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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Super Snappy Roundup Time

Actually quite a bit to talk about this past month because, as it turns out, there was more going on in cinemas last month than the latest Hunger Games movie and Interstellar. There's so much though, that I'm going to try and keep each review as brief as possible.

Boxtrolls. This might be the worst of the three Laika stop-motion films released so far but it's still a ghoulish delight where the humans are more scary than the monsters and you'll never quite look at cheese the same way again. (8/10)

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. A beautifully made monumental bore of a film. The idea to stretch this short book over three long films was clearly insane and result is a bloated, clunkily written case of style over substance, featuring a mix of awful dialogue and never-ending battle scenes. Worst of all, this final film absolutely fail to make proper use of the best thing in any of the Middle Earth films: Martin Freeman as the absurdly likeable Bilbo Baggins - ya know, the "Hobbit" of the title! (4/10)

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. More of the same but less of the same. About one in ten jokes actually land and it never makes full use of its daft but potentially cool premise. Strictly for young kids only. (4/10)

Mr Turner. A textbook example of the whole being much less than the sum of its parts. Brilliantly written dialogue, an intriguing main character played to perfection by Timothy Spall and a number of quite memorable scenes some how don't add to a coherent whole. The films bitty, yet episodic nature robs the film of both narrative flow and meaning and it ever quite gets away from this central flaw. (6/10)

Horrible Bosses 2. More of the same, which means loads of badly under-written jokes, annoying characters and an underlying mean spirit. Jason Bateman is good as the straight man of the group who always seems as exasperated as the audience about what's going on and there are some decent supporting turns from actors who should know better but it's shockingly weak stuff. Also, it has the worst blooper reel you will see all year. It's good to know that the outtakes are as bad as the finished script. (3/10)

Walking on Sunshine. Quite possibly the worst film of year. No matter how much you may like stuff like Mama Mia or Sunshine on Leith this jukebox musical is a must miss that combines crappy '80s music with crappy acting, crappy production and a crappy story in a film that's so bad, it goes right past being so-bad-its-good to simply being unspeakably awful. (1/10) 

Love, Rosie. An efficiently put-together romantic comedy-drama has some nice performances from its cast and packs at least some emotional punch but its overly contrived plot and overly long running time means that its mostly only for fans of the genre - but those who like these sorts of overcooked drama will certainly find much to love here. (5/10)

Left Behind. OK, this is a cheat as I only saw the first twenty minutes (hence the lack of rating) because of a perfectly-timed power outage but if the opening act is to be believed, this looked set to be one of the worst films of the year.

Spud 3: Learning to Fly. I assume that this won't be released outside of South Africa and its not hard to see why. I enjoyed it enough but that's only because I really like the book on which it is based. As a piece of filmmaking, it's unfortunately mostly lifeless with only John Cleese and the really rather good Troye Sivan being particularly notable. (4/10)

The Skeleton Twins. The characters in this indie drama often wear on the nerves but it's still a mostly very good exploration of an adult sibling relationship with comedic partners-in-crime Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig turning in impressively good dramatic performances. (7/10)

The Longest Week. Playing like a mix of Woody Allen and Wes Anderson and starring a really good cast, you would think the Longest Week would be a whole lot better than it is. I like it a lot more than many critics but it's a somewhat shallow look at the lives of the incredibly wealthy that desperately needs the deft comic touch of its most obvious influences. (5/10)

No Good Deed. I have o idea what Idris Elba is doing in this d-grade home invasion movie that really belongs at the bottom of your local supermarket's bargain bin. (3/10)

The Grand Seduction. An unquestionably flawed and very, very slight mirror-universe remake of Bill Forsyth's brilliant Local Hero still managed to charm my socks off with its quirky characters, nicely measured light humour and yet another brilliant turn from Brendan Gleeson. It's no masterpiece but if you're in the market for a thoroughly likable, little indie dramedy then the Grand Seduction should be every bit as irresistible as its title implies. (8/10)

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