Tag Archives: Jeff Goldblum

Independence Day: Resurgence

independence day 2

Perhaps there was a modicum of irony in seeing a film titled ‘Independence Day’ on the day when the UK ‘Brexited’ the European Union, but on Friday, with the future of the human race (ok, European politics) in the balance, I went to watch the long awaited sequel to the 1996 blockbuster hit.

Resurgence takes place 20 years after the events of the original in an alternate timeline where the victory over the alien invaders has unified humanity and led to 20 years of peace on Earf, an advancement in technology and improved Earf defence as a return from the bad guys is expected.

Will Smith’s character, Captain Steven Hiller, does not return, killed off in some promo material for the film, but Jeff Goldblum is back as genius science ‘boffin’ David Levinson. He is joined by the returning Bill Pullman as ex-president Whitmore, as well as Judd Hirsch and Brent Spiner – and also Vivica Fox, whose character has had one hell of an upwards career trajectory.

Joining the heroes from the war of ’96 are Independence Day: The New Class, with Liam Hemsworth playing rebellious pilot Jake Morrison, Jessie Usher as Dylan ‘son of Smith’ Hiller, Maika Monroe as Whitmore’s daughter, as well as some others that we aren’t given the chance to care about.

And therein lies the biggest problem. The new cast are just so bland and boring. Now, they are not helped by a script that never gives us time to get to know them or know about them and some clunky as hell dialogue.

I suppose Hemsworth ‘the Lesser’ is fine. I think I may prefer him in this to the Hunger Games, but the other two new leads are just terrible. I mean out of this world bad. Usher as Hiller Jr is void of charm of charisma and is just wooden. Will Smith, who played his step-dad 20 years ago, with his personality and the way he can revel in this type of film, would have improved the movie. Instead we are left with someone who is meant to rally the troops and the audience but can barely muster a modicum of excitement.

Monroe as Whitmore’s daughter, the Whitmore who stirred the world with his rousing speech to send the human race to victory and freedom, is just as bad as Usher.

And the forced rapport between characters is terrible. Hemsworth and Monroe’s characters are an item. Before the aliens return, in a brief scene where we are meant to begin caring about these people, they mention buying a house but she shows little interest. Then amidst the destruction, she brings up the houses, for no reason, to which Hemsworth replies ‘if it’s still there’. Just… horrible.

However, this is not the worst line of the film. That goes to the new president who, when aliens find her hidden base/hole in the mountain, she declares, stoically: ‘There will be no peace.’

Which was obvious when the aliens destroyed half of Earf without even a hello.

While the dialogue is poor, perhaps getting the audience on board with the characters could have been improved by getting rid of some of the guff and replacing it with more time with the main cast.

For example, we could cut all the nonsense with Judd Hirsch’s Levinson snr, anything with Vivica Fox would have not taken away anything from the film, and probably even improved it.

It sounds like I hated the film doesn’t it? After all I’ve spent the whole review slagging it off. However, I still had fun.

Goldblum is good as Levinson, just as he was 20 years ago. Pullman was also on form as the troubled ex-president, as was Brent Spiner as the presumed dead Area 51 Scientist. If anything almost saves the film, it is the returning cast.

I also liked and appreciated the world building, and the way in which director Roland Emmerich – a man whose name is synonymous with modern disaster films – has chosen to explain to us what exactly has happened between the events of the first movie and this; such as the fact that there were still some aliens on Earf. It was interesting – and could have done with more of it.

It is not perfect by any means, and in some places is just really stupid. But providing you are not some kind of snob who looks down on this kind of film and can switch your brain off for 120 minutes, you will spend it not being bored (in spite of the films many issues) and at the end of the day, is that not what you want from a sequel 20 years in the making about an alien invasion?

Although, the setup for the threequel is just… mind bogglingly stupid.

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Failed Critics Podcast: X-Men: Apocalypse

x-men apocalypse

Welcome to this week’s episode of the Failed Critics Podcast, with your hosts … erm … Stan? Stuart? Stephen? Steve, Steve Norman, that’s the fella, and Owen Hopkins– I mean, Hughes. They’re joined by Andrew Brooker to review, look at, discuss, scratch their heads and generally mull over the latest Fox-driven superhero movie, X-Men: Apocalypse.

Before all of that, the trio run through the latest film news to cross their paths; namely the trailers for Ghostbusters (and why it might be OK to not like it), Star Trek Beyond, The Purge: Election Year and Independence Day: Resurgence. There’s also room for a discussion about Nicolas Winding Refn’s plans to remake Witchfinder General, as well as an astonished glance towards the impressive cast list of Thor: Ragnarok, boasting the likes of Cate Blanchett, Karl Urban and Jeff Goldblum.

As ever, the ongoing, never ending quiz battle between Owen and Steve rages on, this week pitting the latter against Brooker as they try to work out which X-Men names are real and which Owen has simply made up. In What We’ve Been Watching: Steve revisits a the first and the most recent of the X-Men movies prior to his trip to see Apocalypse; Brooker MC’s over Magic Mike XXL; and Owen gushes over cult zombie classic The Return of the Living Dead.

Join us again next week for a special movie-star triple bill episode.

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A Horrorble Month

by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)

I watch a lot of films. When I say “a lot”, I mean, a lot. I’m not boasting about this, I’m sure there are people who watch more and good luck to them! But there hasn’t been a week since the 20 – 26th August 2011 where I haven’t seen at least one film. In fact, the only week since then where I’ve only seen one film was 1st – 7th October 2011. Every week since, I’ve watched a minimum of two films within that seven day period. In 2012 I watched 464 films; in 2013 that rose to 555 films. So far this year, I’ve seen (according to Letterboxd + my private list of films I’ve yet to log on the site) 443 movies.

Yes. Exactly. For someone who doesn’t get paid to do this – who’s not employed by anyone as a professional film critic and holds down a full time job in a completely different industry – I’m fully prepared to accept that I do indeed watch a lot of films. A lot.

This month started no differently to any other from the past three years. I knew I was going to be writing a Decade In Film piece for 1964 soon and in the name of research had acquired a copy of the Vincent Price / Roger Corman classic from that year, The Masque of the Red Death. I watched it. I loved it. The following day, I had a look through my DVD’s to see if I had any other Roger Corman films floating about and there nestled in amongst the piles of unopened hard plastic cases on my shelves, on a three-films-on-one-disc collection, I stumbled across A Bucket of Blood. I watched it. I loved it. I began watching more and more Roger Corman and/or Vincent Price movies and before I knew it, by the 7th of October (amongst a few other movies) I’d seen at least one horror film per day.

It got me thinking; given that Halloween was a mere four weeks away, could I possibly make it to the end of the month, continuing on in the same vein; one horror film per day? I do watch lots of movies, but I am only human! Even I need a break every other day.

But there it was. A challenge had been set (by me) and I accepted (my own challenge). Fuck you, me! I’d show you (me) who’s boss (you/me). (Me.)

The key thing to establish before completing a challenge like this is setting what the parameters are. The most obvious thing to start with was to define exactly what I meant by a “horror film”. I did what any rational person would do and Googled it, taking the Wikipedia entry as 100% irrefutable evidence.

Horror is a film genre seeking to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience’s primal fears…

…Horror films often deal with the viewer’s nightmares, hidden fears, revulsions and terror of the unknown.

Seems quite broad, doesn’t it? In the end, that turned out to be quite a helpful thing. As anybody who has listened to any of our ‘triple bill’ podcasts knows, I’m not too reliable when it comes to sticking within the boundaries of a particular topic. A little wriggle room meant, in theory, I could stretch from classic 50’s sci-fi and psychological thrillers, to Hammer Horror and good old fashioned ghoulish monster movies, should the need present itself. TV shows (The Walking Dead, American Horror Story and so on) or short movies would most definitely not be applicable. By film, I mean a feature film (that is, over 2400 seconds (or 40 minutes) in length).

The only other parameter left to establish was what did I constitute as “one per day”. Rather straight forward, perhaps, but what if I watched half a film on a Monday, fell asleep, and never went back to finish it? I decided that would not count. It had to be watched in its entirety that day for it to count. A couple of times due to various issues (such as internet cutting out in the middle of streaming a film on Netflix and not coming back on that day) a film had to be abandoned. If that was the case, it broke rule number 2 and was therefore not allowed.

I didn’t do this project for some sort of self enlightenment. I didn’t do it as a social experiment, or to make some kind of commentary on the film industry or film criticism either. I am simply an idiot with too much time on his hands who happens to have ready access to a film blog. Plus, it was kind of fun.

Below, I’m going to list the weeks through October and name each horror film that I watched per day. I’ll pick out one film to talk about. Are you ready? Let’s begin.


Week 1: Wednesday 1 – Sunday 5 October 2014

Wednesday – Cannibal (2014), The Masque of the Red Death (1964); Thursday – A Bucket of Blood (1959), The Tomb of Ligeia (1964); Friday – The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960); Saturday – Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961); Sunday – WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968)

witchfinder generalThis was not my first watch of Michael Reeves’ horror. Tragically dying from an accidental barbiturate overdose at the age of 25, this would be his fourth and final movie. It details an episode in the life of the infamous Witch Finder Generall, Matthew Hopkins (Vincent Price) in the 17th century. Barbarically torturing women he denounces as witches, the film was originally heavily censored and notorious amongst horror fans. Ian Ogilvy plays a young Roundhead whose fiancée is taken and accused by Hopkins. Even watching this film a second time, knowing what is coming, it doesn’t make it any less brutal and horrific. If ever an ending to a horror film could be described as chilling, then it’s the final thud, thud, thud of this classic folk horror. And it’s impossible to let a review slip by without mentioning what a true genius Vincent Price was.


Week 2: Monday 6 – Sunday 12 October 2014

Monday – The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971); Tuesday – The Fly (1958); Wednesday – THE FLY (1986), The House of Usher (1960); Thursday – Madhouse (1974); Friday – Premature Burial (1962), The Wasp Woman (1959); Saturday – Black Sunday (1960), Night of the Blood Beast (1958); Sunday – This Island Earth (1955)the fly

As you can see from the above, I watched the fun and disturbing original film version of The Fly on the Tuesday of this week. It was enjoyable, fun and just a little bit twisted. However, immediately after it is David Cronenberg’s 1980’s Promethean body-horror retelling of this science fiction classic and it just blew the original out of the water. Or rather, as it happens, blew it out of the telepod. Starring Jeff Goldblum as Seth Brundle, a research scientist innocently working hard to invent a device that can instantaneously teleport an object from one pod to another, he accidentally splices his DNA with that of a humble fly. Thus begins 90 minutes of some of the most gruesome and memorable special effects in horror cinema history. An intelligent, well paced and horrifying sci-fi movie, it sits just one tier below the similar all time greats such as Alien and The Thing.


Week 3: Monday 13 – Sunday 19 October 2014

Monday – Tales from the Crypt (1972); Tuesday – Vampyr (1932); Wednesday – The Thing from Another World (1951); Thursday – Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966), The Ghoul (1933), The Bat (1959), ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS (1980); Friday – City of the Living Dead (1980), King of the Zombies (1941); Saturday – The Silence of the Lambs (1991); Sunday – Revolt of the Zombies (1936)

zfeZombie, Zombi 2, Zombie Flesh Eaters, whichever of the 34 titles listed on IMDb that you may know it by, Lucio Fulci and Elisa Briganti’s exotic living dead film is one of the finest movies to ever grace the zombie sub-genre. It ticks every box and then draws a few extra boxes underneath with a Sharpe and ticks those too. Whoever knew that what they really wanted from a zombie movie was to see one of the undead wrestling with a shark underwater? Certainly not me until I witnessed it. Since then, I have rated every other zombie film by how many shark-biting-zombies it has in it. Suffice to say, it’s never been topped.


Week 4: Monday 20 – Sunday 26 October 2014

Monday – FRIGHT NIGHT (1985); Tuesday – Dracula (1958); Wednesday – The Intruder (1962); Thursday – House (1986); Friday – The House of the Devil (2009); Saturday – Black Sabbath (1963), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985); Sunday – Creepshow (1982), Vault of Horror (1973), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)fright night

What a week this was! I could’ve chosen virtually any of them to talk about. Of all the films listed above featuring iconic vampires, this typical 80s comedy-horror about a teenager who believes his new neighbour is a vampire was the clear standout. I’d seen the 2011 remake before and found it be enjoyable (perhaps surprisingly so) but as one might expect, the original is best. Director Tom Holland would go on to find further success later in the decade with his most famous movie Child’s Play, but I honestly don’t think I had as much fun with any new discoveries this week than I had with Fright Night.


Week 5: Monday 27 – Thursday 30 October 2014

Monday – Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970); Tuesday – THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957); Wednesday – Island of Death (1976), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954); Thursday – Ils (Them) (2006), It Came From Outer Space (1953)

curse of frankensteinThis has not been my favourite week. In fact, you might say it has been horrorble (hey, hey, see what I did there??) thanks mainly to two depressingly crap 70’s exploitation films. However, one of those other movies has more than made up for that  on its own. This Hammer Horror film, the first to unite long time friends Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee (and the studios first colour movie) was a real gem. A frankly quite astounding financial success for the British film industry at the time, the movie took as much as possible from Mary Shelley’s original novel, added its own new-wave horror flavour and tried as carefully as possible not to infringe on any Universal Studios rights. Unrecognisable as being anything at all to do with the James Whale / Boris Karloff classic (because, well it isn’t), it’s uniquely identifiable with two genuinely impressive performances elevating a film from ‘decent’ to ‘immensely entertaining’ virtually by themselves.


I guess all that leaves is today, Halloween! Should I make it home alive, then tonight I will be watching another horror movie to complete my self imposed challenge. If I’ve learnt anything from this past month of watching horror film after horror film, then it’s been:

  1. I am now a fully paid up member of the Roger Corman fan club
  2. Mario Bava just does not do anything for me
  3. No matter how good some horror films are these days, you just cannot beat the classics

What will you be watching tonight?

Failed Critics Podcast: Captain Phillips, London Film Festival, and glorious Arnie

Escape Plan Arnie SlyWelcome to this week’s Failed Critics Podcast, and after the austerity of recent weeks we’re back to our usual obscene length.

As well as reviewing new releases Captain Phillips, Escape Plan, and Le Week-End, we also hear from our roving correspondent Carole Petts who is reporting back from London Film Festival, and Steve watches The Phantom Menace for the first time as a ‘critic’. That’ll go well.

We’re taking a week off next week (boo!), but we’ll be back at the start of November with reviews of Thor 2, Bad Grandpa, and whatever arty emotional nonsense James has gotten around to watching.

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Failed Critics Podcast: Most Wanted Comebacks

jeff goldblumThe Failed Critics Podcast is back, and in somewhat lubricated style. Well, one of us is. This week sees the return of Triple bill, and in honour of the recent Sly and Arnie comebacks, we discuss the actors and actresses we would love to see make a big comeback.

Also this week we review new release Hitchcock, James has an early contender for worst film of 2013 in Movie 43, and some of us discover some gems from 2012 that we missed the first time around in Silver Linings Playbook, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and A Royal Affair.

Next week we’ll be reviewing Disney’s nostalgic look at arcade gaming in Wreck-It Ralph, reviewing the best film streaming services on the market, and giving our instant reaction to Sunday night’s BAFTA Awards.

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Best Films on TV. Week commencing 4th February 2013.

We’re trying to add a little order and class to the proceedings, so from this week we’ll be publishing our popular (but erratic) #bestfilmonTV recommendations from Twitter in advance. This week’s choices are from our esteemed leader,  James Diamond.

kiss kiss bang bangMonday 4th February – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, ITV2 at 23.00

Shane Black doesn’t write boring films. Sod it, he doesn’t even write bad films. The man who wrote Lethal Weapon, The Last Boyscout, and The Last Action Hero finally stepped behind the lens to direct this 2005 LA noir-thriller starring Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer (in a role that I chose as one of my Top 3 Val Kilmer performances in this podcast). It’s very funny and self-referential, but unlike recent attempts at this kind of film *cough* Seven Psychopaths *cough*, it has a gripping and clever plot with some great action set-pieces.

Tuesday 5th February – The Silence of the Lambs, ITV4 at 22.00

The pendulum seems to have swung back against this film, and it’s gone from being a celebrated thriller that won the ‘Big Five’ at the Oscars (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay) to being seen by many of my contemporaries as slightly dated and paint-by-numbers. I still disagree, and it’s my favourite from an over-saturated genre of procedural films involving the police hunting serial killers. Anthony Hopkins walks a fine line between the sinister and the theatrical, while Jodie Foster has never been better.

Wednesday 6th February – Tyrannosaur, Film 4 at 22.50

Simply put, one of the finest films (British or otherwise) of the last ten years. Paddy Considine’s directorial debut stars the wonderful Olivia Coleman as the charity shop worker who offers redemption to Peter Mullan’s self-destructive Joseph. Uncomfortable and essential viewing.

Thursday 7th February – Dreams of a Life, Channel 4 at 22.00

The winner of our coveted ‘Best Documentary of 2012’ Failed Critics Award, Carol Morely’s documentary about Joyce Vincent (who died alone in her flat and lay undiscovered for three years) is as much an exploration of the break-up of society as it is an investigation of the facts, in this compelling and disturbing case.

Friday 8th February – The Birds, ITV1 at 22.35

Today sees the release of Hitchcock (review to follow later this week), so what better time to watch the Master of Suspense at the peak of his powers? Tippi Hedren stars as the out-of-towner trapped in a seaside town, terrorised by psychotic feathery beasts.

Saturday 9th February – The Fly, Film 4 at 00.40

Whatever happened to Jeff Goldblum? That may be a spoiler for my choices in this week’s podcast (Top 3 Film Comebacks We Want to See), but if you watch David Cronenberg’s sci-fi classic you’ll be reminded of how great a screen presence Goldblum is. I just hope he’s signing up for Jurassic Park 4…

Sunday 10th February – The BAFTAs, BBC1 at 21.00

I know it’s not technically a film, but there will be plenty of great film clips on offer during the programme. Stephen Fry will do his impression of a classier Jonathan Ross, and the great of good of the film world on both sides of the Atlantic will join together to mutually back-slap each other and pretend this means something even close to the Oscars.

For helpful reminders of when each film is on during the week, follow our Twitter account @FailedCritics