Murder on the Orient Express (Cinema Review)

12A – 114mins – 2017


 

NO BEACH-SIDE HOLIDAY

Kenneth Romeo & Juliet LIVE Branagh has dual duties as both headliner and director of this fourth adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic 1934 mystery novel, featuring “probably the greatest detective in the world” (self-professed), Hercule Poirot, the Dickens-loving gentleman with the distractingly-iconic moustache which successfully upstages a train-full of Hollywood A-listers.

… Keep Scuttling!

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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

Grimsby (Cinema Review)


15 – 83mins – 2016


JAMES POND-SCUM

While his earliest and most famous alter ego – privileged suburban “rude boy” Ali G – also satirised the less distinguished subsects of modern British culture, at least Sacha Baron Cohen’s voice of da yoof was a subversive stereotype, cleverly used to embarrass the disillusioned middle class fools he chose to interview, starting with The 11 O’Clock Show from 1998-2000.

Over a decade and a half – and four wildly diverse personas of varying success – later, and Baron Cohen has once again turned his focus to the council house-lined estates of Benefit Street Britain with lager loving football hooligan Norman “Nobby” Butcher in action-comedy Grimsby (which was granted the wittier and more inventive title The Brothers Grimsby Stateside).

Except… gone is the self-aware parody underlying Ali G’s brashness. Gone, too, is the cheeky naivety which forgave Borat his cultural faux pas, leaving Nobby as a disgusting, crass, thoughtless yob who embraces loutishness and is blind to the foulness of the pit in which he and his largely extended family dwell. Why? Just because.

I can’t even give Grimsby some slack for its humour, because it is completely devoid of that, instead choosing truly hideous bad taste yuks (Daniel Radcliffe could sue!) over any form of sensitivity as family-proud Nobby tracks down his long-lost brother (Mark Strong) and tags along on his globe trotting top secret MI6 mission which culminates in a horrendously contrived showdown at the 2016 World Cup Finals’ firework finale.

No subject is sacred as AIDS, celebrities, child abuse, elephant penises, gay sex, obesity and the residents of the eponymous Lincolnshire fishing town are mined for some horribly unsubtle and misplaced “jokes”. On more than one occasion I considered storming out in disgust, only placated by the thankfully brisk running time (and the fact I was biding time before The Forest began).

What makes all of this all the more painful and unacceptable is the talent both on and off the screen! Isla Fisher scrapes a pass for being married to the lead actor, while UK small screen stars Johnny Vegas and Ricky Tomlinson can be forgiven for taking a theatrical gig – but what is Penélope Cruz, Mark Strong, Ian McShane and Rebel Wilson’s excuse for signing on for this foul, base dreck?!!

Director Louis LeTerrier was behind the lens of the popular Transporter films (minus last year’s Refuelled) and the frankly fabulous Now You See Me, while one of Baron Cohen’s two co-writers, Peter Baynham, has collaborated on such point-perfect comedic highlights as Alan Partridge, The Day Today and Brass Eye how could so much talent combine to make this atrociously diabolical insult to the genre??!

CR@B Verdict: 1 star