Monthly Archives: October 2015

Rapid Review: Night of the Comet (1984)

Night of the Comet

Just a quick review today I’m afraid and as it’s Halloween soon I picked this horror/comedy movie that was made back in 1984.

A comet is passing by Earth for the first time in 65 million years. The next day most of the population has disappeared and some of the ones left behind have been reduced to Zombies. Theres only a few that managed to remain unaffected, including sisters Reggie (Catherine Mary Stewart)  and Samantha (Kelli Maroney). Can they adapt to their new world and survive the terrors outside?

Night of the Comet is a fun movie with two great female protagonists. Joss Whedon has credited this film for helping to produce the character of Buffy and you can definitely see shades of everyone’s favourite vampire slayer in the two sisters. The special effects may look a bit naff now but they are a certain charm to them. Having the girls based at a radio station means a lot of 80’s music on the soundtrack which is great for those who like that music such as myself.

As the movie is more tongue in cheek and entertaining a modern audience probably won’t find it that scary. However it’s easy to see why this became a cult movie. So if you fancy a retro horror movie and seen all the classic this may just be the Halloween treat for you.



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Kingsman: The Secret Service

KingsmanHave you ever watched the recent James Bond movies and think Daniel Craig is great but I miss the humour and style of the older Bond films? Well if so Kingsman: The Secret Service may have been made for you.

Unemployed teenager Eggsy (Taron Egerton) lives in London with his mum and abusive stepfather. His life changes when he meets Harry Hart (Colin Firth) and finds out about the Kingsman- a secret intelligence service that Eggsy’s father used to work for. Eggsy volunteers to join the agency and soon has to go through rigorous training against his peers for the role. Meanwhile Harry has to deal with a possible world crisis involving billionaire and philanthropist Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson).

Graphic cartoon violence and tongue in cheek humour are aplenty in this latest movie from Michael Vaughn. Once again adapting from the work of Mark Millar, Vaughn is at home in the outlandish action and set pieces. Whether it’s on the streets of London, the villain’s lair or in a top-secret facility Vaughn sets up his super spy world and feels accomplished whatever the setting. A lot of the movie’s fun comes from seeing a suave and suited Firth kicking ass in a heavily bloody and ultra violent manner. An unexpected fight in a church is a particular highlight and excellently directed. Newcomer Egerton is engaging as Eggsy, an intelligent but restless youth who becomes a fish out of water while dealing with the rich, upper class snobbery of his fellow Kingsmen. Egerton manages to command the screen alongside his more experienced co-stars and from this and his work in Legend, he is set to be a star in the making.

However some of the film’s jokes falls wide off the mark, particularly the end sex gag. I can see what they were trying to go for with a send up of James Bond-esque sex jokes but it ended up falling flat and leaves the film on a sour note. Also despite Jackson being on entertaining form, Valentine is not as memorable a villain as one would have hoped for.

Still despite the flaws Kingsman: The Secret Service is huge fun and I look forward to the proposed sequel coming soon.

Rating 3.5/5 – violent, funny and entertaining with Firth looking like he’s having a ball


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Spooks: The Greater Good

Spooks The Greater Good

British TV show Spooks managed to thrill audiences for ten series with its tales of MI5 spies. It was doing the whole anyone-can-die twists way before The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones came along. Earlier this year the show made the leap to the big screen but was it a successful move?

Set some years after the tv show ended Harry Perce (Peter Firth), the head of MI5 counter terrorism department goes rogue just after a terrorist Adem Qasim (Elyes Gabel) escapes from custody. In order to find out what Harry is up to former MI5 agent Will Holloway (Kit Harington) is brought back in to find out the truth. However Will soon finds himself in web of lies and intrigue.

Ever since Lisa Faulkner had her head dunked in a deep fat fryer Spooks has constantly been surprising its audience and no character has ever felt safe as has been proven over the years. But with Harry the only major character brought back from the show there’s not many people to care about. The new characters introduced in the The Greater Good are barely fleshed out so there’s no concern over any impending deaths or betrayals. Kit Harrington is so good in Game of Thrones but as Will is so boring, not helped by uninspiring authority issues and an unresolved grudge against Harry.

In a year which has already had Mission Impossible:Rogue Nation and will soon see Spectre on the screens, Spooks:The Greater Good just feels like a poor relation in the spy genre. The climax of the movie and the end revelations feel a bit underwhelming whereas the tv show was great at reveals and unexpected twists.

In spite of it’s failing there are some good aspects. Firth is reliably good as Harry, the only person the audience will care about in this movie (although if you haven’t seen the series you might not be feeling that as much). Gabel is also appropriately menacing as Qasim even if the character is a bit of a cliché. Qasim’s escape at the beginning of the movie is also well executed. Still I doubt Spooks will have Bond quaking in his boots.

Rating 2/5 – a missed opportunity to bring Spooks to the big screen

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The Oscar race is starting, and early buzz has Sicario as an early favourite. But does the film justify the hype?

After a gruesome discovery during a kidnapping raid in Arizona FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) agrees to volunteer as part of Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) special team to get the cartel responsible. However she finds that Graver’s team does not follow by the rules and she is constantly being kept in the dark about the situation and about Matt’s mysterious partner Alejandro (Benicio del Toro).

Director Denis Villeneuve has produced a tight and tense movie full of many thrilling moments. It has a strong opening with a disturbing house of horrors in Arizona. The film has many gruesome moments throughout the film as we see the horror of the cartel in Mexico. A taut stand-off in a traffic jams also provides some thrills as does a raid in a tunnel at the film’s climax shot in night vision cameras.

Of the cast Blunt is typically strong as protagonist Kate, a relatable figure who is the audience’s eye through the morally ambiguous world. We are figuring out the real story just as she is. However the most magnetic performance comes from del Toro as the intriguing Alejandro. If the movie is awash with nominations come award season expect plenty to go his way.

My attention was gripped throughout the movie and while I liked it I didn’t love it like others have. Maybe it’s because it was raved about so much beforehand that expectations were too high? It also felt like there needed something extra at the end, an extra twist perhaps. It could be that I’m so used to morally corrupt authorities in movies that it doesn’t seem much of a surprise that Alejandro and co are not all that they seem. It probably would have been more of a twist of they were stand up good guys!

Rating 3.5/5 – exciting, thought – provoking with a spellbinding performance from del Toro


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Housebound (2014)

HouseboundWhat’s worse than having to be on house arrest at your parent home? Maybe if said home goes bumps in the night and strange things start moving on their own.

After trying to rob an ATM machine Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly) is forced to move back to her mum’s home under house arrest. Kylie and her mum Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) already have a strained relationship, and Kylie is annoyed by her mum’s belief that the house is haunted. However when she starts experiencing strange occurrences in the house Kylie realises that maybe her mum is right after all.

This New Zealand horror comedy has a great premise and although it looks on the cheap side, it makes good use of its sparse sets, giving the film a nice claustrophobic feel. This of course perfectly mirrors Kylie’s own predicament as she cannot leave the premises of her mum’s house without her ankle bracelet going off. The film finds plenty of humour in Kylie’s situation and in the reversing the positions the sceptic and believer between Kylie and her mum. It also has fun finding the humour and horror in the mundane.

As well as being funny the film has plenty of creepy moments. The house looks like the kind of place that would be haunted and as Kylie creeps around the house there’s plenty of tension wondering whats around the corner. There’s also plenty of blood splatter and jump scares to satisfy horror fiends.

The protagonist Kylie is a grown woman who acts like a petulant teenager and so spiteful she won’t let her mum watch Coronation Street. While she’s definitely a brat, she’s also someone you do root for despite her unlikable behaviour. It helps that O’Reilly puts in a strong performance and works wonderfully with the rest of the cast especially Te Wiata and Glen-Paul Waru as Kylie’s ankle bracelet monitor Amos who is the Mulder to Kylie’s Scully, initially anyway.

Some may find it difficult to overcome its indie trappings, and I did get annoyed at the (luckily brief) foray into the over-used ‘is it’s all in her head’ subplot. However Housebound is a hidden gem that’s bound to give people a fun and spooky night in.

Rating 3.5/5 – frightening, silly and thoroughly enjoyable

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Miss You Already

Miss You AlreadyI love watching comedies and films that make me feel good but sometimes you just need a good cry. Director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) latest movie is a comedy-drama that aims to get its audience in floods of tears.

Best friends Milly (Toni Collette) and Jess (Drew Barrymore) have been through many ups and downs in their lives, but they face their toughest challenge when Milly is diagnosed with breast cancer. Their friendship is put to the test as Milly struggles with cancer while Jess tries balancing being a supportive friend as well as her own fertility issues.

Miss You Already sounds like a made-for-tv movie that has somehow been given the green light for the big screen. However Hardwicke and screenwriter Morweena Banks try bypass the clichés of the cancer movies. In another film Milly would probably look glamorous and healthy even with cancer but here the side affects of her illness are appropriately shown and the film doesn’t shy away from showing how awful cancer is not just to Milly but how it affects her family and friends too. The script also isn’t afraid to mix a bit of dark humour within the tears, best shown when Milly goes to have a wig prepared for when she loses all her hair.

Collette is brilliant as Milly, handling the tough material well and it was refreshing to see that Milly isn’t portrayed as a martyr, instead she’s flawed and three-dimensional. Sometimes she isn’t even likeable but you are still sympathetic to her situation and to why she makes the bad choices that she does. Barrymore is also strong as Milly’s dependable friend Jess whose trying to support her friend while also dealing with her own fertility problems. Dominic Cooper also impresses as Milly’s devoted but overwhelmed husband.

Despite it’s best intentions sometimes the film does stray into melodrama. Also while Jess and Jago (Paddy Considine) make a cute couple their constant arguments about IVF and Milly get a bit repetitive. While It’s not as good as the ultimate weepie movie Beaches it’s still a pretty emotional and effective film.

Rating 3.5/5 – a powerful movie that’ll make you appreciate your loved ones more


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Man Up

Man Up

Romantic-comedy – a difficult genre to get right and with so many failed attempts over the years I almost dread hearing the words rom-com. However with talents like Simon Pegg and Lake Bell involved will this rom-com be worth the watch?

When Nancy (Lake Bell) gets mistaken by Jack (Simon Pegg) as his blind date, Nancy decides to take a risk and go with it. As the date goes on the two find themselves getting along really well. However as Jack thinks Nancy is someone else can this couple ever properly get together?

It’s a relief to say that does film manages to be both romantic and funny. Hallelujah! Theres been so many films that fail at one or both of these elements that it’s great that Man Up manages to seamlessly achieve the two. The script by Tess Morris has plenty of funny lines and set ups such as thirty something Nancy having to keep up the pretence that she’s a 24-year-old triathlete. Director Ben Palmer has directed movies like The Inbetweeners so he is able to make sure the movie is genuinely hilarious and not too cheesy.

Simon Pegg and Lake Bell work great together and you really root for the characters. Both the Jack and Nancy are believable flawed characters. Nancy is afraid of taking risks and Jack is bitter over his divorce. I also liked how Nancy called Jack out for being a 40-year-old trying to go on a date with a 24-year-old. The supporting cast may be a bit more two-dimensional but they play up to their roles well. Rory Kinnear is cringe-worthingly funny as a former school mate of Nancy who turns up at the wrong time, and Sharon Horgan also provides laughs at Nancy’s sister Elaine.

Whether you fancy watching this with your significant other or with a group of friends, Man-Up is a feel good comedy that will have you laughing the whole way through.

Rating 4/5 – a great movie full of fun jokes, hilarious set pieces and two wonderful leads


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The Rewrite (2014)

The RewriteHugh Grant has long cornered the market on romantic comedies, first typecast as the bumbling, uptight English gentleman in Four Weddings and a Funeral, then as the rougish, playboy in Bridget Jone’s Diary. But will his latest movie The Rewrite provide Grant with anything new?

Keith Michaels (Hugh Grant) was once an award winner screenwriter, however he hasn’t had a hit in years. When he reluctantly takes up a job teaching a screenwriting course at Binghamton University he’s surprised to find he’s actually good at it. But can he resist falling back into old patterns and ill-advised love affairs.

The Rewrite isn’t a classic rom-com, but nor is it a complete flop. It’s aims for middle of the road romance with some gentle laughs and it. I liked the fact the film focused on Keith’s class as well as the budding romance with single mum Holly (Marisa Tomei), whose also a student in his class. Tomei and Grant are both likeable in their roles and make it easier to watch. The film also benefits from having J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney in supporting roles.

The only thing is that The Rewrite doesn’t bring anything new or ground-breaking to the genre. While it’s fine to be easy watching, it couldn’t think of a lot to say about it after I finished watching it. Hence why this review is shorter than usual.

Rating 2.5/5 – a non offensive and simple rom-com


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