Review: The Greatest Showman (2017) (Is This The Musical You’ve Been Waiting For?)

“Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve waited for…”

I don’t know about you, but I hate most film musicals. Try as I might, but I can’t watch them. The mere hint of a musical sends me running away in fear. Last year, La La Land made itself the first musical I ever went to the cinema to watch. And…I enjoyed it! It shouldn’t have been anywhere near the Oscars, but it did the job. A year later, I found myself at the cinema waiting to watch The Greatest Showman. Why? The trailer suckered me in, and my fiancée wanted to see it. And…I bloody loved it! The Greatest Showman stands as the only musical I could watch over and over again…and it also gave me a duet between Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron, something I never knew I needed until I saw it (and I need more!). Continue reading

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Review: Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) (This Is Not Going To Go The Way You Think…)

“What do you know about the Force?”

It’s been five days since I watched The Last Jedi. Part of me wanted to love it. Part of me wanted to hate it. It may have received one of the most divisive reactions to a Star Wars movie ever. But my mind is still divided against itself over The Last Jedi. I’ll probably come up with a rating by the end of this review. But that could change after a second viewing. I reckon a second viewing might be necessary to absorb everything portrayed in The Last Jedi. It was bloated, poorly paced and plodding at times. Some character plot lines were questionable at best. The core story wasn’t very interesting at all. But The Last Jedi tried its best to shock us by throwing everything including the kitchen sink at us. And that’s why I still can’t make up my mind about it. Continue reading

Review: Justice League (2017) (Justice Served?)

(SPOILER FREE)

“How many people have you really saved?”

Where do I even start with Justice League? I’ve put off writing this review since Friday because I simply don’t know if I even can be bothered to write about it. It seems Warner Bros couldn’t be bothered with Justice League. The film feels rushed, unfinished, and put together by a child. Even considering the change of directors earlier on in the year cannot excuse the mess that is Justice League. I was a defender of Batman v Superman because that dared to be different. Justice League is a sub-par copy of The Avengers, lacking Snyder’s distinct vision for the DCEU. Continue reading

Review: Thor: Ragnarok (2017) (Thor-Some?)

(SPOILER-FREE)

“I know what you’re thinking: how did this happen?”

Thor: Ragnarok is the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe film to get a shedload of critical acclaim. I’ve seen it advertised on Twitter as the “best reviewed Marvel film yet.” Of course, whenever something receives high critical acclaim, my Spider-sense tingles. It’s true, Thor: Ragnarok is enjoyable. You’ll laugh yourself silly. But I felt a little nonplussed when the credits started to roll. The third Thor film has little in common with its predecessors. The tonal shift is jarring, the characters involved are used mainly for laughs, and the story seems to have been written on the fly… Continue reading

Review: Blade Runner 2049 (2017) (A Sequel Thirty-Odd Years Too Late?)

(SPOILER FREE)

“I hope you don’t mind me taking the liberty”

When we were told that we were getting a belated sequel to Blade Runner, one of the most influential sequels of all time, I reacted with apathy. Why do we need a sequel thirty years after the original was released? Blade Runner might be very well respected as a film, but I couldn’t imagine many people buying tickets to see a sequel to it. And, of course, not many people have bought tickets to see a sequel to Blade Runner. It only making $30 million in its first weekend, compared to its budget of around $150 million. But I’d advise, nay implore, people who love cinema to watch Blade Runner 2049. What could have been worthless cash-in turned out to be one of the films of the year… Continue reading

Review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) (Or: How Not To Do A Sequel)

(SPOILER FREE)

“You think that s**t’s gonna work this time?”

Kingsman: The Secret Service was a novel surprise back in 2014, an ultraviolent spy spoof that worked gloriously. In fact, it was so successful in what it did that a sequel wasn’t necessary. However, a sequel was thrust upon us. Could the sequel be a successful spy spoof that didn’t copy the outline of the first one? Could it spoof sequels? Could it give us a reason for its existence? My answer to all of the above questions is: no. It’s a mess, in basic terms. It adds nothing of substance to the Kingsman universe. A plodding pace, a silly storyline and incongruent scenes add up to an awful sequel. Continue reading

Review: mother! (2017) (Seeing Is Believing…)

(SPOILER FREE)

“You scared me”

mother! has courted a lot of controversy since it was first screened for the Venice Film Festival. It holds the crooked honour of an F Cinemascore, a score reserved only for the very awful films. It’s bombed at the box office after some questionable marketing. Paramount had to release a statement defending the release of the film! It’s not very often you see that happening. I saw a trailer for it that was laughable. However, nothing would stop me from seeing another Darren Aronofsky film. After missing Noah, I couldn’t let Aronofsky down! And what I witnessed was something I’ll never forget. Continue reading

Review: Stephen King’s IT (2017) (The Horror Film Of The Year?)

(SPOILER FREE)

“You want it to float, don’t you?”

Stephen King’s IT is one of my favourite novels. I could read it over and over again until the end of time. The first adaptation of the novel, the 1990 TV miniseries, failed to do the novel justice, despite a great performance by Tim Curry as the novel’s main horror, Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Twenty seven years later, we have been given a full-on Hollywood film adaptation (or, more accurately, a two part film adaptation). Does it do the novel justice? More importantly, does it deliver true horror? My answers to both questions are uncertain. There’s too much cut from the novel to do it justice (even given that it only tells the story of the children, not the children as adults). It also relies too much on jump scares and delivers an uneven tone throughout the film…

Continue reading

Review: Detroit (2017) (The Horror Movie Of The Year?)

“Welcome home”

Here we have a film, based on an extraordinary event in history, featuring sweat-inducing scenes of tension, bullet sound effects that burst eardrums, and a large cast that often aren’t even named. Oh, it’s also topical as well. I could be talking about Detroit, or I could well be talking about Dunkirk. The former comes at a time where racial tensions in America are high. The latter came at a time when all Britain’s going through Brexit. However, in my humble opinion, Detroit succeeds a lot more in the tension stakes than Dunkirk. I found myself bored by huge chunks of Dunkirk. For the second act of Detroit I squirmed in my seat for almost an hour. It maybe let down by a tonally jarring and dull third act, but essentially it’s a true horror story that makes you want to look away from the screen…but you can’t stop yourself from looking. Continue reading

Review: Annabelle Creation (2017) (Another Unnecessary Prequel?)

(SPOILER FREE)

“Feel free to use the house as you see fit”

I’ll admit it: I haven’t seen Annabelle. Yes, I’ve watched both of The Conjuring films, but the spin-off about an evil doll seemed a little perfunctory to me. Malevolent dolls are a classic horror trope. I didn’t think Annabelle would do anything different to what we’ve seen before. Of course, one Annabelle film wasn’t enough. We needed a prequel to a spin-off, obviously! However, my curiosity was piqued by the decent reviews it was receiving. Those were misleading. It isn’t a terrible film by any means, just mediocre. It goes through all the motions of a haunted house/haunted doll film without adding anything special to the genre.

Annabelle Creation takes us back before the original Annabelle film. We open with the creation of Annabelle and a little girl being bit by a car. Twelve years later, the parents of the girl open up their house to a group of orphans and a nun. However, the dead little girl’s room is locked and spooky things start to happen. An orphan infected by polio enters her room to unleash paranormal activity…

Of course, if a house is haunted, you shouldn’t leave it, should you?

“Help me”

I’m rolling my eyes just thinking about the set-up. It’s as generic as you can get in the horror genre. There are doors opening of their own accord, little girl subject to possession, religious symbolism, and lots of jump scares. Oh, there’s a scarecrow as well, which reminded me of that Doctor Who story ‘Family of Blood’ (speaking of Doctor Who, there’s a jump scare involving a bedsheet that reminded me a lot of one that occurred in the episode ‘Listen’). The jump scares are occasionally effective, but forgotten about soon after they make you jump. There’s only so many scenes of foreboding quiet before something appears out of nowhere that can be thrown on the screen, and Annabelle Creation stretches to breaking point to create jump scares.

But what horror films require is atmosphere. I can’t deny there is a quiet sense of unease in some parts of Annabelle Creation, but they are undercut by a plain script and a plot that laughs at believability. I don’t want to spoil too much, but you’ll end up wondering why the husband and wife thought it was a good idea to let a bunch of girls live in their house. That’s a common problem with stories about demons, spirits and ghosts, but the unfurling mystery of Annabelle Creation seems more ludicrous than most other horror plots.

Religion and horror? Well, I never…

“She was taken from us at an early age”

There’s promise beneath all the mediocrity, however, I wasn’t a fan of Lights Out, but it had potential, and the director shows potential here as well. David F Sandberg knows his way around a camera and a scene. There’s some innovation and intelligence behind the camera. Given some really good material, Sandberg could create a great horror movie. Most of the actors and actresses are one-note, apart from Lulu Wilson as Linda. She’s a very expressive young actress, who’s going to have a great career.

However, her appearance made me think of the far superior Ouija: Origin of Evil, last year’s horror prequel that sounded unnecessary, but actually served up an effective chiller. It didn’t necessarily toy with any genre conventions, but delivered on the promise of horror. Annabelle Creation is typical of a prequel driven by monetary concerns rather than creative concerns. There’s nothing notable about this prequel at all. It’s just there, delivering everything we expect without verve or pizzazz. We need more prequels like Ouija: Origin of Evil, rather than Annabelle Creation.

VERDICT: 5/10. Annabelle Creation is the definition of mediocre. It’s just about acceptable, ticking off horror boxes without thinking about them.

What did you think of Annabelle Creation (2017)? Leave your thoughts/comments below!

Click here for my review of The Conjuring 2 (2016)