Solstice (DVD Review)

15 – 87mins – 2008


 

BURYING THE BAD ENERGY

One of only a handful of films from acclaimed The Blair Witch Project co-director Daniel Myrick since his triumphant breakout hit 18 years ago, Solstice is an unremarkable and cliché-ridden genre effort which limped out straight to DVD in time for Halloween 2008, in spite of the star power of Amanda Seyfried – who had recently hit it big in musical megahit Mamma Mia – in a supporting role.

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DOCTOR WHO, 10.6 – “Extremis” (TV Review)

BBC One – 7:25pm – Saturday 20th May 2017

Written by: Steven Moffat

Directed by: Daniel Nettheim


 

WHAT LIES BENEATH

Well I certainly wasn’t expecting that. After setting up what was presumed to be a season-long mystery in “The Pilot” and teasing it in each subsequent episode, we were casually made privy to who was inside the vault the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) has sworn to guard at this innocuous mid-series point. I’m a week late in getting my “Extremis” review posted, but I will still warn those even tardier than I that SPOILERS FOLLOW, so continue at your own risk…

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Gifted (Cinema Review)

12A – 101mins – 2017


 

A DIFFERENT KIND OF SUPER POWER

After his Amazing Spider-Man reboot came unspun after two fun-but-bloated comic-book adventures, director Marc Webb has returned to the more comfortable and earthy terrain of human drama which won him universal acclaim with 2009’s glorious (500) Days of Summer.

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XX (Film Review)

Image result for xx film 2017

15 – 80mins – 2017


 

GORE POWER

A horror anthology comprising four grisly vignettes directed by female filmmakers, XX is commendable for none of the quadruple strands overtly capitalising on the USP with dominant feminist themes. These are simply isolated genre tales which just so happen to have women at the helm. Even Sofia Carrillo’s kooky stop-motion animated wrap around featuring a walking dollhouse resuscitating a clockwork girl has no correlations to the embedded stories, simply establishing an eerie, off-kilter aura.

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Me Before You (DVD Review)

Image result for me before you film

12 – 106mins – 2016


 

JUST LIVE

A former artistic director of the stage, Thea Sharrock makes her feature film debut (following a TV gig on the BBC’s Shakespeare project The Hollow Crown) with this bold and poignant adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ bestselling romantic tearjerker, which the author also penned the screenplay for.

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Inferno (Cinema Review)

Image result for inferno film 2016

12A – 121mins – 2016


SEEK AND YE SHALL FIND

A decade after he first strapped on Robert Langdon’s cherished Mickey Mouse wristwatch in the much anticipated conversion of The Da Vinci Code from page-turner to must-see movie, screen legend Tom Hanks is back for a third global race against the clock as author Dan Brown’s sensationally-popular Harvard professor, cryptographer and Indiana Jones for the 21st century.

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Breaking the Bank (DVD Review)

12 – 101mins – 2014


 

PLUMMETING PORTFOLIO

Forever known for playing erudite talk show shrink Dr. Frasier Crane over the course of twenty years and two hugely popular US sitcoms, Kelsey Grammer crosses the Atlantic to surround himself with a smattering of UK sitcom stars as brainless, out-of-touch banking titan Charles Bunbury in this straight-to-DVD fiscal farce from director Vadim Jean, best known for his three glossy Terry Pratchett adaptations for Sky1.

“Run a bank? You couldn’t run a bath!”

Affecting a snooty, upper class disdain and throwing in phrases like “chap” and “old bean” is not enough to convince me that Bunbury is a Brit. Likewise, growing a beard, trading loafers for dirty trainers and looking a bit glum is not enough to convince me that Bunbury is suicidal, following his naïve trust in shady shark Matthew Gavin & Stacey Horne’s bogus insider trading tips.

The problem resides in the bubbly, carefree tone, which never confers enough gravitas on “Charlie Chuckaway’s” life-destroying dilemma; from Pitch Perfect’s John Michael Higgins’ smarmy “yank” takeover tease to Tamsin Episodes Greig’s frustrated-but-floundering wife, there’s not a cent of integrity in any of the cavalier, OTT performances – and ultimately, this makes Breaking the Bank subprime stock which is impossible to invest in.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 2 stars

Maggie (Blu-ray Review)

15 – 95mins – 2015 


 

ARNIE OF DARKNESS

When a viral pandemic transforms humans across the globe into flesh-chomping zombies, concerned father Wade Vogel (Arnold Schwarzenegger) takes his recently bitten teenage daughter, Maggie (Abigail Breslin), home to their backwater farmhouse in Midwest America to make her comfortable for her impending tragic turn.

“You shouldn’t have brought me back…”

If the prospect of The Terminator taking down cannibalistic hordes of the undead appeals to your inner gore hound then prepare to go hungry as this washed-out post-apocalyptic thriller is more sobering everyman drama than blood-soaked action/horror fight-fest.

That is in no way a disparaging assessment of former credits-designer and debuting Brit director Henry Hobson’s low budget indie film, however, provided you are prepared for a slow and sombre reflection on such debatable issues as parental protection, euthanasia, suicide and the pain of living for the terminally ill. In fact, were you to excise the Z-word from first-time scribe John Scott 3’s screenplay then you would be left with a potent mixture which settles somewhere between grey-scaled wasteland trotter The Road (2009) and weepy true story Lorenzo’s Oil (1992) in tone and (brain) matter.

“Ain’t nobody fighting that.”

With a climax which rings maximum tension out of a daughter descending a staircase and kissing her snoozing father, this is far from a conventional vehicle for the iconic Hollywood muscle man, who also produces this black-listed flick. Taut, touching and troubling, Maggie makes for a sympathetic and shuffling think-piece which is contagious in how it digs under your skin and tears your heart to shreds – but it’s only scary in its relatable allegorical undercurrent.

CR@B Verdict: 4 stars

A Long Way Down (DVD Review)

15 – 96mins – 2014


 

SUICIDE SQUAD 

About a Boy, Fever Pitch, High Fidelity… Usually guaranteed fail-safes at the box office, this recent adaptation of a Nick Hornby novel received far less praise and attention than we have come to expect from his usually high-profile works. This was particularly surprising given the calibre of its cast, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad or unworthy film, just one sadly lacking in courage.

Following the growing bond between four strangers (Pierce Brosnan, Toni Colette, Imogen Poots, Aaron Paul) who meet while attempting to throw themselves from a London rooftop on New Years Eve, this is billed as a dark comedy due to its sombre themes, however the film far too often takes an almost comfortable and amiable tone, at the expense of greater emotional gravitas.

A Long Way Down [DVD] [2014]Imogen Poots as cute and quirky Jess is an endearing stand-out, and if she had been the sole bringer of some off-kilter chuckles then the film would have been better balanced between observations on depression and irrationality, but it often feels like French director Pascal Chaumeil (in his first major English language gig) all too often plays it safe and doesn’t take these tragic people’s stories seriously enough – and who wants to go and see a lifeless comedy?

CR@B Verdict: 2 stars