D: Frank Coraci
Columbia/Revolution/Happy Madison (Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo, Neal H. Moritz, Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe, Jake Hoffman & Jonah Hill)
W: Steve Koren & Mark O'Keefe
DP: Dean Semler
Ed: Jeff Gourson
Mus: Rupert Gregson-Williams
Adam Sandler (Michael Newman), Kate Beckinsale (Donna Newman), Christopher Walken (Morty, the Angel of Death), David Hasselhoff (Johnny Ammer), Henry Winkler (Theodore Newman)
Although I'm not a fan of Adam Sandler, Click was a pleasant surprise from the comedic actor's filmography.
He plays Michael Newman, a workaholic architect who acquires a magical remote control which allows him to fast forward through dull or unpleasant moments of his life, however, the device takes on a mind of its own and fast-forwards Michael into a future where his wife has divorced him and his children have grown to resent him.
Though the material is tailored for Adam Sandler's usual act, it does have a good message at its heart about not taking for granted the moments we spend with family and the convenience we tend to rely on with technology.
Perhaps the treatment deserves better than Adam Sandler's schtick, but it's fair to say that this could have been a lot worse. As is, it was good enough to be nominated for an Academy Award (for makeup). Still, considering its lead star, you wouldn't be harshly judged if you were to switch over.
D: Lee Unkrich
Disney/Pixar (Darla K. Anderson)
W: Adrian Molina, Matthew Aldrich, Lee Unkrich & Jason Katz
Mus: Michael Giacchino
voices of: Anthony Gonzalez (Miguel), Gael Garcia Bernal (Hector), Benjamin Bratt (Ernesto de la Cruz), Alanna Ubach (Mama Imelda), Rene Victor (Abuelita), Ana Ofelia Marguia (Mama Coco)
A traditional Mexican story gets a Disney-Pixar makeover, primarily because inclusivity and diversity was the flavour of the moment in Hollywood throughout 2017. Assembling a voice cast of Latino performers, along with Pixar's usual high standard of animation, the overall result was very well received by both audiences and critics, winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
The story follows Miguel, a young Mexican boy with an interest in music, which has been banned in his household for decades by his elderly grandmother.
During the annual "Day Of The Dead" celebrations, Miguel finds himself transported to Tierra Del Muerte, where the souls of the dead reside on the condition that they are still remembered the living. Within the Land Of The Dead, Miguel meets his great great grandfather, an aspiring musician whose songs were stolen by a world famous crooner, and Miguel tries to correct this injustice before returning to the land of the living.
Brilliant animation and all the politics aside, Coco is an enjoyable film, but it's really nothing special when compared with other films in Pixar's catalogue (Toy Story, etc) and much feels like virtue-signalling simply for the sake of it.
Still, it's one way to immerse youngsters into a culture which would perhaps be alien to them otherwise. Overhyped, but certainly not disappointing.
THE COMMUTER (12)
D: Jaume Collet-Serra
StudioCanal/Ombra/The Picture Company (Andrew Rona & Alex Heineman)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 🇫🇷 2018
W: Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi & Ryan Engle
DP: Paul Cameron
Ed: Nicolas de Toth
Mus: Roque Baños
Liam Neeson (Michael MacCauley), Vera Farmiga (Joanna), Patrick Wilson (Det. Lt. Alex Murphy), Jonathan Banks (Walt), Andy Nyman (Tony), Elizabeth McGovern (Karen MacCauley), Sam Neill (Capt. David Hawthorne)
The Taken of Pelham One Two Three, with Liam Neeson doing the same song and dance that's paid his bills over the last 10 years.
It's another collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra, whom he worked with on similarly themed thrillers Non Stop and Run All Night, and it wouldn't be a surprise if footage from those movies were spliced into this one to save budget.
Neeson plays a former cop turned insurance man, and the film opens with some well executed shots which underpin the mundanity of his working days and his daily commute from the suburbs to the city and back again. Midway through the first act, he becomes the victim of employment redundancy and on his journey home approached by a mysterious woman named Joanna who has an interesting proposition for him which isn't too far removed from a Hitchcock movie. The film unfortunately ditches this highly implausible concept to dangle the family danger threat for Neeson to jump through hoops at the behest of the unseen villains, all to find a witness abroad the same train who has to kill or face the consequences.
We've all seen films like this before, and the majority have been done a lot better. The suspension of disbelief fails miserably when a story asks us to believe that there is some form of human interaction on commuter trains, it simply doesn't happen (especially in the UK) and paired with visual effects which look 20 years old, this really doesn't make for a convincing movie, even with the brain removed.
Time to get a new agent Liam, you can do much better than this.
THE CONJURING (15)
D: James Wan
Warner Bros/New Line/Evergreen (Peter Safran, Tony DeRosa-Grund & Rob Cowan)
W: Chad Hayes & Carey B. Hayes
DP: John R. Leonetti
Ed: Kirk Morri
Mus: Joseph Bishara
Vera Farmiga (Lorraine Warren), Patrick Wilson (Ed Warren), Lili Taylor (Carolyn Perron), Ron Livingston (Roger Perron)
Audiences seemed to love this movie, but nowhere near as much as studio executives, who saw fit to franchise the fuck out of it, creating sequels and spinoffs based on props and backstories (The Conjuring 2, Annabelle, The Nun, etc.). Produced for a meagre $20m, the film more than broke even on its opening weekend, so from a business side of things, its a tidy film.
Studio finances aside, the plot doesn't mask the fact that it's taken elements from The Amityville Horror, The Exorcist and Poltergeist for yet another knock off from the Hollywood production line.
Set in 1971 and based on a "true story", the Perron family (mum, dad, five daughters) move into a country farmhouse where spooky goings-on wake them at night and the presence gets increasingly malevolent. The family recruit the help of the Warrens, who make a living investigating the paranormal despite Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) being dressed like an elixir salesman from the 1800's.
The rest of the film is made up of the usual horror cliches and tropes which have plagued the genre for the past few decades and any mystery is knocked out of the park by the production of all the needless spinoff movies.
From a technical point of view, the film is adequately done, with good cinematography and visual effects, but I found the editing didn't quite flow and the production design didn't capture the period at all.
Patrick Wilson aside, the rest of the performances are convincing enough, but the film still left me lamenting the golden age of horror- when these kinds of movies were actually scary.
D: Anton Corbijn
Northsee/EM Media/3 Dogs & A Pony (Orian Williams, Anton Corbijn & Todd Eckert)
🇬🇧 🇯🇵 🇦🇺 2007
W: Matt Greenhalgh [based on the book "Touching From A Distance" by Deborah Curtis]
DP: Martin Ruhe
Ed: Andrew Hulme
Mus: New Order
Sam Riley (Ian Curtis), Samantha Morton (Deborah Curtis), Alexandra Maria Laura (Annik), Joe Anderson (Hooky), Toby Kebbell (Rob Gretton)
A warts and all biopic of doomed singer Ian Curtis, of British alternative Joy Division, whose life was cut short amid personal problems.
Anton Corbijn presents Curtis' story with moody, washed out black and white photography which manages to capture the personality of the musician as well as the late 1970's period to perfection.
The performances are excellent, especially Sam Riley, who uncannily captures all of Ian Curtis' traits and mannerisms, while Samantha Morton is also excellent as his wife, Deborah Curtis', whose memoir formed the basis for the film.
THE COOLER (18)
The original title was intended to be "A Couple Of Dicks" but when the studio changed it to "A Couple Of Cops" director Kevin Smith said it was a cop out, which ironically became the new title of the movie.
It's entertaining enough as a homage to 1980's buddy-cop flicks without being particularly funny, partnering Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan as two incompetent officers who are put on unpaid suspension after screwing up a drug bust.
With Willis' daughter's expensive wedding on the horizon and needing the cash to pay for it, he decides to sell a valuable baseball card, which gets stolen and winds up in the possession of the drug honcho who they're trying to bring down at the start of the movie.
The film is packed with references to other action & crime films but the jokes are more miss than hit, and all the scenes featuring Seann William Scott are particularly unfunny.
It's sad to say that without Jay & Silent Bob, Kevin Smith's films simply aren't very good.
CREED II (12)
D: Steven Caple, Jr.
MGM/New Line (Sylvester Stallone, Kevin King-Templeton, Charles Winkler, William Chartoff, David Winkler & Irwin Winkler)
W: Sylvester Stallone & Juel Taylor [based on characters created by Sylvester Stallone]
DP: Kramer Morgenthau
Ed: Dana E. Glauberman, Saira Haider & Paul Harb
Mus: Ludwig Göransson
Michael B. Jordan (Adonis Creed), Sylvester Stallone (Rocky Balboa), Tessa Thompson (Bianca Taylor), Dolph Lundgren (Ivan Drago), Florian Munteanu (Viktor Drago), Phylicia Rashad (Mary Anne Creed)
When the first Creed movie was released in 2015, I enjoyed it on its own merits, but I also wondered whether the Rocky franchise had ran out of steam and whether or not a retread for a new generation had enough legs. Creed II proves that there's still life in the series, not only financially for the studio's bottom line but also thematically & entertainment purposes.
If the first Creed movie could be deemed a rejig of the first Rocky movie, it seemed from the trailers and marketing as though this sequel was a retread of Rocky IV, revisiting Ivan Drago and his son as the antagonists albeit without the Cold War backdrop (which was way too cheesy in the 1985 movie).
The blueprints are pretty much the same here. Protagonist boxer has the heavyweight title, antagonist boxer wants it, first fight ends badly, training montages ensue, protagonist makes amends, all padded out with domestic issues, ethical disputes and a little dash of romance, and though the running time does exceed the 120 minute mark it does not feel like a 130 minute movie, all due to good pacing, solid performances and a well-delivered theme about fatherhood which runs through the narrative. Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson are all excellent, but special mention has to go to Dolph Lundgren, who I never considered a good actor, but he is exceptionally good in this, as a fallen star forcefully influencing his son to follow in his footsteps and succeed where he failed.
Even though it's a film about boxing, it's not a film about boxing, and as a sequel I think it surpasses the original for quality, so much so, that it makes Rocky IV a better film.
A must watch for fans of the Rocky movies and first Creed film, and even worth catching if you want to see a thoroughly entertaining sports drama.
CRIMSON PEAK (12)
D: Guillermo del Toro
Universal/Legendary (Guillermo del Toro, Callum Greene, Jon Jashni & Thomas Tull)
W: Guillermo del Toro & Matthew Robbins
DP: Dan Laustsen
Ed: Bernat Vilaplana
Mus: Fernando Velazquez
PD: Tom Sanders
Cos: Kate Hawley
Mia Wasikowska (Edith Cushing), Jessica Chastain (Lady Lucille Sharpe), Tom Hiddlestone (Sir Thomas Sharpe), Charlie Hunnam (Dr. Alan McMichael)
It wouldn't be too unfair to consider Guillermo del Toro as the Mexican Tim Burton. The filmmaker fills his movies with dark material, gothic visuals and meticulous attention paid to period detail and production design. Unfortunately, this doesn't always work when the principal focus isn't on the story, and though Crimson Peak is quite wonderful to look at, the storyline is quite dire.
Set in the Victorian Era, a young woman is torn between two lovers, a childhood sweetheart and a mysterious stranger. Following a tragic family event, she moves into a house which is seemingly haunted and more tragedy unfolds.
Aside from fine production design and costumes, the story is quite boring, with an ending which is predictable from the opening moments.
Pan's Labyrinth was probably the height of del Toro's successes, but his foray since into directing American films just haven't yet reached the filmmaker's previous heights.