Friday, 1 April 2016

March 2016 in Review

We're a quarter of the way into 2016, and there's been some quality (and DEFINITELY some rubbish) films released this year. In the lead up to two films, I watched some relevant films, and managed to purchase an Odeon Limitless card. This isn't an advertisement (pinky promise!), just a reassurance my hard earned money didn't go towards one of the years worst pictures. So, enough stalling, let's take a gander at what films I viewed over the past March.

American Mary - 2.5/5 - As a whole, this horror tale is an uneven picture. It shows promise early on, as Surgical student Mary (Katherine Isabelle) has to use her skills in the seedy underworld of body modification, as a method of paying off her student fees. It's turn into rape revenge isn't as interesting, yet it retains some interest as we see Mary grow through this experience, venturing deeper into the body modification world. It introduces many superfluous subplots, one of which leads to a finale that makes it clear the Soska sisters were unsure on how to end things. Sadly, a case of "could've been better".

The Intern (2015) - 3/5 - It's funny how Robert De Niro put such a charming performance into a sweet role so close to playing in Dirty Grandpa. He's easily the best thing about the film, sharing great chemistry with his cast members, especially Anne Hathaway. The story may be formulaic when focused on them two, but it's where the film's at its best. The many detours, such as De Niro leading a break in, Hathaway dealing with marriage issues and finding a new CEO, are rather weak. Still, charming work from Nancy Meyers when it wants to be.

Grimsby - 1/5 - Please, Sacha Baron Cohen. Stop trying to create new characters. You peaked with Ali G and Borat.

Mad Max: Fury Road: Best film of the month
and Best film rewatched

Mad Max: Fury Road [rewatch] - 5/5 - My girlfriend was working, so how did I spend our four year anniversary?

WITNESSING THE GLORIOUS RIDE ON THE FURY ROAD! Oh what a lovely day!

Still the cinematic equivalent of an adrenaline shot, straight to the heart.

Hail, Caesar! (2016) - 2.5/5 - Oh Coens, why couldn't this have been a mini-series?

Disorder (2016) - 3.5/5 - I need to see more of Matthias Schoenaerts. And I could still do with viewing more world cinema.

10 Cloverfield Lane: Best film seen in cinemas

London Has Fallen - 1.5/5 - Did I watch a film, or a long cutscene from a Playstation 2 Call of Duty game?

The Divergent Series: Allegiant - 1.5/5 - Better than Insurgent, but then so was Fant4stic.

Blazing Saddles [rewatch] - 5/5 - We should be thankful that Mel Brooks decided to make this film when he did. In this day and age, the take no prisoners attitude of Brooks' work would have no chance of coming to life. His parody of the wild west embraces a surreal tone, throwing out attempts at logic to deliver a multitude of laughs and poke fun at racism. A comedic masterpiece.

Superman: The Movie: Best film watched
for the first time

Kung Fu Panda [rewatch] - 3.5/5 - The story does feel a bit too familiar, as the unassuming nobody becomes a significant figure for the group of fabled heroes (whom we rarely see). But what elevates this tale is the great performances on show. Jack Black's energetic performance helps to make Po a lovable lead we can't help but root for. Dustin Hoffman and Ian McShane add to the compelling history between Master Shifu and the antagonistic Tai Lung. The wonderful animation and stunning action add to the film, helping it find its own identity among Dreamworks' animated line-up.

Kung Fu Panda 2 [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - The sequel shares the focus between Po and Shen, Gary Oldman's villainous peacock. The two are opposites of the same coin, but where the latter allowed his past tragedy to define him, the former manages to move past it, and not let the pain cloud his judgement. The animation is an utterly gorgeous sight for the eyes, complimenting the fluid action which is stunning to behold. While the Furious Five (and this time around, Shi Fu) are underutilized, we're allowed a better feel for the characters and their relationships with one another.

Kung Fu Panda 3 - 4/5 - While Po's arc feels like a retread of what he's previously gone through (at it's most basic, he's searching for who he is), that's far from a major problem. In fact, it's worth it just to see the gorgeous animation mixed with the stunning fights. There's stellar voice work on hand, led by an ever reliable Jack Black. Bryan Cranston's clearly having a lot of fun in his role, while James Hong proves to be the most valuable cast member. The two help to sell the films heart, as Po deals with two fathers (which thankfully never devolves into cheap melodrama, like many films are unfortunately guilty of). This brings Po's journey to a satisfying point that's viable as an ending.

Man of Steel: Biggest Disappointment

Kung Fu Hustle - 4.5/5 - It was unintended that I followed up the Kung Fu Panda trilogy with this. But how is it this was more cartoony than any of those films, and a lot more fun for it? Having already seen Stephen Chow's Shaolin Soccer, I knew exactly what I was in for, and yet I was still surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Looney Tunes is a clear inspiration here, as the zany character engage in inventive action and hilarious moments of humour. This results in a damn fun picture.

10 Cloverfield Lane - 4.5/5 - All together now, ♫ I think we're alone now... ♫

Man of Steel [rewatch] - 2/5 - Well, that was disappointing. I saw this back in cinemas and absolutely loved it, yet seeing it for the first time since, my opinions changed quite a bit.

Kung Fu Hustle: Biggest Surprise

Batman (1989) [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - This film was my everything as a kid, and despite not seeing it in at least 12 years, this watch had the memories come flooding back. Michael Keaton is perfect. (except the whole mass murder thing. Notice that smile before a henchman explodes). He's exceptional in getting across the idea that Batman is his true self, with a constant sense that he's pretending when putting on the Bruce Wayne persona. So when the mask slips ("YOU WANNA GET NUTS?"), it's startling and rather freeing for him. Jack Nicholson has a great deal of fun as The Joker, while managing to prove unnerving. And Michael Gough is just wonderful, managing to imbue his role with role with warmth, heart and charming wit.

Superman: The Movie - 4.5/5 - Thank goodness Richard Donner was on board, handling both the spectacle and the story exceptionally well, never letting one overwhelm the other. Christopher Reeve's performance is genuinely charming and swell, perfectly playing both Clark Kent and Superman, managing to be distinctive enough that it's clear the glasses aren't the only thing hiding the secret identity. The resolution feels a bit too easy way to round things off, but compared to the rest of the film, that isn't too big a problem. From the magnificent opening on Krypton to the wonderful development of Clark Kent, and especially the stirring score and naturalistic performances. This is truly one of the best comic-book films of all time.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - 2.5/5 - The Caped Crusader and the Last Son of Krypton meet on the big screen for the first time. Such a shame how the proceedings turned out.

Grimsby: Worst film of the month

Retribution (2016) - 3/5 - Dani de la Torre's thriller lacks an original plot, and let's face it, there's a clear lack of tension from the proceedings. What we're given more is intrigue, as the engaging tale and strong performances sucks us into the film, leaving you wanting to see how it all ends. Just a shame things are wrapped up a bit too neatly.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding - 2.5/5 - The overall picture is a cheesy affair, packed with that familiar feeling you get in derivative rom-coms. But it does manage to deliver some genuinely sweet moments, as well as genuine performances from the cast. Plus, there's a humorous recurring gag about Windex's multiple capabilities.

Midnight Special - 3/5 - A grounded take on superpowers that lets the mysteries slowly unfold. But a lack of forward momentum, action and car chases scenes that feel perfunctory and a tonally different end hurt the picture. Still, there's a great cast attached.


Best film of the month: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best film seen in cinemas: 10 Cloverfield Lane
Best film watched for the first time: Superman: The Movie
Best film rewatched: Mad Max: Fury Road
Biggest Disappointment: Man of Steel
Biggest Surprise: Kung Fu Hustle
Worst film of the month: Grimsby

Number of films watched: 21

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