Happy Death Day (Cinema Review)

15 – 100mins – 2017


 

TOMORROW ALWAYS DIES

Openly acknowledging its similarity to a charming early-90s cult classic in a meta closing exchange in which protagonist Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) claims, rather unfathomably, to never have heard of the film nor star Bill Ghostbusters Murray (as if!), Happy Death Day is unabashedly Groundhog Day given a Scream-esque slasher reimagining.

… Keep Scuttling!

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American Pastoral (DVD Review)

15 – 108mins – 2016


 

RIOT REVOLUTION

“Doesn’t anyone care? Doesn’t anyone have a conscience?”

Adapted from Philip Roth’s 1997 novel, juggling star and director Ewan McGregor’s first feature behind the lens is a competent-if-flairless debut which leaves it late to make an impact. The life story of high school athlete-turned-factory owner and family man, Seymour “Swede” Levov (McGregor), and structured with modern-day bench-ends, the politically volatile backdrop of 1960s New Jersey  (black rights movement, the Vietnam War, Newark riots) feels clumsily enforced upon us with inserted news reels and radio transmissions.

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47 Meters Down (Film Review)

15 – 89mins – 2016


 

SHARKNESS FALLS

Dimension Films originally set this survivalist shark thriller for a summer 2016 straight-to-DVD release under the title In the Deep. A mere week before it was set to hit retailers’ shelves, Entertainment Studios snapped up the rights, cancelled the home release, reverted the title back to the original preference and announced a big screen bow for June 2017.

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Inside No. 9, 3.3 – “The Riddle of the Sphinx”

BBC Two – 28th February 2017 – 10pm

Created and written by: Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith

Directed by: Guillem Morales


 

GIVE US A CLUE

“Inform. Educate. Entertain”

Testament to the diversity Inside No. 9’s isolated anthology set-up allows, following last week’s (initially) light-hearted repartee and restaurant kerfuffle, “The Riddle of the Sphinx” presents itself from the off as a more antiquated and traditionally gothic beast, set within the rain-lashed study of Cambridge professor and Varsity crossword-compiler Dr. Nigel Squires (Pemberton), who receives an unexpected visitor in the form of Greggs employee Nina (Alexandra Roach).

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A Monster Calls (Cinema Review)

Image result for a monster calls film

12A – 108mins – 2017


 

A CONOR CAROL

For a twelve-year-old, Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) has a lot on his plate: his estranged father (Toby Kebbell) lives in America with his new family; his mother (Felicity Rogue One Jones) is terminally ill, leaving Conor to look after her almost as much as she looks after him; his aloofly strict grandmother (Sigourney Finding Dory Weaver) is threatening to take him away to live in her archaic abode. If all of that wasn’t enough, Conor also has to deal with regular beatings from school bully Harry (James Melville).

… Keep Scuttling!

Bad Neighbours 2 (Cinema Review)

15 – 92mins – 2016


 

SORORITY ROW

Now in their mid-20s, the bros of Delta Psi Beta have grown up, carving out successful careers and happy relationships. All, that is, except for former frat leader Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), who feels lost and lonely in the “adult” world. Coasting in a retail job and kicked out of his recently-engaged best friend’s spare room, Teddy is drawn back to the lifestyle in which he excelled: agreeing to mentor a newly established sorority of alternative, free-spirited sisters who just so happen to have rented the house next to Teddy’s old adversaries, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne).

With 2014’s Bad Neighbours grossing a remarkable $270million from a modest $18million budget, a sequel was inevitable. And here returning director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and The Night Before team stick to the age old adage: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Because Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (as it is titled in the US) not only repeats the very same ‘family versus frat’ plot, it also mines the same jokes and story beats from two years ago.

So we get more of Seth Rogen’s stoner humour (because all conscientious young fathers have a lounge littered with glass bongs), more outrageously inconsiderate party antics which every other house on the block seemingly has no objection to, more over-egged generation gap ribbing, more gratuitous opportunities to ogle Zac Efron’s abs and more awkward talky sex scenes between the “old couple” who really aren’t that old or out of touch at all.

Likeable Teddy’s implementation into the ‘battle’ is the only nifty touch, because everybody knows a college hot shot who peaked too soon, even if his initial antagonism toward Mac and Kelly feels a little out of place given the resolution scene at the end of the first film.

While there is a worthy message in Shelby’s (Chloë Grace Moretz) Kappa Kappa Nu plot about breaking from stringent (possibly even sexist?) rules and traditions and finding yourself at college, it’s a shame that any grand life lesson is sabotaged by the clichéd route in which the film reaches it. Namely: via weed, booze, flaunting your body and destroying furniture.

But then platitudes are hardly surprising in a film so desperate to replicate a winning formula that it goes to the effort of making “mama” Kelly pregnant again for no discernible plot reason than to give Mac and his wife more ammunition to be peeved at teenagers being teenagers. You won’t sit stony-faced throughout – there are some bad taste belly laughs to be had from Bad Neighbours 2 – it’s just a shame you’ve seen it all before – oily pecs and all.

CR@B Verdict: 2 stars