Exorcist II: The Heretic (Blu-ray Review)

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18 – 117mins – 1977


 

CALL ME BY MY DEVIL NAME

Cynically made on-the-cheap by a new creative team after the two Williams (original Exorcist director Friedkin and author Peter-Blatty) flat-out refused to be involved in a follow-up, The Heretic was also beset by a mountain of production problems (its script was rewritten FIVE times DURING filming by uncredited writers; the final product scarcely resembles the first draft) and – rather predictably – it garnered near-universal derision upon release. Frankly, it’s a miracle that the franchise survived such a monumental blunder, but clearly the power of Pazuzu conquers all set-backs!

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The Cloverfield Paradox (Netflix Review)

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15 – 102mins – 2018


 

CREATING CHAOS

“We’re definitely not in Kentucky anymore.”

You certainly cannot accuse the burgeoning Cloverfield cinematic universe (for that undoubtedly is what it now is) of resting on its laurels. Ten years and three films in, we have been treated to three distinct and intriguing genre pictures released in three distinct and intriguing ways. For those who thought 2008’s ground-breaking viral marketing-tease and 2015’s quick-drop cinema rollout too longwinded, Paradox dropped onto streaming giant Netflix just FOUR HOURS after its trailer debuted during this year’s Super Bowl. Wow.

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Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Cinema Review)

12A – 142mins – 2018


 

SHANKS AND BIG WALLS

Back up and, err, running again (if you’ll pardon the wordplay) after a hefty-but-unavoidable production delay following lead actor Dylan O’Brien’s on-set accident, The Death Cure is a scintillating and welcome conclusion to returning director Wes Ball’s trilogy of dystopian sci-fi action-adventures based on author James Dashner’s hit series of Maze Runner novels.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Cinema Review)

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12A – 152mins – 2017 – 3D


 

THE BURDEN OF ALL MASTERS

“It’s time for the Jedi… to end.”

Having recently announced that writer/director Rian Johnson will spearhead a brand-new Star Wars trilogy unrelated to the principal Skywalker saga in the coming years, it is clear that Lucas’ successor Kathleen Kennedy et al at Lucasfilm/Disney are unequivocally thrilled with how Episode VIII has turned out. George himself is on record as praising it for being “beautifully shot,” while early reviews seem to be unanimously positive and box office projections astronomically high…

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Jigsaw (Cinema Review)

18 – 92mins – 2017


FUCKED UP CONFESSIONAL

Seven real-world years after Saw 3D was marketed as “The Final Chapter” [sic] and over a decade in-universe after the death of eponymous Jigsaw Killer John Kramer (Tobin Bell), Daybreakers directing duo the Spierig Brothers resurrect what used to be an annual Halloween tradition with the eighth instalment in the popular torture-porn horror franchise.

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Child’s Play (Netflix Review)

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18 – 87mins – 1988


 

BATTERIES NOT INSERTED

“Hey, wanna play?!”

The Conjuring‘s breakout star Annabelle – who has since been granted not one but two origin stories, reviewed HERE and HERE – may have recently reawakened the public’s fear in perturbed porcelain playthings, but the first toy to terrorise audiences (and court controversy for allegedly invoking violence in children) was creator Don Mancini’s possessed Good Guys doll, who over a near 20-year period has headlined a further six supernatural serial-killing sequels.

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Thor: Ragnarok (Cinema Review)

12A – 130mins – 2017 – 3D


 

GLADIA-THOR, READY? REVENGERS, READY?

In recent years, Disney and Marvel have become notorious for the short leashes on which they keep their directors. Even if your name is Edgar Baby Driver Wright, if your Ant Man passion project doesn’t toe the corporate line, you’re out. Likewise, Lord and Miller were recently ousted from the Han Solo Star Wars spin-off because their take on the Kasdan’s script was too irreverent. The body double twist which capped off Iron Man 3 was derided for making a mockery of Marvel lore, while Joss Whedon has openly held his hands up to the difficult production on 2015’s Age of Ultron, a sequel which too often went for a gag.

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STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, 1.5 – “Choose Your Pain” (Netflix Review)

Streaming on UK Netflix from: Monday 16th October 2017

Story by: Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts and Kemp Powers

Teleplay by: Kemp Powers

Directed by: Lee Rose


 

SURVIVAL MODE

“Glory must be earned from sacrifices… and PAIN!”

While the sets and lighting are as opulent and dazzling as ever this week, the showrunners behind Star Trek: Discovery are instead taking a different tack in their efforts to make this new prequel series darker and more mature by inserting scenes of brutal violence and random instances of foul language into what has fundamentally always been a family-friendly show set in an optimistic future striving for a universal utopia.

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The LEGO Ninjago Movie (Cinema Review)

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U – 101mins – 2017 – 3D


 

THE QUEST FOR PIECE

With 2014’s Lord and Miller-scribed The Lego Movie proving to be a chuckle-stuffed block-buster, a whole universe of brick-based CG-animated feature film spin-offs were commissioned, with this modern-day karate-themed yarn following hot on the heels of February’s Batman solo adventure (which I reviewed HERE).

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STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, 1.4 – “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry” (Netflix Review)

Streaming on UK Netflix from: Monday 8th October 2017

Series created by: Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman

Written by: Jesse Alexander and Aron Eli Coleite

Directed by: Olatunde Osunsanmi


 

UNIQUELY INTERESTING

“Let’s send our Klingon friends a message they won’t forget.”

Settling into its new post-‘second pilot’ direction, episode 1.4 of Star Trek: Discovery gave me the distinct impression that it was panicked about how grand, impressive and memorable it was, and frequently felt the need to throw everything at the audience in a shallow attempt to impress. While it’s by no means a complete shipwreck, “The Butcher’s Knife…” is both the busiest and my least favourite of the new series thus far.

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