Dracula Untold (DVD Review)

15 – 92mins – 2014


 

SON OF THE DRAGON

In my post-cinema analysis of last summer’s Tom Cruise-headlined reboot of The Mummy (read my review HERE), I openly acknowledged my enjoyment of the film in spite of its skew away from horror and more towards a supernatural action-adventure. However, it seems audiences (or a lack thereof) were more critical; just one entry in and Universal’s newly-rebranded Dark Universe is already in trouble. But The Mummy wasn’t always to be the opening chapter of this Monster Movie Expanded Universe…

… Keep Scuttling!

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Underworld: Blood Wars (DVD Review)

15 – 88mins – 2017


 

SPECIES IMPURITY

“I have lived beyond my time…”

The most surprising thing about this belated fifth instalment in the lycans versus vampires action-horror series is the end credits, which revealed – much to my astonishment – that series co-creator Len Wiseman neither wrote or directed this fourth big screen sequel. My surprise was such because Blood Wars is otherwise Underworld by-numbers. Kate Beckinsale strutting and slashing in tight leather? Check. Gloomy midnight-blue colour grade? Check. Chaotic interspecies fight sequences? Check. Clunky, exposition-heavy dialogue? Check and mate.

… Keep Scuttling!

Alien³ – Theatrical Cut (Blu-ray Review)

18 – 114mins – 1992


 

AIN’T NO FURY LIKE A RIPLEY SCORNED

I had planned to watch all five of the legitimate Alien films (as in, skipping over Alien v. Predator and its turgid sequel) prior to Alien: Covenant’s theatrical bow on 12th May, however I failed spectacularly, only getting as far as immediate predecessor (and chronological starting point) Prometheus and Ridley Scott’s 1979 original. As it turns out, they were all I technically needed to get the most out of Covenant (which, as my REVIEW details, I enjoyed immensely), however I tardily sustained my franchise re-watch undeterred.

… Keep Scuttling!

Me Before You (DVD Review)

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12 – 106mins – 2016


 

JUST LIVE

A former artistic director of the stage, Thea Sharrock makes her feature film debut (following a TV gig on the BBC’s Shakespeare project The Hollow Crown) with this bold and poignant adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ bestselling romantic tearjerker, which the author also penned the screenplay for.

… Keep Scuttling!

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (DVD Review)

15 – 108mins – 2016


 

DAWN OF THE DREADFULS

Death comes to Pemberley, but quite unlike how P.D. James imagined in this Austen meets the undead clash of corsets, courtship and cannibalism, based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s genre-mashing 2009 ‘toilet read’ bestseller.

“Keep your sword as sharp as your wit.”

Trading with the colonies has brought the black plague to British soil, quarantining London’s aristocrats behind a grand barrier and leading men and women alike to refine their shaolin skills and put survival over socialising in taking down the reanimated corpses of their nearest and dearest.

Their are some unique touches here – such as the use of carrion flies to smell out dead flesh; the church of St. Lazarus being used to house “intelligent” zombies living off of pig’s blood rather than human brains – but aside from a couple of creepy snapshots (“ring-a-ring-a-roses”; servant uprising) this parody adaptation is neither creepy nor comic enough to be either horror or comedy.

“Oh, fuddle…”

With his tongue firmly in cheek, Matt Clone Smith is a scene-stealing ray of delight as “odious” buffoon Mr. Collins; a pompous man with verbal diarrhoea and a taste for scones. It’s just a pity that too many of the other stars play this cheese-fest far too straight, with Sam Riley’s aloof Colonel Darcy the prime offender; dickish and detestable to such a degree that I find it hard to believe Elizabeth Bennett (Lily Romeo & Juliet James) would ever be swept off her stocking-clad feet.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 3 stars

Ghostbusters (Cinema Review)

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12A – 116mins – 2016 – 3D


 

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS

When director and co-writer Paul Bridesmaids Feig is sick of the spurious shit over-opinionated anonymous keyboard trolls sling his way on social media, he writes a biting retort into his controversial screenplay (“Ain’t no bitches be bustin’ ghosts!”). But basement-dwelling bell boy Rowan (Neil Casey) deals with his lowly lot in life in a far less passive-aggressive way: he opens a vortex between our world and the afterlife, allowing ghosts to inhabit New York City.

“If you see something, say something.”

So who you gonna call? The Masters of the Metaphy— or Ghostbusters, as they are more popularly known. But not as we have known them since 1984, as this highly-divisive 21 century reboot reimagines Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis’ apparition-zappers as theory-chasing paranormal investigators and publishers of “Ghosts From Our Past” Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). These two temporarily-estranged BFFs are joined by nuclear engineer and equipment creator Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and subway employee Patty (Leslie Jones), whose sat-nav-like knowledge of the city – and uncle’s hearse – come in mighty handy to the city-saving operation.

Written off before a single frame was filmed, GB ’16 is not the abomination the brigade of misogynistic, childhood-cherishing ‘fanboy’ naysayers feared – there are nods to the three decade franchise (from a bust of the late Ramis to an iconic 100ft parade balloon), winking cameos and respectful parallels aplenty (the firehouse; graffiti-inspired logo; Erin banging on the window of a restaurant a la Louis Tully). The new origin story and characters are, by-and-large, likable. Patty, in particular, is endearingly bullish and integrates well despite being the only non-scientist, while I have legitimately never like a Melissa McCarthy character as much as the charming and non-gregarious Abby.

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So, all good, then? Weeeell, sadly not. Granted this might well be a personal gripe given how I hated Feig’s crude and swear-stuffed spoof Spy (2015), and could happily take or leave The Heat (2013), but the humour in GB ’16 did not tally to my tastes at all. Often played far too broad, forced and occasionally veering close to embarrassing (Ozzy Osbourne and a particular joyriding spook, in particular). Feig and co-writer Katie MADtv Dippold managed to raise a smirk on my face less than a handful of times in nearly two hours…

Chris In the Heart of the Sea Hemsworth 8plays the flip-reversed role of (gasp!) male receptionist Kevin far too dippy – he’s so inexcusably dumb he’s almost offensive, while Kate McKinnon’s disingenuously quirky character traits left me stony-faced throughout. So, too, the influx of cheesy celebratory dance scenes. Yeah, it was vaguely comical once, but they are employed too often and for too long – and completely dominate the Easter Egg-stuffed closing credits.

The much-anticipated cameos from the stars of the iconic original films were somewhat hampered by a horrible tendency for all – bar Ernie “Winston” Hudson and Annie “Janine” Potts – to ham it up something chronic. Paul Feig clearly wanted this to be BIGGER, BOLDER and FUNNIER than ever before, which might explain why his spooks are neon-tinged. The CG special effects here to get a pass, however, as the bright style works with the movie’s zany exuberance.

Image result for ghostbusters uk posterHaving had to give another of my 80s favourites, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows a second chance following a week break, I may have to readjust/downgrade my expectations and re-watch Ghostbusters again next week. But my first impression from opening day is a disappointingly dispirited one, when I really hoped I’d come out feeling spirited away.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 2 stars