Results for category "Film Reviews"

Fast & Furious 7 ***


Run Time: 137mins           Cert: 12A

Synopsis: Deckard Shaw (Statham) seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his family for his comatose brother.


Vin Diesel and the gang return with the long anticipated next instalment of this popular franchise with mixed results. 

Anyone who witnessed and enjoyed the silly finale from last sequel will be happy that this one has even more ridiculous with situations ramped up to the max. Even after the first scene with Statham’s character visiting his brother in hospital has to be seen to be believed how stupid it really is. 
The action scenes have clearly been influenced by The A-Team as characters walk away either unhurt or with minor injuries that no human could ever undertake. 
The plot is completely all over the place and makes absolutely no sense. While Jason Statham’s villian is weak and very underwritten.
The Conjuring’s James Wan takes over as Director from Justin Lin and it would expected that the franchise is in good hands. Unfortunately  it is the editing that lets him down with headache enduring quick cuts, it is hard to focus what is going on.
Sadly Paul Walker died during the filming of the movie. The additional scenes shot after his death, are well done and it is quite hard to tell when Walker was actually there on set. Usually the filmmakers have some respectful tribute, but what the Furious 7 team has come up with something that just comes across as cheesy and quite sickening.
It is not all doom and gloom though. Kurt Russell is a welcome addition, the only downside is that he is not in it enough. The action is thrilling and exciting. The humour in the movie is really funny.
Ultimately though the franchise has turned into a spoof of itself. The film comes across like Hudson Hawk, but without the ingenuity or the cleverness that movie brought. Enjoyable, but also dissatisfying at the same time.
Reviewed by Paul Logan

Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 **

  Run Time: 94mins           Cert: PG

Synopsis: After six years of keeping our malls safe, Paul Blart (James) has earned a well-deserved vacation. He heads to Vegas with his teenage daughter before she heads off to college. But safety never takes a holiday and when duty calls, Blart answers.

Kevin James returns with a sequel no one was asking for. There may be a different location and villain, but the plot is the same Die Hardesque, Home Alone structure that was witnessed in the first instalment.
This time round the portly security guard is in Las Vegas for a convention. Instead of problems in looking for love, this time he has problems trying to understand his teenage daughter.
The humour is pretty infantile, but at times can be amusing and is completely made up of slapstick violence. Whether Blart is being kicked and attacked by a Crested Crown Crane or hit by a car while on his Segway or being kicked by a horse. The violence itself is very A-Team influenced as no one appears to be fatally injured.
Pacing is a problem with the first half being rather dull and tedious with too much focus on the father daughter relationship. Once the terrorists make an appearance the film becomes a lot more fun. Although the main bad guy played by Red 2’s Neal McDonough is completely forgettable and underwritten as antagonistic characters go.
While by no means one of Kevin James’ worst movies ( that honour goes to the Grown Ups and Zookeeper films), but at the end of the day this is a pointless sequel and six years too late for anyone to really care. 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Cinderella ****




Run Time: 105 mins            Cert: U

Synopsis: Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the movie provides a live action twist on a classic fairytale.

Ella (Lily James) lives on an estate in a quiet kingdom with her parents. Following their deaths, she finds herself living with her stepmother Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) and her two daughters. Although they treat Ella badly, she remembers her mother’s advice to always be kind and accepts her life until a chance meeting changes things.

Lily James is very pleasant to watch and makes the title character both likeable and interesting. She works well alongside Richard Madden, who plays the prince and they are quite believable as a couple. While Cate Blanchett is more attractive than previous incarnations of the wicked stepmother, her dialogue and facial expressions make Lady Tremaine both entertaining and deeply unlikeable.

The supporting cast also give strong performances, particularly Helena Bonham-Carter as a rather quirky fairy godmother and Stellan Skarsgard as the manipulative duke.

The film is nicely shot and makes good use of CGI. In particular, Lucifer looks very realistic and is a worthwhile addition to the movie. The  transformation scenes have also been well designed and look great on the big screen.

The costume designs used in the film are also impressive, with Cinderella’s blue dress in particular being both flattering and beautifully designed. While Anastasia and Drisella’s outfits are hideous, the designer deserves credit for the imagination used in creating them.

While this version does not really add anything new to the story, “Cinderella” is a very pleasant film that will appeal to viewers of all ages.

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Fifty Shades Of Grey *



Run Time: 125 mins            Cert: 18

Synopsis: When an inexperienced student goes to interview a businessman, a warped and unconventional relationship develops between them.

Based on the novel by E.L. James, the movie begins when Anastasia “Ana” Steel (Dakota Johnson) fills in for her roommate by interviewing entrepreneur Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Following their meeting, they become interested in each other. However Ana soon discovers that Christian’s idea of a relationship is somewhat different from hers.

The story is rather bland and the characters one-dimensional. Neither of the main characters seem to have any depth to them and the dialogue between them is awful. While the actors are pleasant enough to watch, no performance stands out. This is likely due to the substandard plot and abysmal writing.

The idea that an intelligent young girl like Ana (Johnson) would entertain the things Christian (Dornan) proposes throughout the movie seems unrealistic to the viewer and makes the female lead difficult to relate to. Christian’s behaviour and lack of characterisation simply makes him seem like a monster so he is very difficult to like.

The sex scenes in the movie are very dry and provide little entertainment. The only saviour the film has is its soundtrack which includes artists such as The Rolling Stones, Annie Lennox and Beyonce.

Overall, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a disappointing movie of poor quality.

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Jupiter Ascending **


Run Time: 127mins           Cert: 12A

A young woman (Kunis) discovers her destiny as an heiress of intergalactic nobility and must fight to protect the inhabitants of Earth from an ancient and destructive industry.

After being delayed from last Summer, the Wachowskis’ latest opus arrives with more a whimper than a bang.

The siblings’ work has always been a mixed bag. For every Cloud Atlas, there is a Speed Racer. When restrained their material works incredibly well, but unfortunately we are in flamboyant mess territory here. Not to say the movie does not look stunning, however it is more style over substance.
The big problem is that a story about Mila Kunis as a toilet cleaner and a pointy-eared Channing Tatum as a speed skating werewolf fighting aliens and evil Emperors is just too stupid to contemplate.
The leads do the best that they can but look bored. Sean Bean does the same performance he does in every movie. While let’s not get started on recent Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne’s terrible Kenneth Williams impression that he somehow makes even camper than it should be.
It may be a original piece of Sci-Fi, but it is not entertaining.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Shaun The Sheep The Movie *****


Run Time: 85 mins                      Cert: U

Synopsis: When their farmer is diagnosed with amnesia, Shaun and friends set off on a mission to bring him home.

Based on the long running TV series by Aardman Animations, the film begins on the farm where Shaun and the other animals live. During a moment of mischief, an accident results in their farmer ending up in the city with amnesia. Following this, the group of sheep make their way to the city in an attempt to find him and jog his memory.

Like the TV series, “Shaun The Sheep the Movie” uses stop motion animation. The characters are nicely designed and the animated sequences are seamless throughout the movie. 

The story is very entertaining and has a lot of really comic moments. In particular the antics of the animals during their time in the city are hilarious and will provide amusement for viewers of all ages. There is no dialogue in the movie and all characters (including humans) communicate using sound effects such as sighs, grunts and indecipherable vocalisations. This works well and adds to the film’s comic value.

While the human characters are enjoyable to watch, they are very much supporting characters with the animals taking centre stage. 

Although primarily aimed at children, “Shaun the Sheep the Movie” is a great form of light entertainment for the whole family.

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Inherent Vice *****


Run Time: 148mins           Cert: 15

Synopsis: In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles detective Larry “Doc” Sportello (Phoenix) investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend (Waterston).

After the disappointing The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson returns to form with an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 supposedly unfilmable novel.

The term “Inherent Vice” refers to “the tendency in physical objects to deteriorate because of the fundamental instability of the components of which they are made, as opposed to deterioration caused by external forces”
Close in tone and story to the classic Chinatown and Big Lebowsi. In that the film is your run by the mill detective story told from the protagonists point of view, but with messed up characters and a twisted plot line. Not every storyline ties together, but it is so well orchestrated and so much fun that at the end of the day it does not really matter.

Anderson has always worked with an amazing list of actors and here is no exception. Martin Short, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin and Benecio Del Toro all bringing something to the table.

Joaquin Phoenix puts on a phenomenal performance. Disguised in giant sideburns,  sunglasses and a panama hat, he completely disappears into character throughout the movie. While his onscreen lost love, Shasta Fay Hepworth, played Katherine Waterston is a startlingly revelation bringing a much needed innocence to a time that appears to have forgotten or lost all hope.

Match this with stunning visuals and a mind enduring score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and this film comes across as something quite special.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Annie ****


Run Time: 118 mins     Cert: PG
Synopsis: Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis star in a quirky present day remake of the 1980 classic “Annie”.
Annie (Quvenzhane Wallis) is a 10 year old girl living in a New York foster home. Unhappy and hoping her parents will come and get her, Annie spends a lot of time wandering around the city. While doing this she is rescued from an oncoming truck by politician and business tycoon Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx). With encouragement from his staff, Stacks invites Annie to live with him on a temporary basis to boost his campaign.
The film is both entertaining and fun. Although it bears similarities to the original, there are differences that make the 2014 version more relatable to the present day viewer including the modernisation of the songs and the writers adding comedy to the story.
Quvenzhane Wallis is both likeable and comic as the lead character. She works well with other cast members and gives a good musical performance. Jamie Foxx and Rose Byrne also give enjoyable performances as likeable characters the viewer will root for. While Cameron Diaz is pleasant to watch, her version of Miss Hannigan is more comic and less intimidating than the original.
The soundtrack is enjoyable with the songs having been updated to appeal to younger viewers whilst remaining true to those featured in the 1980 version. There are also three new songs that have been written specifically for the movie. “Opportunity” in particular shows Quvenzhane’s vocal range while “The City’s Yours” gives a fun and upbeat view of a businessman’s fantasies.
Overall, “Annie” is a great remake that will appeal to the whole family.
Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) *****


Run Time: 119mins           Cert: 15

Synopsis: A washed-up actor (Keaton), who once played an iconic superhero, battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself in the days leading up to the opening of his Broadway play.

Birdman is a one trick pony of a movie, what a trick it is. A film that follows actors about before the official opening of a Broadway show does not sound that enthralling, but it is. 

The reason for this could be to do with the writing of the characters, who are all deeply flawed but it is hard not to care for everyone of them.

Iñárritu’s Birdman features an amazing cast of talented actors. Michael Keaton is perfectly cast as Riggan Thomson, a character trying to come out of the shadows after being only remembered of playing a superhero. At times the portrayal almost seems autobiographical. Emma Stone plays his daughter with a powerful and touching performance. The funniest characters are Edward Norton’s self obsessed schizophrenic drunk thespian and Zach Galifianakis’ neurotic and nutty producer.

Stunningly shot with mad camera angles and a crazy jazz infused soundtrack. Plus it somehow manages to feel like it has been shot in one continuous take, even though that would be realistically impossible to do. 
A dark comedy which is incredibly clever, unique and completely original.

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Big Eyes ****




Run Time: 106mins Cert: 12A


Synopsis: A drama about the painter Margaret Keane (Adams)and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, Walter (Waltz) who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.


Tim Burton returns to form with a dark and twisted true story that at times appears to be too unbelievable to be true, but apparently this is what happened to Margaret Keane the true painter of these unusual works of art.


Burton handles the movie delicately and with passion with material that brings him out of his comfort zone after directing so many gothic fantasy pictures for years. It also makes the first time since Planet of the Apes that he has not used the same cast which makes for a refreshing change.


The two main characters are on completely different ends of the scale. Amy Adams plays Margaret with timid innocence, while Christophe Waltz brings an outlandish and at times scary performance.  Walter is very much a Jekyll and Hyde character in that he can be  charming, then become something wicked within a short breath. At times he seems oblivious that he is even doing anything wrong, convincing us he believes what he tells Margaret. Is he a good man of questionable morals or was he always nothing more than a salesman? No one, not even Margaret, knows for sure. And there is also sympathy for Walter from the writers, who show understanding for a man who is jealous of his own wife for his own inadequacies and lack of inspiration as an artist. Both performers work well together with great screen chemistry.


A strong supporting cast also gives with Breaking Bad’s Krysten Ritter as Margaret’s kooky best friend, Delaney Raye  and Madeleine Arthur as her caring daughter Jane and Terence Stamp, as egotistical art critic John Canaday, a character who is very similar to Ratatouille’s food critic with his sarcastic wit and dire need to slate most things that he comes across. The only week links are Jason Schwartzman’s art dealer and Danny Huston’s tabloid gossip columnist, but this is only due to their characters being underwritten and unnecessary.


The auteur has reunited with his Ed Wood screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski who have a tendency to bring strange unconventional biopics to the big screen. While it is Margaret’s story they also give a balanced approach to the material.  It is thanks to the writers that they could have portrayed Walter has some crazy cartoonish monster, however they give him layers. He seems oblivious that he is even doing anything wrong, convincing us he believes what he tells Margaret, while also making the audience sympathise for Walter as he has become a man who is jealous of his own wife for his own inadequacies and lack artistic integrate. However as stated before there are a few characters that appear for no real useful purpose to the story. 


As everyone has come to expect the look of the picture is absolutely stunning. While the film does not have the familiar gothic overtones of his previous works, he does manage to put some very Burtonesque sequences within the piece. Danny Elfman’s score is enchanting as always with bewitching and beautiful new songs written by the eloquent Lana Del Ray.


The movie ends with the final courtroom proceedings which have to be seen to be believed, in which the Director just lets Waltz let rip for a truly zany performance. It may appear to be completely over the top but this is seemingly what happened to these real life people. A beautifully crafted and with powerful performances, Big Eyes may not be Burton’s best work but it certainly is entertaining.


Reviewed by Paul Logan