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Showing posts from February, 2015

You stole my car, and you killed my dog!

John Wick (2014)
(SPOILERS) For their directorial debut, ex-stunt guys Chad Stahelski and David Leitch plump for the old reliable “hit man comes out of retirement” plotline, courtesy of screenwriter Derek Kolstad, and throw caution to the wind. The result, John Wick, is one of last year’s geek and critical favourites, a fired up actioner that revels in its genre tropes and captures that elusive lightning in a bottle; a Keanu Reeves movie in which he is perfectly cast.

That said, some of the raves have probably gone slightly overboard. This is effective, silly, and enormous fun in its own hyper-violent way, but Stahelski and Leitch haven’t announced themselves stylistically so much as plastered the screen with ultra-violence and precision choreography. They have a bit of a way to go before they’re masters of their domain, and they most definitely need to stint on their seemingly insatiable appetite for a metalhead soundtrack. This kind of bludgeoning choice serves to undercut the action a…

Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest. I mean brightest.

Oscar Winners 2015

Neil Patrick Harris: Congratulations to all of the nominees, in particular the eight best-picture nominees. They have all grossed over $600 million. American Sniper alone is responsible for over $300 million of that. To put that in perspective: everyone on this side is the seven other nominees. And, American Sniper is —  Oprah. (To Oprah) Because you’re rich.
David Letterman: (To Oprah) Oprah, Uma. (To Uma) Uma, Oprah.
As usual, I didn’t watch. It would take David Letterman hosting again, or someone else guaranteed to be provocative. Which just won’t happen. Entertaining entertainers tend to bland out amid the worldwide broadcast headlights, for fear of causing offence. Respect is due to Neil Patrick Harris however. He merely tripped where Letterman had previously buried himself, but he still got in an Oprah gag. True, Harris’ wasn’t as disarmingly batty as Dave’s but all credit to him for having a go.
Last year my mix of stabs in the dark and sure things yielded 16 ou…

Good dragons under the control of bad people do bad things.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
(SPOILERS) There’s good reason to be cynical about the current state of animated sequels, what with every studio shamelessly strip-mining properties for franchise potential, irrespective of whether they merit it or not. No one is screaming for more Cars and Kung Fu Panda. Actually, they probably are, but they don’t know any better. DreamWorks is particularly guilty, although they at least never betrayed lofty pretensions the way Pixar did. That the first How to Train Your Dragon was such a pleasant surprise, the best animation from the studio since the first Shrek, instantly rang warning bells. Were they going to relentlessly plunder Hiccup and Toothless, creating disdain the way they did with that series? The answer is no, fortunately. How to Train Your Dragon 2 may not scale the heights of the first outing, but it more than arrests the studio’s backwards slide in quality.

Returning director Dean DeBlois cited The Empire Strikes Back as informing his ap…

You’re a busy Betty, and I don’t like busy Bettys!

Haunter (2013)
(SPOILERS) Haunter is nothing if not derivative, but frequently not of other horror movies. Which means it isn’t a hugely scary movie, so it’s unlikely to be clutched to the bosoms of aficionados of the genre. It’s also unlikely to be sought out by those who aren’t that partial to horror movies, as it sells itself as another teen horror flick. A medley of Groundhog Day, The Sixth Sense, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Ghost, Vincenzo Natali’s picture has enough inventiveness to escape becoming just another formulaic frightener.

The most refreshing part of Haunter is that it doesn’t make a meal of its twist premise. Of course, it’s only a twist if you don’t know about it in advance (Netflix apparently gives the game away in it’s movie description). We’ve seen more than enough pictures, post-Shyamalan, that have made themselves all about the reveal. This creates a top-heavy construction, guiding the audience by way of anticipation that is rarely satisfied. Here, we’re told in …