’re an established fan you’ll enjoy this season as it continues to keep you entertained with it’s intriguing cast of characters.

As we are used to there are plenty of recurring characters who pop up, some more entertaining or enjoyable than others, it’s always great to see Sang Min (Will Yun Lee) who never fails to make me laugh! After the first few episodes we say goodbye to McGarrett’s on/off girlfriend Catherine, who mysteriously leaves – you do find out why, but we don’t see her again this season. So that makes McGarret a free man this leads to a great episode featuring Sarah Carter,  who I really like anyway but she shows off her body a lot in this episode – she’s definitely bikini body ready! The episode in question sees them on a date gone awry and leads to an action-packed cat and mouse episode on a remote island. She pops up in a few latter episodes to a lesser degree as McGarret’s love interest.

Randy Couture pops up again in a couple of episodes as a former firefighter pyromaniac who they banged up last season. Both Episodes are quite entertaining especially the second ‘Ka Pono Ku’oko’a’ which sees him part of an escaped group of prisoners on the run. Willie Garson also pops up a few times too as forger Hirsch, moving away from criminality into ‘good guy’ territory with this season’s antics. A quirky character who adds a different take on the more robust, action fuelled, bad guys in most episodes.

Conspiracy theorist and Techie Jerry (Jorge Garcia) is now part of Five-O, albeit in the basement and his previously occasional character is now one of the main cast. My favourite addition of the season is Julie Benz as Abby, who joins the team after initially being undercover to find some dirt on certain members of Five-O she also has a great gung ho scene in one of the later episodes where she rides in a motorbike guns blazing to save the day – well sort of!

The principal cast all have lots to deal with Kono’s husband Adam gets banged up and she has to deal with the fallout of that. Kelly is being hunted left right and centre, develops a relationship with Abby and discovers he has a niece. McGarret and Williams have less dramatic stuff going on although the season finale sees the constantly squabbling partners show their true colours.

Lots of action, comedy and whilst not as emotive as previously still some drama to keep you invested in the principal characters. I don’t think it’s the shows greatest season, but it’s still entertaining and intriguing to catch up with McGarret, Kelly, Kono and Dano!

7/10

Review By Woody

Revolt

posted 28 May 2018, 09:36 by Paul Woodward


Genre: Action / Sci-Fi

Stars: Lee Pace / Berenice Marlohe / Jason Flemying

Director: Joe Miale

Certificate: 15

Run Time: 1hr 27mins

Year: 2017

Revolt is on the surface a film about an Alien Invasion – set in Kenya it follows Bo (Lee Pace) an American soldier who awakes in a rural police station with amnesia. Imprisoned there also is an aid worker Nadia, they both escape and journey to where Bo believes his army base is located whilst the world goes to shit around them. It’s sort of a movie of two halves, the first dealing with Bo journeying to his base while trying to figure what’s going on and recover his memories. The second is about fighting back against the alien invasion once Bo arrives back at the City near his base.

For a film with a limited budget, the film makers do well as all the CGI looks pretty impressive. Poor CGI has ruined many a film, but obviously given the plot of this film quality CGI is paramount and I would say a healthy budget was given to the special effects department to make sure they achieve this as best as possible. Although technically a B movie, it doesn’t feel cheap.

I was very impressed and really enjoyed the film, sci-fi and action fans should enjoy it just as much. I was a little concerned by the opening of the film revealing our main protagonist was suffering with amnesia – a well-used plot device that doesn’t always work. I thought this is one of those films that’s going to try and be clever and just come across as overly convoluted. Thankfully that’s not the case here – the amnesia is genuinely needed otherwise if the viewer or indeed Bo knew everything from the get go, it would be a totally different film. So, the amnesia plot didn’t spoil anything.

There are some great action sequences, the final part of the film is fast paced, tense and exciting. There’s a lot of subtle thing’s done in the filming of actions sequences which enhance the impact and enjoyment of them. It may sound a very minor thing but during an early action sequence where someone is ‘vaporised’ by the alien robots Bo grabs the poor bugger’s machine gun out of the air in a quick dynamic scene. Now it may not sound a lot but it was a cool addition to the sequence, a lot of films wouldn’t bother but Revolt maximises impact within what is relatively a small-scale film.

There are lots of mystery’s surrounding what’s going on – even at the end you don’t know much about the Aliens or what they are up to. There is a sense of isolation as you don’t know what is going on elsewhere in the world and it is as if this pocket of resistance is the last on earth. The Kenyan setting also adds a sense of remoteness to the proceedings of the film as it’s certainly not what were used to with films with this sort of plot. You do get some answers as the plot progresses, mainly to do with Bo as opposed to answers to things to do with the grand scheme of things, but it doesn’t feel dissatisfying that all is not revealed. If anything, I think the unknown makes the conclusion of the film that bit more dramatic.

It was filmed in South Africa in mainly rural areas and has some beautiful cinematography which enhances the look of the film. Lee Pace may not be a Hollywood A-Lister but his acting adds a little gravitas to the film – a style of film I wouldn’t have associated with him either, although he’s no stranger to Indie films.

It’s well paced so stays entertaining and even if you’ve seen plenty of similar themed films this is still well worth a look!

7/10

Review By Woody

Trailer of the Week - Mowgli / City Of Lies / Papillion

posted 27 May 2018, 12:46 by Paul Woodward



Kingsman: The Golden Circle

posted 24 May 2018, 09:32 by Paul Woodward


Genre: Action / Adventure

Stars: Taron Egerton / Colin Firth / Mark Strong / Julianne Moore / Hanna Alstrom / Pedro Pascal

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Certificate: 15

Run Time: 2hrs 21mins

Year: 2017

This is an entertaining popcorn movie, fast paced with plenty of stunning action visuals. It’s good for what it is – but I think it lacks the freshness and unique feel that the first Kingsman film had that gave it a more dramatic impact. This is very much more of the same, but not as impressive. It’s well worth watching and switching off to on a Saturday evening, it keeps your interest and has entertaining action sequences. It’s not going to win any awards and I doubt I’ll ever watch it again, but in comparison to most Hollywood blockbusters it’s one of the better ones.

The story of a council estate kid making it into an elite secret service – was the backbone of the first film and involved lots of ‘class divide’ rhetoric and comedy. This time around the hero ‘Eggsy’ is a fully-fledged Kingsman and the film flows along as a sort of tongue in cheek ‘James Bond’ alike film. The film has a lot of Englishness to it which makes it appeal to an English audience, but it does have mass appeal and the introduction of the Statesmen widens up the film to more mainstream American markets – with the likes of Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry having small but prominent roles.

Julianne Moore acts everyone of the screen effortlessly as the film’s villain Poppy and is easily the best thing about the whole film. The only downside is she makes the other actors look piss poor in comparison! Always great to see Moore taking on varying roles, what’s great about her here is that her villain isn’t an over the top caricature delivered with overblown excessive mannerisms. That make’s her turn as Poppy that much scarier and suitably villainous and unsympathetic.

There is a couple of things about the storyline I wasn’t sure of, like the Hero injecting Poppy with Heroin at the end which unintentionally kills her. I found that uncomfortable and that whole scene could have been done differently I feel. I also wasn’t sure about the film’s stance on drugs, while the villain is a drug dealer who is eventually stopped – the way the film goes it seemingly makes drug use an everyday activity and dare I say it acceptable? Like when we see one of Eggsy’s mates smoking a crack pipe. A lot depends on your outlook on drugs and your own lifestyle choices – but I found the film downplayed the negative impact of drugs like Heroin and Cocaine on real lives which I didn’t really like – especially when the target audience for this film is young adults.

Other than the aforementioned Moore, the acting was very poor, given the pedigree of some of the actors in this film that may be shocking but a lot of it is down to the script and the type of film this is. I’m sure many of the actors involved may be happy they were in a fun film, but they may find themselves a little embarrassed by the acting.

One of the running gags through the film is Elton John, who has been kidnapped by Poppy. Now at times that’s funny, but there is way too much Elton John! He has more screen time than many of the billed stars of this film, like Channing Tatum. My main problem is he can’t act for shit and he is given too much dialogue and things to do and this has a really negative impact on the film. If anything, the writers just seem to want to see how many times they can get him to say ‘Fuck’ rather than add anything worthwhile to the film.

The special effects are on the whole stunning and the action scenes excitingly choregraphed. The violence is glamourized and dynamic and filmed in a way to create a one take style. The action is stylised in a very exciting way and the way it’s filmed is quite captivating. The action scenes are what make this film worth watching.

There is a strong comedic tone to the film, but it tends to be laddish and crude. It’s not laugh out loud funny to me, rather tongue in cheek and not taking itself seriously.

7/10

Review by Woody

Sun Dogs

posted 22 May 2018, 12:36 by Paul Woodward


Genre: Drama

Stars: Michael Angarano / Melissa Benoist / Allison Janney / Ed O’Neill / Xzibit

Director: Jennifer Morrison

Certificate: 12

Run Time: 1hr 34mins

Year: 2017

I Love films like this! It’s films like this that make me a cinephile, Great acting, intriguing story, strong direction and an emotional journey with characters you care about! Sun Dogs is the feature length film debut from Jennifer Morrison (you may know her from TV show Once Upon A Time) and she does a great job, utilising a lot of effects and styles to give her film a unique touch and emphasis certain aspects of the main characters nature. She even pops up in a small onscreen role.

The film follows Ned Chipley who is obsessed with 9/11 and his desire to enlist in the marine corp. He is a strange but an extremely likeable character as he is really innocent, naive and just really wants to help people and save lives. We don’t find out until towards the end of the film that Ned suffered brain damage as a baby when been born, whilst the story makes it obvious that Ned has a mental condition, it’s never mentioned openly or elaborated on until the story needs it to be stated. Instead Ned’s persona is focused upon as opposed to the condition that makes him tick the way he does, which makes for a much more human film which isn’t taking cheap shots to elicit sympathy or drive the story.

The film hits it stride once a recruitment officer in an attempt to give Ned a purpose and refrain from keep applying for the marine corps encourages him to become a ‘Sun Dog’ – a job he makes up. An unofficial agent keeping an eye on the home front, something Ned takes seriously which leads to him investigating people he suspects to be terrorists. Along the way he develops a friendship with Tally a hustler who believes he really is a ‘Sun Dog’ and helps him along on his mission oblivious to his mental condition. There are some heavy and downbeat aspects to this films story but it is a really positive film and isn’t depressing and has a truly memorable and fitting ending.

Ned is so easy to like, his need to help gives him purpose but also makes him admirable. He’s quirky and unusual and this film highlights that been different doesn’t mean you’re less human or inclined to be a ‘bad’ person because you don’t fit into humanities mainstream mindset.

The relationship between Ned and Tally is one of the things I love about the film. It’s innocent and caring and Tally seems so oblivious to his condition because she is so desperate to see the good in someone, which isn’t hard to do with Ned, especially amongst the people she’s associated with herself. With a tragic backstory which actually leads to Ned’s most heroic deed – she sees Ned and his persona as a ray of hope in her bleak life. Ned lives with mom and dad and is isolated from society – something which is downplayed but is obvious in his lifestyle so his relationship with Tally is heart-warming as he develops a very innocent and caring connection with her.

Michael Angarano brings Ned to life perfectly, all his quirks, innocence and unusualness you’d believe he IS Ned! Allison Janney and Ed O’Neill are also excellent as his parents, Janney has to be one of the best character actresses out there.

I can’t gush about Melissa Benoist enough, she is excellent as Tally, someone looking for a better life and seeing the best in Ned, revels in how he makes her feel, important, needed and cared for. Benoist brings Tally’s fragility to the front especially in scenes where she leans on Ned’s friendship and that tragic revelation she confides in him. I really hope this is the start of big things for Benoist, I like her in her role as TV’s Super Girl, but this role proves her acting is good enough to lead her to doing juicier dramatic roles.

Like I’ve already mentioned the film has a great and fitting ending, which really sticks in the memory. My only disappointment was how Tally’s and Ned’s relationship goes. Inevitably she discovers he has a mental condition and he’s not really a soldier and reacts really badly believing he was lying to her. That’s not my problem, that’s how I saw the story progressing. It’s just that when Tally apologises, as her reaction was excessive, not that Ned really fully understood the meaning behind her outburst, it’s done via a postcard. I would have liked their consolation to have been visual – sadly I think this would have given the film too many endings. But there is a sense of Tally’s and Ned’s friendship been unresolved onscreen. Seeing her come to terms with Ned’s disability and it not bothering her would have been a nice touch. I just have to imagine that…lazy script writers! I of course jest, the writers should be very happy with this great human drama.

Excellent film, I can’t recommend this film highly enough for genuine hardcore film fans. Easily one of the best films I’ve seen this year.

9/10

Review By Woody

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