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Review: Aquaman

Pretty much a mixture of “Green Lantern” and “Clash of Titans”, as Jason Momoa stars as Arthur Curry, AKA Aquaman, the son of a lighthouse keeper (Temuera Morrison) who hooked up with an Atlantean queen named Atlanna (Nicole Kidman, making like Daryl Hannah in “Splash”). It is through his mother’s genes that Arthur gains special abilities in swimming, breathing underwater and being the Dr. Doolittle of the ocean. The gist of the film has Arthur/Aquaman doing battle with the vengeful son of a pirate (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) trying to hijack a ship, before venturing to Atlantis to claim his birthright and deal with his power-hungry twit of a half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) who wants to gather all of the undersea kingdoms together to wage a war above water. Amber Heard (with unflattering red hair- sorry, it only works on animated mermaids) plays Mera, who urges Arthur/Aquaman to come to Atlantis. Willem Dafoe plays Arthur/Aquaman’s mentor Vulko, whilst a red-bearded Dolph Lundgren plays…

Review: BlacKKKlansman

In the 70s, African-American cop Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is tasked with first infiltrating a Black Power rally, and later a Colorado chapter of the KKK. In order to pull off the ruse, Stallworth uses fellow detective Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) to be the physical stand-in whilst Stallworth chats to KKK members and even their leader David Duke (Topher Grace, entirely out of his element) over the phone. The kicker being that Zimmerman is actually Jewish. Laura Harrier plays a black student activist Ron falls for, Robert John Burke is Ron’s boss, with Michael Buscemi another colleague. Nicholas Turturro turns up briefly as a KKK man.


I really do try with Spike Lee (“Do the Right Thing”), but aside from his masterpiece “Malcolm X” and the straightforward caper “Inside Man” aside, we’re completely worlds apart in regards to his films. This 2018 true-to-life flick from the director and his co-writers David Rabinowitz (who comes from a short background), Charlie Wachtel (one …

Review: Incident in a Ghostland

Mylene Farmer inherits her late aunt’s rural estate and takes her two daughters there. The horrors they experience change their lives forever. It’s a nightmare they may never quite shake.


One of those films that you end up begrudgingly awarding a positive score, even though it does things that piss you off and prevent it from being the even better film it could’ve been. This 2018 horror pic from writer-director Pascal Laugier suffers from annoying and unnecessary Lovecraft name-dropping and a subpar performance by Mylene Farmer, apparently better known as a singer than actress. Laugier is the filmmaker behind the well-regarded but seriously unrelenting “Martyrs”. This one’s not nearly as gruelling, which is merely a statement, not a criticism/praise. It’s still got a lot more going for it than I expected going in (having not recognised Laugier’s name), and I’m not just talking about the unexpected twist midway through. It sure is a doozy though, I didn’t pick it at all and in its own …

Review: The Mule

Clint Eastwood stars as a 90 year-old horticulturist who is estranged from his family. They want nothing to do with the man who has spent his entire life (and money, it seems) on himself and his beloved flowers. And now he’s practically broke. Turning up at a wedding rehearsal for his granddaughter Taissa Farmiga (the only family member who greets him with anything remotely close to cordiality), he’s approached by a guest from the soon-to-be groom’s side of the fence with a job offer. The job? Act as a mule for Mexican cocaine dealers (Who’d want to hire someone so old, though? It’s never terribly convincing, despite being based on supposed fact). Eastwood is desperate, and sees that some quick money might allow him to do a good deed and contribute to the financing of the wedding, so he agrees. Upon meeting his new employers/co-workers (Robert LaSardo and Noel Gugliemi among them), he realises he’s in a dangerous position, but not one he can really remove himself from, at least not al…

Review: The Humanity Bureau

Set in a dire straits American near future, Nic Cage stars as a Humanity Bureau agent assigned the task of evaluating the po’ folk for relocation to the promised land known as New Eden. That’s the place where the least desirable/capable citizens are sent for the rest of their lives. Sarah Lind and her young boy are Cage’s latest cases, and she’s very, very reluctant to leave her rural homestead. Cage takes pity on the duo and suggests they are not viable candidates for reassignment. This doesn’t go down well with higher-ups like the antagonistic Hugh Dillon, and before long Cage is on the run with the mother-and-son with agents (including Vicellous Shannon from “The Hurricane”) on their tail.


Cheap, obvious, and heavy-handed near-future nonsense from 2018 is pretty tired and dull stuff with a Nic Cage performance to match. Even with Sarah Lind and particularly Hugh Dillon putting in better efforts (whilst Vicellous Shannon continues to dwindle in nothing parts), this is a fairly shit …

Review: The Enemy Within

Forest Whitaker plays a long-serving Army Colonel working under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and especially the hawkish General Lloyd (Jason Robards). When Whitaker’s by-the-book Col. Casey catches wind of a conspiracy by Gen. Lloyd and snaky Defence Secretary Potter (Josef Sommer) to secretly mobilise troops for a coup, right under the nose of liberal U.S. President Foster (Sam Waterston), whose approval numbers are on the wane. He’s too soft on military/defence matters, they reason, and refuses to sign off on a bill to increase military spending. Now it’s up to Col. Casey and his old friend White House Chief of Staff Betsy Corcoran (Dana Delany) to get to the President and put a stop to the treacherous, treasonous plans. Dakin Mathews is the duplicitous VP, George Dzundza plays a Russian, Lawrence Pressman scores briefly as the Attorney-General.


Don’t let the impressive line-up of names and faces fool you, this 1994 TV movie from director Jonathan Darby (whose one and only theatrical …

Review: Mum and Dad

A bizarre epidemic has parents across America suddenly and violently attacking their children. Nic Cage and Selma Blair play a pair of somewhat stressed out parents who suddenly have an urge to stalk and kill their kids, with Lance Henriksen appearing late as the grandfather.


Based on the cast and trailer for this 2018 piece of schlock, I knew it wasn’t going to be a good film. In fact, it looked like a deliberate attempt at making a bad film like “Plan 9 From Outer Space” or “The Room” (Which never works on purpose, so stop trying!). Having watched the film…yeah, it’s somehow even worse than I expected. If you’ve ever seen the Randy Quaid cannibal nuclear family movie “Parents” (it’s actually not bad), you might be ahead of the game with this wannabe cult flick’s plot. It’s basically “Parents” crossed with “The Crazies” or something. Writer-director Brian Taylor of Neveldine/Taylor infamy (“Crank”, “Crank: High Voltage”) ought to stick to making hyper-action movies with his buddy, be…

Review: The Penalty

Although I’m personally not terribly interested in the subject of lethal injection itself, this 2015 documentary from Will Francome and Mark Pizzey does at least focus on a few different points of view on the topic of capitol punishment. However, the downside in that is that the film ends up just a tad unfocussed at times. For the most part it focuses on lethal injection, but it also tries to cram in some other stuff, albeit stuff that was more interesting to me, personally. It’s ultimately not as strong as it could’ve been. It’s still worth a look if you’re interested in the subject matter, or if you want to see Florida State’s Attorney Angela Corey make herself look absolutely horrid for accusing a victim’s mother of being more concerned with publicity than in the proper punishment for her child’s murderer. You don’t get to do that to a person who has gone through such a tragedy.


The film is on its surest ground when dealing with wrongful convictions and the agonising wait involved …

Review: Into the Forest

Set in near-future Canada where two sisters (Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood) are left to fend for themselves on their property in the woods, while there appears to be a massive electricity outage. An outage that lasts months, with their supplies running out, and two sisters with different ideas on how to use said supplies. Oh look, Michael Eklund has just turned up on their property. He sure looks friendly. Callum Keith Rennie is the girls’ father, Wendy Crewson plays their mother in flashbacks, and Max Minghella plays a nice guy Page is dating who wants her to go away with him to Boston.


Good performances and nice photography don’t quite get this 2015 adaptation of the Jean Hegland near-future sci-fi/drama from writer-director Patricia Rozema (“When Night is Falling”, “Mansfield Park”) over the line. A lot of oestrogen in front of and behind the camera doesn’t add enough of a difference to counter the fact that this has been done to death. The main conflict meanwhile, is completely …

Review: The Amityville Murders

The story of the DeFeo family murders in a house later purchased by the Lutz family of hucksters who supposedly experienced some spooky stuff that inspired a book that was turned into the film “The Amityville Horror”. Diane Franklin and bullying Paul Ben-Victor are the volatile parents, John Robinson (looking completely different from his debut performance in “Elephant”) is their troubled son, whilst Burt Young and Lainie Kazan are the superfluous grandparents.


Although the Lutz family are shameless bullshit artists whom no one hopefully believes anymore (original author Jay Anson deserves some of the scorn too, admittedly), the 1979 film “The Amityville Horror” can at least claim to be a decent and iconic haunted/evil house movie. I’d go so far as to say that it’s a bit underrated, if entirely stupid. The house was scary as fuck, and the film worked OK for what it was. The sequels were almost entirely dreadful (I seem to recall the 3D one being tolerable at least), the remake not muc…

Review: First Man

The story of astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling), who is about to go down in history being the first man to walk on the moon, circa 1969. Among the famous characters, Corey Stoll plays Buzz Aldrin, Shea Whigham is Gus Grissom, Pablo Schreiber plays the infamous Jim Lovell, whilst Jason Clarke is Armstrong’s friend and neighbour, Ed White. Ciaran Hinds and Kyle Chandler play the NASA men on the ground, whilst Claire Foy plays Armstrong’s nervy wife.


Real-life Astronaut movies aren’t particularly my bag, the most popular ones like “The Right Stuff” and “Apollo 13” left me particularly cold. I won’t count “Hidden Figures” since it’s entirely about figures on the ground, but I liked that film nonetheless. I’ve gotta say I entered into this 2018 flick from director Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”, “La La Land”) and screenwriter Josh Singer (“The Fifth Estate”, “Spotlight”, “The Post”) rather trepidatiously, as the film didn’t especially set the box-office alight nor were critics that raptu…

Review: Tightrope

Clint Eastwood is macho detective Wes Block, a divorced father of two (Alison Eastwood and Jenny Beck) investigating some kinky serial homicides of hookers. He becomes involved with a feminist self-defence instructor named Beryl (Genevieve Bujold), but also has connections to several of the hookers. Intimate and rather lurid connections with them, in fact. Seems he and the killer have a thing or two in kinky common. Dan Hedaya plays a fellow cop, and Rebecca Perle plays an ice block-sucking hooker.


This 1984 kinky crime-thriller from writer-director Richard Tuggle (whose only other film credits were writing the terrific “Escape From Alcatraz”, and directing the Anthony Michael Hall flick “Out of Bounds”) is a sleazy bore with an uncomfortably cast Clint Eastwood at his most wooden in one of his worst films. Less “Dirty Harry” and more Z-grade 80s Charles Bronson thriller Cannon fodder, Eastwood is either unwilling or incapable of delivering the kind of 3-D performance required to sell…

Review: Creed II

Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) wins the title, and finds himself immediately targeted by a familiar and hated name: Drago. This time it’s up-and-coming Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of hardened Russian boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Ivan of course being the terrible (shut up) killer of Adonis’ father Apollo Creed in “Rocky IV”. Adonis’ mentor (and Ivan Drago’s conqueror) Rocky Balboa (Sly Stallone), thinks it would be a grave (literally) mistake for Adonis to take the fight. Meanwhile, Adonis’ squeeze Bianca is pregnant with their first child.


I rather enjoyed the first “Creed”, it was easily the best “Rocky” film since “Rocky III”. However, that’s obviously faint praise at the end there. I don’t think it entirely managed to fit both the Rocky and Creed characters’ stories into a fully comfortable whole to where it was a really good film. Part of that is due to the almost complete lack of threat/conflict in the form of an opponent for Jordan’s Adonis Creed. The other figh…

Review: Who Took Johnny

Although it seems to be largely an American phenomenon, you’ve probably heard about how missing kids’ photos have adorned milk cartons over the years (A brilliant idea, whoever came up with it, by the way). This 2014 documentary by David Beilinson is about the first such missing kid, 12 year-old newspaper boy Johnny Gosch. Actually, it’s predominantly concerned with his loving, tirelessly crusading mother Noreen. I must admit I did not immediately warm to Noreen in this film. An early piece of news footage showing Noreen addressing the media in the hopes of getting information about the whereabouts of her son seemed forced and fake to me. It seemed like Noreen was something out of a corny made-for-TV movie. She was saying words that I just didn’t think a worried mother would ever really say. I was suspicious. Based on every other moment in the film with Noreen, I feel ashamed for questioning her for even a second. I don’t know what was going on in that press conference footage, but ot…