War For The Planet Of The Apes (2017) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

War For The Planet Of The Apes (2017) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
WFTPOTA is not your average Summer blockbuster.  Dark, brooding and much smaller scale that the trailer and title would have you believe.  And that for me was the issue.  I wanted a bigger film.  A bolder film. This is much more intimate and small scale.  It’s a good film but it’s not the film that should, for me, be potentially ending Caesar’s story.  There are really interesting elements at play but as the film starts to repeat some motifs from the earlier films, I just wanted things to speed up a little.  Also whilst the ending is satisfying, how they get there isn’t.  The final confrontation and especially it’s conclusion just doesn’t work, playing on convenance  and underplays the cleverness that the series has displayed to date.  So good but not the sequel many would have wanted.

Best Bit: Sirkis is stunning

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Dawn of The Planet Of The Apes, Planet of The Apes (1968)

 


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Dunkirk (2017) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

Dunkirk (2017) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Dunkirk is a good film.  From a Technical point if view it’s actually at times brilliant but for me it falls short of the “Films The Year” accolades that critics are heaping on it.  See  Dunkirk defines both the best and the worst of Christopher Nolan films – a masterclass of filmmaking for sure but with a script that needed more work and characters who barely register five minutes after you leave the screen.  And yup Tom Hardy’s back in full “What did he say” mumble mode. But for every quibble I have, and there are a few for sure, the film is expertly made.  Form the action to the music, the effects to the tension – it’s filmmaking at it’s most innovate.  It’s just a shame Nolan didn’t put as much effort into the characters as then you would have had a true modern day classic.

Best Bit: The structure

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Interstellar, Battle of Britain, Saving Private Ryan 

 


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IT Week: IT (2017) – A Quick Capsule Review

IT Week: IT (2017) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Damn IT was scary.  Genuinely scary.  But those scares ONLY work because you believe & care for the Losers Club who are some of the most expertly drawn and directed characters I’ve seen on screen this year.  IT is a top notch King adaptation  (certainly Top 5 worthy) and an even better horror, leaving you crying out for the sequel which, sadly, is a few years off yet.  If you like King, horror or just scary clowns then IT is for you.

Best Bit: The losers are perfect

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Buy

If You Liked this Try: Stand By Me, The Goonies, IT (The Mini Series)

 


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Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 – A Rewatched Quick Capsule Review

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 – A Rewatched Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Filled with humour, action and heart, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is a most enjoyable follow up to the smash hit original that manages to build on that films successes whilst successfully expanding the universe, characters and wit on what came before.  It goes without saying that the cast are uniformly excellent (with former WWE wrestler Dave Bautista being a real stand out) and new comers such as Russell & Stallone just adding to the overall coolness.   It’s not perfect – the pacing of the final act and the inevitable fall into CGI things fighting CGI things let it down but there’s enough investment in the characters, warmth and humour (and man it’s a funny film, probably the funnest of the year so far) to allow you to overlook these.  So not as good as the original BUT still a success in it’s own right and still well worth a rewatch!

Best Bit: The Opening 

Worth A Rewatch: Yes

If You Liked this Try: Guardians Of The Galaxy, The Avengers, Ant Man

 


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Rex Manning Day: Empire Records (1995) – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Rex Manning Day: Empire Records (1995) – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s (Not So) Quick Capsule Review:  Empire Records was a massive bomb on it’s original release.  Critically and commercially.  Roger Ebert hated it (that said he hated The Usual Suspects…), Variety labelled it as “Soundtrack in search for a movie”  and it grossed under £300k on it’s theatrical release.   Yet as the years go on so the cult around Empire Records continues to grow and grow.  From regular midnight screenings to the annual Rex Manning Day celebrations (8th April) more and more people have come around to the fact that Empire Records is, actually, pretty damn good.

The story, as such, is about an independent record store on the brink of a take over by a nasty big multi national chain called Music Town stuck with a eclectic team of broken teens and an ego manic musician reluctantly there to plug his new album.  In reality it’s coming of age story that kind of ends up being a 90’s Breakfast Club set in a Record Store rather than a detention.  But, like many a cult hit, this film is less about the story and more about the feels & the characters.  And that is something this film has in spades.

Backtrack.  I discovered Empire Records in a video shop in my home town of Lewes (Lewes Videos take a much deserved bow) thanks mostly to it’s excellent owner who had an ability to find little heard of classics and fill his shelves with them.  From 80’s actioners Action Jackson, Never To Young To Die and my love of Jackie Chan – without that shop I’d probably not be writing this review here.   See before the internet, before Facebook and Instagram a cult hit became a cult hit often from a knowledgeable video clerk pointing you in the direction of something a little special.  Yes the Tarantino stories of video shop life weren’t all exaggerations!  Sadly those days have now passed but I do wonder if this film came out now and had similar reception if it’s fandom would grow as much as it has or would it’s 30 score on Metacritic or sub 30% on Rotten Tomatoes consign it to some little seen Sky Movies channel at 4am in the morning?  

It was a film that initially felt ahead of it times whilst being a launch pad for the careers of at least 3 big stars (Zellweger, Tyler and Tunney).  And this is the key Empire Records continued success.  The cast are brilliant.   Be it Liv Tyler’s innocent but broken Harvard student Corey or Rene Zellweger’s s–ty Gina, Maxwell Caulfield egotist singer Rex Manning or Anthony LaPaglia heart of gold store manager Joe… Empire’s characters resonate hard. For sure it’s not the best acted or directed film of the 90’s. But it’s cast gave it heart and soul, making it relatable.

Oh and the soundtrack.  I’ve seen empire Records well over twenty times. But the soundtrack I’ve listened to hundreds.  And much like the films cast it’s full of oddballs, strangeness, 2nd tier hits and one hit wonders it’s soundtrack delivers an eclectic mix from Coyote Shivers to Edwin Collins.  Look beyond the official soundtrack album to Spotify playlists that have been created with music that didn’t make it to the CD and you’ll find even more quirky tracks covering Gwar, Dire Straights and many more.

I have to admit part of the original appeal for me was Liv Tyler.  Empire was Tyler’s third film (after the very good Heavy and the little seen Silent Fall) but I’m pretty sure I caught it after seeing her in Stealing beauty (a wonderful film in itself). I had a major crush so anything with Tyler in was a draw for me.  She still remains a very underrated actress, with film appearances fleeting after the early successes.

No commentary for this film could pass without reference to the wonderful creation that is Rex Manning.  Part Hoff part every one hit wonder clinging to his heyday singer that’s ever been, former teen star Maxwell Caulfield who himself has something of a high and low filled career (see the critically hated Grease 2) delivers a note perfect slimeball performance backed up by the so bad it’s brilliant ‘Say No More Mon Amour’ track.

Don’t get me wrong the film has flaws.  It’s random to the point of being totally undisciplined, certain characters (Mark) seem like they are in a different film and it’s no surprise that few of the male cast broke big down the line.  BUT no work of art, no movie is perfect and it’s flaws just make it that bit more real.

Even thought Empire Records flopped on it’s release, in the 20 plus years that have followed it’s cult has grown enough for it to get some much needed love back from the rights holders. A ‘Fan Edit’ a few years back was released  (I’m not a massive fan as it kills the pacing and makes certain sections drag longer than they should) and a US Region A BluRay Release.  Outside the official stuff, there’s Etsy shops galore with pins, name badges and posters and Rex Manning Day has become a thing.  No really.

Empire Records was of it’s time.  And like many films I hold dear from my formative years, it’s one that stuck with me.  I’ve never shown it to anyone that didn’t love it.  I embrace it’s flaws.  I love it’s quirkiness and like Warren I too deep down just wanted Joe to give me a job.

Damn the man, Save The Empire! 

 


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Black Panther (2018) – A Rewatched Quick Capsule Review

Black Panther (2018) – A Rewatched Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Black Panther is still a good film.  And it’s still not quite as good as the reviews and Academy Award nominations make it out.   Black Panther add’s new depth to the ever expanding Marvel universe and remains one of Marvel’s more intimate stories but as usual it throws in the standard amount of things blowing for good measure.   The films issues still bug me (the Korean action sequence needed better FX and the final battle gets a bit meh!) but yet again Marvel delivers a film that will made a lot of money alongside considerable positive fan, award nominations and media notes. So what do I know…

Best Bit: Rhinos!

Worth A Rewatch: Just

If You Liked this Try: Thor: Ragnarok, Thor, Spiderman: Homecoming 

 


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Worst Film of 2018: The Cloverfield Paradox

Worst Film of 2018: The Cloverfield Paradox

Best & Worst Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Yawn.  There’s nothing crushingly bad about Netflix’s The Cloverfield Paradox but the fact Paramount chose to dump it to the streaming service should tell you all you need to know about how much faith they had in the finished film.  And they were right.  This second Cloverfield sequel (nominal sequel at least) isn’t a patch on 10 Cloverfield Lane and is a hot mess of a film that has no idea what it is or wants to be.  It drags, things happen, then it ends.  Watch for curiosity but little else.

Best Bit: The FX are good

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: CloverField, 10 CloverField Lane, Bright

IMDB Rating: 

 

 


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Best Film of 2018: Coco

Best Film of 2018: Coco

Best & Worst Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Coco is Pixar back firing on all cylinders – It’s funny, charming and endearing without being preachy or over the top.  In fact I’d say that Coco happily sits towards the top end of Pixar’s considerable cannon.  Visually stunning and with top draw voice acting, it’s day of the dead theme (whilst treading similar ground to  also very good The Book of Life) provides a rich tapestry for the animators to work with.  For my money this should be sitting amongst the crowd of best Motion Picture nominees at this years academy awards.

Best Bit: So THAT”S why it’s called Coco

Cinema, Stream, Avoid: Cinema

If You Liked this Try: The Book Of Life, Inside Out, Ferdinand, Up

IMDB Rating: 

 

 


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Big Ass Spider: A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Big Ass Spider: A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Not often do you get a film that so brilliant ‘does what it says on the tin’ but welcome then to Big Ass Spider a film about… well I think you can guess.  So cheesy dialogue, poor FX, Lloyd Kaufman cameo, mostly TV cast… it’s all here.  But you know what? It’s bloody good fun despite all that. Or maybe because of? Regardless this is a fun way to spend 90 mins.  It’s won’t linger much past the end credits but that’s not always a bad thing.

Best Bit: The opening. Actually quite brilliant.

Rent, Borrow, Buy, Stream: Stream

If you liked this try: Snakes On A Plane (7/10); Sharknado (6/10); Megladon (4/10)

 

Rating: 

 

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Sharknado Week: Sharknado 5 Global Swarming – A Quick Capsule Review

Sharknado Week: Sharknado 5 Global Swarming – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Global Swarming… Yup it’s back and this time it’s travelling across the Globe. It’s as insane as you’d imagine and oddly the rather bad Katie Price cameo isn’t the worst acting in it (Tara Reid who once shone in American Pie is beyond phoning it in these days).  Yup each country has it’s own unique set of cameos as the film goes from one set piece to the next, in one country to the next, with zero logic or story effort.  But who cares when it’s this fun. And it IS fun, probably the fact the most fun since the second Sharkndao film all those years ago.  It wont convert new fans for sure but as a piece of forgettable fun the Sharknado films always deliver.

Best Bit: Sidney Opera house

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Sharknado, Lavalantula, Sharknado 2: The Second One

Sharknado Rating: 

 

 

Author: Phil Hobden

 

 

 

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