Sunday 6 July 2014

22 Jump Street

Bullseyes:  ③ (out of 5)

The thin-then-fat-then-thin-then-fat-again bloke from SuperBad and actor from, er, 21 Jump Street have teamed up once again to make the obligatory sequel. This time the dumb nuts go to college to bumble their way through another drug investigation.

Even though we’ve seen this all before the movie pays off. It pays off because the chemistry is right and the comic timing is tight. There’s a line near the beginning of the movie where the boss - rapper Ice Cube – points to his swanky new office in the middle of the room.

“Ooh that’s nice” says the fat one.

“Yeah” says the pretty one, “it’s sort of like a big block of ice shaped like a…square”

Ha ha.

By the way, don’t read that joke if you haven’t seen the movie - it’ll spoil it.

The mayhem and banter are by the book but you love this movie because it pokes fun at itself so we don’t have to.

“Oh look” says SuperBad as he stares at the new complex going up across the street -  ‘23 Jump Street, Coming Soon!’ – "perhaps we can move in there next?”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself” says smooth dude, averting his eyes from the camera.

Ha ha again.

Oh don’t read that joke if you haven’t see the movie, it’ll spoil it.


Bullseyes:  ③ (out of 5)

Walter White was never going to top his Heisenberg persona and for sure nobody will be saying his name after this. Hell, I can’t even remember what his character is called. But it doesn’t matter because he fails to stop the monster anyway and gets bumped off early on so we can concentrate on the sexy CGI.


Godzilla is good blockbuster fodder. It isn’t remotely memorable or amazing - I’m writing this 6 weeks after watching it and racking my brains trying to remember what happened, but it's good entertainment. I think. Hmm, now let me see…

Rack, rack…

There was a ruckus in Japan…a swim to America…Monsters in Vegas then a bout in… some city near the sea (New York? LA?). Oh and Walter White’s son running around shouting… I think he might have saved the day?

Phew that was exhausting. 

Mental note: Next time write the review right after seeing the movie.


Bullseyes:  ③ (out of 5)

I wasn’t too sure about watching Neighbours but my wife persuaded me:

‘We need some brain candy’ she said, as I stuffed the bag of mega M&M's into my coat pocket.

For one thing I was thinking that SuperBad cop bloke’s shtick has been done to death. The cutesy dialogue, the beer gut, the laugh…yeah yeah we get it.  And Zak Effron, I keep expecting him to break into a dance.

But, well - Neighbours turned out to be OK.

Watching the late show with a gaggle of Frat Boys and Co-Eds certainly added to the amusement. It was like we were laughing twice. Once at the jokes and again at the kids roaring behind us.   

In the end my brain got the sugar rush it was after. Or maybe that was the mega bag of M&M’s...?

Non Stop

Bullseyes:  ③ (out of 5)

Didn’t I write a review for this already? Christ I have to start keeping up. I’m not a very good blogger. The internet is a pain.

Non Stop is about Liam Neilson getting drunk whilst trying to save a plane. It starts with the stock ooh-my-marriage-and-my-life-are-unraveling footage. You know the shots: Flask of whisky, Stubbled chin, nasty phone call with the wife… Yeah yeah, your life is unravelling we get it. You’ve got nothing left to lose.

Fortunately this nonsense doesn’t take up too much of our time and soon we are up in the air scratching our heads along with Air Marshall Neilson who struggles to understand why he keeps getting texts about unexploded bombs…(curiously we never do get to find out how they pulled this off).

The ending winds down weakly. The CGI crash at the end is crap. It’s like watching a black and white disaster movie – c'mon Dorothy, call that a tornado? The plane crash from Alive – filmed 20 years before – was better than this. Also, the bombers motivation is ludicrous. Something about not enough terrorism and maintaining jobs for homeland security…? Yeah right.

I can’t remember what else happens because, like I said, it was a long time ago and I’m not a very good blogger.

Hold Fast

Bullseyes:  ② (out of 5)

There was bugger all on at the movies in April wasn’t there? My wife and I got so desperate we had to go watch a Canadian movie. Imagine that! 

Hold Fast tells the story of a Newfoundland teenager who loses his parents and has to move in with his cousin, Aunt and Uncle. Uncle Gordy is not much fun though so Newfie Boy runs away with his cousin to go frolic in the east coast countryside.

I was looking forward to this movie so I could enjoy some stunning scenery but I was little disappointed. There’s a few too many scenes in the suburbs, at the local airport and at the strip mall. It all made me think that everywhere in the world is starting to look the same. Never-the-less this movie was nice enough despite some stilted scenes they forgot to take out.

You wonder if stilted scenes would ever find their way into a Hollywood movie?  It’s as if the Director watches it and says, ‘Ah leave it in, it’s only a Canadian movie eh?’.

For the record I have no idea why this movie is called Hold Fast. Perhaps it’s a Newfie expression…? 

The Lunchbox

Bullseyes:  ④ (out of 5)

Now here is a lovely little movie. Bored wifey makes lunch for numpty hubby. Lunch gets mis-delivered to bored stranger. Bored stranger and bored wifey send heartfelt notes to each other.
Numpty hubby has an affair.

The bastard!

Stanger and wifey try to meet. they?

No they don’t.

You probably should read any of that if you haven’t seen the movie, it might spoil it.

Blue Ruin

Bullseyes:  ④ (out of 5)

Blue Ruin is one long slow simmer of a movie. The suspense builds right from the get-go when we learn that the main character, a homeless dude living out of his ‘Blue Ruin’ shit box of a car, is faced with the release of his wife and kid’s killer…

What’s he going to do?

The action is deliberate and mostly wordless. And why not? Why do we need words anyway when our actions are all that count?

Wow that was profound.

By the end of the movie there is the sense that everything was inevitable and yet, nobody won. A lot like life then, right?

Wow, I’ve blown my mind…

Le Week End

Bullseyes:  ① (out of 5)

Christ, does this movie ever try too hard to be liked. It’s like that kid at school who kept bringing in sweets. The problem is this movie is not likeable it’s a dick. It is tiresome, tacky and wholly unoriginal. Hell, they are so desperate for affection they even throw in a cutesy off-the-wall dance routine for the main characters to enjoy – aw isn’t that quaint? No wait it isn’t. It’s right out of Pulp Fiction! Shame.

It wouldn’t have mattered if Bridget Jones’ Dad and that woman I saw in something once were actually doing something meaningful because of the one scene in the middle. Have you ever seen a movie which gets sunk by one scene? I’m thinking King of the world here.  Yeah it’s that bad. 

Picture this:

Bridget Jones’ Dad is on his knees staring up the skirt of his pretty, yet elderly, wife. She opens up her legs while Daddy begs her to, ‘please, please! Let me sniff it’.

Oh Christ. Thank God I’d finished my popcorn.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Alan Partridge (Alpha Papa)

Bullseyes:  ④ (out of 5)

North American’s struggle to ‘get’ Steve Coogan. Philamena aside, his previous movies have never done that well. That may be because they weren’t much good but it’s still a shame. 

I grew up watching Steve Coogan’s satirical TV Chat show, ‘Knowing Me Knowing You’, where he showcased the smarmy, egotistical Partridge who berated, and even shot, his guests and eventually nattered his way onto the lowest rung of the media ladder - local radio.

Alan Partridge the movie features North Norfolk Digital’s smooth as sandpaper host acting as a hostage negotiator during a studio standoff. Given Partridge’s crass and tactless interview style it’s not surprising he fails to tackle this delicate task, well – delicately.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Bullseyes:  ④ (out of 5)

Wes Anderson movies are weird. Moonrise Kingdom was freaky.  The Royal Tenenbaums was wacky. I haven’t seen any more but I’m sure they’re all out there.

In The Grand Budapest Hotel the acting is so tongue in cheek it’s a wonder you can hear any dialogue.  The movie starts smartly kicking out of the blocks with a suspicious death, a disputed inheritance and a disgruntled family, and it never lets up.

Ralph Fiennes, or Ray Fiennes however you pronounce Lord Voldemorts name, has the Wes Anderson scripted deadpan down pat as he frolicks his way through the hotel lobby and up and down the Hungarian countryside in his efforts to evade the Munster faced family as they seek a bigger slice of the will.  

The best parts of the movie are the little moments of levity, brought to us by Fiennes mainly, but also a great supporting cast including the Lobby Boy bloke, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel and Edward Norton. There are so many memorable characters in this farce you almost lose track, but somehow Wes Anderson has a way of illuminating a new face in an instant. When William Dafoe sneers and snaps on his black gloves over his skull-embossed brass knuckles we know right away who he is - no boring back story or dialogue is required. 

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Monuments Men

Bullseyes:   (out of 5)

I didn’t go see this movie but Kathleen did. Kathleen should know better because she’s a movie buff. She watches movies I’ve never heard of with sub-titles and everything. Yeah she’s pretentious. I don’t know what she was thinking here, the reviews were awful. Perhaps Trevor made her do it? Trevor likes Keanu Reeves and car chases.  

Anyway I’m passing along Kathleen’s review notes which she texted to me on her way home so we can all save ourselves some trouble:

‘Just saw Monuments Men. Load of crap. Maybe 2 moments in the movie I was endeared. Soundtrack crap too. Clooney, crap. Whichever scene cate blanchette was in was like a different movie, a good movie. Coulda been a Great story if it was made by Tarantino! (that’s a joke by Kathleen because she knows how much I enjoyed Inglorious Basterds). Was like the latest Indiana Jones shit movie mixed in with 10 minutes of shindlers list. You can quote me.’

And I did. Thanks Kathleen!  Next time just go to and read the reviews ;)

Lone Survivor

Bullseyes:   (out of 5)

Yet another ‘based on a true story’ Navy Seal escapade. Huh.  How many of these can there be? I wonder. I just finished watched Zero Dark Thirty. Aren’t these army operations supposed to be ‘covert’? No wonder the terrorists are so effective.

‘Ve have to get into ze pentagon mein Kapitan’ (I don’t know why the terrorists have German accents…it’s must be a WWII thing)
‘How vill ve do zis Helmut?’
‘I think I have an old movie somevere’
‘Great put it on’
‘Yavol. God is good’

Lone Survivor is a gory, shaky cam, POV style war caper. It’s as close as you can get – or as close as I’ve ever gotten – to being inside a soldier’s helmet. And after seeing this I know that inside a soldier’s helmet is no place I’d ever want to be.

Danny Walberg and his cohorts get dumped into the backwaters of Afghanistan (are there any other type of waters in Afghanistan?), exposed by a bunch of goat herders (why is it always goat herders?) and shot to pieces by the local Taliban. That’s the plot basically, but, ‘shot to pieces’ doesn’t quite cover what you experience on the screen. Yikes. This is one movie you wouldn’t want to see in 3D IMAX. You literally see these poor sods getting plugged to death. It’s gruesome.

Of course Marky Mark survives but there is no stirring soundtrack or feel good finale. You leave the cinema with the same sense of hopelessness that all modern era war movies seem to leave you with. Which makes you wonder – why do we keep making all these wars if they never have any happy endings? John Wayne would never have signed up for any of this.

Thursday 2 January 2014

American Hustle

Bullseyes:  ③ (out of 5)

American Hustle is a fun time of a movie.  It tells the story of the abscam political bribe expose operation which I’d never heard of but which is supposedly well-known.  

As with most ‘true stories’ (the caption at the beginning of the film tells us that, ‘some of this actually happened’) the plot meanders and you are never quite sure what’s supposed to happen next but the acting keeps us invested, especially Jennifer Lawrence whose character is so juicy I wished they’d built the whole movie around her.

Amy Adams is a little off – I got the feeling she was a little shallow for this role - which is shame because she’s in almost every frame, but Amy Adams is smoking hot, and barely half dressed for most of the movie so, you know - all is forgiven.


Bullseyes:  ④ (out of 5)

It’s hard to make Formula 1 boring – except when you’re watching an actual race – and Rush – the story of James Hunt’s 1976 Championship winning season – is anything but.  I’ve read Hunt’s biography so I was a little nervous that Ron Howard was going to take Argo like liberties with the plot – but no worries, it all panned out fine.

First off the casting was excellent.  Daniel Brühl, who I’ve never heard of, as the meticulous German, Niki Lauder. And Chris Hemsworth as the glamorous Hunt, were perfect.  Had Howard got the casting wrong this movie would have stalled on the grid, but as it was, the movie screeched through the first corner and tore up the track.  Just be sure to shield your eyes when they crash, and crash again. It all gets pretty gory…


Bullseyes:  ④ (out of 5)

Like kids and their kid movies I pretty much love anything Steve Coogan ever puts out, even before I’ve seen it, and Philomena was no exception.  Despite the seriousness of the subject matter (Evil nuns! Bad Catholics! Boo!) Coogan injects his dry wit everywhere, the British class system being a common comic source: 

-          Judy Dench opens a packet of Tunes (cough sweets) and offers one to Coogan (Coogan:  ‘A Tune?  You hum it and I’ll sing it!’) 
-          Dench tells everyone she meets, ‘you’re one in a million’.  Coogan: ‘That’s statistically impossible!’

But, Philomena is more than just an odd couple road trip yarn, no wait – it isn’t.  But whatever, it is sweet, it’s Steve Coogan and it should definitely win an Oscar (Go Steve!).

Hunger Games Catching Fire

Bullseyes:  ④ (out of 5)

I had the queasy feeling, halfway through the new Hunger Games installment, that I’d seen this movie before.  Everything seemed so…familiar.  And then I remembered – I’d read the book! 

How did that happen?  I wondered.  I never read movie books - why would I?  That’s like watching the end of the football before rewinding to the kick off.

I hope there’s lots of goals…

The new Hunger Games is great entertainment and, unlike the Hobbit movies, it doesn’t leave you wanting less.  Too bad I just read the third book…

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Bullseyes:  ④ (out of 5)

I wasn’t so smitten with the last Hobbit movie.  Nobody died and it took up 3 hours of my time for no good reason.  Hobbit 2 doesn’t know when to end either but it does at least have some wit and drive.  And Cate Blanchett is the hottest elf ever (she is an elf right?  I get all these middle earth types mixed up…).

The Hobbit 2 continues the quest of the dwarfs and the bloke out of The Office to reclaim their homeland, and kill a dragon or something.  On the way we meet the usual Orcs, which were so menacing in the Lord of The Rings trilogy but for some reason are now tame and cartoonish. We also meet Cate the hot elf and go for a barrel ride down a river until we get to the dwarfs village.


Once there I’m pretty sure the movie is supposed to end – we’re 2 hours in by this point – but as usual Peter Jackson keeps going and eventually calls time when the reel runs out. Phew!


Bullseyes:  ④ (out of 5)

Kids are not the most discerning of audiences are they?  Sprinkle a little cartoon sugar over the screen and they’ll watch anything.  Add a dollop of cute lead, a flimsy premise and a couple of catch phrases and the kids will lap it up. 

I remember taking my kiddies to see Rise of the Guardians, a dark and dreary movie.  They loved it! Ditto Brave (‘it was awesome’) and The Cat in The Hat (‘best movie ever!’).  Kid’s movies… critic-proof!

Fortunately Frozen is a good movie.  I can’t remember the plot – something about an Ice Queen, ice powers and a quest to, er, do something.  But it doesn’t matter because Olaf the snowman is cute, the music is pleasant and, of course, everything works out in the end (spoiler alert!  Oops). 

Dallas Buyers Club

Bullseyes:  ② (out of 5)

Matthew Mcconaughey is a weird looking bloke.  But his boney limbed appearance in Dallas Buyers Club makes him all the more bizarre.  As with many films I found myself distracted by the actor at the expense of the character.  So for this movie I was never fully immersed. 

Some actors are able to fully inhibit their characters – Meryl Streep is the obvious one that comes to mind – hey that’s not Meryl it’s Maggie!  But too many, like Mcconaughey, fall short. 

Another distraction was Jennifer Garner – why is she here exactly?  And what is the purpose of her character?  And why is she no longer hot…?!

Distractions aside, Dallas Buyers Club skips along nicely and the acting is all well and good, but I couldn’t help thinking that this was all just a big vanity project for Mcconaughey.  A way out of his mostly shallow macho man movies.  Hopefully he’ll beef back up next time and leave the skinny roles for a starving actor or two.  I hear Michael Cera is free...

Die Hard

Bullseyes:  ④ (out of 5)

My wife couldn’t believe I’d never seen this ‘classic’.  And, seeing as though cinemaclock reviewers gave it a 9.1 and it was the middle of the Xmas vacation where there’s nothing else to do, I pretty much had to go. And, Yippee Ki Ay - I’m glad I did!

It’s been 26 years since Die Hard was released so a plot summary should be superfluous - right?  If not I’ll just borrow my 11 year old daughter’s brief summation:

‘It’s like Towering Inferno meets Taken.  With Bruce Willis’.

The best part of movies like Die Hard is that they don’t take themselves too seriously.  First off the terrorists are mostly white and European – as if! These are folks you’re more likely to meet in a boardroom, on a beach or in a weight room.  And the cops are all bumbling idiots, which is always fun to see.  And there are many classic comedy moments.  Like the gun toting hoodlum stealing a candy bar as he prepares to mow down the incoming special forces.  Or the on-going references to Twinkies.

Bruce Willis might be mostly B-Movie bound these days but he always seems to be giving a wink to the camera and that’s fine by me.

Yippee Ki Yay Mother *****!    

The Butler

Bullseyes:  ② (out of 5)

I thought about doing one word movie reviews one time.  If I had gone this route, The Butler’s review would be simply:  ‘Yawn’.

The Butler follows the real life travails of Cecil Gaines – Forest Whitaker - from his modest roots as a cotton picker to the dizzy heights of White House butlery serving 8 US presidents.  The problem with the story is that, once it gets going - nothing really happens.  Let’s face it, butlering is not a particularly interesting profession, and Oprah Winfrey’s presence does nothing to spice it up.  You sort of feel that Oprah just put herself in the frame to give the Oscar judges a subtle poke.

‘Hey folks it’s me (again) – how about a trophy…?’

They’ll need a big poke too to wake them up from this.



Bullseyes:  ③ (out of 5)

Does anyone still go to Marineland?  Are we all still that stupid?  Well that's a shame. Maybe movies like Blackfish will tip the scale…?

Blackfish tells the tale of Tilikum the Killer Whale, a ‘blackfish’ as the Native American’s call them, a mammal which truly embraces its ‘killer’ label. After mauling a trainer in Sealand of the Pacific, Tilikum is moved from bathtub to bathtub where he systematically torments and executes a slew of hapless trainers.  

We watch eerie amateur recordings and hear eye witness accounts of Tilikum’s kills and near kills and scream along with the excited Aqualand crowds as they witness death and maiming – all for just $15.99! 

I was so depressed at the end I had to hop on the bus and go to the zoo.   


Bullseyes:  ③ (out of 5)

Nebraska is a lovely little movie. Simple, to the point and sparce – no wasted time or effort here.  Nebraska features hardly any dialogue, barely any plot and not a blip of colour...ah!

Will Forte and his Dad head out on a road trip to claim an imaginary million dollar sweepstake.  The money they think they’ve won might as well be coming from a Nigerian warlord but that doesn’t matter because, at its heart, Nebraska is a movie about wasted lives and elusive opportunities. 

Nebraska reminded me of Young Adult and Fargo.  The setting – Hawthorne, Nebraska mainly - aka ‘Anytown’ USA – literally sets the scene.  Long drawn out shots of fading signs, strip malls, and empty fields informs us that nothing much ever happens out this way and, most likely, never will.

So, in the absence of any real action we are left to observe the thoughts and feelings of the quirky characters and their maddeningly mundane interactions.

There is one scene with the family huddled around the TV watching the football.  Glassy eyed stares all around, even as the on field excitement abounds. The only interruption is the chatter about Uncle Ray’s foot: 
‘Ray’s got a sore foot’
‘I said your brother he’s got a sore foot!’
‘It feels better now though’

Nebraska doesn’t make me want to go to Nebraska, but I’d be happy to pop in and watch a game.

Anchorman 2

Bullseyes:  ① (out of 5)

Will Ferrell owes me an apology. And a refund.  What with all the hype and the comedy talent infused into Anchorman 2, you might assume that this sequel had to be good right?  Hmm…

I was perplexed by the cinemaclock ( reviews, which I checked before heading out.  Folks gave the flick either a 1 or a 10, and very little in between.

No help there then.

I loved the original Anchorman. It is goofy, off the wall and stupid. I was hoping for more of the same here.  But, alas, Will Ferrell and the gang have single-handedly undone all of the goodwill they created by making one stinker of a sequel.

First off the plot is lame and takes an age to get going.  Back story and set up is fine if you keep it brisk, but this movie is anything is brisk.  Anchorman 2 features a lot of those long drawn out, awkward scenes which worked so well in the first movie and Talladega Nights.  But the reason the grace before meals scene ( ) and ‘Afternoon Delight’ ( ) worked so well is because they were, well - funny.  But when a scene isn’t funny the only thing worse than leaving it in is drawing it out.  I found myself cringing or yawning throughout most of this movie. 

The last 20 minutes were especially pointless.
He’s gone blind! 
He’s taming a shark! 
Who cares!  It’s not like you had anything better do to with your 20 minutes right?

Will, that will be 8 dollars and 1 hour and 59 minutes please.  Thank you.