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

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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…

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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)

Review: Dunkirk (2017) (A Nail Biter? Or A Thumb Twiddler?)

“I’m English”

Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan’s latest film. You know, that guy who directed The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception? He’s kind of a big deal. But apparently he’s veering away from fantasy and science fiction with this film about the Dunkirk evacuation during World War II. According to Nigel Farage, Dunkirk is a move all youngsters should see. According to most critics, it’s a film all people should see. Yes, yet again, a Nolan film is receiving high critical acclaim. But does it deserve it? Continue reading

Review: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) (A Fitting End To The Trilogy?)

“You’re…you’re Caesar”

War for the Planet of the Apes was my most anticipated movie of 2017 (click here for my list!). Rise of the Planet of the Apes was enjoyable, if flawed. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was a masterpiece. However, it’s a rarity that the final film of a trilogy is satisfying. The second film is usually superb, paving the way for disappointment in the third film. There are exceptions. I tried to temper my expectations for WFTPOTA. I skipped trailers and reviews. My fears of an unsatisfying finale were unfounded. It wasn’t flawless. The second act dragged towards the end. There are other little niggles, but they are unimportant. WFTPOTA has overtaken Logan as my favourite film of 2017 thus far. Continue reading

Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) (Time To Celebrate?)

So, Spider-Man has come back home to Marvel. Well, sort of. Sony have gone halves on Spider-Man with Marvel Studios after their first reboot of the franchise flopped. We first saw Tom Holland as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War. Now, he’s got his own movie, Marvel Studios style! The critical reaction is fairly positive, with most critics comparing it to a John Hughes movie with glued in action scenes (I’ve even read a review that calls it the best Marvel film in years). I’d rate it as the best Spider-Man since Spider-Man 2, but that’s no hard feat, is it? In fact, I left the cinema disappointed. Continue reading

Review: Wonder Woman (2017) (The Best Comic Book Film since The Dark Knight?)

“I used to want to save the world…”

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I’m always weary when a film is either critically acclaimed or critically mauled. I do try to avoid reviews where possible. But in this day and age, it’s almost impossible. The word on the street was that ‘Wonder Woman’ was a great film. One review even called it the best comic book film since ‘The Dark Knight.’ High acclaim indeed. Fortunately, I had no expectations for ‘Wonder Woman’ whatsoever. Of course, I was piqued a little by the almost universal critical acclaim. What I saw was a good film, but certainly not a great one.

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