Downsizing (Cinema Review)

12A – 135mins – 2018


 

MINATURE IDEA, MASSIVE PROBLEM

I had been pre-warned by two independent sources that Sideways collaborators Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor’s latest offering did not play out the way the trailers lead you to believe. Leaving the cinema after a screening of the ambitious sci-fi comedy-drama the other evening, it was clear that not everyone got the memo. “It started really well…” one woman opined to her partner before her praise dipped. Another couple agreed giving a capule review that went: “It was fun to begin with and then got really weird.” I really could not disagree with either statement.

… Keep Scuttling!

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mother! (Cinema Review)

18 – 121mins – 2017


 

MATRIACHAL METAPHORICAL MADNESS

From the controversial Requiem for a Dream to the crucified Noah, via underappreciated The Fountain to Oscar-winner Black Swan, acclaimed filmmaker Darren Aronofsky certainly cannot be accused of ever holding back on his confrontational and surrealist visions. In his latest audience-dividing vision, striking psychological thriller mother!, he may well have crafted his boldest, bloodiest and most bonkers audio/visual art-piece to date – for better or worse!

… Keep Scuttling!

Despicable Me 3 (Cinema Review)

U – 90mins – 2017 – 3D


 

GRU GONE GOOD

Happily married to Lucy (Kristen Ghostbusters Wiig) and living a respectable life as a father to his three adopted girls, former supervillain Gru (Steve Carell) is now a top agent for the Anti-Villain League. But when new blood takes over the AVL, Gru and Lucy find themselves thrown to the curb for failing to apprehend former child-star-turned-jewel-thief Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker). Will reuniting with his long-lost twin brother, Dru (also Carell), see Gru back on a path to heroism, or will Dru coerce him to return to his shady past?

… Keep Scuttling!

Sausage Party (Cinema Review)

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15 – 88mins – 2016


 

WIENER FEST

Ten minutes in to this Point Grey Pictures anthropomorphised-foodstuffs-make-crude-jokes-and-swear-lots CG ‘toon for those old enough to know better, I feared the (not so) cute concept would become very tired very quickly – particularly when devoid of the deliberate hoodwink of the jaw dropping Pixar-parodying trailer.

… Keep Scuttling!

Zoolander No. 2 (DVD Review)

12 – 98mins – 2016 


 

TWO STEEL

Quote-heavy and gif-friendly in its all-round over-exuberance, 2001’s first Zoolander is considered a modern classic of the Brat Pack comedy era – much like Will “Mugatu” Ferrell’s Anchorman. I can never proclaim to being that enamoured with either if I’m being honest, although both have remained so prescient in the public consciousness that sequels – whether necessary or not – were guaranteed money-makers.

It took co-writer, star and director Ben Stiller some 15 years to resurrect his chique-but-stupid fashion model Derek Zoolander, who has been in icy exile (like a “hermit crab”) since the collapse of his Centre For Kids Who Can’t Read Good, death of his wife (Christine Taylor) and some seriously poor spaghetti-based parenting skills saw Child Protection services take his son, Derek Jr (Cyrus Arnold), into care.

But now a mystery assassin is gunning down the world’s most famous pop stars, all of whom take a “Blue Steel” selfie before they pop their beautiful clogs. Chances are only the creator of the trademark look and his former fashion rival-cum-BFF-cum-rival-again Hansel (Owen Wilson) hold the key to cracking this deadly plot – but can they be trusted to work full-stop, much less undercover and together?! And how will they fit in to a much-changed, androgyny-embracing industry?

Bringing back every successful element from the first film and adding a walk-in wardrobe’s worth more, Zoolander No. 2 is a messy maelstrom of outrageous outfits, flashy visuals, dumb expressions, stupid jokes and more celebrity cameos than your mind can reasonably comprehend. At least the similarly overcrowded Absolutely Fabulous never got to the point where they needed to write the names of the famous people on screen to tip off the audience!

It’s not high art – in fact most of it is as eye-rollingly embarrassing as Kristin Ghostbusters Wiig’s near incomprehensible foreign accent – but the game cast and even-gamer cameoists (Justin Bieber, Kiefer Sutherland and Benedict Cumberbatch in particular don’t mind putting their pride to one side) just about save this from being a stinky No. 2 of a catwalk catastrophe – it’s just a shame so much of it is recycled from last season and should have been left on the hanger.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 2 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