Movie Review #3976 SWEET COUNTRY.
Australian tale inspired by true events set in 1929 of an Aboriginal farmer, Sam, who murders a white equivalent, Harry, then goes on the run to avoid the inevitable bad ending, notwithstanding it being an act of self defence.
And the trail is fraught with old trackers, renegade locals, lots of 'f' words and the occasional gunshot as pursuer and pursuee, who brings his wife along for the journey, play the proverbial cat and mouse. Old Kiwi movie stalwart Sam Neill shows up as the local preacher and friend of aforementioned pursuee, with old Aussie movie stalwart Bryan Brown doing same as the cop who gives chase.
Numerous side characters give the proceedings much colour to match the vast Australian outback and the sense that this country just goes on forever. Numerous flash forwards too (opposite of flashbacks!) which can sometimes make things a little confusing and an interesting if not unpredictable conclusion at which we're left with a sense of frustration just as it appears that an all's well that ends well is on the horizon.
Awesome performances from Hamilton Morris as Sam along with those other two jokers plus a pretty crash hot supporting cast. Long but not overly so and attention is maintained throughout.
Movie Review #9257 PETER RABBIT.
CGI bunny fare based on the beloved Beatrix Potter children's story with a leading lady named Bea, as coincidence would have it who also draws bunnies very well if not much else.
I remember freaking out as 5yr old at the thought of poor little Peter being transmogrified into the nasty nasty Mr McGregor's pie. Mind you I also bemused as to why Peter, and Donald Duck for that matter, sported a jacket but never any pants, a question also posed at the outset of this little foray.
Anyhow, it's all lovingly set in Mr McGregor's English country garden, with veges for pilfering aplenty & an eclectic array of farmyard friends including a nervous badger, a rather dandy pig and the usual sly old fox. A slight twist on the traditional tale with another McGregor on the receiving end of the mayhem while Peter, Mopsy, Flopsy, Cotton Tail and idiot cousin Benjamin duck and dive throughout, laying traps, falling into traps and generally setting off traps all round.
CGI is nicely done and there's nothing too pretentious, engendering a sense of a page out of one's childhood imagination brought to life. And while most definitely a children's movie, there is usually enough in these types to keep adults on movies duty amused and entertained as well and there is here too, but barely.
Overall reasonably well done although perhaps marginally too sooky for my liking, no nefarious intent to be seen anywhere which is good in some respects as younger populations I'm sure will love it. 7/10.
Movie Review #2975 RAMPAGE.
Another opportunity for Dwayne Johnson to show off his steroidal overuse this time with a large, & growing larger, albino gorilla in tow.
The Rock is a primatologist, monkey man to the rest of us, who's charge George gets a wiff of some nasty gene-altering experimentation stuff and starts to exhibit some definitely anti-social tendencies, along with a wolf and an alligator also so afflicted. The chase is then on with muscle-man teaming up with the customary pretty female geneticist to stop the aforementioned animalia from reaching Chicago and levelling it.
This after the evil creators of experimentation stuff manage to use it to put out a distress call to retrieve George & his mates. It's one thrill after another as Dwayne and George bounce their way across America getting into some pretty hopeless predicaments and out of them again with seemingly consummate ease. Along the way they encounter one Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a southern drawled, smart a** FBI man who turns a favour or two to get chasers and chasees to the Sears Tower on time.
Pretty mindless fare really with a few smirk turns but nothing particular memorable. Johnson probably earned another cool 20mill for it which he will no doubt invest in more gym equipment to get ready for the next one.
No more than a 6/10.
Movie Review #8258 A QUIET PLACE.
Another post-apocalyptic earth sojourn and this time we've no idea what happened.
There's also these nasty monster things around that hunt by sound, we don't know whether they're aliens or what, whether they caused the apocalypse or not but we do know make a noise and they'll have you for breakfast pretty darn quick.
So a family of survivors must communicate by signing otherwise they become nasty fodder and there's plenty to get tense about including mum deciding to have kittens with a nasty in the house while dad is out hunter gathering. Usual monster movie thrills and spills along with interspersed family dramas and innovative anti-nasty solutions that eventually pinpoint a weakness, as they always do.
Nothing particularly original here although the tension is pretty constant throughout and amusingly, we don't even find out the names of the family until the credits roll at the close.
This after probably the most frustrating ending this critic has seen in a movie for quite a while. However as far as monster movies go, overall I've seen lots worse and while this is no Alien, it does come off slightly better than most.
Movie Review #2964 DEATH WISH.
Remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson vehicle which, coincidentally was my very first R16 movie. I think I'd just turned 14 and me and my ole schoolmate Robert Crockett donned our best platformed shoes to convince the ticket lady we were of age (and at least this time I didn't ask for half!).
Anyway this one has Brucie Willis in the main role and this time he's a doctor not an architect, which begs the question what happened to the Hippocratic Oath when it comes to the doc blowing away bad guys after his wife is attacked in a robbery gone wrong. Sufficiently cringeworthy in some scenes when the retribution is being dished out and Dr Willis proves to be no slouch when figuring ways to best do so.
Unfortunately a very average script makes it all a bit bland and predictable and it lacks the edginess of the original. No real noteworthy performances either as it's not really a noteworthy performance movie although everyone's second-favourite actor Vincent D'Onofrio turns in a decent shift as the little brother.
Yes violent & blood-curdling but not overly so and Brucie's inventive ways of getting bad dudes to talk is about the only creativity present. The original also spawned a bunch of sequels, hope that doesn't become the fate of this reboot.
Movie Review #9357 THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI.
Very Coen-esque tale of a grieving mother resorting to an unusual method to prevent her daughter's murder case sinking without a trace.
Frances McDormand, actually in real life Mrs Coen takes the centre stage as Mildred Hayes, aforementioned mother with ex-Cheerser Woody Harrelson as the local boss cop and Sam Rockwell a numbskull deputy who has a habit of putting foot in mouth with alarming regularity.
It's typically dark, (very) subtley (is that a word?) comic with some brilliantly placed little quips and gems that you need to be on your toes to catch, think I missed a few! The plot dips and dives, sets you up then hauls you back down again and works an unpredictability that is quite refreshing albeit frustrating at times.
McDormand is superb, Woody-boy equally so and Rockwell complete with gormless haircut floors everyone with a keen performance and a character who turns a corner during the proceedings. Other notable characters are the chief's wife Anne, Peter Dinklage with the hots for Mildred and Mildred's ex who parades his young but dumb trophy girlfriend around the show.
It shows that given a good script and masterful screenplay, actors have license to shine and certainly this cast does that very well. Bound to be in award contention and wouldn't be surprised to see it take a hatful.
Movie Review #1974 GAME NIGHT.
American comedy built on premise of a few couples who like to outdo each other at games, any game, as long as it's innocent so no drinking games or anything unseemly.
Enter the high-flying brother of one of them and the game night takes on an interesting twist with plenty of misunderstandings, confusion and red herrings abound as a murder/mystery night becomes a little too real for comfort.
Standard comedy fare built on insecure characters but with just a little originality thrown in. Jason Bateman and Rachael Mcadams are the leads although neither turns in anything memorable along with the rest of the cast although the script makes it hard to rise above anything mediocre. The cop next door is mildly amusing who pulls a surprise or two however from a position of possibilities it all becomes a bit, well, boring.
Couple of grins raised at a few scenes that could have been really funny but weren't so much and I found myself watch watching third of the way through. Nice try but doesn't really come off.
Movie Review #3865 THE GREATEST SHOWMAN.
Expected a biopic but got a musical instead albeit a reasonably good one. Loosely based on the early experiences of Phineas Taylor (PT) Barnum and the establishing of his various entertainment enterprises.
Doesn't really stick to the facts but in keeping with the old adage of never letting the truth get in the way of a good story, we have Wolverine himself, Aussie Hugh Jackman prancing across stage and circus ring, accumulating his menagerie of oddities as he goes. As usual these folks carry hearts of gold despite their dispositions and on more than one occasion come to Barnum's rescue as he continues to suffer various setbacks.
Supportive but suffering wife Charity and two cutie pie daughters wait in the wings as PT diversifies his interests as impresario and philanthropist, following a sensational new vocalist across the USA before realising his folly.
Zac Efron shows up as a business partner who like the resident oddities bails Hughie boy out on more than one occasion.
Amusing up to a point and falls into the common trap with latter day musicals of too much music! Jackman is adequate as Barnum and Michelle Williams the same as Charity so no real standout performances.
Movie Review #5943 THE COMMUTER.
Everybody's favourite Irish actor Liam Needon is main dude in this killer thriller set on a New York commuter train.
The special set of skills guy is Michael MacCaughley, an ex-cop come insurance salesman who when traveling home one evening after an eventful day at the office is approached by a mystery woman and asked to complete one little task. Of course this one little task involves murder, blackmail, kidnapping, lotsa skullduggery and intrigue and leads our man down dead end after dead end before all is revealed and the bad guys exposed.
Starts out a little tedious as the mystery is established and we wince a bit as the frustration levels build for our guy however once it all gets rolling we settle into a nice little thriller that keeps the edges of our seats well shuffled upon. Liam gets his head smacked about quite a bit and for an ex-cop he doesn't win many of his altercations yet he plugs on, desperate to get to the bottom of it all.
Femme fatale is Vera Farmiga, lately Norma Bates of Bates Motel and veteran side guy Jonathan Banks shows up as a mate who unfortunately winds up head butting a bus.
Lively showing from Mr Neeson and certainly one of the better thrillers of late despite the slow start. 8/10.
Movie Review #7831 THE SHAPE OF WATER.
Apt title for a Swiss Army knife of a movie that hovers across sci-fi, horror, musical, love story, comedy, porn flick and spy thriller genres taking each one by the throat and giving it a damn good shake.
Sally Hawkins is the mute Eliza working as a cleaner in an early 60s government research facility when she strikes a repose with the latest researchee - a throwback from the creature from the black lagoon. Octavia Spencer is her workmate & eventual cohort as they, along with her gay neighbour and a humanitarian scientist, who turns out to be not quite what he seems, endeavour to stay one step ahead of the egotistical head honcho played nicely by very easy-to-dislike bad guy Michael Shannon.
I'm told there's one small DNA strand difference between a human and a chimpanzee and one small tweak in the DNA of this movie changes it from sci-fi thriller to cornball spoof, from love story to political commentary plus we're left at the end with a did she/didn't she puzzler.
Nonetheless an extremely well crafted film that could have easily lost its way through all its ducking and diving across boundaries yet it manages to stay on a relatively even keel throughout, delivering a highly entertaining couple of hours.
I'm a movie nut from way back with my first ever being The Hallelujah Trail from 1964. Ever since being mesmerized by the giant screen, the darkness that went on forever & the infernally uncomfortable seats + having to stand for God Save the Queen, I've been enticed ever since to duck into a theatre whenever I can for a few hours of escapism. My favourite movie of all time is Schindler's List, one of only two movies I've ever cried in (the other was Bambi when I was 6!) & I'm a sucker for a damn good comedy; Dumb & Dumber, The Hangover & Death at a Funeral stand out. I'm also a musician and work in IT. I have 4 grandchildren who also seem to enjoy their movie excursions with grandad. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.