Monday, 1 September 2014

August 2014 in Review

You can easily tell my thoughts on Marvel's latest insertion into their Cinematic Universe, but I also managed to watch one of the most frightening experiences of my time, one of the most bizarre films I will ever witness, resulting in a failure to assign a rating, and come across the worst film I have ever seen in my life. Now let's see what films I saw in August.

Sharknado 2: The Second One - 0.5/5 - Having seen the first film last year, my expectations for this were understandably low. I can at least say that the moments of ridiculous fun felt less forced, particularly The Statue of Liberty's head being used as a bowling bowl, but it can't make up for all the problems, which is everything else in the film.

Guardians Of The Galaxy - 5/5 - I went into this film with great expectations, and it still managed to rise WAY above them. James Gunn has done a fantastic job in transferring these little known characters onto the big screen, with each character getting a fair amount of screentime and fantastic development, not to mention a brilliant performance put into each and every one, be it through a live action performance or through vocal work. Also, one of the funniest films from Marvel, not to mention one of their best. Prepare for the likes of Starlord, Rocket and Groot to become household names.

Guardians of The Galaxy (rewatch) - 5/5 - So good, I saw it twice. Thank goodness there weren't UV lights in my cinema, otherwise my trousers would look like a Jackson Pollock painting.

The Inbetweeners 2 - 3.5/5 - 3 years after we said goodbye to The Inbetweeners, here we are for the sequel. It may not consistently hit the laughs and may have some ridiculous moments, but it's a worthy return (and possibly exit) for this beloved British quartet.

Best film of the month, Best film seen in cinemas
and best film rewatched: Guardians of the Galaxy

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - 4.5/5 - It may be 40 years since its release, but this film has lost none of the power that made it garner such controversy and become a cult classic. The central characters could be better defined and have more to set them apart from one another, but this is undoubtedly a masterpiece in tension, managing to be a difficult watch all throughout.

Hannibal - 2/5 - Considering Ridley Scott brought to life Alien, one of the best horror films there has been, it's such a shame how his Hannibal Lecter film turned out. Anthony Hopkins and Gary Oldman may be brilliant, but uneven pacing, a lack of tension and Julianne Moore's failure to make an impression makes this truly disappointing.

Life After Beth - 3/5 - The cast was what initially got me interested in this film, so in that retrospect, I was not let down due to the fantastic performances. The film as a whole, however, was a disappointment. The first half of the film is a more intimate tale about dealing with loss with a wonderful twist, but the second half changed into a stumbled attempt at a horror/comedy mash-up that comes off as a poor entry into The Cornetto Trilogy, only with a more slow pace.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (rewatch) - 4/5 - Andy Serkis' fantastic performance and Weta Digital's brilliant effects do tremendous work in bringing to life Caesar and the story of the Apes. However, the dull and underdeveloped human characters bring things down with their yawn-worthy developments and scenes.

Keith Lemon: The Film - 0/5 - There was no good reason for Leigh Francis' character to reach the big screen, and this pathetic attempt is proof of that. A comedy which gives no good reason to laugh at anything, choosing to be needlessly offensive to everyone, cast those without acting talent and focus on a main character who's utterly unbearable and unlikable. Move over Battlefield Earth, I found something else to label as the worst film I have ever seen.

No Strings Attached - 2/5 - The first in my "films from 2011 about friends having sex" double bill. Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman lead this installment, but between them lack the necessary chemistry to sell the romance and come off as anything but bland. Still, the script does them no favours, as there is poor characterization and an absence of laughs among this weak writing.

Friends With Benefits (rewatch) - 4/5 - The Second part of the "films from 2011 about friends having sex" double bill. Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis lead things with a wonderful chemistry that feels naturalistic and is an utter joy to watch. While the plotting may be the typical and generic kind you'd see in any Hollywood rom-com, things are elevated by a humorous script which pokes fun at the clichés of the genre, while hitting the emotional moments well with a subplot involving Richard Jenkins.

Biggest disappointment: Hannibal

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - 4/5 - Coming off one of the most surprising hits in recent years, comes a sequel which tops its predecessor. Granted, the humans are uninteresting, clichéd and easily the weak link, but Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbel do outstanding work as Caesar and Koba, two apes with opposing views on humans and a rivalry which is as emotionally involving as it is interesting.

Insidious - 3/5 - The first half of James Wan's horror flick is a strong build up and look at how tragedy has broken this family. The second half, however, is powered by a convenient revelation, all the way to the weakly executed finale. There are tense moments and some effective scares, but its a shame how sporadic they are. A better film in theory than in execution.

The Two Faces of January - 3/5 - Hossein Amini's directorial debut boasts an impressive cast who play their role to a great standard, all while surrounded by gorgeous cinematography. Sadly, there is a lack of suspense and intrigue to sustain the film over the running time, while the love triangle aspect is undercooked, with Kirsten Dunst being given little to do outside of it. In fact, there's little reason for the viewer to invest in this story, or in its characters.

Sightseers - 4/5 - The twisted, blackly humorous story which occurs is fantastically brought to screen by Ben Wheatley, in this very British 'killer lovers' story. It can't sustain its brilliance over the entirety of its 88 minute runtime, but it's still worth a watch.

Ali G Indahouse (rewatch) - 2/5 - Sacha Baron Cohen and Martin Freeman go all in for their performances, but it can't disguise how poorly written, unfunny and padded out the entire thing is, or how homosexuality and overweight people are merely used as punchlines for jokes.

Biggest surprise: The Rover

Eraserhead - ?/5 - I refuse to give this a rating for now, because after over 24 hours of thinking, I still have no idea what to make of this film. This was my first viewing of a David Lynch film, and it was certainly a unique experience. What I do know is that Jack Nance gave a good performance, the effects were suitably creepy, the mood was tense and the themes of anxiety over fatherhood were prevalent. I'll need another watch of this to decide on a rating and my overall feelings.

The Naked Gun: From The Files of the Police Squad (rewatch) - 4.5/5 - One of the comedies that I can watch time and time again, and still find endlessly funny. A pitch-perfect spoof of cop films, right down to the clichés and the character archetypes. Granted, it may dip a bit towards the end, but Leslie Nielsen remains a master of deadpan comedy.

Stargate S-G1: Children of Gods - 2.5/5 - Having run for 10 seasons and bringing 2 spin-off shows to screen, Stargate is one of the more successful Televisual sci-fi franchises, but you'd be hard pressed to believe such a success would occur from this feature-length pilot/TV film. Sure, the acting is decent and the premise is an intriguing one, but things suffer from pedestrian writing and the overall 92 minutes being a slave to predictable developments. One such development is blatantly signposted many times before it occurs in the final act, and the reasoning behind it is given in such an info-dump manner that it becomes hard to buy what has happened.

Good Will Hunting - 4/5 - Its suffers largely from an overall sense of predictability from how familiar everything is, but it excels in the wonderful conversations that occur between the characters. What's especially worth praising are the performances, be it Stellan Skarsgard watching Will squander his potential before his eyes, Matt Damon being cocky and defensive to deflect his difficult past, and Robin Williams giving a career best performance, with a monologue to Damon encapsulating some of his best work.

Worst film of the month: Keith Lemon: The Film

Guardians of The Galaxy (rewatch) - 5/5 - Rarely do I see a film in cinemas twice, so the fact that this is my third viewing (let alone in a month!) speaks volumes.

The Rover - 5/5 - David Michôds sophmore film is a thoughtful, post-apocalyptic tale about loyalty, powered by gorgeous cinematography & a haunting score. Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson are astounding in their roles, in this story where it's left up to the viewers to interpret what's happening, as the story is told through the character backstory and the performances, as opposed to the dialogue.

As Above, So Below - 2/5 - Credit must be given to director John Erick Dowdle, who utilizes the setting and some frighteningly realistic performances to give off some genuinely creepy moments. Also, the lead girl is well written, which is much more than can be said for the rest of the group. These remaining characters lack the proper development to make them into anything more than cardboard cut-outs, while the poor writing reaches major levels of disbelief many times over.

What If - 3.5/5 - It's no big surprise here that the biggest problem is how familiar and derivative the storytelling is, while the rushed development of the side characters is another noticeable problem. But these problems are often masked by the fantastic performances given by the wonderful cast, all of whom handle their roles and their wonderful dialogue extraordinarily well. Adam Driver is easily the standout of the lot.

Best film of the month: Guardians of the Galaxy
Best film seen in cinemas: Guardians of the Galaxy
Best film rewatched: Guardians of the Galaxy
Biggest Disappointment: Hannibal
Biggest Surprise: The Rover
Worst film of the month: Keith Lemon: The Film

Number of films watched: 22

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