What We Do In The Shadows (2014)

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So as you can probably tell with me having this blog, I’m a movie nerd.  I like to see what movies are coming out soon and watch various trailers etc.  That’s how I came across this film…Sadly it never came to a cinema near me so I didn’t catch it until it came out on DVD (yes, I still buy those sometimes).

It’s an interesting film, something that I’ve not seen before.  It’s basically a ‘mockumentary’ about the life of modern day vampires and the society of ‘supernatural’ beings. It’s from the creators of Flight of the Conchords, so that gives you a sense of the style of humor in this film, these guys know exactly how to do misfit humor well. 

We have a camera crew that have been granted access into the lives of four vampires that all share a house together in the 21st Century.  The four vampires are all unique characters, firstly you have Viago played by Taika Waititi who is very chatty and happy to tell you everything about himself and the others, he’s the main narrator really. Then we have Vladislav played by Jemaine Clement and Deacon played by Jonny Brugh who are both brooding, grumpy and think they’re cooler than they are.. Finally we have Petyr played by Ben Fransham who is clearly the oldest of the bunch as he can’t even take a more human form and just lives in the basement minding his own business.  As you can imagine these guys don’t always get along and it’s their situation of being vampires in the modern age that’s brought them together, clearly just not wanting to be alone.

Things take an interesting turn when one of the group accidentally turns a guy called Nick into a vampire.  Nick is pretty annoying but his best friend Stu is very popular with the group even though he’s human and teaches them how to use modern technology which results in some very funny scenes in the film. The vampires are able to control peoples minds, a useful trick when they make mistakes and need to resolve things. Nick doesn’t really take to being a vampire and the others take it upon themselves to try and help him even though they don’t really like the guy.

There’s no major use of digital effects as such in this film, it relies mainly on makeup and just good humor.

The casting is great, no one really well known as such but the cast work well with one another, clearly most of them have done projects together before.

Overall this film is an interesting watch, if you aren’t much for the Flight of the Conchords’ humor then don’t bother with this but if you’re a fan of that you’ll love this film.  I personally enjoyed it, parts are really funny but I can understand it wouldn’t be for everyone.

Perfect Popcorn Score – What We Do In The Shadows get’s a seven from me, some really funny scenes and a good idea for a film but it’s one you have to be in the mood to watch  – 7/10.

 

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The Cabin In The Woods (2012)

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The problem we have with horror movies these days is that we’ve seen everything, I mean I really do feel for the horror writers of today because it must be so difficult to come up with something remotely originally, story wise.  This film is something we’ve not seen before though, it’s a great horror/comedy mix but, I’d expect nothing less from the legend that is Joss Whedon.

So we have five twenty-somethings in a cabin in the woods. Oh, I’m sorry… Have you seen this before? Yes, OK but did I also mention that they’re being watched by an organisation that’s led them to this cabin and to complete a ritual?  You first see the characters and think, ah alright you’ve got your jock, blonde ‘bimbo’, stoner, nerdy girl, jocks ‘normal’ best friend. However, throughout this film you learn that the characters are being manipulated to appear this way, they’re all (well apart from MartyMarty is as he seems, a stoner) actually intelligent students.

This film is just great, there’s some dark humor and I love it, the guys behind the scenes understand their role and just want to ‘get the job done’ and you can’t help but like them even if they are trying to kill the students in the cabin. There’s a few twists in this film and they just add to the enjoyment.  I really liked the basement scene because you have a character, Marty saying exactly what you’re saying when you’re at home watching, ‘don’t read the latin!’  Of course no one listens to the stoner (or the audience) and unleashes the family of redneck zombies.

The effects are great, both digitally and FX Makeup wise for all the various creatures that appear. It’s nice to see a film that doesn’t rely on just CGI alone.

The cast in this film is decent, my one issue is with Kristen Connolly who plays Dana she just wasn’t likable as a lead role which is a shame, I mean she wasn’t terrible but I could think of better actresses for this part.  I don’t have any problems with the rest of the cast though, Fran Kranz is perfect as Marty the stoner and one of my favorite characters is this movie. Personal shout outs to Amy Acker and Tom Lenk, yes I’m a Buffy/Angel fan and was so happy to see these two in this film!

Overall this film is just fun to watch, like I said there’s a few twists and it’s an interesting story plot which is hard to find these days.  If you’re not into gore with clever humor this film isn’t for you, it’s not creepy scary but it’s a good film to see.

Perfect Popcorn Score – The Cabin in the Woods gets an eight from me, great story, great gore and laughs but the cast could have been better  – 8/10.

 

 

 

 

The Jungle Book (2016)

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The Jungle Book, is a story most of us know.  This film tells it beautifully, the visual effects are amazing, I’m actually gutted I didn’t go and see this in 3D at the cinema because it really deserves to be seen on the big screen in all it’s glory.

The story in short is about a little boy called Mowgli that gets separated from his family and raised by a pack of wolves as one of their own.  Then along comes Shere Khan the evil tiger, he believes that no man belongs in the jungle and sets out to kill Mowgli which leads the young boy on an adventure to find his village and be reunited once again with his own kind.

He meets many other animals of the jungle on his travels in this adaptation, such as Baloo the bear and King Louie. However, some animals were missed in script such as the elephants and vultures but they did still feature in the film.  As with almost all Disney films there’s songs throughout this movie but that didn’t bother me as much as it usually does (I’m personally not a fan of musicals).

Neel Sethi plays the role of Mowgli quite well, I mean he’s not been in any big budget films before and to act in this the way he does deserve some credit.  It’s got to be difficult for him when every other character is created after scenes are filmed so he’s got no one to work with in a way, it’s all about your imagination so I think he’s great in this film. The casting for the character voices is just perfect, I mean Bill Murray as Baloo, that’s genius! Christopher Walken is another great choice as he voices King Louie but I especially liked Idris Elba as Shere Khan, such a classic Disney villain voice, just brilliant!

The effects in this film are flawless, I’m picky when it comes to CGI and feel that it’s overused in a lot of films these days but I can’t fault this. From the animals themselves to the complete environments it’s just stunning to see on screen.

My only issue with this film is Kaa’s appearance, it’s just pointless whereas in the first Disney adaptation Kaa is a big character.  To have Scarlett Johansson voice this character for one short scene just seems like a waste of money to me.

Overall, this film is worth a watch just for the visual effects alone and it’s a classic story for all the family. I’m not sure what Disney are trying to achieve with these live-action takes on classic 2D Animations but this one is done well.

Perfect Popcorn Score – The Jungle Book get’s a seven from me, the visuals are amazing, casting is great but I think it missed some key animals and the story wasn’t told as well as it could have been.  – 7/10.

 

 

Get Out (2017)

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I hadn’t really heard much about this film, I saw the trailer at the cinema when watching another movie and decided to give it a go when it came out in March this year.

Whenever I see a horror movie at the cinema I go in with an open mind because it’s very difficult to do good horror these days (it seems).  ‘Get Out’, was actually a decent film, mainly because it never went off on a tangent and kept to it’s one story-line, a story-line that made sense.  The film does highlight that stereotypical ‘black boyfriend meets white girlfriends parents for first time‘, but it does this in a dark humor kind of sense which is refreshing.  The film isn’t taking it so seriously and I liked that but I’d say it’s more of a thriller/slasher than a creepy horror movie.

So couple, Chris and Rose live in the city and are visiting Rose’s parents this weekend for the first time. Chris is clearly nervous about this but Rose reassures him that her parents aren’t racist at all and will welcome him into their home.  Chris’ friend Rod tries to convince Chris that it’s a bad idea but Chris still decides to go anyway.  So the couple set off but on their way hit a deer, I thought this was a clever scene as you’re not sure if it relates to what’s going on or not…

The couple reach Rose’s parents house and it’s your usual ‘house on the lake’, although they do have two black people as ‘servants’.  There’s a slightly awkward atmosphere as everyone is trying a little too hard to make Chris feel a home and this ends up having the opposite effect. Georgina and Walter are both acting very strange and more like white middle class, Chris (and let’s face it, everyone watching this film) finds this very strange.  Rose’s mother, Missy is a therapist and uses her skills to stop people smoking, she offers to help Chris but he refuses, so she does it anyway.  It’s an interesting scene and it does give you a slightly better idea of what’s actually going on and things start to slowly add up when the party starts.

The acting in this film is spot on really, Daniel Kaluuya is especially good as Chris, his facial expressions are perfect in every scene.  LilRel Howery as Chris’ best friend Rod adds some great humor to this film, in fact this guy is probably my favorite character.  

The effects in this film are very good, the music is also used too add to the mood and make you aware of things you should take notice of.

Overall this is a pretty good watch, it keeps you guessing which is hard to do these days as we have seen almost everything from haunting’s, viruses, curses etc done to death so this is something slightly different.

Perfect Popcorn Score – Get Out gets a seven from me, it’s got a good story, decent acting but I don’t think it could make up it’s mind on what kind of film it was, for me it was just missing something that The Cabin in the Woods wasn’t.   – 7/10.

Still Crazy (1998)

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I did say I’d review older films as well, so here’s one you need to put on your watch list.  I was sitting at home one day, going through all the channels looking for something decent to watch and discovered ‘Still Crazy’ and it’s now one of my personal favorites actually.

‘Still Crazy‘, is all about a ‘rock’ band called ‘Strange Fruit’ and their hopes of a reunion.  The band has a rocky history as they split up and haven’t seen or spoken to each other in years.  Until one day, the keyboard player Tony, played by Stephen Rea is approached by a guy wanting the band to play a large music festival. Tony jumps at the chance of reliving the glory days and first on his list is to be reunited with is Karen.  Karen was madly in love with Brian, the troubled lead guitarist of the band and went everywhere with the fruits as their ‘unoffical’ manager (or maybe mediator). Karen is now working at a hotel, divorced with a daughter, she agrees to help Tony get the Fruits back together.  They all agree to meet however, tensions show as the bass player Les, played by Jimmy Nail really has it in for their lead singer Ray, played by Bill Nighy. After some drama they all hit the road for a tour around Europe and there is some great laughs in this film from all the cast, especially drummer Beano, played by Timothy Spall and of course their roadie Hughie, played by Billy Connolly.

This film is a really feel-good movie and there’s some emotional scenes as well as laughs.  You see that still, after all this time Karen is still madly in love with Brian and Tony has always loved her. Also that Ray has always felt like an outcast because he joined the band after their original singer and Brians’ brother Keith died from a drug overdose.  This reunion heals old wounds and mends broken friendships within the band to help they make it a second time around.

There’s not really any special effects to mention in this film however, the soundtrack is fantastic! There are many songs created for this film and that’s another reason I love it because they really did go for it with this soundtrack.  My favorite song is probably Les’ ‘The Flame, Still Burns’ it’s a little cheesy but it does work well in this film because it relates to the band and Karen’s love for Brian.

Overall, you need to watch this! It’s got a killer cast, proper British greats! This film will make you laugh and cry and sing along! I’m surprised not many people have heard of it with a cast like this but that’s why I wanted to review in on my blog because it’s a hidden gem of a film.

Perfect Popcorn Score – Still Crazy, get’s a great big ten from me! It’s just the perfect feel-good film and I still listen to the soundtrack now!  – 10/10.

Logan (2017)

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My first thoughts on ‘Logan’ were simply, ‘what else can you do with this character?’.  I mean this is the third stand alone Wolverine film we’ve had and then there’s all of the ‘X-Men’ films he’s appeared in as well. However, this is the best Marvel film I’ve seen in a while.

Logan’, is set in the year 2029 and surprisingly not that much has changed technology wise in the world, no floating cars for example and I liked that because it can be too distracting sometimes. We learn in this film that something has happened, resulting in the end of the X-Men.  All that is left is Logan and Xavier and they do have help from another mutant called Caliban.  Xavier is now highly unstable and seems to have some form a dementia, possibly caused by the same incident that wiped out the X-Men.  Then there is Laura, a young girl with all of Logan’s powers (and attitude).  The woman that saves Laura, claims that Logan is her father and that he needs to protect her.

Throughout the film Logan and Laura form a bond, she gives him something to live for when he has lost everything.  Logan learns that she is his daughter as a team of scientists created Laura and others like her using the DNA of mutants.  There is none stop action in this film from start to finish as well as some emotional scenes. It’s defiantly a more gritty film than we’re used to in this franchise from the fight scenes to the actual story.

Hugh Jackman is ‘Logan’, there will be no other actor for me that can play this role.  I know they’re going to recast in the future but I really wish they wouldn’t, especially after this brilliant performance. The cast for this film were great, I’d like to highlight Dafne Keen, her performance as Laura was fantastic. Another thing I liked about this film is that there are no unnecessary  mutants, everyone fits into this film and that’s what they need to be careful of with this franchise because for me ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’, was just a mess of a film.

Effects were great and only used where needed, this film had more of a hand-to-hand combat style.  The only issue I had was the CGI used for Logan’s clone, it looked too false in my opinion.

Overall I loved this film, the ending was emotional and it had everything the others didn’t.  This is a film with heart, the story was great and the acting was brilliant and like I said that ending gets you.

Perfect Popcorn Score – It gets a nine from me, great action and a lot of emotion but not the best CGI. – 9/10.

 

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

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King Kong is one of cinemas’ biggest icons and I always have respect for any director willing to take on a remake or reboot of this kind because it has a lot to live up too. Most recently we have the 2005 movie ‘King Kong’, directed by Peter Jackson which was a very well made film in my opinion.  ‘Kong: Skull Island’, is a different take on the legend that is Kong and I didn’t really know what to expect from this film, I went in with a completely open mind and was pleasantly surprised.

We have some good actors in this film but I have just one complaint about the cast.  Some people may disagree but Samuel L. Jackson, for me was just too much.  Do we have to have the slow emphasis on almost every word he speaks in every, single, film he is in? Yes, it does work well in some of his other roles but I’m personally getting tired of it. The rest of the cast are great, no one else tries to ‘out act’ anyone else and John C. Reilly adds some subtle humor in the film.

The team are gathered too researched Skull Island and are led by John Goodman’s character Bill Randa.  To research this island they use explosives, a great idea yes? Enter a very angry King Kong, wanting to defend his territory and destroy the intruders. The team get split up from the battle and try to make it through the island towards the agreed meeting point so they can get back home.  This island doesn’t have just one large creature living on it.  There are other threats on Skull Island as well as a tribe of people that also live there in fear of ‘Skull Crawlers’.  Due to the explosives, the largest ‘Skull Crawler’ awakens and Kong goes on to fight the creature as it was responsible for wiping out his entire family.

The creature designs are very good, we’ve gone less modern ‘Planet of the Apes’ style and back to a more basic design similar to the 1933, wide eyed Kong. There’s a few scenes where the green screen back drops are noticeable but nothing too bad.

We all know what is coming, following the success of the 2014 ‘Godzilla’Legendary Productions are now working on ‘Godzilla: King of Monsters’ which is set for a 2019 release. There’s no mention of Kong in the title or what little information is being given at the moment but Monarch are definitely going to be involved so you never know… 

Overall I enjoyed this film, even with Samuel L. Jackson’s fairly over-dramatic performance. There was plenty of action, great creature designs and effects and some good acting and humor!  There’s a lot of room now with the story of Kong after this film so I’m sure we’ll see him in the future.

Perfect Popcorn Score – I’m giving this a seven, it was a refreshing take on the Kong story and a pleasant surprise… 7/10.