Monday, 6 December 2021

How The Fellowship of the Ring changed the blockbuster epic

 


Most articles about films that changed the scene start with ‘back in whatever year the film was released, things were different’, which would be absolutely true about Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Not only was this the return of epic cinema, but everything about the film was new, the CGI, practical effects were ground breaking. But this was a fantasy genre film, the kind of story that would be saved for a small release or in worse cases straight to video. The fantasy genre had not been looked upon favourably by Hollywood but here was the planned trilogy of films, shot back-to-back over a year and half, several years in the making, The Fellowship of the Ring changed cinema. 

The full article is available HERE.


Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Slumber Party Massacre

 

As with all remakes of any genre, there will always the original that overshadows the new imagining, new adaptation or interpretation, whether the remake out shines the predecessor or not. Some classic horror slasher films are better left untouched with the grime, the red paint and the video aesthetics. However, if a film just so happens to be a feminist slasher of its age, then bringing it into the present day could actually be a twist on the stereotypical genre traits it comes with. In the case of Slumber Party Massacre, it’s a mixed bag of energy, legacy and dare I say, a superficial glance of what could be, the female gaze. 

 Nearly 30 years after escaping the crazed murderer Russ Thorn as the sole survivor, Trish worries about her daughter Dana going on a trip with her friends. On the way to the car breaks down and the girls are forced to stay in the exact same house that Trish stayed in all those years ago. Not wanting to waste the night the girls decide to have their slumber party in the house, but an uninvited visitor soon shows up. 

Making the tagline ‘You know the drill’ could not be more apt for this film. Not only is the drill, weapon of choice for the killer as it was in the original, but history repeats itself within the film as well. As a slasher, you know what beats it will hit and you know what to expect. You can already guess who will make it to the end and when it comes the final showdown, you know who the killer is. The film tries to show us what to expect but throws a few curve balls in the form of an unexpected escape, the timings of the (SPOILER) second killer and the fact that the girls planned the whole damn trip on purpose. 

The reasons for the girls being at the house are convoluted; Dana wanting to get revenge on behalf of her mother who has moved on from the previous events. If the girls were there just so they could kill Russ Thorn, this might have been simpler and cleaner. But having her friends all play roles as well as imitate everything that happened previously, slightly over kill. They come across as obsessed fans even though that’s meant to be the boys across the lake’s roles. Not the mention the very messy, not gory, end scenes when Trish randomly shows up yelling at her daughter for not calling. There could have been a better way to end the story and some of the characters. 

 Despite the questionable character motives and the overly long shots of the boys taking a shower and the exaggerated pillow fight they have; the film has merit in its moments of self-awareness and poking fun itself. They don’t quite balance out the more serious and terrorising scenes but it does homage the original in the tongue and cheek tone and even in some of the kills. The extended story twist that its not over yet is tiresome but at least it gave the killers something more to do and show that even the toughest characters are never prepared in horror films. Although the original still is very entertaining and first of its kind, the remake has merits, along with some memorable scenes, even if they aren’t kills.

Slumber Party Massacre will be available on Digital Download from 13th December

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn

 


Apart from the very explicit beginning which is surprising for a second until you realise it is there for context, Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, doesn’t set out to shock the audience. This is writer and director Radu Jude’s interpretation of how society on the whole behaves and thinks. Although set in Romania, it feels as if this could have been anywhere. 

Full review over at Filmhounds HERE.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Devi

 

The Goddness Kali has been seen as that of a destructor, a master of death but she is also the mother of all beings who protects and nurturers her children. Once described as dark and terrible mother and worshiped by questionable people in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. But this story is no gimmicky action blockbuster, this is a strange and at times soulful look at a what happens when irrational beliefs take over and destroy a family.

Full review over at Filmhounds HERE.

Friday, 19 November 2021

Petite Maman

 


Following on from her powerhouse romantic epic, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Celine Sciamma returns with a very different story, an intimately framed portrait about a mother and daughter who meet each other at important times in their lives in Petite Maman. We sat down with the director-writer before the film was to screen at BFI London Film Festival to discuss her latest masterpiece, filmmaking, collaborating with actors and her thoughts on disparity between stories centred around girls and boys.

Full interview is over at Filmhounds HERE.

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Red Notice



As we’ve all come to know and either love/hate Hallmark films, so have we grown accustom to a Netflix film. There are those originals that leave the same taste in your mouth after watching, then there are those that Netflix have acquired. The latest to hit our small screen is Red Notice, about an art thief and FBI agent who team up to try and capture another art thief while trekking across the globe to various exciting places. But there is something that feels incredibly off about this blockbuster. It feels as if it was made several years ago and the no one, including Netflix got the memo that this type of action film was, old news. 

Apparently, the critics have been bashing the film but applauding the cast. But I think the cast are also part of the reason why this film isn’t good. On the surface, the film, the story, is very basic. FBI Agent tries to track down the ‘most wanted art thief in the world’ and succeeds but then is framed by an even better art thief, The Bishop. The code name I think is a Chess reference for some reason those who don’t play Chess won’t know. Then an unlikely buddy action comedy emerges as the real core plot. Then The Bishop swings in at every location to just to cause problems and snatch everything away from them at the last moment. As I’ve said, we’ve seen this sort of this before, many times and depending on how interesting the characters are its worth the ride. However, casting problematic Gal Gadot in the lead as the suave elegant pretty female might not have been the best casting. With Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds as the odd couple, there was a possibility that this could have been saved BUT over the years Reynolds has progressed far beyond the snarky slick sidekick-eques lead and this role feels like a major step backwards to the mid 2010s. As for Johnson, he just seems bored. Even when it comes to the twist that everyone saw a mile off. The story about the McGuffin’s that aren’t McGuffins, Cleopatra’s eggs feel oddly fake and of course these eggs are fictious. The fact that these Egyptian eggs could have been inspired by the famed FabergĂ© eggs of the Russian Tsars, really does make you wonder why they chose Cleopatra and her possible treasure. I’d rather see that film. 

 Globe trotting stories about thieves chasing a fake treasure overall seems old hat but there are several moments throughout the film that recycled or not executed well. Such as the one-dimensional Interpol agent, Das who is not developed, she is just there to chase everyone else which is a missed opportunity. The twist we all saw coming, Johnson and Gadot are actually working together which is what the film leads up to and is crashes and burns like the Nazi car they gang drives through mine shafts. The fact that Nazis are somehow involved, even if its just all the art and treasure they stole, they made an appearance. Even the way plans are made with the heists planned out using overly exaggerated technology that doesn’t screw up. The weird billionaire who has a theatrical voice and likes to make a point how he murdered his father in every interaction. The list goes on, sadly. 

 However, amidst this stale film, some of the jokes Reynolds comes out with is actually funny, but that’s it. If I were to critique this film in depth, I would go on to say that Reynold’s character, Booth is actually the greatest art thief as he does all the stealing and planning. The Bishops just wonder in at the end and steal it, without really doing any work. The director, Rawson Marshall Thurber knows how to follow a formula, going by his filmography. It’s a shame that left-field choices for these generic films are given a chance as they could really create something, interesting. Thurber is as basic as his films and that’s all we’re treated to. I wonder what Netflix will bring out next.