Friday, 31 March 2017

Movie Review: Kong: Skull Island (2017)



Japan has a certain monopoly on classic city-shredding monsters, what with the king of monsters Godzilla and his rogue’s gallery well and truly ingrained in the popular consciousness. But damn it all if the West doesn’t have its own colossal champion which also represents quite a few milestones for the art of cinema: The big bad gorilla King Kong. Whether it’s the ground-breaking effects work of the 1933 original, the years-in-the-making passion project of Peter Jackson’s 2005 version, to the 1960 introduction between the beasts in King Kong Vs. Godzilla, the Eighth Wonder of the World has quite a colourful history. I’ll admit that I’m not as big into giant monster movies as I probably should be, but I am at least willing to hear it out… even if the trailers didn’t exactly instil hope for this one. So, as we delve into the next step in yet another cinematic universe, how does it hold up? This is Kong: Skull Island.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Movie Review: David Stratton: A Cinematic Life (2017)



Even in the world of Internet criticism and the democratization of opinions about media, there is still one name and one name only who is the most important film critic in Australian history: David Stratton. The Oceanic answer to Roger Ebert, gaining mainstream attention through the Australian version of At The Movies with fellow critic Margaret Pomeranz, he basically embodies everything I both love and hate about the typical newspaper film critic. He has a very evident love for the medium and helped build up the Sydney Film Festival, but he also employs a lot of the faux-profundities and literary snootiness that I have railed on many times before. Still, regardless of all that, I find myself almost required to show respect where it’s due because of his importance to the industry. Have to admit, I wasn’t exactly anxious to check this film out, given how this is the sort of critic I usually try to avoid out in the wild, but considering how this year has been for Aussie cinema already, I reckon it’s worth being given its time in the sun on this blog. This is David Stratton: A Cinematic Life.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Movie Review: Before I Fall (2017)



It seems that films about time travel, and in particular films involving time loops, are continuing to grow popular. While my affinity for sci-fi should make me glad that such a staple of the genre is gaining ground, I am held back by the simple fact that there are just far too many of them. Looper, About Time, Edge Of Tomorrow, Predestination, ARQ, Doctor Strange to a lesser extent, even previous adolescent-centric films like Project Almanac; all in the space of five years. Yeah, I actually quite like most of these titles but the basic formula that is at large between them is now starting to get stale. Variety keeps the world interesting and unless we find a good third-party premise that can exist beyond both this and the standard superhero suspension of disbelief, it seems that we aren’t likely to get any. Will today’s film at least keep things interesting or will the seams start showing? This is Before I Fall.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Movie Review: A Few Less Men (2017)



I really, really wish I would stop jinxing myself. First the whole low attention span thing comes back to bite me with Dickshark, and now I’m forced to reconsider my statement about Australia’s output for this year. I say this because we are once again dealing with a raunchy Australian comedy starring Xavier Samuel… and it’s really saying something when it’s a follow-up to a film that barely anyone liked to begin with. Released in 2011, A Few Best Men is a film that I barely remembered watching less than an hour after sitting through it and what little I did recall made me feel pretty comfortable with my general lack of recollection. But even with how bad that turned out, I won’t say that I was expecting this to be quite so painful. Let’s kindly get this the hell over with already. This is A Few Less Men.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Movie Review: Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale (2017)



Even though I have discussed anime on this blog a few times by now, I don’t want to give the impression that I even classify as an otaku by most people’s standards. Hell, I know even less about it than I do filmmaking, but I can at least bluff my way through most films. This fact will become obvious as we get into more franchise anime films that I have absolutely zero prior knowledge of, with today being a perfect example. I know a little bit about Sword Art Online based purely on seeing its name in passing on anime aggregators and the occasional review by one of my contemporaries, but that barely passes for intel; I’m going in all-the-way blind on this one. Thankfully, I’m fairly certain that this isn’t going to be one of those weird sectors of anime where going in unawares results in the destruction of sanity… not that that would matter much to me anyway, so let’s get into today’s offering. This is Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Movie Review: Logan (2017)



When I reviewed X-Men: Apocalypse, I made mention of the series’ standing in the annals of comic book film history. Today, I get into what I believe is the reason why the original film and its follow-ups are as important as they are. And oddly enough, it’s all down to a single character: Wolverine. While there are definitely arguments that can be made regarding the decision to take the X-Men team as a whole and create a story largely devoted to only one of them, Hugh Jackman’s performance blended so well with the character that, for the last 17 years, it’s been near-impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. As the avatar of the new guard of comic book filmmaking, one built on true character pathos and subtextual themes of prejudice and isolation, he did what was asked of him almost perfectly. With this in mind, the news of what will be Jackman’s swan song as the Canadian berserker definitely reached the geek community with a very heavy heart, something bolstered by how Patrick Stewart was also bowing out with this film as well. So, not only is this the requiem for two of the most popular comic character in the comic book film sub-genre but also for the very team that gave them their prominence in the first place. Very few films have this much weighing on their success and, from the critical reactions so far, that weight was delivered back and then some. But what did I think of it? This is Logan.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Movie Review: Fist Fight (2017)



Seeing everything that I can at the cinemas means that, whether I like it or not, I’m gonna have to subject myself to crap. I’ve come to terms with that; it’s part of the “job” description and the hate I end up generating serves its own therapeutic purpose. However, today’s film is an odd one with that in mind… in that I have been actively putting off watching this thing for a while now. Maybe it’s because I know how Ice Cube movies of late usually turn out, maybe it’s because I have already shown a certain dislike for most of Charlie Day’s live-action filmography, or maybe the trailer just looked like garbage from the premise alone. For whatever reason, I kept postponing going out to see this one. Of course, emulating the feeling of those anxiously waiting for the appointment for their emasculation, I just wanted to get it over and done with because I’m fairly certain that the wait is going to be far worse than the act itself. And speaking of intense pain, let’s get into this thing already. This is Fist Fight.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Movie Review: Jasper Jones (2017)



Ah, Levi Miller; it takes something truly special to cause a feedback loop between my willingness to promote child actors and my propensity for labelling Australian actors as warning signals that a film they are attached to will be garbage. To be fair, I doubt anyone could make “my first lead role was in Pan” sound like a promising start to a career; even the established actors in that thing barely escaped with their livelihoods intact. But once you follow that up with the truly lacklustre follow-up to an Aussie classic that is Red Dog: True Blue, things start looking a little dicey. I mean, we’re supposed to be good at supporting our own burgeoning talent and even we’re struggling with this kid. Well, maybe today’s film will be different… and by that, I mean that I am sincerely hoping that today’s film will be different. This is Jasper Jones.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Movie Review: T2: Trainspotting (2017)



1997’s Trainspotting, directed by the previously-lauded Danny Boyle, is one of my all-time favourite films. As much as a retooling of A Clockwork Orange as it is a bladed lower-middle class answer to it, it is a pitch-black comedic look at addiction, what it means to be a junkie and how “getting a fix” extends to using people as much as your chosen drug. Through its incredible acting and acknowledgement of the misanthropic tendencies of its main characters, it stands as one of the greatest drug films ever made. The fact that it put both Boyle and lead actor Ewan McGregor on the map is laudable but barely a footnote in comparison to how enthralling it is on its own. You better believe, even knowing what happened with Boyle and writer John Hodge’s last 90’s throwback collaboration, that I was eagerly anticipating this follow-up. With how my scepticism never wanes even in the presence of promising works, let’s see how well this decades-removed continuation turned out. This is T2: Trainspotting.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Movie Review: The Great Wall (2017)



Lines of argument like what I’m about to get into are usually the sorts of strawman burning matters that get people lynched on social media for daring to voice it. But as I have already brought up this point in previous reviews, it’s worth repeating: I don’t care about “whitewashing” controversies when it comes to film casts. Or, at least, I don’t buy into them nearly as much as critics have in recent years. The reasons why are many and varied, from how people tend to cherry-pick examples to rage against to the inherent hypocrisy involved in isolating only this instance (white actors portraying non-whites) as a bad thing. But the biggest factor for my own reasoning is that, considering the utter crap I’ve highlighted on this blog, I can think of a myriad of worse sins that a filmmaker can commit than anything involving ethnic (or non-ethnic) casting. So, imagine my lack of reaction to how the only thing that anyone seems to discuss with this film is how a white actor was cast as the lead in a film set in China and populated by and primarily made by the Chinese. Time to dig in, and let’s see if there’s anything else worth discussing. Spoilers: There ALWAYS is. This is The Great Wall.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Movie Review: Teenage Kicks (2017)



With the Mardi Gras Film Festival well under way around here, it’s indie LGBT time again! You know, I’d probably be a lot more enthused about this if I hadn’t already discussed several rather taxing and emotional films over the last few days. Given my history with this sub-genre, with films like Drown, I could already feel the burnout before I even set foot in the theatre. But it’s like I keep saying around these parts: I welcome the chance to be proven wrong. Of course, when I usually say that, it’s in the sense that I don’t like it when my intense pessimism involving certain releases turns out to be founded: It may be therapeutic to a degree but that I doesn’t mean that I actually enjoy watching crap movies. This time around, “being proven wrong” turns out to be accurate in a completely different way. Let’s dive right in and I’ll explain how. This is Teenage Kicks.