‘Phil’s Quick Capsule Review’ (a nod to legendary comedian Bill Hicks who coined the phrase when he reviewed ‘Piece Of Shit’ movie Basic Instinct)… where a perfect 10 is rarer than a rain free British summer!
Written by Phil Hobden – UK based podcaster, writer and former filmmaker. Part of the All Things Film network…
Phil’s Quick Capsule Review: For the last three years a film has arrived after I confirmed my Best & Worst of the year that managed to change the list. It’s becoming somewhat of a habit now… This year that film is Mary Poppins Returns, a glorious, funny, heart warming tale that had me from the start. Emily Blunt is simply spectacular as the titular character, returning to once again help the Banks family and stealing every scene she’s in. That said she gets some proper competition from Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack, the sweep boy grown up from the original film. It’s mix of old school dance numbers, animation and buckets of charm mean that you can’t help but love it. If I had one small issue is that I’m not sure how memorable the songs will be once the film has finished but Mary Poppins Returns is just a joy and you should go out right now and watch it.
Best Bit: Musical Hall
Cinema, Stream, Avoid: Cinema
If You Liked this Try: Mary Poppins, Paddington, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Phil Hobden is the former Film Editor & Writer for renowned martial arts focused COMBAT MAGAZINE in the UK. He is also a filmmaker in his own right, having produced two cult Independent action films in LEFT FOR DEAD and TEN DEAD MEN. He was the host for the award nominated Filmsploitation podcast for 4 years, currently co-hosts Ross And Phil Talk Movies and is a writer/editor for his own blog Phil’s Quick Capsule Review…
Phil’s Quick Capsule Review: As you would probably expect Sharknado 2 is either the best film you’ve ever seen or the worst film ever made – depending on if you found the first one as genius as I did. From Evil Dead references (several in fact) to off the hook performances, the worst CGI you have ever seen and an opening sequence so utterly stupid that it rates as possibly the best sequence in a film in 2014, Sharknado knows it’s dumb and naff. And that’s kinda why it works. It never takes itself seriously, relishes in it’s own stupidity and places it’s tongue firmly in cheek… which is exactly why this is one of the most enjoyable films of 2014 so far.
It aint the Godfather… but it also aint Tranfourhours 4. Which is something to be grateful for.
Best Bit: Sharks On A Plane
Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Buy
If You Liked this Try: Sharknado, Snakes On A Plane; Giant Something vs Mega whatever (pick the something and whatever)
You have to hand it to Star Trek ,spanning 4 decades, 6 TV series, 14 films, countless books and tons of merchandise, its one of the longest and most successful sci fi franchises in history. Now I adore Star Trek -not as much as Star Wars mind –but I have enough knowledge of its universe to know a Dilithium chamber when I see one, tell the difference between a Romulan and a Cardassian, and why its always a good idea to eject the warp core if you want to make a speedy escape from certain death.
Ok the hard-core fans are a bit weird . Strange sorts who mostly live with their mums and have little or no knowledge of the fairer sex. I speak from experience here, having once worked as a barman at a Star Trek convention in Cardiff when I was student. The vision of a grown man strutting around dressed as TNG’s Commander William Riker –silly walk, beard and all – will never leave me. Nor indeed will the enormously pretentious conversation I had with one of the event’s organisers – a rather odd little person with a limp, who loftily seemed know most of the principal Star Trek actors on a personal level – even going so far as to comment with smug authority on the current rude health of (the now deceased) Deforest Kelly and annoyingly referring to him simply as “D”.
Anyway I’m getting off the point – namely the reason for writing this article. As mentioned there are 12 Trek films, 6 with the original cast, 4 featuring the Next Generation characters, the JJ Abram’s directed 2009 reboot and its rather splendid sequel (Into Darkness) that was released last year.
Now not all of them were that good – 1979’s ‘The Motion Picture’ was very inventive but deathly boring, the Shatner directed ‘Final Frontier’ was hampered by shoddy effects and a reliance on very silly humour (contrary to popular belief it wasn’t all The Shat’s fault -read Wikipedia for more). As for the TNG movies, whilst not bad in parts, they were never really that memorable, culminating in 2002’s rather poor ‘Star Trek Nemesis’ which effectively killed the franchise for nigh on 7 years.
As for the better entries -most people cite ‘The Wrath Of Khan’, the aforementioned 2009 reboot or the very good 4th feature – ‘The Voyage Home’ . All great films – especially ‘Wrath’ which is a absolute classic and JJ’s brilliant reboot, which mercifully tore up the rule book and turned out to be the best blockbuster released that year.
However, my all time favorite will always be the quite superb Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country (1991). A film that, despite being a sizable critical and commercial success , seems to have almost become the forgotten Trek.
Its plot centres around the Klingons, who have become desperate to broker a peace with the Federation after an environmental disaster on their home world threatens their very existence. Acting as a sort of galactic olive branch, the Enterprise and its crew (led by a very sceptical Kirk) are dispatched to agree a deal that will end years of hostility and potentially result in the dismantling of the neutral zone.
Naturally it all goes pear shaped. After a particularly frosty first meeting, all hell breaks loose when the Enterprise seemingly fires on the Klingon ship, and their High Chancellor (David Warner) is brutally murdered. Of course the finger of suspicion points firmly at Kirk and McCoy, who are duly arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment on the Rura Pente penal asteroid .
Back on the Enterprise, and smelling a rat, Spock, Chekov, Scotty et al, ignore orders from Starfleet, then set about attempting to uncover a huge conspiracy and save civilisation as we know it. After the disaster that was The Final Frontier, Paramount wisely went back to basics, hiring Wrath of Khan director Nicolas Meyer, and adapting a story by Leonard Nimoy.
Well written, action packed, sharply edited and brimming with top notch SFX, there really isn’t much wrong with this film.
Managing to be funny without being silly and incredibly for a Sci Fi, intelligently addressing issues of ingrained prejudice and immovable racism – even at one point riffing on Stanley Kramer’s 1967 classic ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’.
Acting wise its superb. William Shatner brings a hitherto unseen darker edge to the usually unflappable Kirk – still grieving after the loss of his son and unable to stem his hatred of the Klingons, referring to them as nothing more than animals who deserve their fate. Leonard Nimoy as Spock has never been better, refreshingly showing him as no longer a complete stickler for logic and embracing much more of his repressed human half than we have seen before.
The other original cast members have their moments to shine too – be it George Takei as Sulu -heroically arriving in the nick of time on the USS Excelsior, James Doohan’s Scotty ranting about the impossibility of a Klingon Warbird firing when cloaked, or Deforest Kelly delivering the mother all one liners whilst trying to hotwire a photon torpedo – to wit:
Klingon General Chang : “I am constant as the northern star!”
McCoy (muttering under his breath) “Id give real money if he’d shut up”
New additions the cast are equally impressive – Kim Cattrall is great fun as a sort of Vulcan Dr Watson to Spock’s pointy eared Holmes, plus the excellent Kurtwood Smith pops up in an extended cameo as the president of Starfleet. Best of all however, is the great Christopher Plummer as Chang, the chief Klingon baddie.
Hamming it up for all he’s worth and sporting an eye patch that’s looks like its been nailed to his head, Plummer is by turns hilariously bitchy and horribly pretentious(“you’ve never experienced Shakespeare until its been heard in the original Klingon”) . One particular standout scene has him endlessly quoting Shakespeare whilst engaging in a huge space battle with the Enterprise (“our rebels now are ended Kirk!”). Now God only knows how an actor of his stature was persuaded to appear in Star Trek –but all credit to him- he’s that good he almost steals the entire show.
Its also the overriding plus of this film that its just so much damn good fun. Whereas previous entries were sometimes a bit serious or played too much for laughs, this manages to remain just on the right side of funny, whilst successfully keeping the integrity of the original series. Its also seriously exciting – the final 15 minutes are jam packed with action – the aforementioned climactic space battle is just brilliant, and just when you’ve caught your breath there’s a thrilling final dash to stop a deadly assassin from offing the Federation President and the new Klingon High Chancellor.
Now upon reading all of the above you could all be forgiven in thinking that I’m an utterly sad geek who seems to view Star Trek as far more important than classics such as the Godfather or The Shawshank Redemption.
On this you would be wrong. I am of course fully aware that Trek can be a bit daft, is a very acquired taste and most certainly not for everyone. However, the fact is, that no matter what the genre, I love any film that strives to be entertaining, well made and intelligent, then goes ahead and hugely succeeds in being all three. The Undiscovered Country does this in spades and if you haven’t seen it already, then wait no more -stop what you are doing, raid your money boxes and boldly go to the nearest high street dvd retailer you can find– I promise you wont be sorry.
In summary – a cracking slice of Sci Fi brilliance, that rightly deserves to come out from the long shadow of the awesome Wrath Of Khan, and go down as the best of all the 12 Star Trek feature films.
I’ve been finding it rather difficult over the past month or so to conjure up the necessary words to describe how I’ve been feeling in regards to cinema’s recent outings, I loved Deadpool 2 very much but since that’s the kind of film everyone clamours to review upon release I cant help but feel a review of my own just be unnecessary.
Other films have just been meh on such a colossal scale (and unoriginal to the point where it’s not even funny anymore) that, more than a few times now, I’ve caught myself staring blankly at an equally blank page wondering if anything I can think of to say hasn’t already been pre guessed by anyone who saw the trailer, or, in some cases, took a quick glance at the poster *cough* Life Of The Party. I bring this up because The Strangers 2: Prey At Night, or whatever the hell it’s called, is in fact so meh, so unimaginably not special, that a full review is exactly what I have in mind to execute it with. I don’t remember all that much about the first Strangers film, I think I found it creepily entertaining enough but who knows, if I saw it again now my opinion could be one of utter stone faced indifference; I dunno. It was pretty hyped up though so of course a sequel is just a question of time, the kind of time I’m never getting back because I chose to sit through the damn thing.
Strangers 2 is set… actually I don’t know how long after the first film it takes place, in fact I’m not even sure, outside of it being the same trio of killers, what it has to do with the first one in any category, you could say “well, it has the same killers, is that not enough?” If we were talking about Freddy Kruger or Leatherface I would be inclined to agree with you but we’re talking three generic tweedles in silly masks and about as much depth as a chimney to a flattened house after an earthquake.
You wanna know the plot? A family go to a place, they’re all alone, three masked killers turn up to kill them and they have to survive, a by-the-numbers affair with plenty of clichés and stereotypes to lull you straight to sleep. Seriously, there is nothing original about any of it, the characters do exactly what you think they’ll do during a scenario that isn’t even happening yet but you just know is right around the corner, the story makes no effort to be different to all the rest; in fact it’s practically begging for a spot in the bargain bin. It is literally just a family receiving the slow chase from some masked idiots who don’t move or behave like actual human beings and NOTHING ELSE, none of this would really matter if the film did its main job well – to be scary and it just isn’t, it’s really boring and obnoxious; cranking out trope after trope without a care in the world.
The cinematography tries to be eerie and old fashioned (see the works of John Carpenter) but substituting actual camera movement with slow zooms but it just comes across as cheap and artificial, Christina Hendricks seems to be the only actor giving some effort because everyone else is just not believable, that could just be the dialogue though, would be interesting to see someone like Daniel Day Lewis appear in a film with a bad script such as this; see if he could make it work or not. I’ll tell you this, note to horror writers, your masked killer can really lose their edge if they seem to possess magical powers, they appear to know exactly what the heroes are doing as if they have a billion microscopic cameras in every location ever, they show up in places no human being could without the ability to teleport or travel through solid objects and you just wonder if they’re going to keep cheating the entire course of the film; killing all tension stone dead.
That’s all I got, Strangers 2 has n reason to exist and the fact that it does just comes off as a dick move, it’s blatantly unoriginal, makes no effort to stand out and pretty much plays how you think, even shooting itself in the face at the very end by presenting some Frankenstein monster of a climax that makes beyond no sense, if I wasn’t begging for it to just end already I would’ve banged my head on the seat in front in disbelief. There are some very brief promises of what could have been, an interesting shot here and there but overall – no, absolutely no way, not scary, not intense, just badly written, generic, throw away rubbish.
Want to know what the critics think of the latest hot releases but don’t want to have to search for them? Well look no further as we round up the reviews from 5 of the most influential sources for the latest BIG RELEASE movie.
This time out: Thor Ragnarok
Overall Critics Say
“Thor: Ragnarok is a lot of fun, but its heart belongs to Planet Hulk and not the realm whose existence is at stake.”- 7.7
” Waititi’s comedy chops give new life to Thor’s storyline, and raises the bar for the Marvel universe.” –4.5/5
” Daft as a badger sandwich and twice as funny, this is vintage Waititi, and the boldest, most outrageously fun film Marvel has yet produced.” – 4/5
“Goldblum is actually the best thing about this mess, since he openly mocks the film’s underlying silliness ”
” Unlike Marvel’s last few movies which have, more often than not, been examples of the kind of unspectacular and inoffensive pictures the Marvel house style can produce, this seems like a movie destined to live in the extremes of opinion. ” -3/5
Full credit to original sources. Links to websites provided.
What can I say guys, I have a lot of guilty pleasures, Showgirls, The Happening, The Last Airbender, every single one of them are God awful beyond all comprehension and yet I own them all on DVD, not because I think they’re good, but rather because watching them makes me laugh like I’m trying to kill myself, I howl until my ribs implode and I must say, the Resident Evil movies are very much like that for me, not all of them but most of them, especially Afterlife and Retribution, are my guiltiest of guilty pleasures and I really enjoy watching them.
I feel very lucky right now because xXx: Return Of Xander Cage wasn’t too long ago and I thought that was a guilty pleasure too, terrible but oh so enjoyable and laughable in every sense of the word; and that same opinion seems to have been replicated upon my viewing of the Paul W. S. Anderson videogame zombie fest – Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (oh I bet). To tell you the absolute, hand over heart truth, this film screams dumb like its life depends on it, the action is completely ridiculous, the acting is awful despite Mila Jovovich’s mysterious charm, the script is preposterous, the plot is as schizophrenic as it gets and the dialogue is laughably bad, but that right there is the key word my friends – “laughably”; it’s one of them, so bad it’s actually quite good.
That’s what this thing is, it may be stupid, it may be dumb, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sit through it with the biggest grin my face was capable of producing, I had an absolute blast with this thing, when the action was going down I couldn’t help but smile and the ridiculous awesomeness on display, combined with all the monsters, the zombies, the comic book-ish action shots and the lack of attention to reality made for something quite special, rubbish but special. The story picks up quite some time after the last film ended, in which the heroes found themselves hold up in the White House with the villainous Albert Wesker who decided maybe it would better if we all teamed up to fight off the remaining horde or else we’re all screwed.
Turns out much of that may as well be meaningless as The Final Chapter takes place after an entire movie’s worth of plot has happened in between now and Retribution, Wesker betrayed them all and went back to being bad, the White House is literally in ruins, characters have scattered (or probably been forgotten about) and Alice is all alone, soon to discover the hologramatic Red Queen actually needs her help and gives her a rough estimate of how much time is left before all other remaining humans are destroyed and she must go back down into the Hive where all this carnage started to hopefully do something about it.
It’s weird because barely any consideration has been given to missing characters, the original actor playing Wesker has been replaced which disappointed me because I quite liked him, despite the fact that his mouth barely opened more than a millimetre when he spoke, the CGI effects aren’t brilliant, detailed for sure but a little too noticeable and it is kinda awkward whenever the film believes we care about the characters when we absolutely do not, but I was somehow able to shut all of those nags out and enjoy the sheer ridiculousness of it. Was I annoyed it wasn’t quite as fun as Retribution? Maybe, does the story continuity stick out like a sore thumb? Of course it does but this is the same movie where a woman isn’t sent flying into the air even as a missile blows up merely centimetres away from her so who the hell cares?
It’s called the final chapter but so was Friday 13th part 4 and they still made it all the way up to God knows how many, so will this be the last one? Couldn’t say, maybe, maybe not, I guess we’ll all find out together, I wouldn’t mind another one because despite silliness I do enjoy them, I like zombies, I like dogs and so it only makes sense that I find zombie-dogs as irresistible as the fluffy cosy kind, seeing the laser hallway again was nice, the flying bat monsters are fun, the action is improved over the predecessor despite perhaps a few too many quick cuts from time to time and Mila Jovovich makes for a cool screen presence, maybe that’s the reason Mr Anderson gets the hate that he gets, because he beat everyone else to getting her in a wedding dress.
I imagine these words flying from the mouth of a studio executive with booming rage as he tries his very best to justify another Ring film despite interest in the franchise dwindling quicker than flesh in a furnace, which probably started around the time a car got itself ravaged by the worst CGI deers in the history of computer graphics in The Ring Two. You would think that someone in this industry would realise that such desperate revivals are more in line to fail than succeed, indeed because of how desperate they really are, desperate to make excuses for their existence to be more precise.
I’m sorry to say that Rings is very much like that, a dead horse being flogged so relentlessly they may not have to bury or burn the remains after all, as soon there will be nothing left. The story follows some idiot young people who always just have to watch that damn video despite all the warnings in the world telling them to turn back now, oh no, wait, it’s not just a VHS tape anymore is it, remember the times they are a’changin’ and now Samara’s notorious tape exists in the form of a quick time file, and some idiot kids just have to watch it don’t they?
Seriously though, this girl’s boyfriend goes off to college and watches the video, she travels down to his location to find out what’s going on, ends up watching the video herself and must then set out on a mystery tour to learn the truths that went unnoticed in the previous Ring movies. This is not a necessarily badly made film on a technical level, the cinematography clearly had effort put into it and the presence of Samara was handled alright I guess, despite the CGI not being quite as good as maybe it should have been, but it’s ok to look at and moments of creepiness clearly indicate that the director wanted this thing to work.
However, the problem is that the whole thing is as boring as a dead slug painted grey and perched on top of a gravestone, it just went on and on and on and on, stopping every now and again so the lead character can have a scary hallucination because the writers didn’t know what needs to happen next. The opening scene on the plane is an honest indicator of two things, the acting is unbelievable, some are better than others but for the most part, no, I don’t think anyone on screen was convincing in the slightest, oh they try, but it jut doesn’t work. The second is that the dialogue is horrendous, like exposition intended for a 5 year old who really needs to sit down, shut up and pay attention because this is important.
It’s not scary, it’s not creepy, it’s not intense, it’s boring, dull and never seems to end, and speaking of the ending, oh cripes, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, makes no sense, has absolutely no reason to be like that and goes against much of what the film had already established, why does it happen? I have no idea, not the slightest clue. Almost worth watching just so you can see for yourself, almost, at least if it wasn’t so boring and generic and barely interested in itself beyond some ok cinematography and potentially interesting ideas, it does nothing to justify a continuation of this franchise and barely knows what to do with itself half the time, this whole thing needs to be thrown down a well where it belongs.
Phil’s Quick Capsule Review: The remake of The Mechanic was a pretty good film, updating the Bronson classic with, I guess, a modern day Bronson in Jason Statham. This sequel pretty much abandons all that to churn out a highly generic by the numbers action film that most forgets about the action and instead allows you to enjoy what is more or less a travelogue for Statham and his pals. It’s pretty boring stuff with a few highlights, including Tommy Lee Jones in full “take the money and run” mode.
Best Bit: Tommy Lee Jones
Buy, Stream, Avoid: Avoid
If You Liked this Try: The Mechanic, Crank, Parker
Speaking as someone who actually really enjoyed the first Jack Reacher film, it pains me to say that its sequel, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (never go back to where? The cinema to see this thing again?) is a big disappointment, not just because I like the first one, but because it has Tom Cruise as the star and Edward Zwick as the director, it should at least be competent, but no; life is cruel. Very quickly, let’s get into what I did think was ok about Once You Go Jack, You Never Go Back (har-har), Tom Cruise is a likeable lead, the guy may be crazy but he’s always bringing his charisma with him and this is no exception, and the fight scenes are ok, nothing really ground breaking or original and the camera does get a little too close at inappropriate moments but there is, at least, a sense of pain.
There have been quite a few action films like A Good Day To Die Hard and Quantum Of Solace that lack pain in their actions scenes, oh sure, when bullets go flying, they land in peoples bodies and when fists are thrown, they connect with faces, but, unless the blows kill them, everyone just gets up right away and walks them off like nothing happened. Neither Jack Reacher films behave this way, their fight scenes really bring the pain and misery, and the survivors struggle to walk afterwards, this is something I am very grateful for as not all that many action films remember to do this; so what’s wrong with the film? Everything else.
The cinematography is boring and bland, the dialogue is terrible, the story is generic, the pacing is absolutely lethal, the villains are cack and the chase scenes are laughable, whenever our heroes are running to or from something, it’s really awkward and clunky and doesn’t flow very well at all; it’s like something out of a Dan Brown adaptation. The storyline has ex military police Major Jack Reacher finding out that a friend of his is being accused of a crime she did not commit, then something similar happens to him, so they must run and jump and shoot their way to the truth to clear themselves of wrong doing, bumping into a girl who may or may not be Reacher’s illegitimate daughter.
This is a story that should provide action, thrills and chills like there’s no tomorrow but no, this is a painfully boring and unoriginal piece that would much rather have its characters chit chat about rubbish than actually do or say anything of note, I wouldn’t mind a preference for dialogue rather than action if the dialogue was any good but it isn’t, it’s agonizing – “I don’t have to answer to the likes of you”, “you kidnapped me, kidnapping’s a federal crime”, who talks like that? REALLY? This girl who’s supposed to be Reacher’s daughter is one of the most annoying things ever put to celluloid, they’re being chased by assassins right? What does she do? She uses an easily traceable phone for no reason, or how about a credit card that the pursuers manage to trace and come straight to the hiding place – so stupid!
It’s already a problem that I found the film to be boring, but the daughter and the dialogue succeed in making it unwatchable, maybe the generic attitude it has wouldn’t be so bad if only the action was great and while it’s ok, there’s barely enough to even call it dumb fun because there is no fun, just dumb, stupid/bland dialogue, bad pacing, stupid characters and a generic story, put them all together and you get a sentence of negative words… and also Jack Reach for the Exit and never go back. It’s just a dull and televisual load of meh that clearly no one really cared all that much for as they were making it, maybe it works as a book, I couldn’t say, haven’t read it, may do some day, but for now – no, this was not a good film I’m sorry to say, nothing but rambling nonsense from start to finish, couldn’t recite the plot to save my life but I suppose the boring-ness does have the potential to motivate you to do something interesting with your life; if only to make SOMETHING happen.