Zombeavers (DVD Review)

15 – 78mins – 2014


 

BEAVER FEVER

Much like schlocky Syfy fare such as Sharknado, Lavalantula and Megashark vs Crocosaurus, the title of co-writer/director Jordan Rubin’s film debut leaves you in no doubt as to the preposterous nonsense in store for horror-comedy fans who lodge Zombeavers in their DVD players. Sadly, even alert to the absurdities that awaited me and open to taking nothing seriously, I was still enormously dissatisfied with the moronic mutant madness which played out over a mercifully meagre runtime.

… Keep Scuttling!

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LEGO Jurassic World: The Indominus Escape (Netflix Review)

Image result for lego jurassic world the indominus escape

PG – 28mins – 2016


 

RE-AK A-TAK THE BLOCK

“DNA, the building blocks of life.”

Expanding on the success of last year’s franchise-spanning LEGO Jurassic World videogame, The Indominus Escape is a bright and frivolous half hour comedy short which is neither prequel or sequel to Colin Trevorrow’s record-breaking 2015 JP revival, more a tongue-in-cheek retelling. Not being cannon it’s hard to be certain, but it manages to both retrofit key scenes from the film (gyrosphere; raptor pen fall, Indominus gene reveal) and dialogue from the classic theatrical features (“Spared no expense!”) into a kooky new story.

… Keep Scuttling!

Sausage Party (Cinema Review)

Image result for sausage party

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!

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

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

A Very Murray Christmas (Netflix Review)


12 – 56mins – 2015


OVER TO BILL 

Even after opening the first handful of doors on my advent calendar and gazing in misty-eyed wonder at the fairy lights now adorning our front porch, I am still struggling to get into the festive spirit this year. So, in an effort to rustle up some cheer, I sat down last Friday to watch my first Christmas special of 2015: Netflix’s exclusive, long-anticipated irreverent take on the variety show starring Ebenezer Scrooge – well, “Frank Cross” – himself, Bill Murray.

After all, if you are in need of cheering up – who ya gonna call?!

Now, I know the Scrooged star is renowned for his dour, grumpy public persona, and I fully expected this brisk, sub-60minute production to play up to that lack of Christmas cheer, and it did (just check his hangdog mug on the poster). But what I wasn’t expecting – particularly given how this was co-written and directed by Murray’s award-winning Lost In Translation director Sophia Coppella – was the bizarre, directionless mess A Very Murray Christmas turned out to be.

Murray plays Murray – unpredictable, eye-rolling irritation and all – preparing to (begrudgingly) host a live televised variety show on December 24th, except a blizzard has meant that none of the big-name guests can make it to New York. Poorly planned and unrehearsed, weather (thankfully) knocks out the electricity mid-way through a cringeworthy impromptu duet with last-minute stand-in Chris Rock.

While not rolling with laughter, I could at least get on board with the farcical, bad-to-worse parody I was watching, famous faces such as Amy Poelher and Michael Cera talking over one another as chaos ensued behind the scenes, but then things take a turn for the surreal

A now free-for-the-night Murray makes his way to the restaurant at the Carlyle Hotel – piano-playing musical director Paul Schaffer (of The Late Show fame) shadowing his every move; keys and a mic always to hand – where he drums up Christmas spirit by offering philosophical relationship advise to a devastated married couple (Jason Schwartzman and Rashida Jones) whose ceremony has been postponed, while eating the de-frosted wedding feast and rallying the motley bar staff into karaoke.

Alcohol takes its toll and Murray eventually collapses into a dream sequence where he hosts a glitzy, well-oiled high-end variety show featuring A-list guests George Clooney and Miley Cyrus, before he wakes up on Christmas morning for one final piano-led croon with Paul and “concierge” Dimitri Dimitrov and things are brought to an anti-climatic close.

Where to start? This just did not work for me on any level. What was it trying to be? It wasn’t laugh-out-loud hilarious enough to be a tongue-in-cheek parody and it was too weird and not wacky enough to be an out-an-out spoof. There was no real-world resolution to the cancelled TV show catalyst, leaving me baffled by the meandering nature of what passed for a plot.

Furthermore, everyone on screen seems to be having an absolute blast, which left me feeling disconnected from the jokes, like the uncool kid who stands in the corner at a party. The jazz lounge vibe came off as hoity and pompous rather than jovial and unifying, while I couldn’t shake the feeling that Murray Christmas was trying way too hard to be clever and anti-network, but the rebel routine came unstuck due to the metaphoric chip on its shoulder.

Seeing some celebrities play themselves while others played everyday characters was jarring and spoiled the meta construct, while the whole production seemed meandering and ramshackle – people come and go for seemingly no reason, microphone’s shoved in their hands for Christmas renditions of varying degrees of quality and appeal – while the dream sequence felt like music video padding (particularly when Murray exits to let Miley sing solo), but one that calls to mind Billy Mack’s “Christmas is All Around” from Love, Actually. That spoof worked because it was obvious that Bill Nye couldn’t sing and didn’t care. Murray can’t either, but this fact is ignored as he powers through regardless.

In a CR@B Shell: Murray mint? Hardly. Had A Very Murray Christmas been any longer I don’t think I’d have continued to suck it. Bah, humbug.
1 star